My New MES & the Indicated v. Actual Temperature Inconsistencies

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by ostrichsak, Oct 10, 2013.

  1. ostrichsak

    ostrichsak Meat Mopper

    I wanted to start a thread to discuss the Masterbuilt Electric Smoker & the temperature inconsistencies to see what others are experiencing.  Notice I'm not talking about differences because differences can still be consistent then planned for and adjusted accordingly.  What I'm talking about here is actual inconsistencies that vary seemingly w/o any causation.  For those that don't know I'm new to smoking and a couple of weeks ago I took delivery of my brand new MES 30" that I got for a smokin' good deal (see what I did there) and decided it was a sign that my entry into smokin' my own 'que was being presented.  Being as I'm new to this hobby (as a smoker but not a smokee) I wanted to open a dialog to see if this was standard but I have a feeling that if standard it's just standard for this maker or possibly even this particular model or batch of them.  Before I bought & took delivery I read threads about some saying  that the set temperature differed from the measured temperature (using 3rd party thermometers of various types) but seemed to be predictable.  What I mean by that is if you set the temp to 225 it would be 245 actual and would hold for the most part and you could lower temperature settings 20deg to attain a desired temp of 225deg and this was repeatable.  What I'm talking about specifically is what I've experienced in my brief use of this smoker and that's that it's been all over the place temperature-wise.

    Upon taking delivery I proceeded to season as instructed.  3hrs at 275deg with 45min of wood chips the last 45min.  I proceeded to set the temp on the MES to 275deg and just for funsies I threw my brand new Maverick ET-732 inside to be able to monitor and was surprised to see that even though my temp was set to 275 I was seeing temps holding 45deg hotter at 320deg.  Towards the end of this first two hours it settled down about 10deg to 'only' 310deg which is still a full 35deg off. Once I threw the chips in and it came back up to temperature from the door being opened I observed temps holding consistently at 287deg or about 12deg hotter.  Convinced this was part of the break-in process I was content that from now on it would be about 12deg warmer which I could easily account for.

    Fast forward a couple of days to my first actual smoke.  I chose a 4.17lb pork shoulder for my first smoke and this was an excellent choice.  It turned out fantastic but took some effort on my end just to get the temperature to a consistent temperature.  Looking back at my notes it looks like I set the temperature to 225deg to pre-heat and this time it was 30deg hot at 255deg.  I decided to go ahead and put the shoulder on and slowly lower the temp as the day progressed since I wanted to start out a little hotter anyway.  After a few hours I was able to determine that 187 would net me exactly 225deg measured.  After a bit that 187 needed to be 192 to keep it near 230deg and flare-ups from wood would spike closer to 250deg.  So, no big deal I know now that the temperature setting on the MES is high so I need to set it lower to get desired temperatures, right?


    Yesterday was my 2nd attempt at smoking (3rd measured operation of the unit) and thinking I had this all worked out I went ahead and set my temperature lower than the desired temperature (200deg) in order to attain it.  This time it was actually lower than the set temperature so I ended up having to set my temperature at 212deg to attain a measured 207deg.  So while this is only off 5deg it's off the other direction from what I had experienced previously which is more disheartening than the previous 45deg as long as it was predictable and consistent IMO.  

    How can I plan for this?  The idea of being able to throw on a brisket at night and then going to bed to let it cook overnight isn't going to be possible of the temperature setting isn't consistent.  Isn't that one of the primary reasons for going electric over the other options?  Consistent temperature throughout the smoke process?  I can compensate for a consistently high or low temperature regardless of how far off it is as this just points to a device that isn't perfectly calibrated and can be expected for an entry-level device such as this (even though I have $10 aquarium controls that are more accurate).  What I'm experiencing however seems more like a defective thermostat/thermometer/heating element.  This isn't predictable nor is it consistent and in such a device points to a problem.  My unit arrived with a rather large dent on the top rear of the case which bows pretty good and I even have a picture of this.  To me this seems strictly cosmetic and doesn't appear to affect the function of the unit but now I'm wondering if the impact that caused this didn't also cause some problems to the electronics.  

    Has anyone else experienced this specifically with this unit?  Not just temperatures being off but them changing from the set temperature at a rate that's unpredictable in both directions?  Is this just par for the course on this unit & something I should expect or something more?  I know I paid a relatively low amount compared to most smokers on the market but I still expect it's basic functionality to be usable.

    Sorry for the long post but as you can see I'm very technical and like my notes and information so I tend to not be able to make my statements more acute at times.  lol
  2. I have a GEN 1 MES 40 and my temps have always been cooler than what I set. The lower the set temp the greater the difference in the temp being off. For example, if I set it for 150° - the actual temp is approx. 110° - 115°, but at temps above 225°, it's  generally about 25° cooler. I've also replaced the body unit and the heating element and neither replacement changed the amount of temp difference except by a few degrees. 

    The only time I have experienced inconsistencies with the temps like you are referring to is after putting meat, etc in there until the meat warms up and I notice it too with the weather, especially when it's windy, despite the fact that my MES is in a wood cabinet. 
  3. ostrichsak

    ostrichsak Meat Mopper

    This is more of what I expected going in.  The temp might be off and since it's % based it would be more off at higher temperatures & is easily accounted for (although not ideal) but this isn't what I've experienced thus far.  I feel like the MES 30 is insulated well so external temperature changes shouldn't be as big of a factor.  In my case it was 40deg outside the first time I smoked the pork and then I think it was like 20deg warmer the 2nd time when I smoked the brisket.

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