I'm sooo confused

Discussion in 'Roll Call' started by jjwesley, Jul 23, 2011.

  1. I recently retired and am looking for a new hobby.  So, since I like to eat, smoking comes to mind.  I don't have the patience for charcoal/wood smokers, so I am thinking about a gas smoker.  Some are vertical, some horizontal, some use water pans and others don't. None seem to extoll the pros/cons of each, can anyone help me.  I'd like to use the information to help me make an informed purchase.  Being retired price is a factor since I'd like to stay under $200.  Thank You in advance.
  2. meateater

    meateater Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member

     Welcome to the SMF. Glad to have you here. Lots of good folks, great recipes and knowledge. Looking forward to  your first qview. [​IMG]
  3. hardslicer

    hardslicer Smoking Fanatic

    I have an electric....and it couldn't be easier.......you've come to the right site, these guys know their stuff  [​IMG]
  4. scarbelly

    scarbelly Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Look at the MES - lots of good folks here have this unit and love it
  5. smokinal

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

    [​IMG]      Glad to have you with us!

    I just purchased a Smoke Vault 24 for $225.

    I just got it Thursday & have smoked ribs, prime rib, & ABT's on it 

    Friday & yesterday. I couldn't be happier, it's a very well built easy to use smoker.
  6. alblancher

    alblancher Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    Are you sold on gas or is electric an option?  From the questions you asked it seems your biggest concern is either horizontal or verticle gas. 

    Most smokers have some means of putting a water pan between the heat source and the food.  Water pans add moisture and stabilize the cook chamber temperature by acting as a heat sink.  Burning gas generates a lot of moisture so some of the gas burners may not have water pans.  Many members will also add flavorings such as beer, spices to the water pan.  Some members will go a step further to stabilize cooking temps by filling the water pan with sand.

    With either gas or electric you need a way to generate smoke.  Either wood chips, dust or chunks.  Whatever smoker you decide on make sure you are happy with the smoke pan or tray.  That seems to be the most difficult part of cooking with watt or dino fuel burners, getting the wood chips to burn properly.

    You want to ask about recovery time,  how long it takes to get back to temperature once you fill the smoker with meat.  Some of the less expensive smokers have problems generating enough heat to power through a full load of butts to recover quickly.

    The difference between verticle and horizontal is less clear to me.  Sometimes it comes down to how much space you have, how big a smoker you need and how much money you want to spend.

    I think you need to remember one thing about this hobby.  Once you get into it the smoker you have will become to small, to slow to something.  It will not be long until you start thinking " I wish I had bought the ------".   It is a perfectly good option to start small, see if you like the hobby, find out what you want in a smoker and then make your major purchase down the road.
  7. Thank you for the response.  No I'm not especially sold on gas.  But it will be either gas or electric.  Is there much of a difference in operating cost?

    I have heard that using the water pan creates a vapor that might prevent the smoke from entering the meat ( wash it off the meat before it can enter).  It seems to me that if you cook slow and low the steam would not be as great and that would eliminate that problem.

    I have been looking at the ads for the Traeger and that fasinates me.  I haven't seen a price yet but I like the "set and forget" features of one.

    I think a guy could spend a lifetime in research and opinions alone.  But the temp here in Ohio is too high to cook now anyway. I doubt if the best smoker could maintain an even temp in this heat

    Thank again you have been helpful..
  8. alblancher

    alblancher Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    No such thing, I live in SE Louisiana and we smoke all the time.  Now it may be to doggone hot for you to be outside, to that I can relate!

    You don't have to put water in the water pan so don't let that affect your decision to much.  I'm a stick burner and I've never used gas or electric smokers so I'm really not the one to ask.  I'm sure you'll get your answers from someone that has the smokers you are asking about.

    Good Luck

  9. shooterrick

    shooterrick Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Just my opinion and I would not put down any choice of smoker.  If my decision is between gas or electric I would choose gas.  Either works fine but consider this.  If you go electric you must smoke somewhere where it is available to you.  With gas or wood/charcoal,  (I am a stick burner by the way)  if you want to take your smoker to the lake or whatever you can do so without worries of power.  Just something to consider.
  10. eman

    eman Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member

    I Use the MES 40" (electric) but have used charcoal and wood smokers before. I love the simplicity of the electric but as Rick said You are limited to where you can smoke.  propane smokers are more portable and can be used anywhere.

     We smoke year round down here in south louisiana so temps are not really a problem. ( except for the person doing the smoking).

     I do have trouble cold smoking in the summer but a big bowl of ice set on the bottom rack solves almost all that problem.

    My MES has a water pan and yes it does produce some steam . It doesn't seem to affect smoke absobtion into the meat ,but what it does seem to do is

    cut back on the formation of a heavy bark on the surface of the meat. I am basing this on  smoking butts and brisket on the MES vs smoking butts and brisket on my SFB using charcoal and wood splits.

      Also you do not get a pronounced smoke ring w/ electric smokers .  something to do w/ the breakdown of burning wood and moisture , blah blah blah.
  11. Thanks Eman

    I really appreciate your reply.  That's a lot of info. All good.  I kept reading last night and about 0200 hrs. came up with some questions about the MES 30 w/Digital and sent an e-mail to Masterbuilt Cust. Serv.  Hopefully, I'll hear from then in a couplde days.  Right now that unit is looking good.  Can't really afford to spend the xtra for the  40, but may change my mind before I drop the cash.  I'm 70 yrs old, so camping,tailgateing, etc. are in my rear view mirror. I am concerned about the use, or non-use, of an extension cord. If I can't do that, I'll go to gas. Still searching and confusing myself.  But isn't that all a part of growing up?
  12. pineywoods

    pineywoods Smoking Guru Staff Member Administrator Group Lead SMF Premier Member

  13. tjohnson

    tjohnson Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Insider OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    For the money, this is probably the biggest bang for your buck

    Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smokers seem to max out at 275°.  I'm assuming it's a safety feature of some sort.

    There are some analog electrics that will smoker at temps above 275°

    Get started and see how much you enjoy your new hobby, BEFORE you invest a tons of $$$ into it.

  14. Thanks to both TJohnson and Pineywoods.  As my son says I believe I have been "overthinking" this thing.  With you advice hopefully I'm grounded again. Because my family is big on chicken, I will be going with the gas models. I am now looking at the Master Forge at Lowes and the Brinkmann at Home Depot. Both retailers are near to my home     Both $149.  Both makes have  double doors. I have read several complaints on the door seal of the Master Forge.  I still like Masterbuilt line and was wondering if they even make a gas vertical smoker like the above, and if so, if it has the little wood chip drawer/slide on the side like the electric? I looked at their web site and it is not very helpful at all.  I can't even find out who retails their products from their web site. I'm not sure what mistakes I would make if it were not for the folks at this forum, but I'm sure they would be both many, and costly.  Thanks again
  15. tjohnson

    tjohnson Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Insider OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Go pick up a smoker and get started.............

    Too many times we overthink things, and forget the task at hand. 

    You want/need something simple and EZ to use, to get started, and then can decide which direction to go.  Many guys start our with a MES because it's EZ to use and learn on, and then end up with a Weber Smokey Mountain.

  16. I'm like many here and have/use several different cookers. I'm in Central Florida, so I'm with Al - it's never too hot!!

    Anyway, in general terms (and this is my opinion) a vertical cabinet type cooker is more efficient than a horizontal. I'm not saying "better" just more efficient.

    Get a cabinet that is insulated if possible. It will use less fuel in the summer and especially in the winter.

    Water pans do not cause the smoke to wash off. I'm not sure who came up with that but since many cooks spray with fruit juice during the cook I can't imagine anyone thinking the humidity from the water pan causing problems!!

    Gas vs. electric is your preference. Gas my be more portable but electric with digital controls is very nice - especially when I'm smoking sausages and bacon. Electric takes some getting used to since the smoke profile will be different than wood or gas as the electric burner cycles off/on.

    Anyway, good luck and welcome.

    There are several cookers within your price limit.
  17. OK!!! Thanks to everyone who responded to my thread.  I just wanted to say that I went today to BPS in Cincinnati and bought the Masterbuilt dual door, propane smoker. Sigh, at last he moved right. Now to put it together and burn it in.  That will probably happen tonight.  Just want to say thanks again for all the vvaluable input,  JJ

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