Convenience smokers

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Convenience smokers

Postby kjball » Wed Feb 24, 2016 9:34 am

Hey, I enjoy BBQ, but it's just a hobby I dabble in. My horizontal smoker is just too much work, especially now that my free time has been greatly reduced. I'm hoping you guys can help me decide on a new smoker. More of the set it and forget it style. I would like something I can set up, go knock out a brew day, and come home to delicious bbq. So, here are my questions:

Electric or pellet?
Brand/style recommendations. I don't need anything huge, just something big enough for a shoulder/brisket/several racks of ribs. Price is definitely a factor, I don't plan on ever doing this for more than a hobby.
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Re: Convenience smokers

Postby tony b » Wed Feb 24, 2016 12:04 pm

I don't own either style, so I don't have a lot of direct experience with them, but given that I cook with charcoal exclusively, my nod would go to pellet over electric. Randy has a Green Mountain and likes it, so hit him up for advice. I have another buddy who owns a Traeger and likes it a lot, too. Both are sold locally in CR. Green Mountain in Marion @ The Grill Works and Traeger is sold at the ACE Hardware on Center Pt Rd. So you can go see one "up close and personal."

Here's a nice write-up by Steven Raichlen on pellet grills.

http://barbecuebible.com/2015/02/20/new-pellet-grills/

Downside of the pellet ones is the cost. Electric smokers start a lot lower in price - roughly half.

Here's Meathead's (Amazing Ribs.com) database/reviews of electric smokers. There's a toggle on the left side if you want to filter the results by price, size, etc. and you could check out pellets in his database, too.

http://amazingribs.com/bbq_equipment_reviews_ratings/equipment-reviews?field_manufacturer_target_id=All&field_prod_function_tid%5B%5D=2&field_fuel_tid%5B%5D=5

Would like to hear what you ultimately decide to get.
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Re: Convenience smokers

Postby brianhall1024 » Wed Feb 24, 2016 12:16 pm

I just use my offset smoker, but I use pellets with the charcoal and love it... but it does require a bit more hands on...but pellets are a good way to go

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Re: Convenience smokers

Postby TappedOut » Wed Feb 24, 2016 3:07 pm

I'll give you my experience. First, I got an el cheapo electric Brinkmann. IIRC ~$60. It basically looks like an oven element in the bottom, and otherwise a standard "bullet" smoker. It was super convenient, and mostly worked well. I had a few experiences trying to smoke a turkey for Thanksgiving when it just didn't have enough power to maintain heat. I had to finish cooking in the oven, but it was still good. I would soak chunks of wood and put directly on the element, so definitely GFCI. (No smoke if just in proximity of element.) If by "convenience" you mean smoking when it's pleasant outside, it definitely does the trick.

After that, I got a Weber Smokey Mountain (standard size), which I love. Using charcoal, it's slightly less convenient than electric, but still not bad. I did 5 Boston Butts for a party last fall, and it had plenty of room. I typically put them on in the evening, check in ~ an hour to see that I'm pretty close on temp, adjust the vents as needed, and go to bed. Well, maybe check another time or two. Voila, yummy barbecue. Both of those smokers have a water pan, which helps to moderate the temp and keep things moist.
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Re: Convenience smokers

Postby czubak » Wed Feb 24, 2016 3:16 pm

I have been eyeballing a very small Trager ( I think) at Theisens for $299 for a while now. It would be perfect for me personally.

I own an electric brinkman like Tom described and if you want it, you can have it for a 6 pack. I ended up with it at an auction and never have used it other to plug it in to see that it holds temp. I can always use an excuse to hit up Big Grove
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Re: Convenience smokers

Postby middleTspeer » Wed Feb 24, 2016 4:22 pm

I have a green mountain pellet smoker and love it. It holds 8-12 hours of pellet with out refill. So I can start it before I go to bed and it will still be going when I get up in the morning. The in laws have a trager. It dose not cook as evenly as the green mountain. Plus it is a little smaller and dose not look as heavy duty.
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Re: Convenience smokers

Postby daryl » Wed Feb 24, 2016 4:44 pm

Can the Green Mountain hold the heat under winter conditions?
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Re: Convenience smokers

Postby carrisr » Wed Feb 24, 2016 4:58 pm

I too have a Green Mountain and am pretty happy with it. I've had a few issues with the ignition, but they were pretty good about taking care of it. As for colder outside temps you can get an insulated cover that works well.

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Re: Convenience smokers

Postby carrisr » Wed Feb 24, 2016 5:05 pm

Also an advantage of a pellet smoker is that it doubles as a grill. It's all indirect heat though so you don't get the sear you can get with charcoal. But I use mine a lot for cooking in the warmer months. I bought a stone and make pretty good pizza on it.

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Re: Convenience smokers

Postby kjball » Wed Feb 24, 2016 5:07 pm

Thanks for the perspective Tom. Chris, I may take you up on that. I will have to get permission from the boss. By convenience I just mean being able to set it up, and not having to babysit it. So something with automatic temp control.
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Re: Convenience smokers

Postby kjball » Wed Feb 24, 2016 5:08 pm

Randy, you posted while I was typing. Thanks for your input, too.
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Re: Convenience smokers

Postby middleTspeer » Wed Feb 24, 2016 5:55 pm

I use my green mountain year round. With the cover it holds heat well. I also like the ability to set and hold the temperature at 5° increments.
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Re: Convenience smokers

Postby tony b » Wed Feb 24, 2016 7:25 pm

kjball wrote:Thanks for the perspective Tom. Chris, I may take you up on that. I will have to get permission from the boss. By convenience I just mean being able to set it up, and not having to babysit it. So something with automatic temp control.


Just about all of them have auto temperature control, except Tom's Smokey Mountain (there are after-market controllers that will work with the Weber, too.)
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Re: Convenience smokers

Postby karl » Tue Mar 29, 2016 5:35 pm

I'm just about to pull the trigger on buying a GMG DB (the middle sized one). The other leading option was the Yoder YS640, but the combination of price and local support has me leaning to the GMG despite its lighter build.

The main uses are pork butt, ribs, chicken and of course baconator like preparations.

Any last advice?

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