If you don’t have the time to fuss with charcoal, you’ll most probably be required to choose between a gas or an electric smoker.
Now tends to come to the million-dollar concern: Gas Vs Electric Smoker – Which is Best?
In the art of smoking meat, culinary precision is combined with smoke in order to amplify flavor while producing the most tender and juicy cuts conceivable.
It is possible to use charcoal, electric, or gas smokers in a variety of different ways.
Smoking meat requires the use of indirect heat over an extended period of time. Smoke will give your meat a succulent texture and a flavorful aroma that you’ll enjoy eating. When you cook your meat over low heat, it develops a savory, tangy, and smoky flavor. An outside texture that’s chewy and dark thanks to smoke ingestion is what you get.
If you’ve recently decided to enter the planet of smoking meat and other foods, or if you’re just kicking the tires to see if it’s for you, you’ll want to read this article. When you have the right information, you’ll be able to make an informed choice between propane vs electric smoker – which is best for you.
Gas Vs Electric Smokers – Differences
If you’re attempting to figure out the genuine differences between gas vs electric smokers, I’ve got a few ideas to get you started. Start with the fact that there is no single correct answer. Each everyone desires and requires something unique from their equipment.
|Category:||Gas Smoker||Electric Smoker|
|Convenience of Use||It’s a long way to learn; you need to “babysit”||Very easy to use; no monitoring is necessary.|
|Variety||Many models are capable of smoking, roasting, and grilling.||Only smoking is permitted.|
|Temp Range||Approximately 150 °F – 400 °F||Approximately 100 °F – 275°F|
|Sustainability||Faulty parts are very few and easy to fix.||On-board electronics may cause issues.|
|Capacity for cooking||Comparable, but with wider alternatives||Comparable, but with a limited number of large alternatives|
|Quality of the food||In general, better outcomes||Good, but not as so delicious|
|Comparative Cost of Buying||More affordable on average.||On average, it costs more money.|
Gas Smoker General Overview
In all smokers, food is cooked at low temperatures with a heat source. Most smokers cook food at between 225F and 250F, but this can vary. As the main point, they make wood smolder, and the smoke that comes from the wood makes food taste better. As far as heat sources go, there are a few ways in which smokers can differentiate themselves.
When it comes to fueling the fire, gas smokers can use either propane or natural gas. Among the flames, there is a place where you can put wood chips or pellets.
Temperature control with a gas smoker is similar to that of a gas grill; simply adjust the knob to increase or decrease the rate of gas flow to raise or lower the temperature.
A propane smoker will need a separate propane tank, usually the standard 20-pounder that can be found almost anywhere. Professionally installed natural gas hookup is required for a gas-powered smoker.
Electric Smoker General Overview
Electric smokers, like stoves, heat a coil or element beneath the wood chips using electricity. Food on the uppermost racks of the oven is cooked and flavored by the combination of heat and burning wood.
They are incredibly simple to use, as we discovered in our hunt for the best electric smoker for beginners in 2023. In most cases, you can “set it and forget it,” relying on the built-in thermostat to keep a consistent temperature without any additional input.
It’s important to keep an eye on less-expensive smokers to make sure they stay at the right temperature, which is what makes smoking go well. Electrified smokers are vertical in design.
Gas Vs Electric Smokers Contrasts & Comparisons
When it comes to several characteristics of smokers, there isn’t much of a difference in gas vs electric smokers. While they operate differently, smokers are comparable in terms of assisting you with the preparation of dishes, making either one a good value for money. As a result, there is no need to eliminate either of these possibilities from your list of smoker-friendly establishments.
To begin, both require a source of energy, one of which is electricity and the other of which is natural gas. However, slight distinctions do exist. Although propane smokers may achieve a higher temperature level, they can both heat up to similar degrees.
When it comes to purchasing a smoker, there are several things to consider. Here, we’ll go through the most critical points and compare gas and electric models.
There are a lot of things to keep in mind. Any one of them could be the one that makes you choose.
1. Ease of Use and Appeal to Beginners
Electric smokers are the greatest option for novices, they are a popular choice. If you want smoked food but don’t want to fiddle with the settings, this is the device for you.
It’s quite convenient, and the fact that it’s a plug-and-play smoker appeals to many people. Heat control is one of its best features as it adjusts the temperature based on what you set it at.
An electric smoker is a terrific way to get started in the world of smoking if you’re a novice who wants to eat smoked cuisine.
When compared to gas vs electric smokers, propane smokers demand a bit more work. A propane smoker does not have the steep learning curve of charcoal smokers, but it does require you to watch the power at which the gas is emitted in order to adjust the temperature. That’s exactly how it feels if you’ve ever used a gas stove or burner before.
After you’ve mastered temperature control on a gas smoker, the rest is simple. A charcoal smoker is far more difficult to operate than a gas or electric model, but the latter has several advantages.
2. On-Going Cost to Run
Prior to deciding on the type of smoker to purchase, it’s usually prudent to examine the long-term costs. Despite the fact that an electric or propane smoker may be the cheapest option, realize that the heating source is still going to cost you money.
The cost of using an electric smoker is on average higher than the cost of using a natural gas smoker. This discrepancy is primarily due to the digital and electric components that keep it running. However, in the long run, propane smokers are more cost-effective than electric smokers.’
No matter how much electricity you consume, an electric smoker should not contribute a significant amount to your monthly utility bill.
Propane smokers, on the other hand, are more affordable to purchase but more expensive to operate. You can get a high-quality smoker for a fraction of the price of a comparable electric smoker. However, because it is powered by propane tanks, you must consider the cost of replacing the heat source based on how frequently you intend to smoke meat.
3. Initial Cost to Buy
Electric smokers are significantly more expensive than their gas-powered counterparts due to all of the technological components inside. It is possible to save a large amount of money by not using computer-based controls, but why? The key incentive to buy one would be the ability to set and forget and then let the electronics do the work.
Gas smokers are the least expensive, while electric smokers are the most expensive. While there are budget-friendly and budget-busting variants of both, overall, gas smokers are the least expensive.
4. Heating Time
Keep in mind that when you use an electric smoker, controlling the temperature is simple and quick! It’s that simple because the heating elements are linked to a digital panel that automatically calculates and controls these characteristics to keep the temperature in the smoker stable.
To be completely convinced, because there is no open flame, this would imply that while an electric smoker is easy to control, it will take some time before it reaches a temperature hot enough to begin smoking.
You’ll have to be patient if you choose this option. Once you’ve started smoking and placed the food in the oven, all that’s left is for you to do is walk away.
Propane smokers undoubtedly reign supreme in terms of heating time. Due to the fact that it is powered by propane or natural gas, you can start an open flame in seconds, which means your cooking time will be significantly shorter than with electric smokers.
When you combine this with the ability to reach higher temperatures, you’ll soon have smoked food on your table.
5. Temperature Range: High vs Low Heat
To begin our comparison and contrast of propane vs electric smokers, let’s look at their ability to attain extreme high and low temperatures.
This is where the contrasts between the two are most noticeable, and this is where you’ll most likely find the decisive factor.
While both are capable of reaching the appropriate temperature for smoking meat of 300 degrees Fahrenheit, the one significant difference is that propane smokers can achieve temperatures of up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
The temperature range of an electric smoker is typically 100-275F. (38-135C). This is ideal for the majority of your smoking requirements. You won’t be able to sear or roast with it, but it’s ideal for low and slow cooking.
The temperature range of gas smokers is typically wider. A temperature range of 175-400F (79-204C) is fairly typical. Temperatures as low as 100F and as high as 500F are advertised on some models.
We’re skeptical that a gas-powered model can maintain that low of a temperature; it’s difficult enough to maintain a good smoking temperature of 225F. If you can reach 500 degrees Fahrenheit, you can grill and even sear meat.
The primary benefit of being able to generate high heat is that you will be able to smoke as well as grill and sear meat. On the other side, it complicates cold smoking with a gas smoker, which we’ll discuss in further detail later.
Propane smokers are ideal for anyone who desires seared, grilled, or smoked food but is unwilling to take on the steep learning curve associated with charcoal smokers. Meanwhile, an electric smoker is ideal for individuals looking for something that will meet their basic temperature requirements.
Yes, a digital electric smoker will provide you with the optimal temperature for smoking meat. However, it enables you to obtain low temperatures, which is ideal for cold smoking.
6. Taste, Flavor, and Smokiness
Electric and propane smokers are similar in terms of taste, flavor, and smokiness of the food they produce, in contrast to the preceding categories where there may be substantial variances that could influence your decision.
A well-known fact is that if you want to get a specific flavor profile, you’ll need to think about what type of smoker you should use in order to achieve it. As far as true smoky flavor goes, charcoal smokers are the most popular choice. But don’t give up just yet if you’re just interested in an electric or propane smoker.
A wood chip tray is commonly included with both electric and propane smokers. This is where you’ll add the wood chips after they’ve been soaked, and it’s what makes the flavor difference.
Electric and propane smokers, as you may know, do not require wood as a heat source. That’s why getting a smoky flavor isn’t as simple as using a charcoal smoker. Manufacturers have created a solution for the most major shortcomings of both smokers by including these wood trays.
It should be mentioned that some people believe propane smokers have a flavor that is more similar to charcoal smokers. It all comes down to the type of wood chips you chose and your ability to handle them at the end of the day.
7. Portability and Mobility
The portability and mobility of an electric or propane smoker are the most important factors to consider before making your decision. Both types of smokers come in a variety of sizes and forms, so portability isn’t an issue. However, the disparities are clear and significant when it comes to mobility.
If you plan on taking your smoker camping, a propane smoker is a way to go. All you need is a full gas tank to get started, and you’re prepared to go.
An electric smoker, on the other hand, will not work if there is no power. As a result, while it’s simple to carry and move, you’re effectively confined to areas with electricity. It’s one of the biggest benefits of a propane or charcoal barbecue, and it’s one of the biggest drawbacks of an electric smoker.
8. Weather Effects
When deciding whether to buy an electric or propane smoker, the weather should also be taken into account.
If you have access to electricity and have a deck, porch, or other outdoor space, an electric smoker will most likely work for you. The one restriction is that an electric smoker is practically useless when it starts raining and your outdoor space isn’t covered. Not only that but running it in adverse weather could end up costing you even more money in repairs.
Propane smokers, on the other hand, have no trouble operating in the rain or wind. If you choose to smoke meat in the middle of a big storm, you should be safe. But, as with everything, it isn’t flawless.
Electric smokers are better insulated than propane smokers. This means that a little bit of wind and rain, as well as a dash of chilly weather, could put you in a situation where you’re unable to maintain a constant temperature.
Overall, you could be better off with a propane smoker in terms of weather conditions and outdoor cooking, if only because you won’t have to worry about safety problems or malfunctioning parts like you would with an electric smoker.
9. Cold Smoking
As we’ve mentioned, we’ve only touched on cold smoking in passing because it’s a subject that ought to be discussed on a deeper level when discussing electric and gas smokers.
The electric smoker comes out on top in this category. The digital functions provided in an electric smoker may make temperature management and maintenance simple. And if you’re thinking about cold smoking, you’ll need to keep the temperature low.
These characteristics, combined with the fact that it can achieve substantially lower temperatures than charcoal and propane smokers, make the electric smoker the greatest option for anyone who is primarily interested in cold smoking.
With a propane smoker, cold smoking is nearly impossible. For one thing, its ability to achieve higher temperatures is a disadvantage when it comes to cold smoking. To cold smoke meat, you’ll need low heat, as the name says.
This operation is made much more difficult by a propane smoker, which makes it impossible to maintain low temperatures when using propane or gas as a heat source.
If you’re set on a propane smoker and want to conduct cold smoking, you may want to consider investing in the appropriate adjustments.
10. Maintenance and Cleaning
With the exception of cleaning out the grate after each use and the exterior to reduce the likelihood of corrosion, minimal care is necessary for either model.
Both produce ash, which you’ll have to dispose of, and grease will collect in a drip pan. An electric smoker, on the other hand, creates less soot than a gas smoker. There won’t be much of either due to the cold temperatures and lack of clean heat sources. We’ll give electrics a slight advantage for cleaning convenience, but it’s essentially a tie.
On both types, the majority of the parts are rather simple, and replacements are usually as simple as calling the manufacturer. However, if the digital thermostat uses electricity and isn’t covered by the manufacturer’s guarantee, it might be a major issue.
Both electric and propane smokers perform admirably when it comes to cleaning. Electric and propane smokers, unlike charcoal smokers, do not require a heat source that could produce ashes and trash.
The wood chips tray or drawer may be the sole location that requires cleaning and maintenance, and all you need to do is empty the contents.
You should also clean out the drain where your device dumps the oil and meat juices. You may expect to use an electric or propane smoker for a long time if you do it this way.
In terms of the smokebox, its reliability is determined by the unit you choose; a well-built smoker from a respected manufacturer will be trustworthy, whereas a cheap one will not, regardless of whether it’s electric or gas.
With any smoker, things can go wrong. Hoses break, cords rip, connections corrode or distort, and other issues arise. The sophisticated electronics put into a digital electric smoker, on the other hand, are the most likely to fail you. Consider this: when was it ever beneficial for electronic devices to be repeatedly exposed to high temperatures, smoke, and the elements, as well as the elements themselves?
To be honest, we love the majority of what electric smokers have to offer, including all of those characteristics. In contrast to your typical gasser, they are significantly more prone to fail on you.
So, in terms of reliability, gas is the definite winner.
12. Size, Footprint, and Space Required
Smokers, both electric and gas, come in a variety of sizes.
Vertical variants vary in height and thus capacity, but most have a footprint of about 24″ by 24.” There are models that fit on a tabletop and can be taken camping or tailgating, as well as larger models that stand around 4 feet tall.
The electric smoker is your best choice for fitting into a tiny space because it doesn’t require space for a tank. Reserve an area of at least 3’x5′ to accommodate an offset propane smoker.
13. Cooking Capacity
Gas vs electric smoker, there both models, there is a large variety of food capacity options. When it comes to a huge smoker, gas is the way to go, as there are more gas smokers of a large capacity than electric and you may pick between vertical and horizontal offsets.
Buying a Gas Smoker – Who Is a Good Candidate?
The fundamental contrast between propane vs electric smokers is the source of heat. Natural gas or propane is used to ignite the pellets or wood chips that smoke the meat in a gas smoker. They are lightweight and ideal for outdoor barbecues, provided you have a small propane tank. Due to the fact that they operate on open flames, extreme vigilance is required as these smokers rapidly fluctuate in temperature.
☛ Propane / Gas Smoker Pros:
- You may place a gas smoker virtually anywhere outside without regard for electrical outlets.
- Propane smokers aren’t hard to set up. When something breaks, fixes are typically quite simple.
- Gas smokers can be used even if the electricity goes off.
- Generally, you can purchase a decent-quality propane smoker for less than an electric unit.
- Most propane smoker lovers will tell you that the results are more similar to those achieved in a classic charcoal barbecue than an electric smoker.
☛ Propane / Gas Smoker Cons:
- Some of the less expensive types will need you to keep an eye on them to make sure they don’t overheat. Gas smokers have a tendency to overheat.
- Your cooking time will be substantially affected by the weather, as gas smokers are not well insulated.
- If you’re looking for a high-tech smoker, you’ll have to settle with a more basic one that doesn’t include features like Bluetooth.
- Some apartment complexes prohibit the use of a gas smoker.
☛ Most Appropriate for…
- Accomplished barbecuers
- Anyone who wishes to smoke outside of their residence
- Taste-conscious individuals who place a premium on flavor over convenience
- Individuals who are persistent in their efforts to acquire new skills
☛ Electric Smoker May Be The Best Alternative, If…
- You have convenient access to electrical power.
- Are you willing to give up some flavor in exchange for convenience?
- Are not permitted to cook with gas in your area of residence
- Do not have a strong sense of expertise with gas grilling.
Buying an Electric Smoker – Who Is a Good Candidate?
Electric smokers use electricity to heat a coil underneath the pellets or wood chips, which is heated by the energy. It is necessary to position the meat on higher racks in order to allow the heat from the coil and burning wood to completely cook the meat. Since they’re so user-friendly and maybe had for a variety of prices and models, they’re a popular choice for many people.
☛ Electric Smoker Pros:
- Controlling the temperature is simple, especially with higher-end models. Adjusting the temperature is as simple as turning the dial. Low, medium, and high settings may be the only options available on some low-cost devices.
- It’s truly convenient when you can set it and forget it. You can set your temperature and then leave the room.
- It is safest to use these units than the other alternative available. There is no need to be cautious about combustible vapors or materials.
- If you are looking for a smoker but reside in an apartment building, electric smokers are frequently permitted, however, charcoal and gas smokers are not always permitted.
- They can be easily transformed into cold smokers. The same may be said about fish, which can be smoked at a lower temperature and dehydrated at the same time.
☛ Electric Smoker Cons:
- If you use an electric smoker, don’t expect the same level of heat that you would receive from a propane smoker.
- You’ll need a power outlet in an accessible area, so you won’t be able to take your electric smoker camping unless you also have a generator.
- When using one of these, you won’t have to worry about getting a smoke ring. Because wood doesn’t burn hot enough to produce smoke rings, you can smoke it for flavor, but you won’t be able to release the chemicals needed for smoke rings.
- Due to the higher-tech nature of electric smokers, repairs can be more difficult and costly.
☛ Most Appropriate for…
- Many people, especially those who are too busy to keep a watch on a smoker for long periods of time, prefer electronic cigarettes (e. parents of young kids)
- Anyone who has never cooked with gas before
- Users on a casual/occasional basis
- Gas lines and propane tanks are not readily available to those who live in remote areas.
☛ Gas Smoker May Be The Best Alternative, If…
- The flavor takes precedence above the convenience of usage.
- There isn’t a convenient outlet available to you.
- You want to be able to smoke while tailgating, camping, or in your RV.
- You already purchase propane or have a gas connection for your grill.
Wrapping It Up
It’s natural to feel a little overwhelmed when you’re first starting out in cooking. Meat can be found in so many varieties, with so many recipes to pick from, not to mention the numerous methods by which dishes can be prepared once they are created. How do you determine what’s the best option for your situation?
We believe that gas smokers are the best option for most people, despite the fact that electric smokers have their advantages. Even though they take more time and work to prepare, we believe the end product is worth it. We’re confident you’ll agree after your first bite!
This extensive comparison of gas vs electric smokers will help you streamline your purchase process if you enjoy smoking meat. After reading this, you won’t have to worry about going to the store and making your purchase. You can shop like a professional!
Having said that, an electric smoker may be sufficient for certain people, which is acceptable. Smoked food is still delicious, and we’re sure you will like it!
All that’s left for you to do now is go out and make your house the talk of the neighborhood thanks to the delectable aromas that emanate from it!
Mary – is a passionate Food Blogger, currently writing at Best Smoker Guide. Having years of work experience on food blogging field and have a good sense of humor. She enjoys eating new foods and finding ways to cook them out.