Electric Smoker vs Pellet Smoker (1)

Electric Smoker vs Pellet Smoker

You can’t end up on a decision for which type of smoker or grill is the best for you and which suites you the most according to your resident conditions and abilities, until you do a comparative analysis. In this article I being you the details comparison report on electric smoker vs pellet smoker for your ultimate ease to get the one.

Electric Smoker vs Pellet Smoker-The Comparison Chart

SectionElectric Smoker Pellet SmokerWinner
Working MechanismMost Electric Smokers consist of vertical alignment of parts, cooking area is at the top and electric heating rods, wood chips tray and water pan are at the bottom. Let’s take a look at how these components of electric smoker help cooking food.Pellet Smokers are outdoor cooking devices that use direct heat from food-grade compressed wood pellets to cook, smoke, or bake the food. The mechanism of cooking meat remains the same which is heat convection.
Top BrandsMasterbuilt, Charlbroil, Green Mountain, Royal Gourmet, Bradley, Z-GrillsCamp Chef, Traeger, Z Grills, Green Mountain, Oklahoma Joe’s, Char Griller
Price Range$120-$500200$-2000$Electric Smokers
Avg Temp Range200F-300F 150F-500FPellet Smokers
Best FoodsBacon Explosion, Sweet and Sticky Chinese BBQ Pork, Smoked ChickenStrip Steak, Beef Brisket, Chipotle Rubbed Tri-TipPellet Smokers
UsabilityEasy in comparison to Pellet SmokersJust a little Tricky to UseElectric Smokers
Durability5Y-10Y if Heating Element Lasts5Y-20YPellet Smokers
Smoke StrengthLesser in Comparison to Pellet SmokersStronger than Electric SmokersPellet Smokers
Smoking OptionsHot Smoking, Cold Smoking, Reverse Searing, BoilingHot Smoking, Cold Smoking, Searing, Roasting, GrillingPellet Smokers
Operating Cost192KWH if used 8hours a day provided smoker works at 800watts per hour.
Least Expensive than Pellet Smoker
240$+Auger Electric Cost if use 8 hours a day.
Costlier than Electric Smoker
Electric Smokers
Cleaning SystemEasier to clean in comparison to Pellet SmokerComplex in comparison to Electric SmokerElectric Smokers
Power SourceElectric, Heating ElementPellets+ Little Electric Power
Smoking CycleCan go overnight with some DIY alterationsMost Pellet Smokers have built in Overnight Smoking potentialPellet Smokers
Performance in ColdLeast Efficient as compared to Pellet SmokerBetter than Electric SmokersPellet Smokers

Electric Smokers

Electric Smoker is a cooking device that uses electric heating rods as heat source to cook food in vertically placed shelves, a boiling water pan along with burning of wood chips which produce smoke to provide food a smoky flavor. Electric smokers are made of cast iron or stainless steel and vary in size, shape, number of shelves, analogue or digital control options.

Working Mechanism of Electric Smokers

Even the best Electric Smokers consist of vertical alignment of parts, cooking area is at the top and electric heating rods, wood chips tray and water pan are at the bottom. Let’s take a look at how these components of electric smoker help cooking food.

Electric Heating Rods/Elements

There is one or multiple electric heating rods at the bottom of the electric smoker that heat the cooking area. Heating rod is usually controlled by manual analogue controls, digital temperature controls or one touch switches.

Wood Chips Tray

Most of the electric smokers come with a built-in wood chips tray that surrounds the electric heating rods. Heating rods slowly burn these wood chips and produce smoke along with heat that cooks food. Oak, hickory, maple, Mesquite, pecan, apple, alder, cherry are the most popular woods chips that are used for smoking different types of food.

Water Pan

Above electric heating rods and wood chips tray, there is usually a slot for water pan, in which a water pan is placed. Cold water is boiled by heating rods and water vapors along with hot air and smoke provide the required moist to the cooking food.

Grill Racks/Shelves

In the cooking area above, there are multiple stainless steel or iron racks are placed above each other. You can put the meat directly on these grill racks or you can place the meat on stainless steel trays and place those trays on top of these grills.

Air vents/Dampers

There is one or multiple wide air vents or dampers at the bottom which provide intake of air/oxygen which help not only burning process but also create a hot air current to move above in the cooking area. At the same time, there is one or multiple vents or dampers that allow the hot air and smoke to escape from the cooking area. Air flow is controlled from both bottom and top dampers at the same time.

Top Electric Smoker Brands

  • Masterbuilt
  • Charlbroil,
  • Green Mountain
  • Royal Gourmet
  • Bradley
  • Z-Grills

Price Range of Electric Smokers

Popular electric smokers can be purchased anywhere from $120-$500 depending on their cooking space, analogue/digital controls, portability, etc

Average Temperature Range of Electric Smokers

As the electric smokers are the most flexible smokers as compared to the other smokers, their temperature can be as low as 100 degrees Fahrenheit and as high as 500 degrees Fahrenheit. However, average cooking temperature range for most food types is 200-300 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Foods you must try in Electric Smokers

I am the biggest smoking fan and I like to smoke the meat quite often, so I would like to share a few of my most favorite recipes with you.

Bacon Explosion

Let’s start with bacon explosion, as we all love bacon more than anything, right? As it is the best appetizer and one of the best foods to have in summer parties. It is actually a mix or bacon and sausage, that is cooked for almost 3 hours.


This is also known as “Char Siu” because of its Korean origin. It is a mix or sweet, spicy and sticky pork meat. Its ingredients are red fermented tofu and Korean red pepper flakes that can be easily found from your nearby Asian market.

Smoked Mac and Cheese

I will not only mention the main meat based foods but also side dishes. One of my most favorite side dish to smoke is smoked mac and cheese. It is made by smoking macaroni and cheese together. Once done, you are left with a creamy mac and cheese and you can top it with anything you like. It is also the best vegetarian smoked food.


Who does not love a whole smoked chicken at a family reunion? Smoking a whole chicken is something basic which most of us learn when we start cooking. Marinated with brown sugar, paprika and garlic based rub and smoked with apple wood, this chicken has a flavor like no other chicken.

BBQ Smoked Ham

Smoked ham with juicy pineapple on top can be perfect for Christmas, Thanksgiving or just a casual summer get together.

Smoked Lobster Tails

When it comes to the sea food, who does not love lobsters?  Dipped in melted butter and garnished with vegetable salad, I am sure you will love those smoked lobster tails.

Smoked Prime Rub

Smoked Prime rib given a seasoning rub! Just imagine the juicy and full of taste prime rib.

Smoked Turkey

Not a dry turkey cooked in oven, but a classic beauty smoked for longer durations, you will get extra juiciness, flavor and tenderness. A perfectly seasoned turkey smoked on low temperatures for a long time will taste like no other.

Smoked Brisket

What is better than a juicy and absolutely delicious brisket? You can eat this juicy brisket itself or make burgers with it. Nonetheless it will provide you the flavor that your taste buds demand after seeing a fresh smoked brisket.

Also Read: How to Smoke Brisket in Electric Smoker

Buttery Smoked Corn on the Cob

If you love your corn on the cob, then you will definitely love a smoked corn on the cob. Anyone can easily smoke a corn on the cob, seasoned with butter and smoked corn on the cob will be an extremely flavorful side dish.

I do not want you to get bored. So, I am going to close this argument right here move to the other aspects of electric meat smokers to provide you more information before you buy one. But I am going to leave the links to the recipes of the dishes I mentioned above.

Using an Electric Smoker

Electric smokers are some of the easiest smokers to deal with because you can easily control temperature as compared to the other types of smokers.

Read: How to use Electric Smoker

Electric smokers produce heat with electric coils or electric rods or electric elements which produce heat when electric current is passed through them. You get smoky flavor by placing wood chips directly above or around these electric heating rods.

Electric smokers have only one drawback and that is lack of true smoky flavor which you usually get from charcoal smokers or propane smokers. Overall electric smokers are the easiest and hassle free way of smoking.

Besides this the heating element in electric smoker is not long term as it may go out after a use of a year or two.

Durability of Electric Smokers

If you have bought a new electric meat smoker, then it is probably going to last for 5-10 years easily. However, if you wonder why electric appliances used to last for decades before going to scrap yard, then it was probably because the companies did not used to be this much greedy as of today.

Today, companies intentionally make their products less reliable and force customers to buy again. Durability of electric meat smokers can be increased by doing many tricks, but for now I will stick to the informative tone of this topic and discuss those tricks some other day in a separate article.

Quantity of Smoke

Quantity of smoke produced in electric meat smokers is almost the quantity as in propane smokers. But quality of smoke produced in electric smokers is the least beneficial for smoking. The reason is, wood chips are burnt by the heat of electric heating rods, so heat and smoke produced by those wood chips is not full of those gases what is produced in traditional charcoal smokers or even propane smoker.

In electric smokers we do not have to worry about dropping temperatures much as we have to take care only the amount of smoke generated by wood chips, so our only job becomes refilling the wood chips tray periodically.

Cooking Options in Electric Smokers

Now Let’s discuss the available cooking options in electric smokers.

Hot Smoking

Hot smoking is the traditional smoking by heat and smoke. Electric heating rods produce heat and burn wood chips. Heat from electric heating rods and smoke from woodchips cook the food.

Cold Smoking

You can easily do cold smoking of pre salted food in digital electric smokers where you can set the cooking chamber’s area temperature close to room temperature. But even then majority of those digital electric smokers can do only dry cold smoking other wise you need a dedicated kit from the manufacturer or need to build a DIY yourself.

As in cold smoking we do not actually cook food, but place it in a brine solution or dry salts and then leave it at room temperature for several days. This is also the method of preserving food and we can cook that afterwards.

Reverse Searing

You can cook your meat by reverse searing in electric smokers as well. But only those electric smokers are eligible for this cooking method that can raise temperature up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.

What you do is, you smoke your meat on low temperature for some time until smoke is infused in the meat and it has started to cook from inside. The you remove the meat from the smoker and raise the temperature to highest until the grills are preheated.

Then we put the meat back on the grill, extensive heat from all side even from grills give the meat a searing on the outside of the meat. If you are a fan of crusty steaks that have caramelized brown crust on the outside and juicy meat inside, this one is for you.


Boiling of meat is also possible in electric smokers if you place the meat in a larger water utensil and maintain its temperature higher enough.

Operating life of an Electric Smoker

Operating life of electric smoker can be anywhere from 5 years to 20 years. Most of the modern Electric smokers come with a warranty of up to 5 years. But you can increase your electric smokers’ life by doing few tricks.

  • Don’t over smoke your food: It is advised never to over smoke your food because smoke leaves behind a greasy black coating all around the cooking area, that decreases the life of an electric smoker.
  • Clean you smoke after cooking: Regularly clean the electric heating rods and cooking area grills to make it work longer than its warranty.

Operating Cost of Electric Smoker

Most of the electric meat smokers use 800 watts per hour. If you cook your food for 8 hours per day, 30 days a month. That makes 6400 watts hour or 6.4kilo watt hour. That makes 192KWH electricity used per month. So, depending on the charges per kwh in your area, you can calculate cost of electric smoker per month by this formula:

Cost per Month= Charges per KWH × KWH consumed per month

= 12 cents/KWH × 192KWH

                             = $23.04

Cleaning System of Electric Smoker

Cleaning of an electric smoker is very easy, just follow these steps:

Cover your Work Area

Cover your work area with tarpaulin, plastic sheet or even newspapers where you want to clean your electric smoker.

Remove the Ash

Remove the ash from your wood chips tray and clean it.

Remove grates or grills/shelves, water pan

Remove grills/shelves and water pan from the inside and rinse them with hot water, do not forget to oil them afterwards.

Clean the sides, top and bottom of the Inside

Clean all the sides, top and bottom surface of smoker by rubbing scotch bright or soap filled piece of cloth.

Clean the Glass Door

Clean the glass door from inside with piece of cloth soaked in soapy water.

Cleaning any Mold

Fill your water pan with water, place it in the electric smoker and turn on your smoker on its highest temperature. Leaving it for a while like that burn all the mold away. Wipe that area afterwards.

Clean the Outside

Clean the outside the of smoker. Reassemble the parts after the cleaning process.

Electric Smoker Food Expertise

These smokers are expert in cooking all types of food including seafood, meat, bacon/pork, chicken, turkey, cheese and vegetables. Electric smoker provides you your favorite foods in a variety of flavors. It all comes down to your experience expertise in cooking.

Power Source

In electric smoker as the name says, electric heating rods are the source of producing heat. Which gives electric smokers advantage on any other type of smokers because you can run out of charcoal, propane but you cannot run out of electricity and electricity is cheaper than propane or charcoal, this makes the electric smokers most demanded smoker.

Can Electric Smoker work Overnight?

Electric smokers work overnight more easily than any other smoker. The reason is, most of the food types absorb most of their smoke in earlier hours of smoking, during those first few hours you need to change wood chips.

After that you can leave the smoker do its job of cooking food for long time. There are some smokers with bigger wood chips trays, even DIY wood chips trays can be used to burn wood chips for longer period of time, so technically you can start cooking process and leave them for the whole time.

Performance of Electric Smoker in Cold Weather

Reaching and maintaining a desired temperature during winter is the most challenging part. However, those challenges can be controlled or even bypassed in some conditions. Main problem in cold weather is, the outside of the smoker gets cold and stops the inside of the smoker from reaching or maintaining higher temperatures. If we take care of the outside of the smoker, we can avoid this hassle and frustration. Here are a few tips that will help you in smoking your meat in cold weather:

  • Keep the smoker closed
  • Try some shelter over your smoker
  • Use welding blanket to cover the outside
  • Use insulation jackets to cover the outside
  • Keep it simple (avoid difficult recipes in cold weather)

Pellet Smokers

Pellet Smokers are outdoor cooking devices that use direct heat from food-grade compressed wood pellets to cook, smoke, or bake the food. The mechanism of cooking meat remains the same which is heat convection.

Also Read: The Best Pellet Smokers

The method of Pellet smokers is to cook the meat at low temperature with slow speed by slow-burning and clean smoke of compressed wood pellets. Pellet smokers come in a variety of shapes, sizes, number of grills or racks, and analog or digital controls.

Most of the pellet smokers in the market are available in stainless steel, however, you can find a custom build cast iron pellet smoker as well. Before deciding on whether to buy a pellet smoker or not, let’s get to know pellet smokers a little bit more.

Working Mechanism of Pellet Smokers

Charcoal and wood pellets at the bottom of the cooking chamber (sometimes called a firepot) burn slowly, produce heat and smoke. This heat is circulated via convection in the cooking chamber providing heat to the food placed in grills at the top of the cooking chamber. In modern pellet smokers, there is a dedicated electronic part called the auger.

Small wood pellets are fed to the burn pot by using the auger which is a small machine that delivers wood pellets from the hopper to the burn pot in a long circulating screw. The speed of delivery or circulation of the auger depends on the thermostat. This feature makes pellet smokers set and forget devices.

Moreover, to increase the temperature, there are vents for air intake, or in modern pellet smokers, there are dedicated fans that suck air to increase the fire. The dampers at the top of the smoker help the smoke and heat to escape as directed. However, heat can also escape while opening the lid.

Top Pellet Smoker Brands

  • Camp Chef
  • Traeger Pro
  • Z Grills
  • Green Mountain
  • Oklahoma Joe’s
  • Char Griller

Price Range of Pellet Smokers

Pellet smokers can be purchased anywhere from $400 to $2000, depending on features, size and durability.

Average Temperature Range of Pellet Smoker

The average operating temperature of different brands and models can range from 150 degrees to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.

Foods yo must try in Pellet Smokers

We all are big-time fans of Pellet smokers due to the convenience and ease of cooking in these bad boys. Let’s just discuss some of my favorite dishes I like to prepare in pellet smokers.

Strip Steake: Smoked and Seared

Thick strip steaks, olive oil, sea salt, and freshly ground pepper make the best Strip steak.

Low ‘N’ Slow Smoked Beef Brisket

This tender and delicious piece of beef brisket is something you try and then you do not touch any other food on the table except it.

Chipotle Rubbed Tri-Tip

This cut of beef the Tri-Tip is classic but highly underappreciated.

The Perfect Cheeseburger

All of us have eaten a lot of cheeseburgers, but trust me Grilled cheeseburger smoked in pellet smokers is a whole new level.

Prime Rib

A Reverse searing and heavy seasoning are what make this prime rib one of the most delicious pieces of smoked meat.

Pork Ribs

 The low and slow heat n smoke make these pork ribs perfect.

Pork Tenderloin Wrapped In Fresh Rosemary

The Herb Wrap or rosemary wrap gives extraordinary flavor.

Slow Smoked Pulled Pork

Shredded pork shoulder is the tastiest, full of flavor, and easy to make meal when it comes to the pellet smokers.


A pork loin cured and smoked in a pellet grill is the best dish one could make out of ham.

Sweet and Salty Pork Belly

It only takes half an hour to prepare a decent sweet and salty pork belly.

Way to use Pellet Smokers

As we discussed earlier, a pellet smoker is kind of a set-and-forget device. All you need is to fill the wood hopper, set the temperature, place your meat on the grills and just sit back and relax. That is it.

This is one of the many features that makes pellet smokers the easiest to handle. However, pellet smokers don’t give as much high temperature as traditional charcoal or gas smokers, but many modern pellet smokers come with a dedicated searing box which resolves the problem.

Durability of Pellet Smoker

You should never get attracted to a pellet smoker’s exterior only. Even if it might seem covered in stainless steel, but the manufacturer may have cut corners and used cheap materials that will be rusted after a short time.

The Components of the pellet smoker that matter the most are the fire pot, flame deflector, drip pan, and grates. Materials used in these components will decide the age of your pellet smoker.

As high-quality materials retain heat, make sure the pellet smoker you are purchasing meets the standards. Moreover, the size of your wood hopper shows how long you will be able to cook. Most modern pellet grills have wood hoppers that can reside 30-40 pounds easily.

Quantity of Smoke in Pellet Smokers

The quantity of smoke in pellet smokers is less than in charcoal smokers or offset smokers. Therefore, food cooked in pellet smokers may taste less smokey.

Available Cooking options in Pellet Smokers

Hot Smoking

Hot smoking is the main purpose of Pellet smokers of course.

Cold Smoking

Most pellet smokers are capable of cold smoking.


Pellet smokers are capable of searing.


Roasting can be easily done in pellet smokers.


Few Pellet smokers offer the option to grill your food as well.

Pellet Smoker Operating Life on Average

The average operating life of pellet smokers is 3 to 5 years. Some high-end pellet smokers might last longer than that.

Operating Cost of Pellet Smoker

Pellet smokers on average burn 1 pound wood pellets per hour. Assuming the price of wood pellets $20 for a bag of 20 pounds, it will cost $1 per hour to operate a pellet smoker. Electricity usage can be neglected as it takes few watts for the auger.

Cleaning System of Pellet Smoker

At the end of each cooking session, you are left with a dirty smoker. But you must clean it well. Let’s break the cleaning system of pellet smokers in few easy steps.

Clean the Lid

Use a scrubber to clean the lid.

Empty it out

Remove all the components of your pellet grill, including the grates, drip pan, deflector plate, and pellet hopper.

Scrape Everything

Scrape the inside of the smoker. Make sure to clean the chimney and the area around it.

Clean the grates

Make the grates clean with a steel wire brush first and then clean them with a dishwasher.

Clean the thermometer and grease chute

Don’t forget to clean the grease chute and thermometer.

Vacuum out the gunk

Use a dry or wet vacuum cleaner to suck out everything left after cleaning.

Clean the exterior

Use a degreaser or Windex to clean the exterior of the smoker.


After following all the steps of cleaning, reassemble all the components.

Ref: heygrillhey

Power Source of Pellet Smokers

Electricity is used for the pellet hopper and thermostat. Compressed wood pellets are used as a source of heat.

Can Pellet Smokers work Overnight?

Pellet smoker’s ability to cook in a set and forget manner makes them special for working overnight. However, you should set an alarm to monitor the pellet smoker during the cooking process.

You can’t just leave the smoker alone for the whole night or day without checking. You need to pay attention to the weather to leave the smoker to do overnight cooking.

Performance of Pellet Smoker in Cold Weather

Pellet smokers can outperform other types of smokers during the winter season. But even then, the performance of pellet smokers depends on their construction materials or their durability. The durable the material used, the durable will be the performance of a pellet smoker in cold weather.

Plus you will need more wood pellet fuel in cold weather. Don’t leave the lid open for longer than needed. However, if you are having a hard time managing temperatures in cold weather, you can use a welding jacket, insulation jacket to maintain temperatures. You can find insulated thermal pellet smoker covers easily in the market. Another thing to make sure of is, keep your pellet smoker under a shelter during rain or cold weather.

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