Vote for Best Electric Smoker

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by laersmoker, Apr 3, 2016.

  1. ndkoze

    ndkoze Smoke Blower

    While the Masterbuilt provides a very nice low budget smoker that if well taken care of will last you many years and be a great starter smoker for someone on a budget. But, to call the Masterbuilts and Smokin-Its the same thing is inaccurate at best.

    The Sausage Maker smokers look like dynamite units too and based on what I have read, I would throw them in the SI, CookShack, Smokin Tex category.

    If you want to wet you feet in the smoker hobby, the Masterbuilt is a great starter smoker. But, if you tend to buy quality equipment that will last a long time, the Smokin-It is the way to go. I started with a Brinkman bullet, went to a Big Chief, then to a Masterbuilt 40-inch Vertical Gas Smoker, a Chargriller Deluxe with side box, and lastly the Smokin-It.

    The Brinkman was sold at a garage sale a year or two after purchase, I still have the Big Chief and occasionally use it to smoke fish, the Masterbuilt sits in its box in the garage probably never to be used again, the Chargriller was moved to the lake place where I have more leisure time to watch/feed the wood and maintain the temp, and the Smokin-It which has been in use for 3 years has pretty much replaced them all and is used 1-2 times per week.

    I really wish someone would have suggested the Smokin-It (or CookShack/Smokin Tex/Sausage Maker) smokers before I spent all my money on these other smokers. Even when reviewing which Smokin-It model to purchase, at first I didn't have enough money to purchase the #3 model that I wanted. So, rather than settling with the smaller Smokin-It model, I read and researched for a couple of months and saved my money until I could afford the #3 that I wanted. This is a 10+ year ownership smoker, so waiting/saving for a few extra months was worth it for me.

    I really do not mean to denigrate the Masterbuilts, Bradlys, etc, because I know there are a lot of people her that use these smokers successfully and if well taken care of will last for many years, many of these guys with way more smoking experience than me (I have only been smoking food for about 18 years). My point is just if you tend to buy Cadillacs verses Chevys, Lexus verses Toyota, etc (you get the picture), you are probably going to want to consider the SI over the other models. For the money, the SI is really hard to beat.

    Ultimately, you have to determine what is going to be the best unit for you based on how often you are going to use the smoker and what type of smoking you are going to do.

    Good luck in your search.
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2016
  2. old sarge

    old sarge Master of the Pit ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Travisty has a good point. Both brands are boxes with a controller, a heating element and use wood for smoke. Aside from wheels and racks the similarity ends there. And one is less expensive than the other. I have a Brinkmann Smoke-n-Pit Pro and while it may have a firebox, a cook chamber and lid and wheels it is not the same as a Lang, no matter how much I wish it were. And I am sure a Lang would do a much better job of smoking than the Brinkmann. But that purchase was an adjunct to my Weber kettle so I was not looking for the best.

    JackT says do your research. That is important for any purchase. I also check for recalls of items. I checked for a recall on the Masterbuilt Turkey fryer: there was none and I bought one. Great investment and works very well. I did the same when looking for my first electric smoker. So if I have to spend more to have peace of mind, as well as better features/quality, then I do so. Right here on SMF alone is a months worth of reading on electric smokers (real heavy on MES) and others to include successes and equipment failures or pros/cons. Many models to choose from; some reliable and some not. You can also research the SI line here and elsewhere. Compare them to other electrics feature by feature , warranty, and member comments both good and bad. Keep in mind that if all is well, no one says anything but if something goes wrong it is venting time.

    NDKoze likewise offered sage advice without belittling anyone or anything.

    The bottom line and I am not being overly critical is that some smokers are simply better than others and within the same family some models or "generation" have a much better history of reliability than it's siblings. Postings on SMF bear this out.

    I am probably one of the few here who owns a Cookshack and a SI and can make a direct comparison. The SI 3D has a more versatile/programmable controller while the CS Amerique was more like that on an oven and simpler (set the temp and time of cook or temp and internal temp) and is deeper and can swallow whole brisket packers with no cutting down to size. If all else between the two were equal I would go with the SI. The controller took a little time getting used to the PID programming. The SI does everything the CS does for a lot less money (but admittedly more than the MES) and I am very pleased with it; so much so that we took the CS over to my son's house for his family.
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2016
  3. smoking4fun

    smoking4fun Smoke Blower

    After lots of research, I too went with the Smokin' It #3D.  I originally had an MES30, but in less than 1 year, the wires to the element fried (granted, they did send me a new element set even though it's out of warranty).  To me, the fact that it crapped out in less than a year due to a recurring issue (do a search for MES wiring issues, and you'll see it's pretty common) is a big red flag for me - so I decided to look at smokers other than Masterbuilt.  That's when I came upon the SI.  I haven't had it very long, and I think I have a short in the controller (which does bother me), but overall, I like the ease and convenience of the SI because it doesn't need some fancy mods to make it churn out better BBQ than the MES.  It's worth the money already.

    As for being able to do large quantities of meat...

    it's big enough to fit 2 full pork shoulders (total about 18-19 lbs) on the same rack...and could easily fit at least another 2 on a different rack.  I think the manual says that it can smoke somewhere around 40lbs of meat at a time.  Challenge accepted...
  4. old sarge

    old sarge Master of the Pit ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Congratulations.  Short in the controller?  More details please or have you contacted SI?  
  5. smokingearl

    smokingearl Meat Mopper

    MES 40 BT. Can't beat it for the price, it's well built and simple to use. In conjunction with the AMPS I can smoke in zero temps for 11 hours without having to do anything but drink some moonshine and wait for the meat to reach the desired IT.
  6. smoking4fun

    smoking4fun Smoke Blower

    I have, and Steve told me what to do to check it out, but I haven't had a chance to do it.  The problem is that after plugging in the unit, and I go to switch it on, sometimes it doesn't turn on the controller and I have to wiggle the soft plastic around the switch in order to get the controller to turn on.
  7. old sarge

    old sarge Master of the Pit ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Sounds like a simple fix, loose connection probably.  I am thoroughly enjoying mine and especially the larger racks. 
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2016
  8. jp61

    jp61 Master of the Pit ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Last edited: Apr 6, 2016
  9. old sarge

    old sarge Master of the Pit ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Looked mine over real well. It appears too well sealed against the elements for anything to be able to get into the contro unit and cause corrosion. Still thinking a lose connection.
  10. jp61

    jp61 Master of the Pit ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    That's very possible sarge. 

    With these fancy electronics these days, although mostly reliable, the possibilities of something malfunctioning are numerous. Without someone actually tearing into it, we're all just guessing.
  11. old sarge

    old sarge Master of the Pit ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    The controller is easy to open. A few screws and the cover comes right off.
  12. johnnytex

    johnnytex Fire Starter

    1+   Smokin-it (SI)
  13. bena

    bena Meat Mopper

    I had an connection issue with my SI3D- I called Steve... Steve called me - sent pictures back n forth and had it running in 15m.   A connection came loose during shipping and I had to unscrew a few screws and tighten some -wasn't a big deal and out of his control but I will say that the service was great ---I mean you talk to the owner and he has the right attitude to do what he can to make you a satisfied customer.
  14. old sarge

    old sarge Master of the Pit ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Can't control rough shipping. Stuff does happen to include a loose connection. But otherwise these smokers are pretty much bullet proof. And dealing with the owner is a real plus.
  15. laersmoker

    laersmoker Newbie

    It took me a while to reply - but I decided on the Smokin-it, and I couldn't be happier with the decision. Definitely wins for ease of use by a long shot, and my apartment's not filling up with smoke anymore! Winner.
  16. ndkoze

    ndkoze Smoke Blower

    Congrats on your purchase LA!!!

    You are going to love your Smokin-It smoker.
  17. old sarge

    old sarge Master of the Pit ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Welcome to the SI Club. Enjoy. 
  18. cmayna

    cmayna Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Not being an SI owner, are they as large as a Masterbuilt 40 ?     Since the  PO originally commented that they wanted a larger smoker to do what they wanted, I was concerned that though  the SI might be more efficient of a smoker than what they originally used, is it bigger?
  19. old sarge

    old sarge Master of the Pit ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    I would check the dimensions of the MES 40 in a store against what the SI site states for the model you may be looking at. 
  20. larigot

    larigot Newbie SMF Premier Member

    I'll cast my vote for the Smokin-It line, though I've only used mine twice and the first time was to season it! The second time I got carried away with the wood and ruined a perfectly fine rack of pork spare ribs from one of our local farmers. I've learned now -- the hard way -- to go easy on the wood. I have a Model #1, the smallest of the line, but there are only two of us and we rarely entertain more than 2-4 others at a time, so the #1 was a perfect size. This weekend I'm going to smoke (not ruin) a fresh chicken (from the same local farmer that produced the pork) and some thighs. Tonight I might try some cheese. Anyway, I researched smokers for nearly a year before deciding which one to buy. I'm happy for the customer experience with Smokin-it -- the owner has personally answered email within minutes, and the handwritten thank you note on the packing slip was a very nice touch. Yes, it cost some money, but I believe for the quality of the product, it's more than worth it.

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