Keep the kettle and get an Akorn.
My thoughts from a response to a recent post about the Akorn:
"Had my Akorn about a month and a half now and have done about 25 cooks.
I got it over the slightly higher priced Costco Vision model as:
- the cooking grates on the Vision seemed to be very problematic in regards to taking apart and putting back together whereas the Akorn cooking grate setup could not be more intuitive.
- the Akorn is lighter so I can move it up on the deck below cover if rain is coming....I can do this alone.
- there are slots for a heat diffuser in the Akorns inner basket but not the Vision...and a Weber charcoal grate from a 22.5 kettle fits the inner basket.
- The Akorn has a cast iron cooking grill and the upper swiveling rack is stainless steel whereas the Vision has both cooking racks stainless steel....a real good steak deserves cast iron as far as I am concerned. This last point sealed the deal for me.
What I have observed so far about my Akorn:
- Smoke levels in general have not been what I was hoping for. Not sure what the deal is here. I have been using 1/3rd width firebricks as a heat deflector (tried a pizza stone and large round baking pan as well) with and without water pans. Smoke flavour is clean, I get some smoke ring but usually not pronounced. I just want MORE.
- Steaks seared on the cast iron cooking grill above coals placed on the diffuser rack are outstanding. I take 2 grates from the bottom of 22.5 Kettles and offset them at the diffuser level so the coals are closer to the steaks. If you smoke the steaks a little at 180f ahead of time they taste even better.
- I have experimented with putting less coal and a little briquette with the lump to get lower more managable temps and had success. The last time I did this I put firebricks in the bottom of the cooker to create a even path for the lump/briquette/wood chunks mix.....no big circle of fuel to burn however it wanted. I was able to hold in the 215-225 range no problem. I will echo others comments on how if this Akorn get to a high temp....good luck getting it back down.
- What this thing does for chicken is AMAZING. Not just crispy skin but crunchy skin. Only done 2 whole chickens so far on it but they were both outstanding.
- I have done 5 rounds of pizzas so far. All good...I can get better though. My problem is I have to rely on the dome thermometer as my probe only goes up to 400f. I did the first 2 rounds of pizza without using a heat deflector under the pizza stone . That was a mistake as the crust was getting done before the rest of it.
- I have cooked one butt and 2 sessions of ribs and not been terribly impressed. The butt was a smaller cut and I questioned the lower level of fat on on it beforehand so I am gonna let that cook go but the ribs have not had the crust on them I would like to see. They were moist but not juicy and the smoke level was a lower than I like. I am not giving up but I must pass on these observations.
- Seals and joints seem to be tight on mine....no air leak issues here.
Is this the be all and end all of smokers? Probably not. Would I recommend buying the Akorn? Heck yeh!!! Go git one. Know I also have 4 other smokers though...... Bradley digital, New Braunsfels cheapo, 22.5 OTG and a Cinder Block Pit.