Electric vs Gas

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Original poster
Jan 2, 2011
Lake Lanier near Buford, GA
Looking to upgrade from free round brinkman and have been looking at propane and electric.

Seems to me that electric would be a good bit cheaper to run.

Looking primarily at MES 30  versus the masterbuilt small or big box (or is it block?)

Is there really any significant pro or con as far as quality of finished product?

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It's a matter of what you prefer I've seen lots of good food produced from both.

Yes like Jerry has said it's a personaly thing and I personally like propane. I would save up the money and get either a GOSM big block or a Smoke Vault 24". They are about the 2 best that I have seen. 
Both will produce great smokes. i use the MES 40. no gas bottles to fill or exchange . BUT! the MES tops out at just under 275°. If you need higher temps than that the gasser would be the way to go.
I had a Brinkman All-in-One gas smoker and recently switched to the MES 40. It rocks!! The biggest reason I changed is that the heat in the MES is controlled by a thermostat setting while controlling the heat is my gasser was controlled manually. As a result, I had to keep a close eye on the gasser's internal temp and then tweak the gas valve every so often. I couldn't leave it alone for several hours at at time without the temp running too high or too low. Changing wind conditions, changing sun conditions, and other factors caused the temps to change unexpectedly. It was a pain. I can't say that this would apply to all other gas smokers, but I suggest finding out if it does and if that matters to you before choosing a particular gas smoker model, if you decide to get a gasser. Just my thoughts...
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Thanks for all the responses.

Well went into Wally World yesterday and they had a Royal Oak Electric (guess that be a ROSE). I figured for the price, I couldnt go wrong. Got the preassembled display for what I thought at the time was an excellent price of $100. Of course then I had to find that someone else got one for $70. But still, a lot cheaper way to try electric vs going to Bass and paying 230 for the MES.

Of course had to season it and try it last night...

I did get a Taylor thermometer to make sure I had right temps. Damn thermometer on the ROSE was almost DEAD ON! Very nice. Now I can use the external for food.

Appears I will have to do some mod to get good smoke. After roughly 5 hours, the chips were barely browned.

Did a sparerib and a whole chicken. Even without good smoke, food turned out good.

Temp held pretty well. Did have a little problem because started at roughly 45 degrees and temp dropped to 30.

Initial reaction on electric.... so so. I am sure I will be fine with it after a few mods and a few smokes...

Thanks guys! Great forums here and tons of good info! Will post more in future

Oh yea forgot one more thing on the plus side for electric.

Had it run on high (got about 325 out of it) for an hour, then ran roughly 6 hours for the food.

Total electric usage:  7.2kwh or roughly 86 cents at 12 cent per kwh. 

Now there's another big plus for electric. Would have run me 5-8 bucks for gas.

Oh yea forgot one more thing on the plus side for electric.

Had it run on high (got about 325 out of it) for an hour, then ran roughly 6 hours for the food.

Total electric usage:  7.2kwh or roughly 86 cents at 12 cent per kwh. 

Now there's another big plus for electric. Would have run me 5-8 bucks for gas.

I think you are considering the extra inefficiencies of a smoke box there to have such a large difference between gas and electric.  Actually, when comparing apples to apples for heating loads, gas is far superior cost wise but I too am using electric right now and the cost to run it is dirt cheap due to the insulated/sealed box. I still do not understand why no one is making a direct heat propane unit.  You could literally have a flame the size of a pilot keeping the whole box warm but due to these offset side box designs, there are some huge losses there. 

I would love to start building smokers (we are a mfgr) but there just seems to be too much competition out there already.  Everyone and their dog makes a smoker...  Many of them are bad designs IMO but cheap still sells...

Did you find that you can keep the temperature in the Royal Oak smoker steady (say at 225) without needing to manually adjust the temp control from time to time as outside temperature and wind conditions change during a smoke?
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It did seem to hold pretty well. On the seasoning stage, it zoomed right up to 300 +. Then when I put food on it took a while to climb up to 225 even on high. Once I got it tweaked to about 230 or so it held pretty good. Think where it did go off a little was after I added water and i ticked it up a notch and temp got away from me when I wasnt looking.

I think it held pretty good but will reserve judgement till I have a chance to do a full day burn on a butt. Which hopefully will be in a couple days. 

First thing I am gonna do is get more smoke in it and a bigger water pan.

From what I see, the ROSE is pretty much the same as the MES without the digital control. To me, the digital thing is just another point of failure!

 Yo randyt58 welcome to SMF.

I am going to make some comments that you will feel most likely throws cold water on your recent purchase, please understand that I only want to clarify and not abuse or insult.

The recommendations in the SMF Electric forum have pretty much been specifically for one electric smoker the MES (Masterbuilt Electric Smokehouse), either the 30" or 40", with digital control.  Masterbuilt makes another electric model their "Electric Analogue" also know as an electric smokehouse.  While both are electric there are significant differences.

► Cabinet:  Digital = double wall and insulated   "Analogue" = Single wall NOT insulated

    Metal      Digital = Stainless insides, some models stainless outside,  "Analogue" = Powder coated galv metal.

► Controls  Digital = Digital controller with Inside Cabinet Temp Sensor, some models additional Meat Sensor Temp Prob.  In addition has on/off timer, and will automatically cycle on/off to maintain temp.

"Analogue" No control except for manual temp similar to electric frying pan, no auto sensing and cycling based on inside cabinet temp.

If you read through the electric forum the only recommendation that is repeated in hundreds of posts is for the MES Digital model.the reason is in the parts I listed above.  First the double wall construction with insulation layer, is so superior to the single wall, and when outdoor ambient temps begin to drop the difference is magnified, the single wall just can not hold temp.  In addition the double wall/insulated cabinet in general provide a more stable platform in most outdoor ambient temps that allow a cook to have consistent results.  Next the digital controller take the MES to the next level, it allows the cook to set it and forget it, because the heat elements will be properly cycled off when set temp is achieved.  This is NOT true with the Analogue model, the temp control is a simple reostat which is not sensing the cabinet temp to regulate temp, instead it regulates the current to achieve different temps.  Reostats can be calibrated and accurate but that is NOT typical in low end cooking devices.  As a result the cook has to tweak and figure out where to set the control to achieve temp, whereas the digital cook simply set the temp he wants and it automatically is controlled by the digital controller.

Without the insulated double wall cabinet and the digital controller, an electric smoker is just like a lot of propane smokers with a different source of heat and prone to all the problems accurately described by  hkeiner above.  Is the digital MES the only electric smoker with the double wall inslated cabinet and digital control?  NO there are several other brands, but for the price, quality and features the Masterbuilt is the one most often recommended by a large majority of SMF members in the electric forum.

So while you saved money, unless your model and brand of electric has the features mentioned above for the digital MES,  you may find yourself upgrading in the not to distant future after you get a few smokes under your belt and then understand why so many are recommending the digital MES.

One last point, it is the cook not the cooker that makes great BBQ.  So while you might not have the highly recommended digital electric smoker, you still can turn out great Q, though the digital MES would make it a bit easier.
"Analogue" No control except for manual temp similar to electric frying pan, no auto sensing and cycling based on inside cabinet temp.
I agree with above except for this.  The typical frying pan control like what is used on the analog smoker still uses a thermocouple in the tip of the control insert.  the center pin on then is always long and extends inside a device to read the temperature.  However, it can only read a few inches into the device and there is no remote sensing capability like on the digital.  Honestly, I did not know the analog was single walled.  Good luck selling those....
DeltaTude and all

Thanks for all the input and no offense taken and definately not feeling abused. Me or my ROSE

I am sure that one day I will venture into something a step or two above what I have. The MES looks wonderful and I am sure it is as I see it all over SMF.

I had never used electric before and I feel that my $100 was an inexpensive way to check out how electric works compared to my round brinkman gasser.When I decide to upgrade, I should have a nice unit I can pass on to another newbie at a good price.

The ROSE is a double wall which is one thing that sold me on it. The bad thing I see is their design of the chip and water pan. The water pan is too small and the chip pan is too far from the element. I am at this moment testing the chip pan directly on the element (which i will probably rig somehow to be just above it) and it is putting out pretty steady smoke. I put an aluminum pan on the rack that held the chip and water and that seems to be doing just fine.

So, being on a budget (now that I got laid off 2 days ago... ugh) I think I will do fine with the ROSE for now. And I still have the Brink as a backup. Was looking at the MBG (or whatever they call the Masterbuilt big block gasser) but for my use, I thought that was way more cook space than I really needed. Yes it would be nice to do 8 racks of babies at the same time but probably wouldnt ever have occasion to do that!

Love this forum am glad I stumbled across it. Everyone's input is great and all the food ideas are great! Am intrigued by the fatties and looking to try one soon!

Randy sorry for your unfortunate job situation.  I too have been out of work for almost 2 years, I'm on my way to being 99er, 99 weeks of unemployment checks.  So I can relate to tight budgets and appreciate your situation.....  
I have an analog 30inch smoke house smoker it is double walled (no insulation) and yes I am newbie but I do have some input take it or leave it.

1 this model has a 1500w element which I feel makes up for the lack of insulation and it has good recovery time

2 not sure what the max temp on it is but it is over 275

3 the digital models seem to be having electronic issues burnt wires etc.

4 small elements 600-850 cheaper to run but have heard takes a while to get them up to temp.

5 some models seem to need to be preheated in temps below 32

6 some need the chip tray upgraded that said I have to open the door to feed it chips but they seem to last a while

anyway just throwing some other points of view out there I have only had mine a while so I may change my mine but so far all is well.all and all I don't think you could go wrong with most masterbuilds.

good luck with your smoking
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