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I now have a Masterbuilt propane smoker and it's OK, not great in windy, winter temps but still it requires constant attention winter or summer. Looking for something I can set up before bedtime and wake up to a smoked shoulder or whatever. Even if I do it in daytime I want something less needy. My budget is $400.00 I think, I saw some electric for around $200.00. Some names are Pit Boss, Dyna-Glo, Cuisinart and of course Masterbuilt. Treager may be out of my price range.

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I have one of those basic electric Masterbuilt 30 units (without the glass door). I spent less than $200 - but then I bought the wheel-base attachment option so I can wheel it in and out of the house. Probably cost me $200 total (or thereabouts) when you factor that in.

It does OK for what I need it for. For the price, I can't complain and I like the food that comes out of it.

It does seem to keep a relatively even temperature once it finally gets up to temp and is running for about 20 or 30 minutes. So you do need to pre-heat it and get it up to temp - sometimes it will do an initial wild-temperature swing before it gets to good steady state and can maintain a steady (relatively speaking) temp. It will swing 10 or 15 degrees here and there, but it never gets too bad.

However, I will say, at the lower-end of the temperatures (say at or under 200 or so), I can't use wood chips - they never get hot enough to smoke. I learned my lesson. Now, if I need to smoke at a lower temp, I will put in it an Amazen Smoke Tube and smoke pellets instead of chips - those smoke tubes are great!

Also, even though my Masterbuilt has both a temp gauge and an internal meat thermometer, I've always read that built-in temp gauges are not reliable or very accurate. So I bought one of these - ThermoWorks Smoke. These are great, too. No need to keep going outside to look at the temp gauge to make sure things are going OK. The remote unit can be in the house and will show you the temps of the two probes (one for the temp in the smoker, one for the meat temp). There is an alarm that will beep if the temps go out of the range you select. You can use both probes, or you can opt to just use one probe for either the smoker temp or as a meat thermometer.

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I used to have a Bradley that I loved, but I burned it up. My kids all pitched in last year and bought me a Traeger for Father's day. I got to tell you it's awesome!! I never liked the pellet smokers before, but I'm a firm believer now. I have smoked about everything so far and have no complaints whatsoever!

Tight Lines,

DonW

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43 minutes ago, nycredneck said:

I now have a Masterbuilt propane smoker and it's OK, not great in windy, winter temps but still it requires constant attention winter or summer. Looking for something I can set up before bedtime and wake up to a smoked shoulder or whatever. Even if I do it in daytime I want something less needy. My budget is $400.00 I think, I saw some electric for around $200.00. Some names are Pit Boss, Dyna-Glo, Cuisinart and of course Masterbuilt. Treager may be out of my price range.

Did you try wrapping good welding blanket around it to help get the winter temps more even/less greedy on the propane?

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Pellet by a mile!! Set it and forget it. I put a pork shoulder at 3Am and I go to sleep. The thermometer tells me when it is done, 3 PM the next day, and there is nothing else to do.

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Although I have never wrapped it in a welding blanket I do cut cardboard to block the wind, hard to maintain steady temps even in summer and winter it will not get up past 275. I hate having to constantly adjust it. I heard about the electric being so well insulated that at LOW temps the coil produces no smoke, there is one that has a separate smoker coil for that. My buddy has a pellet Treager and swears by it.

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39 minutes ago, Lunatic said:

Pellet by a mile!! Set it and forget it. I put a pork shoulder at 3Am and I go to sleep. The thermometer tells me when it is done, 3 PM the next day, and there is nothing else to do.

which ones do you like?

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6 minutes ago, nycredneck said:

Although I have never wrapped it in a welding blanket I do cut cardboard to block the wind, hard to maintain steady temps even in summer and winter it will not get up past 275. I hate having to constantly adjust it. I heard about the electric being so well insulated that at LOW temps the coil produces no smoke, there is one that has a separate smoker coil for that. My buddy has a pellet Treager and swears by it.

Depends how low you are trying to smoke, I get smoke at 175º and if I have to go lower I usually put a bowl with ice and keep it below 100º

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16 minutes ago, nycredneck said:

it will not get up past 275

My electric Masterbuilt will also not get above 275 (I don't think the electric controller will even let you set anything higher). But that's not really "smoking" or BBQ anyway - those higher temps are more for grilling. If you want to get those higher temps, too, go with one of those pellet grills like a Traeger or something similar.

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1 hour ago, Lunatic said:

Pellet by a mile!! Set it and forget it. I put a pork shoulder at 3Am and I go to sleep. The thermometer tells me when it is done, 3 PM the next day, and there is nothing else to do.

What kind of smoker u got loony!!??

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1 hour ago, nycredneck said:

Although I have never wrapped it in a welding blanket I do cut cardboard to block the wind, hard to maintain steady temps even in summer and winter it will not get up past 275. I hate having to constantly adjust it. I heard about the electric being so well insulated that at LOW temps the coil produces no smoke, there is one that has a separate smoker coil for that. My buddy has a pellet Treager and swears by it.

The trick to smoking is to go 'slow and low'.

Any temperature much above the boiling point of water (212F) is basically too high.

You really need to stay in the 180-220F zone, ideally, the 195-215F zone.

It really does take far longer than slow roasting which is really what 275F would be doing.

Take a traditionally tough piece of meat and then let the low and slow cooking break down the collagens and 'relax' those muscle fibers.  You will love the results.

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1 hour ago, Lunatic said:

Pellet by a mile!! Set it and forget it. I put a pork shoulder at 3Am and I go to sleep. The thermometer tells me when it is done, 3 PM the next day, and there is nothing else to do.

I agree.  I have a pit boss cabinet style smoker and it is worth every penny.  Ribs, chicken, turkey, venison.....it all comes out great.  My blood pressure is up because I eat a lot more salty treats due to the smoker.  Very efficient on pellets too.  If you set it to 175 it will usually hold temp between 170-180.  Very easy to use. 

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