Do electric smokers use a lot of electricity and cost a lot to run?
Are they worth it, or should you still to charcoal and gas smokers?
These questions and more, I will be answering in this short guide, where I give you 10 tips on how to pick an efficient electric smoker.
Without further ado, let’s begin!
Do Electric Smokers Use a Lot of Electricity?
Electric smokers use a lot of electricity per hour since they have a relatively high wattage of 750-2,000 watts, but the total amount of electricity they use per month might not be that high ($3-$12) since you only use them few times a month.
It might happen that you smoke food in the summer and spring months more than you do in the other months, which leads to more electricity usage by the smoker during the warm months, especially during the summer school break.
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How Much Electricity Does an Electric Smoker Use?
On average, an electric smokers uses around 1.5 kiloWatt-hours per hour of usage, assuming the average wattage of 1,500 watts, and assuming that you leave it on the highest setting all the time when running.
The smoker electricity consumption per session depends on the wattage of the smoker, and on the food you want to smoker as each kind of food or meat cut requires a certain temperature and time duration in order to be smoked.
Most, if not all the electric smokers come with an adjustable temperature range, and the higher you set the temperature, the more energy it would draw during that session.
For example, a 1,500-watt smoker with the temperature range of 150-350 F will draw the full power rating of 1,500 watts in order to give you the 350 F temperature, which results in consuming 1.5 kWh of electric energy per hour.
And it will draw less power and energy when running at a lower temperature like 250 F for example.
Assuming that you smoke a whole turkey at 350 F for the duration four hours using a 1,500-watt smoker, and the smoker offers the temperature range of 150-350 F, which means that it will draw the full power capacity of 1,500 watts in order to give you the desired temperature.
And that results in 1.5 kWh’s/hour X 4 hours = 6 kWh’s of electricity usage per session in order to finish its job.
Let’s say that you run the smoker once a week with the estimated time and wattage above, then the total energy consumption of the smoker per month would be around 24 kWh’s (4 sessions X 6 kWh’s/session).
Other kinds of food might require longer periods of time in order to be smoked, but they might also require a lower temperature, which means less energy per hour.
Note that these are estimates, and the actual electricity usage of a smoker varies from one user to another depending on the following:
- The wattage of the smoker.
- The capacity and the food quantity per session.
- The preheating time before adding food to it.
- The number of hours it is used per month.
- The temperature it is set to give during each session of food smoking.
How Many Watts Does an Electric Smoker Use?
Electric smokers use between 750-2,000 watts of power in order to run, with the average of 1,500 watts.
There are few models that go out of this range on both ends.
Each smoker model might come with a different temperature range and capacity, and these both define the necessary wattage of the smoker.
But in general, electric smokers come with an adjustable temperature range, and if you run them at a temperature that is lower than the highest one setting, then they will draw less than their actual wattage.
This means that the amount of power a specific electric smoker uses changes from one session to another depending on the food and on the smoking preferences of the user.
Important Note: Before you buy a high-wattage smoker, consider checking the power outlet and the circuit breaker that supplies it in order to make sure that they can handle the amperage of the smoker.
For example, a 2,000-Watt smoker, with a 110-Volt system, draws around 18 Amperes.
In this case, you need the power outlet to have the capacity of at least 20 Amps.
And the breaker that supplies it, along with the wires, should be able to handle this amperage, in addition to any other loads that are connected to the same circuit.
If the circuit breaker’s rating is lower than the smoker’s amperage, or if it was just above the amperage of the smoker, but has other loads connected to it, then you might need to upgrade by changing the breaker and the wires coming out of it to the outlet.
Important: Never upgrade the breaker alone without changing the wires with larger ones as that might cause the original wiring to fail on the first use of the smoker. Consult a qualified electrician before you do any change in the electric panel.
Are Electric Smokers Expensive to Run?
Electric smokers might be expensive to run if you smoke meat every single day, but that’s usually not the case.
Due to the relatively high wattage, electric smokers might be expensive to run for an hour compared to other appliances like lights, fridge or TV’s, but since you don’t smoke meat every day, then they might not be as expensive to run as lights, large fridges, or water heaters over the duration of a month.
How Much Does an Electric Smoker Cost to Run?
On average, an electric smoker costs around 21 cents to run an hour based on the average wattage of 1,500 watts, and on the electricity rate of 14 cents/kWh.
For the 4-hour session to smoke a whole turkey in the estimates above, the electric smoker would cost around 84 cents.
And per month, the electric smoker would cost around $3.36 (4 sessions X $0.84/session).
These are average estimates based on the average usage estimated above in this article, and on the average energy rate of 14 cents/kWh.
The actual cost to run an electric smoker depends on:
- The actual wattage of the smoker.
- The number of hours you run it in a month.
- The temperature you set each time you use it depending on the food and on your preferences.
- Preheating time.
- The actual electricity price of your supplier.
- The cost of wood pellets. (Optional)
Note that energy rates differ from one region to another and from one company to another.
For example, in California and Connecticut, the rates are 50% higher than the average, while in Washington, Utah and Idaho, the rates are around 30% lower than the average.
Additional Running Costs of Electric Smokers
Compared to conventional smokers, electric smokers can be faster and easier to work with, and they don’t really need wood chips or pellets in order to do their job and give the necessary and consistent heat.
However, they usually come with a tray that allows you to add pellets or wood chips in order to supply richer smoke with a flavor that you might prefer.
In case you use pellets or wood chips in an electric smoker, then you need to add that to the electricity running cost of the smoker.
But don’t worry, because you don’t need to use a lot of pellets or wood chips with an electric smoker, as their job is mainly to create flavored, richer smoke, and not to give heat.
For example, the BBQr’s Delight wood smoking pellets package of 6 bags(1 pound in each bag) costs around $40.
One bag is enough for 10 uses, which means that the whole package is enough for 60 uses.
This means that the cost of pellets for each smoker use is around $0.60 only.
10 Tips to Choose Energy Efficient Electric Smokers
Here are some tips to help you choose and run an efficient electric smoker in order to save energy and money:
- Choose a smoker with the capacity to smoke the maximum quantity of food you would smoke in one session, as under sizing the smoker would mean running it more hours in order to smoke food in batches, and over sizing it might mean using more energy to heat more space inside it without having a lot of food inside it.
- Pick a smoker with an adjustable heat range, and let the maximum temperature be just above the highest temperature you would need for the kinds of food you will smoke with it.
- A built-in temperature indicator/gauge.
- Short preheating time. (Normally, it’s between 30-45 minutes).
- Check the available user reviews for ease of moving, using, and cleaning the smoker.
- The availability of a pellet tray.
- Check the external dimensions in order to make sure that it fits the place where you want to put it.
- After finding options for smokers that satisfy all of the above requirements, find one with the lowest wattage.
- Check user reviews from a large number of users on online marketplaces in order to ensure the quality, durability, and ease of use of the smoker.
- Check out the current it draws in Amperes as explained earlier, and compare it to the power outlet you will connect it to, and the circuit breaker that supplies that outlet. Both should have higher capacity than the smoker’s amperage.
Conclusion – Are Electric Smokers Worth it?
Electric smokers can be worth it as they are easier to use, handle and clean than charcoal smokers for example.
They might use a lot of electricity per hour, but like the electricity usage of electric grill, the total energy usage of electric smokers during the month might not be that high as you won’t usually run them every day.
Follow the tips in the previous section in order to pick the right electric smoker for you and save energy and money on the long run by lowering the electricity running cost of the smoker.
I hope that my article was helpful.
If you still have other questions on this topic, please, ask me in the comments’ section below, and I will do my best to help you out 🙂