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Electrick Charcoal Starters?

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Post Wed Jun 16, 2004 3:02 am
Kenda raw

Posts: 2
I've heard people mention electric charcoal starters. Has anyone ever used one, and would they recommend them?

Post Wed Jun 16, 2004 7:02 am
DarkRubiTJ medium-well

Posts: 221
Location: Livingston, TX.
I'm familiar with them. although I've never used one. The inherent problem with them is that because they are electric they require a power source. Depending on where you fire up your grill that could create a problem. You almost always have to use an extention cord to get to where they are needed. To be effective you will have to use a cord of rather large guage wire, I would think at least 12 guage as a minimum. Heating elements of any type are very large power users, in the end electric starters are not the most cost efficent way to fire up your grill.
Weber "Q", Weber Performer, Weber 22.5" Bar-B-Kettle

Post Wed Jun 16, 2004 7:08 am
YardBurner BBQ Deputy
BBQ Deputy

Posts: 5469
Location: Damascus, Maryland
The mobility issue aside. They are slow, you can't use a chimney so you have no chimney effect to help get them going and they have a tendency to burn out when you really need them.

Besides, I kinda missed the "One match, One fire" aspect.
Weber Summit E-470
Weber 22" MasterTouch
Performer One Touch
Traeger Lil Tex
New Braunfels Hondo
Weber Q-220

Post Wed Jun 16, 2004 7:51 am
Grand Scale BBQ Deputy
BBQ Deputy

Posts: 4272
Location: York, PA
I'm not a charcoal pro but I will tell you this, in my limited experience I've used chimney starters with parafin and I wouldn't think an electric filament could improve on that. The only other faster/easier way that comes to mind is perhaps the gas starters. I know many brands sell them for their grills/smokers, but I can't tell you how well they work. Maybe someone else can.

Post Wed Jun 16, 2004 9:23 am
Bob-BQN User avatar
well done
well done

Posts: 13157
Location: Texas
Welcome to the board Kenda!

My father had an electric charcoal starter element when I was younger. It never worked well. Manufacturers may have upped the wattage on them since or maybe dad had a cheap one but he quickly went back to lighter fluid (which I wouldn't recommend either). I recently kicked the lighter fluid habit and have been clean ever since :lol: .

Post Wed Jun 16, 2004 1:40 pm
chagan well done
well done

Posts: 1350
Location: Central NJ by way of NY
I have gotten used to putting my chimney starter on my turkey fryer and crank that bad boy up. I get a nice batch of grey charcoal in about 7-10 minutes.

No, it ain't burnt- it's barbecue

Post Wed Jun 16, 2004 1:47 pm
BigDaddy medium

Posts: 106
Location: California, Northern
I used one for years, until I got my chimney... I would never go back. The Chimney is faster and easier.

Post Wed Jun 16, 2004 2:44 pm
Kenda raw

Posts: 2
Thanks for all the good advice, I think we will be going with a chimney starter instead.

Post Fri Jun 18, 2004 12:56 pm

I have an electric charcoal starter. The only, and best, time to use it is when your charcoal has become a little damp. From all the rains we have had lately, it seems the charcoal in my garage acts as one big sponge in absorbing moisture in the air. So, whenever that happens, I put a single layer of charcoal down on the grate, put the electric element over it, then pyramid the rest of the charcoal on top. It works fine for that. It typically takes me about 10-15 minutes, depending on how "moist" the charcoal is, to have them ready for grilling. I usually use a chimney starter but it seemed to take longer than the element when dealing with damp charcoal.

smokin' ed

Post Fri Jun 18, 2004 4:12 pm
smokin' ed medium-well

Posts: 202
Location: Iowa
sorry, the last reply was mine. I did not notice that i was not logged in.

Post Sat Jun 19, 2004 9:53 pm
CharredGriller User avatar
BBQ Deputy
BBQ Deputy

Posts: 6079
Location: Central Alberta, Canada

I've still got my electric starter, but I never use it. Chimney starters are way better overall.

chagan- I like the idea of the turkey fryer for starting a chimney.

I either use my backpacking stove, or more commonly I use what the Boy Scouts call a "buddy burner". It's a tuna can filled with cardboard and filled with paraffin. It throws a much bigger flame than your basic parrafin starter, it costs almost nothing to make, and it lasts a very long time.

I'll see if I can post plans on my website and link to them here.

Post Sun Jun 20, 2004 2:16 am
McSherry rare

Posts: 42
Location: Washington, Seattle (Kirkland)
I am a reformed electric element user. They are great if you like grilling/smoking within 18 inches of your house!

I will say this: they're better than lighter fluid.

But seriously, if you want good coals lit with ease and portability, but a chimney starter. An element's only good if you have to use it.
"The bigger the headache, the bigger the pill."
-George Clinton

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