REC TEC Vs Traeger
A charcoal grill can never possibly reach the cooking temperature of a pellet grill. But what if you could combine the two technologies? Couldn’t there be a pellet grill that uses charcoal as well?
There is! The REC TEC Pellet Grill has added an interesting twist to their pellet smoker line. You see, the REC TEC Pellet Grill is actually a pellet grill that uses charcoal to help it achieve higher cooking temperatures.
This article will compare and contrast the Rec Tec vs Traeger grills. Will one win over the other?
You’ll have to read further to find out!
What Is A Pellet Grill?
Pellet grill is an electric-powered device with a built-in auger system to feed pellets into the firepot. It is used to cook food in a similar fashion to charcoal grills or smokers.
What Is A REC TEC Pellet Grill?
First, we need to understand what REC TEC grills are. If you already know and want to skip down below the list of top 3 REC TEC pellet grills for 2017, feel free, but make sure you come back up here and read this section.
The REC TEC original pellet grill was released in 2013 and is still available today. It’s a great starting place for anyone who wants to get into using a pellet grill without breaking the bank. They’ve recently started adding features found on their newer models such as Bluetooth technology and getting rid of some unnecessary options like meat probes. This is the lowest priced model at $399 – however it does not include a meat probe. That’s because it does not have an integrated meat probe. You’ll need to purchase a separate one if you want the extra capability of knowing the exact temperature while your grill is in use, but don’t worry – these are cheap and effective! The original pellet grills came out before REC TEC expanded their product line to include two other models with built-in meat probes. So they’ve made up for that – you get a free meat probe when you buy any model since 2014.
REC TEC’s Most Popular Product:
- REC TEC RT-680 Pellet Grill
The next step up from the Original Model is what REC TEC calls their RT-680 which comes equipped with Bluetooth technology, and has a thermometer that attaches to the lid (picture of thermometer is below). This model also has a meat probe built into the unit for when you are using it in the “Grill Mode” instead of “Smoke Mode.”
- REC TEC RT-680 Pellet Grill w/ Bluetooth
The REC TEC RT-680 is the third in the line of pellet grills they currently have available and sits right in between their two higher-end models. It also includes Bluetooth capability but does not have an integrated meat probe. You can purchase one to attach to it if needed though – check out the link in the article at the bottom. These are amazing pellet grills, especially in this price range. They’re built incredibly well! The Bluetooth technology makes it simple to control your grill from the comforts of your living room. Just download their app and use your phone as a remote!
- REC TEC RT-680s Pellet Grill
This is the top-of-the-line model for REC TEC pellet grills, and you’ll notice a difference in price. If you plan on cooking a lot, this might be a great option for you since it has 2 built-in meat probes – giving both internal and external temperature readings. But what’s really incredible about this pellet grill is that it has “full digital capability” – meaning it comes with its own computerized controller which allows you to set up an infinite amount of temperature levels ranging from 160 degrees the way up to 600 degrees. You can even set it on a timer, or program your meat probe so that when the internal temperature of your meat hits a certain degree, it will tell the grill to stop cooking. That gives you some serious control over how you cook things!
What Is A Traeger Pellet Grill?
Traeger originally made their mark in the pellet grill world with a smoker that had a digital control pad that allowed you to adjust internal temperature. It also is compatible with Traeger’s cookbooks so you can control your cooking time and temperatures down to 5-degree increments using Bluetooth on the newer models.
As of 2016, they’ve started including integrated meat probes, and some even come with wifi capability! This allows you to monitor your internal meat temperatures when it is in use from any device that has internet access – cell phone, tablet, or computer. You can also view their trending “Recipes”, add ingredients for upcoming meals such as roasts, chicken breasts, and smoked ribs! Pretty rad stuff if you ask me!
Traeger’s Most Popular Pellet Grill Product:
- Traeger’s Pro Series 22
The Traeger Pro Series 22 Pellet Grill is the most expensive pellet grill of their line. The grill has an electronic touchpad, LCD display, and stainless steel grates. It comes with 5 series stainless steel burners which produce a combined maximum output of 40 000 BTUs. It also contains a 6 in hopper extension to give more room for wood pellets storage on the side. Other features include digital temperature readout and WiFi control by your mobile device, it can be used inside or out, however, it needs a 120v electricity connection.
About $1000 for this product at Amazon.
- Traeger’s Ironwood Series
These are entry-level pellet grills that produce a decent amount of smoke. This series offers 3 different sizes: 18, 22, and 30 in, and 2 options for color: cherry and maple. They have limited features but still can be connected to your mobile device using an app. Every model has a WiFi controller which is able to connect so you can control the temperature from your phone wherever you are.
About $400-600 at Amazon.
- Traeger’s Timberline Series
The Timberline series offers 3 different sizes: 14 in, 15 in, and 17 in. Like the Ironwood grills, it comes with an add-on hopper extension to give room for wood pellets storage on the side. It also has WiFi Controller, however without a mobile application; it only has a controller on the grill itself.
About $800-1200 at Amazon.
- Traeger’s Tailgater Series
This is the most affordable series of the Traeger pellet grills. The smallest one in this series, Tailgater 20, can be connected to your mobile device using an app. It features a digital temperature readout for more accurate cooking temperatures and a WiFi controller without any app needed. Every model has a side wood pellet tray but lacks storage hooks, which are included with other models.
About $400-600 at Amazon.
Features REC TEC Vs Traeger:
Both can be easily put into a pick-up, although the REC TEC is slightly bigger even with the separate legs that come with it.
It has huge wheels on one end and pull-out handles on the other making it easy to tow.
The Traeger Grills Pro Series 34 is almost 100 pounds in weight, with small wheels but no towable handle. However, when you consider the overall size of these grills, they both have very similar mobility.
Construction And Build
REC TEC wins in this department too in my opinion.
A steel tube frame holds together a cast aluminum cooking chamber and hopper plus 3mm stainless steel components that hold them altogether through what seems like extremely high temperatures.
The Traeger Grills Pro Series 34 has some stainless steel components but also has a lot of cheaper plastic pieces that are prone to melting or not holding up as well under extreme heat. I have seen this first hand, having had one of the wheel assemblies buckle and break on me.
This is another strong point for REC TEC, with their titanium-reinforced all metal auger along with insulation blanket wrapped around the cooking chamber to keep heat sealed in.
I would say both are fairly equal here however because even though Traeger Grills have better quality control if you get a bad unit you are stuck with it since they don’t allow customer returns for defects due to being considered a fire hazard.
This is a complicated one to me with it being my experience that the Traeger Grills Pro Series 34 runs hotter with their standard pellet blend, whereas with REC TEC I feel they hit a better medium heat mark.
I would say this comes down to preference, but if you are cooking at a lower temperature range you can remove the upper grate from your REC TEC and get a great cold smoker effect for your meat with a little tinkering.
With most Traegers, even when using an aftermarket sear box, the higher temperatures make them more difficult to do low and slow type barbecue without getting burnt over is not too hot. They also have only one setting in general at around 225 degrees, whereas the REC TEC has one set of around 225 and another at 325 if you’re into that.
Both of these grills offer great temperature control but I would say this is where the Traeger Grills Pro Series 34 shines above its competition because of their three settings (standard, higher heat, and extremely hot).
I feel like with the differences in pellet blend quality between brands you can run into problems with lower end Traegers having a difficult time ramping up to hotter temps or maintaining them for longer periods without causing issues.
REC TEC comes with an easy temperature dial that can be set anywhere from 150 all the way up to about 525 degrees F (depending on what temperature you choose) so it’s not difficult to get the grill to your required heat level.
The Traeger Grills Pro Series 34 has 680 sq inches of cooking space over two grates and the REC TEC RT-680 gives you 776 sq inches.
You’re getting about 30 more square inches with the REC TEC which is almost double, however, if you remove both grates then leave just one in place at either end of the grill, leaving 50% open space front to back rather than 40% with Traeger Grills, it comes out close enough that I would call this category a tie. The difference between these two is very minimal considering their large sizes compared to most other pellet grills out there.
Pellet Hopper Size
The Traeger Grills Pro Series 34 holds 18 lbs of pellets in their hopper.
This is well above average when compared to the REC TEC which only has a 10 lb pellet hopper.
If you are cooking overnight or for long periods at a time, this can be an issue with Traeger Grills becoming less consistent during these longer cooking times because the pellets in the middle might not get burned through enough to produce the heat you need.
On that note, however, if you’re into smoking then this could be one area where the Traeger Grills Pro Series 34 wins big time because they also have ash cleanout doors so you can add more wood without having to disturb the pellet bed, which may help with temperature regulation.
Bells and Whistles
REC TEC wins this one in my book with a digital control panel that offers you a lot of added features.
You not only get your standard timer for automatic shut off but also fan speeds, meat probe input, and a touch screen programmable meat temperature chart that offers great accuracy if you want to BBQ sous vide or use an oven thermometer indoors with it to make sure your cook is going well.
The Traeger Pro Series 34 comes with a three LED readout but is mostly analog controls otherwise, which I feel at least gives them parity in this category.
As far as the WiFi and app experience go for both grills, I feel like they are about even. REC TEC wins this one because you can use their Smart Grill Control app to view your meat temperature on your phone or set up a temperature chart or timer remotely but it does require you to push the actually adjust button on the grill itself first before using it with your phone which is something that isn’t necessary with any of Traeger’s apps. With that being said, if you’re buying either of these two grills then chances are high that you’re not doing many hands-off cooking anyways so it really comes down to whether or not you want an app-connected device or not rather than how well the app works. After all, most people use a remote thermometer to check their cook rather than trying to manage everything with an app.
Because I’m not as familiar with Traeger as some other grill companies I would say that REC TEC wins this category for me because they have been around longer and have more name recognition in the BBQ world at large. That being said, from what I can tell they both offer pretty decent customer service options and ratings on them seem to be similar across the board.
The Traeger Grills Pro Series 34 comes with ash cleanout doors which is something you don’t see on higher-end pellet grills very often, let alone end budget-friendly ones like this.
So not only can you add more wood during your cook to help with temperature regulation, but you can also dump out the pellet ash when you’re done which is something that none of REC TEC’s grills have. On this note, however, the Traeger Pro Series 34 does have a slightly larger pellet hopper to make up for it so while I still think REC TEC wins in this category overall, the Traeger Grills Pro Series 34 comes very close and could maybe even be considered somewhat of a tie because it offers added convenience. Just keep in mind that cleaning out your grill should be pretty minimal if you’re buying pellets, to begin with since they are designed to burn efficiently and don’t create much ash other than what the wood itself would produce.
In this department, I would have to say that the Traeger Grills Pro Series 34 wins again due to its’ stainless steel firebox and cooking grates.
I know a lot of people prefer cast iron because it’s easier to maintain but it is also less consistent in terms of heat retention over time and can rust which gets annoying when you run into problems.
REC TEC does offer both stainless steel cooking grates and stainless steel fireboxes but they are an added cost rather than part of their standard grill price which is something that would be nice if you’re buying a lower-end budget-friendly pellet grill like this one from Traeger. That being said, REC TEC is still a good-looking option so I’d say it’s a draw between the two in this category.
This is probably the category that I feel REC TEC comes out on top in more than any other.
You can use their Smart Grill Control app to monitor your grill remotely, set up temperature charts for sous vide, change settings like meat probe temperatures and alert notification durations (if you’re using them), adjust your pellet feed rate if need be, start or stop cooking profiles on your grill, monitor your cook progress including how long it’s been going and what internal temperature the meat has reached so far as well as various other useful information like smoke levels (if you’re using it) and even share photos of whatever you happen to be grilling at the time with friends through their social media integration. In fact, I was going to write a full review on this app but I’ve decided not to because, unless you have a REC TEC grill, the only reason you would need it is for informative purposes and I don’t want to recommend people resubscribe through their email every month just because they’re curious.
In addition to that, REC TEC also offers a web portal that you can access from your computer or phone where you can do pretty much everything that the Smart Grill Control app lets you do except monitor your cook remotely.
As far as Traeger’s app goes on the other hand… Well… It doesn’t really offer any of those remote management features so if you care about being able to control more than just a few on-board settings, REC TEC is the way to go for sure.
Both of these grills come with a 10-year warranty on the cooking chamber and firebox, 5 years on major components like burners and heat deflectors, 2 years for electronics including the igniter as well as 30 days of coverage for shipping damage. So in this department, they are pretty much even.
There are a few extra features that I like to look for when comparing various pellet grills and considering what type of user each one is intended for. These extra features can help give you an idea as to whether the grill in question would be a good fit for someone that enjoys doing more with their grill than just cooking or if they might want something that has a little less going on inside of it.
First off, we have the ability to plug this particular model into a regular household outlet without any additional adapters or converters which is nice if you don’t already have enough plugs but also don’t want to deal with having anything else plugged in outside either.
This isn’t really necessary by any means, especially considering that the Traeger grill I have uses a 20 Amp plug, but it is still nice to have.
REC TEC Vs Traeger: Which Product is Right for You?
The REC TEC Wood Pellet Grill is one of the most versatile outdoor cooking tools in its class. From grilling to barbecuing, you can do it all with this grill. The large cooking area makes it perfect for larger families or gatherings when you need to cook extra food.
Plus, there’s no wood required! Using an electric heating element inside the grill means no mess and maximum efficiency in getting your meat cooked just right!
Traeger Smoker Grills are also a great tool in your arsenal of outdoor cooking appliances. Their patented pellet-burning system gives your meat the smoky flavor that everyone loves while keeping the heat nice and steady without too much variance during use!
Plus, their customer service is great! Traeger’s use of all-natural hardwood pellets means you get the smoky flavor without the smoke.
These grills are both fantastic products and make it easy to get a barbecued meal for your family whenever you need it. So how do you choose which one will work best for your specific needs?
What’s Your Budget?
If money isn’t an issue for you (and let’s be real; we’d all like to think that we could buy anything we wanted), then the REC TEC Wood Pellet Grill is easily the better choice between the two. The Traeger Pellet Grill comes in at around $1000 whereas the REC TEC Wood Pellet Grill comes in at around $2000. However, don’t be afraid of the higher price tag on the REC TEC!
This grill is built to last and provides a great cooking experience without sacrificing quality for cost.
REC TEC Vs Traeger: The Winner Is?
REC TEC: – More food capacity
– Better materials and much more durable
– Better cooking versatility, even though it’s called a smoker, you can still cook with it as if it were an oven
– Higher quality construction and components (Made in the USA)
TRAEGER: – Less expensive than REC TEC by $200+
Do Traeger Grills Ever Go on Sale??
Yes, but they are rare. Generally when the summer ends they go on sale to clear out all of the grills before production begins again with their new models in late fall. Typically these sales last about 2 months during September and October. The Traeger Pro Series 34 was originally retailing for $999-$1,099 but can now be found in some stores for as low as $499!
How Long Does a Traeger Grill Last?
Traeger Grills have 3 main components: the hopper, the heat deflector shield, and the firepot. If any of these break down then your grill is no longer functional. With normal use, you should expect anywhere from 5-7 years depending on how often you grill.
What is the Difference Between Hardwood Lump Charcoal and Briquettes?
Hardwood lump charcoal burns 100% natural with no by-products. It has very few if any chemicals that are added to it or that are left behind when it is burned. Hardwood lump charcoal also allows you to burn your grill hotter, keeping in more of the flavor. Briquettes are made from sawdust, chemicals, fillers, and other additives designed to speed up the manufacturing process. Although briquettes will work equally well as lump charcoal in a grill they definitely do not burn as hot nor retain flavors as well. The best grills for smoking take advantage of both these features so when buying a new grill always look for one that uses both lump charcoal and wood chunks.
What Kind of Wood is Best to Use in a Traeger Grill?
Almost any wood that comes from trees will taste great as long as it is fresh because the moisture content has an effect on how much smoke your grill generates. Maple, apple, pecan, hickory, cherry, strawberry fruit woods all work well with Pork butts and briskets whereas mesquite and oak are great for ribs or beef or chicken. You can also mix different kinds of hardwood together to create your own special blend. As for fruit woods, these are more subtle so they are best used when you do not want too strong of a flavor such as with seafood or if you just want to get some light smoke into more delicate meats. To maintain your hardwood supply, always buy more than you need for a single cook since these woods can dry out over time and become even harder to use.
What is the Difference Between the Traeger Models?
The differences between all models are as follows:
S-Series (original) – Original model designed for selling at retail stores. No on-off switch uses an external temperature dial that has to be turned up or down to control temperature, no side firebox so less capacity, smaller cooking area due to not having the side firebox. Cannot access upper chamber without removing lower chamber first which makes cleaning difficult/time-consuming. Must open the lower door prior to opening the upper door making it very easy to burn yourself if you lean over the lower chamber while lighting it.
SR-Series – Original model designed for selling at retail stores. No on-off switch uses an external temperature dial that has to be turned up or down to control temperature, no side firebox so less capacity, smaller cooking area due to not having the side firebox. Cannot access upper chamber without removing lower chamber first which makes cleaning difficult/time-consuming. Must open the lower door prior to opening the upper door making it very easy to burn yourself if you lean over the lower chamber while lighting it.
T-Series – On and off switch located in handle giving easy access when meat is placed on the grill and you need to turn off grill quickly. The external temperature dial stays in place and cannot be accidentally bumped up or down. The larger cooking area due to having a side firebox that adds an additional 50% capacity over the S-series/original models. Easier to clean because you can simply slide out the upper chamber and dump it into a trash bin or onto the ground rather than having to open both doors and then remove the lower chamber before being able to access the upper chamber.
I-Series – The newest model designed for online sales only, most expensive of all three models with all features available on T series plus these: On and off switch located in handle giving additional easy access when meat is placed on the grill and you need to turn off grill quickly. The external temperature dial stays in place and cannot be accidentally bumped up or down. Optional stainless steel wood chip tray is mounted on side of the lower chamber next to the water bowl. The larger cooking area due to having a side firebox that adds an additional 50% capacity over the S-series/original models. Easier to clean because you can simply slide out the upper chamber and dump it into a trash bin or onto the ground rather than having to open both doors and then remove the lower chamber before being able to access the upper chamber.
How Long Will It Take for Temperature Control?
For best results, use long thin strips of wood like those used in gas grills and soak them overnight. Once soaked place them directly on top of hot lump charcoal (not briquettes) until all pieces are well lit and smoking much like when using lighter fluid but without actually spraying them with fluid. The lit pieces that are in the pile will begin to smolder and produce smoke that will get pulled into your meat via the intake at the base of the grill.
How Often Should I Open the Lid?
The only time you should need to open your lid is when there is a significant change in cooking temperature such as when you’re initially heating up your grill or adding fresh meat. Other than these times it’s important not to because any openings can cause heat and smoke to escape and slow down cooking time due to resulting lower temperatures inside your chamber. We recommend grilling with both doors closed 99% of the time, leaving them cracked open only during initial burn-off and final ‘resting’ periods.
Is There an Advantage to Using Wood Chips?
The advantage of using wood chips is that you don’t need to soak them. Unsoaked they produce a more subtle smoky flavor similar to what some call ‘liquid smoke’ but without the artificial taste, overspray or residue that can come with flavored liquids. When soaked in water they will emit an additional very mild smoky character, producing a more authentic BBQ flavor similar to what some people refer to as “old school” barbecue which is the original method before the introduction of gas grills.
On Which Models are Side Trays Available?
Side trays are available on T-Series models only and not available for S-series or original I series. The side tray provides an area where you can add wood chips while cooking without opening any of the doors or losing heat. The side tray is made from high-grade 304 stainless steel and the same heavy-duty type used in many restaurant grills that costs hundreds more than the cheaper alternatives which do not compare in quality, performance, or longevity.
How Do I Control Temperature?
The REC TEC grill features an external temperature dial located on the top right corner of your cover making it easily accessible no matter what you’re cooking. Simply turn it up to increase your temperature and down to decrease it and if you’d like you can crank it all the way up and leave it there for one-time use where we call “thermonuclear” cooking prior to finishing off meat with lower temperatures.
You can also choose to set your temperature at a certain degree and then control it by using the amount of charcoal you add or subtract during cooking. If you’re trying to cook something that requires low and slow and you want to keep your temperature down around 225°F for instance, simply reduce the number of lit coals on top so there is less heat emanating from your grill. The concept here is similar to how gas grills work where they use adjustable valves to control the flow of fuel which controls the resulting heat output.
How Do I Use Thermometer?
The built-in thermometer works by monitoring internal chamber temperatures just like any other grill on the market but with more advanced features making it than ever to start up and monitor your internal temperatures in a quick and easy manner. You can choose to monitor either your grill chamber or meat probe temperature with the press of a button on the front of the control panel. The readable display lets you know what your internal temps are at all times. If you want to cook at 225°F for instance, simply set it to that temp and wait for it to stabilize before placing any food on the grill.
Different foods require different amounts of cooking time so it’s important that you not only select an accurate cooking temperature but also accurately determine how long something has been cooking by using a precise timer so there is no guesswork involved and nothing ends up overcooked or worse undercooked. When your timer we recommend starting with whatever REC TEC recipe you’re using and adjusting the time up or down depending on your desired results.
Can I use my REC TEC rotisserie?
Yes, any accessories from other brands will work with REC TEC grills. You can even order a rotisserie kit from us if you prefer an integrated solution.
Can I use Lump charcoal?
All REC TEC grills come standard with a side wood chip tray so you have the option of using whatever fuel source you’d like whenever your first start up the grill. Lump charcoal burns hotter than briquettes but both are good options depending on what you’re cooking.
Which REC TEC grill should I get?
It really depends on what you want to cook. Each model has similar features but the PR series offers removable side shelves, rotisserie burners, and extra deep collection plates that make it easy to clean up after dinner is over. The XL models come with all of these features as well but they also feature larger grilling surfaces which are great for gatherings and family dinners where you plan on preparing more food at once in order to accommodate a crowd.
Is Rec-Tec Worth the Money?
Despite the high cost of this grill, most people agree that it is definitely worth the money so you really can’t go wrong with any REC TEC model. It’s a serious grill made from commercial-grade materials and features top-notch components so everything from cooking performance to temperature monitoring works efficiently and effectively. You can even leave your house while your grill is on because it runs so smoothly with hardly any noise whatsoever. It’s also one of the safest grills on the market because there are no flare-ups that can burn you or anyone else nearby.
Can REC TEC grill be used in cold weather?
Yes, REC TEC grills work well even at low temperatures just remember to take the necessary precautions for whatever kind of weather you might encounter. REC TEC heating elements are made with thick stainless steel which helps keep them from freezing if left outdoors overnight but it’s always best to cover your grill when you’re not using it, especially during colder months.
REC TEC and Traeger are both reputable brands of smokers, but which is better? To find out the answer to this question, we conducted a review comparing their features. We found that they do have many similarities in design and quality. However, there were also some differences. It’s ultimately up to you whether or not these factors will affect your decision making process when it comes time for purchase. Hopefully, our article has helped you decide on one over another!