Best Electric Charcoal Starters: Reviews, Buying Guide & FAQs

One of many people’s favorite summer pastimes is grilling and barbecuing, and every man’s man fancy’s himself the next great pitmaster. You go to sleep at night dreaming of smokey savory food that was cooked over flavorful charcoal on your backyard grill. If you want to speed things up then an electric charcoal starter is essential to your collection of accessories.

The purpose of an electric charcoal starter is to make a fire with no need for flames chemicals or smoke. Instead, a small compact tool uses either heated coils are super-hot air to ignite your charcoal pile in mere minutes. Plug it in and let it sit there to do the hard work for you. That is right, set it and forget it.

Getting an electric charcoal starter and ditching your old outdated chimney is a no brainer. We have compiled the best electric charcoal starers for all different needs and situations into this convenient list. We will also explain to you how to use an electric charcoal starter.

1. VENYN Multipurpose Charcoal Burner – Best Electric Charcoal Starter

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VENYN Hibachi Multipurpose Charcoal Burner - Starter for Hookah, Shisha, Nargila, BBQ Fire – Porcelain Coating – Smart Heat Control
  • MUTLI-FUNCTIONAL: Hookah lovers coming over for a BBQ Party? The charcoal burner comes to the rescue. It not only serves the function of a barbeque grill but can also be used as a hookah coal burner. Additionally, it comes with a removable charcoal tray which can be used for tea/coffee warming.
  • HEAT RETENTION: The product is coated with porcelain that is heat and corrosion resistant, making the product durable and thus, economical.

The VEYN Charcoal Burner is a compact unit that gives you a ton of value for your money. From heating up your charcoal in a matter of minutes to unrivaled ease of use, it’s arguably one of the best electric charcoal starters on the market. It’s made with heat and corrosion-resistant materials and painted in heat-resistant paint to preserve its looks.


Why buy an Electric Charcoal Starter?

When it comes to lighting your charcoal briquettes there are many options such as a chimney or even your good ole fashioned lighter fluid. But when it comes to safety and efficiency, nothing beats an electric charcoal starter. Whether it uses super heated air or super hot coils, it will ignite your charcoal or other kindling with no effort at all.

Unlike a standard charcoal chimney, electric starters have no open flames which make them safer. Add in the benefit of zero smoke and zero smell and the taste of your food will never be tainted again.

If cleanup is one of your priorities then you will also love the fact that these starters produce zero soot so you will be having nothing to wipe away. No more will your smoker or grill be left with a layer of unnecessary black gunk.

Another plus is that most electric charcoal starters are small and compact so they are perfect for people who lack space or for those occasions where you need fire on the go like on a camping trip.

As with everything, however, electric starters can come with a few downsides. One of them is the fact that many models require electricity via a cord to operate so you will need to be close to an outlet or drag out an extension cord. If you are going camping or need fire on the go you should consider some of the excellent cordless models out there.

Also, these starters are not ideal for starting fires in the rain as they have electrical internal components that can become damaged. using these in the rain can be risky so make sure your grill is covered under a gazebo or other solution.


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Best Electric Charcoal Starters Reviewed

We’ve reviewed a handful of the highly sought-after electric charcoal starters in the market and we hope you’ll find one to fit your needs here.

1. Best Electric Charcoal Starter – VENYN Multipurpose Charcoal Burner

best electric charcoal starters image 1

This multipurpose charcoal starter may have originally been intended for use with hookah’s, but its versatility means it can easily be used quite effectively with smokers and barbecues, or even a hot beverage. It is super lightweight and small so it is perfect for a camping trip or any trip for that matter long or short.

The porcelain coating means that the starter is heat and even corrosion-proof meaning it is super durable and good to take with you into the elements. Just plug it in and start it up and then stick it into your charcoal. Within 3 to 5 minutes you will have some very hot coals. The starter also has heat adjustability for more control as needed. The charcoal tray, which is made from stainless steel, is removable and safe.

Need to warm up a kettle? How about some coffee or tea? Simply place a heat-safe or metal tray on top and gets some hot beverages in minutes.

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VENYN Hibachi Multipurpose Charcoal Burner - Starter for Hookah, Shisha, Nargila, BBQ Fire – Porcelain Coating – Smart Heat Control
  • MUTLI-FUNCTIONAL: Hookah lovers coming over for a BBQ Party? The charcoal burner comes to the rescue. It not only serves the function of a barbeque grill but can also be used as a hookah coal burner. Additionally, it comes with a removable charcoal tray which can be used for tea/coffee warming.
  • HEAT RETENTION: The product is coated with porcelain that is heat and corrosion resistant, making the product durable and thus, economical.

Pros

  • Fast, even heating
  • Quality materials
  • Removable charcoal tray
  • Portable

Cons

  • The handle may get hot

2. Char-Broil Electric Charcoal Starter

best electric charcoal starters image 2

No frills are needed when it comes to heating your charcoal efficiently, so even though this electric charcoal starter may not be pretty or fancy it is certainly effective. This char-broil electric charcoal starter is a budget-friendly model with all the basic features you need for the job.

It features a handle that is heat resistant which means you have no fear of burns when handling it. One downside is the short cord which will require an extension cord in most cases but for the money, this is a small problem. 500 watts are pumped out of this 120v starter which means your charcoal will be ablaze in mere minutes.

There is no off or on switch or adjustment buttons, simply plug it in and it will start heating up, so we recommend putting into your charcoal before you plug it in. It has a handy metal bracket that allows it to be rested on the side so it won’t fall into your charcoal which is nice to see. Or use the same bracket as a stand when your starter is not in use but still plugged in to avoid burning surfaces.

Char-Broil Electric Charcoal Starter
  • Generates 550 watts at 120 volts for lighting briquette piles
  • No matches or fluid needed

Pros

  • Low price
  • Heat-resistant handle
  • Lightweight
  • Easy to use

Cons

  • Very short cord

3. Best Hot Air Starter – HomeRight Electro-Torch

best electric charcoal starters image 3

Need to light your wood stove, fireplace, campfire, or yes even your charcoal pile? Look no further than this HomeRight electric charcoal starter.

This unit utilizes 1,500 degrees of super hot hair to ignite charcoal and other kindling for all kinds of situations. With its dual ignition switch, featuring a charcoal setting, a wood setting, and even a high-velocity airflow setting, you will get your fire roaring in no time. You will need to hold down the ignition switch the entire time whole starting your coals but it won’t take long at all.

If you are concerned with the device overheating then you will be put at ease with its built-in thermal safety switch which will automatically shut it off if it begins to overheat. Once the starter cools down it will be ready to go again.

Your fire will be fully started in 2 to 3 minutes depending on the material which is faster than many starters on the market. This electric charcoal starter is pretty compact so it can be brought easily onto an RV for a road trip if need be. This is another one with a short cord so make sure you pack an extension cord.

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HomeRight Electro-Torch C900085 Fire Starter, Charcoal Starter and Lighter, BBQ Smoker, Grill Starter, Chemical Free Heated Air with Built-In Blower
  • HOT AIR FIRE STARTER: The Electro-Torch fire starter allows you to easily light your charcoal barbecue, wood burning fireplace, campfire or fire pit without using matches or starter fluids
  • A GREAT GIFT IDEA FOR GRILLERS AND CAMPERS: Looking for the perfect gifts for him or her? The Electro-Torch fire starter is a hot present that any BBQ enthusiast will appreciate for holidays or birthdays

Pros

  • Dual ignition switch
  • High temperature
  • Built-in safety switch
  • Quality materials

Cons

  • Short cord
  • The switch isn’t lockable

4. Best Wireless Charcoal Starter – BBQ Dragon Charcoal Starter

This wireless charcoal starter works a bit differently from others on our list. This unit will not start the fire on its own for you, you must add conventional lighting methods like matches but no accelerants will be needed because the BBQ Dragon does this for you.

it works by using its variable-speed fan that blows cool air and oxygen into your charcoal, this mixture of air and oxygen will make the fire spread naturally and quickly. A few minutes is all it takes and you won’t have to worry about your food tasting like lighter fluid. It is also made from durable stainless steel.

This starter is made from super durable material so it can sit in the hottest of fires and remain unscathed while the fan does its work to push those flames around the coals. The spring-loaded clamp lets you clip it on to the side of your fire pit or grill while it does the job.

You can move it around throughout the starting period to direct the airflow where the fire needs it. This starter uses aa batteries but we recommend using rechargeable ones.

Charcoal Starter and Grill Lighter, BBQ Lighter Grill Fan / Battery-Powered Bellows Faster than Charcoal Chimney Starter BBQ Fan, Smoker Fan, Charcoal Lighter Weber Kettle Grill Accessory - BBQ Dragon
  • STARTS CHARCOAL AND FIRES FAST – The BBQ Dragon Fan is the fastest way to start charcoals and to keep fires burning strong. With this fan clipped to the side of your charcoal grill, you’ll be ready to start barbecuing within 10 minutes. This electric bellow is much more effective than blowing air from your mouth, and you won’t get smoky ash in your face.
  • STAINLESS STEEL CONSTRUCTION – The main body of this fan is made from sleek stainless steel that stays cool and stands up to tough use. The long, adjustable neck is also made from stainless steel, and it allows you to position the BBQ Dragon Fan to provide air wherever you need it. The fan also has a variable speed motor so you can control the amount of airflow.

Pros

  • Durable construction
  • Adjustable neck
  • Variable speed motor
  • Spring-loaded clamp

Cons

  • Flimsy battery door hatch
  • Batteries don’t last long
  • An igniter and a chimney are also required

5. BISON BA001 520 Airlighter

The Bison Airlighter is a very unique piece of technology that may just blow your mind. This offers all of the upsides to a hot air electric charcoal starter but in a compact, portable, cordless design. The unit charges via USB and can start up to 30 fires on one charge, it also comes with 3 whole cans of butane gas included.

The butane will produce extremely hot flames for your coals without needing a long cord or plugging it in. This thing is a beast with a super hot output to set ablaze even the most stubborn kindling. You will have a standard pile of charcoal briquettes lit in just under 60 seconds. If starting fires in the dark is your thing you will appreciate the built-in LED light for your convenience.

The multi-mode switch is another unique feature of this starter. This provides for the option to have only heat or for it to run with heat and the blower at the same time. or just run the blower to accelerate an already lit pile to save on butane.

BISON AIRLIGHTER 520, Cordless Fire Starter, Charcoal Starter and Lighter, Grill Starter, Campfire Starter, Butane Powered with Built-In Blower
  • Cordless fire starter. Jet flame and fire propagating fan can light fires anywhere
  • Rechargeable electronics using standard USB. Provides 30 minutes of air boost

Pros

  • very hot
  • very powerful
  • unique features

Cons

  • needs a better option to stand up or clip to the side of grills

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What Type of Electric Charcoal Starter is Best?

This will all depend on your needs and desires but typically there are two types to choose from. The most common one is the electric coil unit, these works by passing an electric current into a steel coil to provide the heat much like an electric stove.

Many people think that the second choice is much better. The second most used option is the hot air-based models. These types of electric charcoal starters use an internal heating element to effectuate the air that is being blown out of it via a fan. This air is blown directly onto the coals or kindling to make it combust and it works very quickly and evenly.

Another plus is the fact that your charcoal will never actually come into direct contact with your starter which means it makes for a much cleaner solution. The coil-based devices have to touch your kindling which can cause surface damage over time.


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Charcoal Chimney vs. Electric Charcoal Starter

if you are somebody who has been using a traditional charcoal chimney to start your fires and is looking to upgrade you first must know the differences between the two options.

Charcoal chimneys have been the most used option for fire-starting since the dark ages, but now you have the incredible new technology of efficient clean electric starters and if you have not yet switched now is better than never. If you want a super cheap option and do not care about the open flames, soot, and effect on the taste of your food then by all means stick with what you have.

The difference is that with an electric charcoal starter you will have a fire going in a couple of mere minutes and your briquettes will be evenly heated thoroughly. Additionally, electric charcoal starters are more weather resistant when it comes to high winds, they will not blow out. Also since they start your charcoal so quickly you won’t walk away which means it is a safer process.

At the end of the day, both of these options work when it comes to lighting charcoal. If you are new to grilling and smoking then maybe a charcoal chimney is ideal for you, however, we will always recommend the electric option first and foremost, with the features and cleaner results it cannot be beaten.


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Hot to use a Hot Coil Electric Charcoal Starter

If you decided to go with the coil based starter, the instructions can vary but all in all, it is pretty straightforward.

The first thing you want to do is put half of your charcoal briquettes in a pile on your grilling surface. next place the unplugged and not yet hot electric charcoal starter on top of the pile. Next, pile more charcoal on top of the soon to be hot coils. The mission here is to make as much contact as possible between as many briquettes as you can and the coils. Once you have an arrangement that looks good, plug in your hot coil electric charcoal starter and wait the few minutes until your charcoal is heated thoroughly. The time it takes will vary model to model so keep an eye on it.


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Wrapping Up

Just like any other heating method, you are going to want to look for charcoal that is starting to catch fire and glowing orange-red color. Once lit, remove the starter from the charcoal and set it in a safe location to cool down careful not to burn yourself. Make sure nothing that will melt or catch fire is near the starter for safety.

Preview
BISON AIRLIGHTER 520, Cordless Fire Starter, Charcoal Starter and Lighter, Grill Starter, Campfire Starter, Butane Powered with Built-In Blower
Charcoal Starter and Grill Lighter, BBQ Lighter Grill Fan / Battery-Powered Bellows Faster than Charcoal Chimney Starter BBQ Fan, Smoker Fan, Charcoal Lighter Weber Kettle Grill Accessory - BBQ Dragon
HomeRight Electro-Torch C900085 Fire Starter, Charcoal Starter and Lighter, BBQ Smoker, Grill Starter, Chemical Free Heated Air with Built-In Blower
Char-Broil Electric Charcoal Starter
VENYN Hibachi Multipurpose Charcoal Burner - Starter for Hookah, Shisha, Nargila, BBQ Fire – Porcelain Coating – Smart Heat Control
Title
BISON AIRLIGHTER 520, Cordless Fire Starter, Charcoal Starter and Lighter, Grill Starter, Campfire Starter, Butane Powered with Built-In Blower
Charcoal Starter and Grill Lighter, BBQ Lighter Grill Fan / Battery-Powered Bellows Faster than Charcoal Chimney Starter BBQ Fan, Smoker Fan, Charcoal Lighter Weber Kettle Grill Accessory - BBQ Dragon
HomeRight Electro-Torch C900085 Fire Starter, Charcoal Starter and Lighter, BBQ Smoker, Grill Starter, Chemical Free Heated Air with Built-In Blower
Char-Broil Electric Charcoal Starter
VENYN Hibachi Multipurpose Charcoal Burner - Starter for Hookah, Shisha, Nargila, BBQ Fire – Porcelain Coating – Smart Heat Control
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BISON AIRLIGHTER 520, Cordless Fire Starter, Charcoal Starter and Lighter, Grill Starter, Campfire Starter, Butane Powered with Built-In Blower
Title
BISON AIRLIGHTER 520, Cordless Fire Starter, Charcoal Starter and Lighter, Grill Starter, Campfire Starter, Butane Powered with Built-In Blower
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Charcoal Starter and Grill Lighter, BBQ Lighter Grill Fan / Battery-Powered Bellows Faster than Charcoal Chimney Starter BBQ Fan, Smoker Fan, Charcoal Lighter Weber Kettle Grill Accessory - BBQ Dragon
Title
Charcoal Starter and Grill Lighter, BBQ Lighter Grill Fan / Battery-Powered Bellows Faster than Charcoal Chimney Starter BBQ Fan, Smoker Fan, Charcoal Lighter Weber Kettle Grill Accessory - BBQ Dragon
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HomeRight Electro-Torch C900085 Fire Starter, Charcoal Starter and Lighter, BBQ Smoker, Grill Starter, Chemical Free Heated Air with Built-In Blower
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HomeRight Electro-Torch C900085 Fire Starter, Charcoal Starter and Lighter, BBQ Smoker, Grill Starter, Chemical Free Heated Air with Built-In Blower
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Char-Broil Electric Charcoal Starter
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Char-Broil Electric Charcoal Starter
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VENYN Hibachi Multipurpose Charcoal Burner - Starter for Hookah, Shisha, Nargila, BBQ Fire – Porcelain Coating – Smart Heat Control
Title
VENYN Hibachi Multipurpose Charcoal Burner - Starter for Hookah, Shisha, Nargila, BBQ Fire – Porcelain Coating – Smart Heat Control
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