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Trouble finding a smoker that fits my needs

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    Trouble finding a smoker that fits my needs

    Hello! I have been analyzing (wife would call it obsessing...) over which next smoker to get. I have spent an embarrassing amount of time reading up on an incredible number of brands and models. I need some help to see if I am missing any models that may fit my needs better. I have enjoyed my series 7 vertical smoker from Louisiana Grills, but the temp runs away from me at times and is often over/under 30 degrees depending on the rack. It makes it difficult for parties as the meat comes out at different times. I have a coyote gas grill that came with my house so I don't need any ability to sear. I have three boys who will be as big as me (6'3") and love cooking for neighbors.

    Notes:
    • Only need a dedicated smoker as I have a gas grill already
    • Must have reliable temp through better heat retention & PID
    • Need over 650 square inches
    • Prefer under $2,000, but more importantly I don't want to pay for features I don't need
    • Prefer Wifi but not required
    • Prefer better build quality

    Some of the Models Considered
    • Yoder YS640S - I have a local dealer. It does everything I need, but it also does way more than I need. With any add-ons, it easily goes over $2,000.
    • MAK Grills 1 Star General Pellet Grill - Small cooking space and can get very pricey, but otherwise looks great and Meathead loves it!
    • Camp Chef Woodwind 36 - great features overall and looks like good temp control. It has a short warranty.
    • Camp Chef XXL Wifi Vertical Smoker - This looks like it would be fit the bill, but the hopper is small and the pellet burner rate. It has an enormous cooking space, which is far too big for me so just wasted heat and smoke.
    • Cookshack Fast Eddys 30-Inch Wood Pellet Grill - PG500 - Not the best value for the cost, but it has great reviews.
    • Pit Barrel Cooker - While not a pellet smoker, it seems as close to set it and forget it outside pellet smoker. It has a super passionate following.
    • Recteq RT-700 - Great features, build, warranty, and reviews, but it looks like it skipped leg day and has bull horns. Please don't hate me if you love the horns haha.
    • Pitts & Spitts Maverick 1250 Grill - probably my favorite at this price point, but I don't need the ability to grill so hard to justify.
    • Traeger Timberline 850 Grill - Traeger's rep seems to have taken a huge hit. For the price, I probably would jump for the Maverick.
    • Pitt Boss / Danson Grills - They don't have a PID controller. I am just so tired of the swings in temp.
    • Lone Star Grillz Pellet Smoker - It looks great, but similar issues to other more expensive brands. It has a bunch of features I don't need.
    • Grilla Grills Silverbac Alpha - After adding needed options, it runs a bit under $1k. It looks like a great build and has a good rep. It doesn't have a wifi temp so I would need to purchase one to watch the meat while I play with the kids.
    • Weber Smokefire ex6 - it looks great on surface, but the horrid experience of the 1st gen scare me. It looks like Weber is standing by the quality, but at $1,200 I could go with RT-700. Maybe I should just wait until the second gen comes out?

    Folks I need help. I am in full analysis paralysis mode here. Please offer any thoughts, suggestions, laughs for obsessing, etc. I appreciate your thoughts. If you made it this far, THANK YOU for taking the time.

    #2
    Tough spot. All the units listed have great reviews and avid followers I believe. I for one have the Recteq RT700 and love it. But I got the competition cart because I felt the same way as you about the legs. See my avatar. I am not going to go on about it though. Again, each of the units listed has it's merit. So not much help am I? I was in the same boat when deciding. In the end I did the old pro VS. con thing on sheets of paper for each unit being considered. Line down the middle, pros on left, cons on right. Really helped. Old fashioned method but it still works for me. Good luck pitmaster!

    Comment


    • Jfrosty27
      Jfrosty27 commented
      Editing a comment
      I did consider the Yoder. But when I added in all the options I would want to bring it in line with the Recteq, it was way more than $200 additional cost. I do not remember exactly, I I think it came out over $2500. Maybe more even. I would need to look back at it. Plus the six year warranty was the clincher. BTW, I've had it about a year and a half and no issues requiring the warranty so far.✌✌

    • Jfrosty27
      Jfrosty27 commented
      Editing a comment
      I just looked at the Yoder site. The 640 YS competition starts at $2399! Optioned out to where I wanted it brings it Over $3000. Ouch.

    • jasoncross11
      jasoncross11 commented
      Editing a comment
      That makes complete sense to me. I would add the front and side shelves at the least, which is another $219. I don't mind the Yoder's legs so $1800 plus another $219. Still though, I could just stick with $1,200 base RT-700 and get everything I need. The 6 year warranty is a big deal for me as well. Thanks!

    #3
    I don’t have a pellet, so I’m no help....but I loved the look of that LSG they just previewed last week

    one thing, it’s nice to have the “nice to haves” rather than buy something, dial in using it and then say I wish I would’ve got that feature. Now, I realize sometimes the price jumps considerably when looking at the next level, so maybe that doesn’t help you. But if it’s a little, just something to consider.

    reading your comments, I’d say the PBC is your best bang for the buck....and saves you a ton of money for something else.

    anyhow - enjoy what you do get! And show some pictures when you do!
    Last edited by barelfly; October 14, 2020, 07:54 AM.

    Comment


    • jasoncross11
      jasoncross11 commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks!! I will definitely post pictures. Smoking has quickly become my favorite and only hobby. I read this website for years and really enjoying engaging more.

      For the PBC, does it require a lot of baby sitting to keep the temp relatively even? I love the look and idea of the PBC, but I don't want to be attached to the grill on a Saturday instead of playing with my family, you know?

    • barelfly
      barelfly commented
      Editing a comment
      jasoncross11

      Check with HawkerXP or fzxdoc on the PBC, there are others that have PBCs also.

      But, if you really want a set it and forget, Lazy Q, I’ll recommend what I use - a Smokin-it! 3D smoker. It’s within in your price range, and will be exactly what you are looking for, what you need and nothing else...It’s an electric and uses small wood chunks. I don’t have the WiFi model, but they do have one. I’m happy to talk more if you have questions.

      https://www.smokin-it.com/Default.asp
      Last edited by barelfly; October 14, 2020, 09:56 AM.

    • jasoncross11
      jasoncross11 commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks for the suggestion! I will check it out. I am definitely in the Lazy Q stage for now haha.

    #4
    I know what you are going through and chose the Yoder because I viewed it as a lifetime investment and the extra dollars I spent over some other smokers I looked at would pay off in longevity. I am convinced that the Yoder will be around much longer than I will.

    Comment


    • jasoncross11
      jasoncross11 commented
      Editing a comment
      Definitely true, time horizon for use is a big piece. Lord willing, we aren’t moving for a long time. At the higher price point, I am looking at the Yoder or soon to be released Lone Star Grillz pellet smoker.

    #5
    Consider the Yoder now but get the add-ons over time.

    Comment


    • jasoncross11
      jasoncross11 commented
      Editing a comment
      Very good point, I have a local dealer so getting the add ons would be easy over time as budget and needs demand!

    #6
    I would think a pellet pooper would be what works best for you. I see them as a true "set and forget".

    I have a PBC and Weber kettles which give me all I need (for now). You can let the PBC pretty much do its own thing once you've figured out the startup procedure. If you are one who likes to fiddle with your cooker to get stable temperatures or one who must cook at 225* then I would not get a PBC.
    Checkout the channel sections for each of your choices to see if something might help you decide. Good luck!

    Comment


      #7
      Maybe glitchy will pitch in on his experience with the SmokeFire. I know he had some issues with it initially, but I think he likes it a lot now. I have a small pellet grill because I need portability.

      Comment


        #8
        What are the features in the Yoder and LSG that are more than what you need? Seems to me that the Yoder hits 5/6 of the preferences you listed and the fact you have a local place to get it and future add ons it's 6/6

        Comment


          #9
          Good luck! I know I got to a point that I had to stop researching, cause I thought I’d never make a decision. I’m only a week in with the Traeger so I can’t offer to much help but the Traeger community has been pretty great!

          Comment


          • jasoncross11
            jasoncross11 commented
            Editing a comment
            Haha thanks! You are right. I am giving myself one more week then I will make a decision. I discussed a neighbor has a Traeger so I will go check it out. He uses it more for casual grilling.

          • bbqLuv
            bbqLuv commented
            Editing a comment
            Traeger has an awesome community and feature how to videos on line--free is a vey good Price.

          #10
          I agree with several others, the Yoder meets your needs well. I have a non S model and have enjoyed it for over 3 years. Solid performance every time. Get the options you want later as you need them.

          Comment


            #11
            Those temp swings seem pretty severe. Have you tried running a different brand of pellets? I had the same problem until I found a brand that runs well in my pellet pooper.
            ​​​​​​

            Comment


            • jasoncross11
              jasoncross11 commented
              Editing a comment
              I tried four different brands. I am getting a new temp probe through their warranty to see if that is the issue too.

              What brand works for you?

            • willxfmr
              willxfmr commented
              Editing a comment
              In my cooker Lumberjack gives me the best results. Not sure if they were the 5th or 6th brand I tried. From reading a lot of different forums I came to the conclusion that no one brand is the "best". You just have to shoot for "best for you".

            #12
            I am currently in the "Looking" stages of pellet MCS. Have you checked out the Grilla Silverback Alpha? Sorry looks like you had that on your list.
            https://store.grillagrills.com/produ...RoC8NgQAvD_BwE

            If you are considering Charcoal I HIGHLY Recommend the Weber Summit Charcoal Grill.
            Super efficient and super versatile. Hook up a fan and it will hold temp for hours.
            Last edited by Old Glory; October 14, 2020, 02:40 PM.

            Comment


            • Old Glory
              Old Glory commented
              Editing a comment
              jasoncross11 pretty much what Andrr said. The port is pre drilled with a cover. Just pop in the fan.

            • jasoncross11
              jasoncross11 commented
              Editing a comment
              Thanks! I will read through the thread.

            • Andrrr
              Andrrr commented
              Editing a comment
              jasoncross11 For no other reason other than knowing, yes, you should read it. You never know when MCS will bite and you must be prepared!
              But I feel your concern, and I don’t know there is a cure. Unless you have the exact same cuts of meat in a cooker that has even convection front to back, left to right and top to bottom, you’ll need to rotate at some point. Find a way to determine if you like wood, charcoal or pellet flavor and there are a world of tools to help you maximize that flavor

            #13
            OK, I think you need to make some basic decisions and that will help focus your search. You talk about your needs, but only in terms of what the smoker can do. Just as important is what kind of food you like smoking and what smoke profile you want.

            First off... pellet or charcoal? Pellet seems to have lighter smoke profile than charcoal. What kind of profile are you after? I mean, do you really want to drop $2k on a pellet grill and then find that you don't like the profile? Or have you had food off of pellet grills and you like that profile?

            Second, how important is set and forget for long periods? If you want to smoke big pork butts or brisket at 225, that will take a long time - maybe 12-18 hours, depending. Pellets win there. But if you smoke them at 275 and they're 8-10 hours, you can get most charcoal smokers to last for most/all of that especially if you add a fan

            Third, budget. You can't really compare a PBC and a $2500 unit. I mean, you CAN, but...

            There are two approaches, I think. One, make the pellet/charcoal decision and don't look back. Just treat it as a 'gun to my head, gotta make a call or else' moment. Or, two, buy good versions of both. Sell the one you don't like (or keep it and use it when you want).

            To help (ha!) I'll add the Oklahoma Joe Bronco and the SNS grill with SNS holder and a fan to the to the charcoal list.

            AS I edit my typos and grammar, another thought... Get one of each no matter what. The PBC, OK Joe, kettle etc are all under $500. You could easily grab a Recteq, Camp Chef, Smokefire etc and one of those for under the $2000 budget you have.
            Last edited by rickgregory; October 14, 2020, 01:11 PM.

            Comment


            • jasoncross11
              jasoncross11 commented
              Editing a comment
              Second point, I like the flavor and texture of BBQ smoked at 225 for a long time. That said, adjusting one or twice in a longer smoke isn't a big deal.

              Third on budget. Good point, I am attempting to quantify the value and benefit of a $2k unit vs a PBC. Are the trade offs worth the saved money without knowing how much I truly value the extra features.

            • jasoncross11
              jasoncross11 commented
              Editing a comment
              Very good point on the budget considerations, at $2k I could literally buy a PBC and Camp Chef/Smokefire/Recteq and still be below budget. I may just start with the PBC and use it for a few months.

            • rickgregory
              rickgregory commented
              Editing a comment
              "I may just start with the PBC and use it for a few months."

              Thats what I'd do. They're, what, $349? I mean even if you decide you prefer the pellet profile you can either keep the PBC around for when you DO want that profile or as extra space for really big cooks or you can sell it. Even if you sell if to 50% off, it's about a $175 experiment.

              I do NOT think you get 7-8x better results from the $2k cookers. Much of what you pay for is materials and build quality there.

            #14
            Since you added a PBC to your list of pellet poopers, then you should consider a 22” WSM with an ATC and a Gateway rib hanger.

            Advantages to your criteria:
            • Fairly large cooking area. With the gateway rib hanger you can get 8-10 racks in.
            • Good smoke from wood chunks and better smoke flavor than the PBC or any pellet pooper.
            • With an ATC, you can absolutely set it and forget it at the temp you want. Gone to bed with the temp at 250 d and 6 hours later, still 250 d.
            • Under $1,000.
            Disadvantages:
            • You have to get your hands a little dirty.
            • Have to manage the fire a bit (aka adjusting the vents) to dial in the temp u want.
            • have to start a chimney of charcoal.

            Comment


            • jfmorris
              jfmorris commented
              Editing a comment
              I was going to throw the WSM 22 out there as well - even without a hanging kit, it checks the box of over 700 square inches cooking space, and has the bonus of being able to go off-grid, since it uses charcoal.

            • jasoncross11
              jasoncross11 commented
              Editing a comment
              Thank you for the recommendation! I will check it out. I am open to other options. I love the look of the WSM too. Are you talking about something like this for the ATC?

              https://www.amazon.com/master-Temper.../dp/B01LXQHTE3

              Wasn't aware you could buy just that part.

            • TripleB
              TripleB commented
              Editing a comment
              jasoncross11 - Yes, but I'm not familiar with that manufacturer. I've used BBQ Guru's in the past. And using a FireBoard now with the BBQ Guru fan. This website will have reviews on ATCs.

            #15
            I would not be concerned about occasional 30 degree over/under swings. If you were cooking at 250 and it went down to 220 or up to 280 I don’t think it would ruin your cook. My advice would be keep your current cooker unless you are dissatisfied with your results. Save the money for a real case of MCS. I noted that you don’t have a ceramic cooker on your list. They can hold steady in almost any weather. I use a WiFi controller on mine, and it fluctuates under double digits.

            Comment


            • jasoncross11
              jasoncross11 commented
              Editing a comment
              I guess I thought the swings were causing more issues than in reality. My problem is the heat difference between the racks, which I think I can manage around.

              Stupid question - what does MCS stand for?

            • LA Pork Butt
              LA Pork Butt commented
              Editing a comment
              jasoncross11 MCS = More Cooker Syndrome. It afflicts Pit members when they hear or read about a different cooker than theirs. I think it is more the experience of cooking on a different type cooker. Based on your comment below you no longer need a new cooker?

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