recteq (Formerly Rec Tec) vs. Traeger: Which Grill Should You Choose
In one corner, we have the original — and to this day, the most well-known — pellet grill brand with a devoted following across the country. And in the other corner is a relative newcomer to the pellet grill scene, fresh off a rebrand but not lacking for passionate supporters in its own right. Such is the scene for the heavyweight bout between Traeger and recteq, respectively, a pair of popular pellet grill brands commonly compared by customers interested in the low-and-slow experience.
Both manufacturers have a strong reputation among consumers and within the industry, and with good reason: each delivers a desirable mix of quality, performance, and features at competitive price points. Still, you’re here because you’re trying to decide between Traeger and recteq pellet grills, and we’re going to do our best to help you pick a winner with an in-depth analysis of what they bring to the table. We’re taking everything into account to empower you to make an informed decision, so come claim a front-row seat to this outdoor cooking clash as we break it all down.
Traeger Grills History & Overview
Named for founder Joe Traeger, who invented the first pellet grill way back in 1985, Traeger dominated this product category until its original patent expired in 2006. The family-run company sold not long after that, later moving from Oregon to Salt Lake City, Utah. Traeger has predictably continued innovating in the pellet grill space, incorporating Wi-Fi and high-tech temperature maintenance systems into their products to stay ahead of the competition. In short, there’s a reason why Traeger remains the most trusted name among pellet grill brands.
- Pellet grilling’s first, most well-known, and best-selling brand
- Amazing cooking versatility, from low-and-slow smoking to grilling
- Easy-to-use digital controls (most with Wi-Fi) for a true set-it-and-forget-it experience
- Innovative grills deliver wood-fired flavor with greater efficiency than ever
- A value-packed pellet grill with the one of the best reputations in the industry
recteq History & Overview
Ron Cundy and Ray Carnes made waves in 2009 when they founded what was then known as Rec Tec, an upstart pellet grill manufacturer that has garnered a growing and loyal following ever since. Though the company rebranded to recteq in 2020, it still abides by its founding principles: stainless steel construction, generous warranties, and a robust customer service department. As of this writing, recteq sells directly to consumers only, so we don’t carry any of the brand’s pellet grills or related products despite our familiarity with its offerings.
- Relatively new brand that has built a following selling directly to consumers
- Uses high-quality stainless steel construction to create durable grills
- Convenient and accurate PID controls lock in temperatures to simplify cooking
- Wireless monitoring and temperature control possible thanks to Wi-Fi capabilities
- Solid track record of customer service with lengthy warranties
Traeger vs. recteq: Key Differences
We’ll come right out with it: these are 2 of the better pellet grill brands on the market, and neither offers enough over the other to establish itself as an outright winner. We’re confident you’ll be happy no matter which way you go, so our goal today is to help you draw your own conclusions based on your individual needs. Before getting into specific grill series, let’s run down some of the major factors and see how Traeger and recteq stack up against each other as overall brands.
|Temperature Controls||Innovative D2 Controller||PID controller|
|Compatibility with smart devices||Google Home, Amazon Alexa||None|
|Cooking space||572–1,300 square inches||380–2,535 square inches|
|Exterior material||Powder-coated steel||Stainless steel|
|Pellet hopper capacity||18–24 lbs.||30–53 lbs.|
|Pellet hopper cleanout||Yes||No|
|Mobility||All-terrain, heavy-duty locking caster wheels||Rollerblade-style, rubber locking wheels|
|Warranty||3 years||2, 4, or 6 years|
Temperature Control & Maintenance
All pellet grills are designed to go the distance with dialed-in temperatures over low-and-slow cooks, but these popular manufacturers continually reset the bar in this department. You’ll find easy-to-use digital controllers with small temperature increments for precise adjustments, along with Wi-Fi capabilities that let you monitor the grill and food probes via smartphone apps. Traeger’s higher-end grills take wireless connectivity a step further by enabling you to sync with other smart devices like Google Home and Amazon Alexa. As for the controllers themselves, Traeger innovative D2 technology — complete with a variable-speed fan, patented downdraft exhaust, and an industry-first brushless motor — holds an edge over recteq’s PID system.
This is perhaps the most notable difference between Traeger and recteq, with different approaches to solid construction being apparent in the premium materials used by either brand. Traeger gets the job done with powder-coated steel exteriors, while recteq is known for using high-quality stainless steel throughout. That being said, higher-end Traeger smokers incorporate stainless steel in components like cooking grates and side shelves, not to mention the 304-grade stainless used in the interior side walls. It’s that double-walled lining in select Traegers that tips the scales for many customers in terms of quality — better insulation means more stable temperatures, which are vital for any low-and-slow cook.
Generally speaking, pellet smokers from both brands operate in the 180°F–500°F range. Higher-end Traeger Timberline and Ironwood grills start off at 165°F, though we’ll note that’s a negligible difference and most smoking occurs around 225°F anyway. Either way you lean, you’ll have a versatile grill capable of smoking, baking, roasting, and grilling. (We told you this would be tough sledding!)
There’s no shortage of size options among Traeger and recteq pellet grills; both brands offer varied product lines that cover cooking requirements for virtually every type of griller and their possible needs. They offer several freestanding options between 575 and 1,300 square inches (with the lone outlier being a monstrous 2,535-square inch recteq pellet grill), so you’ll have no trouble finding a grill to accommodate you. Even better, both brands do everyone a huge solid by putting the total (or approximate) square inches of cooking space in each grill’s name!
Pellet Hopper Capacity
Finally, a clear winner! Pellet hoppers from recteq can hold between 30 and 53 lbs. of pellets, whereas Traeger pellet hoppers have fuel capacities between 18 and 24 lbs. Nothing else to see here, right? Well, there’s more to fuel than raw volume. Though Traegers hold fewer pellets at a time, they’re all equipped with a fuel cleanout system for swapping flavors or emptying the hopper between cooks (which is necessary if you live in a high-humidity area.) Not only that, but Traeger Ironwood and Timberline grills also have a built-in pellet sensor to help you monitor fuel levels at all times. Those quality-of-life features go a long way toward smooth fuel maintenance, which will already be more difficult with larger hoppers like those from recteq. Besides, Traeger’s 18–24-lb. hoppers will usually see you through an all-day or overnight smoke when full anyway.
Both recteq and Traeger deal mostly in freestanding pellet grills, making mobility around the backyard a huge factor for both use and storage. Traeger has a meaningful edge here with all-terrain, heavy-duty locking caster wheels across its 3 main series, making it easier for backyard chefs to maneuver and secure the grill where needed. On the other hand, recteq pellet grills feature rollerblade-style rubber wheels that can be locked once the unit is in place. Each brand also offers portable grill options with foldable legs for grilling on the go, should you be interested in taking your sizzle beyond the backyard.
Depending on which models you’re comparing, Traeger or recteq may have the better warranty. Helpful, right? Here’s what we can tell you for sure: all Traegers carry a 3-year warranty covering defects in materials and workmanship. As for recteq pellet grills, they come with “horn-to-hoof” warranties of 2, 4, or 6 years. Longer warranties are obviously more desirable, but it’s still important to make sure the grill itself checks all your other boxes.
Bang for Your Buck
Again, we can’t make the call for you here. The things you emphasize in a pellet grill may be different from the next BBQ smoking enthusiast, not to mention that value is a difficult concept to quantify in its own right. Still, we’re comfortable saying you’ll love any Traeger or recteq pellet grill you take home — both brands present tremendous value, which is why they’re at the top of the industry with no signs of slowing down. Traeger and recteq have a variety of options meant to fit all budgets, so consider what you value most and start comparing individual models from there.
Top Traeger Pellet Grills
As we stated above, you won’t find any recteq pellet grills at BBQGuys because the company sells directly to the public. What we can offer you, though, are 3 complete Traeger lines with varying degrees of quality, performance, and features to meet the needs of any backyard pit master. Oh, and top-notch customer service from real grill experts dedicated to answering your questions and working to ensure the best grilling experience for you! Before you strike up a chat with them, let’s take a quick look at the main Traeger series so you can get a better idea of what to expect.
Traeger Timberline Pellet Grills
The Timberline might as well be called “top of the line” because it takes the best Traeger has to offer and packages it all in a beast of a pellet grill. Innovative D2 direct drive keeps temperatures on target with a variable-speed fan and industry-first brushless motor, along with effortless controls for customized cook cycles, lightning-fast Turbo Temp ignition, and flavorful Super Smoke Mode. Premium construction, wireless functionality, superior pellet storage and management… the list (much like the Timberline’s seamless cooks) goes on and on.
- Double-walled interior is made from 304-grade stainless steel for superior insulation
- Patented Downdraft Exhaust system powerfully produces smoke to boost flavor
- WiFIRE controller can be paired with smartphone app and other smart devices
- Features 3-tiered, adjustable stainless steel cooking grates for customization
- Hopper with built-in fuel sensor and pellet cleanout system holds 24 lbs.
Traeger Ironwood Pellet Grills
Much like the upper-tier Timberline Series, Traeger Ironwood grills operate using the nearly unstoppable D2 direct drive system that doles out so much cooking convenience. This pellet grill series is sized down in both cooking space and pellet capacity, but you’ll still find many of the same user-friendly features waiting at your fingertips: Wi-Fi, pellet sensors and cleanout, powerful Downdraft Exhaust, and more. And when it comes to construction, double-walled insulation and all-terrain wheels lend durability worthy of the Traeger Ironwood name.
- Interior includes double-walled construction for improved strength and heat retention
- Relies on Traeger’s Downdraft Exhaust design to efficiently enhance flavor
- Wireless monitoring is possible thanks to Traeger’s WiFIRE controller
- Innovative D2 direct drive effortlessly manages a versatile temperature range
- Pellet hopper holds 20 lbs. and boasts a built-in pellet sensor and cleanout function
Traeger Pro Pellet Grills
Even the base line of Traeger pellet grills will make you feel like a professional pit master — it’s in the name, after all! Selects models feature the D2 controller and direct drive and all that comes with them, from Wi-Fi compatibility to Turbo Temp ignition. Though Traeger’s Pro Series lacks some advanced features like the double-walled interior and patented Downdraft Exhaust function, it has a handful of sizes and price points to choose from so you can find the pellet grill that fits your specific needs. No wonder Traeger has become so popular!
- Solidly constructed from powder-coated steel for years of backyard use
- Meticulously maintains smoke and heat output for consistently delicious results
- Some Wi-Fi options available for remote temperature control and monitoring
- Classic sawhorse design brings an authentic smoking experience to your home
- 18-lb.-capacity pellet hopper features a cleanout door for emptying and swapping fuel
We started this article saying we couldn’t declare a winner, and now that we’ve made every last comparison between Traeger and recteq, we’re still of the opinion that this race is too close to call. After reviewing the facts for yourself, we hope you see why it’s such a difficult choice. Both Traeger and recteq continually set the standard for pellet grills, with some of the most feature-heavy and well-made models on the market. The brand that’s right for you will always come down to your specific needs, and it’s our hope that the information presented here helped you realize what those needs are — and which manufacturer is best suited to meet them.
Now that you’re finished with the comparisons, why not hang around for a while? We’re certain your mind is turning over everything you’ve learned here, so now’s the perfect time to get on the phone with one of our grilling experts and talk through what you’re thinking. They’re standing by at 1-877-743-2269 to field whatever questions you might have about pellet grills, and maybe even chat about what they threw on the smoker this weekend. That kind of thing tends to happen when people who love grilling strike up a conversation.
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