Cost Comparison - Electric versus Charcoal

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by vwaldoguy, Sep 26, 2015.

  1. vwaldoguy

    vwaldoguy Smoke Blower

    I remember seeing a thread awhile ago about cost comparison of electric smoking versus charcoal, but can't find it now.  What's the breakdown, which is more economical to smoke with? 
  2. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    There is a correction below because it was early and I hadn't had my coffee yet. 

    Electric is cheaper if you are only looking at fuel costs.  My average charcoal smoke is 6 hours so lets do a comparison.

    The average price of a kilowatt hour is 12 cents.  For simplicity sake lets say you run a 1000 watt (1 kilowatt) electric smoker at the maximum setting for 6 hours.  You just spent 72 cents in electricity.  If you run it 6 times a month (36 hours total) at that same setting, you spent $4.32 in electricity.

    The size of your charcoal smoker makes a big difference in fuel usage.  In my 22.5" WSM, I would have used about 35-40 lbs of charcoal.  Kingsford, when on sale for 37.2 lbs for 9.88, I would have spent close to $10 in fuel.  In my Smokenator Kettle I would have only spent about the same as the electric. 

    Bigger area charcoal smokers, more expensive than electric.  Smaller smokers, like a 14.5" WSM or a Weber Kettle are comparable.  The key is stocking up when it is on sale.  If using lump, definitely WAY more expensive than electric.      
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2015
  3. vwaldoguy

    vwaldoguy Smoke Blower

    Seems like electric could be significantly cheaper then. 
  4. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    My mistake corrected above.  No coffee and wife talking to me as I was trying to type.
  5. vwaldoguy

    vwaldoguy Smoke Blower

    Thanks for the info NB.  I've got both the 14.5 WSM and the 30" MES.  I'm doing my first smoke in the WSM as I type with an 8lb butt.  It went a solid 7 hours on a full load of charcoal at 250-275, then temps started dropping below 200 pretty quick, so I had shook off the ash and added a few more briquettes. I've still got at least 3 hours on this smoke. Even with getting the charcoal on sale, it's still going to be cheaper using the MES.
  6. rkonrad45

    rkonrad45 Newbie

    Unless of course you use a ceramic / egg style charcoal smoker. They use very little charcoal even on long smokes because they are so well insulated. The lowest cost ceramics start around $700 - but Char-Griller has a model called the Akorn that is the same shape (egg) but is made of insulated steel. They sell them for around $299.

    Extremely frugal on charcoal for smoking and yet they also can get up to 1000 degrees F if you want a great sear on your steak or you are making some awesome home made pizza!
  7. stickyfingers

    stickyfingers Smoking Fanatic

    Personally, I think, the greater concern would be which produces better results.
  8. It is really a toss up as to which is cheaper, depending on circumstances. True, electricity is cheaper than charcoal. But I have to buy pellets for my MES40 while I get chunks for my mini for free. So the cost pretty much equals out.
    As far as which one will turn out better results, I can turn out nearly identical results out of the mes and the mini.
  9. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    Electric is A LOT cheaper than people think.  The latest MES 40s are very well insulated.  I cant recall my numbers, but maybe like 17c for 24 hours?, and thats at some of the highest electric charges in the country (20c / kwh). 
  10. mike5051

    mike5051 Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

  11. vwaldoguy

    vwaldoguy Smoke Blower

    Agree, I want to produce the best results.
  12. As previously stated, great results can be had off of most any smoker. It's the man behind the smoker and his understanding of how his smoker runs that produces good que.

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