Best Electric Charcoal Fire Starters and Lighters – 2020 Reviews

Using your grill or barbecue requires many moving parts to keep the experience efficient, safe, and fun. Today we’re going to be looking at a crucial aspect of your charcoal grilling experience: an electric charcoal starter.

Now that you have your charcoal grill, you need a way to get it started safely. In order to keep your grill in good condition, and keep yourself and your family out of harm, you’ll want to get an electric charcoal starter for your grilling station. We’ll be looking at which electric charcoal starters are on the market, and how they can serve your needs differently.

Comparison of the Best Electric Charcoal Starters

PRODUCTDETAILS
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Char-Broil Electric Charcoal Starter

  • Hassle-free and no matches or lighters required
  • Plug-in design helps to avoid battery usage
  • Best for the money
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GrillPro 33666 Electric Charcoal Starter

  • Available with chimney style starter as well
  • Lightweight and easy to store
  • Takes about 20 minutes to get hot
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Kamado Joe KJ-ES Electric Starter

  • Angled element is extremely adaptable to fit a variety of grills
  • #1 Best Seller in Grilling and Charcoal on Amazon
  • Negates need for liquid starters - avoiding unwanted flavors
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HomeRight Electro Light C900046

  • Features thermal safety switch to safeguard against overheating
  • Ignites in 2-3 minutes
  • Backed by a 2-year warranty
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"Grillmark" Standard Style Electric

  • Deep angled design is ideal for kettle style cookers and grills
  • UL approved for users
  • Coil design is mess-free and avoids unwanted smells
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How Does an Electric Charcoal Starter Work?

An electric charcoal starter works in a fine, simple manner; it is one of the many best inventions. It is equipped with multiple features, but most importantly, it is pollution-free, and that is much-needed with everything that’s going on with our climate.

Usually, electric charcoal starters have coils similar to a hot plate. Plugin your electric charcoal starter, pour a pile of charcoal in your grill and place your starter on that very pile of coal. Once some of the coal is lit, mix the unlit coal with the coal that is lit. In a couple of minutes, you will have a pile of perfectly lit coal.

What Do I Need to Know Before Buying?

If you are into cooking and grilling or enjoy bonfires, then you must pay attention to some factors before buying the perfect electric charcoal starter.

Material

As it is a matter of fire, make sure your electric charcoal starter doesn't consist of a plastic handle. Plastic or aluminum handle would melt off very easily. Invest in a product that promises to be durable and lasts for a long season.

Price

The market is full of a variety of electric charcoal starters; have a budget in mind so that you won’t get confused. Make a list of all the features and pros that you wish to see in this product and then narrow down your choices. Always choose the one that does justice to its features and price.

Cord Length

When you are looking at the price, material, design, and durability of this product, remember to look at the size of the cable of the potential electric charcoal starter. If you don’t have access to an extension cord, then it is wise to invest in a product that comes with a longer, at least a foot-long cord so that you can easily move around while cooking.

What Makes a Great Electric Charcoal Starter?

Let's find out:

Material

Models made of stainless steel, polycarbonate, and heavy duty rubber ensure that an electric charcoal starter is durable, but still lightweight.

High Temperatures

Some electric charcoal starters have the ability to reach upwards of 1256 degrees. This high temperature threshold can guarantee ignition, even in cold weather. Additionally, look for a long power cord as it will make your experience more enjoyable and hassle-free.

Wattage

If the starter you’re considering uses a hot coil to ignite the coals, look for a high wattage metal coil. We recommend one around 600 watts.

Heat-Resistant Handle

A heat resistant handle is a must to ensure your safety and the longevity of your electric starter.

A steel handle won’t melt when near high heat, as opposed to an aluminum handle, which can not only melt, but heat up and potentially cause a burn.  

Willy's Top Picks - Best Electric Charcoal Starters

Review of the Best Electric Charcoal Starters

Let's take a look at some of our favorite electric charcoal starters. When reviewing each model, we're going to cover it's main features, then dive into some essential pros and cons to be aware of. 

Char-Broil Electric Charcoal Starter

Pros

  • No fumes
  • Lightweight
  • Heats quickly
  • Durable/long life
  • No lighter fluid taste
  • Metal element won’t shatter

Cons

  • Shot cord
  • Cord can easily melt if not managed well

What Recent Buyers Report

Almost everyone that has bought this has said that this electric charcoal starter is a game-changer. They say that it is not affected by the wind or low temperature. One buyer said that using lighter fluid is a bit untidy, and usually, they go out in ten minutes if not set in an appropriate environment. However, fire with this electric charcoal starter lasts longer.

Why it Stands Out to Us

No matches, no chemical, no fuel; all you need to do is to turn on this device and place it on the pile of coal to light it up; this is the very reason it stands out to us. Plus, this marvelous tool does not weigh much; it is easy to carry.

The Char-Broil electric starter features a metal 550 watt 120 volt element that heats up in as fast as five minutes. The element is made of metal so it won’t shatter or easily break.

The starter measures 17.5-inches long, making it a great length to heat the entirety of your coals while keeping your hand a safe distance from the hot element. 

Weighing in at only 11.2 ounces, this electric starter can be easily transported to any park or campground. You can also obtain a manufacturer warranty, just ask customer service!

Who Will Use This Most

People who enjoy cooking and grilling and don’t want to wait around for the chemicals and fuel to light the coal would find this to be the most useful. Plus, those looking for a clean and ash-free method to get the job done would benefit from it. If you hate the aftertaste of charcoal lighter fluid, then this would be a nice option. 

Bottom Line

Looking for an easy way to light up the taste and don’t want your food to reek of the lighter fluid? We have good news for you. Get your hands on this electric starter and spend more time grilling your favorite steak with your friends and family and less time spilling lighter fluid.

The Char-Broil electric charcoal starter will get your coals lit quickly and efficiently. You’ll never need to use matches or lighter fluid with this, so your food won’t smell or have any lingering tastes. But, you’ll almost certainly need an extension cord to be able to use it anywhere other than your patio.

GrillPro 33666 Electric Charcoal Starter

Pros

  • Long rod
  • Affordable
  • Pollution free
  • Wind Resistant
  • Pollution free
  • Heat charcoal quickly

Cons

  • Short cord
  • Easily melts nearby plastic

What Recent Buyers Report

One of the recent buyers said he had been using the lighter fluid as long as he remembers, but recently he found about charcoal lighter and he has not touched the lighter fluid since. Usually, it would take more than twenty minutes for the aluminum chimney to heat the charcoal, but with the charcoal starter, it only takes seven to eight minutes.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This electric charcoal stands out to us because it is environmentally and user-friendly. There is no lighter fuel, no dangerous chemical; all you need is a plug and a socket. This starter is equipped with a compact design, plus its rod covers more area, making the job a bit easier.

The GrillPro 33666 Electric Charcoal Starter is another hot coil option for lighting your charcoal grill.

Its metal element is 110 volts, and the entire instrument measures 21-inches long. The GrillPro is a little lighter than the Char-Broil at only 8 ounces. Like the Char-Broil, the GrillPro heats quickly: in about seven to fifteen minutes.

As with most hot coil starters, this does not require lighter fluid or newspaper. The GrillPro is ideal for breezy areas because the contained element poses no risk in wind.

It uses a cord for power, so make sure you’re near an outlet or you have an appropriate length of extension cord.

The GrillPro’s 21-inch length makes it ideal for a deeper grill, or for a safer distance from the piping hot element.

Be careful when leaving the GrillPro unattended or else it might melt any nearby plastic. However, this wind resistant, hot coil electric starter is a great option for any charcoal grill.

Who Will Use This Most

Folks who are foodies and love cooking outside but also have a soft spot for the environment would be excited to know about this electric charcoal starter. Those who are looking to light charcoal with electric heat and not light flame should consider this as an option as this is pollution-free.

Bottom Line

It is very easy to use; all you need to do is plug it in and place it on the pile of coal, and it will only take roughly five minutes to heat the coal. So say goodbye to the live flame and treat your charcoal grill with an electric starter.

The GrillPro is very similar to the Char-Broil, but it is more affordable. It will ignite your charcoal quickly, but if used frequently, may not last more than one or two seasons. Just as with the Char-Broil, the cord is on the short side, so a nearby outlet or extension cord is a must.

KamadoJoe KJ-ES Electric Starter For Charcoal, 1, Black

Pros

  • Long cord
  • Angled coil
  • Lightweight
  • High wattage
  • Heats quickly

Cons

  • Higher cost
  • Easily overheats
  • Shorter element

What Recent Buyers Report

Most of the recent buyers are extremely happy and satisfied with this item. One of the buyers appreciated its one-foot long cord and said that it prevented him from investing in a separate extension cord. Others reported that it starts the fire instantly, and it is not that heavy on the pocket.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Some of the very best charcoal electric starters are equipped with a relatively short cord, but this is not the case with this one. This saves you from the worry of placing your grill close to an electric socket. This electric starter gives a modernized appeal to your fancy grill.

The Kamando Joe Electric Starter for Charcoal Grills is another excellent hot-coil option for your grill. However, this electric starter comes with a unique coil design: it’s angled to make it easier and safer to handle when hot.

The Kamando Joe measures 15-inches long and weighs 1.39 pounds. The coil is 110 volts and 600 watts, and will heat up your charcoal grill in minutes.

The cord measures 72-inches (6 feet), making it plenty long for any patio barbecue. The coil itself measures 5.5 by 3.5-inches for a wider shape.

With a coil that hot, it can burn out after a few uses, but it’s hard to beat that six foot cord. With a cord that long, you can really have the freedom to grill anywhere (within reason), without having to be weighed down by a cumbersome extension cord.

Who Will Use This Most

If your home is situated in a breezy location, this electric starter is a game-changer for you! People are calling it the new generation of fire; they are very happy with its performance and the fact that it usually lasts a couple of seasons. For static flame, this is one of the best options.

Bottom Line

Get your hands on this new generation of fire and push all the boundaries of an exceptional grilling. It instantly heats the charcoal and allows you to easily roast, smoke, sear, or bake anytime and anywhere one wishes. So kindle all the pleasure of cooking with instant heat and fire.

The Kamando Joe stands out because of its unique waved coil pattern. This coil works best with Kamando style grills, but will of course work with any model. With a 600 watt coil, the Kamando heats very quickly and will leave you with sparked coals within five to ten minutes.

Home Right Electro Light C900046 Fire Starter, Charcoal Starter and Lighter, BBQ Smoker, Grill Starter, Chemical Free Heated Air with Built-In Blower

Pros

  • 10 foot cord
  • Multi-functional
  • Two-year warranty 
  • Thermal safety switch
  • No chemical fumes/taste

Cons

  • Cumbersome
  • Sticky ignition button
  • 10-15 minute ignition time

What Recent Buyers Report

One of the recent buyers reported that he had been using a chimney starter as a coal starter as long as he can remember, but with this, he was able to light the charcoal in only two to three minutes. Another buyer said that the flame from this ignition starter lasts for a long time. Overall, all buyers had a great experience, leaving them satisfied with their purchase. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

It stands out to us for multiple reasons. Primarily, we love it because it is a perfect tool for burning wood and fireplaces, campfires, fire pits, barbecue grills, or smokers. So from grilling steaks to getting warm at a campsite, this electric starter comes handy in multiple ways. Its multi-purpose built is the reason it stands out to us.

The HomeRight Electro Light Fire Starter is an electric hot air blower style starter. It's 21.1-inches long, 2.4 pounds, and 120 volts. This electric charcoal starter boasts the longest cord we’ve looked at so far: ten feet.

The HomeRight starter comes with a two-year warranty and can be used for a variety of functions such as lighting a charcoal grill, wood-burning stove, and campfire.

The HomeRight blows super-heated air into the charcoal totally eliminating any chemical taste from your food.

An added safety feature of the HomeRight is its thermal safety switch, which shuts the starter off automatically when it overheats, and resets it after it cools down.

Who Will Use This Most

If you live where it is usually raining or if there is humidity in the environment, this electric fire starter will always make sure that your fire is stable enough to get the job done. This is even equipped with a safety button so that you can always be able to turn it on when needed.

Bottom Line

Want a pollution-free fire starter? Stop looking because this is one of the very best. It is a perfect companion for camping and grilling both. It is extremely easy to use, plus its unique design makes sure that the fire starts up instantly, so investing in this tool is not a bad idea.

The HomeRight is the most versatile electric charcoal starter we’ve seen so far, working for not only your charcoal grill but wood burning stove as well. Its two-year warranty provides some peace of mind, but takes a significantly longer time to ignite charcoal than the hot coil options.

SOUTHERN SALES & MKTG GRP INC BBQ-468139 'Grillmark' Standard Style Electric ...

Pros

  • Angled
  • Lightweight
  • Long frame
  • Steel handle
  • Chemical free

Cons

  • Short cord
  • Higher price
  • No warranty
  • Works best on “egg” style kettles

What Recent Buyers Report

Almost everyone who got his or her hands on this charcoal starter has not found a single disappointing feature in it. One of the many buyers appreciated that its handle is composed of steel and not aluminum, which makes it easy to use, and it prevents it from melting.

Why it Stands Out to Us

It stands out to us because of its unique design, stylish built, and durable quality. It is a perfect charcoal starter for kettle grills and cookers. It is designed to give out a power of 120V and 600 watts. The plug that is attached to its cord is easy to plug in any electric socket.

The Grillmark Standard Style Electric Charcoal Starter is an angled hot coil starter with a 120 volt, 600 watt element.

The Grillmark measures 25-inches long and weighs only one pound, making it one of the longest, but also one of the lightest charcoal lighting tools we’ve featured.

It has a steel stand that will withstand the intense heat emitted from the element, so the handle won’t melt. No lighter fluid or chemicals, so no odor or strange tastes in your cooking.

The Grillmark’s deep angled design makes it ideal for a kettle style charcoal grill. Your hands will stay protected, but you’ll still be able to get the element deep in the charcoal.

Who Will Use This Most

It is a must-have for each and everyone who wishes to spend more quality time eating and less time lighting up the fire and constantly watching out for lighter fluid. You can take this electrical charcoal starter anywhere you want to start the fire.

Bottom Line

This starter is one of the very best in the market. If you think this can satisfy your needs, then stop wasting time on lighter fluid and get your hands on this starter instantly. This is very easy to use, but don’t leave it for too long.

The Grillmark is designed to work with egg style kettles, and may not transfer to more flat grills. The cord is extremely short, and you will almost definitely need an extension cord to use it anywhere, even at home.

There isn’t a warranty available with the Grillmark, but it’s a long-lasting and durable design. The long element is perfect for getting into tight spaces and the steel handle won’t melt.

Types of Charcoal Starters

There are two main types of electric charcoal starters you’ll encounter: a hot air blower and a hot coil.

Hot Air Blower

Hot air blowers do exactly what they say: they blow super high temperature air, which can have your charcoal ignited very quickly. By far the biggest upside of using a hot air blower versus a hot coil starter is speed.

A hot air blower produces extremely hot air igniting your charcoal. A popular hot air blower starter is the HomeRight Electro Light C900046.

The hot air can reach upwards 1256 degrees. When looking for a hot air blower type starter, make sure that it has a high temperature threshold to guarantee ignition, even in cold weather. 

Hot Coil

Hot coil charcoal electric starters are very common. They use a hot coil attached to a handle to ignite the charcoal.

You plug in the tool and put the coil in your bed of charcoal where it will heat up and spark your grill.

Hot coils take more time to ignite; sometimes up to fifteen minutes depending on how many watts the element is.

If you’re interested in a hot coil starter, you’ll be adding a small chunk of time onto your cooking agenda just to heat the grill.

A hot coil type starter needs to have a high wattage coil in order to assure that your charcoal will ignite, so look for about 600 watts.

With a hot coil starter, you also want to make sure it has a heat resistant handle. Hot coil starters sit in your charcoal while the coil heats to ignite the coals, and unless the handle is heat resistant, you be looking at a nasty burn.  

Both hot coils and hot air blowers require an outlet. When shopping for an electric charcoal starter, cord length is going to be vitally important.

If you’re at home, access to an outlet might not be a problem, but as soon as you get to a park or campground, you may need to rely on extension cords to power your starter.

Conclusion

Electric charcoal starters are ideal when working with charcoal grills – they eliminate a need for lighter fluid that can cause that horrible odor that permeates the air, and sometimes, your food.

The multi-functional HomeRight blower would be ideal for anyone wanting an electric starter that can do more than just light grills, but for a more straightforward option, the GrillPro seems best. But taking everything into consideration, don't forget our top pick: the Char-Broil Electric Charcoal Starter.

So whether you go with a hot coil starter, or a hot air blower, either design will enhance your grilling experience for you, and those around you.