I’ve been watching Traeger lead the pellet grill market for over a decade. However, since 2017 there has been quite a significant shakeup in the range of grills/smokers that Traeger offers and the features they include. For instance, their most popular grills the Traeger Pro Series has been updated. Furthermore, they released their top of the range Traeger Timberline pellet grills. However, their latest offering is the Ironwood which sits in the range between the Pro Series and the Timberline. So with this post, I wanted to explore what features does the Ironwood have over the Pro Series but it lacks compared to the Timberline range of pellet grills.
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So hopefully after reading this post and reviewing the videos I’ve included below you’ll know if you want to spend the additional cash on an Ironwood over the Pro Series. Or, you may determine that while you like the features of the Ironwood you want to upgrade to the additional features of the Timberline.
Introduction To The Traeger Ironwood Pellet Grill/Smoker Range
Since the 1980’s when Traeger first started to produce wood pellet grills the basic round barrel design and short chimney stack on the opposite side of the grill to the pellet hopper have been consistent. The Traeger Pro Series still shares this basic design to this day. However, with the Traeger Timberline, a more advanced wood pellet combustion cooking platform was developed.
With the Timberline gone was the short chimney stack on the side of the grill. In its place was a rear horizontal downdraft exhaust. This brought along with it Traegers Tru Convection cooking system which helps to distribute heat and smoke through the grill and your food more evenly. A number of other improvements were developed such as the D2 Direct Drive auger motor which is also variable speed. However, Traeger realised there was quite a big price difference between the Timberline and Pro Series. Therefore they have introduced the Ironwood to act as an intermediary option. First, let’s discuss what the Ironwood can offer you over the Pro Series.
Traeger Ironwood vs Gen 2 Pro Series
In the title to this section its important to note that we are comparing/contrasting the Ironwood to the Gen 2 Pro Series and not the Gen 1 Pro Series. The Gen 1 Pro Series uses a completely different platform in terms of the auger motor, induction fan and controller. While the D2 controllers found on the Gen 2 Pro Series and Ironwood are different, the rest of the components are based on the same platform/feature set. Furthermore, the original Pro Series is based on the round barrel design and not the current pill-shaped body found on the Gen 2 Pro Series, Ironwood and Timberline pellet grills. I was going to type up a detailed explanation of the differences between the Ironwood and Gen 2 Pro Series. However, I then came across the video below from Traeger which saves me a lot of typing. 🙂
As you can see from the video above the Gen 2 Pro Series and Ironwood pellet grills share several similarities. They both take advantage of the new DC direct drive/variable speed motors for the auger and induction fan and offer WiFire app remote monitoring and control of the grills through your smartphone. However, its the differences we are interested in for this post.
Downdraft Exhaust and Super Smoke Mode
The most significant difference between the Ironwood and Gen 2 Pro Series is the downdraft exhaust which also enables the Ironwood to offer Super Smoke Mode. The downdraft exhaust is fundamental in the Tru Convection cooking system found in the Ironwood. As shown in the video above, it creates an internal vortex within the grill, distributing heat/smoke around the food like never before. Now, that’s not to say the Pro Series cannot create great tasting BBQ. However, the Ironwood is able to produce more consistent results due to the Tru Convection cooking system.
Differences With The D2 Traeger Control Panel
While both the Ironwood range and Pro Series both feature a current generation D2 controller and both are WiFire enabled, there are some differences. The Ironwoods D2 controller has Timer, Super Smoke and Keep Warm mode quick buttons. These features are not found on the D2 controller fitted to the Pro Series. Another difference which did exist (and is shown in the video above) but Traeger has now made universal is the maxium cooking temperature. While the Ironwood can be set for a maxium temperature of 500 degrees, originally the Gen 2 Pro Series had a maxium temperature of 450 degrees. However, Traeger has now upgraded the Gen 2 Pro Series so it also reaches 500 degrees.
Ironwood Twin Wall vs Pro Series Single Wall Construction
While the cooking barrel on both the Ironwood and Pro Series appear very similar on the outside there are significant differences on the inside. While the Pro Series features just single-wall construction, the Ironwood benefits from an insulated twin-wall construction. Why does that matter? Well, when cooking in colder climates, in particular, the Ironwood it less prone to external temperature changes impacting on the internal temperature of the grill while cooking. Furthermore, when you have to open the lid to inspect the food. The Ironwood due to the insulated twin-wall body is able to get back up the set temperature quicker than the Pro Series.
Differences In Available Cooking Area
Traeger on its first-generation Pro Series described the grills based on the internal width of the cooking grate. For instance, the Gen 1 Pro Series 22 had a rack, you guessed it, 22″ wide. However, the Gen 2 Pro Series describes the grills based on the square inch capacity of the cooking racks. Hence, the Pro Series 575 has 575 square inches of cooking space. So this is first thing to note as a comparison between the Gen 2 Pro Series and Ironwood range. The Ironwood range is physically larger with the 650 and 885. If you feel you need more cooking space as you have a large family/group of friends that’s one reason why you may want to consider opting for an Ironwood.
Differences In Pellet Hopper Size
The Pro Series Gen 2 like the Gen 1 before it features an 18lb pellet hopper. However, the Ironwood features a 20lb pellet hopper. Now, that 2lb difference may not sound significant, and in terms of cooking time its not. However, what it does mean is with the Ironwood you can empty a full 20lb bag of Traeger wood pellets into the grill in one go. However, personally, I never recommend emptying pellets straight out of the bag and into the hopper. If there is excessive dust/fines in the pellets that could cause you problems further down the line. As I discuss in my Traeger accessories post, you want to use a sieve/bucket to make sure the BBQ wood pellets are clean from dust before you load them into the hopper. Both the Ironwood and Pro Series can be upgraded with the Traeger pellet sensor to send updates to your phone through the WiFire app when the hopper is running low.
Traeger Ironwood vs Timberline Wood Pellet Grills
Above I’ve covered how the Ironwood range is superior to the Pro Series. We’ll now look into what features the Ironwood doesnt have which the Timberline does. In this instance, the differences are a lot more subtle. For instance, both grills benefit from the downdraft exhaust with Tru Convection cooking performance. Furthermore, the Ironwood and Timberline feature the same D2 control panel with Timer, Super Smoke and Keep Warm modes. However, there are some notable differences between the sizes of the grills and their construction.
Differences In Available Cooking Areas
As discussed above, the new way that Traeger specifies models is based on their cooking area in square inches. So in the Ironwood range, you have one model with 650 square inches and one with 885 square inches. Well, the Timberline range are larger units, starting with the 850 and the largest unit the 1300. Therefore, just like the size differences between the Ironwood and Pro Series, if you do have a large family or group of friends you may want to consider upgrading to the Timberline. Also, the Timberline range has three cooking racks compared to the two in the Ironwood range.
More Insulated Twin-Walled Construction
As stated above, the Ironwood range does feature insulated twin-wall side panels. However, the Timberline range takes it even further with an insulated twin-wall back panel and insulated lid. Furthermore, while the Ironwood has front lid gasket, the Timberline has a gasket all the way around the lid. What this means is the Timberline is even better prepared to grill/smoke in colder climates and will experience reduced temperature fluctuations and quicker heat up times. Now, if you only want to use your grill in a warm climate or in the summer months, your still going to get great performance from the Ironwood. Just be aware if you do want to use a pellet grill in the Northern US/Canada during winter, the Timberline is better insulated and will produce more consistent results.
Stainless Steel Construction, Grill Racks and Shelves
One of the key differences between the Ironwood and Timberline pellet grill ranges is the extensive use of stainless steel on the Timberline range. A great feature to have, but its a significant part of the reason why the Timberline range is quite a bit more expensive. For instance, on the Ironwood while there is a stainless steel side shelf, that’s pretty much it. However, on the Timberline not only is there an additional stainless steel front shelf there is extensive use of stainless inside the grills. The twin-wall insulated body/lid is all stainless steel lined. Furthermore, the Timberline features stainless steel racks where the Ironwood features porcelain-coated steel grates. When cleaning a pellet grill with porcelain-coated grates you have to be really careful not to damage them. Never use wire brushes on porcelain racks for instance.
Traeger Ironwood Reviews
To finish off this post I wanted to reference some reviews of the Traeger Ironwood pellet grills to help you determine if it will be right grill for you. The first video below from the BBQGuys is not so much of a review per se, more of an overview of the features and capabilities of the grill. However, in the video, they do discuss a nice example of cooking a brisket overnight on the Ironwood using WiFire to control the temperature of the grill.
The next video I wanted to feature is from an Ironwood owner Jeremy Woodall. The reason I wanted to include Jermeys video is he shows the unboxing and assembly of the Ironwood 650. How you have to attach the legs and leg braces. As Jeremy states in his video when you first get an Ironwood as per the instructions you have to season the grill before you cook on it for the first time. This basically means getting the grill up to temp to burn off any excess paint/manufacturing residue from the firepot etc. The video below is just a quick/initial review on his impressions of the Ironwood. In the future, I hope to update this post with some more long term reviews.
Conclusions On The Traeger Ironwood Pellet Grill Range
As someone who has worked in the pellet industry for a very long time, I’ve seen lots of different pellet combustion technologies used in pellet stoves and boilers. However, for a long time, there hasn’t been much development in the pellet grill market with the pellet combustion technology used. Therefore, when the Traeger Timberline range launched with the downdraft exhaust etc it really did impress me. The only downside is that the Timberline range is pretty expensive. Hence, when Traeger launched the Ironwood range which features the same combustion technology at a significantly lower price point (several hundred dollars less) it caught my attention. If you do want to take your BBQ game to the ‘next level’ but the Timberline is out of budget the Ironwood range for their price point is the most advanced pellet grill you can currently get. As I do believe the Traeger Ironwood is one of the best pellet grills on sale today.
That’s it! Thanks for reading. I hope after reading my comments above you are now familiar with the pros and cons of the Ironwood pellet grills in relation to the Pro Series and Timberline range. You can purchase an Ironwood directly through Traegergrills.com. They also offer 0% financing starting at only $40 per month. If you would like to learn more about other grills, such as Traeger vs Weber for instance, please visit my wood pellet grill/smoker guide. 🙂