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…
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Introduction To The Pit Boss Competition vs Pro Series
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.
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.
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.
‘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.
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.
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
|Total Cooking Area||849 sq.in||1,315 sq.in||1,578 sq.in|
|Main Grate||593 sq.in||540 sq.in||648 sq.in|
|Hopper Size||21 lbs||26 lbs||26 lbs|
|Direct Flame Access?||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Hinged/Roll Top Lid?||Hinged||Roll Top||Roll Top|
Pit Boss Pro Series
|Total Cooking Area||849 sq.in||1,150 sq.in||1,598 sq.in|
|Main Grate||593 sq.in||711 sq.in||711 sq.in|
|Hopper Size||20 lbs||32 lbs||32 lbs|
|Direct Flame Access?||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Hinged/Roll Top Lid?||Hinged||Hinged||Hinged|
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.