Rec Tec vs. Traeger – Finding the Right Brand for You

By Luna Regina | Updated
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A pellet grill can set you back hundreds if not thousands of dollars. So it’s common sense to play things safe with trusted brand names rather than experimenting with on-the-rise newcomers. And among well-established brands, there’s hardly anything as intense as the Rec Tec vs. Traeger rivalry.

As big names among the BBQ community, each brand has plenty of strengths to attract grillers. For this entry, we’ll break things down into mini matchups and let the two brands go head-to-head. By the end of this article, you should be in a position to make the most informed purchase.

Rec Tec

Back in 2009, Rec Tec started out as a small startup pellet grill company based in Georgia. A pair of friends-turned-entrepreneurs, Ray Carnes and Roy Cundy founded the company in their humble garage. Since then, they have expanded their business operation adding bigger warehouses and hundreds of employees.

Traeger

But we need to set the record straight. The company rebranded itself as recteq in August of 2020. While pellet grills remain the focal point, the company now also supplies various outdoor products from coolers to cocktail mixers.

Straight off the bat, you can tell a Rec Tec pellet grill from others with its signature bull horn-shaped handles. Another tell-tale sign is the towel hanger that mimics a nose ring featured on certain models. One of the brand’s bestsellers is the RT-700 model, which has much to offer.

Traeger

Before we get started, let’s delve into the company’s history a bit. Founded in 1985 by Joe Traeger in Oregon, the trailblazing Traeger was once synonymous with pellet grills. Right out of the gate, the company managed to take off with little to no direct competition for 20 years.

Rec Tec

When the patent license expired in 2006, it provided opportunities for other brands to catch up. Despite losing its hard-earned brand exclusivity and novelty, Traeger remains one of the top pellet grill suppliers in the industry. Now headquartered in Utah, Traeger is once again trying to regain its former glory.

Save for a few tweaks here and there, the original pellet grill design has remained mostly unchanged over the years. However, the software has seen major modifications; for example the temperature control system using upgraded electronics and Wi-Fi connection. One such example is the Pro Series 575, which is also one of the brand’s bestsellers.

Related post: Camp Chef vs Traeger: Which to Buy in 2021?

Rec Tec vs. Traeger Head-to-Head Comparison

While it will be tough to determine the clear-cut winner, you can instead examine things in small chunks. That way, you can focus on your priorities and disregard the rest.

Temperature Range & Control

Using its flagship PID system, Rec Tec pellet grills can cover an impressive heating range from 200°F to 500°F. Once you’ve set the desired temperature, the system keeps it constant or usually within an ± 5°F margin of error. All Rec Tec models, including the RT-590 and RT-340, use this controlling mechanism.

Temperature Range & Control

And for good measure, the grill’s universal stainless steel build prevents heat loss. That way, the grill maintains the same temperature across the entire cooking chamber without much fluctuation. Thanks to that, grillers can step away from babying the grill and prepare other dishes or take a break. It’s even more handy for smoking brisket overnight.

Meanwhile, Traeger uses its proprietary Advanced Grilling Logic mechanism, which is identical to the self-regulating thermostat used by Rec Tec. With a 25°F increment, the maximum setting is 450°F, which is as good as it gets for most models.

which is as good as it gets for most models

Under normal circumstances, one pound of pellet is usually good for one hour of cooking on medium heat. While it’s a reliable rule of thumb for grillers to stick by, the burn rate may vary.

Pellet grills sacrifice a portion of their heat to the surrounding environment, especially in cold regions or during winter. To compensate for that, they accelerate their burn rate, which can affect the temperature and cooking time in general. Without proper insulation, severe heat loss is a given.

In the end, both brands are neck and neck in terms of heat range and control. Each brand has considerably upped its electronics and smart features from the early days. With the reliable set-and-forget option and stable temperature with pinpoint accuracy, grillers will have an easier time cooking.

Material & Construction

When it comes to craftsmanship, Rec Tec spares no expense and often goes to great lengths to make sure nothing is substandard. The entire assembly is stainless steel from start to finish, with the lid exterior adding another weatherproof powder coating.

With all components tightly welded into one solid assembly, an RTV caulk and grommets further help prevent seepage and leakage. While the construction isn’t quite as air-tight as a kamado grill, this is as close as it can possibly get.

On the other hand, Traeger reserves stainless steel for the grates and fire box while other nonessential parts are powder coated. But that doesn’t mean the overall quality is shoddy or anything of the sort.

And it all boils down to the final verdict. Rec Tec is the clear winner thanks to its generous use of stainless steel whose heat retention properties are unmatched.

Cooking Area & Portability

For grillers who want to take things up a notch, Rec Tec is the way to go. If you think the RT-700 is bulky, wait until you see the RT-2500, Beast, and Chuckwagon models. With an impressive cooking area of 2,500 square inches, these humongous grills can accommodate as many as 40 hungry adults.

These grills also pack giant hoppers that keep the fire going for hours, even days if needed. If money’s no issue and you’re committed to the art of smoking meat, you might as well go all the way. Rec Tec doesn’t do things half-heartedly, and neither should you.

On the other hand, Traeger offers a more diverse catalog with different price ranges to choose from. For grillers who want to take things easy, the Ironwood 650 and Ironwood 885 are two mid-tier models worth considering. They should be appropriate for a family with some friends coming over.

Better yet, there are compact handheld units you can consider for camping trips. But make sure you have access to a reliable power outlet beforehand. These space-saving pellet grills should fit in your vehicle and still be able to whip up a decent meal in minutes.

Size is a matter of personal preference, so there isn’t exactly a wrong answer here. But if we’re forced to pick one, Traeger has the edge over Rec Tec for its product diversity. Traeger offers more options for small families and camping trips while Rec Tec is more focused on huge gatherings.

Mobile Control & Wi-Fi Experience

The Wi-Fi controllable pellet grills have a precise yet intricate fine-tuning mechanism. Everything from starting to shutdown is adjusted through the in-house developed interactive mobile application compatible with Apple and Android devices. Both brands have uploaded their cooking recipes online so grillers can consult or add personal touches.

Rec Tec Wi-Fi controllable

And to provide a better user experience with smooth control and more features, Rec Tec and Traeger frequently update their firmware. While most grillers appreciate the effort to improve, not everyone is a fan of the constant buzzes when troubleshooting.

At some point during cooking, other connection issues are bound to happen, including lagging and timeout. Walls can obstruct and weaken the signals, making it difficult to control the grill from afar. That’s why you’ll want to survey the area and choose a spot within range before assembling the grill.

While smart control is a given for all Rec Tec grills, the same doesn’t apply to Traeger. Wi-Fi controllability is reserved exclusively for the premium series, including the Ironwood, Timberline, and the recentlyupdated Pro models. As for older units, they still require the human touch when it comes to control.

While both user-friendly apps simplify things, Rec Tec does provide a better cooking experience for grillers. On the whole, you are less likely to encounter software issues with Rec Tec as you are with Traeger.

Warranty Policy & Customer Support

Considering the electronics within a pellet grill, it’s only a matter of time before something malfunctions or underperforms. So, it begs the question of whether the manufacturer stands behind their products with customer support and after-sales services.

Since pellet grills are serious investments for pitmasters, Rec Tec and Traeger often sweeten the deal by including an extensive warranty. And for good measure, around-the-clock customer support is also part of the package.

For starters, all Traeger grills are under warranty for three years, which is the common standard for most pellet grill brands. If you encounter any difficulty, you can contact the company through its hotline or email.

Meanwhile, Rec Tec takes a more active role in assisting its buyers when they need support. You can contact Rec Tec via phone or email, while its social media platforms offer another means of contact. You can reach out to them for basically anything from price quoting to troubleshooting.

Let’s talk details. Rec Tec offers a whopping six-year warranty for premium models, including the Chuckwagon, Beast, and RT-2500 with terms and conditions. Meanwhile, other smaller models are under either a 2-year warranty or a 4-year warranty.

Plus, Rec Tec regularly hosts its Rec Tec Academy BBQ courses for aspiring grillers. Another thing with Rec Tec is that it prefers to sell its products through its official website rather than via other platforms.

And to sum it all up: both brands have reliable and helpful customer services and appealing warranties.

Comparison Chart

BrandRec TecTraeger
Temperature Range > Control
  • PID control system
  • 200°F - 500°F
  • ± 5°F margin of error
  • Advanced Grill Logic
  • 180°F - 450°F
  • +25°F increment
Material > ConstructionAll stainless steelPowder coated steel
Cooking Are > SizeDesigned for huge parties (30+ people)Various sizes for different uses
Mobile Control > Wi-Fi Experience
  • Smooth interface
  • Better user experience
  • Occasional lagging
Warranty Policy > Customer Service6 years for premium models3 years for all models
Notable ModelRec Tec RT-700Traeger Pro Series 34

Final Verdict

Even though we have nothing against other brands, sticking with either Rec Tec or Traeger should be your safest bet. And while the Rec Tec vs. Traeger rivalry may not be resolved anytime soon, you can’t go wrong with either. Both are excellent choices in terms of quality and performance while hardly anyone else can come close.

Luna Regina

A writer and entrepreneur, Luna’s day doesn’t start at the computer keyboard, but in the kitchen.

Half of her working hours are spent on mixing ingredients for her recipes. The other half involve working with the tech team to research and test the tools and appliances that promise to make kitchen work effortless and mess-free. From a kitchen knife or water filter to the Instant Pot, if it can help save time and effort for the home cook, Luna and her team are on it.

Luna’s extracurricular pastimes include camping, travel, and photography.

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