Fast Eddy’s FE1000PC

Fast Eddy’s FE1000PC

I had the opportunity to cook on an FE1000 for a couple weeks.  While this blog is set-up predominantly around my MAK (since that its my usual pit), I thought it might be fun to add some notes here on my experiences with the FE1000PC.

FE1000: The good, the bad, the ugly

The Good:

Charbroil Feature: The Charbroil feature of the FE1000 is unique, and effective.  The FE1000 has a grate positioned directly over the firepot and flavorizer bar which gives you a very hot grilling surface for charbroiling meats and veggies.    The extremely quick ramp-up to temperature made grilling easy.  Turn the pit on and you were ready to grill within 10 minutes.  The temperatures were very inconsistent in this area though, and I found myself moving food around from “hot” spot to “cooler” spot to get everything cooked evenly.  My only complaint about this feature would be the lack of temperature control.  Because the lid is open, the auger runs wide-open and you essentially have a singe temperature to work with, unlike a gasser where you would have several different settings for high, medium, and low.

Heat: The FE1000 gets hot – very hot, and gets there very quickly.  In my testing the pit was able to get to over 600 degrees in 15 minutes.  In fact it overshot the 600 mark, and had to dial it back.  This far exceeds the temperatures I was able to get on my MAK in similar testing, which topped-out at 535 degrees in 40 minutes.  This increase in heat seems to be the result of the lack of heat restriction (only a perforated flavoizer bar above the firepot), and the insulated lid.  Combined they appear to be quite effective for getting the pit to temp fast.

Ash drawer: The FE uses a pull-out ash drawer located under the firepot, and can be removed from the front of the pit without removing any interior components.  The tray does get some grease in it due to the Charbroiler and although I anticipated a grease fire from the hot embers landing in the grease – it didn’t happen during my testing.

Pellet Consumption: The FE was very sparing on its use of pellets – even in charbroil mode.  This is due to the insulated lid that the FE uses.

The Bad:

Ash: In my testing, the FE spewed a LOT of ash in both grilling and smoking modes.  After a 10-hour cook of a pork butt, there was significant ash throughout the pit, on my meat, and in my beans simmering on the top shelf.  Some research confirmed that other FE customers were having a similar issue.   More than once I would open the lid and get a face-full of hot ash.  I found that this alone would be a deal-breaker for me.

Temperature Stability: In my testing, I had significant issues with getting the temperature to stabilize correctly.  If the pit was opened (to put the meat in, check the temp, or spray with juice), the Thermocouple temp would drop significantly causing the controller to try and get the heat back up.  In all my tests, the controller grossly overshot the desired temp, then couldn’t get back down again.  In many cases it would take 1 to 2 hours to get close.  Despite having the controller set to 170 (the minimum) for the first portion of my butt cook, the temperature (both thermocouple and dome) read about 250.  Apparently there is an undocumented mode on the controller that can let you adjust the wait times between auger cycles.  My guess is that between “tweaking” this and adjusting the exhaust hood, you could probably get better temperature stability.

Also due to the air flow in the pit, there are 4 distinct temperature zones: The charbroil zone, the upper shelf over the charbroil zone, the upper shelf over the indirect side, the indirect side.   That means that the thermocouple and/or dome thermometer can only give you a relative temperature to base your cooks on.  Unlike other pits where the temperature is relatively stable throughout the entire cooking area, you would have to characterize the temperature differences throughout this pit.  A butt placed on the top-left  shelf will have a dramatically different cooking temp than one placed on the main grate.  See the chart below for the temp differences in each “zone”.  The “probe” reading was a Maverick probe placed in the target zone with a grate clip.

Air flow: Because the FE design(the charbroil zone) heat rises forcefully on the left side of the pit, and flows down the right side and out the exhaust.  This means food in the direct zone will get all of its heat on the bottom, and food on the indirect gets its heat predominantly from the top.

I cooked a “take-n-bake” pizza on the indirect side as I frequently do on my MAK.  Due to the temperature instability mentioned above (with the setpoint at 425, the thermocouple read around 500), and the “top-down” airflow, the top of the pizza was perfectly cooked but the bottom was doughy and undercooked.  In contrast, the MAK is just the opposite – I have to monitor the bottom to prevent it from overcooking while I am waiting for the top to brown sufficiently.

The FE also uses an adjustable hood on its exhaust.  There is no mention of this in the manual, but the hood is shipped closed almost completely.  It appears that to get the performance you want from the pit, you need to characterize it and adjust the hood to meet your needs/expectations.

Space: The space available for indirect cooking is greatly reduced due to the direct grill feature.  As mentioned above with regards to the four distinct temperature zones – only one zone is going to be suitable for smoking/BBQ – and that is the main indirect cooking area.   That gives you only 288 square inches of smoking space on the lower shelf, 441 if you included the shelf over the indirect zone.   By comparison, my MAK has 328 square inches of usable cooking surface – 492 if you count my half size upper rack (and 656 with the full size upper rack).

Usability: The FE comes with a disclaimer inside the hopper lid – “Don not use in rain”.  Really?  I live in Oregon, and there are a large number of backyard BBQ fanatics in the Northwest.  A pit you can’t use in the rain?  Forget it.

The Ugly: There are going to be various points of view on this, but here is my perspective.  The FE100 has an “industrial” look that from a distance has clean lines and appears robust.  Upon closer inspection I found that the hardware used to assemble the pit was very mix-and-match.  I identified at least 6 different types/sizes of fasteners on this pit.  The “fit” was also below par.  If I moved the pit the whole thing would get cocked to the point where the lid would get hung-up on the hopper lid when I tried to close it.

The cable for the thermocouple is left dangling inside the pit, and I snagged it almost every time I tried to remove the drip pan.

Ash, Ash, Ash.  See above under “Bad”.  Nothing more to be said.

Verdict: There are some things to admire about this pit – the charbroil zone, the insulation.  Ultimately, in my opinion though, the negatives outweigh the positives.

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