Electric Smoker Vent Open Or Closed- Which Works Better?

A smoker is the most essential appliance for a grilling season, especially an electric one, and you need the right kind of smoker to smoke your meat perfectly. But, something that most users find themselves amid confusion about is whether the electric smoker vent open or closed and which would work better for them.

If you have recently purchased a smoker, you must also be wondering about the position the vents should be in. Positioning the vent and keeping them open or closed makes a significant difference to the smoked meat. 

Therefore, look no further for tips and tricks to maximize the use or to use the smoker optimally because, in today’s guide, we will be assisting you in figuring out whether the electric smoker vent open or closed to help you resolve the ambiguity surrounding this question. 

Electric Smoker Vent Open Or Closed

Finding the right position for your vent can be a challenging task for many smokers, including charcoal smokers; however, the task remains not so complicated if you are using an electric smoker. This is because an electric smoker’s vent adjustment relies on the temperature you need for smoking. 

An electric smoker vent open or closed is a question whose answer is primarily determined by whether you want the grill to be cooking at a high or a low temperature. Supposedly, if you want to increase the heat levels, then the ideal way to do so is by having the bottom vents open while the top vents partially closed. 

On the contrary, to reduce the heat, the vent position must be switched, whereby the bottom vent should be kept completely closed and the top vent should be kept open. Nevertheless, the rule of thumb for the vent operation dictates that the vents always be partially open. 

When applying smoke to meat, it is best to open the vent so the risk of a massive creosote build-up on the meat can be avoided. Creosote is a compound produced in the smoke and helps create a distinctive smoky flavor in the food, but only if generated in small amounts.

Though a very small creosote amount creates the smoky flavor we love, it does not take long for the same flavor to become nasty and taste terrible. This will happen when the food gets coated with creosote when the vent has been closed and all the smoke is trapped within the grill while none, or at the least some, can escape.

electric smoker use

Generally, the only time the smoker vent is preferable to be kept closed is when you are finished with cooking or smoking the meat and now simply aspire to raise the internal temperatures of the smoker. Then, the trapped heat will not deteriorate the meat’s flavor; instead, it will keep the meat warm, tender, juicy, and edible for a later time. 

Purpose Of A Vent

If you have had experience with a wood-fired stove as a heat source during winter or with a charcoal smoker, you would know how the vents control and regulate the airflow and heat, respectively.

The more the vents remain open, the more air is circulated and allowed to flow inside the smoker, meaning that the charcoal burning within gets a higher rate of oxygen, which enhances the combustion rate, implying a faster burn and an increased temperature. 

However, the scenario greatly differs for an electric smoker where there is no use of charcoal and no presence of an open flame, so what is the function that vents serve in this setting?

Here, the vents have very little to do with the temperature as the temperature is typically set manually, similar to that of the operation of an oven, and the set temperature is maintained continuously throughout the smoking span. 

Regardless, vents are critical to properly use the smoker and achieve a fantastic smoky flavor and an amazing smoke ring for cooked foods. The vent would majorly be needed for the overall smoke production and combustion.

vent purpose

Needless to say, for consecutive air circulation, both vents are to be kept open, the bottom and the top vents, so the air can find its way in and out of the smoker. However, slight adjustments can be made to the vent positioning depending on the kind of temperature environment that you want to curate for the grill and the smoked food. 

Importance Of Adjusting Vents

The truth of the matter with whether electric smoker vent open or closed is that their proper use is much more than the vent positioning and is needed for smoke and temperature regulation. Ideally, and nearly all of the time, both vents should be opened when smoked and closed when stored.

Rear Vent

A central source of air entering the smoker is a rear vent located at the bottom of the smoker. It ensures that enough airflow is present in the smoker, which is demanded for several reasons, the most important one being to prevent an accumulation of creosote. 

The smoky compound could otherwise arise if the old smoke is not blown out of the smoker and is exhausted within it, eventually dripping on your food and imparting a rancid and bitter taste to it. 

Hence, to attain a smoky flavor, a continuous and fresh source of airflow is required to gradually penetrate through the food, resulting in the all-time important smoke ring. Also, this vent should be opened so the meat can be caramelized and crispy. 

With the rear vents closed off, less air will enter the smoker, indicating a lack of oxygen, which will transform the meat to be tough when chewed, cooked unevenly, and grey on the inside rather than being tender, juicy, and caramelized on the outside as it would have been with the vents opened. 

Top Vent 

top vent of smoker

The top vent of an electric smoker is as fundamental as the rear vent because this vent essentially functions as an exhaust. It is this vent from where the smoke is expelled into the air and does not accumulate to produce the bitter-tasting creosote dust.

Although the smoke is escaping from the top vent, as long as the smoking is incoming from the rear vent and there is a consistent supply of fuel, the smoked food will be exposed to an adequate and proper smoke layer, producing the most flavorful and incredible-tasting meat. 

Points To Remember When Controlling Vents

There are some points that you must remember when controlling vents if you want to avoid making the most common mistakes grill users make when adjusting vent positions. 

  • Never have the top and the rear vent fully closed for more than thirty minutes because this can lead to a lack of airflow inside the smoker, which would significantly diminish the amount of heat produced, resulting in the food being not cooked evenly or at all.
  • Throughout the smoking procedure, allow the top vents to remain partially open so that no creosote builds up and the meat does not turn bitter and black. We do not intend to advise you to keep the top vents fully open but slightly open, so be mindful of the distinction. 
  • Until and unless you are attempting to preheat the smoker, there is no reason for you to keep the intake vent fully open. Keeping the rear vent open will enhance the temperature and the heat, as more airflow will be circulating within the smoker, increasing the chances and the likelihood of the food burning. 
  • Always keep a keen eye out for monitoring the smoker’s temperature because it is per the temperature that the smoker’s vents are to be adjusted, meaning whether the electric smoker vent is open or closed.

Tips for Beginners

Entering the world of smoking meats can be both thrilling and a bit overwhelming for beginners, these tips will provide a solid foundation for your smoking journey.

Learn how to control temperature

Controlling the temperature in an electric smoker is crucial for achieving perfectly smoked meats.

When you set your electric smoker to a specific temperature, such as 200°F, the temperature will rise until it reaches that point, and then the heating element will turn off. However, the temperature inside the smoker may continue to rise for a while. This happens because it takes some time for the smoker to cool down and stop increasing in temperature after the heating system has been turned off.


Therefore, if you aim to maintain the temperature in your smoker at around 225°F, consider setting the heating level of the smoker lower, around 215°F to 210°F.

It’s important to monitor the temperature as it increases inside the smoker. Once it reaches your desired point, which is higher than your initial setting of 215°F, reset the controller to 225°F.

Temperature control varies across different types of smokers. Propane smokers offer easier temperature control, while pellet smokers provide consistent heat with automated pellet feeding.

Ditch the chip tray

A small chip tray typically has a small capacity, requiring frequent refilling with pellets or wood chips throughout the smoking process. This can be inconvenient and disrupt the smoking process.

For these reasons, smokers are now turning to alternative methods, such as pellet tubes or smoker boxes. These alternatives offer more consistent smoke and require less frequent attention while smoking food.

Compared to an electric smoker, a pellet smoker is less expensive and much easier to use. It requires less attention and provides frequent smoke.

Simply fill the tray with pellets (of the flavor you prefer), light them with a lighter or blowtorch, and apply heat for more than 30 seconds. The tray will do the rest. This ease of use makes pellet smokers a great option for both beginners and seasoned smokers.

Using a pellet tray can be less messy than a chip tray. Wood chips can be cumbersome to handle and clean up. In contrast, pellets used in smokers are cleaner and easier to manage.

Control your vent position

Controlling vent positions is not a significant challenge when using an electric smoker, but it can be a bit challenging with charcoal or wood smokers.

Most smokers are equipped with both top and bottom vents. The bottom vents control the amount of air entering the smoker, while the top vents manage the smoke exhaust. It’s advisable to start with the bottom vent partially open and adjust as needed. This initial setting helps prevent drastic temperature spikes.

Weather conditions like wind and temperature can affect how your smoker performs. These factors are more critical in charcoal grills than in electric grills. Be prepared to adjust vent positions in response to outside conditions.

Over time, you’ll develop an intuition for how your smoker behaves under various conditions. This understanding will guide you in making the right vent adjustments for different meats and recipes.


Whether the electric smoker vent open or closed is something that has no definitive answer. Instead, the answer is dependent and determined by the needs of the electric smoker and if you are looking to raise or lower the internal temperature. 

Preferably, the vents should remain open, but again, this is not a practice that should be observed at all times, but only sometimes!

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I open or close the vents on my smoker?

Usually, keep the smoke vents open, but if the fire gets too hot, close the vents, specifically the top vent, to restrict the airflow.

Do electric smokers have vents?

Yes, electric smokers are similar to other kinds of smokers and have two vents. One is located at the smoker’s bottom side, whereas the other is on the top. Both vents serve a specific function, and depending on it, they are kept open or closed.

When is a creosotes build-up created in a smoker?

Creosote build-up is created when the vents are completely closed, and no smoke can escape the smoker.

Why is meat tasting bitter?

The meat smoked in your grill tastes bitter because you had kept the vents completely closed when cooking, due to which there had been a production of creosote, which would have led to the meat tasting bitter.