Electric Smoker vs Pellet Smoker: Which One You Should Choose?

Ever stumbled upon a picture of a mouth-watering smoked steak and wondered what was used to achieve that? This piece is definitely for you then! Electric Smoker vs Pellet Smoker? Join us as we explore the two main smokers on the market and how each one brings a unique set of features to your grilling experience.

Introduction to Electric Smokers and Pellet Smokers

When it comes to grilling your barbeque or roasting your food, a good smoker is required to get the job done. Fortunately, there are plenty of different types of smokers on the market. It is disappointing to purchase a smoker only to find out it performs differently than expected. Therefore prior knowledge is essential to get the correct smoker.

However, this article will concentrate on two of the best types of smokers, the electric smoker and the pellet smoker. It can be hard to choose between the two best choices. Here, we will describe each product, its differences, and associated pros and cons. This information will help you narrow on what exactly you are looking for and which one would be best for you.

Electric Smoker

An electric smoker uses electricity as its heat power source. It has a vertical design that comes with a lot of cooking space. Moreover, multiple racks are stackable which enables different foods to be cooked simultaneously. Normally, they can hold 3 – 4 racks that are adjustable in case you need to cook something bigger like a full chicken.

The electric smoker has an electrically heated heater element, it consists of a tray used to load wood chips for smoking your steak. Usually, the tray is preloaded before cooking commences to minimize the need to refill more wood chips in the middle of cooking. However, some models have a loading port, which facilitates the refilling even whilst you are still cooking.

The heating element produces dry heat which tends to also dry your meat. No one likes dry meat except for biltong. Therefore to prevent your meat from drying out the smoker is equipped with a water pan. As the heat increases, it heats the water pan which causes the water to turn into steam. The steam keeps your steak tender and prevents it from drying.

In an electric smoker, the temperature is controlled by either a rheostat or a thermostat. Smokers with a thermostat are usually more expensive as it provides better temperature control. These control elements ensure that the temperature remains constant at the set value throughout the cooking period.

Some electric smokers have timers that enable the user to set the cooking period and once it is achieved the smoker shuts off. Also, other advanced smokers can be controlled remotely through the use of a remote or a mobile phone app.

Pellet Smoker

A pellet smoker uses electricity as its power source just like the electric smoker. The heat is produced by the pellets which are fed into the combustion chamber. Pellets are made of compressed sawdust. Fixed on the side of the smoker is a storage container that contains pellets that provide the heat source. Then there is an auger motor responsible for feeding the pellets into the combustion.

A heating element provides the heating energy for the combustion of the pellets. It has analog or digital temperature control to set the required temperature. The controller automatically regulates the feeding process to maintain the selected temperature. It achieves this by regulating the amount of hot air going into the cooking chamber.

Also, it controls the quantity and the speed of pellets going inside the combustion chamber. To improve the combustion process, intake fans bring the air from outside. The resulting heat and smoke are evenly distributed to cook your food.

The automatic regulation removes the inconvenience of monitoring the smoker constantly. One of the reasons the pellet smoker is becoming the favorite is because of the authentic smoky flavor it provides.

Difference Between the Electrical Smoker and Pellet Smoker

Power

Both the electric smoker and the pellet smoker require electrical power to operate. However, the power demands for each type of smoker are different.

For an electric smoker, the power demands are higher since it uses electricity as its source of heating power. The amount of electrical power used depends on the size and the manufacturer of the smoker. On average electric smokers uses 500 – 1,500 watts. As such the high power demands make them unusable in a place without electrical power.

For a pellet smoker, the power demands are drastically reduced. First, electricity is required to make the igniter rod hot to light up the pellets. Once the pellets are burning, the igniter rod is supplied with power to keep the pellets on fire. Other additional power requirements for a pellet smoker are required to run the fan, auger, and control panel. In total the electrical power is about 100 watts.

The minimum power requirements of a pellet smoker make it usable with external power. A 12V DC battery can be used to power the pellet smoker. Therefore the pellet smoker is ideal for outdoor activities such as camping.

Smoke

The smoke is the secret ingredient for that traditional woody barbeque flavor. The different makeup of the electric and pellet smokers produce different quantities and quality smoke. With a pellet smoker, you get intense smoke that results from the burning of wood pellets. Whereas, to produce smoke on an electric smoker you need to add wood chips into the smoker base.

As such food prepared by a pellet smoker have a more noticeable smoky flavor.

Buying Costs

The cost is one of the determining factors when one is considering purchasing a smoker. Between the two smokers, there is a big difference in the purchasing price. In general, you need more money to get a pellet smoker over an electric one.

Electric smokers are more affordable, with less than $100, you can acquire one. Some have higher prices of over $700. The more expensive electric smokers usually have more food holding capacity and are made of quality materials to last longer. The mode of operation which is the use of a heating element is the same irrespective of price and model.

Pellet smokers are more expensive compared to electric smokers with decent models that have a starting price of above $500. Cheaper models lack a sear box which creates char on steaks and burgers. To get your hands on high-quality models, you need more than $1000. Additionally, these can come with a sear box for improved quality cooking.

Overall both types of smokers contain electric components which are susceptible to failure. Therefore to enjoy using your smoker for a long time, it’s best to part with extra money by buying a quality smoker. You will be able to enjoy it more often without having to worry about failures and repairs.

Operating Costs

The electric smoker is cheaper to operate. Its source of power is relatively inexpensive electricity. For smoking purposes, you need approximately less than 10 ounces of wood which is cheap.

On the other hand, the pellet smoker also uses cheaper electricity, but its main source of fuel is the pellets. Of which the cost of pellets is higher compared to electricity when performing the same task. On average, pellets required to cook for 10 hours costs in the range of $10-$12.

Cooking

When it comes to cooking the electric smoker is more versatile and offers a lot of advantages. It’s not only good for smoking steak but also smoking nuts, cheese, and many other things. The low-temperature control makes all this achievable. As such bigger portions of meat that require low temperatures can be easily cooked.

However, a pellet smoker cannot achieve very low temperatures of an electric smoker. Since they use pellets as a source of heat, the heat cannot be adjusted to very low temperatures. As such it is not capable of performing some types of cooking methods. High temperatures achieved by a pellet smoker make it ideal for grilling.

On the other hand, electric smokers produce very dry heat. Therefore, a water pan is required for moisture to prevent food from drying out. Whilst the pellet smoker produces its moisture from the smoke produced when the pellets are burning. The need for a water pan is not a must on a pellet smoker, though other users might prefer to use one.

Also because of the difference in heat sources, the food is cooked differently. A BBQ steak cooked with a pellet smoker will display a nice smoke ring typical of barbecue. Unfortunately using an electric smoker you won’t get similar results because of the non-combustion cooking method it has.

Flavor

Many people are very particular about the flavor of the food. The flavor is determined by the smoke that depends on the heat source for its production. Both the electric and pellet smokers use electric power to heat an element. Despite a common power source, they have different heat sources.

The electric smoker has the element as its heat source whilst the pellet smoker uses wood pellets which are burnt to create heat. Electric smokers are capable of producing tender and delicious food.

An electric smoker produces steam, heat, and a little smoke. On the other hand, a pellet smoker produces heat and a lot of smoke. The gases and solids are also produced as a result of the combustion of the pellets. The infusion of the smoke into the food creates a unique enjoyable flavor loved by many people.

As such the pellet smoker produces food with enjoyable woody and smoky flavor. When it comes to flavor, the pellet smoker creates the best which the electric smoker is not capable of achieving.

Ease of Use

Compared to charcoal and gas smokers, both electrical and pellet smokers are easier to use. They don't require constant monitoring. All you have to do is, connect it to the power source, switch it on, set the required temperature, and relax. Because of this, these types of smokers have been referred to as lazy smokers.

After cooking you need to clean out the ashes for a pellet smoker. Whereas in an electric smoker you remove the tin foil which is laid at the bottom before each cook. The foil collects charred wood pieces that drop down.

Pros and Cons of Each Smoker Type

Before purchasing a product one must evaluate the pros and cons that come with it. This ensures that you are getting something that you want and also having to deal with the cons associated. Below is a list of the pros and cons of both the electric smoker and the pellet smoker.

Electric Smoker

Pros

  • It is more affordable compared to the pellet smoker
  • The vertical makeup is spacious to accommodate more food and it fits well in tight spaces.
  • Easy to use.
  • The need to clean the messy ash is eliminated.
  • It’s light and can be easily transported.
  • Provides hands-off cooking, no need for constant monitoring
  • Has indirect cooking that eliminates the risk of food absorbing harmful chemicals.
  • Very portable, can be easily moved from one place to another.

Cons

  • The food doesn’t have the woody flavor got from using a pellet smoker.
  • Require electric power to operate.
  • Requires experience to create smoked food typical of that prepared with a pellet smoker.
  • Only a few models can grill.

Pellet Smoker

Pros

  • The use of pellets increases the fuel-use efficiency of the smoker.
  • Provides the wood flavor on your barbeque to make it even tastier.
  • Provides a set and forget cooking, no need for constant monitoring of the smoker.
  • Achieve different meat and food flavors by using different types of wood pellets.
  • It has low electrical consumption.
  • No health risk associated with using a pellet smoker as it also has indirect heating of food.

Cons

  • It is more expensive compared to the electric smoker.
  • Requires electric power to operate.
  • Don't have a big space to hold more food compared to the electrical smoker.
  • More weight makes manual moving more laborious.

Conclusion: Electric Smoker vs Pellet Smoker

For accurately controlled cooking temperatures, the electrical smoker does the job to perfection. Whereas those who can’t resist deep smoky flavored steak, then you need to look for a pellet smoker. Ultimately, both smokers are fantastic in performing their tasks, it all comes down to personal preferences.

Finally, now you know more about electric smokers vs pellet smokers. It’s up to you to choose the one which satisfies your needs. For those on a tight budget or who live in a place that restricts the use of open fire, the electrical smoker is the option to opt for. Whilst for those who prefer their food having an intense smoky flavor, then the pellet smoker is the one for you.

Go and get yours today and start enjoying great-tasting food!


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