Help me buy a smoker

Discussion in 'Smoker Builds' started by soonerprices, Apr 24, 2011.

  1. soonerprices

    soonerprices Newbie

    I am new here and I hope you guys can help me out.

    I am wanting to buy a smoker.  I do not know what is best to buy.  I have about $700 to spend on a smoker.  I currently have a charcoal grill with a smoker box on the side.  I have successfully smoked some very good ribs and butts in this smoker but it does not hold heat very well and takes a lot of work and attention to successfully get the job done.  

    My goal to is to buy something that will produce good smoked meats and lessen the amount of work (I know good smoked meats take time so I don't mean time when I say work) it takes to get the job done.  

    I have looked at propane and electric box smokers.  These range from $130 to $2400.  If I went this route I would want to know what type, elec. or propane, produced the best tasting meat.  Also am I going to loose any flavor going from charcoal heat source to propane or elec. heat source?  I also do not like that I would have to actually pull a grate out and turn the meat or mop the meat.  

    I have looked at and Egg and these run as high as $1500 (smoker ready) but I am not really convinced this is the best item to buy for smoking.  I don't have anything definitive to back my opinion up just an educated guess.  I think having my heat source in the same area as my meat will make it hard to keep my temp around 120  Either way to buy an Egg with the money I currently have I would not have the space to smoke very much meat at one time.

    I have also considered buying a more quality smoker that is the same type I already have. I like having a grill and my smoker box attached.  I like being ale to turn or mop my meat without removing it from the box.  If there are types of metal smokers with the fire box attached to the side that are made of material that retain heat better which in turn makes my job easier keeping the heat at a more constant temp I would like to know about it.

    I don't want to spend $300-$700 and regret it later.  If there are other types that I may have not discovered that will fit into my budget I am all ears.   I appreciate any advice you may have.  
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2011
  2. adiochiro3

    adiochiro3 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I have used both SFB and upright charcoal/wood fired models and I also have an upright propane model.  For simplifying your attendant duties (stoking the fire itself), propane proves very simple for managing cook temps.  You just have to add the smoke generating material, and from what I hear on SMF, the Amazn Smoker allows you to leave things run unattended for a long time.  Ugly Drums also run long cook times without much attention.  I have never used electric, so cannot speak to it at all.

    Thick gauge quality steel (1/8" thick minimum) will help keep temps stable. 

    You need to decide on the style smoker you want: upright, SFB, UDS, etc., decide on the fuel type, then research the best model for that style.  Our smoking brethren can better help once you've narrowed it down through the first two choices.
  3. tom37

    tom37 Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I agree, you really must consider all the options so that you get what you want.

    How much grate real estate do you wish to have?

    You said you wanted longer times while unattended, but do you know if you want a reverse flow or not?

    I would have to guess that a vertical is out, since you said you don't like the idea of pulling the shelves to mop and turn.

    How much do you really cook at one time? You could probably set up two Ugly Drums with 2 weber cook grates each, for about 300 bucks. I seldom use my lower rack in my UDS but I have two drums.
    No big deal to get 20 plus hours on one 10 lb load of lump charcoal. With 70 to 80 degree days and down to the 40's at night, I can usually run all night with maybe 4 changes to the air intake valves, keeping the tamps right on track.

    Where are you located?

    If your close, I know a couple guys that build pits, including myself.

    I've got a 16 x 42 offset reverse flow built with 3/8" wall pipe sitting out front right now.

    This gives ya a little bit to think about, :biggrin:, if you can get a little closer to knowing what you want, we can sure help ya get the biggest bang for your buck.
  4. scarbelly

    scarbelly Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Good luck with your quest for a new smoker. Lots of folks will chime in ideas. Hope you can find one that fits you the best.
  5. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    I would recommend a Weber Smoky Mountain. They are very easy to maintain temps with, well built, and have great customer service. Price $350-$400. If you are considering another SFB, I would look at Lang smokers, they have a 36" model that sells for around $850, if you pick it up. If you can't pick it up then I think shipping is expensive, $200 or so.
  6. soonerprices

    soonerprices Newbie

    I need some help with the terminology. What's SFB SMF?

    Upright is not completely out. I just worry about losing heat while havethe door open. Am I making too much of it ?

    I'll do some research and get back with you.
  7. hardslicer

    hardslicer Smoking Fanatic

    smoking is as much a hobby as a way to cook dinner.....I am still in the process of deciding which way to go myself, but reading the forums on this website will help me make an educated decision, thank you everyone for all your input
  8. soonerprices

    soonerprices Newbie

    Tenderness and taste are very important to me.  I guess they would be to everyone right?  Forgetting that I said, "I wanted longer cook times without attending the fire" is there much difference in taste and tenderness when you compare electric vs propane vs charcoal? How about  comparing reverse flow vs direct flow?

    Is reverse flow charcoal only or can you buy electric or propane reverse flow?

    To answer a few questions I've been asked, I live in Oklahoma City.  Because smoking has been such a huge job and basically took me an entire day I tried to smoke a much meat as I could on my grill.  The last time I smoked I smoked 3 butts, pulled them, and put it in the freezer.  The 3 butts lasted me several months and fed lots of people.  If I can maintain quality smoked meat with less work I would be inclined to purchase something that had less grate space. 
  9. werdwolf

    werdwolf Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Chiming in for the MES crew.  I chose this because I do not have the time to tend things.  Set the temp, throw in a few wood chips every 40 min give or take and I get some great smoked food.  no smoke ring, but thats for looks.  Love mine.
  10. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Like werdwolf, I don't have the time to play games, but I also don't usually have the energy either (health reasons).

    So I just let my MES 40 do the work for me.

    Then to make it much easier yet, I throw in an A-MAZE-N-SMOKER, and I can sit back & relax.

  11. mballi3011

    mballi3011 Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


    I'm on the other side of this search. I would advice a gas unit. I have a couple and they are almost a set it and forget it unit. Now I have used one for years and I get a great smoky flavor. I would recommend the Smoke Vault 24". It's a well built unit and I use mine maybe 3 times a week and it has been working without any problems for years now.  
  12. tom37

    tom37 Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    My vote is that even if you get hooked up with a mes or a propane rig, that you still put together a drum smoker. They are cheap to build for the most part and the flavor is unmatched in my book. The down side is there is more tending then with the other two mentioned.

    I have a large trailer that I cook with, my two drums are taking up residence in the trailer. The original smoker will be coming off and a upright either stumps or backwoods clone is in the near future.
    If I want really good meat I cook it on the drums, if I need to cook alot then it will go in the upright.
  13. beer-b-q

    beer-b-q Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    The Mes is basically set it and forget it.  I have the 40" MES and use an AMAZE-N-SMOKER with it.

    Click Here For AMAZE-N-SMOKER website.
  14. fife

    fife Master of the Pit

    I agree with wolf I love my MES40 sofar it has given some very good meals and little upkeep to the smoke. So here is my 2 cent worth. Good Luck
  15. arnie

    arnie Smoking Fanatic

    Your last line nails it for me. Buy a Cookshack. Check a couple of their models out at Cabela’s

    A year ago last month I upgraded a couple of sizes to a Cookshack AmeriQue after using my Cookshack Smokette for 8 years.

    Three months ago I sold my Smokette for what I had paid for it new, and I didn't want to sell it.

    IMHO Cookshack quality is 2nd to none, they are built to last, have a very short learning curve, are easy to use and hold their value like no other smoker.
  16. soonerprices

    soonerprices Newbie

    I have learned a lot today.  I have got some helpful here and I have done a lot of research today.  I have decided that I am going to build a UDS and buy a box smoker.  I think building my own UDS will be a fun learning experience that will not be very costly if I take my time to find a used drum and used grill parts.

    Here is what I need help with.  What are the pro's and con's of elec vs propane?  Which is more costly to use?  Which produces the best flavor?  Which produces the most tender meat?  Which is easier to control the heat? (I'd assume elec)  What other things am I not thinking about?
  17. the best smoker would be MasterBuilt it's rated # 1 I bought one today it's a

       Masterbuilt 40" model-20070810 at samsclub for  $299.86

       everybody else wants---$450.00 to  $465.00 sams model number is different

    masterbuilt told me that's because they  sell it to a retailer other model# is 20070710--it great it's electric-1,200 watts has a glass window so you can it cooking has a digital temp. you set a remote & set time add wood chips in the side of smoker no need to open door--just set it & forget it &

      has a chrome door----good luck-----Ken
  18. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    To clear up the price differences of the MES 40:

    The one Sam's Club sells is a great buy at $299. It has the remote control, wheels, 1200 watt element, glass windowed stainless steel door, built in meat probe, digital read-out control unit, and you can get a 3 year warranty for about $30.

    The one Cabelas sells for $399, is often on sale for $349. It has everything the one from Sam's has, plus the whole thing is stainless steel---inside & out, instead of just the inside & the door.

    They are both Great buys.

    The only difference between those two, and the ones others are selling for $450 to $499, is the other places are ripping people off.

  19. se4n

    se4n Newbie

Share This Page