Traeger Pro Series vs Ironwood – Worth The Premium?


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

Let’s say for example you have decided you want to purchase a product from the original pellet grill brand, you want a Traeger. Let’s also say you have decided a top of the range Timberline model is out of your budget, but you’re mulling over an Ironwood model. What I want to discuss in this article is what are the specific differences between the more affordable Traeger Pro Series compared to the more expensive Ironwood models. In other words, is the price premium you’ll be paying for an Ironwood model worth it to you?

Traeger Pro Series vs Ironwood
You’ll pay a $500 to $600 premium for an Ironwood model over the Pro Series model, are they really worth it?: Images – Traeger.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.

In a rush? Jump to my conclusion on the Traeger Pro Series vs Ironwood pellet grills and when the additional features of the Ironwood may be worth it for you.

Introduction To The Traeger Pro Series vs Ironwood

So the first important thing I need to clear up is this is a comparison between the second generation of Traeger Pro Series and the Ironwood models. If you are not aware of the difference, I would encourage you to first read my Traeger Pro Series Gen 1 vs Gen 2 article.

Right, a couple of years back Traeger did release a Pro Series vs Ironwood video which I’ve included below. It does a good summary of the differences, but I also need to provide more information on the difference, hence the point of this article.

Traeger has previously done a comparison video, however, I think the differences need more context: Video – Traeger.com

While the video above does a good job outlining the differences, it is also now inaccurate on an important feature which I’ll discuss below. First, we need to outline the price differences between the Pro Series and Ironwood models so we know what we’re dealing with in terms of a price premium.

FeaturesPro 575Pro 780Ironwood 650Ironwood 885
Total Cooking Area575 sq.in780 sq.in650 sq.in885 sq.in
Main Grate418 sq.in570 sq.in418 sq.in570 sq.in
Hopper Size?18 lbs18 lbs20 lbs20 lbs
Temp Range180-500180-500180-500180-500
PID Control?YesYesYesYes
WiFi/App?YesYesYesYes
Twin-Wall?NoNoYes (Some)Yes (Some)
Downdraft Exhaust?NoNoYesYes
Typical Price$900$1,000$1,400$1,600

In terms of the ‘Typical Price’ figures above, I’ve referenced them directly from Traeger.com. Now, please bear in mind that your conclusions may be very different from mine if you find a particular model on sale at Walmart.com or HomeDepot.com for instance.

Pro vs Ironwood Similarities and Small Differences

So in quite a few ways the Pro Series models and Ironwood models are very similar. For instance, they both feature the same D2 Direct Drive platform of variable speed DC motors for the auger and combustion fan.

Furthermore, all Pro Series (Gen 2) and Ironwood models are fitted with D2 control panel which is running a PID algorithm offering 5-degree temperature adjustments. The D2 panel can also hold the temperature inside the grills to within +/- 5 degrees of the set temperature.

All Pro Series (Gen 2) and Ironwood models are Traeger WiFire compatible so can be controlled and monitored remotely via a phone with the Traeger App. Though the Pro Series model are missing the ‘Keep Warm’ feature which is nice to have but should by no means be a deal-breaker.

Traeger Pro Series vs Ironwood Similarities and Small Differences
There are differences in hopper size, control panel features and whether a pellet hopper sensor is included between Pro Series and Ironwood models. However, I don’t believe them to be significant differences: Images – Traeger.com

Likewise, the pellet hoppers on the Ironwood models are 20 lbs compared to 18 lbs on the Pro Series models. Meaning the Ironwood models can take a full 20 lb bag of hardwood cooking pellets in one go. Again, not a significant difference, but it’s worth noting.

Something not noted in the Traeger video above is Ironwood models come included with the Traeger pellet sensor which the Pro Series models do not. However, the pellet sensor can be retrofitted to Pro Series models if desired at a later date.

500 Degree Maximum Temperature Setting

In the Traeger video above it is stated that only the Ironwood models benefit from the 500-degree maximum temperature setting and the Pro Series models were limited to 450 degrees.

However, Traeger later reversed this decision and via a downloadable firmware update, all second-generation Pro Series models were given the 500-degree maximum temperature setting.

Hence, grilling/searing performance is exactly the same on the second generation Pro Series and Ironwood models. This brings me neatly onto an important point, I would like to discuss the sizes of the main grates.

Pro Series vs Ironwood Grilling Areas

Now, as no Traeger pellet grill comes with direct-flame access they are not the best pellet grills on the market when it comes to high-temperature grilling of burgers/steaks etc. However, let’s presume for a second that’s what most of your outdoor cooking involves.

If you just look at the model numbers you would initially presume a Pro Series 575 for instance has a smaller main grate than the Ironwood 650. However, the reality is both of these pellet grills have exactly the same sized main cooking grate at 418 sq.in.

Traeger Pro 575 vs Ironwood 650
As you can see the Pro 575 and the Ironwood 650 have the same sized main grate of 418 sq.in: Images – Traeger.com

The Ironwood 650 has a larger second rack which provides the larger overall cooking area. However, you can only use that second rack for smoking/lower-temp cooking.

Therefore, as Pro Series and Ironwood models have the same maximum temp setting of 500 degrees when it comes to cooking burgers/steaks etc paying more for an Ironwood model will not provide you with more functionality.

So if you spend most of your time cooking burgers/steaks then paying an additional $500 to go from a Pro 575 to Ironwood 650 may not be worth it. You would likely be better off just spending $100 more for the Pro 780 to get a 570 sq.in main grate.

Pro Series vs Ironwood Twin-Wall Construction

One of the more notable differences between the Traeger Pro Series and Ironwood models is the use of twin-wall construction. Namely, the Pro Series 575 and 780 do not feature any twin wall construction and the Ironwood 650 and 885 do, well some twin-wall construction.

Twin-wall insulated construction is exactly as it sounds, instead of using a single sheet of steel to form the cooking chamber two layers of steel are used and in some cases insulation is placed between the layers of steel. The benefits are reduced pellet consumption and more stable internal temperatures when the ambient temperature around the grill changes.

Traeger Pro Series vs Ironwood Twin-Wall Construction
While the Ironwood models do feature twin-wall construction on the sides of the cooking chamber they would still need an insulated blanket for the best winter cooking performance: Images – Traeger.com

Anyone who wants to use a pellet grill/smoker all year round (especially in winter) I would encourage them to seriously consider a pellet grill with twin-wall construction, its definitely a good feature to have. However, its also important to note the Ironwood models are not full twin-wall construction pellet grills.

The Traeger Ironwood 650 and 885 are very similar to the Weber SmokeFire pellet grills, basically, both sides of the grills feature twin-wall insulation. However, the lower section and the lid/rear of the grills do not feature twin-wall construction.

Therefore, an insulated pellet grill blanket as I discussed in my Traeger accessories post would still be needed on an Ironwood pellet grill over the cold winter months to get the best performance from the grill. Furthermore, if you don’t intend to use the grill in the cold winter months, is the twin-wall on the Ironwood worth the $500 to $600 premium to you?

Pro Series vs Ironwood Downdraft Exhaust

I personally feel the biggest difference by far between the Pro Series and Ironwood models and the main reason anyone should consider paying for the upgrade is the Traeger downdraft exhaust found on the Ironwood 650 and 885.

The Pro 575 and 780 feature the standard small chimney stack design common on pellet grills since Traeger made their first pellet grills in the 1980s. However, the design of the chimney on the Ironwood 650 and 885 is a very different affair that provides a couple of important benefits.

Traeger Ironwood Downdraft Exhaust
By far I regard the downdraft exhaust as the most significant upgrade going from the Pro Series up to the Ironwood models: Image – Traeger.com

Behind the marketing talk of ‘smoke science’ and ‘smoke vortex’s’ is simply an excellent exhaust design that benefits the food being cooked on the Ironwood pellet grills. The design of the exhaust forces the heat and smoke from the pellet fire up, over and under the cooking racks.

Compared to a standard chimney design such as that found on the Pro Series grills the downdraft exhaust provides more even heat and smoke distribution throughout the cooking chamber. Hence, the downdraft exhaust gives the user more consistent results with food across the cooking racks.

Conclusions On The Traeger Pro Series vs Ironwood

So what are my final recommendations? Well, as we have established above, the Pro Series models now have the same 500-degree maximum temperature setting as the Ironwood models. Furthermore, the sizes of the main cooking grates (for grilling/searing) are the same across respective Pro Series and Ironwood models.

Therefore, if you were purchasing a Traeger to mainly cook steaks and burgers etc during the summer months I would probably suggest getting the larger Pro 780 over the Ironwood 650 or 885.

However, if you do want to do quite a bit of ‘low and slow’ cooking I would encourage you to seriously consider an Ironwood model. Due to the twin-wall insulation, partly, but mainly due to the benefits of the downdraft exhaust on the Ironwood 650 and 885.

That’s it! Thanks for reading, I hope you found this Pro Series vs Ironwood comparison useful. If you want to consider other pellet grills brands outside of Traeger there has never been more options to choose from. Please check out my Wood Pellet Grill Guide to learn more. 🙂

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

Hi, I’m Chris. I started PelHeat.com back in 2007. This website is intended to be an educational resource on how pellets are made and their various uses. I hope you find the information useful.

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