Electric smokers vs charcoal smokers?

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by pargeman, Jun 24, 2015.

  1. pargeman

    pargeman Fire Starter

    Thanks JM2C I was thinking of building a wall type structure in the back yard to stop most of the wind from slowing the heat to stay at a temp over 200. I do constantly check charcoal and chunks of hickory, Apple, etc that I use to smoke also. I love charcoal flavor but am just researching what an electric smoker can do for me. I am checking out all the different ideas here and want to buy something that will prove to work every time. I come to this site to ask questions and throw around ideas to become a better smoker. Watching TV is definitely not enough! Ha. That you for your comments. Be talking to you again I hope. Mike
  2. dr k

    dr k Master of the Pit

    Kingsford is hardwood charcoal, coal dust, bits of hardwood sawdust, sodium nitrate for even burning and starch to bind it all together.  The sodium nitrate is nitrogen to produce the nitric oxide gas as well as wood bits that will burn hot in the briquette plus the carbon monoxide it'll produce.  The other thread you just posted in has 50 posts and one person mentioned starting two briquettes and putting it in the chip tray with the chip loader after it started to turn grey.  Probably to get only the gas and no smoke from the briquette.  I may do baby steps like this and see what one pre lit briquette does.  The next smoke put a pre lit one in and then an hour later another.  The chip tray has the capacity to hold four unlit briquettes if you place them by hand but I'll try one at a time.  I think the lump works but you'll probably get more bang for your buck with a briquette.  The link I put up mentioned the same.  

    Last edited: Jun 25, 2015
  3. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I bought my electric smoker because I didn't want to hassle with either charcoal or propane. Electric gives you a cheap source of heat without having to add charcoal or change propane gas canisters. I also use wood pellets in my smoker and it's all worked great for 3 years.
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2015
  4. rabbithutch

    rabbithutch Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I was at the same place you are a few years ago. I looked at offsets and pored over Craigslist. Finally my wife said that I was being foolish because I would never have the patience to tend a fire for long periods, at night, etc. and should get an electric. I bought the MES at Sams club. After the first cook, I decided that it just didn't produce enough smoke . . . the chips burned up too quickly. The solution to that particular problem was the A-MAZE-N maze tray and pellets from Todd Johnson. It has worked well for me.

    Over time I found a good Weber kettle for grilling and have done some good smoking on it. That led me to make a mini-WSM (search here). Now I'm jonesing for a small horizontal or reverse flow but haven't found one yet.

    One thing you should do, is read as much here (and if you really really must do) on other cooking forums to learn as much as you can about other people's experience. that will help you make a decision.

    Once you have your research done and really start shopping DON'T FORGET CRAIGSLIST!!!!!
  5. pargeman

    pargeman Fire Starter

  6. pargeman

    pargeman Fire Starter

    Thanks daRickster. Appreciate the words! Mike
  7. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Talking about smoking on a Weber kettle grill. Just so happens I'll be grilling beer can chicken on my Weber Silver One Touch 22.5 inch charcoal kettle grill tonight. Gonna make to foil smoker packets for each fuel holder since I'll be cooking the chicken over indirect heat. I like to use cherry wood chips for chicken. I'll done this before and it's always turned out great.
  8. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    I dug up some old charcoal threads.  Check the new posts section.
  9. trip

    trip Newbie

    Can't help with the versus part of this thread, but I posted a thread on here awhile back that gave me advice on electric smokers you might of want to look through.  old sarge was a big help, bearcarver has a lot of great posts here as well.   In the end I picked a Smokin It 3 and built something called a heatermeter for it.  You may want to look at this device for your charcoal smokers as well as electrics.  With charcoal, it uses a blower to control the temp in a lazyQ fashion so you don't have to watch the smoker all night, I used a solid state relay to control my SI3.  You can check on it from any PC or smartphone/tablet as well.  It's pretty neat and you can buy them assembled from auberins.com now.

    I am very happy with my heatermeter controlled SI3 and would recommend electric (especially Smokin It) to anyone who wants to save a little time and clean up and still get great food.
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2015
  10. I decided to go electric last fall, after thinking long and hard about just how much I wanted to be fussing with maintaining temperature while the meat cooked... I realized that I had better things to do with my time.  I finally decided on a Smokin,-It smoker, and couldn't be happier.  It is extremely well built, well insulated so you can use it in all weather (though the food was excellent, I didn't particularly enjoy going out in the single digit temperatures to load/unload the smoker last winter, but the unit worked fine.), easy to clean, and even for a novice smoker like me, has produced excellent food.  I also like the fact that it uses less than 6 ounces of wood per smoke, so your wood supply will last a long time, and the cost of the fuel, even on a long smoke, is just pennies.  Overall, I couldn't be happier with my choice.
  11. joe black

    joe black Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Mike, I am a stick burner and don't care for electric at all. IMO, you are trying to cook at too low of a temp. 200*-220* would be hard to control on any cooker. This is also contributing to your longer cooks. Try your cooker at 250* (+/- 25*) and don't get excited about an exact temp. Let if fluctuate and relax. It's not an exact science, it's a hobby, and should be fun. If you can let this happen, you may actually find that you like it. Good luck, Joe
  12. nhns4

    nhns4 Newbie

    Made the switch recently as well. Still have the kamado but slowly learning the electric way. What is your wood pref?
  13. ak1

    ak1 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    That is at least IMO, where I call  BS.  I come home start a chimney of charcoal, and it's ready in about 15 min. Or, I come home and turn on the gasser and let it preheat for about the same amount of time. Either way, the few extra minutes don't make a heck of a difference.
  14. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    As for the gas griller comments - what about killing it after you're done? And the cleanup time? And having to head to the store when you run out. And the cost? I'm all for charcoal on weekends. But as for gas, it kicks charcoals butt on weekdays.
  15. jp61

    jp61 Master of the Pit ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    I have both types of smokers and for end results, I vote for charcoal, much better than electric IMO. 
  16. brickguy221

    brickguy221 Smoking Fanatic

    I have both charcoal and electric smokers and my vote is for electric (MES)

    Heat it up, set tempreature, set time, put food in and go off and forget it until it is time for food to be done.

    On charcoal, light coals, spread them when ready, put food in, and keep checking every xx minutes or so and keep adding charcoal as needed, hoping you didn't get too much or too little to maintain correct temperature and continue this process until food is done. A lot more work than electric.

    Thus, this is a no brainer, my vote goes for electric, hands down. [​IMG]  
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2015
  17. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    Yeah he was talking about a grill.  But for smoking, MES ALL THE WAY!
  18. brickguy221

    brickguy221 Smoking Fanatic

    oooops!!!!! ... seems my reading skills are disappearing with age ... sigh ... [​IMG]  

    As for charcoal vs electric on grills, my vote goes for charcoal all the way.
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2015
  19. icyhot

    icyhot Smoking Fanatic

    There's no right or wrong answer on which is better.I have an electric,two stick burners,and a pellet smoker.they all have there uses.so really it all comes down to personal preference.
  20. jp61

    jp61 Master of the Pit ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    There is absolutely nothing hard or time consuming about using a good charcoal smoker.

    However, I've been getting a little lazy my old age and was thinking of using my oven and some liquid smoke instead of my 40" MES. That way I don't even have to go outside. [​IMG]  
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2015

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