Char-Broil's stripped down electric smoker is one step up from a box with a heating element on the bottom. Some electrics in this general price range have digital thermostatic control. This can be a blessing or curse in these low price points. While we love digital control which allows you to set a specific temp and rely on the controller to maintain it, inexpensive components are often inaccurate or fail completely. Char-Broil's cooker uses a primitive dial thermostat that lets you dial low to high with no specific temperature settings. Used in conjunction with a good digital thermometer, you can dial up your desired temp and the simple controller should be less likely to malfunction over time than many cheap digital controllers.
We like Char-Broil and feel they often deliver a little better quality and customer support in the value priced categories, but electrics are our least favorite smokers. Without combustion from a gas, charcoal or wood flame, you just don't get as good smoke flavor. Since the electric element is usually weak, manufacturers use minimal ventilation to hold in heat: great for keeping foods moist, not so good for browning meat or crisping skin.
Instead of a locking mechanism, the door is held shut with magnets. Magnets work OK if lined up properly, but bent parts and poor assembly can lead to frustration. Three chrome plated cooking racks, double walled insulation, porcelain coated side by side water tray and chip tray, and a small drip cup hanging at the bottom. It is what it is. Unless you live in an apartment or condo where open flame outdoor cooking is prohibited, we recommend you consider a vertical gas BBQ smoker in this price range.
Researched it from Afar
We have researched this product from afar by gathering info from the manufacturer, owners, and other reliable sources, with our BS meters on high.
Char-Broil is an innovator in the popular gas grill arena with clever designs, low to midrange prices, and excellent customer service. For several years they have focused on infrared cooking. Starting in 2012 all new IR models were dubbed "Tru-Infrared". These grills are made with stainless steel tube burners that work in conjunction with a radiant surface to bring heat close to the food. The radiant surface shields food from direct flame and reduces hot dry convection heat rising from the burners.
As one of the biggest BBQ manufacturers in the world, Char-Broil offers a clear, low cost alternative to Weber and surpasses many other price driven manufacturers with their infrared gas grill design innovation and focused marketing. Also in 2012, Char-Broil introduced Saber, a new, very high quality line of gas grills that goes head to head with Weber's Summit series in the premium grill space. They offer charcoal grills, smokers, fryers and a variety of accessories and tools.
Char-Broil is owned by The W.C. Bradley Company headquartered in Columbus, GA. Roots of W.C. Bradley go back before the Civil War to The Columbus Iron Works. The first Char-Broil grill was made and sold in the USA in 1948. Now all Char-Broil grills are manufactured in China and distributed around the globe.