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Cost Comparison - Electric versus Charcoal

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

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? 

post #2 of 12

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.      

Edited by Noboundaries - 9/26/15 at 11:19am
post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 

Seems like electric could be significantly cheaper then. 

post #4 of 12

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

post #5 of 12
Thread Starter 

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.

post #6 of 12

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!

post #7 of 12

Personally, I think, the greater concern would be which produces better results.

post #8 of 12
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.
post #9 of 12

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). 

post #10 of 12
Originally Posted by stickyFingers View Post

Personally, I think, the greater concern would be which produces better results.


post #11 of 12
Thread Starter 

Agree, I want to produce the best results.

post #12 of 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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