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How does your MAK perform in wind and cold?

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    How does your MAK perform in wind and cold?

    I'm slightly bummed with the performance of the SmokeFire in windy and especially cold on top of windy conditions and I don't like fighting to light charcoal and not burn down the house when it's windy either. This isn't a knock of the SmokeFire as it's pretty much on par with every < $1000 pellet grill I've owned in these weather conditions and it probably does better than most I've had, but it's still less predictable and enjoyable cooking and is already a bit of a pellet hog when it's not windy.

    For those of you that own a MAK, what's the worst weather you've run it in? How well did it perform? Did the weather have ANY noticeable affect on the cook? Did you have a cheaper pooper before to compare to?

    I've been debating getting a gasser to be able to use when I don't think the SmokeFire is going to perform its best, but the sensible side of me keeps nagging me that I'll probably fully cook things on it like 5-6 times a year and sear a few steaks from the Sous Vide bath or smoked on a pellet grill beyond that. I know the MAK won't sear a steak quite like the SmokeFire, but it seems like it might be a more suitable solution for me than a gasser. Being an uninsulated pellet grill, does it really work better in less than ideal conditions than Weber, Traeger, CampChef, etc.?

    I got excited when I saw the One Star used to have a wind baffle, but upon talking to MAK they quit making this baffle as it generally caused more problems than good as most users had no need for it.

    #2
    I'm not sure my experience, weather wise, is similar enough to what you have in IA. My biggest weather challenge is typically wind. We get a brisk sea breeze almost all the time, and sometimes some gale-level winds. I've smoked in 20-25 mph winds with no issue at all - that is, the MAK holds the temp I want fairly solid (measured with Fireboard and Signals). I do not do any searing with my MAK as I have a gasser with infrared burner that does that part better than any pellet pooper (except maybe PG500). I did have a Camp Chef DLX before that that had major issues keeping temps, sometimes running +/- 30* from setpoint.

    The one aspect I cannot comment on is really low ambient temps. Getting down to 40* is about the most frigid we get.

    Comment


    • glitchy
      glitchy commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks for the feedback. How quick is recovery after you open the lid to flip, baste, rearrange, etc.?

    • GolfGeezer
      GolfGeezer commented
      Editing a comment
      glitchy usually within 5 minutes. I may have.some FireBoard graphs that might show this, but I didn’t note weather conditions on my cooks. Now I’m really lazy and just use the FB to monitor without much attention to documenting my cooks.

    #3
    Why not a double insulated Grilla grill or Silverbac there glitchy?

    Comment


    • glitchy
      glitchy commented
      Editing a comment
      If I buy another pooper, it will most likely be US made and I don’t think the Grillas really have a searing solution do they?

    • IFindZeroBadCooks
      IFindZeroBadCooks commented
      Editing a comment
      Definitely not US made but GrillGrates help with the searing though. I know you’re not a huge fan of the grates but you do get the wind protection so I guess it is a matter of priorities.

    #4
    I've had my MAK 2 Star since July and have used it quite a bit. I'm very happy with it and would probably buy another one. However I've had a 2004 Traeger (made in USA) for about 6 years and a 2010 Memphis Pro (Also made in USA) for 10 years. I don't feel cold weather (above 15F) bothered any of the 3 much other than using more pellets. I also feel the wind makes more difference than ambient temperature does. I run mine on the east side of my garage so I'm out of the strong winds most of the time. As far as searing goes the MAK is the only one that had any searing area and that works better than I figured it would but my expectations for searing were pretty low. There's nothing like a CI pan or Charcoal for a really good sear IMO. I use my MAK more in the cooler weather (below 30F) than a charcoal grill just for the ease of it. I hope I answered your concerns. Feel free to ask more questions or PM me for details if needed. Good luck with your decision.

    Comment


    • glitchy
      glitchy commented
      Editing a comment
      Yeah, my Memphis never missed a beat in the cold and really dropped low on pellet consumption when it ignited the grease, but it was hard to keep the temps low then ;-) The Traegers back then were thicker steel too, right? Happy for the feedback that you feel the MAK performs on par with them.

    • glitchy
      glitchy commented
      Editing a comment
      Skip, do you ‘grill’ on the MAK when it’s that cold? If so, even if it’s not searing a steak, but say grilling burgers or chicken, hot quickly does it recover after you open it to flip and such? Do temps seem to stay even?

    • Skip
      Skip commented
      Editing a comment
      II do grill a little in the real cold but feel it recovers pretty well when grilling in most cold weather. It probably does add a few minutes to a cook though. I'm thinking the first Traegers (made in USA) were a little sturdier than the first made in China but that's all changed since models have changed a lot by now. Only my Opinion.

    #5
    It doesn't dip below 20 here very much, but 225 cooking overnight the other day at 29 with wind and it didn't eat pellets at all during an all night cook. Depends which way the wind is going though, wind straight in the back vents can cause it to cook 5 degrees below setpoint but thats an easy fix.

    As far as grilling temp, I can get to 450 in any temp/conditions with most pellet brands pretty easy which is fine for grilling. But getting it to 600 is almost impossible on the coldest winter days without the perfect pellet and weather conditions. Grill mode on the MAK will eat some pellets but that's par for the course.

    Comment


    • glitchy
      glitchy commented
      Editing a comment
      If I have to pay $500 for a flame zone and an extra rack, it’s hard not to just go 2 Star.

    • GolfGeezer
      GolfGeezer commented
      Editing a comment
      glitchy The new Flamezone is standard for all MAKs now. You do not pay “extra” for it on the 1 Star. Their website is not that well updated. Easy enough to call them and get it straight from them.
      Last edited by GolfGeezer; January 29, 2021, 09:31 PM.

    • ItsAllGoneToTheDogs
      ItsAllGoneToTheDogs commented
      Editing a comment
      glitchy like GolfGeezer said the flmazone is standard on the 1 star now, the price bumped a tad but not 500. However I really wish I had the extra racks. They will sell them for the old 2 stars, which is where MAK shines (I can upgrade my older MAK to 99% of the newest model). But you can get a ton of ribs or chicken on 4 racks, you can do a lot of jerky on 4 racks, those are things I do a lot of and also the things a pellet grill shines with. You can do up to 4 briskets on 2 racks in the MAK

    #6
    Traeger Timberline 850 Review by Owner. Real World Examples. Is it worth the money? - Bing video
    This is the main reason my next pellet grill will be the Trager Timberline 850.

    Comment


    • glitchy
      glitchy commented
      Editing a comment
      I do think Traegers go well with PBR.

    • glitchy
      glitchy commented
      Editing a comment
      What is your current pellet grill? I don't know if you are serious or joking about this. I used to love Traeger, they're actually not as bad as their rap gets them, everyone always hates the market leader like everyone hates the QB that goes to the big game 10 times in 20ish years. I have a really bad taste after the D2 rollout though, their Customer Service was just downright rude though most everyone with a D2 Pro was having problems, it was not a known issue in their service department.

    • bbqLuv
      bbqLuv commented
      Editing a comment
      I have a Cabela's brand pellet grill. Made by Dansons, the parent company of Pit-Boss.
      It does a good job cooking, got to know your cooker. It has a window in the lid that I get to clean. It also has a sliding cover to allow cooking over an open flame. It actually holds temp when it is in the high 30's and low 40's.

      I never consider buying a cutting edge, first fun product. That is why I look forward to an upgrade to a proven product.

    #7
    I went with Blazn' Grills because it was insulated and has a gasket. I don't have it yet but cold weather is an issue for me since I cook year round outside. Made in USA in Nebraska where it gets very cold. The Grid Iron (with extra shelves, cover, insulation, WiFi, Pellet Dump, Meat Probe, shipping, etc) is much bigger and is about $1,000 less money than a MAK 2 Star. ($2300/$3300)

    MAKs are supposed to be amazing cookers. I'm sure you would love it.

    Comment


    • Skip
      Skip commented
      Editing a comment
      Blazin' Grills are are great choice in my opinion! And made in USA. I almost bought one when I got my MAK last summer.

    • Meathead
      Meathead commented
      Editing a comment
      I think I let it all hang out in my review. I use it in all weather. https://amazingribs.com/ratings-revi...t-grill-review

    • glitchy
      glitchy commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks Meathead. I’ve read that review several times and that’s why I’m looking at the MAK and why I’m keeping expectations in check for searing. Just wanted to hear from others too since lots of factors can play in like even which way your house faces...my old house never had wind issues because it faced 180 the opposite of the current and blocked the wind for grilling 90 percent of the time.

    #8
    glitchy This isn't grill temp, but I figured I'd give you a sorta cold picture for startup... 31 degrees outside, slight 5mph wind random direction... starting with an empty hopper and auger.... 7 min to ignition (it's about 1.5 min when you start with auger full already... 13 minutes to get to and hold set temp of 225. In the summer thats a bit faster, but the MAK has pauses in the startup algorithm so it doesn't overshoot initial set temp. Now it's holding dead steady at 225 for the last 20 minutes (not captured on graph). I think it would take about 20 minutes to get to 500 right now, but more like 40 min to get to 600. I'll do a burnoff at the end of my jerky cook tomorrow to get you an actual measured time. And tomorrows weather is cold as heck with rain and wind all day

    Click image for larger version

Name:	MAK startup 31 degrees.PNG
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    Comment


      #9
      Remember: Hot air cannot sear. To sear you need exposure to Infrared energy from flame, glowing coals, embers or conduction from hot metal. Most pellet smokers are like your indoor oven. They can make hot air, but you wouldn't sear a steak in your oven would you? Now you can put a cast iron pan (or other metal pan) or griddle in a pellet smoker and when it gets hot it can sear beautifully by conduction. Or you can get a $30 Hibachi and it will outsear most pellet smokers. The exception is the Weber Smokefire which can sear with flame and one or two others have side burners.

      Comment


        #10
        The newer maks can be set up with what is called the flame zone with direct exposure to the pellet fire. I have not opted in to this because I do all my searing over charcoal.
        Last edited by lostclusters; January 30, 2021, 12:22 PM.

        Comment


        • Meathead
          Meathead commented
          Editing a comment
          I have it. I is just not enough to get a proper sear to my taste.

        • ItsAllGoneToTheDogs
          ItsAllGoneToTheDogs commented
          Editing a comment
          Yeah the current MAKs can grill, even on the factory grates, but for a good sear (like Meathead posted a pic of below) I use a cast iron pan. Usually works fine since I preheat the pan while on smoke mode and doing reverse sear... then move the meat to warming box on the 2 star and the pan heats up a bit faster while going to grill temp.

        #11
        Just to be clear, this is what I call a proper sear. More on the subject here https://amazingribs.com/more-techniq...hould-not-flip
        Attached Files

        Comment


        • Old Glory
          Old Glory commented
          Editing a comment
          When I don't have time for charcoal, Sous Vide and cast iron pan on a gas grill gets me there.

        #12
        My Mak 2 star performs well in any weather. I have had it for about 8 years and love it. The pit boss controller is arguably the best in the business. I just upgraded to the new flame zone but have only cooked on it once since adding.

        I also have a Mak 3 star general. It wasn’t my best purchase. It doesn’t hold more than two 2 stars and with cart costs significantly more than two 2 stars. It is at a machine shop and we are working to expand capacity to at least double and plan to add a rotisserie.

        I’m with Meathead and ItsAllGoneToTheDogs it does ok searing but there are certainly better methods for a good sear.
        Last edited by dirtman; January 30, 2021, 06:44 PM.

        Comment


          #13
          Thanks for all the great feedback. I’m really not that focused on the searing. I’ve had a SmokeFire, Memphis Pro, CampChef Woodwind, and GMG Daniel Boone with ‘searing’ solutions (listed in the order of sear performance) out of too many pellet grills I’ve owned. I feel like I have a very good guess how it will sear and expect it to fall between the Memphis and CampChef a little closer to Memphis.

          What’s really hard to see from specs, pictures, etc. is how sealed a grill is and the details of how steady the temps stay left to right in heavy winds, how quickly it recovers, etc. For recovery I’m more worried about that performance when cooking something like burgers, chops, chicken parts at the 375-450 range in breezy weather. I’m already used to making sure the wind isn’t blowing into the rear vents.

          Comment


            #14
            glitchy hopefully this helps better... smoke mode with the auger already full from last night, ignited in 1.5 min, to smoke temp in about 9 (today smoke averaged at 175, it was 34 degrees, very cold rain and 10 mph swirling winds when I started).

            Click image for larger version  Name:	0131211205_HDR.jpg Views:	0 Size:	4.21 MB ID:	983019
            After 5 hours I moved my jerky to the warming box for a total of 9 hours before I removed everything and went into burn off mode to get you the time to grill temp. At this point, its 41 degrees outside, heavy rain, and 5ish mph wind. Real feel is 31 degrees if that affects grills I dunno, but I was freezing

            From 175 to an acceptable grill temp of 450 was a surprising 15 minutes. From there things slowed down and after an hour I can't break 560. These pellets reliably go to 595 if not the max of 600, but I suspect its a combination of an ash filled firepot from the long smoke session and the weather. Recovery time from opening long enough to scrub the grates was about 3 minutes to get back to 560. The spike to 200 was when I removed the flamezone covers after moving stuff to the warming box so I could go straight to grill mode at the end of the cook. Took it a few minutes to level out after a few hours cooking with them in place.



            Click image for larger version  Name:	to grill temp.PNG Views:	0 Size:	46.2 KB ID:	983024
            Last edited by ItsAllGoneToTheDogs; February 1, 2021, 07:19 AM.

            Comment


            • glitchy
              glitchy commented
              Editing a comment
              Thank you so much for sharing this, great info. Just curious what were the pellets? Sorry if I missed that.
              Last edited by glitchy; January 31, 2021, 08:59 PM.

            • ItsAllGoneToTheDogs
              ItsAllGoneToTheDogs commented
              Editing a comment
              glitchy I was using Smokehouse comp blend from Sams club, I've been very happy with the price/performance of them. I think off the top of my head they are Oak, Hickory, and Maple.

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