Best Pellet Grills

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Best Pellet Grills and Smokers of 2022

2022 brought so many new high end pellet grills and smokers to the market which made it somewhat challenging picking the best pellet grill of the year. Most of these grills are quite expensive and not for your average backyard enthusiast. If you’re looking for something economical, go check out our other articles here.

For 2022, we have to give the top pellet grill award to the Camp Chef Apex. Camp Chef launched the grill mid year and brought some amazing feature sets that no other pellet grill company has. They essentially integrated a quality gas grill setup into a high end pellet grill chassis.

The Apex is not a Camp Chef Woodwind, so do not try comparing these two pellet grills. Camp Chef completely started from the ground up with the Apex and made big changes such as: insulated cook box walls, revamped smoke flow damper, temp probe storage, easy access grease tray and ash cleanout. Very nice features.

We also included our other favorite pellet grills and gave a shout out to some smaller pellet grill companies doing great things that deserve to be noticed.

Read on to see our top picks and honorable mentions for 2022.

Angry BBQ’s Top Picks

IMAGE MODEL FEATURES
byb2-table__imageTop PickTop PickCamp Chef Apex 24 with Gas
  • Full Gas Grill Capability
  • Insulated Walls
  • WIFI
CHECK PRICE
byb2-table__imageRunner UpRunner UpRecteq RT-700
  • Very Heavy Built
  • WIFI
  • 40 pound hopper
CHECK PRICE
byb2-table__imageBest CompetitionBest CompetitionYoder YS640s Competition
  • Competition Cart
  • Extremely Heavy Built
  • WIFI
CHECK PRICE
byb2-table__imageBest High EndBest High EndTraeger Timberline XL
  • Induction Cooktop
  • Built-In Options
  • Pop and Lock Accessories
CHECK PRICE
byb2-table__imageHonarable MentionHonarable MentionGreen Mountain Grills Prime Peak
  • Best Smoke Profile
  • WIFI
  • 12 volt power
CHECK PRICE

Our Top Pellet Grills and Smokers


1. Camp Chef Apex 24 with Gas Kit Review – Top Pick

At the start of June 2022, Camp Chef announced their take on how to get the perfect sear on a pellet grill with the launch of the Apex series of pellet grills. We’ve been a fan of their pellet grills here at Angry BBQ, including their SG 24 WiFi model, but Camp Chef knocked it out of the park with the Apex.

The biggest innovation on the Apex series is the addition of gas burners on the models including the gas kit. The 24″ Apex has four gas burners capable of 36,000 BTUs per hour while the 36″ has six burners putting out 54,000 BTUs. Both grills also have Camp Chef’s Sidekick burner that produces 28,000 BTUs.

However, Camp Chef did not simply add burners to one of their Woodwind or SG models. They took the time to focus on how the Apex series performs as a smoker as well as a grill. They added insulation and gaskets to the lid to improve heat retention. The smoke stack is gone, replaced by rear ventilation to help improve smoke and heat circulation throughout the cook chamber.

If you’re a fan of long smoking sessions involving a brisket or multiple pork butts, the Apex can handle that. It boasts a 30-lb pellet hopper for plenty of fuel as well as four included temperature probes (and a storage drawer!) to make sure whatever you’re smoking reaches the proper internal temperature.

The 24″ model boasts a total of 811 sq in of cooking space with 429 sq in for the primary cooking area and a 382 sq in warming rack. The 36″ Apex has a total of 1,236 sq in split between a 663 sq in main cooking area and 573 sq in warming rack.

The Apex series is also designed to be easy to clean with a grease tray removable from the front of the grill without having to pull the grill grates out. It also addresses one of the other pressing issues of pellet grills, ash cleanout. Apex grills have a removable cup on the bottom where the ash from burning pellets collects for easy dumping.

Camp Chef Wireless App
Camp Chef Apex WiFi Controller
Apex Controller

If you’re big into technology when it comes to smoking and grilling, the Apex series has you covered. It has a full-color digital display and WiFi connectivity to the Camp Chef app on your smartphone.

These grills come on four casters for easy movement while two of the casters are locking to help ensure the grill doesn’t roll away while using. Each grill also has a bottom shelf for storage options.

If you want a deeper dive into the features of the new Apex series, check out our quick-take review.

What We Like…

  • Combination of low-and-slow smoking of a pellet grill with high-heat searing of a gas grill in one cooking chamber
  • Focus on making cleanup as easy as possible
  • Huge 30 lbs. hopper for long smoking sessions
  • Digital controller with WiFi connectivity and monitoring of four included meat probes
  • Insulated walls reduce pellet consumption

What Makes Us Angry…

  • Lack of dedicated prep area. You can use the top of the hopper or closed Sidekick though.


2. Recteq RT-700 Pellet Grill Review: Runner Up

recteq rt-700 pellet grill

Recteq’s flagship pellet grill, the RT-700, is made from stainless steel both inside and out, showcasing a commitment to making the pellet grill stand the test of time. All of the components, from the powder-coated lid to the fire pot are made from that stainless steel to help extend its usable life. The company also made the grill look striking with the black powder-coating and the stainless steel bull’s horns for a lid handle.

The RT-700 boasts a massive 40lb hopper to fuel 700 sq in of cooking space. You can even purchase a 350 sq in warming rack to boost the total cooking space over 1,000 sq in. You’re ensured of good heat and smoke control across that cooking space because of the grill’s PID controller and two included meat temperature probes.

While pellet grills focus heavily on smoking, Recteq made sure the RT-700 had plenty of temperature flexibility so users could grill as well. The RT-700 is named as such because it has 700 sq in of cooking space, but it also can reach 700 degrees Fahrenheit. Not many pellet grills can get that hot which makes the RT-700 a standout performer on the market.

Recteq Rear Pellet Hopper
Large Rear Pellet Hopper
Recteq Wifi Connectivity
Wifi Connectivity

If you like getting your long smoking sessions started the night before you’re serving, Recteq thought of you. It has automatic lights that illuminate the cooking surface so you can clearly see what’s happening on the grill grates.

One of the issues that gives users pause is the app. The RT-700 has WiFi connectivity and connects to Recteq’s app available on both the Apple App store and the Google Play store.

Read our Recteq vs Traeger Review here.

However, users have reported issues and complaints with the app’s usability. Some have experienced issues with the app pushing notifications about when the included temperature probes are reaching their target temperature. Other users have expressed their dislike of the temperature readout graphs on the app.

The RT-700 does not have any prep shelves, but you can use the top of the controller to set small items down. It does have a bottom shelf where you can store your pellets and unused tools.

It sits on two larger wheels and two locking casters. At over 200 pounds, the RT-700 can be a bit tough to maneuver around vs other grills that sit on four casters.

What We Like…

  • Massive 40lb pellet hopper
  • Grill lighting for use at night/on dark days
  • Large cooking space, plenty for feeding family and friends
  • Stainless steel construction is durable
  • Six-year warranty

What Make Us Angry…

  • App lacks high-end functionality and some users report experiencing problems with push notifications and occasional temperature update issues.
  • No dedicated prep area.
  • Not the most maneuverable due to two large in-line wheels vs grills that sit on four casters.


3. Yoder YS640s Competition: Best Competition Pellet Grill

Yoder YS640s Best Competition Pellet Smoker

Yoder has always been synonymous with quality and the YS640S is testament to that fact. Built out of high-quality stainless steel and constructed in the USA (the only grill on this list made in the USA), the grill is made with great attention to detail and is incredibly easy to use, yielding delicious results every time. The confidence Yoder has with this grill is established by the generous ten-year warranty they provide on the grill body. The YS640S weighs in at 418lbs, so you know that it is built with heavy steel. The Traeger Timberline in comparison weighs 213lbs.

When Yoder decided to make a pellet grill, they did something different, they tried their best to emulate an Offset smoker by locating the firepot on the far side of their grill. Most other pellet grill manufacturers locate their firepot in the center of the grill which makes the center the hotspot. In a true offset, the firebox is located on the side of the cook box and the heat flows through the cook box and out the stack. So the heat and smoke in a Yoder, move more similarily to an Offset. Offsets still create the best smoked brisket, ribs and pork butts, but the Yoder YS640s yields the best results from a pellet grill.

The YS640S offers a whopping 1,070 sq. inches of total cooking area, separated into two racks, with 640 sq. inches on the main bottom rack and 430 sq. inches on the top rack. The pellet hopper can fit in 20 lbs of pellets and the grill has an operating temperature range of 150 to 600 degrees Fahrenheit, making it an incredibly versatile machine.

Yoder Ceramic Igniter
Ceramic Ignition System
Yoder Smoking Sausage
Heavy Duty Grates and Racking

One of the main standout features of the YS640S is the Variable Displacement Damper, which can be manually operated from outside the unit and can be used to create two separate temperature zones inside the grill. The damper can be moved to one side to concentrate heat on a single side of the grill, or moved to the other size to keep the heat consistent all over. The heat deflector plate also works to keep the heat consistent, and the quality hood has an intelligently placed counterweight.

The smokestack is also adjustable, allowing for the right amount of airflow over the pellets for clear blue smoke. Cleanup is easy and ample storage is provided with the grill, which also comes with two sturdy wheels and two locking casters. The stay-cool handles really help with handling.

The standout feature of the YS640S would be the advanced controller. The chip and code controllers used by Yoder are an improvement upon the standard PID controller in many ways. The ACS or Adaptive Control System adapts to the environment and specific user actions to best maintain temperature and smoke levels. This means that when you put meat on the grill or open the hood, the controller makes decisions that still keep the heat consistent. The ceramic igniter also works flawlessly every time.

Yoder Fireboard App Screenshot
Yoder Fireboard App

On top of all this, the grill also has built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. With the companion mobile app, you can connect with the grill and receive real-time feedback on the grill temperature, readings from your meat probes, and the pellet level in the hopper. You can also control every aspect of the grill from the app, removing the need to remain tethered to the grill for the cooking process. Moreover, there is a wealth of accessories to choose from directly from the manufacturer.

Read our full review here.

What We Like…

  • The best construction and materials on the market.
  • The closest resemblance to an Offset Smoker on the market.
  • Very consistent temperatures.
  • 10-year warranty

What Makes Us Angry…

  • Will make you want to quit your day job and start a BBQ business.
  • Price


4. Traeger Timberline XL Review: Best High End

New Traeger Timberline XL
New Traeger Timberline

Despite sharing the same name, the new Traeger Timberline grills that came out in April of 2022 share nothing in common with the Gen 1 Timberlines. The new Timberlines are designed to be the centerpiece of an outdoor kitchen, complete with an industry-first outdoor-rated induction cooktop. Traeger even has a kit for converting the grill from casters to leveling feet in order for the grill to be integrated fully into an outdoor kitchen.

The Timberlines also endeavored to address a common complaint of Traeger pellet grills, the lack of prep area. The grill comes with the P.A.L. system, or “Pop And Lock,” for adding extra storage options like a folding front shelf or a condiment basket. You can get tool hooks so you can hang your spatula or tongs wherever is most convenient for you. Traeger also has a holder for rolls of butcher paper to wrap your brisket or pork butt.

The induction cooktop serves a number of uses, but it helps address pellet grills’ struggles with proper searing. As long as you have cookware that is magnetic, you can quickly and easily heat food up or even get a perfect sear on a thick steak that you smoked on the pellet side. You can even heat up your favorite barbecue sauce for glazing smoked pork or chicken. Just make sure your cookware is flat-bottomed. A wok will not work properly with an induction cooktop.

Traeger also upgraded the controller, giving users a full-color touchscreen interface. It pairs with the two included MEATER+ wireless temperature probes as well as with Traeger’s WiFire app for remote monitoring and control.

The Timberline grills also come with some new features to Traeger for easy cleaning. Traeger made ash and grease cleaning a lot easier with a single catch bucket under the center of the grill that collects both waste byproducts. This will cut down on how many times you have to remove all the interior parts of the grill to vacuum out the firepot.

Traeger Timberline XL Controller

Traeger also made it easier to empty the pellet hopper for switching out flavors or storage purposes. The shelves underneath the hopper can be removed so you can slide the included pellet bucket in and empty out the hopper. The included bucket is perfect for keeping pellets dry.

There are two models, the Timberline and the Timberline XL. The Timberline has 880 sq in of cooking space while the Timberline XL has 1,320 sq in.

For a deeper dive into the updated Timberline series, check out our quick-take review here.

What We Like…

  • The induction cooktop adds versatility that few pellet grills can match
  • The P.A.L. system adds additional storage that other Traeger grills lack
  • The included MEATER+ probes allow for wireless monitoring which means no more tangling wires
  • Integrated grease and ash bucket makes cleanup easier
  • Can be the centerpiece of an outdoor kitchen
  • 10 year Warranty on new Timberline

What Makes Us Angry…

  • Price. Traeger is charging dearly for this grill.


5. Green Mountain Grills Prim Peak SS Review: Honorable Mention

Green Mountain Grills Prime Peak Grill

Green Mountain Grills continues to develop pellet grills that focus on high-end features without completely breaking the bank. The Prime Peak SS is their top-of-the-line model packed full of features, including WiFi connectivity, windows in both the pellet hopper and main lid, side shelf and folding front shelf, and interior grill lighting.

GMG made the Prime Peak SS out of steel, both the body and interior components, for longevity and style. It packs a respectable 658 sq in of cooking space all on the main cooking grate. It also has attachments for an optional rotisserie kit to add even further cooking functionality. The cooking chamber is 13.5″ from the grill grate to the top of the lid, allowing plenty of room for big cuts of meat.

The window in the lid allows you to keep watch on whatever you are smoking, grilling, or otherwise cooking without opening the lid. This allows for you to watch as that bark forms without losing heat or smoke.

The Prime Peak SS has an 18lb pellet hopper, smaller than a number of the pellet grills on the list but still plenty large enough for most smoking sessions. The large pellet hopper window allows you to keep an eye on the amount of pellets so you can refill as necessary without worrying about running out while smoking.

GMG designed the Prime Peak SS with an operating temperature range of 150-550 degrees Fahrenheit. If you’re looking for even higher temperatures to cook a pizza or sear a steak, GMG has a pizza oven attachment that fits right onto the grill’s firepot. Its design allows the pizza oven to reach temperatures around 900 degrees to give a true wood-fired pizza experience.

Storage and work surface was a big priority for GMG when it came to the Prime Peak SS. It has the full-length folding front shelf, a side shelf with four tool hooks, and a bottom shelf for storing tools and pellets when not in use.

The Prime Peak SS connects to the GMG app via WiFi. The app allows users to control and monitor their cooks. It also has a feature called Server Mode, allowing you to access your grill even when you aren’t home on the same WiFi network as your grill.

For pitmasters who live in a colder climate, the grill comes with an ambient temperature sensor and system called Sense-Mate. It will signal the grill to feed pellets faster to the firepot to give it the necessary boost for startup.

What We Like…

  • The big cooking chamber allows for big cuts of meat without concern of running into the lid
  • Windows in the pellet hopper and the main lid give you plenty of observational options without opening any part of the grill
  • WiFi connectivity and Server Mode means plenty of control and monitoring from your phone
  • Dump door on pellet hopper makes for easy switches and cleaning

What Makes Us Angry…

  • Smaller Pellet Hopper


Other Pellet Grills Worth Mentioning

These grills are not as commercially known as the pellet grills above. They are all manufactured in the USA by smaller grill companies. These grill companies are doing some great things and deserve to be noticed. Here are a couple of our favorite small company grill manufacturers.

1. MAK Grills Two-Star General Pellet Grill Review

Mak Grills Two-Star General Grill

The MAK Grills Two-Star General pellet grill is a made-to-order stainless steel pellet grill designed to smoke low and slow as well as hit higher temperatures than most pellet grills. MAK Grills uses their proprietary FlameZone system to focus higher heat across the entire grilling surface.

The Two-Star General can cook at temperatures between 170 and 600 degrees Fahrenheit across a cooking surface of 429 sq in. It also has a built-in warming and smoker box allowing you to cold smoke cheese and other foods without additional equipment, The Two-Star General has a 20lb pellet hopper, plenty for whatever you put on its cooking surface.

Rather than individual legs, the Two-Star General has two leg panels to help with assembly time. The panels sit on four locking casters for increased mobility when you want to wheel it around while keeping it still when you’re using or storing the grill.

The pellet hopper lid and smoker box double as work space while the smoker box has four tool hooks to keep your spatula and tongs close at hand.

The controller has ports for three K-style meat thermometers that provide quick and accurate temperature readings on whatever is inside the grill. It comes with two probes ready to go.


2. Myron Mixon BARQ-1700 Pellet Grill

Myron Mixon BARQ-1700 Pellet Grill

Myron Mixon is known as the winningest man in competition barbecue and is a five-time world champion. He knows what it takes to produce high-quality barbecue over and over again. So he took that knowledge and turned it towards making fantastic smokers, including the BARQ series of pellet smokers.

The BARQ-1700 uses four cooking racks stacked on top of each other to create 1,588 sq in of cooking space. The grill has a 20lb hopper, plenty to fuel long smoking sessions with the cooking chamber packed full. It has a front and side shelf for workspace as well as bottom shelf for storage purposes.

Mixon’s pellet grill is made out of stainless steel on the exterior while the cooking racks are nickel-chrome. The walls of the grill are double-walled for ideal heat retention and insulation. It sits on only two wheels which are big enough to roll the grill around, but this grill is meant to stay in one place.

The cooking process is controlled by a PID controller to keep the temperatures steady. It has WiFi connectivity for remote monitoring and control as well.


3. Lone Star Grillz Pellet Smoker Review

Lone Star Grillz Pellet Grill

Lone Star Grillz’s pellet smoker is a beast of a smoker, sitting on industrial-grade 5″ wheels with two locking casters. The body is made from stainless steel and even comes with a lifetime warranty on the cooking chamber and steel structural parts. It also has a steel front shelf for prep work. The lid was designed to seal in the smoke and heat with flanges and gaskets the entire way around.

The Lone Star Grillz has 1062 sq in of cooking space on the 36″ model between the two cooking grates fueled by a 40lb pellet hopper. It has a range of 160-450 degrees Fahrenheit with the ability to reach 700 degrees Fahrenheit at the bottom grate due to direct heat. This grill has a sliding heat deflector allowing you to expose the fire pot for grilling.

Despite the 40lb capacity on the pellet hopper, it still has a dump out feature on the hopper to switch out flavors or for storing pellets in a dry place.

Lone Star Grillz made cleanup easy by making the burn pot accessible from the exterior of the grill. That allows you to remove the pot and clean out any built-up ash without having to remove all the internal components to reach the bottom of the grill.


How To Choose The Best Pellet Smoker

What I look for in a good pellet grill smoker comes down to a couple key items. Listed below are the items that are most important to me and if the pellet grill can achieve most of this list, then we have a great pellet grill.

  • Build Quality and Materials Used
  • Consistent Temperature Management
  • Temperature Ranges
  • Technology and Features
  • Track Record
  • Warranty

We will go over these topics in more detail and explain what to look out for in each category.

Pellet Grill Build Quality and Materials

Build quality and materials are probably the most important items that I look for in pellet grills. What gauge of steel was used to fabricate the grill? How good are the weld joints? What fire box and ignition system are they using? Paint finish quality? Here are the key components to look at when buying a pellet grill.

Metal Construction

If the pellet grill was made out of a thin gauge steel, you will feel a cheapness to the grill instantly. Thin steel creates a couple problems for these smokers.

  1. The grill will not hold consistent temperatures very well.
  2. Pellet consumption will be higher.
  3. Life expectancy of the cook box will be lower if thin gauge steel is used. These can burn out over time.

Pellet Drive Auger

The pellets are moved through the internals of your grill using the “Auger” which passes the pellets through the internal systems of the grill from the hopper to the fire pot where they will be burned to produce the smoke and flame you need to make your meal. Several pellet grill manufacturers have moved to a DC driven auger which has proven to be more reliable. Ex. Traeger

Temperature Controller

Yoder ACS Controller

The key to a good pellet grill is in the temperature controls. The better the temperature controls are, the more consistent your grilling will be. You can get pellet grills with three main types of temperature controls.

There are the older model of temperature controllers, called non-PID controls. They are much less precise than their counterparts. They are still functional, but they operate within a larger range compared to where you set your desired temperature than other variants. You could expect to see a difference of up to 40 degrees Fahrenheit from where you set your desired temperature.

The other main type of temperature control is the PID control. It essentially operates the same as a non-PID controller, but it is constantly performing calculations using data it receives from several different sources to get more accurate readings on the temperature. It takes steps to adjust the heat, so that it remains within your desired range.

The final type of controls are PID-Plus controls, which are PID controllers that have even further added benefits on top. The most common variety of PID-Plus controllers are ones that have Wifi functionality, which allows you to walk away from the grill and get updates on its progress on your phone.

Combustion Fan

As the pellets are moved from the hopper into the grill itself, they pass over the combustion fan and it begins to cycle air through the internal parts of the grill which is used to fuel the fire that will burn the pellets and give your grill the heat it needs to cook your food.

Igniter

The igniter is what causes combustion and ignites the fuel as it passes into the fire pot where the fuel actually burns and creates the smoke you’re after. This is where the air from the combustion fan is going to keep the fire strong and consistent. The air that is cycled over the igniter will keep the flame healthy and make it more powerful if you decide to increase the temperature of your cook. Yoder offers a ceramic igniter that has proven very fast and instant pellet ignition.

Yoder Ceramic Igniter
Yoder Ceramic Igniter and Fire Pot

Fire Pot

Inside the fire pot is where the fuel finally ends up and where it burns. The more fuel that is inside of the fire pot, the higher the temperature will be, but the lower the temperature it is the more smoke will be produced, so there is a fine balance that needs to be struck to get the right temperature and the right amount of smoke to infuse your food.

Location of the firebox is important to me. Most locate the fire pot in the middle of the cook chamber which is not similar to an offset smoker where the fire box is located on the far side. Yoder locates their fire box on the far side of the cook chamber.

Pellet Grill fire pot

Cooking Chamber / Barrel / Box

The cook box is where the magic happens in your pellet grill. The key items you want to consider here is steel thickness for temp consistency. Is the cook box insulated? Traeger offers insulated cook boxes in their Ironwood and Timberline models. Yoder builds with such heavy steel, that they do not offer insulated cook boxes. Most grill manufacturers offer an insulated exterior blanket to cover the grill when being used in cold temperatures.

Space in the cook box is also important. If you cannot fit a packer brisket in the cook box, why even consider the grill?

Traeger Timberline 850 Open
Timberline Cook Box

New Technology and Features for Pellet Grills

As wood pellet grills and smokers have become more popular, they have started to go through a modernization process that has resulted in a lot of new technologies being implemented into them. Pellet grills identify themselves from other grill types with their added convenience and ease of use, so technology finds a natural place with them since they share the same purpose. You can find different tools being added to them often with different purposes, like allowing you to cook without being near your grill, or checking the temperature of your food without having to remove it from the grill.

Built in Meat Probe

A lot of pellet grills are now implementing internal meat probes for checking the temperature of your meats versus the temperature of the grill. This is especially useful as a way to tell you when your meat is finished cooking and ready for consumption, without having to cut it open and check it visually.

It has the added convenience of being part of the grill’s function instead of being a separate tool that you would have to open your grill to use. Instead, you can take advantage of the convenience this new feature implements into the grill directly.

Wireless Connections

Another highly convenient feature being added to a lot of pellet grills today is the ability to connect to them from your phone and manage the temperature and other things while on the go by connecting to it through the internet or Bluetooth. 

Traeger WiFire App Current State

This is great for when you need to step away from the grill to check something inside of your home or even when you need to leave your home entirely. Gone are the days when you would have to shut down your grill and postpone your meal because something came up and it was unsafe to leave your grill unattended. 

Now you can connect to it with your phone and receive alerts if something happens so you know it’s time to rush back and take care of whatever problem might have occurred, and if all goes smoothly then you can manage the temperature and adjust it any time, from anywhere.

There are two ways to use this new technology, using Wi-Fi and the internet to connect to your grill from anywhere or using Bluetooth within a certain radius of your grill.

Wi-Fi Enabled Pellet Grills

Wi-Fi could theoretically be used to connect to your grill from anywhere. As long as you have an internet connection, and your grill is connected to your internet at home, you should be able to connect to it. That said, this technology is relatively new and pellet grill manufacturers are still working out the kinks, so we would still recommend that you take the time to check in on your grill frequently while using this feature.

BBQ WiFi App

Bluetooth Enabled Pellet Grills

Bluetooth icon

Bluetooth is another way that you can connect to your grill from a device and manage it remotely, but it will only work within a certain radius, so this is good for when you need to step away from your grill, but you aren’t going to be traveling too far. It is especially useful if you want to cook something overnight while you are sleeping because if something does happen your phone can wake you up and you can take care of it, but otherwise, your meal will be done by the time you wake up.

Warranty

I find it surprising how different the warranty options are from each manufacturer. Some are very short and others surprisingly long but you have to read the fine print. Some will brag a long warranty but it is only on very specific parts of the grill.

Pellet grill Warranty Comparison

ManufacturerYears Of Warranty What Is Included
Traeger10 yearsOnly for New Timberline. Defects from materials and workmanship under normal use.
Yoder10 years, 3 years, 1 year10 years on cooker body, 3 years on control system, 1 year on igniter.
Camp Chef3 yearsDefects from materials, and workmanship under normal use. Excluding paint and finish.
Louisiana Grills5 years Defects from materials and workmanship under normal use.
Z Grills3 years Defects from materials, and workmanship under normal use. Excluding paint/finish, firepot and cover.
Green Mountain Grills3 yearsDefects in workmanship and materials, excluding cosmetic elements like paint and finish.
Recteq6 yearsLimited warranty. Against defects in material and workmanship under normal operating conditions.

A History of Pellet Smokers

Pellet grills did not form out of a vacuum. They are actually an alteration to an earlier device, called a pellet stove. In 1973 there was an oil crisis that resulted in a demand for alternative sources of heat for your home. One of the alternatives that was considered, and then put into use, was the pellet stove using wood. In the late 1970s, in the United States of America, we created pellets out of wood for our fuel source. They were small, capsule-shaped pieces of sawdust that were compressed to about the size of a pencil’s eraser.

In the early 80s, there were two different people experimenting with using these wood pellets as a fuel source for stoves, Joe Traeger, a heating company owner in Oregon, and Jerry Whitefield, who worked as an engineer in Boeing aviation in Washington. These wood stoves that were being created by them looked a lot like the traditional wood stoves you are probably familiar with, but they were run on electricity and they worked a lot like what we described earlier, with the pellets being moved through the system using an auger into a fire pot that was fueled by a combustion fan and an igniter.

Old Traeger
Early Model Traeger. The Lil Tex.

In 1986, the first pellet grill was made by Traeger. He signed a patent for his design which made it exclusively his property for the next 20 years and he continued to hone his craft over that time without any competition. The original designs for the first Traeger pellet grills used what was called an “LMH” temperature controller. It was called “LMH” because he allowed you to adjust the heat between Low, Medium, and High. Each of those different settings was representative of a certain range and fed a specific amount of pellets to the fire pot to achieve those temperatures.

Unfortunately, this early system was pretty unsophisticated and didn’t have any means for adjusting the number of pellets it used to regulate the temperature based on any factors other than the setting that the user set, so they required a lot more tending and management by the user. 

Today, this type of controller is called a non-PID controller because PID controllers are much more sophisticated and common, so much so that they are likely what you are familiar with working with and most users have probably never seen an LMH controller except on the cheapest of pellet grills.

Quality of Wood Pellets Effects Pellet grill Performance

Wood Pellets as a Fuel

The fuel source used for a pellet grill is what gives it its name. Pellet grills use wood as their source for fuel, in the form of small pellets that are fed through a hopper, typically found on the side of the grill. The pellets are usually made out of pure, hardwood that is ground into dust. That dust is then compressed under a large amount of physical pressure while in a very high temperature environment to condense it into the pellets that you use as fuel in a very similar process to the creation of diamonds.

There are a lot of differences, though, between different types of wood and there are variations on the process we just described for different brands. You can see this at a glance by comparing two different brands of wood pellets because you will notice that they often look different and are different sizes.

smoker wood pellets on fire

Wood Pellet Flavor

Different types of wood will have different flavors and they will pass those flavors on in the smoke that they infuse your food with. It can be hard to figure out what kind you like in the beginning, before you have experimented with a lot of different kinds. While taste cannot be transferred through text and it is a purely subjective sensation, there is still a bit of advice we can give you to help you along your way and focus your experimentation so you can find the kind that will work best for you.

Smoking Wood Chart

The smoke produced by different woods will have stronger flavors than others. Using something like Mesquite or Hickory wood pellets will result in a very strong smoke flavor being added to whatever you cook with them.

If you want a lighter or subtler flavor, then consider using something like Apple or Cherry. These two kinds of wood are very similar and both result in a very subtle taste infusion so that the smoke doesn’t overpower the natural taste of the meat or vegetables. They are very good options when you are working with a very delicate meat or something with a lot of flavor on its own that doesn’t need much added to it.

Heating vs Food Grade Wood Pellets

Something else you should keep in mind is that there is a difference between heating pellets and food grade pellets. Many people have heard that heating pellets can be used in a pellet grill and they are further vindicated by the fact that pellet grills can use heating pellets as fuel. That said, this is a case of misinformation being spread far and wide, just because you can use them as fuel doesn’t mean that you should. 

You should not use heating pellets in your pellet grill under any circumstances. They are not intended to be used with food and this is because they will infuse that food with unhealthy byproducts of combustion that can result in serious health problems. You should always check to see if the pellets you are buying are food grade before making that purchase and do not listen to the advice of others if they are telling you to use heating pellets for cooking food.

Why choose a pellet grill over other grill options?

The primary reason you would choose pellet grills over other grill types is for their ease of use. Even a novice griller can produce excellent food. Using these smokers is very similar to using a standard oven. All you have to do is set a temperature you want to cook at and the grill will handle the rest. You don’t have to worry about tending the fire or managing the fuel source, because top rated pellet grills will handle all of that for you. Charcoal Grills or Offset smokers typically need to be tended to much more than a pellet grill.

Are There Downsides to Using a Pellet Smoker?

Pros vs Cons

The primary downside to using a pellet grill or smoker is that you may have a difficult time getting them as hot as other grill types. Premium units will reach acceptable temperatures, but cheaper ones might have some trouble getting above 600 degrees Fahrenheit. You should make sure you look into this before purchasing a pellet grill and adjust cooking instructions, if necessary. I typically always use a gas or charcoal grill to sear my steaks.

Another complaint of pellet grills is the lack of smoke flavor they provide when compared to a true offset smoker. Though Camp Chef has gotten creative in this area with their new Woodwind Pro. The way pellet grills burn their fuel does not produce the same amount of smoke over the food, plus they use electric fans to manage cook temps which makes the smoke escape the chamber at a faster rate then an offset.

What you need to know about using these smokers

While pellet grills do use wood for fuel, they actually run off of electricity, so you need to make sure that there is a source of electricity wherever you plan to use your new grill.

There is a bit of conversation around what kind of pellets you should use for your smoker. There are a surprising number of people that claim to use “Heating Pellets” to fuel their grill. This is a huge mistake and you should not follow in their footsteps. Not only will these pellets make your food taste bad, but they are also detrimental to your health! You should make sure that you are using food-grade pellets to heat your grill and only those.

If you live in a place with harsh winters like I do, but you want to experience the joys of a grilled burger at any time of year, don’t worry about it! Pellet grills DO work in cold weather. That said, they might burn more fuel to maintain their temperature, so you should purchase an insulated blanket for your grill to help mitigate that problem and save yourself some cash in the long-term.

You should also note that you don’t necessarily have to use the brand of pellets made by the creators of your grill. Give the owner’s manual a look to see what the requirements are for pellets used by your grill. If that sounds like too much work or you are confused at any point, then just stick with the brand-name pellets because they are specifically designed to be perfectly compatible with your grill.

Conclusion

Of all of the pellet grills, the Camp Chef Apex lineup is the most versatile pellet grill and smoker on the market today. The Apex finally brings high temp searing to the pellet grill market and also brings high end features such as insulated cook box walls, WIFI, and easy ash and grease cleanout. They managed to keep the price in line and kept it well below Traeger’s premium lines. Now you don’t have to keep that gas grill parked beside a pellet smoker, because the Apex can do both.

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