BBQ FAQ Section 7.12

 

7.12 Electrically-heated smokers

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[Can you tell me something about electrically-heated smokers?]

Editor--

Home smoker pits also operate using electricity. An electrical resistance heating element in these smokers heats the air that heats the smoker. Most electrical smokers are the water bullet type smokers. Wood chips or chunks are placed on or near the heating element to slowly burn and produce the smoke for flavoring the meat. If you are shopping for an electric smoker, we recommend that you buy a unit that comes with a way to adjust the temperature of the heating element. The Char-Broil Electric Water Smoker comes with such a control, the current models of Brinkmann Smoke'N Grill Electric and Gourmet Electric Smoker units do not have that feature. List members have reported situations where the fixed temperature was either too hot or too cool. The Cookshack smokers are a premium line of electric oven-type smokers that use wood chips for the smoke flavor.

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[I bought an electric bullet smoker that does not have a temperature control. Some days it's too hot and some days it's too cold. Can I put a dimmer switch in the line to give me variable temperature control?]

Alex Baker--

A dimmer switch will vary the voltage to the electric heating element. However, as you cut the voltage to the heating element it cools down. But the big effect is that you wind up with the element not getting hot enough to make the wood chips or chunks burn.

The control on the Char-Broil electric smoker is not simply a device that lowers current flow to the element. The temperature control device contains a temperature sensor and adjustment that turns the power off when the desired setting is reached, and then turns it back on when the temperature drops off. Thus when at power, the element gets full line voltage which makes the wood burn and generates the smoke we all crave.

Temperature switches are available, but you would be better off and it would be much cheaper, to buy a thermostatically controlled smoker.

The List tipped me off to the advantages of the Char-Broil electric bullet unit when I went searching for my first smoker. All I can say is, it was good advice.

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BBQ FAQ Ver 1.0, 2.0 1997, 1998 William W. Wight. All rights reserved.

Thursday, November 25, 1999
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