Starting smoking meat (mainly steelhead and salmon) about 20 years ago with a Char-Broil H20. Loved the smoker, but a little work to get going in winter. Recently I purchased an electric smoker (Smokin-it model #2), mainly because of ease of operation. I still have both. A friend recently asked me which one smokes better...I favored the charcoal smoker, but wanted to run a side-by-side comparison to see/taste the difference under the same conditions. So here it is -
Seasoned Charcoal smoker - Char-broil H20.
Seasoned Electric smoker - Smokin-it, model #2.
Wood - applewood.
Cooking time - 3 hours.
Temperature - 200 oF
Meats - (salmon steaks and boneless, skinless, chicken thighs).
Marinade (overnight) - brown sugar base, salt, honey, garlic, yellow onion, black pepper, apple vinegar.
Charcoal on left with electric on right. Both taste about the same - although I'll give the charcoal a slight edge. Visual award goes to the charcoal. The electric does maintain better moisture in the food though (sometimes a problem when you load the smoker up with a lot of meat). Overall, I will continue to use them both - depending on how I feel and how much time I have to prepare.