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Author Topic: Smoker - Propane VS Electric  (Read 958 times)
Jake Trout
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« on: January 24, 2014, 08:53:54 PM »

Hey guys, I have been looking at getting a smoker for some time however have not been able to decide between propane gas or electric.  I would be looking at smoking all meats, not limited to fish.  I would like to hear some opinions from those who have some experience with smoking meats in our climate.  There is limitless information available through google, I just thought I'd check in with you folks.  Pros and cons?

Thanks,

Jake
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JigHead23
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« Reply #1 on: January 24, 2014, 08:59:55 PM »

Get a Bradley electric smoker they r great  for doin fish and if u turn off the element u and do cheese


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Trapperdirk
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« Reply #2 on: January 24, 2014, 09:04:01 PM »

I've used both and much prefer propane . It seems more consistent to me .

TD
« Last Edit: January 24, 2014, 10:37:18 PM by Trapperdirk » Logged
Miha
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« Reply #3 on: January 24, 2014, 09:14:51 PM »

There is my go-to source of all smoking-related stuff: http://amazingribs.com
You might find there answers way above and beyond what you're looking for Smiley

Regarding experience: I have a home-made tightly(digitally) controlled  smoker($400 or so). I don't believe you can reach this kind of control using propane. And temperature control is paramount in smoking. Admittedly, I use the device for smoking fish only. I need to improve on the construction to reliably make ribs and pulled pork for example.

Regarding what's better propane or electric - If I wasn't that cheap I would've bought pellet grill/smoker Smiley If money isn't an issue that's the best you can do(according to the various sources). But according to the same sources, the real McCoy is quite expensive and there is no sense in buying cheap grills. I guess this is a usual story - you get whatever you've paid for. Wink
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Burtess
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« Reply #4 on: January 24, 2014, 09:16:10 PM »

What about charcoal???

A lot of wicked good BBQ is made on the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker.  There is something about lighting a real fire and cooking over it that cannot be captured with an electric or propane unit.

Burt Smiley
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Miha
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« Reply #5 on: January 24, 2014, 09:18:10 PM »

What about charcoal???

Nothing can beat the real stuff. But you have to have a LOT of free time to babysit it  Grin Grin Grin Grin Grin Grin
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Burtess
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« Reply #6 on: January 24, 2014, 10:40:27 PM »

What about charcoal???

Nothing can beat the real stuff. But you have to have a LOT of free time to babysit it  Grin Grin Grin Grin Grin Grin

The Weber Smokey Mountain is a very stable unit once you have it burned in and get used to it.  I can run it for 24hrs and make adjustments every 5-6hrs or so to maintain temperature.  You can make good BBQ on the "automated" units but I like the artsy way of doing it..... some blood, sweat, and tears certainly make the BBQ taste ever so sweeter lol..... Tongue

Burt Smiley


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Trapperdirk
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« Reply #7 on: January 24, 2014, 10:53:09 PM »

I made my own too and don't have anywhere near that kind of coin in it . Folks go way overboard about smoking . It isn't an exact science and never was for hundreds of years even to this day actually . Nobody does more smoking than folks living in the far north where smoking fish and other meats is for sustenance and a subsistence living . No fancy digital stuff in their smoke houses . It's about feel and experience . My smoker is actually built out of some beaver boards that I stretched beaver on . LOL  Grin



TD
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Miha
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« Reply #8 on: January 24, 2014, 10:59:56 PM »

Coin has a relative worth, TD Smiley
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Trapperdirk
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« Reply #9 on: January 24, 2014, 11:25:10 PM »

Coin has a relative worth, TD Smiley

What's that comment supposed to mean Miha ? You trying to tell me your $400 homebuilt is worth more than my $50 dollar one . I don't think so . LOL Grin . Going to have to have a smoker showdown methinks . Grin

TD
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Miha
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« Reply #10 on: January 24, 2014, 11:38:11 PM »

What's that comment supposed to mean Miha ?
...

Yeah, lookin' at it methinks it means too much red wine Smiley Heck, I've run out of it and tomorrow is a fishin' day! Good luck to you if you're fishing, pal. And good luck to me Wink
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Fish-awn
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Just Fish....


« Reply #11 on: January 24, 2014, 11:50:09 PM »

I made my own too and don't have anywhere near that kind of coin in it . Folks go way overboard about smoking . It isn't an exact science and never was for hundreds of years even to this day actually . Nobody does more smoking than folks living in the far north where smoking fish and other meats is for sustenance and a subsistence living . No fancy digital stuff in their smoke houses . It's about feel and experience . My smoker is actually built out of some beaver boards that I stretched beaver on . LOL  Grin



Nicely done.     Looks interesting
TD
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work gets in the way of fishing
Fish-awn
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Just Fish....


« Reply #12 on: January 24, 2014, 11:51:37 PM »

I have a Bradley electronic.  I love it.   I never have tried a propane smoker so I can't really comment on that
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work gets in the way of fishing
Trapperdirk
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« Reply #13 on: January 25, 2014, 12:44:27 AM »

What's that comment supposed to mean Miha ?
...

Yeah, lookin' at it methinks it means too much red wine Smiley Heck, I've run out of it and tomorrow is a fishin' day! Good luck to you if you're fishing, pal. And good luck to me Wink

Of course good luck to you sir. . Cheesy Hopefully the winds die down or more of us will be filling up on the grape .  Grin

TD
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Canadian Hunter312
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« Reply #14 on: January 25, 2014, 01:24:50 PM »

The biggest advantage of propane is not needing to run an extension cord to the smoker and I also believe it's cheaper to operate than electric.

As for temperature control with a propane unit, it only takes a couple smokes to figure out where to set the dial and dampers for the temperature you need.


Here's one I made out of an old fridge for under $100. With 9 large racks and such a large interior I don't think i'll ever have to worry about not having enough room. The majority of smokers you'll find in stores will fit inside my smoker Grin  Plus, the unit is super efficient as it's insulated meaning it uses very little propane and has no problem maintaining temps at -20, unlike the majority of store bought smokers.









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Alabama
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« Reply #15 on: January 25, 2014, 04:11:08 PM »

Take a look at ceramic Grills.  You can smoke, bbq, and use it as a pizza oven.  I have the "Primo Grill" from Georgia.  Once you cook on it, you will wonder why you waited so long!
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BB
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« Reply #16 on: January 25, 2014, 04:50:10 PM »

Quote
My smoker is actually built out of some beaver boards that I stretched beaver on .

Bragging? LMAO

 
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Eterpe
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« Reply #17 on: January 25, 2014, 05:44:20 PM »

My first smoker was a metal storage cabinet with fridge shelves and a hot plate. Now i have a Big John smoker. I have done jerky salmon ribs you name it and both tasted great. I would think having temp control could make a difference. On the cold days or windy days the batch of what ever Im trying to dry out a bit takes more time. you dont have to spend allot of money to get excellent results.

Peter
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hardwatr
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« Reply #18 on: January 25, 2014, 06:33:06 PM »

I've used propane for smoking for the past 3 years. 

I use a double-wide store bought Landmann propane smoker.  The box is double wide and there's a large circular burner at the bottom of the box.  The control for the burner and the sparker button are on the front of the smoker.  Over the burner is a large rectangular cast iron box with a lid where the wood chips for making smoke go.  Above the smoke box is a large 4" deep pan for water.  The box has 4 adjustable smoking racks and vents on both sides and in the top.

There are many conveniences when using electric smokers:  just plug them in, set the program, fill the auto-stoker with wood pucks, no need to monitor temperature as closely as with a propane smoker since thermostat in an electric smoker closely regulates the box temperature which makes for better smoking.

On a warm and calm day, the 500 watt electric heating element in an electric smoker will cycle on and off for the duration of the smoke, so energy consumption on a day like that would be ok.  But smoking on a cold or windy or cold and windy day might be a different story. 

I chose a propane smoker based on what I perceived as the high cost of running an electric smoker for 12 to 14 hours on a cold or windy or a cold and windy day. 

On a cold or windy day, the heating element in an electric smoker would probably be on for most of the smoke.  The element in a Bradley electric smoker is rated as 500 watts.  On a cold windy day that electric smoker would consume the same amount of electricity used by 5 incandescent 100 watt light bulbs on continuously for 12 to 14 hours.   

With the high price of electricity today (especially at peak rates), the electricity service charges, delivery charges, repayment levies, and the HST, propane looked to be a better deal in the long run.  Besides, when the propane tank on my BBQ gets empty I simply swap it out for my smoker tank which tides me over until I get the BBQ tank refilled. 

Other reasons I chose propane over electric...

If I had an electric smoker, I would need to run an extension cord each time I wanted to use it.

If I bought an electric smoker, it would have an auto-stoker, and I'd need to buy special wood pucks for it.

If I wasn't using my electric smoker with the auto-stoker, I'd want to store the smoker inside to protect the electrical, which means I would need to haul it out of storage and over to my smoker pad each time I wanted to smoke with it. 

My propane smoker has no electrical parts and sits outside on my smoker pad all year and is ready to go in minutes. 

I use a 40lb propane tank which costs less than $30 to refill at Costco and it lasts for at least 3 smokes.  I hook the tank up, load the smoke box with wet wood chips and put the lid on, fill the water pan with boiling water (to speed up the box preheat), set the dial on 'Light', turn on the propane, push down on the sparker, adjust the flame to the setting I usually use, and let the box and smoke box come up to temperature.  When the box is at or near 225F and just beginning to smoke, in goes the meat and the smoking begins. 

I use 2 wireless thermometers to monitor the box temp near the top of the cavity and the inside temp of one of the thicker pieces of meat I am smoking. After I configure the flame and box venting (given the weather) and after initially monitoring the temperature and a minor flame adjustment, my smoker holds close to the same temperature over the whole smoking period with only a few minor adjustments in between. 

On most smoking days, to get better flame control, I use old road signs resting on the ground and leaning on the smoker on 3 sides of the box to protect the flame from stray gusts of wind.  Apart from having to monitor temperature and topping up the water pan with boiled water, most of the rest of the smoking time is mine to waste as I see fit.   

The only drawback I have found for the Landmann propane smoker I use is the single wall construction of the box.  I wish it was double wall with a layer of insulation in between.  As well, the door to my smoker is single wall construction.  Double wall construction would go a long way in helping the box retain heat on a cold or windy or windy and cold day of smoking.

Other people will give you their opinions about electric vs propane.  The choice is yours!

Once you're up and smoking regardless of whether you're using electricity or gas, you can look forward to reaping the tasty rewards that smoking meats always brings. 

Good smokin' to you.

hardwatr
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Jake Trout
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« Reply #19 on: January 25, 2014, 07:24:19 PM »

I've used propane for smoking for the past 3 years. 

I use a double-wide store bought Landmann propane smoker.  The box is double wide and there's a large circular burner at the bottom of the box.  The control for the burner and the sparker button are on the front of the smoker.  Over the burner is a large rectangular cast iron box with a lid where the wood chips for making smoke go.  Above the smoke box is a large 4" deep pan for water.  The box has 4 adjustable smoking racks and vents on both sides and in the top.

There are many conveniences when using electric smokers:  just plug them in, set the program, fill the auto-stoker with wood pucks, no need to monitor temperature as closely as with a propane smoker since thermostat in an electric smoker closely regulates the box temperature which makes for better smoking.

On a warm and calm day, the 500 watt electric heating element in an electric smoker will cycle on and off for the duration of the smoke, so energy consumption on a day like that would be ok.  But smoking on a cold or windy or cold and windy day might be a different story. 

I chose a propane smoker based on what I perceived as the high cost of running an electric smoker for 12 to 14 hours on a cold or windy or a cold and windy day. 

On a cold or windy day, the heating element in an electric smoker would probably be on for most of the smoke.  The element in a Bradley electric smoker is rated as 500 watts.  On a cold windy day that electric smoker would consume the same amount of electricity used by 5 incandescent 100 watt light bulbs on continuously for 12 to 14 hours.   

With the high price of electricity today (especially at peak rates), the electricity service charges, delivery charges, repayment levies, and the HST, propane looked to be a better deal in the long run.  Besides, when the propane tank on my BBQ gets empty I simply swap it out for my smoker tank which tides me over until I get the BBQ tank refilled. 

Other reasons I chose propane over electric...

If I had an electric smoker, I would need to run an extension cord each time I wanted to use it.

If I bought an electric smoker, it would have an auto-stoker, and I'd need to buy special wood pucks for it.

If I wasn't using my electric smoker with the auto-stoker, I'd want to store the smoker inside to protect the electrical, which means I would need to haul it out of storage and over to my smoker pad each time I wanted to smoke with it. 

My propane smoker has no electrical parts and sits outside on my smoker pad all year and is ready to go in minutes. 

I use a 40lb propane tank which costs less than $30 to refill at Costco and it lasts for at least 3 smokes.  I hook the tank up, load the smoke box with wet wood chips and put the lid on, fill the water pan with boiling water (to speed up the box preheat), set the dial on 'Light', turn on the propane, push down on the sparker, adjust the flame to the setting I usually use, and let the box and smoke box come up to temperature.  When the box is at or near 225F and just beginning to smoke, in goes the meat and the smoking begins. 

I use 2 wireless thermometers to monitor the box temp near the top of the cavity and the inside temp of one of the thicker pieces of meat I am smoking. After I configure the flame and box venting (given the weather) and after initially monitoring the temperature and a minor flame adjustment, my smoker holds close to the same temperature over the whole smoking period with only a few minor adjustments in between. 

On most smoking days, to get better flame control, I use old road signs resting on the ground and leaning on the smoker on 3 sides of the box to protect the flame from stray gusts of wind.  Apart from having to monitor temperature and topping up the water pan with boiled water, most of the rest of the smoking time is mine to waste as I see fit.   

The only drawback I have found for the Landmann propane smoker I use is the single wall construction of the box.  I wish it was double wall with a layer of insulation in between.  As well, the door to my smoker is single wall construction.  Double wall construction would go a long way in helping the box retain heat on a cold or windy or windy and cold day of smoking.

Other people will give you their opinions about electric vs propane.  The choice is yours!

Once you're up and smoking regardless of whether you're using electricity or gas, you can look forward to reaping the tasty rewards that smoking meats always brings. 

Good smokin' to you.

hardwatr

 Clap

Man!  That is a great reply!  Lots of good information there.  Do all electric units require the pucks?

Thanks everyone for the responses.  I agree that there is nothing more authentic than charcoal or wood, and I have a friend that made an ugly drum charcoal smoker for fairly cheap that works quite well, however, like others have mentioned, I am looking for a little lower maintenance. 

TD and Canadian Hunter, those are a couple of beauty BBQ's!

I look forward to someday building my own smoker but I think I like the idea of starting on a store bought. 

I am leaning towards picking up a propane powered as electric seems like it may be more expensive to operate.  I have a couple of propane tanks and a store which I can swap tanks at within 2 minutes of my house.

I am looking forward to learning the art of smoking meats.  Starting with the whitefish in my freezer.

Thanks again!

Jake
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Centerspin
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« Reply #20 on: January 26, 2014, 12:17:52 AM »

Have two friends with propane smokers, they both have trouble keeping temperature low, they both smoke at 180 F. With the electric you can do at 150 or less.
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basshunter1989
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« Reply #21 on: January 26, 2014, 06:59:27 PM »

Traeger all the way.... i have the texas grill and couldnt be happier.
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