Rec Tec vs. Traeger – What’s the Difference?
With the many brands and models in the market, and with new ones always coming up, investing in a wood pellet grill or smoker can be a complicated task.
But if you have been using these grills long enough or are a seasoned griller, the chances are you have already heard about Rec Tec and Traeger. The two are currently among the leading wood pellet grill manufacturers, and regardless of which you choose, you will end up with a good product.
However, given that they both have some amazing products in the market and are highly reputable, choosing between them can be a hectic task.
In this piece, we compare them using some of their popular grill models and provide an overview of each to help make the choice easier for grillers.
Rec Tec Overview
Rec Tec is a relatively new entrant into the wood pellet grill market, and this is more so when compared to Traeger which has been in business for many decades now. The company started its operation in 2011 a few years after Traeger’s wood pellet grill patent expired.
And from the onset, they have always focused on making pellet grills that embrace modern technologies to make grilling much easier for grillers. One of their most outstanding technologies is the Smart Grill Technology, and it is one of the key reasons why more and more grillers are opting for their product.
The company also focuses on making the highest quality products and will mostly make their grills with heavy-duty metal parts. They seem to pay greater attention to temperature control as almost all their grills will come with an advanced digital temperature controller.
Great customer service is another positive trait that this company is known for, and they will also provide relatively longer warranties for their grills.
Traeger is the original pellet grill manufacturer and they started making them in the late 1980s. The company also held the patent for these grill types until its expiry in 2006 which saw the market getting flooded with all kinds of pellet grills from various brands.
Despite the increased competition over the years, the company has always maintained high product standards and will only make their grills with top quality materials and components.
Also, over the years they have been embracing modern technologies as they try to keep up with the changing times and some of their latest models now include WiFi technology and other advanced features.
The company also has more model options than most other competing brands, and they are known to offer larger cooking areas for most of their grills.
But when compared to Rec Tec, their grills will come with a relatively shorter warranty, and the company also restricts users into only using their particular wood pellets as using any other voids the warranty.
Note: For comparison purposes, below we use the Rec Tec RT-700 and the Traeger Timberline 850 grills because besides being closer in size and price, they are among the most popular options from the two brands.
Rec Tec RT-700
Traeger Timberline 850
702 sq. in
850 sq. in.
200 to 500 ºF
165 to 500 ºF
2 stainless steel grates
3-tier stainless steel grates
Smart Grill Tech, Wi-Pellet
WiFire, Direct Drivetrain
Rec Tec vs. Traeger
While you will still have a top-quality pellet grill whether you buy Rec Tec of Traeger, to ensure that the decision on what you end up buying is a more informed one, it is vital to make sure you know what each has to offer. And using their two pellet grill models above here is an in-depth comparison of how they differ.
1. Cooking Area
The total cooking area that you get on the grill you buy will determine how much food you can cook at a go, and so whether you are comparing top brands or are just shopping for a good grill, it should be one of the first factors to consider.
With most of their models, Traeger always seems to have an edge over many other brands as they tend to give their products relatively larger cooking areas.
From our comparison, their Timberline 850 will provide 850 square inches of cooking area which is significantly larger than the 702 square inches that you get from the RT-700.
However, it is worth mentioning that Rec Tec offers an option for a second shelf which will then give you 1054 square inches, but on the same breath, Traeger also has the Timberline 1300 with a massive 1,300 square inches of cooking space. Hence, for the cooking area, Traeger still wins.
2. Temperature Range
Pellet grills with wide temperature ranges are always more preferable as they are more versatile since they will allow for both smoking and direct cooking.
Both the RT-700 and Timberline 850 will be ideal for both direct and indirect cooking since they have wide enough temperatures but the temperature ranges differ.
With the Rec Tec grill, you get a temperature range of between 200 and 500 degrees Fahrenheit which is not as wide as the 165 to 500 degrees Fahrenheit you get from Traeger. But, their grill is still good enough for different kinds of cooking and the temperature range is better than what many other wood pellet grill models out there have to offer.
3. Cooking Grates
Cooking grates hold the food and are also the bridge between it and the heat source. The good news is that both these grills have some top quality cooking grates.
While the stainless steel grates that they use might not offer the excellent heat retention you get from the cast-iron grates, they are still durable enough and perform amazingly well.
The RT-700 will come with a couple of stainless steel grates that provide lots of cooking area while the Timberline 850 has 3-tier stainless grills which besides providing more cooking space can also allow for zonal cooking when grilling.
4. Special Technologies
To keep up with the high competition and the ever-changing customer demands, grill manufacturers have to embrace modern technologies. Both Rec Tec and Traeger understand this better than many other brands judging for the different technologies used on their grills.
With Rec Tec, it is all about keeping the temperature precisely where you want it to ensure fast and even cooking. To achieve this, they make use of the Smart Grill Technology on their RT-700 and most of their other models.
Also, Rec Tec uses Wi-Fi Pellet technology on this grill that will allow grillers to control and monitor their grills remotely using smartphones and other wireless gadgets.
For Traeger Timberline 850, some of the key technologies that you can expect to get include the WiFire which is quite similar to what Tec Rec has to offer, and it is meant to allow you to control the grill remotely from anywhere.
Traeger also gives the grill a D2 Direct Drivetrain which will allow you to maintain consistent grilling temperature regardless of the weather.
5. Hopper Capacity
No one wants to keep adding more wood pellets to their grill after every few minutes because besides being tedious it will cause temperature fluctuations that can lead to uneven cooking.
But with Rec Tec and Traeger grills, this will hardly be an issue. Like many other top pellet grill brands, they make their grills with larger pellet hoppers.
However, when it comes to the hopper, Rec Tec takes the day here because their RT-700 will come with a massive 40-pound capacity hopper that will allow you to cook for many hours with minimal pellet refills.
With Timberline 850, you get a 24-pound hopper capacity which might be smaller than what Rec Tec offers but still large enough for most grillers.
The fact that these are two of the most reputable pellet grill manufacturers out there should be enough to convince you that their grills have been designed to last long enough. However, a warranty will be an even better assurance.
Rec Tec provides a 6-year warranty for their grill which is double the 3-year warranty you will get with the Traeger grill which means your investment will be protected longer.
Also, Rec Tec has better warranty terms because their warranty will not be voided regardless of the wood pellet type you use, unlike Traeger which only covers you when using their wood pellets.
But, despite the relatively shorter warranty, you can still buy the Traeger grill with confidence as the company is famous for making some of the finest quality and longest lasting pellet grills.
What you pay for either of these grills will depend on where you are buying, and given that they are products from top brands, it should be obvious that you will spend relatively more cash than what you would pay for the many inferior quality brands out there.
At the time of writing this article, the Rec Tec RT-700 is retailing at $600 less than what you would pay for Traeger’s Timberline 850. Both prices are from the respective manufacturer websites and the large price difference reflects Traeger’s superior overall quality.
But while the Traeger grill is significantly the pricier of the two models we are comparing, the same is not always true for their other models because Rec Tec still has some quite expensive pellet grills while Traeger has many inexpensive ones.
Good temperature control, sturdy and durable built and great overall performance are what define a good pellet, but if you find two brands like Rec Tec and Traeger that offer products that will deliver all three, then the choice becomes a little hectic.
But, choosing between these two great brands will only require you to first understand what gives each an edge over the other and then match that to your needs and settle for what meets them best.
For grillers looking for a good old pellet grill that is well-built and offers more versatility and a larger cooking area, Traeger should work best for you.
However, the grillers that prefer something with more modern looks and features, superior overall performance and is still sturdy and well-built should give Rec Tec a try.