Brisket envy got you down? Have a hankering for home-smoked sausage? Of course you do – that’s why you’re here and reading about smokers.
There’s nothing quite like the taste of smoked meat, especially when you make it yourself.
There’s no shortage of smokers on the market, but, as with all consumer goods, they’re not all created equal.
Rather than wasting your day sifting through the internet to find your dream smoker, spend some time with us, instead. We’ve already done the sifting.
Next up in our look at individual smokers and grills is our Char-Broil vertical electric smoker review.
We’ve got all the facts, figures and thoughts gathered here in one spot for your convenience, a high level and a detailed overview in one, so that by the end you should know if this smoker is the right one for you.
So let’s get to know this electrifying entry in the pantheon of smokers.
Contents - Click to Jump to Section
What is the Char-Broil Vertical Electric Smoker?
The name pretty much says it all – this is a freestanding smoker that stands vertically, like a refrigerator.
An electric heating element sets the wood chips smoking, and the smoke and heat slowly cook whatever meat and veg you put inside the smoking chamber.
Ideally, an electric smoker will achieve and hold a set temperature with less difficulty than a charcoal or gas powered unit.
A Few Words on the Char-Broil Company
Char-Broil has been in business since 1948, and they brought one of the first home charcoal grills to the market. They also lay claim to having released the first portable grill, the first electric grill, and the first electric ignition on a gas grill.
I can’t verify these claims, but I’ll just assume they aren’t lying on their website.
Since those post-war days, Char-Broil has grown into one of the best-known names in the BBQ business, especially to the regular Joe grillers who aren’t up on some of the niche names – like Kamado Joe and Oklahoma Joe.
Their extensive product line-up includes charcoal grills, gas grills, electric grills, hybrid grills, infrared grills, BBQ smokers, electric smokers, and fryers, all divided up into 7 product lines. The website currently lists 80 different cookers.
Although they are an American company, they no longer manufacture grills in the U.S.; Char-Broil grills are made in China.
Review of the Char-Broil Vertical Electric Smoker
Let’s take a close, detailed look at one of Char-Broils best sellers: Their vertical electric smoker.
What Comes Inside the Box?
Along with the smoker itself, you also get three chrome-plated wire cooking grates, a wood chip pan, and a water pan, plus the cord with integrated thermostat.
As far as appearance goes, it looks more like an old bank safe than a smoker – a black box with a simple handle and a thermometer where the combination lock should be. It’s basic, but not unappealing.
The four legs don’t seem terribly substantial, but they’re splayed out enough to keep the smoker upright when you yank on the door handle, or when the wind picks up.
The smoke box (which is actually the whole smoker) is double-walled and insulated and seems reasonably solid.
You’ll notice right away there is no latch for the door, just a magnetic strip. In fact, the whole unit is free of any bells and whistles. Then again, it comes at a bargain price, and you can’t expect much in the way of frills and add-ons.
Why Do People Choose Char-Broil Products?
Char-Broil is a popular choice largely due to the recognizable name. Along with Weber, it probably has the highest level of brand recognition for casual backyard grillers. It’s tough to beat the price, too.
Therefore, Char-Broil made an appearance in our list of best electric smokers in 2018, and we’d be remiss not to cover some of their more popular models, such as the one in this review.
Char-Broil Vertical Electric Smoker Specs
- Exterior Dimensions:8”H x 20”W x 17.5”D
- Weight:5 lbs.
- Material: Porcelain-coated wood
- Fuel Source: Electric
- Total Cooking Area: 505 sq. in.
- Heating Element: 1 x 1500 watts
- Temperature Range: 150 – 400F
If all the above has you interested, you can:
Key Features of the Char-Broil Vertical Electric Smoker
Electric Heating Element
That’s the whole reason you want an electric smoker, right? To not have to deal with charcoal or gas.
This smoker has a high-wattage element, so it should have no trouble getting the chips to smoke and food to cook, especially since this is a smaller unit.
Achieving the right temperature with gas or charcoal is a bit of a guessing game. Not so with an electric! Just adjust the dial until you’ve got it about where you want it, and watch the thermostat – no adding fuel, no adjusting vents or dampers.
The ability to hang shelves at varying heights opens up the possibilities for smoking. Spread them wide to put in a chicken or turkey without having to take one out entirely. This means you can smoke different size meats all at the same time.
External Drip Can
Cleaning out the drip pan should be straightforward. You can even do it with a cover on.
Mind you, you should be able to catch most of the drippings with the internal tray, but anything you miss will run conveniently out instead of making a mess inside.
Insulated, Double-Wall Construction
To smoke effectively, a smoker has to hold in the heat. The insulation sandwich construction should effectively do that, and it will also keep the cold out, allowing you to smoke year-round.
Let’s look beyond the specs at some key factors to consider when you’re thinking about buying a smoker.
Ease of Use
One of the main reasons for buying an electric smoker is the simplicity. You won’t be fiddling with charcoal or gas, or even worrying about airflow. The biggest concern will be having a GFI outlet handy.
Unfortunately, there is no way to check on or add more wood chips without opening the smoker box, and that means smoke and temperature loss. Fortunately, it won’t take long to get back up to temperature, and you won’t have to do anything anyway – it’s electric, remember?
Cleaning and Maintenance
Char-Broil smokers come pre-seasoned with vegetable oil applied at the factory.
Grates can be removed and cleaned with warm soapy water, or a baking soda/water solution.
Non-abrasive cleaners and brushes may be used on the porcelain surfaces, and it’s recommended that you push any loose build up through the bottom drain hole.
There really isn’t much of a Char-Broil “community” – there is one Facebook group, but there are only about 250 members, and there hasn’t been a post in at least a month as of when I wrote this. (And I suspect it has been even longer than that.)
Char-Broil posts on the following social channels: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube.
There are many ways to contact Char-Broil including toll-free by phone 8a-6p EST M-F, and 9a-3p EST on Saturdays. You can also start a live chat 9a-9p EST 7 days a week.
I tried it out, and it really is a live person. (PRO TIP: If you are using Safari as your browser, it won’t work.) There is also an email contact form, and they promise a reply within four business days.
Customers are welcome to leave reviews and post questions online, and the support team does seem to respond. I do note a lot of the answers are obviously “cut and paste,” especially if the review is negative.
Available Upgrades, Accessories and Attachments.
- 1-year limited warranty on all parts
- No warranty on paint
- Does not cover damage due to accident, alteration, misuse, abuse, etc.
- Does not cover shipping for parts
Quick Tips To Get the Most Out of Your Char-Broil Vertical Electric Smoker
- Clean regularly to minimize build-up in the chamber
- Detach and store cord/thermostat indoors
- Remove thermometer and use the hole for remote thermometer wires
- Pay close attention to whether the door is closed – not always easy to tell with the magnetic seal
What We Like
- An inexpensive introduction to smoking
- Adjustable grills
- Infinitely adjustable thermostat
- Drain hole for easy cleanup
What We Don’t Like
- No smoke vents, so be sure to clean regularly – just a quick wipe will do
- Can’t add wood without opening the entire smokebox, so be quick, and have your chips handy
- Lack of a proper door latch
Should You Buy the Char-Broil Vertical Electric Smoker?
Overall, we like the Char-Broil brand for the innovation they have demonstrated over the years, and their ability to deliver a decent grill for a modest price.
So, while we don’t mind recommending the company, do we recommend this smoker?
If you have a limited budget (either because that’s all your bank account allows, or because you’re not really sure smoking is for you), this isn’t a bad smoker. Many customers report good results on a regular basis.
However, if you think you’re going to be a bit more serious about smoking, or you’ve got a few extra bucks available to you, you might be better off spending your money on a better unit.
If your expectations are modest, this smoker may very well be perfectly adequate.
Other Models Might Suit You If:
- You plan on smoking frequently
- You want to smoke a LOT of meat at once
- You prefer more features and options
- Aesthetics are important to you
Char-Broil Vertical Electric Smoker Not For You? Here Are Some Great Alternatives:
If, after all that, you’ve decided you’re not so sure this is the smoker you’re looking for, here are a few alternatives to consider:
Char-Broil Deluxe Digital Electric Smoker
It’s about twice the price of the smoker we just reviewed, but you get a lot more for your money.
It looks sleek and modern, has four racks, digital controls, a remote control, and even includes a meat probe for testing the temperature of your meal. A stainless steel latch keeps the door shut tight, so the smoke stays inside where it belongs.
Intrigued? Check out the Char Broil Digital on Amazon.
Char-Broil Deluxe Digital Electric Smoker XL
This unit is very much like the standard Digital Electric listed above, but it’s a whopper. There are 1000 sq. in. of cooking surface available for your smoking pleasure.
This should be ideal for anyone who wants to smoke often and hosts large get-togethers.
Check it out in all its stainless steel glory by following this link to Amazon.
Masterbuilt 30” Digital Electric Smoker
To see what another American company is doing in the electric smoker market, may we suggest checking out this unit? It’s a good, basic smoker for anyone just starting out in the hobby.
If you’d like to read a complete review, click here <insert internal link to article> for everything you need to know.
For a quick peek, you can review it for yourself on Amazon here.
Wrapping Up the Review
So, are you shocked at how much choice there is in the electric smoker category? Small wonder, too – it’s a readily accessible way to start smoking meat without the daunting learning curve of charcoal or gas.
Honestly, I’m surprised there aren’t more of these things in backyards already.
With so many units to choose from, it can be tough to decide what’s best for you. After reading this Char-Broil Vertical Electric Smoker review, we hope we’ve made the decision a little easier.
This isn’t a bad little smoker for a beginner, but might not suit someone planning on some serious smoking. I’ll just finish by saying you generally get what you pay for, and as long as you’re ok with that, you’ll be ok with this smoker.
To look it over, you can click out of this article on the following link to check current prices and read customer reviews on amazon here.
Thanks so much for spending part of your grilling journey with us. It’s a trip worth taking!
Product image credits: © Amazon.com