For years, Traeger has been the go-to pellet grill manufacturer, but, while they are still popular, the quality of their grills has been under increased scrutiny lately.
Companies like REC TEC are challenging Traeger with fantastic new grills like the RT-700 WiFi Enabled Pellet Grill.
The Traeger range is so broad that a direct comparison is a little tricky. However, in this article, we’ll show you why the RT-700 gives it’s closest Traeger competitor, the Ironwood 650, a run for its money.
REC TEC vs. Traeger, which company has the best pellet grill?
Both Traeger and REC TEC produce a range of different wood pellet grills.
Traeger has by far the largest catalog of grills to choose from, while REC TEC has a more manageable number of consumer options that share the same basic design.
In general, REC TEC offer slightly better value for money, and people rave about their customer service.
However, Traeger introduced a brand new line up of grills in 2019 with some enticing features.
To help you decide we’ve compared the top of the line REC TEC with similarly priced Traeger Ironwood.
REC TEC RT-700 overview
REC TEC is a garage startup out of Augusta, Georgia, that hit the pellet grilling scene back in 2009.
As a company, they differentiate themselves from the competition with their excellent customer service, unique social media marketing, and their preference for selling directly to their customers, rather than using dealers.
The RT-700 stands out from the crowd because of its vast cooking area, the quality of its full stainless-steel construction, and its larger 40lb capacity pellet hopper that can fuel up to 40 hours of continuous cooking.
- A 702 square inch cooking area which can be increased to 1054 square inches using the optional large second shelf
- A 40lb capacity pellet hopper
- A Smart Grill Technology temperature controller using proprietary Parameter Identification (PID) algorithms
- Dual meat probes complete with probe portholes and rubber grommets
- WiFi-enabled and controllable using the REC TEC Grills app
- 6 years of warranty
- Temperature range of 180°F to as high as 550°F
The RT-700 uses full stainless steel construction on everything from the cooking chamber to the iconic micro-polished stainless-steel bull horn handles.
- Durable and high-quality stainless steel construction
- A high capacity pellet hopper
- A massive 6 years of warranty
- Huge,1054 square inch, cooking area when suing the optional large second shelf
- While the quality of the workmanship is worth the price, the cost of the RT-700 is still high and might put it out of the range of buyers looking for an entry-level grill
- The app could use a little extra functionality, such as the ability to save temperature graphs and the option to set the RT-700 to different temperatures based on a timer.
Traeger Ironwood 650
Traeger patented the first pellet grill back in 1986 and put it into production in 1988. While the patent stood, Traeger didn’t really have any competition.
The first generation of grills was excellent, but the quality of subsequent iterations did diminish, and it’s not hard to find disgruntled Traeger owners pointing out quality issues online.
The good news is that the most recent generation of Traeger grills harks back to the old days in terms of their build quality, but come packed with all the modern technology you’d expect from a cutting-edge pellet grill.
The Ironwood 650 is an excellent example of this new emphasis on quality and functionality. The Pro D2 Controller is easy to use and holds a consistent temperature while the Pro D2 Direct Drive and TurboTemp system get the grill heated quickly and claim to provide enough heat to sear a steak.
Ironwood 650 Specs
- 650 square inch cooking area
- A 20lb capacity pellet hopper
- Double side-walled interior for superior heat retention
- Pro D2 Controller temperature controller connected to a Pro D2 Direct Drive auger drill
- Single meat probe
- Uses WiFIRE® Technology, the Traeger app and is Alexa enabled
- 3 years of warranty
- Temperature range of 165°F to as high as 500°F
- Super smoke mode
- Downdraft exhaust system
The Ironwood 650s chassis is made from powder-coated steel, the door handles are made from stainless steel, and the grill grates are made from easy-to-clean porcelain.
Ironwood 650 pros
- The Pro780 comes packed with new technology, like the D2 system, TurboTemp, a Timer, and Keep Warm features
- WiFire, cell phone app, and Alexa compatible
- High quality multifunction digital controller
- Bottom cooking grate can be lowered for searing
- New Downdraft exhaust system keeps smoke in the chamber longer and helps maintain even heat
Ironwood 650 cons
- A little less space than the RT-700 unless you upgrade to the 885 model
- Only a three-year warranty for a high tech product
REC TEC vs Traegar: Features head to head
Now that you know the basics of both manufactures and both models let’s get down to the nitty-gritty and compare them head to head.
Unlike a rugged kettle grill or charcoal smoker, a pellet grill is a high tech piece of kit. The combination of sensitive digital temperature controls, wifi-enabled app compatibility, and a complicated pellet feeding system means there is a lot to go wrong.
The length of warranty a company gives its products is a good measuring stick for their faith in the quality of their construction. In this case, the 6-year warranty of the REC TEC RT-700 beats the 3-year warranty of the Traeger hands down.
This isn’t really surprising given that the RT-700’s fully stainless steel construction is much more durable than the lighter powdered-steel of the Traeger.
Winner – Rec Tec RT-700
The temperature controller for the Traeger Ironwood has a dial-based system for setting temperature and Pro D2 Controller for keeping that temperature consistent. It also features the Turbo Temp system that rapidly heats the grill back up after the lid has been opened.
Using Traeger’s trademark Advanced Grilling Logic algorithm, the Ironwood can keep to within +/- 15°F of the selected temperature by monitoring a single temperature probe.
While this is reasonably accurate and is a step up from previous Traeger models, it is still outshined by the more advanced PID style controller found on the RT-700.
Using REC TEC’s proprietary PID algorithms and its two temperature probes, the RT-700’s Smart Grill Technology can keep temperatures within +/- 5°F of the selected temperature.
This accuracy, coupled with the lowered heat-loss potential of its heavier stainless steel body, means the RT-700 is better able to maintain a consistent temperature than the Timberline.
The RT-700 also comes with an automatic lighting and cooldown mode.
Winner – Rec Tec RT-700
Pellet hopper capacity
Another clear winner for the RT-700 here. The 40lb capacity pellet hopper means you can get nearly 40 hours of cooking time from the RT-700 before you need to do any refilling.
The 20lb hopper on the Traeger is less than half the size and, as if to rub that in, Traeger sells its bags of wood pellets in 20lb increments.
Winner – Rec Tec RT-700
The cleaning process for both the RT-700 and the Ironwood 650 is reasonably similar. Both have porcelain elements, such as the grill trays for the Treaer and an enamel lid lining for the RT-700, which are easier to clean than the other stainless steel elements.
The drip tray, which can be lined with foil for easier cleanup, is removable on both models, and the firebox is easily accessible and best cleaned out with a vacuum cleaner.
The design of the two grills is similar enough that there’s not much to choose between them when it comes to cleaning.
Both Traeger and REC TEC have cultivated a reputation for excellent customer service and interactions with the community.
Traeger uses US-based representatives who are knowledgeable about the products and work hard to make sure their customers are happy. It’s part of why the brand is so popular.
REC TEC, however, has taken that focus on customer service one step further. Each one of their grills comes with the phone numbers of the company’s founders, who will actually answer the phone to help you with any issues you have with their products.
That kind of dedication from all levels of a company is pretty much unmatched and is why, while Traeger offers great customer service, REC TEC still wins this round.
Winner – Rec Tec RT-700
This one is a little subjective, and it depends on your personal taste, but for me, the RT-700 is the better looking of the two grills.
The finish just screams quality, from that solid stainless-steel build to the bull horn handles. Everything about the RT-700 looks like care and attention has been paid to its design and creation.
Obviously, if you think polished steel, bull horns, and a cherry red lid is a bit….much, then the more muted copper or black finish of the Traeger would be right up your alley.
Winner – Rec Tec RT-700
WiFi / App experience
Both the REC TEC and the Traeger lean hard on how interactive their new WiFi-enabled grills are when marketing them.
The Traeger and the RT-700 can both be remotely controlled through the use of a smartphone app, allowing the user to monitor and change the temperature, set timers, and receive push alerts when the grill reaches a specific temperature.
Both apps do suffer from similar connectivity and lag issues, however, the Traeger app has both a massive database of searchable recipes with automatic temperature settings and is Alexa compatible, for truly hands-free cooking.
These extra features mean that the Traeger app simply has more utility than its REC TEC competition.
Winner – Traeger Ironwood
Stand out features
While both grills share a lot of features that can be compared head to head, the RT-700 has two standout features that set is apart.
An interior light
It might not seem like much because you could always just bring a torch outside with you, but the fact that REC TEC bothered to include an interior light speaks volumes about the quality of their design process.
Sure, you could bring a torch with you, but then you’ve got one less hand available. REC TEC has gone the extra step with the RT-700 and solved the problem for you with the kind of quality of life improvement you expect on a grill with a $1,200 price tag.
Two temperature probes
Another subtle addition, but adding a second temperature probe to their already impressive temperature control set up makes the RT-700 that much more consistent.
Exceptional temperature control is one of the things that sets pellet grills apart from other live-fire cookers, and REC TEC has made the extra effort to make the RT-700 as accurate and reliable as possible.
While we’ve focused on the RT-700 and the Timberline 650, there are other options from both REC TEC and Traeger with similar features.
REC TEC Stampede RT-590
If the RT-700 is the largest of the REC TEC pellet grills, then the RT-590 is the medium option.
The RT-590 is built with an octagonal stainless steel body that offers a little more headroom than traditional barrel grills.
With a capacity of 592 square inches, which can be expanded to 772 square inches with a second shelf, the RT-590 has a lot of cooking space to go around. It also has a 30lb pellet hopper offering about 30 hours of cooking time.
The RT-590 also comes with REC TEC’s trademark PID algorithm-based Smart Grill Technology for that great temperature consistency.
Get the latest price from REC TEC.
REC TEC Trailblazer RT-340
The baby of the bunch, the RT-340 is a reasonably portable pellet grill weighing in at just 80lbs.
Just because it’s small, however, doesn’t mean REC TEC skimped on the extras. You can expect the same Smart Grill Technology, duel heat probes, and Wi-Pellet WiFi Technology of its bigger brothers.
With a cooking area of 340 square inches, which can be bumped to 511 square inches with an extra shelf, the RT-340 lets you do a lot of cooking for such a small grill.
Get the latest price from REC TEC.
Traeger Timberline 850/1300
The high-end Timberline series is the current Traeger flagship and combines all of the advanced tech we’ve discussed, with up to 1300 square inches of cooking space, and a rugged double-wall stainless steel interior.
Timberline grills also come with a host of quality of life additions such as a magnetic bamboo cutting board and a concealed grease management system.
Get the latest price from Traeger.
Wrapping it up
The Traeger Ironwood 650 is an excellent pellet grill with some great WiFi and app-based functionality, reasonable temperature control, and high-quality multifunction digital controller.
However, the REC TEC RT-700 does have the edge in a range of important factors, from the quality of its full stainless steel build to the fact that its temperature controller is 10°F more accurate.
Both grills would make excellent additions to any pitmaster’s backyard. However, for the price, the REC TEC is simply a better-made grill.
Do you have a preference between Traeger or REC TEC? Do you think all the WiFi and app functionality actually improves the utility of a pellet grill? We’d love it if you’d let us know in the comments below.