Get a charcoal smoker or a better electric smoker?

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by nimrod1, Mar 15, 2011.

  1. nimrod1

    nimrod1 Newbie

    I have a Little Chief Smoker.  Works great on fish but I usually cook ribs and turkey legs in the oven and then smoke them for an hour or two for the smoke flavor.  Can my smoker get hot enough to do the whole thing without drying them out?   My buddy has a Green Egg and can make fantastic ribs.  My ribs are smokey but I can't seem to get a good smoke ring.  His Green Egg seems a bit involved in the process and uses up fuel.

    So, do I need a better electric smoker (I like the ease of use, and less tending) or should I go with charcoal (a little nervous about getting the venting thing down, tending and cost of fuel, etc) ???
     
  2. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    First off, welcome to SMF. You will not get a smoke ring with an electric smoker. If you want to get an easy to control charcoal smoker I would recommend a Weber Smokey Mountain. 
     
  3. plj

    plj Meat Mopper

    I use an electric smoker, I get a nice smoke ring simply by adding 8-10 briquettes in the old cast iron frying pan I use for wood chunks.  Kind of the best of both worlds IMO.  If you do buy an electric, make sure you get one with a big element or you'll only get limited heat like your little chief.

    Be careful, the grass is always greener.  You might end up with more grills and smokers than is sensible, like the rest of us. :)   I only have a propane and an electric right now, but am looking for a drum to make a uds.
     
  4. chef willie

    chef willie Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I used to run a ECB and decided on a vertical gasser for more temp control. Wound up with the double door Master Forge from Lowes a few months back, believe it was 135 bucks. Gives me a nice smoke ring, easy to use and not a big fuel burner. No regrets, except I wish I had gotten the bigger model, XL, but it wasn't available at the time. Have only had to do one mod to it, a gasket around the doors to stop the smoke leaks, no biggie. Figured for the price I couldn't be hurt to bad if I became unhappy with it but so far have done some really fine smokes in it.
     
  5. flash

    flash Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Neither, I would recommend a good propane model.
     
  6. tyotrain

    tyotrain Master of the Pit

    Welcome to SMF its nice to have ya.. lots to learn and great people as well.. Can't go wrong with a WSM easy to run and great on temp control.. Happy smoking
     
  7. nimrod1

    nimrod1 Newbie

    OK, I'm open to Propane as well.  I just thought propane would be more expensive to run.  What do you guys say? 

    Will any of these be an improvement over my Little Chief?   I'm not too concerned about a smoke ring as long as the taste is there.  It would be nice to do chicken and turkey without worrying if the temperature is high enough (food poisoning).   I just read a bunch of reviews on the Master Forge.  Nearly every reviewer gave positive feedback. 

    Also, if I stick with the Little Chief, can I buy a larger element for more heat?   And I often leave my electric going while I'm in church.  Do you guys feel safe leaving a propane smoker running if you are not home?  (away from house of course)  Sorry for all the ??'s.  I'm  a newbie for sure, but I've smoked a lot this last winter and am trying to improve my game.
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2011
  8. tyotrain

    tyotrain Master of the Pit

    I used to run a propane smoker it worked well but as far as leaving it for to long you may run into problems.. If it runs out of water the temp can spike way up. I was refilling my water pan every hour and a half or so.. so that being said its ok to leave it just not for to long..
     
  9. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I'm with all - get a Weber Smokey Mountain (WSM) they are smoking for dummies easy and produce some awesome results..... but I am kind of biased since I have a WSM and LOVE IT!! [​IMG]

    I have never used gas or electric so I really can't say anything good or bad about them, but I know they work and people use them. I suggest you do some reading on the forums, pick your price point, and then get the best thing you can afford that fits your budget.
     
  10. nimrod1

    nimrod1 Newbie

    OK, narrowed it to this.   1) Master Forge Propane (has great reviews)  2) GOSM propane  (most here like it)  OR  3) MES electric.   Looks like people are cooking Turkeys in the MES.    What are your opinions as to these narrowed choices?
     
  11. redneck69

    redneck69 Smoking Fanatic

    i like the MES the best, set the time and temp...and having the AMNS for long smokes works out great for me.  i dont have to worry about "baby sitting" the smoker for temp spikes or it dropping in temp.
     
  12. chef willie

    chef willie Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I use the MF from Lowes and so far like it a lot after doing a simple door mod to stop smoke and heat loss. Sips propane and fairly inexpensive investment. I would try and find the XL model if available in your area. I believe it would then be more like a GOSM big block in size. Lot of guys here use the MES 40, SS with window and like it. I decided to go the less expensive route to begin with.
     
  13. beer-b-q

    beer-b-q Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I use the MES 40 and believe it to be the most versatile electric smoker out there for price and quality.  I have numerous other units Charcoal, Propane that I never use anymore...  The MES 40 and an AMNS is an awesome combination... JMHO
     
  14. flash

    flash Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    ....and no problem at all leaving it if you use play box sand instead of water.

     I have not had a lot of experience with electrics, more so in what I read on the Fishing Forum I am a member of. Most complain of not low enough or not hot enough when they talked about them. Kinda scary to use during a rain, long extension cords lowers you heat also. If some of the newer models have addressed those issues, then give them a go.

     Propane is actually quite cheap to use. I can easily get 4 to 7 smokes off one 20lb canister. I actually converted a GOSM Charcoal model to propane use a single burner cast iron stove.
     
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2011
  15. nimrod1

    nimrod1 Newbie

    OK, now convince me NOT to buy the MES.  Speak now or forever hold your peace.  I plan to buy one tomorrow.   Also, should I buy the extended warranty?  ($29 I think)  I know they are usually just a scam, but I worry about the electronics on these. 
     

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