7 Logical Differences Between Gas vs. Electric Smoker
Choosing the best smoker could be overwhelming even for the expert chefs.
You might want to experience and adopt a carefree and healthier barbecue session with friends and family.
Smoking or grilling on a traditional charcoal smoker is synonymous with babysitting your meat. You’re probably confused over the wide variety of smokers available in the market. This range includes gas, electrical, pellet, and their variant smokers.
In this blog post, we’ll walk you through some basic features and working principles of gas vs. electric smoker.
What is gas vs. electric smokers?
A gas smoker is a vertical device that burns propane gas to smoke your food. Due to the heating resource, these are also known as propane smokers.
These chambers are pretty convenient and equipped with ample storage than their traditional counterparts. Now you can “turn the set and forget mood on” and enjoy evenings effortlessly.
Operating a gas smoker doesn’t require an expert because they are based on simple mechanisms. These smokers come in different styles and dimensions that allow them to adjust within available space.
On the other hand, portable electric smokers operate on heated iron rods. You don’t need to worry about the fuel or gas to operate these smokers.
It’s a fully automated device that works on digital panels and controllers. This gadget is an absolute necessity for beginners with little to no smoking experience. These smoking chambers are mostly made of stainless steel that eases their cleaning and maintenance.
An optional channel for wood chips (in some electric smokers) burns and adds a smoky aroma to the food.
There are two types of electric smokers, i.e., indoor electric smokers and outdoor electric smokers.
Indoor electric smoker
These smokers are suitable for smoking small quantities of meat, vegetables, and other food items. They are pretty handy but risky at the same time due to their indoor setups.
Outdoor electric smoker
Outdoor electric smokers are perfect for rooftop and outdoor gatherings. They have a larger capacity for food and are safer than indoor smokers.
Components and working mechanism of gas vs. electric smoker
The main components of a gas smoker include:
- Smoke or grill rack
- Wood tray
- Water pan
The vertical gas smoker has four or more smoking racks with a burner at its bottom. The meat to be smoked is placed on the grill rack (s). The burner uses propane or natural gas to produce heat that circulates upward through convection.
There’s a tray above the burner for smoldering wood chips. These wood chips are entirely optional. Wood chips seasoned with your favorite flavor can place the cherry on top with their distinct flavors.
The water pan above the wood tray holds cold water that heats up gradually and aids the cooking process. Lastly, dampers are the most critical and valuable part of a gas chamber. These vents control the flow of air and safely remove heat from the smoker.
The major components of an electric smoker are:
- Heating rods
- Wood tray
- Smoke or grill racks
- Water pan
- Digital control panel
The most distinct feature of an electric smoker is its heating source, e.g., heating rods. Electricity is required to heat these rods. A water pan below the wood tray produces steam and gradually raises the smoker’s temperature.
The remarkable feature of an electric smoker is its thermostat. It keeps an eye on the temperature and breaks down if it goes beyond the set limits. You can also use a thermometer probe for more accurate results. The automated digital control panel operates the temperature ranges. Its advanced features shut down the smoker automatically on completion of the cooking cycle.
Key features of gas vs. electric smoker- an ultimate comparison
A basic introduction to different smokers isn’t enough to understand which one is best for you. Both smokers use grill racks, wood chips, a water pan, an external heating source, and a few upgrades. But these details aren’t enough to make one’s mind for buying a particular smoker.
Let’s get a deeper insight into the critical features of gas vs. electric smoker and choose the right one for you.
The electric smoker is ideal for you if you want slow cooking without sears. Its temperature ranges (100-275 F) are mild yet perfect for smoking meat. We don’t consider it a drawback!
The low-temperature range of electric smokers is excellent if you seek a cold smoking option within the same gadget. The temperature limit of an electric smoker is ideal for you, even if you’re using it for the first time.
The temperature ranges for a gas smoker are comparatively higher (100-500 F) than for an electric smoker. This temperature range is perfectly ideal for you if you’re looking for optimized smoking, searing, and grilling options.
Pricing is the first and most important factor when it comes to buying a product.
The cost of an electric smoker ranges from $200 to $400, and it may go above for ones with more advancement. Including the maintenance and electricity costs, these smokers fall in the expensive category.
Contrary to it, a gas smoker costs around $150. This price sounds reasonable, especially if you’re on a tight budget.
But pricing shouldn’t be the only criteria for choosing a smoker. The interior technology and feasibility of the smoker shouldn’t be overlooked for the sake of budgeting.
Taste, Aroma, and Flavor of the end product
The electric and gas smokers differ from the traditional (charcoal) smokers regarding the taste profile of the end products. Using a gas or electric smoker doesn’t affect the taste profile of smoked foods.
But, using wood chips can make a difference. Both these smokers offer optional wood trays for holding wood chips. For achieving smoky flavor, soak wood chips in your desired wood flavor and smolder it to a particular temperature.
Though chamber for wood chips is entirely missing in some types of electric smokers. Hence, it’s a better option for you if you prefer smooth and smoke free-flavors.
Heating and processing time
Smoking or cooking in an electric smoker is comparatively easy and convenient. The automated features of the smoker allow smooth cooking with little to no hassle. But, the electric resource used to heat the smoker could take longer to heat and process the unit. The heat provided to food is in the form of electronic vibrations rather than an open flame. These vibrations take some time to reach your food and begin the cooking process.
Gas smokers top the race with their faster heating and processing time. The open fire from the burner provides heat that circulates from bottom to top within a few minutes. As discussed earlier, the heating ranges in gas smokers are steady, which implies your food gets ready at a better rate.
Environmental friendly features of gas vs. electric smokers
Welcome to the ash and soot-free world of smoking with gas or electric smoker.
Heating source or fuel is the primary factor in all types of smokers. Traditional smokers produce more heat and potential pollutant gases, including CO2 . These gases fuel greenhouse effects and environmental pollution.
The gas smoker isn’t just safe for users but also produces eco-friendly gases. Research has shown that propane or LPG does emit these hazardous gases, but at a minimum.
Electric smokers are also great for a safe environment in terms of energy consumption and gas emission. They become more convenient, especially if they run on solar or wind energy.
Reliable and user friendly
Mechanical gadgets are far more accessible than manual ones!
The same goes for electric and gas smokers. The electric smokers have built-in features that require initial commands. Once you’ve placed your food on grills, push the start button, and you’re free to deal with other stuff.
Gas smokers are a bit tricky to operate. You need to adjust the gas valves for attaining the desired temperature for smoking or grilling. However, this method is quite technical but becomes manageable after a few attempts. Shifting from propane to natural gas or vice versa needs technical experience. If you have never been exposed to such circumstances, leave it to the technician. It’s better to read the user manual carefully for a safe and smooth smoking experience.
Dependance on weather conditions
Barbecuing seems exciting on rainy evenings, but its preparations don’t!
Operating a smoking gadget highly depends upon the weather of the operating area. Electric smokers aren’t safe to use in rainy weather due to their risk of electric damage.
Gas smokers are safe to use any time, anywhere. Take care of the gas cylinders because only a constant gas supply is enough to smoke your food. But due to lack of insulation, wind and other humid factors can hinder in attaining desirable temperatures.
Valuable tips for smoking using gas or electric smoker
- Keep your smokers clean and hygienic. Both smokers require a clean and dust-free environment for better functioning. Build up of previous food items can cause microbial infestation and resistance to heat. Clean smokers circulate heat at a constant rate.
- Keep the nozzle and cylinders of smokers safe and intact to avoid potential loss.
- Season your electric smokers before using it for the very first time. Simply coat the inside of your smoker with cooking oil and turn it on for 3 hours. Adding wood chips at the end of heating rotation primes it for future use.
- Smoking at ideal temperatures can do wonders. If you want to experience the real joy of smoked meat, set the right temperature. Every food item has a different smoking temperature. Hence stick with the ideal ranges and enjoy the authentic flavors.
- Gas smokers come with a compartment for wood chips, but not all electric smokers facilitate this option. In that case, put your creativity to work and prepare your wood blends. Combine wood chips from fruit trees with your favorite meat and feel the difference in taste. Each type of wood emits phenolic compounds at a particular temperature. Mostly, maple, oak, hickory, and cherry wood chips make perfect combinations with certain meats.
Both types of smokers have their benefits and limitations. If you’re looking for manual, seared, and well-smoked options, go for a gas smoker. These smokers are far better and healthier than charcoal ones. But, if you want an effortless, digital solution for your smoking hacks, electric smokers can be your holy grail.