Bradley has three popular electric smokers; they are the: 1) Bradley Smokers Original Smoker; 2) Bradley 4 Rack Digital Smoker; and 3) Bradley 6 Rack Digital Smoker. The following is a quick review of each, along with our thoughts and impressions.
1) The Original Bradley Electric Smoker
This “new” spin on the Original Bradley Electric Smoker has come with some welcome improvements to the Bradley Smokers Original Smoker. This reportedly includes a stainless steel cabinet interior, the relocation of the heat adjustment to the smoke generator, stepped up quality on the electrical circuitry, a sturdier base, and some minor but welcome changes to the face-panel design.
However, what’s the same with this model, and all of the subsequent electric models discussed here, is Bradley’s continuing use of their exclusive smoking flavor “bisquettes” (they look more like hockey pucks), which are composed of various wood types/flavors. Each will cost somewhere around 43 cents and will give you about 20 minutes of smoke until a new one is automatically thrust into place. Just load them up into the vertical hopper-like tube in the smoke generator, which is located on the side of the smoker, and let it rip. When the puck is exhausted, it’s ejected into the drippings collection pan for truly hassle free and hands-off operation. By the way: if you get one of these smokers make sure you buy some bisquettes along with the smoker because they don’t throw any in with the purchase for free (booo)!
The Original uses a 500 watt heating element and comes with four racks, which reportedly are designed to better resisting tipping when you slide them out.This smoker can reach a maximum of 250F during typical operating conditions. Please note that this unit does not have a digital thermostat like the other models discussed below.
Consensus of Users
The Original has the highest user rating of all three models here, currently holding a score of 4.3 out of 5.0 stars on amazon.com. In general, the majority of the users praised the Original for its self-automation and the consistency of the smoke and results obtained from it. They also gave it high marks for its construction and, particularly, the value of the customer service department. Nevertheless, there were some bad reviews.
The negative comments focused mainly on apparent product defects or failures, with one user noting door and hinge cracking for no obvious reason. These remarks were, however, very few overall.
Other comments were aimed at the wood pucks, and the expense at being forced to use them over conventional chips. Surprisingly though, nearly all of these users felt the additional expense was worth it given the quality and consistency of the smoke produced. Finally, repeat users of the Original confirm that this newer version is definitely superior thanthe previous iteration – very good news for those interested in starting off with the Bradley
Price & Value
Currently selling for roughly $215, this is the least expensive of the three models discussed here. No doubt this savings is due to the lack of the digital thermostatic control. At this price point, this Bradley provides very good value, but die-hard smokers should carefully weigh the expense of the wood pucks over the long haul to see if this smoker is a cost-effective choice. Keep in mind that this pucks are often not sold locally.
If you want the convenience of a self-loading smoke chamber and a degree of security knowing that there are fewer things for you to screw up, then the Bradley Smokers Original Smoker is a great choice. In fact this would be the only Bradley smoker I’d recommend of the three discussed here. You’ll see why in a minute.
2) Bradley 4 Rack Digital Smoker Review
The Digital 4-rack is more or less the Original, but with a much bigger brain. To be more technical, it possesses a digital thermostat linked to an internal probe that endeavors to keep the cabin temperatures with a very tight range around the chosen set point.
Temperature stability is perhaps the most important factor influencing the taste and texture of your food, beyond the more obvious failures (like forgetting to season the meat properly). This is why digital smokers can be so effective, not to mention easy for the user who only needs to set the temp and thereafter occasionally check in.
This smoker has an operating range of between 180 and 250 degrees. Four adjustable racks come with the unit, and the exterior of the smoker is clad in slick powder epoxy finish. It uses 500-watt cooking element and has a crisp control panel. Each smoker is backed by a 1-year warranty.
Despite holding a good deal of meat, this smoker is still quite manageable in size, with dimensions of 24 inches wide inches by 14 inches deep and31 inches high and a assembled weight of 42 pounds.
Consensus of Users
This smoker has taken a royal beating from users on amazon.com; there are no less than 3 pages of 1-star reviews in which one user after the next laments the total or partial failure of smoker. Failures like dying heating elements, a total failure of the power panel, failure of the “puck”-feeder, and even problems with door closures and general quality control issues, many of which occurred within a short time after purchase.
On the other hand, for units that seemed to work properly, users expectations were either met or exceeded. This smoker has a an overall user satisfaction rating of 3.8 out of 5.0 stars.
Price & Value
The current sales price of roughly $365 is stiff, but would be easily justified for such a smart smoker machine, assuming it worked properly.
Don’t do it. That simple. Bradley has envisioned a great smoker, but still hasn’t manage to work out several glaring weak spots in the construction of the Digital Smoker. This is even more troubling considering how important the digital brain of this unit is. If the lights go out, you essentially have a useless piece of brain-dead hardware.
3) Bradley 6 Rack Digital Smoker
This six rack model is a bigger version of the 4 Rack Digital Smoker, and basically everything mentioned there applies here.
Notably, this model too seems plagued by failure issues, and currently at least 15% of the users have reported partial or total failures of this model. Consequently, we also don’t recommend buying this smoker.