Electric smokers are becoming more popular among home cooks these days. The biggest advantage of electric units is they are so easy to operate that almost anyone can use them. If you are new to food smoking and are looking for a dependable and inexpensive unit, then the Char Broil Vertical smoker might worth a look.
This smoker comes with over 500 square inches of cast iron grill surface and three chrome-plated cooking grids. Also included in the package are porcelain ash pan and woodchip and water pan. Its handle is chrome plated to limit the risk of accident. Like the Smoke Hollow, this unit is powered by an 1500 Watt heating element capable of providing clean and constant heat.
This smoker is not really a large unit. Measured at 17.5″ x 20″ x 30.8″(the legs add another 9″), you can put this unit pretty much anywhere due to its small size and weather resistant material. However, you need to place it in well-ventilated space and away from combustible materials and flammable liquids for safety purpose.
Another important point when it comes to placing a smoker is the surface. Make sure you put this device on a level, stable surface to avoid the machine falling down accidentally.
This machine weighs around 50 pounds, making it a bit difficult to move around. However as smokers aren’t exactly known for their portability, this would not be too much of a problem.
The first point I give this unit is its price. While it is more expensive than the Brinkmann or the Big Chief, it does offer more benefits than the other two.
Customers also praise this unit for its ease of assembling and operating. You are provided with a step by step user manual details every steps of assembling this machine. The whole process of putting it all together should not be longer than 60 minutes, even when you have no experience whatsoever.
The third point you should know about this device is its powerful heating element. With 1,500 watt at its disposal, this machine can crank the heat up to 400 degree. However, most of the time you would only need it at lower temperatures. On the operating side, this unit provides a great and hassle free user experience. Three adjustable chrome-plated cooking grids allow you to adjust cooking space to accommodate different types of food.
Being able to keep a constant temperature is another big plus. The unit is built with a double-wall to increase its ability to maintain inner temperature. This feature is especially useful when you cook in cold weather, as keeping a steady temperature in cold conditions is very hard.
While this smoker offers some very great features, there are still some drawbacks which make it fall short of our top smokers list.
A big flaw of this unit lies in its design. The capacity of the wood box is rather small. The small box forces you to refill it regularly, which kind of defeat the purpose of a hands free device. Moreover, every time you open the door to refill the box will result in a massive temperature swing, which is a big no in smoking.
Another issue with this device is the door, despite having magnetic latches, is not seal shut while operating. As you already know, smoking is all about creating and keeping smoke, thus a leaky smoker is no smoker at all. Apparently this is a common issue with this machine, so I’m not sure this is a quality control issue or a design issue.
Speaking of smoke, another less common complain is its ability to create smoke. Apparently some customers found that this unit do not generate enough smoke to their liking. Personally I agree that a little bit more smoke could be better, but it is still fine as it is.
All in all, the Char Broil Electric Smoker is a good buy, especially for inexperienced users who want something easy and simple to use. It will do a decent job of smoking, which is really the only thing that matters after all. However, its flaws with temperature swing and keeping smoke inside prevent it from being a great machine. Still, if you are looking for an inexpensive device that does its job, this smoker is certainly good choice.