Char-Broil 17202004 Deluxe Digital Electric Smoker Review
Char-Broil might have made their name with high-quality charcoal and gas grills with a friendly price tag. Though that hasn’t stopped them from making deep forays into other niches in the grill and smoker industry. You see that reflected in the gleam of this innovative stainless steel electric smoker.
Yet the Char-Broil 17202004 Deluxe isn’t just your average electric smoker. When you take a closer look, you will notice engineer cues and attention to detail that the shoulder-to-shoulder competitor models don’t always have.
Right off the bat, you will appreciate the double-walled insulation for its ability to hold in heat and maintain consistent smoke density. It works in tandem with the seals on the door and the extra confident side latching handle. The glass door also has a dual-tone finish enveloping the glass window. Not only is it visually attractive, but it also lets you literally keep an eye on how things are doing in the smoker, without having to open the door, which affects the temperature and smoke density.
The Char-Broil 17202004 Deluxe also has a cutting edge digital control center. It’s intuitive to use and makes you feel like you are truly in command of what the electric smoker is doing. It can also coordinate with an internal meat thermometer to give you a better understanding of the relationship between the meat and the heat.
Inside you will find a lot of room to smoke various meats of all different sizes and thicknesses. There are four removable stainless steel racks. When all of them are installed you get up to 725 square inches of smoking space.
Construction & Ease of Assembly
The Char-Broil 17202004 Deluxe is largely made from commercial grade stainless steel. The double-walled body helps maximize heat retention. Yet it doesn’t overload the weight of the Char-Broil 17202004 Deluxe. Tipping the scales at just over 50-pounds, this is the sort of electric smoker that you can easily take with you camping, on a hunting trip or for a tailgating party.
When it comes to assembly, there isn’t a lot you need to do. Most of the Char-Broil 17202004 Deluxe comes ready to go. Just be careful not to accidentally scrape or scuff the stainless steel. All told, from the moment you open the box to the time you start breaking it in, should only take a half-hour or so.
The Char-Broil 17202004 Deluxe is a handy little smoker that can still handle a serious volume of food. The four stainless steel racks are adjustable and removable. With all four installed you will be limited to relatively flat foods, like small briskets or portion cut pork spareribs.
If you want to make some taller or thicker foods like whole chickens, beer can chicken, or a smoked Boston Butt pork shoulder, you can pull out one or two of the racks to maximize the vertical space.
This makes the Char-Broil 17202004 Deluxe very versatile. Though it’s a pity that there aren’t any hooks in the ceiling to hang fresh sausages or cured pork belly. You can get around this a little by setting one single rack at the top and then tying linked or ring sausages to it with some butcher’s twine.
The digital control center is very easy to use, letting you dial in the temperature and smoke conditions as you see fit. The smoker chip tray can also be externally loaded to spare you having to open the door just for a simple reload. You can also get the wood chips to go a little further and provide some much-needed steam, by soaking them in water overnight. This way they will smolder rather than burn.
The four racks inside the Char-Broil 17202004 Deluxe offer up to 725 square inches of smoking space inside the large stainless steel cabinet.
Though if you want to smoke thicker things, roast, or large primal cuts like a Boston Butt pork shoulder, then you will need to remove racks. Each one provides 181 square inches. This means with two installed, you’d have 362 square inches. This is sufficient for two Boston butts.
The digital control panel is certainly the special feature that sticks out the most. It is intuitive to use and lets you make the most out of the thermal efficiency offered by the double-walled body of the Char-Broil 17202004 Deluxe.
The door seals and the firm latching handle might not seem all that “Special” at first glance. Though many of the closest competitors don’t have such effective seals. When you also consider the double-walled body of this electric smoker, you end up using less electricity and a smaller volume of wood chips per smoking session.
Ease to Clean
For the most part, the Char-Broil 17202004 Deluxe is easy to clean. It was designed to channel away drippings and it is also thermally efficient enough that you don’t end up with a lot of ash to have to deal with after you are done.
One minor complaint, or at least something to be mindful of, is the stainless steel racks. The temptation is to just grab a wire grill brush or some steel wool and attack them. Especially if you end up with some stubbornly stuck-on caramelized marinade or spice blend. Though this will only scuff the stainless steel, which will make it even stickier the next time you use the Char-Broil 17202004 Deluxe.
Instead, try to scrape it down gently with a nylon bristle grill brush. This will help prevent scratches and keep the Char-Broil 17202004 Deluxe looking clean.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that like a lot of glass, the window in the Char-Broil 17202004 Deluxe will gradually cloud up with smoke residue. Giving it a good deep cleaning every three or four smoking sessions will make it easier to keep the glass reasonably transparent.
The Char-Broil 17202004 Deluxe only comes with a 1-year warranty, which is a little sparse. Most of the shoulder-to-shoulder competitors offer 3-years of warranty coverage.
If you are looking for a high-quality stainless steel electric smoker that is thermally efficient and easy to use, then the Char-Broil 17202004 Deluxe needs to be near the top of your list. The double-walled body and the digital control center really go a long way with just a little bit of current and some wood chips. Just be gentle when you scrape down the four stainless steel grates.
- Digital controls that are easy to use
- 725 square inches of grate space
- Double-walled construction for thermal efficiency
- Tight seals and a firm latch that locks
- Only 1 year of warranty coverage
- Need to be gentle with stainless steel racks
- Glass window can fog up over time