So for this comparison article, I want to compare Camp Chef and Weber. While Camp Chef is one of the most popular pellet grill brands (see here). As you can also see through that link, Camp Chef is still a relatively small brand compared to the goliath that is Weber in the BBQ world. Therefore, you may automatically presume that Weber’s pellet grills are ‘better’ than Camp Chef when it comes to design, features and capabilities. Well, I would hold fire on that presumption. Because currently, I’d personally opt for a Camp Chef wood pellet grill over a Weber pellet smoker. And with this article, I’ll discuss why.
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To be fair, Camp Chef have been producing pellet grills/smokers for many more years than Weber who really only entered the pellet BBQ market in late 2019/early 2020. Therefore, its perhaps not that surprising that Weber has entered the pellet grill market and their Weber SmokeFire range has been experiencing a few issues. Then again, this is Weber we are talking about here, literally the biggest name in BBQ as I discuss in my Traeger vs Weber article. Therefore, many expected Weber to enter the pellet grill market running with a highly competitive product. Unfortunately, currently, I don’t think that’s the case.
Introduction To Camp Chef vs Weber Pellet Grills
Camp Chef currently have two lines of pellet grills, their budget SmokePro range and their more premium Woodwind range. As the Weber SmokeFire is closer to the Woodwind range in terms of price point, its that Camp Chef model range which is more suitable for comparison. However, I’m going to get even more specific. Let’s compare the Weber SmokeFire EX4 which is their smaller model against a Camp Chef Woodwind 24″ with either a propane Sear Box or SideKick attachment. Following the lastest pricing over at BBQGuys.com both of this pellet grills currently retail for around $1,000, granted the Camp Chef is $20 more, but that’s hardly significant.
Cooking Area (Which Grill Offers More?)
If you have ever read any my previous articles you will read me stating to ‘never judge a pellet grill purely on its cooking area’. I emphasize choosing a feature set first and foremost that will suit you best and then finding a grill with that feature set and the largest cooking area. You should always really think to your self ‘how much cooking area do I really need?’. As I believe in many cases people waste money on a large grill when they should have bought a smaller grill with better features. Anyway, the cooking area is a factor to consider when purchasing a grill, so how do these two pellet grills from Camp Chef and Weber compare?
The Weber EX4 provides a total cooking area of 672 square inches. However, that’s divided between the main cooking grate (432 square inches) and an upper cooking rack of 240 square inches. On the Camp Chef Woodwind 24″ you get 429 square inches on the main grate and 368 square inches on an upper rack for a total of 797 square inches. Remember, you can grill/smoke on the main cooking but only go ‘low and slow’ on the upper racks. Therefore, depending on what you want to cook that can impact your decision. Now, while these two grills have very similar main cooking grates at 432 and 429 square inches, with the Camp Chef that does not factor in the additional cooking space found on the Sear Box or SideKick.
The Sear Box provides an additional 180 square inches, whereas the SideKick provides 231 square inches. I’ll discuss more below about the main purpose of either the propane Sear Box or Side Kick on the Camp Chef. However, the main point is they both provide an additional high-temperature cooking surface. With the Sear Box that’s purely for grilling/searing. However, the SideKick is far more flexible in terms of the accessories/uses which it can offer the user.
Control Panels (Both Provide PID/WiFi)
On the temperature control front, both the Camp Chef Woodwind 24″ and Weber SmokeFire EX4 are pretty even, though I would still give the edge to Camp Chef for the reasons below. Importantly, both pellet grills feature a PID controller for accurate temperature control. If you have no idea what a PID controller is or how it works please check my article linked above and also my article on how a pellet grill/smoker works. Both grills also provide WiFi with smartphone App integration. When the Weber Smokefire first launched the software was described by many as pretty ‘buggy’, though I believe Weber has now resolved most of those software glitches. However, it still lacks many of the features found in Camp Chef Connect.
Both the Camp Chef and Weber control panels feature four meat probs ports which is good, and definitely above average, with most pellet grills featuring one maybe two meat probe ports. The biggest difference between the Camp Chef and Weber is the quality of the screen on the control panels. As you can see above the Weber uses a monochrome panel, and they can always be hard to read in direct sunlight. The Camp Chef Woodwind, on the other hand, features a bright colour screen which is much easier to read and interact with.
In terms of temperature control, the Camp Chef will max out at 500 degrees, whereas the Weber can go up to 600 degrees. Hence, typically you would say the Weber has the edge when it comes to grilling steaks and burgers. However, both the Camp Chef and Weber provide direct-flame access, therefore the temperature at the grate surface can be closer to 650 degrees on both grills. Then again, the Camp Chef also comes with the assistance of a small propane grill which can provide a cooking surface of 900 degrees.
Cleaning and Grease Management/Flare-Up Risks
The general build quality of the Weber does appear to be really good and on par with the Camp Chef. However, when it comes to how the grease is collected on the two grills, there is quite a big difference. Its this difference which I feel makes the Weber SmokeFire a hard pellet grill to recommend. On the Camp Chef its a pretty standard setup. A large grease tray over the combustion zone directed to a grease bucket. While Camp Chef does have their ‘Slide ‘n Grill’ to let the flames through the grease tray, its very unlikely a significant quantity of grease is going to get near the flames of the pellet burn pot to cause any flare-up issues. However, that’s not currently true on the Weber SmokeFire.
Weber has reused the same design of the flavourizer bars from their gas grill line to try and keep the falling grease/fat away from the fire below. However, a pellet fire is very different from a gas flame. Furthermore, burning pellets creates ash, which also isn’t present on a gas grill. What appears to be happening is owners who are frequently slow cooking are having issues with grease pooling in the bottom of the Weber SmokeFire. I believe part of the reason for this is the grease is mixing with the ashes from the pellet fire, causing a thick sticky paste. This can build up, therefore increasing the potential for a grease fire.
I do believe that Weber needs to address its grease collection system to keep it away from the flames of the pellet firepot. I’m sure Weber can do this, however, I’m not sure if its a mod that could be carried out to existing SmokeFire pellet grills or if it will require a complete redesign. Up until that point, I find it very hard to recommend a Weber SmokeFire as a pellet grill you should include as a consideration. In general, I do believe its a pellet grill with a lot of potential, I do hope they are able to successfully redesign it to address this issue. Until then, in terms of cleaning the pellet grill, you would have to clean it more frequently than the Camp Chef to stop the grease build-up being an issue.
Conclusions On Camp Chef vs Weber Pellet Grills
At this current moment, I would recommend a Camp Chef Woodwind over the Weber SmokeFire due to the key issue around grease collection discussed above. I’d also like Weber to reconsider that monochrome display as well. I’m aware Traeger are currently using monochrome displays on their D2 control panels, but I don’t like those either. I think at this point, monochrome displays should not be on any pellet grill approaching a thousand dollars. The hopper design on the Weber is also not ideal, due to its shallow angles and pellets not flowing properly. However, that can be corrected using a silicone cleaner to give the sides of the hopper less resistance. In summary though, in terms of the better pellet grill for the money, I’d have to give it to the Camp Chef Woodwind with a Sear Box/SideKick.
That’s it! Thanks for reading, I hope the above has given you some factors to consider if you are trying to choose between Camp Chef vs Weber. You may also want to check out my Camp Chef vs Z Grills comparison. There are also lots of other products to choose from. Therefore, feel free to check out my Wood Pellet Grill/Smoker Guide. 🙂