Char-Broil 15202043-A1 Digital Electric Smoker with SmartChef Technology Review
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Detailed Review of the Char-Broil 15202043-A1 Digital Electric Smoker with SmartChef Technology
Regardless of whether you are a new cook or an experienced smoker, you always spend several hours cleaning your food, seasoning and prepping it, and doing the actual smoking. With all that hard work, the last thing you want is to end up with a badly cooked meal. The problem is, you often do not have that much time to spare. The longer you sit in your patio monitoring your cook, the longer your to-do list becomes. Char-Broil addresses this problem with their WiFi-enabled 15202043-A1 smoker.
Before you dismiss this model as an unnecessary attempt at making things “smart,” imagine how easier smoking would be if you could find out what exactly is going on inside your smoker even from three rooms away, while chatting with a friend overseas on your computer. That is exactly what the 15202043-A1 electric smoker promises.
SmartChef serves as a connection between you and your smoker. It allows you to monitor and make changes to your smoker using its accompanying app. (There truly is an app for everything!) This way, you can attend to your other chores far from the smoker and remain absolutely in control (provided you remain connected, that is).
With this innovative functionality, you would almost expect Char-Broil to forget about aesthetics. That is well-covered, though. The unit looks sleek and modern. It is also generally easy to handle and clean. The 15202043-A1 digital electric smoker has an internal light. When the door is closed and you are just starting to smoke, the light does a great job of improving visibility through the glass front door. However, when you have been at it for a while and the inside of the smoker is already filled with smoke, the light does not really help at all anymore unless you open the door. But why would anyone do that?
The 15202043-A1 digital smoker is an insulated vertical smoker that measures 32.5 inches tall, 18.1 inches wide, and 16.5 inches deep. With 725 square inches of space inside, this digital electric smoker can smoke a lot of meat or seafood at one time. This is enough space for several rib racks, large slabs of beef or pork, or five to seven whole chickens. You can use up to four removable cooking racks that measure 15 x 12.5 inches.
- Can be monitored from anywhere with internet connection
- Ideal for beginners
- Ample cooking capacity
- May have to be placed near a router
The temperature range is 100F to 275F, which should sit well with most red meats and the like. It retains heat effectively with the help of its heavy-duty latch, which instantly locks the door and seals all sides tightly. Under the bottom rack, you will find a removable drip tray installed in a slightly angled position that directs drippings straight into the water pan below. To the right of the water pan is the smoker box, which can handle up to four cups of wood chips or pellets (never chunks).
Looking at the exterior of the smoker, you will easily find the control panel above the door. It has a large Start button with a light indicator forming a ring with four quadrants. A solid green light means the smoker is online, a blinking green means the smoker is loaded and needs to be started to begin cooking, a red light indicates an error, and orange lights (per quadrant) signal how far along you are in the cycle. When done, all quadrants flash a solid orange light.
The 15202043-A1 digital and electric smoker comes with a lot more features, and we will discuss the most important ones one by one later on. For now, let us end this section by summarizing some of this smoker’s highs and lows below:
Best Features of the Char-Broil 15202043-A1 Digital Electric Smoker with SmartChef Technology
This is a set of features that let you monitor and control your smoker over an internet connection. It comes with an app (available for iOS and Android devices) that you can install on your smartphone. You can tweak the temperature and the recipe, monitor your cook, log what you cook, and even program the smoker to clean or season itself using the app.
In addition, the app notifies you when your food is nearly ready and if the cooking cycle is over. It also has a portion that stores information about your recently smoked dishes. You can go back to them and even add notes for future reference. Moreover, the app’s technology researches the weather and calculates cook times adjusted for ambient temperature. With all these expert features, it makes us wonder why the smoker cannot be started remotely through the app as well.
The app comes with a list of other helpful features. The good thing about it is that although it is packed with commands and options, it works seamlessly and remains very easy to use.
One more thing you will love about this digital electric smoker from Char-Broil is the recipe selection. It does not have a lot of recipes stored for each meat type, but it has all of the basics and it is programmed very well. The instructions are very intuitive and easy to understand and follow. Everything is right on point. We hope Char-Broil adds more recipes soon.
Generally, you have three smoker settings to choose from: manual, guided, and preset. The manual mode gives you full control and flexibility over your cook and you can control the cooking and probe temperatures remotely through the app. However, you can’t control the timer just yet.
The preset option is for the pre-programmed cooking cycles. There is one for pulled pork, beef brisket, and smoked fish. Just select one of those and the smoker will take care of the rest (e.g., meat temperature and cabin temperature) for you.
Finally, the guided mode is best for beginner smokers. The app shows you a series of meat types and cuts. Select the ones applicable to you and it will get back to you with instructions. There are instructions for beef, chicken, turkey, seafood, and pork.
One of the best things about having a WiFi-enabled smoker is that it gets timely system updates from the manufacturer. And these updates are in part inspired by customer feedback, which means that the updates will definitely address complaints that you most likely share with other customers.
What you get in the package
The following items are what you can expect to see inside the package of the Bradley Digital 4-Rack Smoker:
- One (1) Char-Broil Digital Electric Smoker
- One (1) 4-cup smoker box
- One (1) 8.5-cup drip tray
- One (1) removable meat probe
- One (1) power cord
- One (1) owner’s manual
All in all, the 15202043-A1 smoker from Char-Broil is ideal for those who want to enjoy deliciously smoked food but do not have enough time. With preset cooking cycles and settings and a dedicated iOS and Android app, this smoker does intend to do nearly everything for you.
This smoker’s automated controls are best suited for smokers who are either new to smoking or too busy to labor over a smoker for hours. The guided and preset cooking cycles are engineered very well and display comprehensive instructions that are very easy to understand. They go into even the smallest details to prevent mistakes.
The app performs superbly and receives nearly no negative feedback from users of this smoker. Although the app does a lot, it does not lag and it offers the option to tweak almost all controls on the smoker remotely. What is even nicer is that the smoker’s system is constantly updated by Char-Broil to make sure that all its owners have the latest features installed.
Sure, this smoker costs more than the average smoker but this review of just its main features already shows you why it deserves to be priced that way. It takes most of the work out of smoking by predicting what you will want to cook, laying out detailed instructions to get you going, and reminding you when any changes have to be done.
Finally, all of this and more are done by the 15202043-A1 digital electric smoker without hogging too much electricity. It only uses about 750 watts, so a 10-hour cook time is not going to put a dent in your budget.
Although this is Char-Broil’s first “smart” cooker, they certainly did a fine job with it. The system works seamlessly and as long as you have the internet, you should not have any issue taking advantage of its app and SmartChef function.