Compare Outdoor BBQ Smokers: Electric Vs. Pellet Grills

Grillmasters tend to hold strong opinions about the best type of outdoor cooking equipment. While manufacturers offer outdoor BBQ smokers for a diverse array of cooking styles, some of the most convenient options include electric and pellet smokers. They’re easy to start, usually don’t take up a lot of space, and can produce consistent results.

Why Consider Electric and Pellet Smokers?

These days, outdoor cooking enthusiasts have a lot of options. These include charcoal, propane, electric, pellet, and even infrared cooking. According to CNET, pellet and electric smokers can offer the best balance between taste, convenience and long-term value.
For instance:
  • Unlike charcoal or wood fires, they’re easy to start and maintain.
  • Electricity needed to power them will cost less than charcoal or logs in the long run.
  • They produce delicious, smoky results that can compete with less convenient and more expensive smoking options.

Electric Vs. Pellet Outdoor BBQ Smokers

If the idea of using electric or pellet smokers sounds attractive, take a moment to compare the pros and cons of these two kinds of smokers.

Electric Smokers

The most common complaint about electric grills involves the lack of a smoky taste. Some companies do produce electric smokers that work by heating up pellets or wood chips to produce the desired flavor and aroma.
Some benefits of electric smokers include ease of getting them started and a generally compact size. Using them requires nearby access to an outdoor outlet or a long extension cord. Prices for very small electric smokers start at about $100, but expect to pay around $200 for a full-sized model.
Some electric smokers will also work with charcoal, so they don’t always need electricity. People who want to take them to the beach or a campsite could find that feature handy.

Pellet Smokers

Pellet smokers work a lot like electric smokers. They use food-grade wood pellets or chips. They also require electricity for ignition, gauges, fans, and even some computer-controlled features. A typical pellet smoker may take up more space than an electric smoker. Most pellet smokers can also convert to grills for added versatility. Expect to pay about $300 to $600 for popular models.

How to Smoke Meat Safely

The USDA offers some tips to smoke meat safely. Some highlights of the government’s suggestions include:
  • To avoid chemical contamination, only smoke meat in approved containers and not makeshift containers made from galvanized steel or other materials.
  • Use food-safe fuel, like commercially produced charcoal or wood chips.
  • Find a well-ventilated area that’s far from trees or other flammable items.
  • Follow manufacturer’s instructions for using outdoor cooking devices and fuel.

Is an Electric or Pellet Smoker Better?

Electric and pellet smokers work so much the same that some people might use the terms interchangeably. In general, the difference in terms may refer to size, range of features, and price points. The best choice will depend upon available space, budgets, and preferences.
Still not sold on the idea of pellet or electric smokers? Take a look at the advantages of infrared grills.

Do Outdoor BBQ Smokers Need Extended Warranty Protection?

Some parts of electric and pellet smokers can generate high repair bills. The most expensive repairs often include electronics, grates, and burners. An affordable, comprehensive protection plan for smokers and grills from Upsie offers peace of mind.
For the price of a couple of burgers, Upsie offers local and ship-it-in repairs, 24-7 claims reps, and certified technicians. Even better, Upsie will pay for postage for mail-in repairs and never charge a deductible or service fee for grill and smoker repairs. Buy a smoker, enjoy plenty of delicious meals, and if anything goes wrong, rely on Upsie to fix it.

Learn More About Outdoor Tools:

Return to all posts

* This article is over 6 months old and may or may not be updated.