If you’ve just bought a new electric smoker or it’s coming up to winter, you may be wondering how and where you should store it in order to keep it safe and in tip-top condition for the next time that you need it? Well, it’s actually very simple to prepare a smoker for storage and we’ll walk you through every step of the process.
How and where to store an electric smoker? The best place to store a smoker that’s not in use is in a shed or other covered space which is not connected to your living space. You could, theoretically, store it in your home but it will make your home smell and even if you don’t mind, other members of the household might. Some people claim to store an electric smoker out in the open, but we don’t recommend it.
Before we start looking at how and where to store an electric smoker, we’re going to explore the two main problem use situations for smokers and when you might be better off storing your smoker rather than using it. Then, we’ll look at the reasons you need to store a smoker, where the best places to store an electric smoker are and how to store it and finally, why it’s a bad idea to store the smoker outside or in your home.
Can You Use An Electric Smoker Indoors?
We often come across people who would like to use their electric smokers indoors. We have one simple piece of advice for these people – don’t do it.
There is a small subset of electric smokers that are designed specifically for indoor use and these can be used in your home (though they often can’t be used elsewhere) but if you’ve bought a standard electric smoker – it’s a bad idea to use it in your home.
They say there’s no smoke without fire and while this is not entirely true, in the case of a smoker – it is true. An electric smoker carries the least fire risk, but a gas or charcoal smoker is a major fire risk.
Even an electric smoker will have a heating element that will reach a fairly substantial temperature and if it comes into contact with something else – it can catch fire.
Now, that element is completely contained within the housing of the unit, but we just feel that when it comes to any kind of fire risk – it’s best not to have it indoors.
According to the US Fire Administration – there are 358,000 home fires in the U.S.A. each year and they cause nearly $7 billion in damage. Worse, every single day, the equivalent of 7 people will die in a fire in their home. We don’t want you to become a part of this statistics.
Carbon Monoxide Risks
Fire risk is not the biggest risk to you if you use a smoker inside. Smoke contains two forms of burned carbon.
The first, Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is the gas that you breathe out all the time, it is harmless in most cases because you breathe it but it could become problematic if there was so much of it that other breathable gases like Oxygen were forced out of the space.
However, it is the second Carbon Monoxide (CO) which is far more dangerous. Carbon Monoxide binds to the hemoglobin in your blood (which is where oxygen should bind) and it won’t unbind.
Breathe enough Carbon Monoxide in and you will quickly find yourself unable to breathe even in a room full of pure Oxygen.
According to Forbes, nearly 20-30,000 people in the United States each year get sick breathing carbon monoxide. 500 of these people will die. Many of them in their own homes. You really don’t want Carbon Monoxide poisoning.
Yet, if you allow your smoker to produce smoke in a confined space – you are risking it.
Particle Inhalation Risks
OK, this is less of a big deal, but the world is becoming more aware of pollution risks and so should every householder. In amongst the smoke, a smoker creates are some fine particles that can damage your lungs and the lungs of the people around you.
Pollution is now thought to kill nearly 5 million people a year and the death toll is likely to rise from here on in. Many of these pollution-related deaths are due to indoor air pollution rather than outdoor pollution too.
As you might expect, we think that taking risks with your health is a bad idea.
The evidence for the presence of carcinogens in smoke is good. However, we acknowledge that – at the time of publishing, at least – nobody has yet determined exactly (or even roughly) how much of these chemicals might be harmful to human health.
It is possible that you could run your smoke 24/7/365 and still not have any appreciable rise in the risks of your contracting cancer. However, we wouldn’t put any money on that. Again, it’s better to avoid health risks whenever possible rather than embrace them.
The Potential For Burns (To You)
Then there’s the simple fact that these smoker units create a lot of heat and wherever there’s heat and you’re working around it – there’s a risk of burns. This risk is also not yours to bear alone if you have family around the smoker, it’s their risk too.
Wherever you decide to use a smoker – you ought to make sure children, animals, and the clumsy stay well away from it.
We touched on this at the start but smokers, when kept indoors, start to share their odor with the things around them. Now, you may love the smell of smoked beef when it’s being made but we’d put money on the idea that if you had to smell it every day for a year, you’d stop liking that smell quite as much.
So, by now, we hope you can see why it’s better to put a smoker into storage for a while rather than use it in your home. Unless you have purchased a smoker specifically designed for indoor use, it’s just not safe to use one indoors.
Can You Use An Electric Smoker In Cold Weather?
There are definitely times during the winter when you simply don’t want to be using a smoker. If it’s 50 degrees below zero and blowing a howling gale or it’s raining so much that you can’t see your nose in front of your face – hopefully, your electric smoker is already in storage because it may get damaged otherwise.
However, there are times when you can use an electric in the winter and if you want to pull your smoker out of storage to do so – this is what you should look out for:
- Choose a nice(ish) day. It doesn’t have to be a very warm day, but consider looking for one that’s not too cold or too wet.
- Think about how you can shelter the smoker. You won’t be surprised to learn that electricity and snow and/or water don’t mix very well. If you want to use your smoker in bad weather, it needs to be protected from the wet.
- Then think about you can insulate the smoker. Bitterly cold temperatures are going to drag down the temperature of the smoker and prevent it from working properly – you can use a jacket (not one of yours – the manufacturer of your smoker should be able to sell you one designed for your smoker) to keep it warm.
- Make sure that the vents aren’t blocked and are completely uncovered.
- Invest in a wireless thermometer – you’re going to want to track the actual temperature inside the smoker and the easiest way to do that is to measure it accurately.
- Buy a heavy-duty extension cord for outdoor use and then use it! This will keep water out of the electric circuits and if things get a bit blowy – you won’t find the cord snaking around the yard with a will of its own.
- Make sure you preheat your smoker. Again, it’s all about maintaining a constant temperature – make it easy on yourself and get the smoker up to heat before you use it.
- Follow the recipe. Obviously.
- Try not to keep opening the smoker and checking on progress. It’s better to let things run than to allow the heat you’ve built up in the smoker to escape on a regular basis – it takes longer to get it back than it would during a good weather day.
If you don’t have all of the things you need to smoke effectively in bad weather, it’s best to keep your electric smoker in storage where it’s out of harm’s way and will be ready to work effectively when the good weather returns.
Do I Need To Store An Electric Smoker When It’s Not In Use?
It’s a fair question, can’t we just leave an electric smoker wherever it is until we next need it? Are there any good reasons to store your smoker?
We think there are and here’s why:
- It protects it against damage. We think most electric smokers can handle a bit of moisture but they’re going to be much less happy if they sit in a damp environment without protection for months at a time – those are the ideal conditions for creating rust and we’d say that rust is not something you want on your food.
- It gives you a chance to make sure everything is together. When you carefully pack something away to store it, you can make certain that all the bits and pieces associated with the smoker are present and accounted for. Then when you want to throw your electric smoker straight into the action you won’t be hunting around and cursing under your breath for the bit that went missing over the winter.
- It gives you a chance to give it a thorough clean. We’re not saying that you don’t clean your smoker every time that you use it but we think that when people are putting a smoker away for any length of time, they ought to give it a thorough clean and dry it off before they put it into storage. Cleanliness is next to godliness they say but all we know is that clean smokers don’t attract bugs, bacteria, and fungi.
The Best Place To Store An Electric Smoker
The best place to store any electric smoker for a substantial length of time is going to be somewhere that is relatively consistent in temperature (it’s fine for the temperature to go up and down but keep the device out of direct sunlight so it doesn’t get huge boosts of heat on the circuits and out of drafts to avoid cold damage).
It should also be free of any obvious water leaks – again, water is going to lead to rusting which is going to wreck the longevity of your smoker and make any food you cook somewhat less appetizing. Getting rid of rust can be a real pain and, in some cases, if it gets too bad, it can mean that you need to replace the entire smoker.
For these reasons, we like to keep our electric smokers stored in a garage or better still, a special shed that’s been constructed for BBQ equipment.
Why do we prefer a separate shed? It’s the odor issue. Sure, we’re not in the garage all the time but we’re out there often enough that we feel it’s better to keep it scent-free while we can. Your feelings on this subject may differ, of course.
How To Store An Electric Smoker
OK, while storing an electric smoker is not an act of rocket science – before you place the smoker away in a shed/garage, you need to clean it properly.
- The cooking chamber
- Make sure it’s been cooled completely before you start. Then take out all the removable parts and brush downwards with a non-abrasive brush on the sides until all particles are at the bottom – then sweep out the chamber.
- Use a sponge and warm soapy water to clean the inside. Then wipe dry.
- Finally, clean all the pieces you took out with warm soapy water and dry them too.
- The outside
- Use warm soapy water to wipe down the panels and then wipe dry.
- If there’s a window, use some window cleaning fluid which has been approved for use on ceramics to clean that.
- Clean out the door seal with a warm damp cloth.
- The thermostats & temperature probe. (Don’t immerse either of these things in hte water, soak them or place them in running water)
- Clean any thermometers you have with a warm soapy cloth. Wipe dry.
- Clean the meat probe with warm soapy water and wipe dry.
When you’re happy that the electric smoker is properly clean and dry (don’t be afraid to use a hairdryer if it won’t dry by airing) then you can cover it and put it away.
Can You Store An Electric Smoker In Your Home?
We can’t stop you from storing an electric smoker in your home and there are certainly no laws against it but we’re going to bet that if you do it – you will regret it.
No matter how well you clean your smoker there will always be some odors associated with it. A house that smells of smoky food all the time is going to be unpleasant for most people. Storing your electric smoker in your home is a bad idea.
Can You Store An Electric Smoker Outside?
We know several people who swear by covering their electric smoker and then leaving it out in the elements. Now, we appreciate that with a decent rain cover and some shelter from the side of your property – it might stay dry – but we wouldn’t risk it.
While a smoker is not the most expensive thing most people will buy in their lives, it’s not cheap, either and we’d recommend taking care of your smoker by storing it properly.
What To Do When Bringing Your Smoker Out Of Storage
When you bring a smoker out of storage, we’d recommend taking a few minutes to inspect it for any rust – which you can then remove with an anti-rust spray.
After that, you want to give it a thorough wipe over with some warm soapy water before you use it just to get rid of any dust that it’s picked up while it’s been in storage.
Finally, we recommend wiping down the grilling rack with some olive oil because that will make it easier to clean after use – it’s like adding “non-stick” magic to the cooking process.
How and where to store an electric smoker? Our preference is for a special shed, but your garage is fine in a pinch too. Just make sure that the smoker is given a thorough clean before you put it away and that you cover it to prevent any accidental water damage. Then it should be in the same state as when you put it away when you next want to use it.