Some interesting MES information

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by pignit, Jul 29, 2009.

  1. pignit

    pignit Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I just got off the phone with Ron Mans good friend over at MES, Kim... and she gave me some info that I either hadn't paid attention to or have never read or heard. I've had problems with recovery time and set temp times on my MES and have been sent 2 units and a controller.

    Kim told me that Masterbuilt recommends letting your meat reach room temp before adding it to the MES. ( I don't agree with this method myself.... so I'm adding a disclaimer to this suggestion).She also said they recommend preheating the unit to full 275 degrees before putting your meat in. That would take about an hour and a half. You also need to make sure and fill your water pan with hot liquid. I may be the only one who hasn't been following this procedure and thus.... my own source of disappointment.

    I told her that the general feelings about the MES is that it is a great smoker but it is underpowered. Her suggestion was to have all those MES owners out there contact Masterbuilt with thier suggestions as to how to improve on the unit. She said that Masterbuilt takes these suggestions seriously and with enough input would listen to the consumer to make a better product. She also said that is where the window and internal meat probe ideas came from. The consumer.

    Hope this helps some of you who are having issues with your MES. I think the unit is great but way underpowered. I think it would be a fantastic smoker with a larger element situated in the middle of the unit so there is no corner hotspot.

    So.. I'd suggest if you have any suggestions to make that next model MES the smoker of your dreams..... send a letter to Masterbuilt and let them know what's going on. I'm going to.
  2. Thanks for the info. I will shoot them an e-mail with some suggestions.
  3. the dude abides

    the dude abides Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Good for you. Nice to know there's still a company or two out there that cares what their customers think.
  4. deltadude

    deltadude Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    PignIT, you read the thread I started on " MES big loads temp & recovery, it has been written by myself, Ronp and other MES owners the same procedures for starting a smoke. I have written in multiple threads about 1-3 hour preheats. A lot of MES owners have posted using boiling water at the start.

    So that piece of info really isn't new from Masterbuilt.

    We do appreciate though you have established that Masterbuilt is interested in a dialog with MES owner to get input to improve the product.

    In the thread I started on recovery, my conclusion was that the 750 watt element may struggle to get a 40" with a big load to the desired set temp in a short time, however PitRow pointed out this is basic physics "heat always goes to cold", think a cup of coffee, it will always get colder. So 750 watts in a well preheated MES has its heat going mostly into the cold meat. What we don't know is the actual temperature that meat is cooking at, the digital controller sensor is reading cabinet temp in a certain spot, not the surface of the meat. My experience is the slow time to achieve desired set temp on the controller usually only pretains to big loads. Rem, I stated on the last 8 rib rack cook that even though it took almost 3 hours to get to 225, I openned the MES 30 minutes later to check for pullback, and discover two racks had 1/2" of pullback, and most were at 1/4" or more. This means the meat was cooking correctly. That was a big load, compare to last monday 8.5lb pork/shoulder/butt the controller only took about 20-30 minutes to get to the desired set temp of 225, no problem there.
    If the size of the element is increased to say 1000 watts, the extra heat will be going directly to the meat, and it won't be low n slow, instead of cooking in a 200-250 range it will be more like 300-350. Yes the time necessary may be reduced to 1 hour, but do you really want to cook at 300+ for 1/4 to 1/5 of a smoke or at 225 +/- for an hour extra?

    Illini pointed out that the 30" has so much heat the controller is cycling on/off too fast thus not keeping the wood smoking, many other 30" MES owners have confirmed this.

    What is really needed is a thorough test from at least 4 or 5 MES owners of each size 30" and 40", with 3 or 4 probes measure different spots in the MES cabinet, plus 3 or 4 probes measure surface temp of meat, and internal temp of meat. The testing should include various meat types, various quantity testing, etc.

    Personally I only am interested in such testing in order to really know my MES model. I am not interested in handing that data over to Masterbuilt unless they want to give us either a big credit for a new improved MES or toward someother Masterbuilt product. I say that because there is at least 3 forums that discuss the MES and if Masterbuilt really wanted input all they have to do is daily read those forum, heck just reading the SMF forum on electric smokers should give any design engineer more than enough ideas to work on.

    I don't mean to sound negative, I just think we want to be cautious about saying the MES needs more heat so ramp time and recovery time is shortened. Time here isn't the critical issue proper cooking temp is for low n slow.

    Like Ronp said:
  5. pignit

    pignit Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I'm sorry but I disagree. I've been reading the post and I don't think that having an element that is powerful enough to bring the unit up to 250 degrees in 30 minutes is going to smoke the meat at 350 degrees while it's on.

    If the therm is set to 250 degrees it isn't going to smoke the meat at 300 to 350 degrees. It may heat the cabinet up to 250 degrees faster but you can't get meat to smoke hotter than the ambient temp. inside the smoker. I have a 70 dollar Brinkman that has a 1500 watt burner that keeps the unit at a steady 250 degree... it stays on all the time. It doesn't cook the meat at 300 - 350 degrees.

    The reason I posted this thread is because I am having and have had trouble with my MES reaching set therm temp at all. I have set my therm on 275 and had a couple of corned beef briskets in the unit and it not hit 235 for 5 hours. Doesn't matter whether I put hot water in the unit or not. I have to admit I have not been heating the unit to 275 before I put in my meat. I think a hotter heat source (element) would increase recovery time and I don't really understand the dynamics of the meat being able to smoke at 300 degrees when the therm is set to 225.

    It may be that the unit is designed the way it is to keep the element burning to provide smoke. My element stays on all the time.
  6. ronp

    ronp Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I have to agree with Dave on this. The temps inside dictate what temp the meat is cooking at, otherwise thermostats would be worthless, that is just common sense.

    I have been doing a test tonight and so far here are the stats.

    2/3 water pan full. Set at 275' After 1hour 15 min it reached 275.

    I then added 2/3 disposable pan of luke warm water on the top rack, as we don't have cold water here. It went down to 240' in a matter of minutes. Now if that was cold meat what would happen?

    Oh, BTW I have a 850 watt element.
    Now after 2 1/2 hours it still hasn't recovered and is at 264'.

    To further complicate the issue I just put about 3 cups of ice in the pan and now it is 239'.

    I am going to do a 3 hour test, so I only have another 1/2 hour to see what happens.
  7. deltadude

    deltadude Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Some basic info...

    your electric element outputs constant BTUs of heat, when it kicks on it is producing the max BTUs, there is only On or OFF. It is not like a stove top electic element with a variable control. The MES digital controller using the internal sensor either turns on or off the element with no variable control.

    Setting the MES to a desired temperature has nothing to do with how much BTUs of heat the element produces, heat is constant. The temp sensor only measures internal cabinet temp and turns on/off the element. Internal cabinet temp is only a relative reading, and only indicates true cooking temp when the meat and internal temp are identical.

    Since the MES element is either on/off the BTUs of heat for a 1000 watt element will be greater than the BTUs of heat for a 750 watt.

    So for the sake of discussion we will say the 1000 watt produces enough BTUs of heat to achieve 350 deg +/- 10 deg F. and the 750 watt enough btus of heat to generate 275 deg +/- 10 deg F. Therefore the cooking temp of the 750 will be somewhere between the internal cabinet temp and the temp going into the meat up to 275 deg F. And the 1000 watt will be somewhere between the internal temp and 350 deg F. This is provided that all things are equal, same vent size, same thermal efficiency, same insulation, same meat and quantity of meat. The 2nd law of thermodynamics says that "hot will always go to cold", so with everything else equal the greater BTUs of heat is going into the meat, and also heating the air in the cabinet, but rem. if the cabinet air temp is 225 and the meat is 100 deg, the 2nd LTD is saying the heat is going into the meat!

    Why does a Brinkman have a 1500 watt element? I don't own a brinkman but does the brinkman have double wall construction with a thermal insulation layer. Is the brinkman as efficient thermally as a MES? The size of the brinkman element and the unit size tell you it is far from being as efficient as the MES.

    The real question is what temperature is the meat getting cooked at? If the combination of heating the internal cabinet (preheated) and cooking the meat at 750 watt/btus and the meat is only cooking at say 200 deg F, then there is room to use a bigger element that may get the meat up to 250 F. At 250 for short duration wouldn't affect the low n slow concept. But if the cooking temp was already at say 250 with 750 watts, then a higher watt element could cook the meat over 300 deg which is not low n slow.

    Another consideration, designs are usually based on the mean/avg. Not on big loads, but what would an avg load be. Increasing the watts to accomadate big loads with the current design may produce negative results with the avg load or a light load.
  8. pignit

    pignit Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Even with an increase in wattage you aren't changing your cooking temp. only the recovery time and that is basically all I was saying in my thread. The smaller element may handle the smaller loads and not be powerful enough to recover quickly from a large load.... but with more power... you wouldn't be effecting the smaller loads. I think the MES is a great smoker for the money. I think it needs more power to decrease the recovery time. That's the one thing I really enjoy with my Gas Masterbuilt. When you open the door and loose the heat, you can crank it up for a few minutes to recover your cooking temp. Would be great if the MES had enough power to do this without it taking a couple of hours. All of this being said with no consideration for the method the MES creates smoke... which I'm sure has a bearing on it's design.
  9. ronp

    ronp Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Well after the 3 hour test it only recovered to 139'. So, I am with Dave on this. More power for recovery. I am not a tech guy or an engineer with the BTU's bla bla, but I know that 275' is 275' and that is the temp your meat is taking in. How could it be taking a hotter temp that the ambient temp is?
  10. deltadude

    deltadude Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I am going to state this again.

    I have little to no problem getting the MES 40" to desired set temp with a lone piece of meat and avg outdoor ambient like 75 + deg F, (using proper precook techniques). As I stated my last 8.5 lb pork, last monday, the control readout set for 225 reached 225 in 20-30 minutes. Also I have little trouble with heat recovery if the MES has been running 3 to 4 hours, (provide I used good door managment techniques).

    The problem with long ramp time to set temperature is when there is a large load of meat in the MES.

    So why is there a problem, if all the meat in a large load is at room temp, why does it take so long to get probes or sensors monitoring cabinet temp up? The BTU output is the same, large load or small load. If small load that means there is more volume of the transfer medium (smoke and air), if the load is large there is a less volume of transfer medium, because the meat is taking up some of that space. Is the problem all that additional cold meat? Well sort of, it really is the increased surface area to heat up. With one butt you have "Y" amount of surface area with 6 butts you have "Y"x 6. The total meat surface area to be cooked via conduction and the resistivity of the meat will determine the ramp time to set temp in the 40" MES.
    With a small load or surface area the 750 watts/btu quickly penetrate and reach a point were there is less transfer of energy and then the air volume in the MES will start to rise faster. In fact when the meat is colder it receives Heat or BTUs faster, as the meat heats that transfer slows down. That is why meat temp rise stalls the closer you get to your desired set temp.

    I appreciate the commentary and discussion since we all can learn. I am reading up on these principles and will get back with a clear explanation of how increased BTUs in the same system will increase the amount of heat transfered into the meat faster than it will heat the air volume, and post hopefully a clearer explanation.
    There is no doubt that a small increase in wattage would be a benefit, but in my opinion if that increase on a average load cooks the meat at 270 rather than 230 or 250 then that is a problem.

    I will leave it at that for now...
  11. mikey

    mikey Smoking Fanatic

  12. pignit

    pignit Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Meat is going to cook at the temp set at the therm regardless of the BTU output of the element. It does the same thing in a stick burner or gas burner. If a therm is set at 225, the only reason a piece of meat will cook faster with a higher BTU element is because it will recover and is staying consistantly at 225 longer than a lower BTU that struggles to get to 225. Not because it is absorbing more heat than the ambient air around it is producing. It's call equalization. If I'm understaning you correctly, what your saying is the larger the element or BTU output from the heat source, the more heat is absorbed by the meat regardless of set ambient temp. I can't buy that. The more source of cold introduced.... meat.... the more energy it takes to equalize it. That's common sense. If you never turned the element on.... eventually the meat would reach ambient temp.... the temp or the air around it. It won't get hotter than that..... 2nd LTD. I haven't found anything in the 2nd LTD that warrants what you are saying.
  13. deltadude

    deltadude Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Here is a page that simplifies what I'm trying to say yet explains both the scientific terms with cooking terms and example.
  14. pignit

    pignit Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Very good article. I agree with everything that is being said. I didn't see anything that supports the statement that the meat will take on heat at a higher temp than the ambient air around it.
  15. cruizer

    cruizer Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    Wow I guess I should look alittle closer at the MES when I am smokin. Put 16 Lbs. of butt in last weekend and did not really look at it for the first couple of hours. I look to make sure I am not losing temps or anything but I do not record temps or anything like that. After 12 hours we had some mighty fine pork. I love my MES!
  16. davenh

    davenh Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    Dave..I'm with you 1000000% on this one [​IMG]. I did add a secondary heater to my MES and it helped the recovery time. I put it on a dimmer switch then wired that to a bypass timer that put it full on. timer that had presets for 10 min, 20 min 30min and 60 min.

    First warm up the unit to 270. Put in the meat and adjust the dimmer for an extra 300W. For a turbo boost I hit the 20 min preset on the timer, that bypassed the dimmer and put full power to the 650W element for 20 min and when it timed out the dimmer takes back over at the 300W. Time to mop, just hit the 10 min preset for a boost.

    After the meat comes up in temp and no longer is putting too much load on the MES, shut the extra heater off. The extra 300W doesn't effect the smoke at all. If the unit stays cycled off too long adjust the extra heater until the cycling is where you need it.



  17. deltadude

    deltadude Master of the Pit OTBS Member


    Great looking mod, and you are really happy with the results.

    Is the 2nd element on a different elect. cord/plug?
    Where did you get the components?
    What would you do different if you had to do it again?
  18. pignit

    pignit Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I've thought of doing the same thing. Great add on. I'm gonna wait until my warranty is up before I start modifying the MES. Shweeeeet!
  19. pantherfan83

    pantherfan83 Smoking Fanatic

    DaveNH: Can you give a list of the parts you used for your mod? If you ordered them or they can be found on-line, links would be appreciated. Hope it's not too much trouble to ask.

  20. eman

    eman Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member

    I was thinking about just adding another element on a toggle switch . Just kick the extra element on to speed up recovery time then turn it off. Wouldn't need thermostat just on and off.

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