Too many choices... don't know which is best for me.

Discussion in 'Pellet Smokers' started by classic, Feb 1, 2015.

  1. classic

    classic Newbie

    Hi Guys,

    First post and I have worked my self into a situation of being indecisive in the best choice for what I am looking for.

    A little background:

    Started smoking meats around 6 years ago on an inexpensive chargriller. I was able to learn how to properly smoke on an offset and the food (mainly briskets) was always praised by whoever ate it. What I didn't like was overnight tending fire, air leaks (cheap cooker), and using a ton of fuel because of it, and the smokebox rusted out after the paint burned off.

    Then I moved over to a Kamado and it grills wonderfully. It smokes adequately and holds temp great but the space is minimal so no go with more than one brisket. I still can't get the temp down to where I like either as it always wants to be a bit hot.

    To offset this I tried an MES which was ok, but not what I was looking for in regards to smoke flavor and it's inability to heat beyond 275 was limiting.

    I have donated the chargriller, sold the Masterbuilt, still have the kamado and plan to keep that.

    Where I am at now:

    I have been wanting a pellet smoker for awhile. It's main purpose would be for smoking, however the thought of being able to light it up quickly without having to deal with charcoal in my Kamado after a long day at work is a nice thought, so would love to be able to grill/sear with it some as well. My budget is under $2K to my door.

    I would love a stainless unit for it's durability.

    I was set on an FE PG500, but am concerned about the limited smoking space. I smoke packer briskets mainly and want to be able to fit at least two 12lb - 15lb. on whatever smoker I get. The sear functionality is awesome, but from my understanding the briskets could not overlap onto that grate?

    I am also looking at:

    -Yoder YS640 (but it's not stainless? and it's heavy if needed to move... options increase price quickly)

    -MAK 1 Star (not stainless but at least coated aluminum and it's lighter.. options increase price quickly, sear grate price is crazy)

    -Memphis Select (this particular memphis model looks like a less commercial quality cooker, though I know they are nice... don't think this model sears well)

    I am not opposed to lesser models like the Pellet Pro or GMG but I really would prefer US instead of china made stuff and being able to get a really nice smoke AND grill with a good high temp sear of direct flame is important.

    The FE PG500 looked perfect because it comes standard with the options I need, smokes AND sears, just concerned about size.

    Any thoughts from those experienced with any of these? Unfortunately I don't have a place locally to see any of these in person and since it is such a big investment I want to make the right choice. If I can't get what I am wanting in a Pellet smoker/grill I am tempted to go back with a quality offset (Yoder) and see if they require less tending than my cheap chargriller did. The $250 chargriller gave me what I was looking for all the way around ultimately, just wasn't there in build quality/design.

    For reference I will be grilling 3 - 4 times a week and smoking just about every weekend.
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2015
  2. bear55

    bear55 Master of the Pit

    I own a Rec Tec and can cook 6 pork butts at the same time.  I love the quality of the unit, the ease of use and exacting temps.  The unit holds 20 lbs. of pellets making any overnight smoke an easy affair.  The company is second to none in service, name one other company that provides you with a 24/7 phone contact number.  The unit was delivered for about 1k, and this included pellets and some other nice things.

  3. wolfman1955

    wolfman1955 Master of the Pit

    I see this is your first post! When you get time stop by Roll Call for a propper SMF welcome!

    I have had my Yoder YS640 sence last July and would recomend it to anyone wanting a pellet pooper! I ordered mine with the second rack, a full set of grill grates and a cover. I have just a little over your $2000 in mine delivered. If I had it to do over I would not have gotten the cover, mine sits on a covered patio, and that would bring it into your price range. I can easily fit 6 Butts on just the lower grate. I have never done so but utilizing both grates I am sure I could get 4 big Packers on it. You are right when you say it is heavy! Mine sits on a concrete patio and is easy to move around on it. Moving it on any other surface regularly would be very difficult without doing some mods to the wheels. Here is a link to the mod for the wheels: I think the guy did it for less than $100.

    Oh yea and its made in the USA

    Just wanted to give some info on the Yoder!
    Keep Smokin!!!
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2015
  4. seenred

    seenred Smoking Guru Group Lead OTBS Member

    Hello Classic.

    IMO, from what you say your looking for, I'll bet you'd be happy with the FE PG500.  I understand its a great unit that smokes nicely, but also sears better than most pellet rigs because of the direct flame zone.  Can't answer your concerns about grate area for sure, but I'll bet you can get a couple packers in it.  If your serious about buying one, I'd bet you could contact Cookshack and ask...they'll tell you for sure what the capacity would be.

    The other units mentioned are also all good rigs.  I own a Rec Tec and am very happy with it.  I've had 3 packers in it at once with extra room to spare...and I direct grill on it 2 or 3 times a week with very good results.

    One important thing to keep in mind:  you mentioned you weren't happy with the smoke flavor you got from the MES...if you have never eaten smoked meat cooked on a pellet cooker, you might want to try that before spending 2K on a rig.  Most people agree that the smoke flavor of food prepared in a pellet cooker is more subtle that the smoke taste produced by stick burners.   If a strong smoke flavor is important to you, you may be disappointed with pellet cooking.

    Hope that helps...

  5. lothar1974

    lothar1974 Smoke Blower

    I had the step up Memphis Advantage and loved it for the time being (wanted something larger still)  I now have a Memphis Elite and love it!  All smokers you listed are quality, weigh whats most important, then second  etc.  I will say get as big as you can afford, I found myself falling short on space allot.  I started with a Traeger Lil Tex then to a Memphis Advantage Plus, now the Memphis Elite.  Good luck!
  6. wolfman1955

    wolfman1955 Master of the Pit

  7. classic

    classic Newbie

    Thanks for all the replies! I really appreciate the input.

    So, I took a bit of a turn with this one. I spent another few hours researching today and took what was mentioned about making sure the lighter smoke of a pellet was for me to thought. I stumbled across the Camp Chef DLX and found it on Amazon for $612. Since I am a prime member was able to get next day air shipping for $24. I found nothing but praise for this smoker and with such an inexpensive entry point (and free no hassle return if it doesn't work out) I went ahead with the purchase.

    Will see how it goes. If it works out I can use this for hands free overnight smokes and if needed the money saved would buy a nice stick burner for variety.

    Thank you guys again!
  8. seenred

    seenred Smoking Guru Group Lead OTBS Member

    Congrats classic!  I've heard good things about those Camp Chefs.  Be sure to let us know how you like it and post up some qview!  If you decide you need more smoke flavor, you might try a tube smoker from A-Maze-N Products.  I use one a lot in my Rec Tec for extra smoke.

  9. wolfman1955

    wolfman1955 Master of the Pit

    Glad you decided to join the pellet pooper club!! I have not read much about the Camp Chef's, but the reviews I have read were all pretty good! Like Red said let us know how it all works out for you! Remeber we all love pictures here, so show off that new rig when you get it!
    Keep Smokin!!!
  10. classic

    classic Newbie

    Thanks Guys. UPS just dropped it off earlier this morning and I have it put together and seasoning now.

    First Impressions -- Alot of nice features for such a reasonable priced unit. Metal is of course thinner than the higher end models, but appears to be finished much better than the Chinese Traegers I have seen. I am sure I will have some insulation issues if it is really cold outside, but we can sew an insulation blanket to fit if needed or just use a moving blanket cut down. We are in Texas so not really concerned that much as most of the year it is HOT. I appreciate the extra details with a stainless lid handle, pellet box handle, and smoke stack cover.

    From the pictures I was concerned about the wheels, but they are coated with a nice thick rubber tire.

    Will get some pics and post back with results.
  11. Well wish I would have seen this earlier. I have cooked 2 15 lb brisket on my pg500. It is tight but they fit.

    Good luck with the new unit but if you go shopping again the pg500 is a great unit and will do what you want.

    I use my for grilling a few times a week and smoking a couple of times a month. I would probably buy it again just for use as a grill since it is the best one I have owned. Add in the smoking side of things and it is a no brainer
  12. classic

    classic Newbie

    Thanks for letting me know about the PG500.

    First trial run last night on the PG24 DLX... definitely not doing any searing on units like this (or any other pellet with no dedicated searing section), but it's smoking nicely and can be used as an outdoor oven utilizing the higher temps. If the heat dissipator and the drip pan were optionally replaceable with something similar to the PG500's solution it would sear perfectly because that is a heck of a fire going on in the bottom center. Anyway, I will try a long smoke hopefully this weekend.

    I am torn between trying the PG500 or just using reverse sear method utilizing my PG24 DLX sitting next to my Kamado, which I can get to 1k degrees at the grates. the latter does seem like the better solution. The convenience the PG500 has of doing it all in one unit is the only difference. 

    For dedicated long smokes the Camp Chef PG24 DLX seems like it is going to be a perfect fit.

    Quick question... when you start your pellet does the temp spike and then lower back down? If I put the DLX on high smoke it is supposed to operated at around 225. The temp was spiking initially at start to around 350. I then opened the lid and let it cool down to below 200 on the controller, then re-closed the lid. After that it held 225 (+- 5) degrees perfectly with good smoke.
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2015
  13. You should let the fire get started with the lid open. The gas from beginning combustion can explode if you have it closed up.

    I don't have a spike when I light mine. I let it staet burning good, close it up and it climbs.s to set temp.

    Actually If I forget to adjust the hht setting when I have had it around 10 for grilling, the attempt a smoke without adjusting it, it will climb above setpoint.

    You could try grill grates for getting a sear. I know a lot of the people with other pellet grills like them

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