I bought this smoker in 1996 and have used it to smoke and grill various types of food, mostly venison and pork. I tried using just the charcoal, but didn't like adding extra charcoal (and therefore increasing the cooking time) so I tried the electric element. For me, the electric element is worth the $30. I love this smoker. I also recommend the rib and chicken holders if you will be smoking any of these foods. I purchased them in a combo for about $25.
Recommend this product?
When the temp gauge gets to the "E" part of "IDEAL" it is about 225 degrees, perfect temp. But, it may take an hour to get to that part, at least with the electric element.