Temp issues with MES 30 Analog

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by solidbob, May 19, 2015.

  1. solidbob

    solidbob Fire Starter

    Hi all,

    I've been searching this subforum and found some great info but thought I'd start a new thread cause I didn't find my exact issue.

    I've had an MES 30 Analog Model 20070210 for about 2 years now. The first year or so I had no issues with my temps. This year, I can't seem to get it up past about 200. After providing the following info I'll probably answer my own questions but any thoughts on this would be much appreciated.

    - I live in Brooklyn and smoke in a small backyard area of my apartment. I don't even bring the smoker out unless the outside temp is above 60 or so.

    - I keep the smoker about 12 feet from the back of my building so the smoke isn't going up straight into my neighbor's windows. Therefore, I use an extension cord. I don't know the gauge off-hand but it's a bit more heavy duty 3-prong cord, maybe 15ft long.

    -(the iffy part) I run the smoker (and extension cord) into a power strip that's mounted inside my back window. This is where I power my outside lights and anything else I want to plug in outside. I generally don't have anything else plugged in while the smoker is going.

    -Until this past year, the power strip was plugged into an outside outlet that was on the other side of my fence the separates us from the apartment next door (same building). They just renovated that place and people moved in and I didn't want to use their power so the power strip now runs into my bathroom and is plugged into a GFCI outlet there.

    -I think moving the power strip from the outside outlet to the GFCI is where I started losing power. It doesn't trip it but I can't get the temp past 200.

    -The only other explanations would be if the element was going bad or got too much drippings etc on it from the smokes. But for the past year or so I've had a foil over the bottom, covering it. There also seems to be some black build-up on the end of the temp-control unit - the bigger prong that plugs into the element - not sure if there is ever an issue with that.

    I'm guessing it's a power source and I'll probably experiment with that after reading through some of the other threads but just wanted to get any other opinions I could.

    Also, FYI - MES 30 w/ mailbox mod, using the AMNPS coming in the lower left and also a 3" vent going out the top-back-right.
  2. bmaddox

    bmaddox Master of the Pit

    I take it you are confirming your temps with a tested thermo.

    The GFCI outlet wouldn't necessarily trip from trying to draw too many amps. GFCI's are more geared towards tripping from open grounds or shorts. What size breaker is the outlet on? If it is a 15amp breaker that services a lot of other items you might not have the capacity on that circuit for your smoker. (that smoker draws 12.5 amps)
  3. solidbob

    solidbob Fire Starter

    Thanks for the reply.

    1. I have confirmed temps with a second, tested thermometer I keep inside the MES, sorry forgot to add that.

    2. I have no idea what size breaker. I live in a 6-unit apartment building and it's not easy to access the breakers. The times that I have, they're mislabeled (my kitchen is labeled as the apartment next door etc). Not uncommon in NYC for this to be a total mess.

    I may try out a different outlet if I can get a longer, larger gauge extension cord.

    Obviously without knowing the specifics of my building, would it be normal to have a higher amp outlet outside than one that's in a bathroom?
  4. bmaddox

    bmaddox Master of the Pit

    If the building is as miss-matched as you say then you very well could have different size breakers from various repairs or remodels. You would be best served doing some investigations before droppings $100 on a good cord. If you open the panel and everything is 15amp then you will need to figure out what circuit has the most capacity and use the shortest cord possible. If everything is 20amps, then you probably are just on a heavily loaded circuit and you can change it up to another one. I live in an old house with crazy circuits so I know how big of a pain this will be, but it is better than overheating a breaker and causing it to fail (or worse, catch fire). The circuit I use at home only feeds a few light fixtures and two outlets that have nothing in them and it is a 20amp circuit so I run a 1500 watt smoker with no problems.

    Good luck
  5. solidbob

    solidbob Fire Starter

    Thanks again. So I can most likely assume this is a power issue and not a fault of the heating unit on the MES then.
  6. bmaddox

    bmaddox Master of the Pit

    Not necessarily. But since you live in an older building with uncertain wire I would rule out a power issue before messing with the element. If you know that you are on a good circuit with enough capacity and the problem persists than you could take the smoker apart and clean/repair all of the connections. If the solder on any of the connections is worn out and cracked that would cause problems. All in all, electrical issues are a pain to figure out and this could send you running down a rabbit hole (but hopefully not). 
  7. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    @bmaddox, you just opened the door to an electrical question. Why is it at times in our bathroom just flipping on the light switch will trip the GRCI switch? It rarely happens but it does happen. Keep in mind we own a manufactured home where the quality of much of the electrical system has been in question. Thanks.
  8. @Solidbob, fellow MES 30 analog owner here. I am also an electrical engineer. There are some good suggestions on electrical here and I will only add that whatever extension cord you are using is probably fine as long as it is not getting warm to to the touch.

    You mentioned "black build-up on the end of the temp-control unit - the bigger prong that plugs into the element - not sure if there is ever an issue with that.". This center prong on the on the temp unit is actually the temperature sensor and having it gunked up can cause heating issues. The tip end of the probe should be shiny clean.

    Lastly, the best mod I did to my MES analog, besides the AMNPS and venting, was to add a PID controller. Now I don't have any temp control issues like before. The +/-30 degree temp swings are a thing of the past and with the 1500 watt element, temp recovery on the rare occasion I open the door is very fast with no overshoot. PID's are pricey but to me it was well worth it. Hope this helps.
  9. bdskelly

    bdskelly Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


    Ditto. Haulin.  Unfortunately many so called heavy duty extension cords sold at the Home DePotty type store are beefy on the outside but skimpy when it come to the actual wire inside the cord. The wire is the more expensive material. The most robust looking cords may be no better inside than the skimpy units on the lower shelf.

    And you are correct. If the cord will not carry the load it is evident buy conducting heat.  ....Perhaps so much heat as to melt the outer jacket. 

    The prongs need to be cleaned of residue mentioned above. Bad contacts will cause resistance. Which should be evident by... You guessed it.  More heat at that connection. 

    Last edited: May 19, 2015
  10. True, hence the "probably fine" qualifier. Only testing will tell for sure. You raise another point. Most think that circuit breakers trip due to over current when it is actually heat that causes them to trip. While it is true that too much current causes the breaker to heat and consequently trip, anything that causes heat to build in the breakerr, can cause it to trip such as too small of a wire size or loose connection. Just food for thought.....so to,speak. Smoke your food, not your electrical system.
  11. bmaddox

    bmaddox Master of the Pit

    That is stretching my electrical knowledge. I know enough about house wiring to be dangerous but not enough to diagnose every problem. If it was me I would replace the GFCI as they do go bad. I would also check the connections at the light and the switch to make sure it isn't loose.
  12. solidbob

    solidbob Fire Starter

    Thanks all. Great suggestions. I'll definitely clean up my temp sensor on the heating unit. I don't believe I've had an issue with the cord getting warm, I've used it since I first bought the MES and have never noticed it getting warm.

    As for the GFCI, it's never tripped, I was just wondering if it somehow regulates current and I wasn't getting as much as I should but that doesn't seem to be the case.
  13. You are correct, the GFCI does not regulate output. GFCI outlets are designed to detect current in the ground conductor. The ground wire should never have any current flowing through it. All current should only flow from the hot conductor to the neutral conductor. A very small amount of current, as little as a few milliamperes can trip a GFCI. It takes about 100 milliamperes to stop your heart hence the safety factor. Other than this feature, they are just like any other outlet.
    daricksta likes this.
  14. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Thanks for advice. I'll check it all out.

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