The Bottom Line
Inexpensive box smokers have been around for years and they tend to suffer from the same problems such as poor smoke production and an inability to hold heat or smoke. Char-Broil's version of this classic and simple design is better than most and at well under $200USD, it isn't a big investment. What is good about this unit is that the cooking racks are long enough to hold a full rack of ribs, which is a definite plus.
- Inexpensive smoker
- Door does not fit or lock well
- Lightweight components
- Limited temperature control
- Single 1,500-watt heating element
- 504 square inches on three chrome plated racks
- Adjustable temperature control
- Insulated body
- Porcelain coated water and ash pan
- Door mounted temperature gauge
- Made in China by Char-Broil
Guide Review - Char-Broil Electric Vertical Smoker
Electric smokers are very common these days. They are actually very easy to manufacturer. You just need a box, a heating element, and some racks to hold the food. Of course, it is a little more complicated than that, but not much more. This offering from Char-Broil is about as basic as you can get. At under $200USD, it is certainly competitive in the price range, but not necessarily in the best company.
The heating element in this smoker is as powerful as the standard outlet can handle. While this gives it power be careful not to use a cheap extension cord to plug it in.
It can overheat and trip the breaker. The temperature control can be a little difficult because of this power. It will hold at good smoking temperatures, but anything lower can be a problem. On the other hand, the door is held closed by magnets and as the unit heats up can warp and pop open. Many people have had to resort to tying the door closed.
The smoker tray, where the wood chips go is small and not well placed. This can make accessing it a little difficult and smoke production is limited. To get a good supply of smoke means a higher operating temperature and frequent refilling of the tray. Similarly, the grease catcher, mounted underneath the smoker, is also small and can overflow so it needs to be frequently emptied for long smokes.
Ultimately this is a tradeoff unit. Widely available and very inexpensive, it isn't a joy to work with and can require some modifying and babysitting. This kind of takes the fun out of smoking. If you do choose to purchase this product then I recommend being patience and learning all of its quirks. It might help if you are mechanically inclined since you might want to make some changes to the way it works.