which pellet grill is right for me? Insight please

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by 63falconht, Dec 30, 2011.

  1. 63falconht

    63falconht Fire Starter

    I've been smoking on a Brinkmann duo with firebox for the last year and a half.  it's a lot of work managing the fire in that thing.  Harder than a lot of others i would guess based on the thin material, poor fit, and design.  I love the flavor and I enjoy the work but anything longer than about a 5 hours smoke and i just wanna say ENOUGH ALREADY! 

    I don't see a pellet specific forum section and since these plug in, I'm throwing it in the electric section.

    Here is a little about what i do to help you help me.

    I typically don't do more than 2 cuts at a time.  Typically the same cuts.  I haven't done a lot of different stuff, whole turkeys, chickens, shoulders, some ribs, tho i have better results smoking it ribs on the gas grill just because of temp variation.

    I don't entertain a lot so capacity has never been an issue.   I have about 400 inches of cooking area on my existing and would like to increase that a little for doing salmon, sausage, ribs and just because.

    2012 brings some new challenges.  For the first time i'm going to be making my own sausages and would like to be able to smoke those.  I'd like the capacity to do larger feeds without being ridiculous.  I can do larger feeds on the one I have but temp variation has caused issues getting an even cook.  Right now I'm looking at Traeger and Yoders mostly

    I think the size of  the Yoder YS640 and the Traeger Texas are pretty comparable.  Price difference isn't to bad.  Can get the Texas for the price of the YS480.

    The ys480 is a little bigger than the lil tex.  Wouldn't want to go any smaller than these.

    Are there others I should look at?  I work with a guy that has a cookshack FEC100 and PG1000 and a YS640 and I had some really great product off of all 3.  I'm not in the 2-4000 dollar equipment catagory.

    I want something that is going to hold up to our awful northern california winters (HA!) that's going to put out a consistent product that I can let run all day or night unattended so that I can enjoy some of the more complex cuts without having to sit in the backyard and stare at it.

    Any other units i should look at?  I've read lots of reviews.  Most of them professional.  Read user reviews.  Doesn't seem like I can really go wrong with either unit.  I've had Stainless grills. Not really looking to go back there. 

    Thanks in advance for any advise and cautions.

  2. duanes

    duanes Smoke Blower SMF Premier Member

    Youtube has quite a few videos showing off differnet pellet smokers that may help you make a decision.  I have experience with my Traeger Texas that I can share.

    Hardware is good quality, not the thickest steel, sturdy legs, good quality rubber wheels.  Controller has 10 settings in ~25 degree increments but you can fine tune the auger dwell time if you are trying to get a specific temp (there is pushbutton adjustment that you insert paperclip, similar object).  When operating, temperature cycles about 20 degree swing.  I clean the ash out of the firepot about every 20 hours of run time (I have a Panasonic hand held vaccum that makes it a snap).

    Hopper is not sloped so as it gets closer to empty, I redistribute the pellets toward the center.  The grill rack is coated porcelain and it is too big to fit in a typical kitchen sink so it is not easy to clean.  I think the yoder with two grates is better design.  I use my power washer to clean the rack on the driveway eliminating the kitchen sink challenge.

    The Traeger does not come with a second shelf so I bought the optional rack that gives two more levels of cooking.  It works ok, but getting ribs in and out of the middle shelve is a little difficult.  Head room is plenty for large butt or brisket but not that much if you are looking to hang sausages.  Traeger does not come stock with external shelving but they have optional wire rack shelf you can hang on front.  For me, I prefer not having the shelf as it is easier to store my smoker in limited garage space.  The hopper lid functions well as a small side shelf.

    When starting, you need to leave the lid open and wait until you hear a more pronounced roaring sound - I failed to heed the directions and got distracted one time.  I put the lid down too early and the smoker hadn't fired.  10 minutes later, I heard pellets falling into the grill and knew the pot was overflowing.  I didn't expect the loud bang and the lid lifting a few inches.  The peelts then caught fire and burned so intensely that it warped the drain pan.  I called Traeger and they replaced it under warranty for free.  Since, I make sure I run the smoker for full 5 minutes to start and can hear the different sound.

    I do not get enough smoke flavor operating at higher temps/shorter cook times but that is easy to solve by adding an AMNPS on the hopper side to supplement smoke.  I think this is typical of any pellet smoker.  If you like heavy smoke flavor, it will be a challenge with pellet smoker.

    Overall I am very satisfied with my Traeger and love the ability to set the temp and walk away.  I also like the ease in finishing ribs, chicken by just setting the temp to high for 10-15 minutes instead of transferring to a gas grill.
  3. 63falconht

    63falconht Fire Starter

    that's a lot of insight into the Traeger - thanks.

    The wife doesn't like heavy smoke and I at times have struggled on the edge of to much with the stick burner. I don't want to replace that.  I'd still use it for get togethers when i'm outside entertaining people and want to look like a stud holding a beer in one hand and other arm on fire! 

    I want something to do the longer smokes where being at home just the 2 of us I don't want it to take up my entire day because i have to check on it every 30-45 minutes.
  4. duanes

    duanes Smoke Blower SMF Premier Member

    Amen - that is exactly why I got my Traeger - more time to hang out with my family and not be bound to tending the smoke!  Set it and forget it (till it's it done! [​IMG]

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