Debating between electric and propane...looking for input

Discussion in 'Propane Smokers' started by danielc, Jul 6, 2014.

  1. danielc

    danielc Newbie

    Hi all,
    I've started looking at different options for my first smoker, and and it seems everything I look at has pros and cons, so it's kind of confusing.

    I've been looking at the Masterbuilt Electric ones and the propane/dual ones.

    Here are some of my observations based or my reading of the various reviews....

    - The propane has the ability to reach higher temps if needed. This could be useful in colder weather, and for example if you want to finish chicken hotter to try to crisp the skin. However, some people seem to complain that it's difficult to maintain the lower temps. Is 225 a problem generally?

    - A common complaint for the electric ones seems to be an underpowered heating element, so it's not possible to get the higher temps, like to crisp chicken skin.

    - I've read that Masterbuilt doesn't recommend using an extension cord with the smokers. If this is correct, this would be a pain to keep it close to the outdoor plug.

    - Most of the elecric ones I'me seeing seem to be the 2nd generation ones. I've read that there are quite a few complains with the controllers for these systems. WIth these MES smokers being so expensive, and Masterbuilt only offering 90day warranty, this is a concern. I'm thinking that the propane ones may be less likely to break down.

    - With the electric ones, you're expected to be able to basically set the temperature and not worry about it (even though there will be fluctuations as it cycles on and off). How stable are the propane ones once you get them to the desired temp? The box doesn't seem as well insulated.

    - With the electric ones, I'm kind of concerned about the extension cords if you were smoking in the snow or rain.....any comments on this?

    - How do they hold up to the winters if left outside?

  2. zozr

    zozr Newbie

    I prefer propane because of their mechanical simplicity and how easy it is to fix/mod. Simply having the burner and not complicated wiring is a big plus to me. 

    I didn't want an electric one in case it rained as well, just didn't feel comfortable with that. 

    As you said unless you're trained with electronics fixing the electric smoker would be very difficult. Versus just replacing the burner on the propane smoker. 

    225 can be maintained with propane, some people find it useful to install a needle value on the hose in order to get the burner even lower though for very long smoke sessions. 
  3. danielc

    danielc Newbie

    Thanks for the input!  Yes, I think I've decided to go with the gas one.   Currently really leaning towards the Master Forge dual door model from Lowes.

  4. demosthenes9

    demosthenes9 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I would point you towards the Smoke Hollow 44" at Samsclub, but it appears that they are out of stock
  5. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Last edited: Jul 8, 2014
  6. domerskee

    domerskee Smoke Blower

    I made the decision to go with propane when I bought y first smoker about a month ago. I took the advice here and other places and went with a Smoke Vault. I have been very happy. I have had no issue running it in the 225-230 range. I do like going at a slightly higher temp than that though. It has done a great job so far.
    I will add that you will find some mods or tweaks you'll want to do regardless of what unit you get. I have made a couple changes to mine already and am planning to add a needle valve and find a way to seal the smoke loss from around the factory thermometer (which I don't use anyway) .

    I've observed you can make some mighty fine food on any unit you get. That's part of the fun. Have fun making your selection and even more making food!
  7. Their are pros and cons to both. I have to side with JJ. I have a MES 40 No issues. I can set it and go to bed.

    Which ever you choose will have it's drawbacks. Just learn how to use your pit and you will have some good Q.

    Happy smoken.

  8. jirod

    jirod Smoke Blower

    Chef Jimmy has got you covered pretty well. I have a 2 door MasterBuilt propane smoker, works well. But, I struggle with temps below 225-250, and weather (cold/wind) really mess with it. I like mine and it works good for pork butts/brisket. But is too narrow for whole packers or full racks of ribs. Something to consider.

    So it would depend on what you plan on doing a lot of. If you want to do a lot of ring bologna/summer sausage/dried beef/cold-warm smoking then you may do best with an electric. If you plan on doing a random assortment of things, I'd look through the different pros and cons Chef Jimmy listed.
  9. sqwib

    sqwib Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I'm having Dejavu, was this posted elsewhere?

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