Why Does My Electric Smoker Keep Tripping the Breaker

Why Does My Electric Smoker Keep Tripping the Breaker

Are wandering why does my electric smoker keep tripping the breaker? It’s a common problem, so don’t panic if it happens to your appliance. There’s normally a straightforward solution.

Electric smokers can trip your home’s GFCI breaker. However, these appliances require a fairly low wattage to operate. The average electric smoker uses around 750 watts which is significantly less than a standard kitchen oven. Therefore, they will only cause problems for a breaker if there’s some type of fault. 

Don’t forget, whatever model of electric smoker you’re working with, switch off the power supply before inspecting its elements.      

If you don’t have any knowledge of electrics and/or wiring systems, it’s best to consult a professional. Always behave responsibly when repairing faults in electric appliances. If you’re unsure, ask for help. 

Smokers that are operating correctly do not trip breakers because they don’t draw enough current to trigger the GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) safety mechanism and shut off power.  

So, the first step is checking around your home to make sure no other electrical device is responsible for the tripped GFCI breaker. 

Once you’re certain the smoker (and not another device or the electric socket) is the culprit, carefully check your appliance for faults. 

Moisture and rust are the biggest threats to outdoor smokers and the most common reason for repeatedly tripped electrics. 

Reasons for Electric Smoker Tripping Breaker

1 – Lack of Weatherproofing

If the circuit keeps tripping and there’s no other external cause, the issue may be with your electric smoker itself. 

In this case, it’s likely to be an issue with rust, moisture or another unwanted material inside the appliance. Unplug the smoker and inspect it thoroughly for rust patches, mold spots and/or food residues. 

Focus on the smoker’s heating element. Any substance that accumulates here can cause problems and electric faults. If you spot anything undesirable such as rust or mold, scrub it off with 00 steel wool. Then, try to use the device again. 

If there’s excess moisture on the appliance’s heating element, using a propane torch to eliminate water that’s trapped inside can be very effective. 

Dripping moisture within a heating element is probably the most common reason why an electric smoker might trip a home’s breaker. 

To avoid mold, rust and drips, protect your outdoor appliances with a weather protective cover or case. 

2 – Ground Faults

Ground faults are similar to GFCI circuit breaks in the sense both faults occur because the electrical current running through a device is excessive or uncontrolled. 

Where circuits automatically shut down (or ‘trip’) to neutralize unexpected fluctuations, ground faults unintentionally channel electricity into the ground.  

This makes them much more dangerous than common circuit breaks; various factors can combine to increase the likelihood of electrocution for whomever is standing near the malfunctioning appliance. 

Ground faults can be difficult to identify, but one indication you might be at risk is if you’ve eliminated all other possible faults and your smoker is still tripping the GFCI breaker. 

If you’ve thoroughly inspected your electric smoker (with the power off), checked all other plugged in devices for faults, and still can’t identify the cause of the breaker trips, keep the device unplugged until a qualified electrician can assess it. 

If you don’t already use a GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter), you should start immediately. 

These inexpensive gadgets monitor electricity flow to a powered device such as an outdoor smoker. 

When abnormal readings occur, they shut down the power in a preventative manner before a ground fault can develop. GFCIs can be bought for as little as $20 and should be considered essential for outdoor tools and appliances.         

If the GFCI breaker trips every time you plug your smoker in, the smoker itself may have a serious electrical fault. Cut off all power. 

Check the inside for rust and residues. If you can’t identify the problem, consult an electrician. Do not, under any circumstances, try to use the smoker without the GFCI for protection. 

3 – GFCI Overloads

There’s some disagreement over whether protective GFCI gadgets can become overloaded with too many plugged in devices. 

In theory, a high-quality surge protector should be able to handle multiple small-scale appliances. However, plugging two, three or even four appliances into a single GFCI outlet is similar to overcrowding an extension crowd. 

There will always be a slightly increased risk of electrical fires because the total wattage has been excessively amplified. 

Unless your GFCI breaker is old and worn, it’s unlikely to be causing your power trips. Then again, it’s an easy fault to test for and eliminating it helps you closer to the real explanation for the electrical trips. 

To test the functionality of your GFCI, simply use it with another device that’s not your electric smoker. 

If it malfunctions with other appliances, the GFCI might be to blame and not your outdoor appliance. If you have or can get a new one, try it with the smoker to see if things go more smoothly.   

Top 10 Safest Electric Smokers

Smoker ModelWattageCapacityDimensionsMaterialsFeatures
Masterbuilt MB200702101,500 watts536 sq. in.21″W x 40″H x 20″DSteel, chrome coated wire*Auto heat regulation
*Simple analog controls
Masterbuilt MB200753151,200 watts975 sq. in.25″W x 40.15″H x 20.07″DDouble walled steel, chrome coated wire*Precision temp control dial
*Double insulated for fuel efficiency
Cuisinart COS-330 Electric1,500 watts548 sq. in.22″W x 37.5″H x 19″DSteel, chrome coated wire*Tight door seal
*Sturdy carrying handles
Char-broil Analog Electric Smoker1,000 watts544 sq. in.20.17″W x 33.46″H x 14.96″DDouble walled steel, chrome plated wire*Dual door latches
*Dual exhaust ports for optimum airflow
Masterbuilt Bluetooth Smart Digital Smoker1,200 watts975 sq. in.50.39”H x 27.36”W x 22.04”DDouble walled steel, chrome coated wire*Built in wheels
*Bluetooth compatible
Dyna-Glo Electric Smoker1,000 watts732 sq. in.32.5”H x 19.4”W x 19”Steel, chrome coated steel*Double door to monimise heat loss
*Bluetooth connectivity
Bradley Digital 4 Rack Smoker500 watts520 sq. in.17”W x 14”D x 31”HStainless steel, coated wire*Auto off feature
*Control with smartphone app
Masterbuilt Patio 2 Portable Smoker1,400 watts280 sq. in.23”H x 23”W x 16”DChrome coated wire*Folding legs for portability
*Built in temp gauge
Smokehouse Big Chief Electric450 watts576 sq. in.24.5”H x 18”W x 12”DAluminum, chrome plated wire*Ideal for cold smoking
*Rust resistant body
Smokin’ It Model #2800 watts1,247 sq. in.28.25”H x 17”W x 20.5”DDouble walled 18-gauge stainless steel, fiberglass*NES certified
*Rust resistant steel grates

How Do I Find Out Why My Breaker Keeps Tripping

This next section outlines troubleshooting techniques you can use to diagnose a smoker that keeps tripping your circuit breaker. 

If you check all of these things and still can’t identify the problem, consider consulting an electrician. You should certainly unplug and cease using the appliance if there’s any chance of a ground fault. 

Unless there’s reason to suspect your GFCI is faulty in some way, continue to use it in conjunction with your electric smoker. 

If there is a ground fault, it will protect you from dangerous surges by shutting off the power.    

1 – Check the Outlet

The first step is making sure your electric smoker is plugged in correctly. Is it sharing a GFCI outlet with any other high wattage appliances? Have you experienced problems with this particular socket before? 

2 – Inspect the Smoking Container

Unplug the smoker from the socket. Make sure it is not receiving power before you begin messing around with parts and components. Check its interior cooking chambers for signs of rust, mold, excessive moisture or grease.  

If the electric smoker is brand new and this is your first time trying it, check for residues accumulated during packaging and transport. 

It’s important for brand new smokers to be seasoned before use as it significantly decreases the chance of rust spots developing later in the appliance’s life. 

Seasoning is a simple process that involves cleaning the new smoker with soap and water, then, spraying or wiping its interior with a high smoke cooking oil such as canola. 

Leaving the empty water pan in place, open the smoker’s vent, set it to max temperature and leave it running for three to four hours. 

This will protect the interior from rust and burn away any unwanted manufacturing chemicals 

3 – Look for Signs of Wear and Tear

Now, look carefully at the exterior of your smoker for any signs of rust, wear and corrosion. Check the condition of its power cable. 

Keep your eye out for frayed wiring or rust spots on or around the heating element. If moisture gets into the heating element, it can trip the GFCI breaker.    

If the GFCI makes a popping sound when you use it, try plugging your smoker into another outlet to see if the problem recurs. Plug in different appliances to see if they also trip the breaker.

4 – Test the Heating Element

When the electric smoker is turned on, does its heating element work properly? Does the smoker heat up reasonably quickly? 

In some rare cases, a heating element gets dislodged during transport and needs to be adjusted. If this is the case, your appliance might have to go back to its manufacturer for repairs. 

As all the best electric smokers come with robust warranties, getting the heating element tweaked should not cost you any extra. Remember to check the user manual first to see if there’s an easier solution.  

5 – Check the Smoker’s Wattage

It’s unlikely a fully functioning smoker is pulling too much electricity for a standard outlet to handle, however, it’s not an impossibility. 

It’s certainly worth checking the wattage and comparing it with your outlets. The average American wall outlet can tolerate 15 amps, or 15 amps * 120 Volts = 1800 watts. 

Only the most heavy-duty smokers come close to pulling this amount of wattage. Unless you’re sure that such a high wattage is normal for your model, a reading of more than 1,600 watts should be treated as suspicious as it would usually indicate a fault. 

Is It Dangerous If My Circuit Breaker Keeps Tripping

The reason a circuit breaker repeatedly trips when powering an electric smoker or any other appliance is because something potentially dangerous is occurring. 

The purpose of a circuit breaker, whether it’s part of your home’s power control center or an individual GFCI outlet device, is to shut down. The loss of power is not a malfunction of the system. It’s what contemporary circuits are designed to do. 

Provided your circuit breaker is operating correctly and shutting down the power when dangerous fluctuations occur, you’re not in any great danger. 

Unfortunately, the risk is reactivated as soon as you turn the power back on. So, your circuit breaker might just trip a second time, and a third, and continue tripping until you identify the source of the problem.   

If an electric smoker continually trips your home’s breaker, you’re being protected from a fault that needs addressing. Avoid using the appliance while you inspect it for problems and determine the correct solution. 

The danger starts to become more significant if you keep using the smoker despite these warning signs. You may put yourself at risk of electrocution. 

When resetting your circuit breaker at the mains, stand to the side of the panel rather than directly in front of it. Arc flashes are very rare in residential buildings, but they can occur. 

Standing to the side with your eyes facing away will protect you in the rare event an arc flash emits a dangerously bright light. 

The most important thing to remember is that something being used in your home – possibly your electric smoker – is malfunctioning and must be repaired before additional damage is caused to it or the mains panel. 

Ultimately, the circuit trips are a symptom. They’re being triggered by an undetected issue (such as rust) that may be reducing the functionality and lifespan of your smoker. 

Maintenance Tips For Your Masterbuilt Electric Smoker To Prevent Tripping Breaker

Masterbuilt manufactures some of the top selling electric smokers produced anywhere in the world. The brand is highly respected and offers a wide range of appliances from the smallest portable smokers to the heftiest heavy-duty machines for use in commercial kitchens. 

Due to their superior build quality, Masterbuilt smokers rarely break down and faults are often related to poor maintenance. 

Taking good care of your electric smoker is the first step to preventing pesky circuit trips. Use these simple tips and tricks to make sure you’re caring for your Masterbuilt in the right way. 

1 – Allow To Cool Fully

Impatience is at the root of many accidents. Regardless of how long it takes, you must allow your electric smoker to cool fully before attempting to move it. 

When you’re done cooking, unplug the appliance from its socket. Open the door to allow fumes and odors to escape.

Top Tip: Unplugging a smoker immediately after cooking helps it to cool faster, as well as reducing the risk of phantom currents and electrical fires.    

2 – Cover Outdoor Appliances

To protect that shiny new Masterbuilt smoker and extend its life as far as possible, make weather proofing a top priority. 

Harsh sunlight, wind and rain can cause havoc with metal exteriors leading to rust patches and faulty heating elements that mess with your GFCI breakers. 

If left exposed to the air, even the sturdiest stainless-steel smoker will corrode eventually. 

Top Tip: If you can afford to buy a high-quality nylon cover for your Masterbuilt, start using one right away. Alternatively, you could use a weather resistant tarpaulin or heavy insulation blanket. 

3 – Season Your New Masterbuilt

Seasoning is part and parcel of being a true smoking enthusiast. It’s a simple process that protects a smoker’s interior chambers from rust and ensures any toxic residues left over from manufacturing gets burned away safely. 

You do not want these residues to transfer to your barbecue so don’t forget to season before you begin using the smoker to cook meat. 

Top Tip: Regular seasoning is recommended by smoking pros as one of the best ways to prolong a Masterbuilt’s lifespan. Depending on how often you use your smoker, season with cooking oil once every three to six months. 

4 – Use Aluminum Foil Carefully

Some manufacturers advise against using aluminum foil wraps for cooking. It’s because too much aluminum can obstruct air flow, reduce the amount of smoke during cooking and even increase the chance of fires. 

However, it isn’t the aluminum itself that’s the problem but its positioning in the smoker. Tightly wrapped meats should not be a problem provided the aluminum is not touching the sides of the chamber. 

Top Tip: Try to avoid wrapping your smoker’s racks and trays in foil. Yes, it makes cleaning easier, but it can also obstruct airflow and affect the way your meat cooks.  

5 – Clean With Soap and Water

Opinions differ as to whether specially designed detergents are a good idea for electric smokers. When using anything but soap and water for cleaning, there’s a slight risk of fumes and chemical residues that may transfer to your next meal. 

Depending on what chemicals a detergent contains, there may also be a fire risk. 

Top Tip: For safety, use a mild soap and water solution for cleaning your Masterbuilt. Warm water, regular dish soap and a grill brush should be all you need to keep it in tip top condition.  

Why Does My Masterbuilt Smoke Hollow Keep Tripping the Breaker

Masterbuilt and Smoke Hollow are two highly regarded smoker manufacturers that have collaborated on some superb products including the Masterbuilt Smoke-Hollow 30162E and Masterbuilt Smoke-Hollow SH19079518

These appliances are ideal for outdoor smoking as they have robust weather proofing, fully adjustable temperature controls and double walled, chrome plated cooking grates.

Here are some quick and dirty tips you can use to figure out a malfunctioning Masterbuilt Smoke-Hollow. 

1 – Use the Reset Button

One quick tip is to activate the appliance’s reset function. You don’t want to do this during cooking so it’s a last resort to be used when adjusting the temperature or smoke settings doesn’t work. 

Hard resets can sometimes fix uncontrolled beeping, error messages on the digital display and/or an unexpected loss of power. 

Top Tip: Some Masterbuilt Smoke-Hollow appliances lack a clearly labelled reset button. However, you can trigger this function by holding down the clear button on the panel for five seconds. It should take the smoker back to a default state.  

2 – Shut Off the Display

Some Masterbuilt Smoke-Hollow appliances cannot be reset while there’s an error message flashing on the digital display. 

This error message may be accompanied by a warning beep. Make both stop by switching the digital display off first. Then, you should be able to reset your smoker using the method outlined above.  

3 – Clean the Heating Element

Sometimes, power outages are a symptom of overheating caused by accumulated residues inside the smoker. If your Masterbuilt Smoke-Hollow powers down after struggling with temperature control, it may need to be cleaned. 

Top Tip: Inspect the smoker’s heating element carefully before attempting to clean it. What appears to be the problem? Is it food residues, leftover oils or an excess of moisture? In any case, do not wet the heating element any further. If it’s grimy, use a dry grill brush or 00 steel wool to abrade and dislodge the dirt.  

Helpful Tips to Know Why Does My Electric Smoker Keep Tripping the Breaker

  • Check the smoker is plugged in correctly. 
  • Check the outlet/socket for signs of damage (odors, sparks, etc). 
  • Inspect the (unplugged) smoker for signs of rust, mold and food residues.
  • Season your electric smoker if it’s new and you haven’t already. 
  • Inspect the heating element for signs of damage/excessive moisture
  • Look for frayed cables or any sign water is getting inside the smoker. 
  • Try plugging your smoker into a different outlet. 
  • Confirm the smoker’s wattage is suitable for its outlet. 
  • Try activating a hard rest of the appliance. 

Final Thoughts

We started this article with a very simple question: why does my electric smoker keep tripping the breaker? While the answer isn’t always straightforward and there may be multiple steps to arrive at a solution, power outages must be addressed promptly. 

Whether you’re using a Masterbuilt electric smoker or another popular brand, repeated circuit breaks are a warning. 

They’re telling you something is wrong, and the appliance cannot be operated in a safe manner. If you encounter this problem, we hope you’ll use the tips in this article to troubleshoot and hunt down a long-term solution.

Drew Thomas

My name is Drew Thomas and I’m the creator of Fun In the Yard, your one stop site for all your outdoor games, sports, party activities, outdoor gear, and lawn & gardening tips.

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