Gas vs Charcoal Smoker

Published Categorized as Grills and Outdoor Cooking, Appliances, Guide

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If you are new to smoking you might be in a dilemma. Should you buy a gas or a charcoal smoker? A lot of people who consider themselves experts at smoking and grilling would say you can’t beat the taste of food cooked on a charcoal grill as it has a more of a smoky flavor. However, it is much harder to use a charcoal smoker than a gas one. 

Table of Contents

In this article, we shall be looking at some gas smokers and charcoal smokers and telling you what the differences are between them.

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Gas vs Charcoal Smoker – Comparison Table

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Gas vs Charcoal Smoker – Reviews

Our Pick


Pit Boss Grills 2 Series Gas Vertical Smoker
Our rating:

This gas smoker has 2 stainless steel burners. One is for the cooking chamber and provides 10,000 BTUs. The other is for the wood chip pan and is 3,500 BTUs. You can rest assured that with a burner heating the wood chips you will get a smoky flavor to your food. These 2 burners will give a temperature range from 100F – 350F which is perfect for smoking. They are controlled by a single knob and there is an electronic ignition that makes for easy lighting.

There is external access to the wood chip pan and grease tray, so you don’t have to open the main cooking chamber to add wood chips. It means that heat will be maintained in the cooking chamber. 

There are 4 cooking grids so there is plenty of room for cooking a wide variety of meats and even vegetables. The grates are porcelain-coated and are strong and durable. There are 884 square inches of cooking space.


  • 2 stainless steel burners
  • Electronic ignition
  • 884 square inches of cooking space 
  • 4 durable porcelain-coated cooking grates
  • Large viewing window
  • High-temperature door seal
  • One customer complained that the water pan only held enough water for 3 hours at 200F – 250F
  • A couple of customers complained that the wood chip pan didn’t fit properly
Smoke Hollow PS40B Propane Smoker by Masterbuilt, Black
Our rating:

This propane smoker has 4 durable chrome-coated cooking racks that can smoke 20 chickens, 4 turkeys, 8 racks of ribs, or 16 pork butts at the same time. That’s pretty impressive, isn’t it? 

The burner is made from stainless steel so it is long-lasting. It produces 15,400 BTUs. There is a push-button ignition that lights the burner quickly and easily. You won’t have to wait around to cook your food.

This smoker has an adjustable air damper so you can control the amount of smoke there is as well as the moisture. 

Smoke Hollow PS40B Propane Smoker by Masterbuilt, Black
  • Four chrome-coated smoking racks
  • 15, 400 BTU stainless Steel burner
  • Push-button ignition lights burner quickly and easily
  • Legs add height for easy access
  • Adjustable Air damper for moisture and smoke control


  • 4 chrome-coated cooking racks
  • Stainless steel burner
  • Push-button ignition
  • Adjustable air-damper
  • A couple of customers complained that the inside coating melted after a few uses
Dyna-Glo DGY784BDP 36' Vertical LP Gas Smoker, Black powder coat
Our rating:

This smoker offers 784 square inches of cooking space over 4 adjustable steel wire racks. It has 2 doors, 1 leading to the cooking chamber and the other to the water bowl and wood chip pan. This means that you don’t have to open the cooking chamber when filling up with water and wood chips. Because of this, you won’t be letting heat out. Both the water bowl and the wood chip pan are made from porcelain enameled steel so they are strong and durable.

The smoker offers 15,000 BTUs which is perfect for smoking. It has a cast iron burner and an electronic push-button ignition.

To control airflow, there are sliding air dampers on the top and sides and there is a temperature gauge that has a ‘Smoke Zone’ telling you if you are at the right temperature for smoking.

Dyna-Glo DGY784BDP 36" Vertical LP Gas Smoker, Black powder coat
  • A total of 784-square inch of cooking space for smoked flavored foods. 4 adjustable steel wire racks
  • A 15,000 btu cast iron burner with an electronic push button ignition, and a large control dial
  • Porcelain enameled steel wood chip box with handles and lid for choice of wood chips and porcelain enameled steel water bowl
  • An easy to use double-door design (upper/lower) for greater heating/smoking, cooking control, sliding air dampers on top and sides for the choice of smoked/cooking heat control options, and a nice decorative temperature gauge with decor ring
  • Csa certified. warranty 1 year limited. assembly dimensions length 27-inch by depth 19.20-inch by height 46.46-inch weight 54 lbs


  • 784 square inches of cooking space
  • 4 adjustable steel wire cooking racks
  • Double doors
  • 15,000 BTUs
  • Air dampers
  • A customer complained that the smoker had loose joints and was made from thin metal

Gas vs Charcoal Smoker – Buyers Guide

Similarities Between Gas and Charcoal Smokers

  • The size of a gas and a charcoal smoker is remarkably similar. If you get a vertical smoker its’ size can be anywhere from about 2’ x 2’ and for an offset smoker, 6’ x 4’. Both have different cooking capacities. It is your personal choice which decides what size you go for. If you are only smoking for a couple of people you probably won’t want too large a smoker, but if you like to smoke for a crowd, you will want a larger one.
  • Both gas and charcoal smokers can also roast as well as smoke so you can cook a whole bird with great results.

Differences Between Gas and Charcoal Smokers

  • A gas smoker is easier to use than a charcoal one. All you have to do is light the fire and set the temperature with a gas smoker and you’re ready to go. You have to have more control over a charcoal smoker. When you look at the temperature range a gas smoker usually works between 150F and 400F, while a charcoal smoker has a range between 125F and 350F.
  • Gas smokers are more complex than charcoal smokers. They have hoses and burners and either of these could fail meaning that your meal could be ruined. Charcoal smokers are much more straightforward. 
  • Cleaning a gas smoker is easier than cleaning a charcoal unit. All you have to do with a gas smoker is wipe down the racks with a damp cloth. Charcoal, however, can be susceptible to creosote build-up so they will need extra cleaning. However, they do come with an ashtray so that part of cleaning is easy.
  • A gas smoker is usually more expensive than a charcoal one because it has complicated parts. You can buy a high-end charcoal smoker for the same money as a standard gas smoker. However, the cost of running a gas smoker is cheaper than a charcoal smoker so this all has to be added into the equation. On average it costs 40 cents per hour to heat a gas smoker, while a charcoal smoker can cost anywhere between 50 cents and a dollar.
  • Gas smokers are healthier than charcoal smokers as charcoal produces more carcinogens. In addition, charcoal smokers produce more smoke which gets into the atmosphere. Too much smoke can create breathing difficulties.

How to Use Your Smoker

The first thing to do is to get your fuel ready. Connect the gas tank to the smoker and light it. If you are using a charcoal smoker put the charcoal in and light it. If you are using wood chips add them as well and if you have a water pan, put in some herbs to infuse your meat with different flavors.

A gas smoker heats up quickly, but with a charcoal smoker, you will have to wait for around 20 – 30 minutes until it reaches temperature. You will need to make sure that air is flowing so open the air vents until heated and then close them.

The next step is to put in your meat and vegetables. However, don’t just leave everything to cook. Check up on your food a few times during the cooking process. Mind you, don’t do it too often as heat will escape and drop the temperature in the smoker. It’s a good idea to turn your meat over every 2 – 3 hours.

You will also have to keep an eye on your fuel as gas tanks may need to be changed or more charcoal added.

Frequently Asked Questions

We hope that we have given you enough information about gas and charcoal smokers but if you have any questions, feel free to contact us. We have answered a couple of possible questions here.

Can you get a natural gas smoker?

It is exceedingly difficult to get hold of a smoker that works on natural gas. However, you can change your propane tank to natural gas if you have a hook-up outside. It’s best to get a professional in to do this as it can be dangerous if you’re not sure what you are doing.

Why is gas so much easier to use?

Charcoal is difficult to use as you have to control the temperature by opening and closing air vents and dampers. It is more labor-intensive than gas. With gas, you just turn it on and you’re ready to go. If it gets too hot, you just need to turn a knob to lower the temperature.

Gas also doesn’t get affected too much by wind, but with charcoal, you need to keep an eye of the air blowing into the vents.

Final Thoughts

We hope that you have found this article useful and informative and that you have made your decision as to whether to buy a charcoal or a gas smoker. Both have their pros and cons. We stand by our 2 top choices. The Pit Boss Gas Smoker has an impressive 884 square inches of cooking space spread over 4 grates and a total of 13,500 BTUs. The Weber Smokey Mountain charcoal smoker has an extra-large water pan which helps to provide smokiness and heat all day long. It comes with a thermometer and dampers. We hope that you enjoy your summer smoking in one of our choices.

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