Today I’m going to present the key differences between a gas smoker and an electric smoker so that you have no more doubts about which of them to choose when the time comes to buy a new smoker.
Both of them are actually easy to use and good for beginners, but I’ll try to choose more upsides and downsides of each of them.
Based on my own experiences, I could say right away which one will be better for me. What is good for me, however, doesn’t always mean something good for you.
The choice depends on the style of cooking and individual preferences, which is why I will leave the final decision up to you, once you read this guide I think you’ll be able to make a conscious and decided choice on who is the winner in the propane vs electric smoker battle.
On Electric Smoker
A very easy to use set & forget style smoker. The heating element and controller are pretty precise at maintaining a fixed temperature at temperate weather conditions. All you have to do is plug it in, start it, select the temperature using the digital controller and you’re done.
From the moment of reaching the right temperature, you don’t have to worry about anything throughout the entire smoking process. An electric smoker is good for smoking over many hours as you don’t have to keep making sure that everything’s okay.
The convenience, speed and cleanness are the main advantages of this type of smoker. Knowing that once you start it you don’t have to worry about anything throughout the entire smoking process is very enticing.
What about the flavor? In order to enrich the flavor, wood chips are used, which are placed in a special bowl. What is the result? The food is very good, but it will never be quite as good as from a charcoal smoker, although to an average individual it will make no difference.
A huge advantage is undoubtedly the ability to set a very low temperature that is perfect for cold smoking. A traditional smoker or a gas smoker are not adapted to easy maintenance of low temperatures. An electric smoker handles this task perfectly, I recommend also buying a separately sold cold smoking kit that will take care of the right amount of smoke and much better results of smoking.
Among the significant downsides there is definitely the limited mobility due to relying on electricity. Another downside is certainly inability to smoke in the rain, never expose an electric smoker to rain. Most models don’t even have an adequate insulation, leading to the risk of water getting into wrong places, which would result in a serious damage to the smoker. This very often ends in expensive repairs or even necessity to buy a brand new model.
Such components as the digital controller or the heating element will sooner or later break down, and repairing them isn’t among the easiest or cheapest tasks, either.
- Convenience and Speed
- Set&Forget Style
- Great for cold smoking
- Great for beginners
- Inability to smoke in the rain
- Limited mobility
- Expensive repairs
- Short warranty periods
On Propane Smoker
Another very easy to use smoker that mostly differs from its competitor in the source of power ( propane ). Another good choice for beginners or those who value convenience and speed.
There is no digital controller here so temperature control consists of adjusting the burner’s power. It is a very convenient solution compared to the charcoal smoker but not quite as great and precise as the electric smoker.
Once you start it, all you have to do is adjust the burner knob until you reach the right temperature. On one hand, it’s a very convenient solution, but it’s not perfect as when you’re smoking you’ll still have to control the temperature and adjust the knob. Sadly, there is no precise controller here that would take care of a fixed temperature.
Propane burns pretty hot when it comes to this smoker, I don’t recommend it to those who think about cold smoking. Of course there are different modifications available that would allow to adapt a propane smoker to reaching stable low temperatures, but it is too complicated and not supported by the manufacturers.
When it comes to food flavor, plenty of people say that it is slightly poorer than in a charcoal smoker, but better than food from a electric smoker, which I personally agree with. You also get a bowl for wood chips here, which are responsible for making smoke.
When it comes to common malfunctions, all I can think of is malfunctions of the burner and the reducer, which isn’t something complicated or too expensive when it comes to repairs.
Due to the propane in the tank, I suggest having a spare tank around the backyard in case the first tank suddenly ran out of propane.
Check out guide to the best propane smokers.
- Speed and Convenience
- Very good flavor
- Easy Cleaning
- Short warranty period
- Things like the burner or reducer might break down
Electric vs Gas Smoker – Conclusion
What is the verdict, then, in the gas vs electric smoker face-off ? When it comes to flavor, I’d say the gas smoker is better, whereas in terms of convenience and versatility the electric smoker is the winner.
The electric smoker is better as a set&forget style smoker thanks to a pretty precise digital controller. It is also great for cold smoking which might be the crucial criterion to some people as the gas smoker doesn’t offer temperatures this low.
When it comes to the gas smoker, just as I mentioned above, food has a richer flavor to me than from an electric smoker. You can easily use it even on rainy days, although it is not a 100% set& forget style smoker. Once you reach the desired temperature, you have to properly feel the smoker so that you maintain a fixed temperature without having to adjust the burner knob all the time.