The insulated big box smokers, like Backwoods, Stumps, Humphrey’s, etc, have an insulation entirely throughout the cooking chamber so the cooking time provided is much longer with cooking temperatures stable to a high degree. Almost none of those backyard models are lower than $1,000 and competition ones are at least $4k.
Char-Broil’s Deluxe Digital Electric Smoker (measuring 725 square inches) has been downscaled in complexity, size, and cost for the everyday guy (who mainly utilizes the backyard for grill-outs).
At a $299 list price (or the price Amazon is offering it at), you get a steel cabinet, double-walled, and insulated smoker with some cool features worth pointing out. One of high prominence is its “Smart Technology”. This is Char-Broil’s digital programmable controller with a meat probe (integrated) that shows you the main temperature of the grill when cooking as well as within the meat. If you want, the grill can be set to alert when its cooked your food to the doneness you desire, and see that the grill’s temperature is dropped where it’s held and maintains heat before the time comes to pig out.
As electric smokers are notoriously typical for, the Char-Broil has a range in temperature limited to 100F up to 275F.
I like the 100F it can dip to when I want pieces cold smoked like bacon or pork bellies; very few cookers can easily maintain a temperature that low. Shoot, I bet it can’t even be done with your oven. The 275F is adequate enough for slow and low cooking. But it’s limited from reaching fast and hot cooking temps (290F up to 325F) that is liked by a large number of folks nowadays for grilling at.
If he/she chooses, the griller can cook for a set amount of minutes (not the way you want to go), or to an internal designated meat temperature (much better this way). ➡ Never go without a digital thermometer (that’s accurate) to measure the internal temp when cooking (there’s always some difference between two slabs of steak). Guessing and poking are the most common cause of over and undercooked meat.
A window framed in the Deluxe version can be looked through while it’s cooking, and an LED display remote allows you to monitor and control the smoker as far away as 100 feet.
You can clamp the door shut. Four racks can be removed that are able to be slid into slots to adjust the height. Together their cooking surfaces provide 725 square inches, spaced evenly with the heating element below. In fact, the only notable difference between an electric oven and the smoker is the holes found on the Char-Broil near the top on the sides. The draft they create draws out smoke from the smoker’s base, passing by the grub and finally exiting the smoker.
A smoke box (large enough), houses wood chips (about four cups) which will supposedly smoke at 225 degrees for 6 hours and 30 minutes (probably even 8 hours). You can basically go 24 hours and not have to add more. I assume wood pellets would be just as effective here, but I have yet to try them.
A water pan is part of the grill package as well, and the bottom holds a convenient grease tray that slides out (a bit easier to grab drippings and rendered fat). The water pan is towards the right of the tray’s angle. Powered by a 120 volt standard outlet.
Design– looks very modern and sleek. Each piece fits together well (no leakage of air).
Crazy Easy– Didn’t have to fiddle with managing the fire or babysitting the cooking temps- that’s already done with the electronic controller. The temps weren’t inconsistent at any point and they recovered well after the unit was opened. This is one of the easier cookers, if the not the easiest I’ll probably ever have worked with.
When Cooking with it
Ensure that the pre-heat cycle is run first. It should go about 40 minutes and if you don’t do it, your smoke won’t be applied at the time the food crucially needs it when cooking is first started.
After the Char-Broil Electric Digital 725 inch vertical smoker was used for a month, my stance overall is that it’s a smoker that’s not hard at all to use for the crowd it’s targeting (end of the week grill warriors).
Char-Broil is marketing this to anybody but the die-hard, smoker jock, no weekend without a competition faithful. Ideally, it’s a smoker for normal folk who are looking to smoke their foods without leaving home but only care to devote part of their weekend with it.
If you like tinkering around, getting hardware and bits modified, and don’t shy away from being playful with the flame, then this cooker is probably not your best pick.
Staying within the price range, you could check out the off-set smokers from Oklahoma Joe, the 18.5″ Weber Smokey Mountain units, bring home a Pit Barrel Cooker, or admire a version of an Ugly Drum Smoker you’ve built yourself.