Need a new electric smoker - any equipment recommendations?

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by gary ng, Mar 20, 2017.

  1. gary ng

    gary ng Newbie

    I have burned through my last Masterbuilt, my most recent one lasting less than 2 years.  It currently is pegged on 300 degrees which when I called customer service makes it a perfect addition to the landfill.  Bummer.  So perhaps no more $200 smokers.  What do you recommend?  I keep it in the garage, live in SoCal so the weather is nice, and smoke maybe 4 to 5 times a year, mainly ribs and brisket.  I don't want to do charcoal (done that) and need something that isn't huge as it is stored inside.  Any recommendations?  Gary
  2. icyhot

    icyhot Smoking Fanatic

    Look at the smokin it line of smokers. Best bang for the money.
  3. gary ng

    gary ng Newbie

    Good, thanks.  I have burned through 3 Masterbuilts so want to make sure whatever I buy lasts longer than 10 times of use!  How many racks of ribs you think you can squeeze into that model 1?  I mainly smoke beef and pork ribs and once a year a Texas Brisket that I cut in half.  I need to make sure I can get at least 3 racks on at once.  
  4. tallbm

    tallbm Master of the Pit

    You could always rewire one of your MES smokers so that the electricity goes from the plug to the heating element and then buy an Auber plug and play PID controller.  You then get the awesomeness of the MES's physical smoker build and the awesomeness of a PID controller (much better than Masterbuilts electronics).

    I'm assuming the electronics on your MES are what wore out on you and not the physical parts.

    Just some food for thought and an improved electric smoker since you already have the body available :)
  5. cmayna

    cmayna Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I agree to rewire your current MES with an Auber PID.   I did mine and never looked back.  So darn awesome!  What model is your current MES?
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2017
  6. old sarge

    old sarge Master of the Pit ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Gary - I second icyhot's recommendation regarding Smokin-it. They ship for free.  And their analog only models are also available through Smokin-it's facebook page which has a social store offering a small discount.
  7. icyhot

    icyhot Smoking Fanatic

    You should be able to do three racks at once.
  8. icyhot

    icyhot Smoking Fanatic

    May have to cut racks in half but should be no problem.
  9. gary ng

    gary ng Newbie

    The MES bascially is pegged on full power no matter what the setting.  Even in OFF it is running on full power if it is plugged in.  The MES customer service rep said the problem will be the wiring inside the box, not the thermostat unit, and then basically said it is trash at this point.  Does that make sense?  I like the idea of modifying it.  I like the smoker when it works!
  10. gary ng

    gary ng Newbie

    It's the model 20070910 - 30"  My concern is that the rep said the problem is inside the wiring inside the box so wondering if adding a new thermostat is the solution.  If that were the case wouldn't the MES rep just sell me a new thermostat?  I am a bit disappointed with MES - three dead smokers, the last one after only around 8 smokes.
  11. tallbm

    tallbm Master of the Pit

    It sounds to me that the Solid State Relay (SSR) is shorted and stuck in the on position.

    The way your smoker works is that electricity runs from the outlet, through the MES plug to two different places.

    1. To the controller

    2. To the SSR and then on to the heating element.

    The SSR is a switch (like a light switch) that will set on/closed and allow electricity to flow through the SSR to the heating element to heat up.

    The MES controller uses a thermometer to read the temp inside the smoker and when your set temp is hit (or slightly exceeded) the controller tells the SSR to go off/open so electricity can no longer go to the heating element and stops the heating element from heating up.  When the temp drops to a certain point the Controller tells the SSR to switch on/closed so electricity can now go to the heating element and begin heating again.  Rinse, repeat.

    If your SSR is shorted and stuck on then no matter what the controller can't switch the SSR on and off.  With the SSR shorted and stuck on you will always have electricity running to the heating element.

    A rewire job would be to wire the MES chord so that it skips all the MES electronics and the chord sends electricity to the heating element when plugged in.  All or nothing.

    Now with an Auber Plug and play PID controller you plug the PID controller into the wall and the rewired MES plug into the PID controller. 

    The PID now controls the electricity being cut on/off to the MES chord because the PID controller has an SSR built in!

    With this approach you bypass the problematic MES electronics and the PID controller will keep your temp within 1 degree after you run the autotune feature.  No more temp swings and reliable electronics!!!

    One thing to understand though is that you will need to rely on an alternate approach for generating smoke like the A-Maze-N Pellet SMoker (AMNPS) and the mailbox mod, which most MES users seem to go to anyhow.  Once the PID hits the set temp it will only cut the heating element on for like 10 seconds at a time to keep temp.  This would hinder or prevent smoke creation from the built in MES smoke mechanism.  No worry though, the AMNPS allows you to set and forget for hours so again another win!

    Let me know if you need anymore info :)
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2017
  12. barryvabeach

    barryvabeach Fire Starter

    Gary, as long as the heating element comes on, it is suitable for a rewire, as others have suggested.  The Auber is one approach, or you can DIY a controller, there are quite a few posts here on how to do it.  If you decide to rewire, I would rewire so that you keep the high temp cutoff in the wiring loop, which is a good safety device for any smoker.  
  13. gary ng

    gary ng Newbie

    Thank you, everyone.  I'm pretty handy but not sure I want to learn how to rewire this dang thing.  I've been looking at the Smoking It's and they look good.  Others have told me to look at Traegers and the grill shop I bought my grill at likes Big Mountain pellet smokers.  Any thoughts?  I will tell you I loved my Masterbuilt but after 3 burning out I can't buy another.  But thank you everyone for your responses.  Great forum!
  14. cmayna

    cmayna Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


    Where do you live?  If near San Francisco, I'd show you my masterbuilt mod.  It's not that difficult doing the Auber mod.
  15. gary ng

    gary ng Newbie

    That is so generous but I live in San Diego.  I might consider doing it - what do you estimate the cost to be to add the mod?  
  16. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Do not rewire.....  Abandon all the wiring....    Wire this SCR directly to the heating element....  

    I use it on 1500 watt electric fry pans to control the heat...   It works awesome...   Adjust it like you would the knob on a gas burner...   

    Adjust the knob up or down until the heat is where you want it...  the burner does not turn on and off....   I have my MES 30 set up the same only using a dimmer switch..    The heat loss from the smoker actually controls the internal heat...   as the smoker heats up and the meat heats up, I have to turn the dimmer lower...  no big deal...   it is a very slow process...    
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2017
  17. I have always been a fan of "fix it if you can" if the rest of it is worth salvaging.  That said, I have had a Smoke-it #2 Analog for about four years now and I am totally satisfied with it.  It has had no problems whatsoever with close to weekly use.  My racks are about 14 1/2 x 14 1/2 to give you a perspective of size of the #2, great for two people.  The temp seem very even between racks with no hot spots. 

    Most likely some day the heater or the simple on/off thermostat will fail, but both are a simple inexpensive fix.  It has a heavy duty insulated SS box, seals well, and uses only a small amount of  wood chunks to do a great job  Yes the temp swings back and forth a few degrees like your kitchen oven or refrigerator, but I see no negative effects from that.

    I came out of the instrumentation and controls industry.  Precise control is obtainable at a price, including maintenance.

    Good luck to you and let us know what you decide to do. I recommend you don't go too long with out a smoker of some kind, I hear it is not good for your mental and physical health.
  18. gary ng

    gary ng Newbie

    Pulled the trigger on a Smokin It Model 2.  Will let you know how it goes!  Thanks again everyone.
  19. Looks like the mini frig I had in college, way to short for my likings.
  20. old sarge

    old sarge Master of the Pit ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Smokin-it has larger smokers. It is all about assessing your needs and working the purchase into your budget. The SI site has some videos accompanying the description of each smoker as does their Facebook page. And there is YouTube. The videos can put size into perspective.

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