Masterbuilt Electric Smokers

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crustyo44
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Masterbuilt Electric Smokers

Post by crustyo44 » Fri Oct 17, 2014 06:41

Hi Members,
A friend of mine would like some advise on the Masterbuilt Electric smokers.
After buying a Hark electric smoker he found out that it won't work properly under any conditions.
After a lot of phone calls he will be getting his money back.
He asked me for advise but I have never even seen one of them.
Do we have any members that own a Masterbuilt electric smoker, do they work OK in relation to temperatures, does it use all sorts of wood, sawdust, chips and pellets?
Quality and durability is an issue as well.
Thank you,
Cheers,
Jan.
rgauthier20420
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Post by rgauthier20420 » Fri Oct 17, 2014 13:49

Jan, I've got the MES 30" Generation #1. I couldn't be happier with it. I've made chicken, ribs, and tons of smoked sausage on it. It is digital and the temp setting goes from 100F to 275F. As with any electric/digital smoker, there's going to be a bit of variance on what you've set the temp to and what the actual temp is. So, a trusty remote thermo helps with this. I'd say it's decently accurate...I've never fat out a batch of slow smoked sausage yet :razz:.

They also make a 40" version that is larger and more $$$. Also they make 2 generations of each size, and you only want to get the 1st generation of each. This is the one with the electronics on the top/back of the smoker and not integrated into the door. There are widely known larger issues with the generation 2 models.

Eech version takes chips through the side loader and it'll burn whatever you put in it really. It burns better at higher set temps because the elements is running more often though. However, you need to load chips every 45 minutes or so if you're using the chip loader. I'd highly suggest an aux smoke attachment. Masterbuilt makes a cold smoker attachment that I've read works very well. It's not really a "cold" smoke attachment per se because it doesn't really get below 110 or so even when the smoker is off and you're only running the attachment.

There is another one called the A-MA-ZEN smoker which is a small little metal mesh "maze" that burns pellets. This is what I've got and I can fill it up and get a 10 hour burn and not touch a thing. With this extra and the MES, I can literally set it to temp and get the smoke going and not do a thing afterwards. Which usually doesn't happen cause I love to smell of thin blue smoke and beer together :mrgreen:

Let me know if you've got any questions. I can direct you to a great resource at another forum that has tons of pages of posts on this specific brand.
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Post by rgauthier20420 » Fri Oct 17, 2014 16:41

Jan, I thought I'd add a couple pictures of my smoker as an example. In it is 8 lbs of Andouille on the racks and the A-MA-ZEN smoker is the metal things sitting on top on the left side.

Image

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el Ducko
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Post by el Ducko » Fri Oct 17, 2014 17:28

Jan, I have the low-end Masterbuilt propane-fired unit, and a low-end electric Masterbuilt (actually three of `em, because they don`t work very well). I couldn`t get the propane unit to fire below 225 degF, so I bought a controller (off-and-on, so-called "bang-bang" controller) and hot plate. These work okay, and I can control temperature swings to +/- about 2 degrees by properly positioning the thermocouple, but I can`t input enough heat to reach the desired 155 degF IMT, and must remove the sausages to an inside oven at 170 degF to complete the process.

Figuring that I might do it right, I bought the low-end electric Masterbuilt unit. I put some thermocouple temperature sensors in the thing during "break-in," and immediately found three problems:
(1) The temperature gradient is 40 or 50 degrees F, top-to-bottom.
(2) The actual temperature is quite a bit higher than the setpoint temperature. I fit a line to the data. The actual temperature is the setpoint (indicated) temperature times 1.05 plus 7 degrees! The overshoot is a whole lot worse on startup, of course, so be sure to let the thing stabilize (somewhat) before loading it with your valuable sausage.
(3) The controller "controls" from 5 degF below to 10 degF above the control point. This limits how close to IMT you can set the controller. ...very frustrating.

I complained, and they sent me a new one. It did exactly the same. I complained again, and they sent me another one, which did exactly the same. My conclusion: poor design. Good news: if I buy extra doors, I have three of 'em, more or less. Bad news: they all have the same drawbacks. (...and they're too light to use as boat anchors.)

So I did several things:
(1) I ripped out the chip addition tube and tray, which I believe to be useless. You can only get an hour or so of smoke out of it, plus it burns unreliably at low temperatures. I use an Amazin` smoke generator, the shorter of the two tubular versions, and get 4 hours of continuous smoke. (The longer version is difficult to fit inside the smoker box.) It's my opinion, of course, but the Amazin' is the best smoke generator on the market!
(2) Following someone`s suggestion on WD, I installed a tray as low as I could go, with a two inch or so band of aluminum foil around the edge to prevent bypassing, with lava rock on the tray. This distributes smoke and heat pretty well.
(3) In a spreadsheet program, I fit a line (and you should fit one for your equipment), then used the equation to generate a table. To reach a desired temperature, I look up the necessary setpoint in the table.

The cycling problem remains. I can`t use temperatures above 160 or so because of the wide swing, so when I reach that level, I pull everything and take it inside to a 170 degF oven. (It controls quite a bit better.) It may be possible to relocate the controller`s thermocouple to a more central position, to reduce the swing. I could cure this by using a PID controller, as some forum members have, but I hate to throw more money at the dang thing.

My advice: You can get by with a low-end Masterbuilt, but I wouldn`t recommend it. RGauthier, would you mind posting that link to the other Masterbuilt info? Thanks.
Duk
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Post by rgauthier20420 » Fri Oct 17, 2014 17:35

duk, here's the forum that I always frequent with questions and such. It's more geared towards smoked meat rather than sausage, although it does have some great recipes and people for help. It's the subforum for electric smoker, and it seems to electric smoker of choice on the forum is the MES 30 or 40. So there's tons of info on issues and tons of knowledgeable people to help fix issues and problems.

http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/f/110/electric-smokers

Do you have the same MES as I do? I haven't done top to bottom measuring for temps on mine, but once heated mine doesn't seem to overshoot the set point by as much as you've noted.
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Post by sawhorseray » Sat Oct 18, 2014 01:08

rgauthier20420 wrote:duk, here's the forum that I always frequent with questions and such. It's more geared towards smoked meat rather than sausage, although it does have some great recipes and people for help. It's the subforum for electric smoker, and it seems to electric smoker of choice on the forum is the MES 30 or 40. So there's tons of info on issues and tons of knowledgeable people to help fix issues and problems.

http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/f/110/electric-smokers.
Thanks for posting that site, looks really nice, real friendly folks, I signed right up. RAY
“Good judgment comes from experience, and a lotta that comes from bad judgment.”
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