Lighting charcoal can often be a daunting task. The wait time, the messy ash, and the occasional toe burn. Not to mention it can get expensive over time with all these extra accessories.
Although I prefer charcoal over gas and electric grill, I can see why people often go for the latters. They’re convenient. Turn a knob and you’re cooking.
But there is one firestarter that can get your charcoal lit FAST, CLEAN, and SAFE. This article is a Looftlighter review. Let’s get started with the unboxing, shall we?
The LOOFTlighter is an invention of Richard LOOFT – a Swedish native. It was created out of a frustrating incident with lighter fluid he had back in 1997. That day, Richard literally threw away his chemical-flavored chicken that he just spent hours smoking for his daughter’s birthday party. He ordered pizza instead.
A hybrid between a vacuum cleaner and a bread toaster (or a hairdryer on STEROIDS), the Looftlighter is all about its ability to ignite charcoal, woods, and pellets within 60 seconds. In fact, Richard says that using the Looftlighter is the fastest, safest, and cleanest way to start your charcoal grill. No gas, no flame, and no need for lighter fluids.
The Looftlighter comes in an orange box with plenty of images and information. It’s sturdy and well-packaging so that the lighter doesn’t get damaged during transit. The manufacturer obviously puts some effort into presenting their product to the end consumers.
Inside, you’ll find the usual user manual, a leaflet with step-by-step instructions, and the Looftlighter itself. The tool feels substantial yet well-balanced. You have to plug it in to use and it comes with 9.8 feet of cord.
The Looftlighter is about 17.8 inches long and 2.6 inches wide. It weighs around 2.6 lbs and can produce heat up to 1100F/600C. It has two versions. The 110V/1500W is for the US while the 220V/1800V is for Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.
That’s the unboxing of the Looftlighter. If you cook with charcoal regularly, either lump or briquettes, you should definitely consider this tool. So keep on reading for the full Looftlighter review. But before I get into it, here is a brief summary of its pros and cons.
- Light charcoal faster than traditional methods
- No dangerous flame
- No chemical taste
- Simple to use with only one button
- Cost-effective in the long run
- Needs an outlet
- Can’t use or expose it to the elements
- Maybe hard to use in the dark
- Will blow ash all over the place if you have ash leftover in the grill
The Looftlighter Review
Design & Build Quality
The Looftlighter has three parts – heating element (A), fan (B), and cord (C).
There is a perforated aluminum casing that protects the heating element from damages such as dropping. It also prevents the core from overheating too fast by allowing more air to flow through. Furthermore, the tip of the casing can get extremely hot after each use but it cools down rather quickly due to the perforation.
Now, one of the biggest complaints about the Looftlighter is that the tip of the casing tends to melt if you bury it in the glowing charcoal for too long. Luckily, the melting nozzle won’t affect the functionality of the Looftlighter but the aesthetic look of it. However, it isn’t covered under warranty so that is something to keep in mind.
Moving on to the fan component. It’s located somewhere in between the aluminum shield and the black plastic end. This is where all the action takes place. By pressing the button on the top side of the Looftlighter, you’ll activate the fan as well as the heating element.
As a result, the fan generates a stream of air through the heating element, which heats up the air as it passes through. What you end up with is a super-heated air to ignite your charcoal.
By the way, you gotta keep holding the button when in use. Otherwise, it will automatically turn off the Looftlighter. For some people, it is definitely a safety feature. For others, it’s a hassle since there is no locking mechanism in place.
However, the button is placed where the thumb can conveniently hold down for a long time. It also feels light to press on and is protected by a layer of rubber.
Now, there is a metal tab on the underside of the Looftlighter. It has several benefits. You can rest the lighter on its side to prevent the hot nozzle from falling over and touching the surface it’s on after each use (the hot nozzle can burn down your table).
You can also hook the lighter onto something using the same tab. The final thing it can do is to act as a bottle opener. A nice little touch there!
The last part of the Looftlighter is the cord. It’s thick and heavy-duty compared to other cheaper electric starters. As mentioned above, the cord is about 9.8 feet but that might not be long enough for some. You can always use an extension cord if needed.
That being said, the most important design feature of the Looftlighter is its length. Unlike the shorter traditional heat gun, this allows you to light your charcoal without any BBQ gloves. You’re still welcome to use your gloves but your hand will be far away from the hot glowing coals.
And even if the Looftlighter is a hairdryer on steroids, it doesn’t sound too loud (like a propane torch) that your neighbor will complain but not quiet either. Its noise falls somewhere in between.
Despite some of its shortcomings like the melting nozzle, the Looftlighter is a solid and well-designed tool.
Maintenance & Care
According to the user manual, always make sure that the perforated holes along the aluminum casing are clean. When cleaning it, refrain from using detergent. Wiping it down with a damp cloth will do.
You also have to store the tool inside and keep it out of the elements, especially during the wintertime. It doesn’t really like moisture and corrosion. And that’s pretty much everything. The Looftlighter requires very little maintenance.
Ah! Before I forget, one more thing to pay attention to is remembering to pull the nozzle away the moment the charcoal starts to spark or glow. This will prevent the melting nozzle problem discussed earlier, which is not covered under the warranty.
Warranty & Support
Speaking of warranty, if you bought the Looftligther before 2018, you would only get a 2-year warranty. However, if you bought it in 2018 and after, you would get an extended 3-year warranty, given that you have to register your purchase as well. Now, the company only offers replacement, not repair, for any broken Looftlighter you send back.
If you need any support, you can email and call Looft via a toll-free US number and a Swedish one. Their website is simple and easy to navigate so it isn’t difficult to find that information. They also have an active Instagram and Facebook account so you can interact with the company there as well.
Looft does have a Youtube channel but not much has been posted at the time of this writing.
The Looftlighter is indeed very simple to use. You just point the nozzle and press a button. However, there is no locking mechanism on this device so you do have to hold the button and stand there.
Not to mention that it only ignites one spot of the charcoal pile. That means you have to light other spots if you want to speed up the process. Otherwise, you have to stir the coals and wait until everything is lit.
That said, it is still faster than other methods such as using a charcoal chimney or firestarter cubes. Though you can set and forget with the latter methods.
Another great thing about the Looftlighter is that there is no flame coming out of it. Just extremely hot air. That certainly reduces any fire hazard associated with charcoal grilling.
Now, keep in mind that the device only has one speed. It also doesn’t have an extra only-fan or different heat mode. Sometimes, an only-fan mode would be nice just to stoke the fire.
All in all, the Looftlighter is quick, easy to use, and safe for everybody.
Cost Per Use
The cost per use of the Looftlighter is lower than other charcoal lighting methods. In other words, using the Looftlighter is more cost-effective in the long run.
Although the device costs quite a bit, it will slowly pay for itself the more you use it. If you add up the cost of your firestarter cubes, butane, and lighter fluid (Oh, God forbid!) per year, it’s actually more expensive than the Looftlighter itself.
Also don’t forget that you can do a lot more with the Looftlighter besides igniting charcoal. You can light your fireplace, roast peppers, and toast buns. Hell, you can even sear some mean steaks or caramelize sugar on creme brulee. A truly versatile tool!
I like the fact that the Looftlighter saves me a lot of time, especially during the weekdays after work. I can just light a couple of spots around my charcoal pile. And voila! I’m ready to cook in 10 minutes.
Another thing is that it’s very easy to use the Looftlighter. It also cools down really quickly. The device requires almost zero maintenance. And I can use it for many purposes.
It’s also safe and chemical-free. I don’t have to deal with newspaper ash floating around when lighting with the charcoal chimney or the smoke from firestarter cubes if they don’t catch on fire properly. The device is also long enough that my hand won’t be near the hot glowing coals.
Lastly, I can pre-arrange my charcoal pile before lighting it. For example, I can set up the Minion method and ignite only the top coals. Or the Charcoal Snake and light one end of it using the Looftlighter. It’s also convenient that I don’t have to transfer any hot coals from my charcoal chimney to the grill.
Any Future Improvements?
Hopefully, Looft will come up with some sort of water-proof casing so we can use the Looftlighter under the rain. Also maybe an universal version that supports the voltage ranging from 110V to 220V.
Another improvement is to offer an extra fan-only mode. That will help get the coals going faster and blow any leftover ash down to the ash catcher.
The last, and most important, thing is a portable version so we can take the Looftlighter camping or tailgating. As a matter of fact, the company is working on the release of the Looftlighter X at the time of this writing. It’s cordless, bigger, and meaner than its predecessor.
It will be coming out in the near future so check back this page for more information. That said, here is a demo video of the Looftlighter X by Richard himself.
If you’re still not convinced that the Looftlighter is right for you, here are some alternatives that you might want to check out.
HomeRight Electro-Torch C900085
The HomeRight Electro-Torch is very similar to the Looftlighter in terms of design. Same thickness and feel though a wee shorter. The power cord is also shorter, at around 6 feet (vs 9.8 feet). And only a 2-year warranty for the whole shebang.
Now, the Electro-Torch actually has two modes. One for super-heated air just like the Looftlighter. The other one for high-velocity air to fan the fire, which is a feature that the Looftlighter doesn’t have.
That said, you still have to hold on to the button. And the melting of the nozzle is still a problem for the Electro-Torch if you bury it in the hot coals for too long.
The HomeRight Electro-Torch is cheaper than the Looftlighter. It’s great for someone who wants something similar to the Looftlighter, but with the extra fan-only mode and at a lower price tag.
Black & Decker Heat Gun HG1300
This is your traditional heat gun from any local hardware store. It’s significantly shorter than the Looftlighter and the Electro-Torch. As a result, your hand will be very close to the hot coals so wearing gloves is recommended here.
It’s also considerably cheaper than those two previous options. It has two temperature settings (no fan-only mode). The max temp is also lower so it might take longer to light charcoal. You don’t have to hold on to the button though.
All in all, the traditional heat gun still gets the job done. It’s an excellent choice for those who want the best bang for their buck and a tool that they’re already familiar with.
The Black & Decker HG1300 is the one that I use.
Should You Buy The Looftlighter?
I would highly recommend the Looftlighter to anyone who wants a quick and clean way to start their charcoal. You don’t have to wait around like other lighting methods. 10 minutes in and you’re ready to rock n roll.
The tool is easy and safe to use. You just press a button and magic happens. It’s also long enough that you don’t worry about the hot burning coals. Although it’s a bit expensive, you end up saving money in the long run.
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I hope you find this Looftlighter review useful. If you have any questions, please feel free to add your comment.