So you’ve chosen to buy a wood pellet grill but aren’t sure which brand to get?
Some of the most popular pellet grills on the market today are made by Traeger and Pit Boss.
If you ask around, you’ll receive a lot of different opinions on which is better.
The difficulty is that individuals are continuously defending their grills and trashing the competition, making it difficult to get an objective review.
To help you determine which pellet grill is ideal for you, we break down the differences between Pit Boss and Traeger and look at some of the top grills from each manufacturer in our guide.
Table of Contents
Pit boss vs. Traeger wood pellet grill – which is better?
In a head-to-head comparison, I always try to resist declaring that one grill is unquestionably “better” than another.
It isn’t easy to compare grills fairly. Is it reasonable to state that if one grill costs $500 and another costs $1000, the $1000 grill is superior?
You also have the issue of each company regularly upgrading its assortment and grill architecture. A review you read could be referring to the 2016 Pit Boss, which is no longer available.
So, with that caveat in mind, here are some general differences between Traeger and Pit Boss, on which most people agree.
- Pit Boss, on the whole, provides superior value for money.
- Most users believe that prior Traeger models are higher quality, while the new 2019 Traeger Grills are superior.
- Traeger grills were previously manufactured in the United States but recently relocated to China.
- When Traeger was the only company selling pellet grills, they could charge a premium. They now have competition, but they haven’t had to lower their prices as much as you might think because of their strong brand awareness and market dominance.
- Pit Boss raised its guarantee length to 5 years in 2018 (2 years more than Traeger). It should be noted that this is not retroactive, so if you purchased the grill previously, you would still have a 1-year guarantee.
- The majority of Pit Boss grills use a “slide and sear” method to create a tiny searing zone directly over the firepot.
Now that you’ve learned a bit more about both companies, your best bet is to narrow down the Traeger or Pit Boss model you’d like to purchase and then compare the characteristics of each grill.
I recommend evaluating grills in these six categories:
- Cooking Space
- Temperature Range
- Hopper Size
- Features (e.g., WiFi connectivity)
To help you in your comparison, we chose two of the most popular grills (sold by Traeger and Pit Boss) and compared them using multiple criteria.
|Pit Boss Sportsman 820||Traeger Pro 575|
|Dimensions||58 x 32 x 52 in||53x41x27 in|
|Hopper capacity||21 lb||18 lb|
|Cooking surface area (sq in)||849 (592 main grates + 256 secondaries)||575 (425 main grates + 150 secondaries)|
|Direct flame||Slide plate flame broiler||No|
|Temperature range||180°F – 500°F||165°F-500°F|
|Control||Dial-in digital control with an LED read-out||D2® drivetrain|
|Storage||Removable side shelf||Folding front shelf sold separately|
|Pellet purge system||Yes||Yes|
|Warranty||5 years||3 years|
|Price||Check the latest price||Check the latest price|
The Traeger Pro 575 costs more for a smaller grill, but it has the WiFIRE system, which allows you to manage the grill via an app, as well as a more advanced control system.
With the Pit Boss Sportsman 820, you save money while getting a larger grill with excellent usability features like a slide plate for cooking and a removable side shelf to help with prep work.
We go into more information about the two brands in the next section, or you can skip ahead to read our breakdown of all the most popular grills from each manufacturer.
History of the brand
A brief overview of the Traeger brand
Traeger is the creator of the first wood pellet grill. Traeger’s 100% wood-smoked barbeque, designed by inventor Joe Traeger in 1985 and patented in 1986, revolutionized the industry with its set-and-forget operation.
Traeger had a stronghold on the market after patenting the concept, as they branded themselves as a quality brand with a product that took the sweat out of home smoking. Their popularity, predictably, skyrocketed.
Traeger is no longer a family-owned corporation. Joe Traeger, the company’s founder, sold it in 2006 and now works for a competitor: Dansons, the proprietors of Pit Boss.
Traeger grills are manufactured in the United States.
Traeger was founded in the United States but has subsequently relocated to China, as has most of its competitors.
A brief overview of the Pit Boss Brand
Pit Boss is a division of Dansons Inc., which was established in 1999. Pit Boss is well recognized for its economical yet high-quality pellet grills, having been one of the first firms to compete in the pellet smoker market.
They do, however, produce a wide selection of other grills, including gas and charcoal grills.
Dansons also owns Lousianna Grills, another prominent pellet smoker producer. Pellet smokers by Pit Boss are made in China.
Pit boss vs. Traeger pellet grill comparison
Before we get into individual models, there are a few main factors to consider when purchasing a pellet grill. So, here’s a rundown of how Pit Boss and Traeger fare in each of these key categories.
Pit Boss has earned a reputation for being less expensive than their main competition, Traeger.
Most Pit Boss’ pellet smokers cost between $500 and $700, with smaller, portable models costing less and top-of-the-line models costing $700 or more.
Expect to pay $600+ for one of Traeger’s more basic models, all the way up to approximately $2,000 for their largest and deadliest.
The bottom line is that you do get more for your money with Traeger. However, you are also paying a premium for the brand and promotion. If you have a limited budget, Pit Boss will provide you with more possibilities. – BOSS OF THE PIT
In terms of quality, Traeger has always been the clear market leader. However, after shifting production to China, Traeger has received some negative criticism regarding quality control. Despite this, there’s no disputing that Traeger has a more substantial build, whereas Pit Boss can appear a little flimsier.
Both Pit Boss and Traeger make fully insulated models. Upgrades such as grates, a stainless steel body, and higher quality temperature controllers are available at the top of the line.
The simple truth is that Pit Boss and Traeger manufacture high-quality pellet grills that will last for years of frequent backyard use. — PIT BOSS AND TRAEGER
One of the most important criteria in picking the best pellet smoker is keeping a consistent temperature. After all, they’re supposed to be set and forgotten, so you want to ensure that it’ll consistently stay within an acceptable range of your goal temperature throughout the cook.
Two major factors will determine how well a pellet smoker maintains its temperature. The first component is its digital controller, and the second is insulation.
Traeger’s Pro series is made of single-layered steel, whereas the Ironwood and Timberline series have double-wall side insulation for enhanced heat retention in colder weather. However, if it is extremely chilly, Traeger manufactures branded insulation blankets that fit most models.
The digital controllers are updated regularly. Most allow users to set the temperature in 15°F intervals, stay within a reasonable range of the specified temperature, and produce a consistent, high-quality stream of smoke.
Pit Boss has also done a wonderful job of providing stable temperature regulation and a smoke-free design. However, only a few of their models include double-wall insulation.
They do, however, sell insulating blankets for most of their models, which are a reasonably priced extra if you live somewhere chilly.
Remember that most Pit Boss digital controls only let you set the temperature in 25°F increments. We’re not bothered by it. However, if you prefer more precise control, Traeger has a slight advantage.
The basic result is that both Traeger and Pit Boss offer well-insulated smokers with sophisticated digital controllers that can be expected to maintain pretty consistent heat in most weather circumstances. – PIT BOSS AND TRAEGER
The phrase “pellet grill” is a little deceptive. Temperatures exceeding 400°F are required to grill properly. Most pellet grills have a maximum capacity of approximately this.
However, Pit Boss has the upper hand over Traeger in this category. With their slide-open sear plate, you can grill over an open wood-fired flame rather than just indirect heat. This will result in a crisper crust and greater moisture retention.
At the other end of the spectrum, the minimum temperature of both Traeger’s and Pit Boss’ grills is comparable. Both could be used to grill delicate smoke edibles such as smoked salmon, cheese, and nuts.
The main conclusion is that Traeger and Pit Boss have similar temperature ranges, allowing them to smoke, roast, bake, braise, and grill. But Pit Boss takes the cake with its open-flame grilling capability. – PIT BOSS
Pit Boss and Traeger, both pellet smoker specialists, have a plethora of size options. You’re guaranteed to find the appropriate match for your needs, from tiny, compact models to super-sized beasts.
If space is a concern, Pit Boss also has a good selection of vertical pellet smokers. This small design allows you to maximize cooking space in smaller backyards while looking professional.
The final line is that Pit Boss provides more versatility with their vertical max. Cooking with a small footprint. Otherwise, both PIT BOSS and TRAEGER are excellent possibilities. – PIT BOSS AND TRAEGER
Pellet hopper size
Your hopper capacity will determine how long you can smoke without touching anything. Most Traeger grills include an 18-pound hopper, which is large enough to serve most cooking without refilling or longer cooks with a single reload.
Pit Boss offers a wider selection of hopper sizes. Most, though, are at least as huge as Traeger’s, with some of their larger and newer versions sporting massive 55-pound hoppers for 24 hours of unsupported cook time.
The main conclusion is that Pit Boss features larger pellet hoppers that allow for longer cook times without replenishing. – PIT BOSS.
Traeger pellet grills are covered by a three-year warranty, whereas Pit Boss currently offers a five-year warranty on all of their grills.
Pit Boss must be very confident in its quality and durability to give a significant 5-year warranty.
Until recently, both Traeger and Pit Boss didn’t have a lot of extra functions. Both manufacturers have strong carts with locking castors, reliable pellet purge doors (to prevent stale pellets), and various features to make cleaning up easier.
While a pellet smoker doesn’t need many bells and whistles, Traeger has stepped up in this area by including WiFIRE technology in all of their smokers. This allows you to link your smartphone to the grill and control it remotely using their cool software.
As you progress through the Traeger line, you will notice several other small additions. Traeger’s Super Smoke mode, Turbo Temp, Downdraft exhaust system, a low pellet alert, and integrated grease management are just a few of the features that set it apart from the competition.
The overall verdict is that Traeger outperforms Pit Boss in terms of cool extra features to make pellet smoking even more convenient — TRAEGER.
Traeger pellet grill advantages
- High-tech features like AGL, Turbo Temp, and Direct D2 Drive
- Allows for remote operation
- Six-in-one cooking choices
- Easy assembly
Traeger grill problems
- Three-year warranty only
Pit boss pellet grill advantages
- Low-cost pellet grills
- Adjustable storage capacity
- Premium-quality stainless steel construction
- A five-year warranty is included.
Pit boss grill problems
- There are no additional high-tech features
The best pit boss grills
Pit Boss’ grill lineup can be a little confusing.
If you look at their website, you’ll notice that they sell various models, some of which are only available at Walmart or Lowes.
Many of their grills are nearly identical but in slightly different layouts.
For this article, we’ll look at the most popular Pit Boss models, including vertical and horizontal pellet smokers, on their website.
1. Pit boss sportsman 820 wood pellet grill
The Sportsman 820 is one of Pit Boss’s newest models, and it packs a lot of features for a low price.
There’s also a 21-pound hopper with a window to monitor your pellet level and a simple way to empty unneeded pellets after a meal.
The Sportsman’s only real drawbacks were the tiny searing zone, which is common with most slide and sear systems, and the rounded diverter plate, which we found hampered our ability to gather drippings.
If you don’t want to operate your grill via an app, the Sportsman is less expensive, contains more food, and has superior storage and prep facilities than the Traeger.
2. Pit boss 700fb wood pellet grill
The Pit Boss 700FB features a cooking surface of 700 square inches. To obtain the same amount of room on a Traeger, you’d have to go with the Traeger Pro 780, which costs twice as much.
While some capabilities, like WiFi connectivity, are sacrificed, the price difference alone makes the 700FB a highly appealing choice in the mid to large-sized pellet smoker category.
This grill, on the other hand, has a plethora of possibilities for cooking hot. It has a temperature range of 600°F and a flame broiler system with a slide plate for direct flame grilling.
The temperature will fluctuate a little more because you’re getting a conventional digital controller rather than a PID controller. The control panel isn’t as attractive as the Sportsman’s, and there aren’t any side or front shelves.
3. Pit boss 5 series vertical wood pellet smoker
If you choose to go the vertical smoker route, Pit Boss has 3 series, 5 series, and 7 series.
There is no Traeger alternative for the Pit Boss Vertical smokers.
Each smoker is designed similarly, with the primary glass door and fashionable copper color.
These are sometimes referred to as “Copperhead Pellet Smokers.”
The Pit Boss 5 series has 1,659 square inches of cooking surface and a massive 40lb hopper, which is more than adequate for most people. This cooking space is distributed among 5 racks, which may be adjusted based on your cooking.
If you’re cooking something huge, such as a turkey or brisket, you’ll need to remove a rack, which means you won’t have the entire 1659 square inches to work with.
Because of the large hopper, you may cook for up to 24 hours without reloading your pellets.
4. Pit boss 440 deluxe wood pellet grill
When it pertains to portable pellet grills, you have a lot of options.
The cooking area is divided into a 340 square-inch primary grill and a 100 square-inch upper rack. The grills are both constructed of porcelain-coated steel.
The rack is detachable, which comes in handy when it’s time to remove the meat. Simply remove the entire grill.
This variant has a useful side shelf as well as tool hooks for easy storage.
Because the 5lb hopper is on the small side, this isn’t a good grill for setting up a cook and leaving for the day.
5. Pit boss Lockhart platinum series
Traeger doesn’t make grills like the Lockhart, but it’s a fun grill, so we included it anyway.
On the bottom is a fairly basic pellet grill, with a double-door smoke cabinet slapped on top.
You get a massive 40-pound hopper to keep you cooking, as well as two probes that can be expanded to a total of four.
It’s a fun, one-of-a-kind smoker that doesn’t fit into the same mold as 99 percent of the other pellet grills on the market.
It’s a terrific option for anyone who wants to feed a large group without spending a lot of money.
Best Traeger grills
We have a thorough guide to the best Traeger grill reviews that goes into much more detail, or you can read on for an overview to help you decide between a Pit Boss and a Traeger.
One thing to keep in mind is that Traeger revamped their grill collection for 2019 with some new features and changed the names of each model.
The number in the product name of the new 2019 versions relates to the cooking surface. The Pro 780, for example, has a cooking surface area of 780 square inches.
In contrast to prior Traeger models, the number refers to the size of the primary grilling rack. The Pro Series 34, for example, includes a 34′′ x 19′′ grilling rack.
Traeger now manufactures three primary types of pellet grills, as well as a few more popular models.
Traeger Pellet Grills are available in the following series:
- Traeger Pro series — Traeger’s most popular grills are available in two sizes and now incorporate WiFi connectivity.
- Traeger Ironwood Series – The Ironwood series, an upgrade over the Pro series, offers larger capacities and numerous new features such as TRU convection and DownDraft Exhaust. You also get Super Smoke mode, which allows you to increase the amount of smoke created by pressing a button.
- Traeger Timberline series – The most expensive and largest option includes all of Ironwood’s capabilities as well as futuristic pellet sensing technology that allows you to monitor your pellet levels via an app.
- Traeger Tailgater – A portable model with 300 square inches and far less technology. The Tailgater is a good little alternative for use at home.
Comparisons of Pit Boss vs. Traeger Grills
Here are some of the most recognized pellet grills from each manufacturer compared at different price points to help you evaluate how Pit Boss and Traeger measure up in real life.
Pit Boss vs. Traeger – Budget Options
|Pit Boss Classic 700||Traeger Pro Series 575|
|Powder-coated steel and porcelain-coated steel grates||Powder-coated steel and porcelain-coated steel grates|
|180 – 500°F||150 – 500°F|
|700 sq. inches of cooking space||575 sq. inches of cooking space|
|21-pound hopper||18 pounds hopper|
|5-year warranty||3-year warranty|
|1 meat probeSlide-out sear plate for open-flame grilling||Alexa enabledWiFIRE1 built-in meat probe|
Pit Boss vs Traeger – Mid-Range Options
|Pit Boss Austin XL||Traeger Ironwood 885|
|Powder-coated steel and porcelain-coated steel grates||Double side walled, insulated, powder-coated steel, and porcelain-coated steel grates|
|150 – 500°F||150 – 500°F|
|930 sq. inches of cooking space||885 sq. inches of cooking space|
|31-pound hopper||20-pound hopper|
|5-year warranty||3-year warranty|
|1 meat probeSlide-out sear plate for open-flame grillingStainless side shelf with serving trayAuto-start and stopPellet purge system||Alexa enabledWiFIRE1 built-in meat probeSuper smoke mode Low pellet sensor alertTurbo TempPellet purge systemDowndraft exhaust|
Pit Boss vs. Traeger – Top of the Line Options
|Pit Boss Navigator 1150||Traeger Timberline 850|
|Powder-coated steel with porcelain-coated steel grates||Double-side walled, insulated, powder-coated steel with stainless steel grates|
|180 – 500°F||150 – 500°F|
|1158 sq. inches of cooking space||885 sq. inches of cooking space|
|32-pound hopper||24-pound hopper|
|5-year warranty||3-year warranty|
|2 stainless meat probesSlide-out sear plate for open-flame grilling pellets purge system reinforced legs folding front shelfGrill cover||Alexa enabledWiFIRE1 meat probeSuper smoke mode Low pellet sensor alertTurbo TempPellet purge systemDowndraft exhaustBamboo cutting boardGrease Management System|
That’s all there is to it! Two respectable companies with an outstanding selection of pellet smokers. And, as previously stated, both Pit Boss and Traeger are excellent brands, with smokers that should outlast their large warranties.
If Traeger fits your budget, the extra money provides you with somewhat higher quality with some great features.
Other brands to consider
If you can’t decide between a Traeger and a Pit Boss, one of the many other pellet grill manufacturers may have the grill you’ve been looking for.
We’ll go over some of the choices you might want to think about.
Another budget option – Z Grills
If the price of a Pit Boss is your primary consideration, you should look into Z Grills.
These guys are new to selling to consumers, but they’ve been making pellet grills for other firms (like Traeger!) for years.
When you look at the design, you can see the resemblance. Everything is the same except for the hefty price tag.
The most popular model is the Z Grills 700E, which was recently modified in 2019 to address some temperature controller concerns.
A solid mid-range alternative – Camp Chef
Camp Chef’s Pellet Grills are among our favorites. We named their famous Woodwind pellet grill the best pellet grill.
While it is not the largest grill for the price, it has a fantastic build quality, is simple to clean, and consumes pellets very efficiently.
We also enjoy Camp Chef’s method of searing. Rather than a gimmick, they just offer the option of adding an optional sear box.
While this appears to be a simple method, it is the best technique for searing we’ve seen from a pellet grill.
Fortunately, the Camp Chef assortment is much simpler than that of Traeger and Pit Boss.
Bringing it all together
Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of the distinctions between Traeger and Pit Boss.
I hope our analysis hasn’t enraged any die-hard Traeger fans. We’re not suggesting they make poor grills. Pit Boss alone provides you more bang for your money for the price.
Traeger’s newer grills include WiFi connectivity and the option to control your grill from your phone, which some users find too appealing.
Last update on 2023-12-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
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