Investing in a pellet smoker is kind of a complicated task these days due to how many manufacturers have this type of smoker in their offer. If you’re wondering about which of the manufacturers ( Rec Tec or Traeger ) has a better offer, here you will find the answer to your question.
I decided to take an objective look on the topic and compare Traeger vs Rec Tec. Who will win this battle, the well known to everyone icon of pellet grills, Traeger? Or maybe the freshness and a modern look of Rec Tec.
Every manufacturer is trying to introduce something unique that will make them stand out. Instead of comparing individual models, I decided to present the overall upsides and downsides of both manufacturers instead. I think that such form will be more interesting and useful.
Are you interested in buying a new pellet smoker, but you want to compare more models ? Find out more here about how to choose the right model and what to look for.
Traeger vs Rec Tec – Summary
It actually all boils down to the controller’s precision, efficiency and most of all the quality of workmanship and durability. When not having any experience with any pellet smoker whatsoever, it is hard to say anything about quality.
I have an interesting tip for you, pay attention to the warranty period. The longer it is the better for you, it means that the company is confident in their product if they give a long warranty period.
Going back to the main topic, however, what to choose out of rec tec vs traeger? I know that there’s a lot of people out there who love the Traeger brand, but remember that what matters the most is quality. If there’s a manufacturer on the market that offers a much better product at a similar price then there’s nothing to wait for.
In this competition I have to admit that the new series from Traeger looks pretty good, definitely better than the previous version. They took care of many interesting solutions, like digital controller or wi-fi, which allows the Traeger grills to meet expectations of modern clients when it comes to features.
When I compare both brands in terms of quality of workmanship and durability, though, I come to a decisive conclusion. Traeger is a great pellet smoker but compared to Rec Tec ( at a similar price ) it loses when it comes to quality.
Rec Tec is much better built which is confirmed by whole 6 years of warranty, whereas the new series from Traeger is not quite as impressive in terms of quality as Rec Tec, which can be seen from just 3 years of the warranty period. Rec Tec also comes out much better when it comes to the customer service which it gets another big thumb up from me for.
When choosing Traeger, you’ll be able to prepare BBQ just as good as from a Rec Tec grill, but remember that I also choose by the price to value ratio and that’s exactly why Rec Tec is the winner for me.
I’ll just add that the information in the table is based on the models Rec Tec RT-700 Bull and Traeger Timberline.
A very precise controller that makes it possible to select temperature at 5 degree intervals. It maintains a fixed temperature with tolerance of up to +/- 10 F, it manages well at bad weather conditions.
A very huge change in the controller’s range, finally a digital controller worthy of modern technology, it also handles maintaining a stable temperature well.
Incredibly fast, which can be seen in one of the movies on YouTube, showing how Rec Tec reaches 225 degrees F in just 6 minutes while the weather outside is 80 F.
Also fast, it comes with the TurboTemp feature, which allows to achieve the right temperature even faster.
All the basic features plus few very interesting additions. Most of all, great wi-fi and the ability to plug in as many as two probes and monitor two temperature measurements.
Just like its competitor, the new series comes with several interesting solutions, but only one input for a meat probe.
Quality & Durability
A definitely adequate quality to the price, thick and high quality steel and elements. Whole 6 years of warranty only confirms that the manufacturer stands by the quality of their product.
It’s too early to talk about it now, the new series has just entered the market. It is certainly better than the previous generation, but it will take time to detect most flaws and things that are simply weak. At the first glance, the quality of elements and of workmanship is satisfactory.
6 years of warranty
only 3 years of warranty
Very high level of service and support after purchase. Rec Tec is famous for its amazing approach to the client and help in the event of any malfunctions.
The opinions vary so my conclusion is that it depends on whom we run into when it comes to contacting the support center.
Traeger is responsible for developing the first pellet grill, 1985 is when it happened, whereas one year later which was 1986 is when the whole idea got patented. The first models went into production in 1988 and from then on the pellet grill was only promoted by the Traeger manufacturer ( mostly due to a patent that made competition impossible ).
In retrospect, one could say that the Traeger brand is responsible for “clearing the path” for other manufacturers, who could start working on their own pellet grills right after the Traeger’s patent expired.
For the time, the first generation of Traeger grills was undoubtedly phenomenal and it still is very good, which can be seen in how popular it is to this day.
After the patent expired, however, plenty of competitors appeared, who relied very heavily on development. From that time, plenty of interesting solutions were created and certain elements got significantly improved, which is why many people these days are thinking about buying the Traeger model or maybe some other.
I have good news for you, it turns out that in 2019, Traeger has completely redesigned the first generation, which resulted in creation of a new series of Traeger grills. The second generation introduces all the things the fans of the first generation have been waiting for, as it has become somewhat obsolete.
Not only was the appearance improved, but also all the other crucial elements and they finally focused on developing the technology. Traeger grills at last come with an advanced digital controller with a broad temperature range, as well as the wi-fi technology. Few interesting solutions have been introduced (Wifire® & D2® Technology, TurboTemp, the ability to empty the pellets tank), and all of that at the same price.
In conclusion, Traeger is back in the game, offering great pellet grills that are up to date with modern technology.
History – One cannot deny that Traeger is the icon thanks to developing the first pellet grill. Some of the buyers might have a sentiment for the past or simply value those impressive decades of history and that’s the main reason why they want to have such grill in their collection.
Features – WiFire and the cell phone app give plenty of opportunities. Everyone has a smartphone on them these days which makes such gadget something very useful. On the phone’s screen, you can set the timer/temperature or control the temperature inside the meat as long as you’ve plugged in a probe.
Digital controller – Finally a high quality multifunction digital controller with the ability to set a maximum temperature of 500 degrees F as well as to choose several cooking programs. The algorithm is much better than in the first generation, it maintains a fixed temperature with tolerance of up to 10+/- degrees F in different weather conditions.
Technology/Systems – D2 system, TurboTemp, WiFire, Timer, Super Smoke or Keep Warm features/systems were designed to make your smoker faster, more efficient, more convenient and more useful.
Warranty – Sadly, for a grill at this kind of price, the warranty period is a little too short. I would expect at least the kind of warranty that Rec Tec offers for models at a similar price.
About Rec Tec
It is a relatively young brand, which was only created few years after Traeger’s patent expired. Unlike the competitor, the owners of Rec Tec went for development and modern technology right from the start.
Why should an indoor oven have a better temperature control than a grill? As an answer to that question, Smart Grill Technology was created. The goal was to create a pellet grill that offers at least the same convenience as the gas grill as well as the flavor of a real wood fire.
The goal has undoubtedly been achieved, the latest Rec Tec models come with technology and algorithms advanced enough to make it possible to smoke meat pretty much maintenance-free.
The advanced digital controller and all the systems take care of maintaining a fixed temperature and of adding pellets to the furnace and they are great at this task. The entire pellets container allows to smoke meat stress-free over many hours at a fixed temperature with fluctuations of up to +/- 5 degrees F.
On top of the technology, they also focused on the quality of workmanship and durability, the proof of which is one of the best warranty offers as well as great customer service out of all manufacturers.
One has to expect that the prices for a pellet grill from Rec Tec are high, yet 100% justified and reasonable.
Warranty – The warranty period currently offered by Rec Tec is 6 years. If so far you’ve only been exposed to charcoal grills then it might not seem like too much to you. You need to know, though, that a pellet grill is a device filled with technology and most manufacturers only offer 1-3 years of warranty.
Precise controller – A really well thought-out and perfected algorithm takes care of a fixed temperature. The system is precise enough to be able to easily maintain a selected temperature with tolerance for fluctuations of up to +/- 10 degrees F. In practice, it works really great, and what’s most important, it takes weather conditions into account, which is what often has a strong impact on the temperature.
Features - Wi-Pellet WiFi Technology makes their models up to date with modern standards, keeping up with the times. Thanks to the app available for phones or tablets, you can remotely control the whole smoking process, monitoring things like the temperature inside meat. I forgot to add that the flag model Rec Tec Bull RT 700 comes with inputs for two probes, which means you don’t even need a smoker thermometer.
Speed – One of independent tests has shown that the RT-700 Bull model, with the temperature outside being 79 degrees, was able to reach the temperature of 225 degrees in less than 6 minutes and 500 degrees in 26 minutes. Of course most people will be interested in the former temperature range when it comes to smoking, and the speed is clearly impressive. It means that in just around 6 minutes from starting, you can begin smoking.Customer service –That’s another very positive advantage, Rec Tec is famous for great customer service and support in case of any problems. Rec Tec only sells their own grills, which is why their offer also includes all the replacement parts so in the event of any problems you can count on fast and professional help.
Starting price – Sadly, any model from Rec Tec ( especially a big one ) will cost you big money. Of course it is worth it considering all the features, quality of workmanship, efficiency and approach to the customer, but still, for a starting model it might be too much for many people.
Rec Tec vs Traeger - Direct Comparison
The comparison is based on the models Rec Tec RT-700 Bull and Traeger Timberline 1300, which are available at similar prices.
Temperature range – In both cases, the temperature range is high, up to 500 degrees F. If I were to take the first generation of Traeger into account, though, Rec Tec would be the winner. When writing this article, however, I learned about the second generation, which has improved many of the grill’s aspects significantly.
Controller –In both cases you can expect a high-quality multifunction controller. From what I’ve seen, Rec Tec has as many as two inputs for meat probes, whereas Traeger only has one. What matters the most is efficiency and precision, though, and in both cases it is high-level.
Speed – One of the tests proves that Rec Tec can reach the temperature of 225 degrees F in 6 minutes while the temperature outside is 80~ degrees F ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GOBG467QRjs ). When it comes to the Traeger model, I sadly couldn’t find such test as of now. The new model comes with the TurboTemp technology, though, which certainly has a high impact on the speed.
Features – In both cases, the technology and features are high-level, but I have a feeling that the new generation of Traeger has moved ahead slightly. The number of interesting solutions is slightly bigger, but you have to remember that both models come with all the essential features.
Price – In both cases, the price is not exactly the best, but you have to take into account that you pay for quality and functionality. Rec Tec and Traeger care about developing their smokers and offer models that are rich in many features, and not just the basic version at the lowest possible price.
Warranty – In this regard, Rec Tec is the winner, offering 6 years of warranty for their models. Sadly, the three year warranty from Traeger for products at similar prices is disappointing. When it comes to pellet grills, it’s better to have a better warranty, as this kind of grill comes with many crucial electrical elements.
Hopper - Rec Tec has a much bigger hopper ( 40 lb ) which comes in handy when smoking for very long. Traeger has a much smaller one, but it actually makes me wonder, is a big hopper really that necessary? A full tank usually lasts for many hours, so I don’t see a problem refilling it once in a while, unless you smoke 24/7, in which case it might be a significant aspect.