Header Image
Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
Bottom line
Best of the Best
Ivation Electric Charcoal Starter
Electric Charcoal Starter
Check Price
Bottom Line

This tool is a great size and the amount of power it has will start any grill with ease.


The double-ringed design makes it easy to sit in the grill while also making it wide enough to heat all the pieces. The back of the handle has a clip that allows it to stay inside the grill without having to be held onto.


Can take a little bit longer to heat up larger grills.

Best Bang for the Buck
Char-Broil Electric Charcoal Starter
Electric Charcoal Starter
Check Price
Simple Yet Solid
Bottom Line

Heats fast with 550 watts of power in a small but effective device.


Small enough to fit nicely inside a charcoal chimney. Will have small amounts of coals burning more quickly than some other options. Very good price. Heat-safe handle is larger than some others.


Heating element is a little small, so it works better with small amounts. Power cord is short.

Looftlighter 60-Second Charcoal Lighter
60-Second Charcoal Lighter
Check Price
Best for Everyday Use
Bottom Line

This model's powerfully hot airstream ignites coals in approximately 60 seconds.


Boasts a quality construction with an extra-long base and a sturdy handle. The blow torch-style operation makes it one of the fastest options available.


Some reports of aluminum cover melting off. Lighting mechanism stopped working within a year for some. Must hold down button entire time.

GGC Charcoal Fire Starter
Charcoal Fire Starter
Check Price
Most Eco-friendly
Bottom Line

This a quick-to-start option that will heat coals without lighter fluid.


Quick to heat up even in colder weather. Can heat a grill without the use of gas or lighter fluid. The on/off switch allows it to be plugged in without heat. The hook on the back allows it to reach deep inside your grill.


The straight design will sometimes cause the grill to heat unevenly.

HomeRight Electro-Torch
Check Price
Easiest to Use
Bottom Line

A great torch design with multiple temperature settings to heat your grill efficiently.


The dual ignition switch allows for lower or higher temperature ranges for your grill. Heats up to 1,500 degrees. The hot air setting heats up surprisingly quick. An affordable option for this type of tool.


The heater section is on the smaller side, making it impossible to leave in the grill.


We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.

Category cover

Buying guide for Best electric charcoal starters

If grilling and barbecuing are your favorite summer pastimes, chances are you’re well on your way to becoming a pitmaster. Nothing beats a savory meal cooked on a charcoal grill, so you and your guests likely count every minute until mealtime. If you’re ready to speed up your grilling, an electric charcoal starter is an essential cooking accessory.

Electric charcoal starters ignite a fire without the use of any chemicals or flames. Instead, they have a stainless steel heating element that sits in a charcoal pyramid and gets the fire going in less than ten minutes. All you need to do is plug it in and let it sit there. Once your charcoal is lit, simply use the heating element to even out the flame and you’re done. After that, unplug your electric charcoal starter and let it cool down.

Content Image
If you don’t have a cooling base for your electric charcoal starter, rest it on its lip away from your body on a grill shelf or somewhere out of the way. Avoid placing it on the patio or sidewalk so people and pets won’t accidentally touch it while it’s still hot.

Key considerations

Why choose an electric charcoal starter?

Besides serving as devices that kick-start your grilling session, electric charcoal starters come with plenty of other benefits.

Economical: An electric charcoal starter is an economical choice for the frequent griller. Lighter fluid gets expensive, and if you run out, it could put a damper on your meal plans. With a starter, it’s a one-time investment that pays for itself after a handful of uses.

Eco-friendly: Electric charcoal starters are also an environmentally friendly alternative to lighter fluid. They don’t utilize harmful chemicals or emit any into the atmosphere because the heating element comes into direct contact with the charcoal.

Better taste: You’ll also notice a lack of the aftertaste that is sometimes evident in food cooked using lighter fluid.

Safe: Electric charcoal starters also reduce fire hazards because you aren’t squirting lighter fluid all over the place, and you avoid the unpredictability of open flames.

How it works

An electric charcoal starter includes a heat-resistant handle, metal neck, and stainless steel heating element. To ignite the charcoal, plug in the starter and stack the charcoal in an even, concentrated pile. Place the heating element on top of the pile and cover it with another well-distributed stack of charcoal. Within minutes, you’ll have a flame going, at which time you can redistribute the charcoal around the grill and remove the starter. Close the grill lid and let it reach the optimal temperature for cooking.

Electric charcoal starter features


An electric charcoal starter is a relatively basic device that contains an internal electrical component, a stainless steel heating element, and a heat-resistant handle. The stainless steel heating element holds up to frequent heating and evenly distributes heat along its loops. The heat-resistant handle is made with commercial-grade plastic and is usually at least six inches long. Most have some grooves or ridges to improve your grip for a safe and secure hold.

Heating time

One of the main considerations when choosing an electric charcoal starter is the heating time. On average, they take between eight and ten minutes to ignite the charcoal. If that’s not fast enough for your grilling needs, there are some rapid-heating models available that ignite in between two and six minutes. They’re designed with multiple coils so their heating elements maximize their contact points. The more contact points, the quicker the charcoal pyramid can heat up. 

Base or stand

After igniting your charcoal, your starter needs to cool down, which is why some premium models come equipped with a base or detachable stand. A stand holds the starter either upright or at an angle. This is an essential feature worth looking for from both practicality and safety perspectives. A base or stand keeps the heating element away from wood, plastic, or other flammable surfaces and helps avoid situations in which children, adults, and pets could accidentally come into contact with the hot metal.


Perhaps the main concern consumers have with electric charcoal starters is the short cord length. On average, the cord is only about five feet long, and while that’s a generous length for most other electrical devices, it seems inadequate in a starter. For one, you’re most likely using it outside where it can be hard to locate an outlet that’s close to your grill. As a result, most people end up getting an extension cord at the same time as their electric charcoal starter.

Electric charcoal starter prices

Electric charcoal starters cost between $10 and $80, so it’s an ideal investment if grilling or barbecuing is a regular activity.


At the low end, between $10 and $20, most of the starters have an oval heating element and a relatively short neck and handle.


Starters priced between $20 and $40 have an extended neck that adds considerable space between the heating element and the handle. Many also have a double-looped heating element that heats briquettes more efficiently.


At the high end of the range, between $40 and $80, are electric charcoal starters that heat more quickly than other models, particularly the torch styles in this range.


  • Keep old T-shirts and towels handy. Since you only need to wipe down the heating element, old T-shirts and towels are soft enough to not damage the surface.
  • Seek medical attention for burns. If you sustain a burn from the heating element, seek medical attention immediately. Burns are serious injuries that should be treated by a medical professional.
  • Don’t throw out the box. Electric charcoal starters have a weird shape, so storing one can be awkward. Storing it in the box is a convenient solution.
  • Add one to your registry. If you and your betrothed enjoy grilling, add an electric charcoal starter to your registry. It’s a practical and budget-friendly gift nearly every guest can afford.
  • Give as a gift. If you’re attending a cookout, give the host an electric charcoal starter. It will be greatly appreciated and could expedite mealtime.
Content Image
Avoid burns and injuries by holding the handle toward the very end of the base farthest from the heating element. Even if there is a lip that separates the two, it’s usually made of metal and heats up as well.


Q. My electric charcoal starter takes too long to light the charcoal. What are my options?
Assuming your starter isn’t defective, double-check the expected heat time to make sure your  expectations are realistic. You should also examine whether your briquettes are properly stacked on and around the starter. Sometimes suboptimal placement makes heating take much longer than necessary. If you’re just not a fan of waiting for the flame, consider getting a rapid-starting model to speed things up.

Q. How do I clean my electric charcoal starter?
First and foremost, only attempt to clean the starter when it is completely cool. As far as cleaning goes, most starters can be wiped clean and returned to the box or stored indoors with your other electric appliances. There’s no need to use harsh chemicals or abrasive scrubbing, so for the most part, electric charcoal starters are low-mess, low-maintenance devices.

Our Top Picks