The term “electric combo water smoker” may sound exotic but the Meco 5030 Electric Combo Water Smoker is nothing more than just an electric smoker with a built-in water pan. Water smoker here just means that the smoker heats up water in a water pan to produce steam that is used to both keep the moisture in the meat plus also for aiding in the cooking process.
The Meco 5030 Electric Combo Water Smoker deserves a place in our Top 3 Budget Electric Smoker because despite its relatively low price, this smoker has a lot to offer in terms of features and versatility.
The Meco 5030 Electric Combo Water Smoker is a bullet type smoker and thanks to popular brands like Weber, most people have the impression this is what a smoker should look like. We do have to admit that bullet shaped smokers do have a certain charm but on the other hand, bullet smokers are top loaders which are a little more hassle to use compared to front loaders.
Compared to the Little Chief Front Load Smoker, the Meco has a few extra features that are missing from the Little Chief including temperature control via a thermostat.
What we like about the Meco 5030 Electric Combo Water Smoker
One of the things that we love about the Meco 5030 Electric Combo Water Smoker is that it comes with temperature control albeit a simple one. The thermostat only has three settings – low, medium and high. We would have like more precise control but it is better than nothing. The medium setting seems to be the best setting for most smoking tasks and the low setting is better suited for fish and other seafood that are more delicate.
The Meco 5030 Electric Combo Water Smoker comes with a 1500 W heater and this is very surprising as even the much larger 40″ Masterbuilt Electric Smokehouse Smoker only comes with a 1200 W heater. While this may seem like a huge plus point, in reality, high cooking temperatures are not really a necessity for smokers. We suspect that the main reason for including such a high powered heater in the Meco 5030 is that it is required for producing enough heat to create steam from the water pan. On the other hand, you will have no problems using this smoker during the cold winter months.
The smoker has a 5.5 quart water pan that holds enough water for about 5 hours of smoking. Heat from the steam helps with the cooking process while keeping the smoked meat moist and preventing it from drying out easily.
The construction of the Meco 5030 Electric Combo Water Smoker may seem a little shoddy as the pieces do not fit altogether that well and there are gaps between the sections. However, while an electric smoker requires less ventilation compared to a combustion based smoker like a charcoal smoker, an electric smoker still needs a little ventilation for the smoke to flow and enhance the smoking effect.
While a top loader like the Meco 5030 Electric Combo Water Smoker is more troublesome to load, the multi segment design of this smoker makes it much, much easier to clean up. Each segment of the smoker can be removed and scrubbed down and cleaning the entire smoker shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes.
While it doesn’t look very large from the outside, the Meco 5030 Electric Combo Water Smoker can hold up to 50 pounds of meat and has 351 square inches of usable cooking surface.
The smoker comes with sliding door access for both the water pan and for refilling the wood chips. Having small access doors is important as it prevents most of the heat and smoke from escaping whenever you need to top up the water or wood chips. Too much escaped heat also drives up your smoking cost.
It is also interesting to note that the Meco 5030 Electric Combo Water Smoker can be converted into a charcoal smoker with the addition of an optional charcoal smoker kit from Meco. From our experience, the use of a charcoal smoker does not really add that much in terms of taste to a smoker compared to an electric smoker and the extra effort required to tend to a charcoal smoker is not worth it. But it is nice to know that there is such an option.
What we didn’t like about the Meco 5030 Electric Combo Water Smoker
While the maximum load of 50 pounds may sound like a whole lot, the Meco 5030 Electric Combo Water Smoker only has two trays for two cooking levels which means that unless you are smoking big chunks of meat, you will not be maxing out on the 50 pound limit. You may need to get a little more creative such as using hooks to hang sausages as you smoke them instead of laying them flat on the trays to maximize on the smoking capacity.
The Meco 5030 Electric Combo Water Smoker has a temperature gauge on the outside of the smoker but this gauge is probably one of the areas that Meco decided to cut cost on as it is inaccurate and fairly useless. We recommend that users buy a better thermometer to replace the gauge. There is a hole at the top of the smoker which you can place your replacement temperature gauge.
The smoker does lose a fair amount of heat during smoking due to the gaps in the construction. However, the high powered heating element can more than keep up with the heat loss. Unfortunately, this also means that you will be spending more on heating compared to other electric smokers that are better insulated.
One other thing to consider is that the Meco 5030 Electric Combo Water Smoker requires significantly more assembly compared to cabinet based smokers. There is also some first-time use assembly required so plan ahead. It takes about an hour to assemble the smoker for the first time and you do need some basic hand tools. Subsequent smoking sessions will require about half hour of preparation time to assemble the different segments of the smoker together.
The Meco 5030 Electric Combo Water Smoker does cost a little more than the Little Chef, the lowest priced option in our budget-priced electric smoker shoot out but it does offer quite a few additional features that are missing from the Little Chef. The simple temperature control gives you a little more flexibility when it comes to controlling the smoking temperature while the high powered heating element gives you the versatility of using the smoker in colder temperatures while still being able to maintain internal temperatures.
Being a top loader smoker has its disadvantages as it is harder to load the smoker but on the other hand, the Meco 5030 Electric Combo Water Smoker is easier to clean although a little more work is required to set it up in the first place.
The Meco 5030 Electric Combo Water Smoker has a large capacity but having limited shelf space means you need to make creative use of it in order to maximize the capacity. However, this is not a big issue if you plan to mainly use it for the family or small parties.Click Here for Pricing and Reviews on Amazon