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Help me pick my new smoker

Bilbo6209

New member
I'm in the market to replace a Pitt Boss pro 1150, Yes I know it is a brand new grill why would I be replacing it so soon….

Start rant
sorry for the rant
I am 100% done dealing with Dansons for any reason!
Two summers ago (2019) I purchased a Louisiana 24" ceramic grill from Costco, on unboxing I noticed the lid didn't sit closed fully. I poked around and found the ring that held the lid was bent/twisted. I contacted support and they shipped a replacement upper ring. Got the ring and noticed it was different, though they updated the design so I took the grill apart to swap out the ring only to find the replacement ring didn't fit. Called customer service again and they shipped another ring, it was a different ring and was clearly labeled for a 22" grill…. This happened a total of 5 times! My case was referred to the VP of customer service. We went back and forth in email and phone calls for a week or so before I decided to take the grill back to Costco.
Fast forward to the end od 2020 and I saw that Pitt Boss was dropping a Lowes exclusive Pro 1150 pellet smoker, it ticked off everything I wanted in a replacement for my old Traeger (old school with welded on legs and heavy steel) so I bought one. Out of the box the grill wouldn't hold temp, 180/smoke was OK, 225 and 250 woild actually lose temp and were unusable… called Dansons and after some work and talking to a supervisor, they agreed to ship out a replacement controller with no directions on how to replace it. In the process I was verifying Temps with my Thermoworks Signals temp probe (calibrated with ice and boiling water several times through the testing of the Pitt Boss), being that the temp was within spec at 180and 350 and 400 the supervisor stated the temp probe Iis fine, I questioned if we should replace it anyway to be safe he said no we proved it wasn't the issue, and shipped the controller. New controller, with new firmware, got here and I tested… at every temp setting, the displayed temp (actual temp that controller thinks it is at) was around 20% higher than actual temp recorded by my Signals…. Displayed temp of 180 read 155 to165 on the signals, 225 on controller read 185 to 195, 250 read 205 to 215, 300 read 255 to 265, 400 read 345 to 355. Yes I understand that there will be some fluctuations in temp and the grill will not keep the temp exactly at the set temp but 20% off is way too much!
I reached out to customer service again, was told they would pass my case back to the supervisor who handled it previously, 5 days later I get a call I couldn't answer and realized it was Dansons but the caller didn't leave a message. I tried calling back and was told the supervisor wasn't available. The next day I received an email telling me they were shipping a temp probe, after the supervisor swore up and down the temp probe wasn't the issue being that the temp at smoke was within spec.
I gave up on customer support and reached back out to the VP of customer service, he agreed the temp probe most likely wouldn't fix the issue and sent me another controller. I swapped in the new controller and tested all Temps again… same Temps on Signals as the first replacement controller grrr. I swapped out the temp probe and tested again, exact same Temps…
My hunch is that no one tested with an external temp probe and took the R&D developers word that the new firmware fixed the issues.

I have wasted 30 to 40 lbs of pellets, countless hours swapping parts and testing on two grills from Dansons… I'm done with their grills!

Sorry rant mode deactivated!

I have a ceramic grill and am really looking for a larger format pellet smoker. 90% of the time my old traeger never saw Temps over 300. I want something bigger for the 10% of the time when I want to do something large like a suckling pig etc

Things that are a must in a pellet grill/smoker
Good smoke profile on food
Very good build quality
Great customer service, hopefully it is never needed but if it is I want great service
Larger size, 32 to 36" wide grilling area
Good height of grilling chamber
I live in MN and cook outside all year round, so good cold weather performance is a must (I can live with a blanket for the grill if needed)
PID controller
Hopper big enough for a longer cook, brisket, shoulders etc.
Ability to smoke at lower Temps (either cold smoke with amazing maze or built in function, or at a minimum smoke at 150 or 160)
2nd shelf in smoker to expand usability, or at least the ability to add one as needed

What is a desire but not a deal breaker
Side shelf
Front shelf
Wifi (preferred to be able to monitor cook away from home)
Easy ash/firebox cleanout

I debated a vertical pellet smoker vs a pellet grill, from what I have read a vertical should have a better smoke profile on meats, and due to smoke cooling as it rises the top shelves should be cooler for cheese, fish etc… BUT due to the smaller size a vertical smoker wouldn't do well with a single larger item like a suckling pig, yes I could cut the piggie in half and put it on 2 shelves but that isn't as impressive for serving etc. And it makes it harder to stuff the cavity with herbs etc for flavor. So I don't think I want to go with a vertical pellet smoker but would be open to the option if there are compelling reasons to.

In my looking I have narrowed my search down to the following grills
Recteq rt-700
Pros
Great build quality
Great customer service
Great reviews
Wifi
PID
Cons
No pellet door for easy pellet changes
No 2nd shelf included, but one is available
From what I am seeing lowest temp is about 170 to 180
No easy method for cleaning ash/firebox

Camp chef woodwind 36"
pros
Looks like decent build quality
Simple ash/firebox cleaning
Wifi
PID
Decent size 2nd shelf
160 lowest temp setting
Easy pellet swaps
Cons
No front shelf, but one available
Reports of poor cold/windy weather performance, but fitted blanket available
Out of stock everywhere
Pellet pro 1190
Pros
US built
PID
Wifi available ($200 for upgraded PID with wifi)
Looks like great build quality
7 year warranty
Depending on pics and description, either smallish 2nd shelf or almost full size 2nd
shelf
Huge hopper
Easy pellet swaps
Can add cold smoke adaptor
160 temp setting on both PID options
Cons
Standard shop vac ash/firebox cleaning
Expensive shipping ($150 home delivery)
Out of stock for at least a month
GMG Jim Bowie prime plus
Pros
Great built quality
Great customer service
Good cold/windy performance
150 or 160 temp setting
Wifi
Pid
Front shelf
Designed for rotisserie
Cons
No 2nd shelf, but options for adding one
No pellet dump option

Some others I looked at but removed from the list for one reason or another.
Gorilla silverback, cook area is smaller than desired and only goes down to 180.
MAK, unless I get the huge grill they don't offer a grill in the size I want
Traeger, most are not as big as I want and the ones that are are expensive
Weber smoke fire, the ex6 is big enough but only goes to 180 and I'm not sure they have fixed their controllers yet either.

I looked at a few pellet vertical smokers, but people talked about having to slide the racks out to fiddle with what you are cooking (assuming you are using multiple racks) this seems like it would be way too easy to pull a tray out a hair too far and drop the meat on the ground. I was very interested in the smoke daddy but had the same concerns; high shipping cost, out of stock and no easy ash/fitepot cleaning. But it has some very nice features; top or side outlet for smoke, double walled, convection fan, US made etc. But with 20" square shelves it would be hard to do larger items like a piggie.
I also looked at the Camp Chef xxl wifi and loved that it came with sausage hooks, jerky trays and regular racks, had easy ash/firebox cleaning, easy pellet dump… but it is single walled and reviews show smoke pouring out the doors.

Am I being silly looking at a big grill vs vertical smoker? If I want to cook something like a piggie should I just grin and bare it and cut the pig in half and put it in a vertical smoker being that there are several that would check off all my requirements? Or should I get a pellet grill? As I'm typing this up I'm kind of leaning back toward a vertical smoker vs grill lol
 

mcschlotz

Member
I take it you regularly put something on to smoke that actually requires 30-36", ie piglets for example? Or, is this based upon the shear amount of meat being smoked at one time?
 

Bilbo6209

New member
No until I got the pro 1150 (36" grill) I have never had a grill/skoker to do anything that big, But I have wanted to, but it is something I would like to do a few times a year at most.

To date the biggest thing I have smoked was 6 or 7 racks of ribs, I used a stand to hold the ribs upright on my old Traeger but even with the rack to hold the ribs it was way too much for the smoker.
 
I’d go with the MAK 3 star. I think it will do what you want but it is pricey. Yet, I don’t think you can beat the quality or the customer service with MAK. Great company & people!!
 
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