Pellet Grill Breakdown-Are Traeger Pellet Grills worth the price?
Pellet Grill Breakdown-Are Traeger Pellet Grills worth the price?
So you’ve made the decision to commit and buy a great pellet grill for this coming summer. Congrats! You can now join the ranks of master pit smokers and grillers everywhere from the comfort of your own backyard.
Summer is fast approaching, the season of family get-togethers and cookouts. While nothing sounds better than having a cold beer and firing up some steaks, the experience is only as good as your grill. Now that you’ve made the initial decision, the Internet is full of differing opinions on what you need in a pellet grill. While we know that Traeger is the original, do you really need to pay that price to get top-notch grilling power? Here’s a side-by-side comparison of three of the top companies on the market to help answer that question.
It’s important to remember that all of these pellet grills are the best of all worlds. It’s a grill, a smoker, an oven, a convection oven, and a stove top all in the convenience of your backyard. There are so many different options on the market, we’re going practical and classifying pellet smokers and grills in terms of price range.
This company was started to create a pellet grill that was the “best value per square inch”. Basically, Pit Boss wants everyone to get in on the pellet grilling scene, and they want you to be able to enjoy it now.
With a hopper capacity of 19 lbs of wood pellets, this is a respectable grill. The Pit Boss 820FB has a pellet sensor to let you know when you are running low on fuel and also helps you optimize your pellet usage. It has a V1-Digital Control Board for easy food babysitting, and is ideal for large groups for BBQ entertainment.
Pit Boss Pellet Grills like to measure grilling space in ‘burger capacity’ and for this pellet grill, that is 42 burgers. In actual measurements it comes out to 818 square inches of grilling space. This is great news for those who have a great big family and want to sit and enjoy the summer evenings together and then sit down, together, to a burger dinner.
The Pit Boss has a wide range of temperature, wider than most, though not as extensive as the Traeger counterpart. Starting at 180 and going all the way to 500, it has a higher finish, which also helps for grilling in the more conventional sense.
A special feature that sets them apart from Traeger is that Pit Boss placed their fire pot in the middle of their grill surface and the fire pit has a sliding plate to allow for easy searing, which the Traeger pellet grill does not have. In addition, the Pit Boss has a five year warranty, a step above the Traeger and Z Grill standard 3 years. Touted as a 8-in-1 pellet grill, they are here to make any grilling needs affordable for all.
Traeger is the original pellet grill. Joe Traeger created the pellet grill in the 1980’s and therefore they are the forerunners of quality and capacity. However, they are also the most pricey. Just like with any great quality product, when you invest in a pellet grill, you are not just paying for the item, you are also paying for the top product on the market. Looking at the Ironwood Pellet Grill, decked out with all the bells and whistles, you definitely have reached the top.
Also an 8-in-1, as the Pit Boss 820FB Wood Pellet is modeled after this particular pellet grill, the Ironwood 885 has, like its name, 885 square inches of cooking space. That’s enough room to roast 10 whole chickens or 7 racks of ribs. Pretty impressive when you have the entire family over for a backyard bash.
There are a few special features from Traeger Grills that set their grills apart from the rest of the pack. Some think that with the monopoly that Traeger had from the pellet grill’s inception to 2006, the name became nothing more than hype and you could get a great pellet grill with all the features you need without breaking the bank. To dispute that, Traeger rolled out a lineup of grills in 2019 that put that fear to rest.
Like the Pit Boss 820FB Wood Pellet, the Ironwood series has a pellet sensor. But that’s not all it has. The D2 controller has the latest in technology and is your command center for your wood fired flavor. The D2 drive-train gives you more precise control over your experience, and enhances the rugged durability of your outdoor pellet grill. With a greater temperature range and an adjustable speed fan and auger set to optimize your pellet usage, you have the ultimate control of your food’s flavor. Add in the Super Smoke feature for a vamping up on flavor and you are all set for the best BBQ out there.
TurboTemp allows for a quick preheat so that you can get to grilling as soon as possible and also gives you consistent results throughout the grilling process, as your grill responds to your slightest whim. The Wifi feature is a cool idea that allows the grillmaster-that is, you, to control the temperature of your grill from your phone without even getting up from hanging with the family.
The Ironwood series also has a versatile temperature range of 165-500, which allows for longer, slower smokes and roasts and higher grilling finishes. Definitely something to keep in mind, as the more temps you have, the more options you have for your food. The higher temperature also helps for creating a sear, but you need to buy accessories such as a cast iron pan to help you get there. There is truth to what Traeger says, though, about searing on their grills-don’t sacrifice wood-fired flavor for grill marks. As searing is an issue on almost all pellet grills, this is not a substantial hit to Traeger Grills.
The Traeger Pellet Grills all have a 3 year warranty, which is definitely something you want to keep in mind, especially compared to Pit Boss 5 Year warranty, as it’s not just an impulse buy.
Another cool feature that is possible with the Wifi connectivity is the preset custom cook cycles. Traeger pellet grills are pre programmed with 2 beginner recipes, but you can download multitudes of recipes directly to your Traeger App and have your grill take all the guesswork out for consistently amazing results.
Traeger pellet grills elevate your barbeque experience. While expensive, with all these amazing new features to try, why wouldn’t you get the best?
This is the relative newcomer to the pellet grill industry, and though they are pretty fresh, Z Grills has truly been around for longer than their actual brand, as they are originally manufacturers of the Traeger brand.
The pellet grill itself has a nice look to it, seeming to be very similar to its Traeger counterpart at a fraction of the price. It is stocked with all the basic necessities for pellet grilling. With a grilling surface area of 513 square inches, it is quite a bit smaller than the other two pellet grills we discussed but still gives great value for what you are receiving.
Temperatures on this pellet smoker range from 180°-450°, which is most definitely respectable, though lower than both the other two options we discussed. Like most pellet grills, this creates a small issue with searing, which is easily surmounted by using a cast iron pan and allowing it to preheat beforehand.
The Z Grill is easy to clean with a grease bucket, and there is a convection hopper that can hold 20 lbs of pellets. The Smart Smoke technology is more than up to scratch, allowing you optimal smoke for your beef, so you can just ‘set it and forget it’, as they say on their website.
The smoker has a digital auto temperature control and an LED display temperature readout. Not as flashy as the Wifi controlled Traeger, but that’s excessive hoopla to some, and many grillers like to be on top of the hood of their grill.
Neck in neck with the Pit Boss, it seems like the Z Grills are a solid contender, but it’s hard to tell as they are really rather new to the market and therefore there are no guarantees for service and performance. They have a good track record with Traeger, keeping that company on top for over 30 years, but as a name for themselves, only time will tell. The price to pay, however, is definitely a consideration when buying a pellet grill that you want to last and to give you the best grilling experience.