An electric charcoal starter can help with starting the charcoal for your barbecue because this can be a little challenging sometimes.
More and more people do not like to use lighter fluid or starter blocks anymore because of the chemicals. A charcoal chimney starter is easy to use as you can read in my how to start a charcoal grill without lighter fluid, but some people do not like the use of them because of the newspaper that can blow away and they can get pretty hot.
The next option I discuss here in our electric charcoal starter reviews is the use of an electric fire starter which is becoming more and more popular to use.
I have a look at features like safety, Watts, Handle, Cord, etc to provide you with all the information to choose the electric charcoal lighter that fits your needs.
Top 5 Electric Charcoal Starters reviewed:
Although there are probably a lot more electric fire starters that I can mention here I narrowed it down to the ones with the best customer ratings.
looftlighter Electric Firestarter
The looftlighter electric charcoal starter and all the reviews I read show that it is, without a doubt, one of the most popular electric charcoal starters. Some people even call it the best electric charcoal starter.
This electric barbecue starter does not use a flame, but a stream of very hot air that according to the manufacturer reaches 1256 degrees Fahrenheit. There are over 170 ratings on Amazon with an average of 4.2 out of 5 stars.
There was one user who described the Looftlighter as a blow dryer on steroids and I think that is a good description.
I just have seen a few problems with the durability of this electric charcoal starter, but they were most of the time caused by keeping it too close to the fire.
The Looflighter is 1800 Watts in Europe and 1500 Watts in the USA. The difference is caused by the difference in voltage. The cost of using the Looflighter is about 1//2 cents per minute.
See if this is what you are looking for since the price is higher compared to some other products I looked at.
Better Grill Rating: 4.4
Grill Dome Rapid-Lite
The grill dome rapid lite 600-watt electric charcoal lighter gets your grill started in about 8 minutes.
The double loop that this design has increases the contact surface between the charcoal and the heating coil. With this high-contact surface, this coal starter is very effective
The coil is made of stainless steel and this makes it last longer of course.
Best way to use it
Spread a layer of coal on the grill and add the grill dome rapid lite electric barbecue starter after that add more charcoal on top of it.
After about 8 minutes you can remove it and wait for the rest of the charcoal to start.
The 12-inch handle should stay cool enough. A 4.3-star rating from over 115 people is pretty good.
Better Grill Rating: 4.3
Char-Broil SureFire Electric Charcoal Starter
This electric charcoal starter is called the Char-Broil SureFire electric charcoal starter.
With its 600 Watts, it is a little lighter than the grill dome rapid lite.
The heating coil is also made from stainless steel but is just straight.
The plastic handle will keep it cool to the touch. The cord is a little short so you probably need an extension cord for this electric charcoal starter. see our recommendation at the bottom of this page.
Most of the over 140 ratings of this Char Broil electric charcoal igniter I have read mention they are happy with the performance and they mentioned it works great even in windy circumstances. This is one of the pros of this type of starter compared to a chimney in my opinion.
Better Grill Rating: 4.2
Charcoal Companion Electric Charcoal Starter
You definitely need a quality extension cord for this electric charcoal companion charcoal starter made by Char-Broil.
The cord is too short to reach any outlet you have while in the grill. I could not find the Watts for it, but assume it is about the same as the other charcoal starters, around 600 Watts.
The claim is this it will start your charcoal in about 10 minutes and I read that that is pretty much right on the dot and many even mentioned it takes only 8 minutes.
With an average of 4.3 stars and covered by the Charcoal companion brand there is not much wrong with this electric charcoal starter.
Better Grill Rating: 4.3
Brinkmann Electric BBQ lighter
The Brinkmann electric fire starter is made of stainless steel and has a heat-resistant handle.
The cord is 2 feet long, so I have to recommend again the use of a quality extension cord.
Since the shape is not bent like some other brands you have to have it buried diagonally in the charcoal.
This can be a problem if you only use a little charcoal maybe.
For the rest, this electric starter works as expected from a company like Brinkmann.
One person uses it to light her fireplace logs and that works well she says. So you can probably also use it for your over-the-fire cooking campfire starting I guess.
Better Grill: 4.4
How To Use An Electric Fire Starter
The most used and safest way to start your charcoal with the help of any electric BBQ starter is to make sure that there is no technical problem with the charcoal lighter. Check the wiring and make sure these are okay. Also, use a good-quality extension cord if you have to.
Now build a pile of charcoal big enough to stick your whole burner part in there. Make sure the handle is not straight above it but place the starter at an angle, so it does not get burnt.
The exception is the Looftlighter. This one works like a torch and needs to be kept in your hand.
Now all you have to do is plug it in and wait till the charcoal starts to burn. After that remove your charcoal lighter and place it in a safe place where it can cool off.
If you use this method there is not much that can go wrong. Just look at my recommendation about the best extension cord if you have to use one.
Electric Charcoal Starter vs Charcol Chimney
I personally use a chimney starter, because most of the time I use charcoal for my smoker. I can, however, imagine that if you live in a city or are close to neighbors that the change of pieces of burned paper flying around is not a great option.
It can also be that your yard is next to a dry field in the summer and you do not like to use an open fire. In those situations, an electric charcoal lighter is a better option.
The biggest difference is, in my opinion, that with a chimney starter, you light all the charcoal and with an electric grill starter you light only the charcoal that is touched by the heated tip and it will take longer for all the charcoal to be ready to use.
This can be an advantage when you are using the snake method on your charcoal grill.
It is up to you to decide what is the best electric charcoal starter for your type of grill or smoker. I just hope you will use it in a safe way.
I noticed that in general, this type of starter gets a little lower ratings. It is strange since most people like to use them. I guess that is because in most cases you need an extension cord unless you have an outlet next to your grill.
Never exceed the time that is given in the manual. I think this is a safety feature to prevent the handle and or cord from getting too hot and maybe melting.
If you have to walk away and leave your electric grill lighter, make sure to use a timer. I read a story about a bad fire that got started by leaving an electric grill starter unattended. The best way, of course, is to stay with it at all times.
Also, make sure that you have a place to put the electric grill starter after using it as a Charcoal lighter because it is still hot and needs to cool off in a safe spot to avoid a fire.
The use of a quality extension cord is a must since most starters come with a really short cord that most of the time does not reach the outlet.
I found a high-quality 12 gauge extension cord that came recommended form 260 people with a 4.8-star rating.
If you have any experience with an electric starter for your charcoal let us know in the comments below.
Eddie van Aken
Eddie van Aken has years of experience in running his full-service restaurant and with this came working with using and dealing with all types of kitchen equipment. With his experience, he is able to find all the pros and cons of grills and add them to the grill reviews he is doing. You can read more on the about page for Eddie van Aken