Pit Boss Competition vs Pro Series – Which Is Better?


Hi, I’m Chris I started PelHeat.com back in 2007.

There is a new product range from Pit Boss, the Competition Series, and it’s another retailer exclusive, just like the Pit Boss Pro Series. In fact, there are several similarities between quite a few models from the new Competition Series and the existing Pro Series. Therefore, I thought it would be interesting to compare the two ranges, and discuss what the differences are between them. Is one range offering better value than the other? Well, let’s see shall we…

Pit Boss Competition vs Pro Series
For instance, we’ll look at how a Pit Boss Competition 850 (left) compares against the Pit Boss Pro Series 850 (right): Images – Academy.com & Lowes.com

Disclaimer: Hey! By the way… any links on this page that lead to products on Amazon or other sites are affiliate links, and I earn a commission if you make a purchase.

Introduction To The Pit Boss Competition vs Pro Series

So as you may have gathered from the image caption above, the Pit Boss Competition Series models are exclusive to Academy Sports, and the Pit Boss Pro Series is exclusive to Lowes.

The promotional video for the new Competition Series: Video – PitBoss-Grills.com

I’ve previously written a comparison article on the Gen 1 Pro Series vs Gen 2 Pro Series, and its the second-generation Pro Series models we’ll be looking at for this comparison.

A promotional video for the second-generation Pro Series: Video – PitBoss-Grills.com

First, I’ll do a general overview of the similarities and differences between the Competition Series and the Pro Series and then we’ll get into a more detailed one-on-one comparison to work out which model is offering the better value.

Control Panel Similarities & Differences

Ok, so first up, let’s talk control panels, the essential brains of any pellet grill/smoker. Now, unlike in my previous Pit Boss Mahagony vs Sportsman comparisons and similar articles, here, both the Competition Series and Pro Series models are all PID and WiFi-compatible.

If you’re not sure what PID is, click the link above, and it goes to my article on the topic, but basically, the latest generation of pellet grill control panels use PID technology to maintain tighter temperature control.

Pit Boss Competition vs Pro Series Control Panels
On the left is a Competition Series control panel and on the right is a Pro Series control panel: Images – Academy.com & Lowes.com

WiFi integration means you can control either a Competition Series or Pro Series pellet grill/smoker from the Pit Boss SmokeIT App on your phone.

Furthermore, all Competition Series and Pro Series models get the standard Pit Boss 180 to 500 temperature range and direct-flame access for 650 degrees plus.

So currently, the Competition Series and Pro Series models seem identical when it comes to temperature control and temperature accuracy. However, there is a difference between them…

The Return Of The P-Setting

So what the new Pit Boss Competition Series pellet grills/smokers have built-in to their control panel software which is missing from the Pro Series models, is a P-Setting adjustment.

What the heck is a P-Setting? I hear some of you ask. Well, older generation pellet grills based on more primitive time-based control panels also had a P-Setting, which stands for Pause Setting.

By being able to adjust the P-Setting, you could improve temperature accuracy when weather conditions changed. For example, when cooking in Winter, you would want a lower P-Setting to increase the feed of pellets into the burn pot due to the colder temperatures.

Pit Boss Competition Series P-Setting
An extract from the manual of the Pit Boss Competition Series 850 discussing the P-Setting adjustment: Image – PitBoss-Grills.com

‘But Chris, you said both the Competition Series and Pro Series feature smarter PID temperature control!?’

That I did, and they do, so both are very good at maintaining a stable set temperature, even when weather conditions change. The potential problem is smoke flavour into the food.

You get smoke from inefficient combustion. Hence, PID technology is great when you want a really stable temperature, but you will get less smoke produced as a result.

Well, on the Pit Boss Competition Series, the P-Setting has returned, but only when the Smoke Setting is activated. Therefore, the Competition Series gives more control over the cooking process and smoke flavour.

Competition Roll Top Lid vs Pro Series Hidged Lid

Another notable difference between the new Competition Series horizontal pellet grills/smokers and their Pro Series siblings is the design of their lids.

The Pro Series models all feature the classic hinged lid design, whereas the new Competition Series models the 1250 and 1600 feature a roll top lid design, which has a couple of benefits.

Pit Boss Competition Series Roll Top Lid
The roll top lid is found on the Competition Series 1250 and 1600: Images – PitBoss-Grils.com

So what’s the advantage of a roll top lid? Well, there are a couple actually, the first is they can more easily be used by those who are vertically challenged.

Second, there is less chance of you burning the under side of your arm opening the lid which can be a risk with the standard upper hinged lids found on many pellet grills/smokers.

Finally, the roll top design generally does a better job of keeping heat and smoke within the cooking chamber and the smoke leaving where it should do out the back.

The Style Of The Porcelain Coated Cast-Iron Grates

All of the models within the Pit Boss Competition Series and Pro Series feature porcelain coated cast-iron grill grates. The benefits being good heat retention for improved grilling/searing performance.

However, with the second-generation Pro Series, Pit Boss decided to try something a little different. Instead of the grates having vertical and parallel bars, they went with a cross-hatched design.

Pit Boss Pro Series Cross-Hatched Cooking Grates
The cross-hatched design of the Pro Series grates has its pros, but also its cons: Image – PitBoss-Grills.com

The benefits of the cross-hatch design is you won’t have long thin pieces of food falling through the grates, think bacon or asparagus.

However, the problem is when it comes to cleaning. On vertical grate bars running front to back, with a grill brush its pretty easy when cleaning the pellet grill.

With the cross-hatch design though, it will take more time and effort to get the grates clean.

Therefore, I think Pit Boss have decided the cons outweigh the pros and they have gone back to vertical bars on the Competition Series pellet grills/smokers.


Pit Boss Competition Series

Features85012501600
Total Cooking Area849 sq.in1,315 sq.in1,578 sq.in
Main Grate593 sq.in540 sq.in648 sq.in
Cooking Surfaces233
Hopper Size21 lbs26 lbs26 lbs
Temp Range180-500180-500180-500
Direct Flame Access?YesYesYes
Hinged/Roll Top Lid?HingedRoll TopRoll Top
Typical Price$549$699$799

Pit Boss Pro Series

Features85011501600
Total Cooking Area849 sq.in1,150 sq.in1,598 sq.in
Main Grate593 sq.in711 sq.in711 sq.in
Cooking Surfaces223
Hopper Size20 lbs32 lbs32 lbs
Temp Range180-500180-500180-500
Direct Flame Access?YesYesYes
Hinged/Roll Top Lid?HingedHingedHinged
Typical Price$599$699$999

Pit Boss Competition 850 vs Pro Series 850

As you can see from the tables above, when it comes to cooking area overall and the size of the main grate the Competition 850 and Pro series 850 are identical.

There is a very slight increase in the hopper size on the Competition 850 up to 21 lbs over the 20 lbs of the Pro 850, but its by no means a significant difference.

Pit Boss Competition 850 vs Pro Series 850
The Competition 850 and Pro Series 850 are very similar in almost all their specifications: Images – Academy.com & Lowes.com

The Competition 850 does not feature the roll top lid of its larger siblings, therefore, it doesn’t have the edge over the Pro 850 in that regard.

Really, the only benefit the Competition 850 does have over the Pro 850 is the Smoke Setting and adjustable P-Setting as discussed above.

When it comes to pricing, they are more or less identical. Yes, in some instances the typical price of the Pro 850 may be $50 more at $599, but when on sale it drops down to the same price at $549.

Personally, I’d probably still go with the Competition 850 just because of the Smoke Setting/P-Setting adjustment giving that bit more control over the cooking process.


Pit Boss Competition 1250 vs Pro Series 1150

With these two pellet grills, you shouldn’t judge their cooking areas purely on their model numbers.

While the Competition 1250 does offer the larger overall cooking area at 1,315 sq.in, that’s over three racks. Whereas the Pro Series 1150 and its 1,150 sq.in is over two racks.

In fact, the ‘smaller’ Pro Series 1150 has the larger main grate at 711 sq.in compared to a main grate size of 540 sq.in on the Competition 1250.

Pit Boss Competition 1250 vs Pro Series 1150
The Competition 1250 (left) and Pro 1150 have an identical $699 price point, so which is the better value?: Images – Academy.com & Lowes.com

Therefore, as a general summary, the Pro Series 1150 is better suited to grilling/searing due the larger main grate, and the Competition 1250 is better suited to low and slow smoking.

This is also true because as stated above, the Competition Series models feature a Smoke Setting with P-Setting adjustment not currently found on the Pro Series models.

Therefore, as these two pellet grills have an identical price point, which is the better value for you will depend on how you spend most of your time, grilling or smoking?


Pit Boss Competition 1600 vs Pro Series 1600

These are the largest models from each range, the Competition 1600 offers a total cooking area of 1,578 sq.in over three racks and the Pro Series 1600 offers 1,589 sq.in over three racks.

Again, as above, its the Pro Series model which gets the larger main cooking grate at 711 sq.in compared to 648.sq.in on the Competition 1600.

Pit Boss Competition 1600 vs Pro Series 1600
Now we come to the big boy’s, is the Competition 1600 (left) or the Pro Series 1600 (right) the better deal?: Images – Academy.com & Lowes.com

The Competition 1600 gets a 26 lb hopper and the Pro Series 1600 gets a larger 32 lb hopper. As with all of the comparisons, the temperature range (180-500) is the same along with direct-flame access.

So what about price points? Well, the Competition 1600 is $799 and the Pro Series 1600 is $999, therefore there is quite a bit of a price difference between these two.

Furthermore, I personally prefer the roll top lid on the Competition 1600 and remember it benefits from a Smoke Setting/P-Setting adjustment.

Therefore, personally, I’d keep $200 in my pocket and go for the Competition 1600.


Conclusions On The Pit Boss Competition vs Pro Series

While I do think the Pit Boss Pro Series Gen 2 models have been very good value since they were introduced, I generally think the Competition Series models are offering a bit more value.

If you browse and compare the Competition Series table vs the Pro Series table you will see that these two ranges of pellet grills/smokers compare very closely to each other.

I do like the roll top lids of the Competition Series along with the new Smoke Setting. Furthermore, I know many people are going to prefer the vertical bar cast-iron grates.

That’s it! Thanks for reading, I hope the above comparison has helped you to come to a decision if you have been considering a model from one of these ranges.

You may also be interested in checking my Pit Boss Onyx Edition vs Pro Series comparison article.

As always, please check out my Wood Pellet Grill/Smoker Guide to learn more about all your current options in the world of pellet BBQs.

A to Z List of Pellet Grill/Smoker Brands

A to Z List of Pellet Grill/Smoker Brands

Back in 2007 when I first become aware of pellet grills and smokers the only brand I was really aware of was Traeger. Traeger is really where this whole concept of cooking with pellets started in the 1980s. It was a ‘slow burner’ (pardon the pun) but since the 2010s is really when pellet grills and smokers started to get mainstream awareness, discussed alongside gas and charcoal grills. There are now over 30 pellet grill/smoker brands that I’m aware of, and the link above goes to my A to Z list of brands article.

Now, you may already be aware of a few of the other brands such as Pit Boss, Camp Chef, Z Grills and I’m sure you are aware of Weber, though you may not have known they have entered the pellet grill game. However, they are now many, many more brands to look into. Some may be what are commonly referred to as ‘Traeger clones’, but many others are offering their own unique designs and features.

A to Z List of The Best BBQ Wood Pellets

A pellet grill/smoker is only as good as the BBQ pellets you put into it. The type/quality of the BBQ wood pellets you use will impact temperature performance and smoke flavour. There are many pellet flavours including Apple, Hickory, Mapel, Oak and Walnut to name but a few. However, some brands are hardwood blended pellets whereas others are 100% single wood species.

In this article, I provide details on over 20 brands of BBQ wood pellets, their range of flavours, whether they are 100% single wood species or hardwood blended pellets, their typical price and where they are available. I also provide tips on how to get the best deal when buying BBQ wood pellets and how to test pellet quality. Finally, I discuss the new kid on the block, charcoal pellets and their special attributes compared to all other hardwood BBQ pellets.

Chris - PelHeat.com

Hi, I’m Chris. I started PelHeat.com back in 2007. This website is intended to be an educational resource on BBQ pellets, pellet grills & smokers. I hope you find the information useful.

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