I just bought a Cajun Injector Electric Smokehouse NTWF (National Wild Turkey Federation) edition, today. I have never cooked on it but it looks like it has all I was looking for. Digital control. A way to feed wood chips in without opening the door. It's made by Masterbuilt. I paid $50 for it used. It is only 17 inches by 15 inches by 30 inches high. I really didn't need the big 30 inch masterbuilt rig. It does have a digital temperature display so I will be able to set it at 225°F and cook a pork butt for 12 hours if I choose to.
I like the electric concept for precise temperature control.
For economy and ease of use, buy a Brinkman gourmet electric smoker. I have two, one at home and one at my mountian cabin. I wish I had a comission for every Brinkman I have helped sell to friends, must be a dozen or more. They are brain dead easy, soak the chips ( I soak mine overnight in a ziplock) add the water to the water pan, put on the meat and forget it. I will put on ribs, head to the golf course and come home to perfect ribs. A shoulder goes on at 8:00 am and it's bbq at 6:00 pm. A purist will scoff at electricity, but not me. I have an offset wood smoker if I want to play with fire but you asked about electric....
They are also cheap, catch one on sale at Lowes or Home Depo (I am in NC) for around fifty bucks.
You will love it.
I have a Brinkmann Gourmet electric smoker I got for fathers day. This is my first attempt at using a smoker. I've done it in the grill but want better results. I have a 3.75 pound brisket and have had it in the smoker for 7 hours. I can't get it above 150 degrees. Can anyone help me? I am in Michigan and its Bergen in the 80's today with little wind. I am very disappointed with this unit due to I can get it to heat up anymore. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. And yes I've done everything I'm supposed to do.. It smells great and I can't wait to get a piece of it.
TonyL, my guess is that you have a defective unit.
I have the same one (I call mine R2-D2 as it ride in the passenger seat of my convertible often and looks like the X wing droid sticking out...LOL)
When plugged in and the element fully hot, that unit should run at a steady 250 F unless the temp outside is below 40F. That's the way it was designed and the max temp the element can produce. The easy way is to NOT put in or fill the water pan and just heat the unit up by plugging it in with no food in it and the lid on. Also make sure that your breaker box and outlet can take the draw, as they do trip breakers sometimes, which lowers the temp due to no power of course.
If still not stedy 250 after an hour i;d take it back and get a new one or have wherever you bought it from replace the element. It's the loop thing with the plug on the end, that goes into the bottom and heats things up. It's really the only item on the whole unit that can usually wear out or go bad.
If you need more info, just go to my profile and shoot me an e-mail from the e-mail link in there (I think there is one IIRC). If not check back and LMK and I'll post my e-mail if need be.
They are awesome units and totally worth teh $150 or less you pay for them. i've had mine a decade or more.
for what it is worth, I add charcoal once in my smoker - only at the beginning - and I can get 20 hours of a continuous burn. I have a weber smokey mountain. I got mine for less that $200.
that said, you are looking for electric, and inexpensive. I can't speak to brands... my only advice would be to go for more space than you think you need. You'll be surprised how often you'll use it all up. Put just a few racks of ribs on there and you quickly reach capacity.
I've found that with smokers and grills, you tend to get what you pay for. Good luck.
I'd recommend either the sausagemaker 20lb model:
Or the Bradley, link below. The Bradley requires you to buy their little wood chip disks, but you can stack them up and it will automatically load for hours, so you don't have to pay attention to it once the temperature is set.
The Little Chief that Alan mentions is fine for basic smoking - it's what I started with. But it doesn't offer any real control - you're stuck with whatever ambient temperature situation you have. Also, it's quite small (although they do have a bigger model), so you can't lay flat a whole rack of spare ribs (you can smoke half racks or roll it and stand it vertically).
The Sausagemaker is bigger, has sausage hanging racks, and you can control the temp better. It does cost more.
If you intend to do whole pork shoulders, whole briskets and lots of spare ribs, I'd stay away from the Lil Chief. If you will stay mainly with fish and an occasional rib or brisket section (first cut flat or point), and usually in warm weather, the Lil Chief will work for you just fine.