Gas Vs Electric Smokers – Temperature, Usage, Price & Performance

In this article, we have covered gas vs electric smokers based on temperature, ease of use, portability, cleaning & maintenance, cost, and overall performance.

If you’re diving into the world of smoking for the first time, then a most common and old question will be in your mind to help you make a decision about which smoker would be good for you?

If you’ve got the idea of smokers in your head, you might know the types of smokers that are popular these days.

Though you know the types of smokers such as charcoal, electric, or gas maybe you’re now looking for the solution of choosing an option between an electric or gas smoker.

These smokers cause wood to smolder and smoke. Then smoke infuses in food to provide a mouth-watering flavor that you crave.

Whatever your concerns are, we’re here to help you and guide you accordingly so you can get the best option for you to enjoy delicious smoked food.

Gas vs Electric Smokers Quick comparison

Category & Features  Gas SmokerElectric Smoker
Type  TraditionalModern
Popularity  Somewhat popularNot so popular
ReliabilityComplex parts fail sometimesOn-board electronic need some concern
VersatilitySome units can smoke, grill and roastOnly smoking
Finished food qualityBetter resultGood but the intensity of flavor is less
Temperature Range  150-400 F100-275 F
Convenience  Needs babysittingEasy to use, without need for monitoring
Cooking capacityComparable but many large options are available,Few large options though comparable
Weather ImpactsNeeds more concern in cold and windy winterWind doesn’t affect it, but wetness should be avoided
Maintenance RequirementsEasy to cleanGeneral maintenance and easy to clean
Cost  Less expensiveMore expensive
Heating TimeTakes less time to heat upTake a while to heat up  
Cost EfficiencyExpensive to runHighly cost-effective and inexpensive running

Gas Smokers General Overview

Before comparing gas vs electric smokers, I’ll facilitate you with a general overview of the gas smoker.

The source of heat in gas smokers is either propane gas or natural gas. If you have got a propane smoker you will need an external propane tank, and in the case of a gas smoker, you will need to hook up your smoker with the gas supply with the help of a professional.

There’s an internal heating system present in them to create smoke needed for smoking food.

A wide range of temperatures can be achieved through a gas smoker because you can heat it at the maximum temperature of your need.

You can easily achieve the required temperature even if it is 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

You can add wood chips or pellets to add flavor to smoke and can get food of your favorite taste. Most importantly you don’t have to be worried about power.

Pros

  • These smokers can be placed anywhere without the need for power outlets.
  • Not so complicated if something breaks or you need maintenance.
  • You can use them even in absence of power.
  • Inexpensive in price without compromise in quality
  • We’ve researched that results in taste are quite similar to a charcoal smoker
  • A wide variety of gas smokers is available with larger cooking space.

Cons

  • A gas smoker requires more attention and also quite a bit of oversight. You’ll have to give attention to the temperature to avoid overcooking or burning food.
  • They’re not well insulated and can be affected badly in severe weather conditions.
  • Low in tech and lack gadgets like Bluetooth connectivity that is present in electric smokers.
  • Since they run in open flames, they need ventilation and a supply of oxygen.
  • Most likely run hot.
  • Good for taste buds but not for your overall health due to excessive smoke containing poisonous gases

Electric Smokers General Overview

Electric smokers use electricity to heat an element or coil placed under the wood chip. Vents are also present to control temperature but most of the heavy task is done by the heating element.

Most of them are like an oven that cooks food at low and slow heat but the feature of adding chips is advantageous to provide smoke taste in food.

People recommend using electric smokers because they come with lots of amazing features and they’re exceptionally easy to use.

A good electric smoker is equipped with an electric control panel and your connection extends from panel to heating element then to thermometer.

There’s no doubt in the fact that no other smoker can compete with electric smokers in favor of convenience, reliability, and safety. The easy plug-and-play feature always attracts people.

Pros

  • Easy temperature control with dials that allow automatic temperature adjustment.
  • Set and forget convenience
  • Safest and there are no combustible gases or materials that need concern.
  • Can be used inside apartments or places where charcoal smokers aren’t allowed.
  • Easily converted into cold smokers and well suited to smoke delicate foods such as fish.
  • It is an ideal choice for beginners due to its ease of use.
  • Electric smokers are environment friendly

Cons

  • Can’t get high heat as you can get through gas smokers
  • A power outlet would be needed for a particular location
  • You won’t get a smoke ring because the wood will not burn enough to release chemicals to form a smoke ring.
  • Complicated & expensive repairs due to more high-tech nature.
  • Creating a smoke ring isn’t that easy.

Detailed comparison of Gas vs electric smokers

The main difference between a gas and electric smoker isn’t quite obvious, so it won’t be easy for you to identify which one will be better to meet your requirements.

That’s why we’re providing here a detailed comparison of Gas vs electric smokers to demonstrate the best possible features of each smoker to choose one that you need.

Temperature Range:

On average, an electric smoker is capable of reaching a maximum of 275 degrees Fahrenheit that is comparably low as compared to gas smokers. But considering the efficiency in temperature and easy digital control and monitoring delivers the crown to electric smokers.

While a gas smoker can reach a maximum of 400 degrees Fahrenheit that is highly skeptical.

With this maximum amount of temperature you can sear and roast meat along with smoking that possibly won’t be easy in an electric smoker.

Though gas smokers can reach the maximum temperature it is not easy to lower that temperature and you won’t be able to do cold smoking while in an electric smoker you can easily cook and smoke food at slow and low heat.

Ease of Use:

Electric smokers are very popular these days due to their ease of use feature even for beginners. It is a perfect choice for those who don’t want to do babysitting by spending time beside smokers but it offers to set it and forget its remarkable benefit.

A gas smoker requires a bit more effort to control and monitor temperature because they don’t have digital controls. The heavy amount of smoke released from these smokers can cause trouble.

If you’re a beginner in the world of smoking, then an electric smoker will be a great choice for you.

Heating Time:

Though temperature control is easy-peasy in electric smokers due to heating elements that are connected to digital panels to control and calculate temperature automatically, they also take quite a while to heat up and start the smoking process. You need to be patient with it and all you’ve to do is to set a specific temperature and walk away.

Gas smokers use propane or natural gas as a direct source of heat and open flame starts within seconds. It means, your cooking time doesn’t take much time as compared to an electric smoker.

Taste and Smoky Flavor:

When it comes to the taste, flavor, and smokiness of your food, electric and gas smokers don’t differ as much. People who prefer authentic smoke flavor usually lean towards the gas smoker.

There is a wood chip tray present in both gas & electric smokers where you can add wood chips after soaking them.

It mostly depends on the type of wood chips you’re using and your skill in handling them.

Operating and Running Cost:

It has been commonly observed that electric smokers are expensive as compared to gas smokers. The main price difference is due to digital parts and advanced technologies installed in them. However, electric smokers are more cost-effective and operate longer than expected.

Though gas smokers are cheaper to buy but more expensive to run. The reason is their heat source that is usually propane and you’ll have to replace the heat source often whenever you plan to smoke meat.

Weather Impacts:

If there is a deck or porch with access to electricity then you probably won’t have any issues. The problem will be massive when it starts raining and your electric smoker isn’t covered.

Gas smokers aren’t as insulated as electric smokers and sometimes little wind and rain or cold weather can create huge trouble for you while maintaining a fixed temperature.

We’d recommend handling weather conditions that will help you go better with gas smokers.

Maintenance & Cleaning:

Cleaning isn’t a difficult task in gas or electric smoker, unlike charcoal smokers they don’t need a heat source to produce debris or ashes. The only area that needs to clean and maintain is the wood chip tray.

You’ll have to clean drained oil or meat juices to enhance the longevity of either gas or electric smoker.

Portability & Reliability:

Probability isn’t a great issue because both units come in almost all shapes and sizes. But when it comes to reliability & mobility, there are significant differences.

Though electric smokers are easy to carry and transport you won’t be able to use them during camping where electricity isn’t present.

There is no power limitation in gas smokers and it is one of the best advantages of gas smokers.

Which One Should You Choose?

From the above-mentioned differences it might be clear to you about the deciding factors are in terms of taste, heating time, temperature, cost, and probability.

If you want something you can take away anywhere, heat up within seconds, and not so expensive, then you can easily go with a gas smoker.

Meanwhile, if you are looking for something that is perfect for beginners and has digital features to avoid babysitting and even cold smoking ability then an electric smoker will be ideal for you.

You will only need to be worried about power sources in extreme weather conditions.

In terms of health effects, electric smokers are better than gas units because they don’t produce obnoxious gases like carbon dioxide in massive amounts.

Frequently Asked Questions-FAQs

Can you use an electric or gas smoker inside the home?

Well, you can easily use an electric smoker wherever you have a power supply. While a gas smoker can’t be used as efficiently inside the home but there are certain varieties present in the market that can be used indoor or outdoor separately.

Can you use charcoal in the gas smokers?

You shouldn’t be adding charcoal in gas smokers because they are designed to create heat by burners, not by burning charcoal. If you throw charcoal inside it, you’ll have to replace several parts of the grill or smoker.

 Can you leave your electric smoker on overnight?

You can smoke meat overnight but you’ll need to monitor it. Most importantly it’s not safe to leave any smoker unattended for a long period. So we won’t recommend it even if you’re smoking over low and slow heat.

Do you need to put water in an electric smoker?

Yes, you can add water in the water pan of the smoker that can be used to control temperature. If it’s hot outside and the smoker is also getting warm then adding cold water will keep the temperature of your smoker maintained where you want it.

Are electric smokers safe for apartments?

Electric smokers are easy to use and very convenient. You can use them inside your apartment because they don’t require charcoal or gas and there’ll be no chance of fire up. They are much safer to use.

Lightupbbq was started by Freddy Zeus, an environmental engineer and a professional chef who has been around the world learning the craft of cooking.

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