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Rec Tec Vs Traeger: Who Comes Out On Top?

by Lianne Jones February 22, 2022

Rec Tec Vs Traeger: Who Comes Out On Top?

Are you looking for the perfect outdoor cooking system? If so, then you might want to consider buying a Rec Tec or Traeger.

Both brands offer high-quality models at affordable prices. But which one is the better brand? And which should you purchase? 

Although they are both high-quality brands, they differ in terms of design, functionality, and performance. So let’s take a closer look at these two top-selling brands.

Traeger created the pellet grill and is probably still the market leader in the business. Rec-Tec is a relative newcomer to the market, yet it creates high-quality products that have garnered a sizable following.

Which of the two pellet grills is best in terms of performance? How do they compare? Which one is the best fit for you?

All of these points are discussed in further detail below.

By the time you're done, you'll have a better idea of which brand is a good fit for you. Let’s get straight into it and look at the different qualities and components of these grills!

Construction

With Rec-Tec and Traeger, you can be certain of high-quality craftsmanship at an affordable price.

Your smoker is constructed of durable components, strong welds, and a snug fit, resulting in a durable smoker that successfully holds smoke and heat.

However, there’s a small variance in the materials that are used in the construction of the buildings.

Designed for optimum performance, Traeger pellet grills are constructed of a blend of powder-coated steel along with porcelain-coated grates that can be found on the inside.

This mid-range model, the Ironwood, has double sidewall insulation, which enhances heat retention and reduces cooling costs.

As the company's highest-end model, the Timberline has upgraded and improved stainless steel grates, as well as a double-walled barrel with a stainless steel interior that is completely shielded from the elements.

There are a lot of high-quality options available to suit a wide range of price ranges.

When you buy with Rec Tec, you will get stainless steel components that are ready to use right away. In all their products, they are utilizing around 20% stainless steel, which includes stainless steel grates, firepots, heat deflectors, and drip pans, among other things.

However, they are not insulated, in contrast to certain Traeger models. For the RT-700, an insulating blanket is offered, but it is not required.

If you live in a colder climate but still love smoking your food outdoors you will need a blanket for your Traeger Pro series grilling machine.

The bottom line is that both Rec-Tec and Traeger manufacture items of high quality.

Its stainless steel construction assures that Rec Tec's whole range will survive in the most demanding of environments though, making this brand the winner of this category.

Cooking Space

The amount of cooking space you want will depend on what you're cooking and how many people you're cooking for, as well as how much space you have beneath the cover.

If you're cooking for a large family of six or if your cut of choice is 15-pound briskets, you'll need a great amount of room to prepare your meal.

Most Rec-Tec grills have primary cooking surfaces that are 702, 592, and 340 square inches in size.

But what does that mean in terms of food? 

In terms of capacity, the smallest of the three could accommodate a full-size turkey, three racks of ribs, or nearly a dozen burgers, depending on their size.

Each grill is also fitted with a retractable second shelf, which increases the overall surface area by about 200 to 300 square inches per grill.

Traeger grills, which employ a similar size scheme, have a model number that corresponds to the size of the cooking zone on the grill. The difference is that Traeger's sizes take into account the additional shelves that can be added.

Grills in the 572, 780, 650, 885, 850, and 1300 series are available, with the 1300 model being the most costly.

Note that this applies to both the primary and secondary grates, as well as the third grate in the case of Timberline grills and that this does not apply to the rotisserie burner.

While you might need to do some math to work out the principal cooking surface size on a Traeger's grill, there is an impressive range of sizes to choose from! It’s worth considering if you are happy to do the math when choosing between the brands. 

You should keep in mind that to receive their largest capacity grills, you will also need to pay for a variety of extra features. Each of the three sizes of Rec Tec does not require any extra purchases to add more space. 

In terms of who wins in this category, it seems fair to make it another draw. Both have pros and cons that may make you prefer one over the other, but in terms of size, they offer the same thing. 

Temperature Range

While it depends on the model that you buy, most of the Rec-Tec sold have a temperature range of 200F to 500F, which is the current industry standard.

By twisting the dial on the smokers, you may adjust the temperature in 5-degree increments until you reach your ideal setting.

Additionally, a "FULL" setting will raise the water temperature to about 500 degrees Fahrenheit.

The Traeger Pro Series devices can achieve temperatures of up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit, while other models can reach temperatures of up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.

All devices have a temperature setting of 165 degrees Fahrenheit as their lowest level.

Are these temperatures hot enough to sear meat though? Many BBQ and smoker experts say that searing on a pellet grill is impossible, but both Rec-Tec and Treager seem to disagree. 

If the heat is supplied directly to the grill, all Traeger and Rec Tec Grills can generate temperatures high enough to sear the meat. Unfortunately, this is not how pellet grills usually work.

Cooking on wood pellet grills is accomplished through the use of indirect heat. This is the reason why they can smoke and roast for hours on end without catching fire.

Both Rec-Tec and Traeger have released demo videos that aim to prove that you can sear a steak on their pellet grills.

The way they do this though is not the "correct" way to sear a steak, rather it is the only way that they can do this on their grills. 

To sear meat on a pellet grill, they raise the temperature to its maximum setting, let the grate heat up, and then place the meat directly on it. As opposed to searing the steak, what they are doing is branding it.

To sear, you must apply direct, even heat to the whole surface of the food.

If you're trying to sear something on a pellet grill, place a pan on top of the hot grill grate and allow it to absorb a lot of heat. Then add your meat, cooking it until it sizzles!

While no smoker from either brand can properly sear your meat, their huge temperature ranges mean that you can do all the essential BBQ and smoking methods and so much more. 

But who wins in this category? While it was close to being another draw, Traeger has just pulled ahead in this one.

This is because their smokers feature an ultra-low smoke option that may be more useful to you in certain cooking situations. 

Temperature Control

Having good control of the temperature is one of the most important aspects of being a good grill master.

To get and maintain consistent temperatures, the equipment must be made properly so that it is easy to change the temperatures and keep the heat in the grill. 

Traeger and Rec Tec have temperature control capabilities that are well ahead of the curve in terms of technological breakthroughs.

The temperature management and monitoring capabilities on each model are superb, and they are designed to make the process as simple as possible for you while you are preparing your meal.

A computerized temperature panel, as well as a means for controlling the grill, are included with every Traeger barbecue.

With its simple operation and incredible clarity, the digital interface is ideal for grilling at night or at any other time when lighting conditions are less than ideal.

Because many of their equipment is equipped with their WiFIRE technology, you can monitor and make changes to your grill from anywhere in the world, thanks to the Traeger mobile app.

You can use your smartphone to manage the grill temperature, check the internal temperature of the meat, and add smoke to the dinner, all from the comfort of your home.

It's quite remarkable since it eliminates a significant amount of the guesswork and pain that are often associated with controlling temperature settings.

Rec Tec provides qualities that are quite similar to those of Traeger in this respect. In addition, their grills are fitted with a built-in digital temperature display as well as WiFi connectivity for added convenience. 

Download their app and you'll be able to operate your grill from virtually any location in the world. You can also keep an eye on your meals and adjust the temperature if necessary thanks to the convenience of your mobile phone.

Rec Tec and Traeger are locked in a heated competition over temperature management.

In this circumstance, you really can't choose between the two brands because they both provide great technology and capabilities when it comes to this aspect of smoking and grilling.

Hopper Size

The Traeger grills have hoppers with capacities ranging from 18, 20, and 24 pounds. With Rec-Tec grills, most of their units have hoppers that can store either 20, 30, or 40 pounds of pellets.

Given the fact that pellets are marketed in 20-pound bags, it is a bit of a wonder why anybody would want to build an 18- or 24-pound hopper. However, with Rec Tec we have an answer.

It is because their hoppers work at their best when they are filled with one or one and a half bags of pellets, depending on the size of the hopper in the unit. 

A full hopper's ability to keep you running for an extended period is very important.

The process of adding additional pellets is straightforward (lift the hopper lid and pour them in), if you are smoking your meat overnight then you will want to have a grill that does not need constant refilling. 

Traeger claims that their grills consume between 1-3 pounds of pellets per hour on average, depending on the temperature of the grill.

At 350 degrees Fahrenheit, the Rec Tec produces an uncertain estimate of "1+/- pound per hour," which is a bit of a stretch. 

In the best-case scenario, an 18-pound hopper will burn through the fuel in 18 hours when kept at smoking temperature. You may only receive 6 hours though when the temperature is high.

With a 20-pound hopper, you will probably get around 20 hours of smoking from it when the hopper is filled to the max, and around 7 hours if you are grilling. 

If you started with a full hopper for either brand, you should not be required to refill your hopper for a long time regardless of what you are cooking.

The winner this time is Rec Tec because you'll have fewer half-full bags of pellets hanging around than you would when using a Treger smoker.

If having a few bags lying around is not an issue for you though, then you will be happy with the hopper capacity with either brand. 

Mobility

Many people like to leave their barbecue in one location and never have to worry about moving it again.

For those who enjoy taking their great dinner with them while tailgating, camping, or traveling, grill mobility is a must-have accessory.

A built-in folding leg system is included in Rec Tec's smaller versions, allowing you to lower the overall profile of the grill in a matter of minutes. In terms of mobility, it's about as painless as you can get.

When it comes to portable barbecues for when you're on the go, Traeger has a more broad selection than most other manufacturers. They have a range of grills that have been specifically designed for mobility that you can buy. 

A great option in their portable tailgating collection is the ranger pellet grill, which can be used on a tabletop and measures 13 inches high by 21 inches wide by 20 inches long.

Traeger is the winning brand in this category if only for the fact that they manufacture portable grills.

Nothing is handier than acquiring one of their barbecues, which have been specifically designed with mobility in mind, for individuals who regularly BBQ on the go.

Extra Features

This is an area where Traeger has made major advancements in recent years.

The 2019 models are much better constructed than their predecessors, and they are more comprehensively outfitted with the most up-to-date technical equipment as a matter of course.

In addition to including the new D2 controller, all Traeger models are equipped with several variable speed fans and augers and WiFIRE technology as a standard feature.

Essentially, this function is a built-in capacity of connecting via your home Wi-Fi network to an app on your phone, which will allow you to have total control over your smoker.

Recipes are also provided, each of which includes step-by-step instructions for preparing them.

In addition, each of the grills is equipped with a single meat probe that may be used to determine the internal temperature of the meat being cooked.

Traeger grills are equipped with an error reporting mechanism to help you find the problem.

It is very possible that, if your grill doesn't start or doesn't perform properly for whatever reason, the grill itself can tell you what's wrong! That's really impressive.

A Wi-Fi connection and an accompanying app allow you to monitor and make changes to your cook from any location with an internet connection.

They claim that their Smart Grill Technology, as well as their proprietary algorithm, helps to significantly reduce temperature variations in the food they prepare.

A variety of additional accessories for personalizing your grill are available for purchase individually from either manufacturer or as an add-on to your order.

In addition, you have the option to buy a pellet sensor from Traeger that can be put in their IronWood or Pro Grills. These will send you a notification via the Traeger app when your pellet hopper is empty. 

As part of the package, they provide a custom-fitted cover for each model, as well as a large assortment of grilling equipment such as spatula, thermometers, smoking racks, and a very useful magnetic cutting board.

In addition to their meat, they also sell sauces, rubs, pellets, shirts, and hats, among other things.

A wide range of additional accessories is also offered by Rec-Tec. Clothes, rub and sauce mixes, as well as pellets and equipment, are examples of what is available.

All of the REC TEC models come with two temperature probes as standard equipment.

They also provide a sear kit, which is intended to alleviate the one problem that all pellet grills have by their very nature: a lack of even heat distribution.

Some of their grills are available with optional front folding shelves to provide additional workspace, as well as a "competition cart" that increases the height and stability of the models.

A cold-weather cover is available for those of you who want to barbecue during the winter months.

Although not the most exciting innovation from Rec Tec, the RT-700's model smokebox is one of the most fascinating. This add-on attaches directly to the side of the grill and has the look of a little safe, which is a nice touch. 

A cold smoking room for goods like cheese, fish, sauces, and other such items is actually what it is in reality. Cold smoking can be a lot of fun, and this is a nice addition to what is already a fantastic gadget in terms of functionality.

This is once again a category where there seems to be no clear winner. When it comes to accessories, both brands allow you to pick and choose which of the added extras you would like to buy.

Overall, Treger might just have the edge here, but it all depends on your preferences. 

Warranty

With a 6-year warranty, Rec-Tec boasts that its goods will outlive the competition. Their warranty is amazing, and it covers every part of the grill for six years.

If you choose a smaller smoker than the mid-sized models though, the guarantee duration is reduced to 2 or 4 years, depending on the size of the smoker.

Rec Tec is well-known for offering exceptional customer service. The phone numbers of both co-founders will be included with every grill purchased from the company as they are confident that you will not have any issues with your products. 

Unlike other brands, Traeger smokers have a three-year warranty on the parts and labor. While this is still pretty good, Rec-Tec is the clear winner here. 

Summary - Who Wins?

This is a close call, and doing the comparison seems a little bit like picking hairs.

This is because both manufacturers build incredibly high-quality pellet grills, which makes the selection even more difficult. In our opinion, the fact that Traeger provides the most value for your money is what distinguishes the firm from the competition.

According to our findings, the Traeger Ironwood series grills perform well in comparison to the Rec Tec grills, albeit at a somewhat lesser price.

In addition, Traeger offers a complete selection of grills that are more economical than the competition.

No stone is left unturned with either manufacturer, though, as both pellet grills are outfitted with practically everything you could need in a pellet barbecue, down to built-in meat probe thermometers on the grills' cooking surfaces.

Whatever brand you want to choose is up to you though, as you are guaranteed to get an excellent product no matter which one you go for. 

Lianne Jones
Lianne Jones


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