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For whatever it may be worth, I use an Akorn Jr. which I bought at ... Wal-Mart.  My dad now owns a "Senior" – at my recommendation – which he bought at Lowe's.  These are non-ceramic grills: the firepots are made of insulated steel.  And they weigh in at a $200-300 price point, significantly less cost and also much less heavy.


It's only my opinion, but to me the key to "kamado" is that it acts as a convection oven because hot air circulates around the inner lining.    Most of the actual cooking takes place, not from radiant heat from the fire itself, but from this recirculating air.  I think that's the secret.  I use a chimney fire-starter: no chemicals.


This cooking process produces consistent, easily-controlled results, and it is positively miserly with fuel. Shut off both vents to starve the fire and most of the charcoal will be available tomorrow morning for re-use.  Go figure.


(Although like any grill a kamado is capable of achieving even extremely-high temperatures, I never use it that way.  For "searing," I do that on my kitchen stove in a cast iron skillet using coconut oil, which is very heat-tolerant and neutral taste. Put the skillet in the oven to cool.)


Buy a remote-reading food thermometer – I bought a wireless unit for about $40 at Home Depot – which will tell you the temperature within the firepot and the temperature of the food while the lid remains closed and locked.  With just a little practice, you'll find that you can basically "set it and forget it."  The firebox temperatures will generally "park" at a certain point and then stay there rock-solid for hours as the food temperature very slowly rises.  Take the food off the fire about 10ºF below target and wrap it in foil to "rest."  The temperature will continue to coast up to the target, as your thermometer will confirm.  Start to finish, your thermometer is your guide.


Unlike your "Smokey Joe," you will get absolutely repeatable results from a kamado.  Because now you are in control, with just as much accuracy as you expect from your kitchen oven.  (Especially if it also has the "convection" feature.)

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Andrew Welcome I can only speak of the Kamado Joe classic II as I have one it has worked like a charm since I had it. My  Grandson has an Akorn and has no problems after getting past the learning curve and getting used to charcoal. Good luck with which ever one you choose. You may want to read this it applies to all kamados


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I own a Series 2 Big Joe

I have cooked on a Summit multiple times

If the Summit was available when i originally went Kamado shopping, I would've bought the Summit 

We plan to move across the country in a year or two, I'll likely sell my KJ (easier than trying to move with it) and then pick up a Summit when we settle into our new house 

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