Electric Smokers vs Charcoal Smokers – What’s The Difference?

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Electric smokers are becoming increasingly popular, with brands like Green Smoker, Mya-Smoke, Matchless, and many others making waves in the market.

They are a safe way to produce smoke without the use of fire or chemicals. They have many benefits such as they can cook in a much shorter time and they don’t need an open flame to create smoke.

On the Other Hand, charcoal smokers are a type of smoker that uses charcoal to cook food.

Charcoal smokers have been smoking meat for thousands of years. However, with the rise in popularity of gas-fired grills and electric smokers, charcoal smokers have seemingly lost their place in society. You’ll read out the difference between Electric Smokers vs Charcoal Smokers in this guide.

Electric Smokers

Electric Smokers

Electric smokers are more popular than charcoal smokers because they don’t require fire or any kind of fuel to operate them. They are also easier to use and maintain.

As compared to combustion-based smokers, electric ones have an advantage in terms of no smoke, with no risk of fire or carbon monoxide poisoning, or emissions. The main disadvantage is that they don’t produce heat directly and need time to reach cooking temperature.


  • Works as a smoking machine despite changes in weather/tastes
  • Easier to use and clean than traditional models
  • Possible cheaper than the traditional model
  • Convenient as they are easy to set them up and use them
  • Can be easily moved from one room to another or stored when not in use
  • Electric smokers save a lot of time because you don’t need to deal with charcoal or wood logs
  • Electric smokers produce less smoke than traditional ones, reducing their carbon footprint and overall pollution caused by heating methods.


  • Less space available for food preparation compared to traditional models

Charcoal Smokers

Charcoal Smokers

They produce heat from burning pure hardwood chips rather than combustion motors such as propane or electric motors like electric smokers do. The advantage here is that you can cook at lower temperatures over a longer period; this helps when cooking delicate items such as fish fillets which would otherwise dry out quickly in an electric.


  • It takes less time to cook food
  • Easy to clean up
  • No electrical cords required
  • The temperature is adjustable by opening/closing vents on the top of the unit
  • Low use of fuel, saving money in the long run
  • No mess made from ashes or food residue


  • The temperature is limited and cannot be adjusted for higher degrees or lower degrees as steam does not pass through it well.
  • Its process requires burning a lot more wood than what is typical in other types of cookers. This increases carbon monoxide levels in your home which can make you sick if you’re not careful during installation or maintenance.
  • Charcoal smokers require frequent refills with more wood chips which can be costly if you are not careful.
  • Some models don’t work as well in cold temperatures and require better insulation to keep the smoke/heat in your home.

Related: Best Offset Smoker Under $2000

Reasons Why Electric Smokers Are More Popular?

There are a lot of advantages to using an electric smoker over a charcoal smoker. The electric smoker is easy to use and can be done in different ways like smoking, roasting, boiling, or baking. However, it is not recommended to use an electric smoker without understanding how it works and what it needs to do.

Many people like the convenience that electric smokers provide over their traditional counterparts. You just have to plug up the unit and you are ready to go. Plus, there are a lot of options for different types of meat you can cook on this type of cooking machine.

Electric smokers come in two types – stand-alone units which you place on your countertop at home or in your patio/deck area outside and mobile ones which you can take with you wherever you want within limited weight capacity requirements

What You Should Know About Electric Smokers?

Electric smokers are becoming a popular choice for those who want an alternative to traditional smoking.

They provide a lot of conveniences to the users – such as being able to smoke anywhere and anytime, the ability to use them with little effort, and very little need for maintenance.

1. Doesn’t Pollute

Electric smokers use both heat and smoke, so you don’t have to worry about fire or combustion. They are safer than traditional smoking by using less fire, no air pollution, and no smell.

2. Safer Than Charcoal Smokers

Electric smokers are becoming more and more popular in the market due to their safety benefits. It is easy to set up, it can last longer than traditional smokers and it also has the capacity of holding more meat than other types of smokers.

3. Less Powerful

The only downside is that they tend not to be as powerful as their manual counterparts but they work well for smaller groups or individuals who don’t need a large amount of smoking power.

How to Buy the Best Electric Smoker?

Electric smokers are the perfect tool for beginners. But they are also great for those with more experience who want a smaller and more portable electric smoker. Some factors to consider while buying an electric smoker are:

1. Cost

In choosing the best electric smoker, you need to consider how much you’re willing to spend, how many foods you’ll be smoking at a time, and what type of accessories you’ll need.

There are plenty of affordable options out there if you’re on a tight budget but if you’re willing to spend more money then quality will improve and you’ll have fewer issues with this device.

2. Size

Choosing the right size is important when looking for an electric smoker. A big smoker can hold a lot of meat and keep your food warm for many hours without losing too much heat from outside sources.

Small electric smokers can fit on your countertop or in your cabinet and still have plenty of room for other supplies such as wood chips or water pans

3. Indoor Smoking

If you have limited space in your kitchen to prepare food, an electric smoker is the best option for indoor smoking as it doesn’t require any charcoal or wood briquettes and produces less smell than traditional smokers that use wood chips or pellets.

Related: How to Keep Wood Chips From Burning in a Smoker?

Types of Electric Smokers

Electric smokers are used for smoking flavored and smoked food. There are different types of electric smokers that can be used in different ways.

There are four different types of electric smokers:

  • a classic electric smoker
  • a countertop electric smoker
  • an outdoor electric smoker
  • a water-pipe portable system.

Electric smokers range from $25 to $400 USD. A classic electric smoker is the cheapest type of electric smoker and it is typically made from steel or aluminum. It has two parts – one for the heating unit and another for the meat smoking unit.

 The meat smoking unit has three parts – a cooking zone, a heating zone, and a smoking zone which are placed above the cooking zone so that hot air can flow through them easily.

An outdoor or BBQ system is designed specifically for outdoor cooking by using propane or butane fuel to smoke meats over a fire pit or BBQ grill while still providing enough room for a food preparation area on its own side of the grill.

When Charcoal Smokers are Better than Electric Smokers? (Electric Smokers vs Charcoal Smokers)

All the modern electric smokers are very good at cooking food temperature and time – but a charcoal smoker can provide a smoky flavor that you cannot find in an electric smoker. If you’re looking for a more natural feel then charcoal is likely going to be your best bet.

Electric smokers have indeed come a long way in terms of technology, but they still do not match up to their old wood-burning counterparts. Even though you may have the best electric smoker right now, many things can go wrong with it that you might be able to avoid with this old-school method.

How to Pick the Right Type of Smoke for Your Kitchen?

The type of smoke you should use in your kitchen depends on the kind of cooking you want to do. If you’re looking for a smoking method that will produce the most flavor, go with a charcoal grill. However, if you want to make foods like barbecue and ribs, then go with a gas grill.

Having said that, charcoal smokers should only be an option to go for when you have ample space. It is recommended for outdoor cooking as it generates quite a bit of smoke. If you are using a smoker inside your kitchen, then it’s better to go with the electric smoker.


Electric smokers cook food more quickly than charcoal smokers, which is why they’re popular for cooking food. Charcoal smokers are less eco-friendly because they produce more pollutants than electric smokers as they use propane or charcoal.

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