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Q-talk *ON TOPIC ONLY* QUALITY ON TOPIC discussion of Backyard BBQ, grilling, Equipment and just outdoor cookin' in general, hints, tips, tricks & techniques, success, failures... but stay on topic. And watch for that hijacking.


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Unread 09-15-2013, 07:20 AM   #1
LI Pig Congress
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Default pellet vs bbq guru & char coal.

I love cooking, if I could start over from high school I'd absolutely go to culinary school. Currently I have a full time job as well as owning my own exterior cleaning company, so finding time to grill and smoke is difficult. . I have had worked with a few cheap offsets and a steel egg style. Currently getting by with a Webber gas, and its Time to up grade. I've been suggested to look at pellet cookers and am interested in the Yoder, as well as a few others. I don't have any experience with them and would like to know the down side. I could for see pellets getting costly. I'm also thinking of getting into a bit of weekend catering, as well as a comp or 2 a year. Originally I was looking at an insulated vertical with stoker, but am now considering a pellet.
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Unread 09-15-2013, 07:33 AM   #2
Ron_L
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There are several recent threads on this subject, so try using the Google search near the bottom of the page. It searches just this forum.

You'll get a lot of opinions on this ranging from "Pellet cookers rule the world" to "you have to be a farking idiot to use a pellet cooker"

As far as downsides, the most common hits against pellet cookers are the lighter smoke flavor, and, in the case of pellet grills, they don't get hot enough to sear. Most of the time these come from folks who haven't used a pellet cooker. If you know what you are doing you can get good smoke flavor, but it will never be as strong as some other smoker types. But, in 6 or 7 years of cooking on pellet smokers no one has ever told me that my food didn't have enough smoke.

As far as searing on pellet grills, it depends on what you buy and how you cook. Some of the lower end pellet grills don't go above 450 or so but you can still get a nice sear using Grill Grates on them. Others, like the Yoder or the Cookshack pellet grills have a special searing area that do a great job. Still others, like the Memphis line, will hit 650 degrees and do a great job by themselves.

One other hit against pellet cookers if their dependency on electricity. If you are cooking at home this isn't a big deal unless there is a power outage in your area, but typically is that happens you're going to be worried about more than grilling or smoking For competitions or cooking in the field for camping, etc. pelletheads use a battery backup system of sorts of have a generator handy. That requirement is the same for those using fan controllers like a Guru.

I hope this helps. If you have specific questions, ask away!
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Unread 09-15-2013, 07:42 AM   #3
IamMadMan
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Pellet smokers have come a long way over the years. While they have their own pit controller to keep the feed of pellets moving to maintain the set pit temperature. I had a Traeger for a short time, and it worked fine, my only complaint was the small cooking surfaces and the lack of smoke flavor.

I am sure that things have improved over the years, and maybe the smoke output has improved.

My concern when choosing my last smoker was the amount of cooking space in respect to the actual footprint of the unit.

I wound up purchasing an insulated vertical smoker with adjustable shelving. It was also tall enough to hang sausage for cold smoking as well.

After purchasing a few smokers that I was unhappy with after using them, I took a scientific approach to selecting a smoker that fit my own needs.

I selected a Humphrey's Down East Beast with a BBQ Guru and 25 cfm fan. I always thought the Guru thing was nothing but "poppycock", just an expensive toy. I soon changed my mind when I used it. It is a great tool when used as designed, it even steps down the pit temperature when the food begins to near the internal food setting.

On my cooker a five pound load of lump charcoal will cook for over 12 hours at 250°.

Here is a link to my approach of selecting my final smoker.. Why I Chose a Humphrey's Down East Beast. Maybe it will help you with some sense of direction. There are so many different pits out there that do a great job that it can be exhausting trying to read between the lines of cloudy specs on sizes and options.

Good Luck..
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Unread 09-15-2013, 08:52 AM   #4
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I have a Treager and a cheap offset smoker. I love the Treager the best advice I can give about pellets is use good pellets makes all the difference in the world. It holds temp very well also it is very easy to change temps durning the cook. And you can't beat it for starting butts the night before. The cheap stick smoker is nice to use but very labor intensive as you have to monitor the fire all the time. At some point I will be getting a real good stick smoker I hope.
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Unread 09-15-2013, 09:06 AM   #5
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Charcoal because you can cook directly over the fire ..and yes way better smoke flavor
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Unread 09-15-2013, 09:11 AM   #6
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I have experience with two Traegers, a Yoder, and multiple charcoal smokers. I will try to organize this a bit.

Pellet smoker - great temperature control, you do not have to watch these things much at all besides stirring the pellets in the hopper every four hours, they tend to feed from just above the auger feed hole and not fall right. People say pellet smokers aren't smokey enough, I think these comments come from inexperienced cookers myself. Different brands of pellets make a huge difference in the flavor. Good pellets can sometimes be a pain to acquire, while the pellets are generally not expensive, $1 a pound or so which normally cooks for an hour roughly, the shipping is not cheap. If you cook a lot I would do some research and try to find a good pellet hookup. One of the great benefits to the pellet smokers is that they produce the most consistent food from cook to cook. They also recover fast from door openings due to the air flow. Having owned both a more entry level (Traeger) and more advanced (Yoder), I prefer the Traeger. It has all the benefits of the pellet smokers and nothing extra that you have to pay for. Parts are very common to acquire where other brands use proprietery parts. There are lots of modifications that have been done to the Traegers you can find on the web to make them sear and grill better, hold even more consistent temperatures, better control options and other things. If you do get one, do not get a low/med/high controller, you want to be able to pick temperatures.
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Unread 09-15-2013, 10:31 AM   #7
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I think the pluses and minuses of pellet cooking have been well described above. If you would like to see some in person, I have both a pellet smoker and insulated vertical charcoal smoker and live very close to you. I will definitely be doing some practice cooking over the next couple of weekends. Send me a pm if you want to come by.
Also, I am considering selling my BWS Competitor. It is set up for competing and catering with auto water and convection and might meet your needs well.
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Unread 09-15-2013, 10:55 AM   #8
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I have a UDS and a pellet.

I love the pellet for ease of use, fast preheat and temp control and consistent cooks. I have a Rec-Tec (www.rectechgrills.com) that is on the lower side at 998.00 but I think is well built out of 10 guage and has heavy stainless burn pot and drip pan. I think the weight of the grill is around 180 pounds and it also has a 40 pound hopper and the controller they use is made by the same folks as the Memphis and its good quality. It will go up to 550 degrees and I have no trouble searing with it. It has a built in light that has came in handy also. Their customer service is outstanding. The two owners give you their cards and they do answer their phones. I had a couple of questions when I first got the unit. It also comes with a 6 year warranty. Also before that parts of the deck was covered I have cooked with it in the pouring down rain with no problems at all.

I have checked the cooking temp a few times with my maverick and its 100% spot on every time.

The 40 pound hopper is great. You never have to worry about running out even on the longest cooks. Also with it in the back and not on the side it makes a good shelf to set things.

I use it for day to day cooking for supper. There is a rule in our house if its meat it gets cooked on the grill or smoker rain, shine or snow.

I also agree that the smoke is milder. I have used many different pellets and they are all still lacking compared to charcoal and chunks. I will say to that for some reason it depends on what I'm cooking. When I cook wings for instance or veggies there is alot more smoke flavor than say pulled pork. I guess the thinner things like pork chops, etc. have more smoke flavor.

It's a little more trouble but I have started long cooks in the UDS for the extra smoke and flavor then transferred to the pellet for the set it and forget it on the rest of the cook. I have cooked on the pellet for 4 or 5 hours while going to town with no worries.
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Unread 09-15-2013, 12:06 PM   #9
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I've cooked on all but I use my pellet cookers way more than other methods. As said above use good pellets. I've found the cost of pellets to be about one dollar per hour. For your use check out the Yoder 1500 or an FEC 100 or 120.
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