Home Reviews Rec Tec vs Traeger: Who Comes Out On Top?

Rec Tec vs Traeger: Who Comes Out On Top?

by Burning Brisket
Rec-Tec-Vs-Traeger

One of the newest competitors in the pellet grill arena is REC TEC. With a similar price point, a unique look, and a few fancy features to peak your interest, Rec Tec seriously competes with the original Traeger Grills. So, which one’s the better buy?

In this guide, we take a look at the differences and similarities between Rec Tec vs Traeger to help you decide. There’s a broad brand comparison first. Then, we place similar models side by side so you can see what your money will actually buy.

Keep in mind that although we’re looking to help you pick a winner, both Rec Tec and Traeger are great choices. They’re high-quality pellet smokers with good reputations that, at the end of the day, will produce awesome food. You really can’t go wrong with either.

A Bit About Traeger

Pellet grills were invented by Traeger’s founder, Joe Traeger, in 1985. And, knowing he’d come up with something revolutionary, he patented the idea in 1986, giving Traeger exclusive rights to manufacture and sell pellet smokers to the world for the next 20 years.

During this time, Traeger really established themselves as THE pellet grill company, building a reputation of quality, reliability and the best results in town.

But, once their patent expired in 2006, Joe sold his family business, Traeger, and other companies started competing in the lucrative pellet smoker industry. This helped fuel innovation and price competition as more features were added to the original pellet grill concept.

Now, Traeger are still one of the most popular pellet grill manufacturers. Although they’ve had a few quality issues as they moved their production overseas, Traeger still says premium in most people’s minds. And, premium they are. High-quality and reliable, Traeger have been adding newer features like WiFIRE to their grills to maintain their top of the line image.

Where are Traeger grills produced?

Although they were originally manufactured in the US, Traeger are now made in China like most competing pellet smoker brands.

A Bit About Rec Tec

Rec Tec Logo
Recteq logo

REC TEC was founded in 2009 a few years after Traeger’s patent expired. And, what began in the garage of two barbecue-loving friends, has now grown into a large company that’s a key player in the pellet smoker industry.

Focusing on using high-quality materials and superior technology, Rec Tec now have a wide range of pellet grills that are easily recognizable with their bull horn shaped handles.

After changing their name in 2020 from REC TEC to all lowercase recteq, you’ll probably see both on marketing materials for a while. But, they’re the same highly rated grill.

Where are recteq grills made?

Most of the recteq components are manufactured in China. Their computer’s are made in the US and quality control is also completed in their Georgia facility.

Comparing recteq Vs Traeger Pellet Grills

Before we start comparing actual pellet smokers, there’s a few major areas that you’re going to look at when buying a new pellet grill. So, here’s an overview of how Rec Tec vs Traeger perform as a brand in these important areas.

Price

You probably know already, but, recteq and Traeger aren’t the cheapest, entry-level pellet smokers out there. With a focus on high-quality, often premium materials with a few extras that set them apart, both brands sit in the mid to high range of the pellet smoker market.

But, Rec Tec are, overall, priced a little lower than Traeger’s line-up. And, for what you spend, you do get a little more for your money.

The bottom line – Both Rec Tec and Traeger have similarly priced pellet smokers on the market. But, overall, Rec Tec’s specs give a little better value for money – REC TEC.

Construction

With both Traeger and Rec Tec, you can expect a high quality build. You’ve got heavy-duty components, good welds and a tight fit creating a solid smoker that holds heat and smoke well.

But, there is a bit of a difference in terms of the materials used.

Traeger’s pellet grills are built from powder-coated steel with porcelain-coated grates. The mid-range Ironwood has double side wall insulation for better heat retention. And, their top of the line Timberline offers upgraded stainless steel grates and a fully insulated, double-walled barrel with stainless steel interior.

Plenty of high-quality options to suit different budgets.

But, what’s so cool about recteq is that every component in all of their smokers is built from stainless steel. The only exception is their ceramic heating rod which will probably outlast the stainless anyway.

Unlike some Traeger’s they’re not insulated. But, there’s an insulation blanket for the RT-700. If you live somewhere cold, you’ll want to grab a blanket for the Traeger Pro series anyway.

The bottom line – You get great quality with both Rec Tec and Traeger. But, we do love Rec Tec’s full stainless design available across their whole range – REC TEC.

Temperature Range

When it comes to heat range, Traeger and recteq perform similarly. Both max out at about 500°F. But, recteq does have a FULL setting that will get hotter than that.

At max temp, you can grill on any of these pellet smokers. But, do keep in mind that it’s indirect heat so you’re not going to get the same crisp seal that you’d get from an open flame pellet smoker (check out Pit Boss with their slide out sear plate for an alternative).

At the lowest temperature settings, most Traeger’s do 150°F while the Rec Tec’s hit 200°F. Much of a muchness for most users. But, we’ll mention the difference anyway.

The bottom line – The Rec Tec and Traeger have a similar temperature range. But, with RecTec’s extra FULL setting, they do have a slight edge for grilling performance – REC TEC.

Temperature Control

Reliably maintaining the target temperature is another area where Traeger and Rec Tec do both perform strongly.

Most of Traeger’s range use a Pro D2 Controller to stick within +/-15°F of your desired temperature. And, the Ironwood and Timberline series have the extra Turbo Temp feature which bumps the temperature up faster again if you’ve opened the lid, a nice bonus feature.

But, if you do want the ultimate in terms of temperature control, Rec Tec’s PID style controller is even more advanced. The PID is the same technology that’s used in commercial breweries and bakeries to maintain a temperature that’s steady enough for consistent results time and time again. And, it’ll keep your pellet smoker within +/-5°F of your target by using the temperature and fuel usage rate data to calculate exactly when to turn the ignitor on and off and how many pellets to add to achieve or maintain the temperature.

Recteq let you set the temperature in 5 degree increments while Traeger do 15 degree blocks.

Like Traeger, the Rec Tec’s do have an automatic sensing feature that recognizes as soon as you’ve opened the lid, adding more fuel to get things going again. It also has an automatic shutdown and cooldown mode.

All the grills in Rec Tec and Traeger’s lineups have WiFi so you can control the temperature remotely as well.

The bottom line – Traeger grills do a good job of automatically maintaining temperature. But, Rec Tec’s more advanced PID controller will keep an even tighter control of the heat – REC TEC.

Cooking Space

Because they’re both specialists in pellet smokers, there’s a pretty good choice in sizing from both Traeger and recteq. From smaller, portable models to huge 2500 square inch beasts, there’s probably going to be a size that fits your needs.

Keep in mind, Traeger’s larger grills are only available in their more expensive ranges. So, if you want bigger, you’re also going to have to pay for more features. Rec Tec’s, on the other hand, have the same features over their whole range.

Some of Rec Tec’s models also have space for you to add an extra shelf, expanding the cooking area above what’s advertised.

The bottom line – Traeger do have more sizes available. But, the larger sizes are only available in their more expensive models. So, it’s a tie between the two – REC TEC AND TRAEGER.

Pellet Hopper Size

Traeger’s line-up (with the exception of their smaller portable models), use 18, 20 or 24 pound pellet hoppers. They reckon you’ll use a pretty standard 1 to 3 pounds of pellets per hour. At lower temperatures, that might give you 18-24 hours of untouched smoking time at max which is enough to do overnight cooks.

Rec Tec’s smallest pellet grill has a 20 pound hopper which they advertise gives 20+ hours of cook time. But, their larger models come with 30, 40, or an impressive 66 pound dual hopper on their RT-CMG Beast model.

So, you do get a larger hopper and longer cook times without having to add more fuel on Rec Tec’s. But, you’ve also got to ask, is Traeger’s still plenty? For most users, yes.

It’s also worth mentioning that Rec Tec pellet smokers don’t have a pellet purge system. It’s pretty much the only downside that we see. They’ve addressed the issue stating that pellet purge doors make it easier for moisture to enter the hopper and soften the pellets which is a valid point. Reading reviews from lots of users, even Floridians haven’t had a problem leaving pellets in there for a few weeks. But, worth mentioning!

The bottom line – Rec Tec grills have larger hopper capacities offering a longer smoke time – REC TEC.

Warranty

Recteq want you to be able to hand your smoker down as an heirloom. So, they’re saying they think they’ll well outlast their industry-leading 6 year warranty. But, they’re warranty is solid covering absolutely every part of the grill over those 6 years. They’re well-known for their awesome customer service. And, you even get both co-founders cell numbers with every grill. I’m not sure how long they’ll be able to keep that up. But, we’re here for it!

In comparison, Traeger smokers come with a 3 year warranty. It’s still good. It’s just outshone by Rec Tec’s when you go head to head.

The bottom line – Rec Tec are the clear winner here! – REC TEC.

Extra Features

Whether you choose Traeger or Rec Tec, both come with WiFi for remote control and 1 or 2 meat probes so you know exactly when your meat is done (2 with all Rec Tec’s, 2 with higher model Trager’s).

Traeger’s Ironwood and Timberline series offer a few fancy extras like super smoke mode, Turbo Temp for faster set up, a downdraft exhaust system, low pellet sensor and an integrated grease management system.

Rec Tec also has an extra low temperature setting for more smoke, but also offers an extra hot setting, automatic cool-down and has a great clean-up system. The stainless steel hopper lid doubles as a warmer, and, there’s 4 tie down points so you can easily secure your grill for transport or for security at home.

Again, what’s cool about Rec Tec is that these extras are available across their range. You don’t have to opt for a bigger grill to get these bonuses.

The popular Rec Tec RT-700 also has an optional side smoke box that’s specifically designed for cold smoking. It’s a nice addition that most pellet smokers don’t offer but gives some extra versatility.

The bottom line – Both Rec Tec and Traeger offer useful extras and WiFi capability for remote operation. We’ll call this a tie as it kinda depends on what extras you value – REC TEC and TREAGER.

Our Overall Rec Tec vs Traeger Winner

We simply can’t go past Rec Tec’s full stainless steel design! We love that they’re consistent with their features across their range so you’re still getting the same quality on their smaller grills. We love their PID temperature controller and the fact that every detail has been thoughtfully designed.

Don’t get us wrong! We do love us a Traeger. Solid, dependable and a house-name, they’re a great buy.

But, Rec Tec do have the edge on almost every single aspect we reviewed above. And, because of that, we do feel that they offer slightly better value for money too.

Recteq vs Traeger Grill Comparisons

The theory is all very well and true. But, there’s nothing like stacking one smoker against another to really see what you can get for your money.

So, here’s some of the most popular Rec Tec and Traeger’s compared at similar price points.

Rec Tec vs Traeger - Budget Options

Image

Price range

$$$

$$$

Construction

Powder-coated stainless steel with stainless steel grates

Powder-coated steel with porcelain-coated steel grates

Temperature Range

200 - 500°F+

150 - 500°F

Cooking space

592 square inches

575 square inches

Pellet hopper capacity

30 pounds

18 pounds

Warranty

6 years

3 years

Extra Features

  • WiFi enabled

  • Optional second shelf would take it to 772sq in

  • 2 meat probes with port holes

  • Auto shutdown

  • LO setting for max smoke

  • Comes with grill cover, 2 non-stick side mats and 200 lbs of recteq pellets

  • WiFIRE connectivity

  • Alexa enabled

  • 1 built-in meat probe

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Recteq vs Traeger - Mid-Range Options

Image

Price range

$$$$

$$$$

Construction

Powder-coated stainless steel with stainless steel grates

Double side walled, insulated, powder-coated steel with porcelain-coated steel grates

Temperature Range

200 - 500°F+

150 - 500°F

Cooking space

702 square inches

885 square inches

Pellet hopper capacity

40 pounds

20 pounds

Warranty

6 years

3 years

Extra Features

  • WiFi enabled

  • 2 meat probes with port holes

  • Auto shutdown

  • Optional 2nd shelf would take it to 1,054 sq in

  • LO setting for max smoke

  • Comes with grill cover, 2 non-stick side mats and 200 lbs of recteq pellets

  • WiFIRE connectivity

  • Alexa enabled

  • 1 built-in meat probe

  • Low pellet sensor alert

  • Super smoke mode

  • Turbo Temp

  • Downdraft exhaust system

  • Pellet purge system

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Pit Boss vs Traeger - Top of the Line Options

Image

Price range

$$$$$

$$$$

Construction

Stainless steel with stainless steel grates

Double side walled, insulated, powder-coated steel with stainless steel grates

Temperature Range

200 - 500°F+

150 - 500°F

Cooking space

2535 square inches

885 square inches

Pellet hopper capacity

53 pounds

24 pounds

Warranty

6 years

3 years

Extra Features

  • WiFi connectivity

  • 2 meat probes with port holes

  • Hydrolic lid system

  • Auto shutdown

  • LO setting for max smoke

  • Dual interior, dishwasher safe lights

  • Stainless steel meat hanger

  • WiFIRE connectivity

  • Alexa enabled

  • 1 meat probe

  • Low pellet sensor alert

  • Super smoke mode

  • Turbo Temp

  • Downdraft exhaust system

  • Pellet purge system

  • Magnetic bamboo cutting board

  • Integrated Grease Management System

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So, after reading all of that, where are you at with the Rec Tec vs Traeger debate?

They’re two awesome brands with a solid range of choices. And, none of them are a bad option. But, we do love recteq’s full stainless steel with PID controller design. In 2020, they are a newer kid on the block. And, needing to bring it to the market has made them really shine in performance, technology and value for money.

If you want to go for Traeger, do it! – you won’t be disappointed.

But, same goes for if you’re ready and rearing to fire up a recteq.

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