Earlier this year I decided to get into smoking meats. I had never tried it before, and I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it enough to make good use of the more expensive smokers, so I went with an entry-level electric smoker.
But as I got hooked on smoking I ended up buying additional components to make up for missing features of my low end smoker: An electric temperature controller, a wood pellet tray for better smoke that lasted longer.
By the time all was said and done, I had spent almost the cost of a high-end pellet smoker, which has all of the capabilities I was trying to replicate. On top of that, the pellet smoker units are well-engineered and polished pieces of work. They are an all-in-one unit, whereas I have a collection of disparate components that must all be set up and arranged together.
By stringing together inferior components to approximate the real thing, I ended up paying almost the same cost, but requiring more effort and maintenance for a worse experience.
There are no shortcuts to quality. There is only the choice between the real deal, or the set of compromises you are going to make.