Needless to state that Electric Smokers are those which takes electric power as their primary source of energy. There are many types of smoker in the market that take charcoal and gas as their primary source of energy to cook food. Here we will resolve the comprehensive electric smoker buying guide for you to add value to your choice.
This article will address all those points that are necessary to be kept in mind before buying an electric smoker.
Why Buying Guide is necessary for everyone?
Whenever you decide to get the best product in the market, it is a rational attitude that you must have a piece of complete and comprehensive knowledge about that product. Spending money on a product without research and lack of experience will lead you to buy a scrap or the product that is not worthy.
In addition to that, there are various competitive brands in the market which are selling electric smokers. Although they have almost identical attributes (almost in same price range), still every user has different priority and comfort level.
Maybe you are good with a smoker having a Bluetooth while some may love to stand along with the smoker during the whole process. So, end of the day, it is the game of priority.
Electric Smokers Types
The electric smoker may differ in term of their sizes and cooking capacity. Some are small for family use, and some are big for commercial use. Similarly, electric smokers have various types based on their capacity, temperature range, heating element, warranty, Insulation, Loading Methods, Weight, Wheels, Racks and much more. But the main types which are helpful to differentiate among the smokers are their digital and analog features or their wood chip loading system.
Let us discuss one by one.
What to look for in an Electric smoker before buying it?
As a first-hand user, the capacity of smoking is the most general element which one may take into account while buying a smoker. It is up to your need. You may need to get a smoker for your small family. On the other hand, if you are a pro and love to cook for a huge gathering, your ultimate goal will be for a considerable smoker capacity.
In addition to that, if you are opting smoking as a hobby, a mini smoker will be your choice. You will not pay much if you are buying a smoker for recreational activity. A good electric smoker buying guide will recommend you to go for a small smoker in this scenario.
The number of racks in it portions the capacity of a smoker.
The racks of the electric smoker’s ranges from 2-5. Despite the inside capacity of the smoker, there can be more racks. It means that for “x” cooking area there can be 3-5 racks. They are divisions made inside the smoker to cook various foods at once.
The quality of the racks also matters a lot. Chrome–coated Steel Racks are the trademark of quality as they are easy to clean, rust-free and durable.
Generally, Electric Smoker is build up from the materials like Stainless Steel, Steel and Aluminum.
What must be your priority in choosing via the material?
Stainless Steel vs Aluminum Electric Smokers
The stainless steel has high tolerance power for the heat as compared with the Aluminium. On the other hand, Aluminum does not get rusted; it only corrodes.
All this will put you in confusion whether to pick an aluminium smoker or a Stainless Steel Smoker.
Stainless Steel Smokers are considered to be more powerful, easy to clean and durable than aluminium smokers. The only negative is that they are highly weighted and expensive as compared with aluminium smokers.
In the past Manufacturers focused on building smokers with the aluminium build. For Example, Smoker House’s Models are made up of Aluminum.
On the other hand, high duty and portable smokers are also available in Stainless Steel material. Stainless Steel materials are more reliable and durable for the smokers as they can bear high temperature compared to the Aluminium.
The temperature range of a smoker is also a factor of your choice. Living in a cold-weather will force you to get a smoker consistent with the heat and have a high-temperature range. Generally, the temperature ranges from 100F-400F of an electric smoker.
If you live in a place with no extreme temperatures, then a regular smoker with consistent temperature will be sufficient for you.
Changeable vs Fixed Temperature
As far as the temperature range is concerned, there come two types of smoker. One has a fixed temperature range. For example, if the smoker has a fixed temperature of 165F, you cannot alter that. It will operate in this temperature merely. Generally, mini smokers fall into this category. They are less costly and small in size, Yet effective in performance.
When you have to try different recipes and improvise according to your food’s conditioning, Electric Smokers with changeable temperature comes into play. They have generally temperature range wither set by an analogue dial or set digitally. You have to set the temperature range and let the smoker play its part effectively.
Smokers with the temperature range attribute add versatility as you can cook more kind of food in it. Not all the foodstuff requires the same sort of temperature setting. For example, in general, fish requires a relatively low-temperature setting than the brisket. So, if the temperature is not changeable, it will limit you smoke some specified foods. You can’t enjoy the variation in taste using a fixed temperature electric smoker.
The heating element may be of 800-1500 watts. It is directly proportional to the size of the smoker. Preheating and quick temperature reach depends upon the quality of the heating element. A good quality high wattage heating element reached the desired level sooner than the low-quality heating element.
On the darker side, high wattage heating elements lead you to bear more electric cost.
In colder weathers, high wattage heating elements are required in combination with airtight insulation so that the smoker may reach the required temperature quickly.
Type and settings of the control panel vary from smoker to smoker. A smoker may be a digital one or an analogue one. In case of an electric digital smoker, all settings are set through a digital control panel. Digital Control panels are generally of the LED display, which is easy to see when dark outside. Furthermore, there are two more categories for digital electric smokers.
- Digital Electric Smoker with Bluetooth
- Digital Electric Smoker without Bluetooth
With a Bluetooth digital electric smoker, one can enjoy the following features.
- Turning on/off the smoker
- Viewing the settings of the smoker via a smartphone.
- Setting up or altering the already set up mathematics.
This comprises of “set up and set free” attributes that allow you to be free by just setting up the smoker initially and monitoring it from the distance of 40-50 feet.
On the other hand, with a non-Bluetooth digital electric display, you can set up the requisites via a digital screen. You can set and view the temperature of the smoker with quite an ease.
Analog vs Digital Electric Smoker
Digital Electric Smokers are more accurate as compared with the Analog Electric Smoker. Analog Smokers have a dial on their top or bottom, reflecting the smoker’s current temperature levels. Digital Smokers have an LED display panel that shows contemporary readings of smoker temperature and food temperature in numbers. In the first case, you set the temperature and wait for the dial to reach the settled level. In the second case, you input your requirements and let the smoker do its job.
Besides this, in Digital Control Panels, there is an additional feature of the temperature regulator. For example, if the door opens up during the smoking procedure to refill the wood pallets then as the temperature goes down, the smoker will re-initiate the procedure and took the smoker to the already settled temperature settings.
If the smoker is not well insulated, it is merely a scrap not more than this. The bat insulation creates issues like inconsistent heat, loss of temperature, electricity loss, and impaired quality food.
Food like brisket, ribs and shoulders requires a very consistent temperature for the food—any inconsistency in the weather resulting in lousy food which will ruin your day and all efforts.
For the smokers of better insulation, keep the following points in mind.
- There must be double-wall insulation so that heat may not escape.
- The door must be airtight and locked completely to guide insulation.
- For better results, use smoker’s blanket for cooking all around the year even in the cold weather.
Doors also play a vital role in the overall output of the smoked food. Those made up of harmful material are not worthy. You cannot expect good quality food if your door made up of a paper quality material. However, with the finest quality door, keeping it closed fairly also matters.
Glass Doors vs Material Doors
In the near past, smoker manufacturers introduced glass doors for smokers. The benefit in glass doors one can enjoy the transformation of food live. On the other hand, if your smoker has a material door, it would not allow you to look inside the smoker.
In quality prospect, both are fine. Provided that the solid material’s quality is ultimate, you can go for a non-glass smoker as well.
Glass Smokers are relatively expensive as compare to Solid Smokers. In addition to that, in glass smokers, when you smoke, condensation makes the glass fully covered, and after some time you won’t be able to look inside the smoker.
So, to me, after 30 to 40 minutes of smoking, where your smoker generates a dense smoke, the glass and non-glass smokers became the same.
Wood Chip Loading
Causing you the loss of heat and temperature will go down, whenever you open up your smoker’s door to load the wood chips. The wood chips loading is mandatory in every electric smoker.
None of the smokers can prepare food in a single loading of a wood chip box.
Inside vs Outside Loading
Many portable electric smokers offer an inbuilt tray to load water and wood chips. Filling the water may be one time but serving the wood chips in a smoker is never a single time activity. You have to load the wood chips every 4 hours at more.
Firstly, opening the smoker’s door when it has attained the desired temperature will affect your recipe. The weather will go down instantly and take 10-20 mints to reach the required temperature again.
Secondly, you have to take extra precautions while loading the wood chips as when you open up the door, high steam came out and may burn your hands instantly. For that, you have to use gloves.
Thirdly, inside refilling of wood chips may cause you bearing an extra operating cost in the longer run. You open up the door, the temperature goes down, and the smoker will take spare time to reach the required temperature, which causes the use of more power units.
Wood Chip Refilling Cycle
Some smoker burnt out the full tray of wood chips in a few hours while some last for long periods. The burning of wood chips also depends upon the temperature settings of the smoker. At the higher temperature, the wood chips would burn out sooner. On the other hand, it will last longer for low-temperature environments leaving just a small smoke.
However, this is still an essential factor that smokers of the same specs but different brands burnt down the same filling of wood chips for different periods.
Shorter refilling cycles may lead you to face the following issues:
- Put an extra cost of wood chips.
- In case the smoker offer inside refilling, you will have to open the door several times.
- Extra Operational Cost.
Analog and Digital Built-in meat Probe or Thermometer
The electric smoker has some additional feature of Built-in Meat Probe or inside a thermometer. With the built it analogue meat probes you can check and take out the readings of the meat’s temperature smoked inside the apparatus on a dial.
While in case of a digital meat thermometer, the instrument can take the reading through an exact number.
May inside temperature vary from the temperature of the meat?
Yes, for sure, the inside temperature of the smoker varies from the temperature of the meat. The food takes it long to adopt the temperature of the smoker. As the meat is a thick piece, it will assume the temperature on its outer layer at the first stage, and then slowly the heat will enrich in the core of the meat.
So, the meat probe is used to check the temperature of the meat so that it may not remain undercooked not goes overcooked.
Searching for the best-wired smoker must be the priority of every smoked food lover. You can risk on the quality of the smoker but cannot on your life.
Electric smoker contains the heating element of high voltage. The working phenomena of an electric smoker are highly prone to heat, which itself is dangerous to contact with.
Always head for the best wiring never forgets to read reviews specifically for the smoker’s wiring before bringing it to your backyard.
Ease of Cleaning
Once you take an electric smoker to your backyard. All you need to maintain it for the rest of its life. Maintaining might be an exciting task, but it will become a curse when taking a lot of time. An electric smoker is easily detachable so that you can clean and maintain it easily. Besides that, the parts must be of such material which does not attain rust and corrosion. For the longer run, go for the one with whom you are comfortable with.
Guarantee and Customer Support
Having an electric smoker, and you expect that it won’t require repair and Maintainance is baseless. You have an electric instrument in your backyard; it will require some replacements in the longer run. In that case, if you have already owned a smoker who has not an extended legit warranty, it will be a mere regret for you then.
One must check customer support and product warranty before buying any smoker. You often order a smoker to your house, and it comes with some denting and some broken parts. In that case, if you have a warranty, you can be claiming it and replace the smoker with ease. In addition to that even when you are using a smoker and somehow its parts go off, repairing or replacing it will only be your choice.
Customer support is also crucial for every consumer. Imagine you get the smoker, and you need any help regarding the apparatus, where do you go then? The company must be responsible for any issue regarding the smoker.
The priority of what you always want matters based on your status. You may be a beginner, a semi-professional or a full professional. Or may be a chef at a restaurant, and they may need your recommendation for an excellent commercial electric smoker. You may be a person who loves to cook in winter or maybe a cold smoker. It requires that there must be some specific combination of qualities in a smoker fulfilling your needs for every kind of person.
Whenever you decide to buy an electric smoker, never rely on any of the single attribute at all. Always go for the smoker which collectively scores well. For example, going for a smoker just by prioritizing its size is meaningless.
First, you must list your priorities and the food you love to cook and then go for the smoker, which is appropriate for that.
Finally, buying an electric smoker is not a straight forward task. It depends upon many factors mentioned in the articles. Furthermore, smokers who are well-suited to your smoking priorities must be chosen. Finally, You must give the customer support and high warranty weight in selecting the smoker.