Traeger is one of the best established grill brands on the market. Founded in 1985, the company was the first to use wood pellets for grilling. But, the original pellet grill has come a long way in the company, and some grill models are now so modern that they even include WiFi. Traeger is generally loved by its users, although the company has had a fair amount of trouble in the customer service department. It's not uncommon to hear that it can take weeks to get a replacement part in case something breaks.
Rec Tec is a newer brand that was commissioned to manufacture pellet grills in 2009, after the original Traeger patent expired. The company focused on two things to differentiate itself: making sure you can get extremely accurate cooking temperatures, and building grills with sturdy stainless steel that won't rust over time. Since Rec Tec is a much smaller company than Traeger, it's no surprise that customers consistently praise the steak's personal touches and customer service.
One of the biggest differences to consider when choosing between Rec Tec and Traeger is the temperature control system that each company uses. Rec Tec has developed SmartGrill technology, which allows you to fine-tune your grill temperature by as little as 5ºF at a time. You can also get a temperature below 200ºF for smoking in the "Lo" setting or above 500ºF for charring in the "Hi" setting.
Traeger grills are good, but no match for that range. They typically have a minimum temperature of 200ºF and a maximum temperature of 450ºF. You are also limited to adjusting the temperature in 15ºF increments, although this is unlikely to be a problem for most foods.
It is also important to consider the quality of the construction. Rec Tec prides itself on using thicker stainless steel than most other manufacturers, allowing your grills to last a lifetime without rusting. They are still stainless steel, so they will rust over time, but the process takes decades rather than years.
However, the Traeger grills are of high quality. The company uses a variety of specialized coatings on its steel surfaces to prevent acidity and grease from corroding the material. If you continue cleaning your grill after use, most users report that these grills will also work for decades.
Another important difference to keep in mind when comparing the Rec Tec and Traeger grills is the warranty policy. Rec Tec offers an extremely long warranty, up to six years, for its flagship grill, the RT-700. But, that policy is reduced to just two years in some of its most affordable models. Traeger's warranty is three years on all its models.
Of course, cost is also important in comparing these brands. Traeger grills are generally several hundred dollars cheaper than Rec Tec's competing models. That's not too surprising, since Traeger is a larger company with well-established production lines. Importantly, Traeger manufactures most of its grills in China, while the manufacturing of Rec Tec is primarily based in the USA. USA Fortunately, this appears to be an area where Chinese-made offers almost the same level of quality as American-made grills.