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Chainsaw Al

HELP Choosing - Big Joe II vs. Big Joe III

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Ok... I really need some help here.  I have been ready to pull the trigger on a Joe for weeks now but I am stuck in the endless loop of debating which model.  I have a family of 6 (3 adults and 3 teens who love meat).  I will be smoking but also doing shorter cooks for quicker meals of quality stuff like Tri Tip, Steaks, chicken wings, etc.  I have watched plenty of John's videos but still can't make a decision.  I thought about trying an 18" Classic II or III with the extension rack... but although that may work for smoking, when I have a higher temp dual zone quicker grill / sear there simply won't be enough space.  So I have settled on the Big Joe 24".

 

Now the dilemma... which Big Joe, the II or III?  And sure, the immediate answer maybe "newer is better" but I am REALLY struggling on why to invest the additional ~550 to 600.  And I am familiar with the additional "features" of the III, but I feel like the only REAL differentiation is the SlowRoller Insert and the 3-tier rack (which is really 2 when using the slow roll).  the other features like the nicer stand with shelf, basket, etc. seem like "nice to haves" but not really necessary to spend the extra dollars on unless it really impacts the cook.  And there is an aesthetic value as the III does look nicer in a more elongated shape that is brighter red.

 

So my question is the Slowroller really worth it?  I am discounting the other stuff too much?  Am I thinking about this all wrong? At the end of the day, I just want good tasting food.  I can do a lot with that $600 (heck, I could even buy a Jr or invest in a nice table, etc.).  On the flip side, I have heard from people about hot spots on the II in the back near the lift which is why they developed the slowroller?   Not sure if that is true and how much of an issue it is regarding the final product?

 

Help me... I would like to buy my choice this Sat AM and be home smoking something for a Sunday get together.

 

Thanks,

Chainsaw Al

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Here's my cut and paste answer for this:

 

"Worth" means different things to different people.  My best suggestion to you is to have a look at the feature differences.  The 3 has the SLoROLLER, the 3-level divide and conquer rack system, the cast aluminum and powder coated side shelves, the kamado joe charcoal basket, and the newly designed cart.  It's hard to put a dollar value on the usability enhancements that some of these upgrades bring to the table.  The charcoal basket is a no-brainer for me.  I was using a third party charcoal basket before the Kamado Joe versions came along.  I love how those give me easy maintenance of my charcoal and ash.  I have a zero-waste charcoal situation with those baskets.  I never discard any unused lump charcoal.  The charcoal basket alone is a $119 upgrade.  The 3 series grills do NOT come with the cast iron grate since they come with the charcoal basket.  The metal side shelves give me the ability to set something hot on them (within reason) without worry about melting or damaging them.  I don't know if that can be assigned a dollar value.  The 3-level divide and conquer rack may have some advantages for cooking space if you want to add a couple extra cooking grates to your setup.  There isn't but about 2" of clearance between each level so it's marginal in terms of what you can put on those but things like wings, ribs, and other smaller items can be stuffed on there no problem.    The updated cart with the larger casters makes it much easier to roll the JOE around over uneven surfaces.  The storage shelf on the bottom of the cart gives you plenty of space to store cooking racks, heat deflectors, and the SLoROLLER when it's not in use.  For me, the SLoROLLER has been a noticeable and significant improvement in the cooking performance of the Kamado Joe grill.  For anything I cook over indirect heat, no matter what temperature range I am working in, I am seeing faster than normal cooking times.  This is behaving much like a convection oven where you may want to adjust your temperature or cook times to account for it.  I am getting much more even cooking.  I am seeing more noticeably defined smoke rings when cooking barbecue.  Once again, none of that can really be assigned a dollar value but the benefits, to me, are impressive.  The Classic 3 also comes with the half moon heat deflectors if you want to use those in a half or full configuration instead of using the SLoROLLER.  Another unadvertised benefit I see is the deeper base segment of this grill gives you higher clearance over the charcoal when you want to cook on the Joetisserie.  That added clearance (about 3 to 4" additional inches) creates a much better environment for rotisserie cooking in my opinion.  Sorry for the long response here but I wanted to be detailed so I can copy/paste and save this answer.  I get asked this question a lot :)

 

 

 

 

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Thanks for the detailed response John.  You have convinced me to just make the leap and get the III.  In the end, the grill will be around a very long time and we are only talking a minor price difference once everything is factored.  The biggest things for me reading your response are the charcoal basket, the SLoRoller, 3-tier rack, and deeper overall base segment giving more room between heat source and grilling surfaces when needed.  I appreciate your quick response and also enjoy your YouTube videos.  Look forward to learning more on these forums. 

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On followup question.  The Big Joe III says it is a whopping 487 lbs.  With 2 adult males, and stripping everything out / off, what is the weight and is it manageable to get it in the stand with 2 people or do I need to recruit help?

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15 minutes ago, Chainsaw Al said:

On followup question.  The Big Joe III says it is a whopping 487 lbs.  With 2 adult males, and stripping everything out / off, what is the weight and is it manageable to get it in the stand with 2 people or do I need to recruit help?

 

 

Two strong people could handle it but I would still recommend a third.

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