If you know anything about pellet grills/smokers you will have heard of Traeger, the biggest name in the business currently (see here). Well, the second biggest player is Danson. You will not find a pellet grill branded with the Danson name, as they promote their products under several different brands such as Pit Boss and Louisiana Grills. Pit Boss products are focused more on the budget end of the market, whereas Louisiana Grills is focused more on mid-range to premium products, just like Traeger. Therefore, how do the products from these two brands compare in terms of their cooking area, materials and features?
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.
Traeger vs Louisiana Grills Introduction
This comparison is going to focus on comparing the Traeger Gen 2 Pro Series vs the Black Label range from Louisiana grills. I’m aware the Lousiana Grills 900C2 is a very well known and still very popular pellet grill. However, in terms of features/price point, that older model is not competitive any more as a new purchase. Therefore, I think its only fair to compare the best each brand has to offer for comparison.
Furthermore, while I would like to do a comparison on the Louisianan Grills upcoming Founders Series pellet grills vs either the Traeger Ironwood or Timberline range, pricing/distribution details of the Founders Series is still thin on the ground. However, I do hope to flesh out this article with a comparison of those pellet grills/smokers in the future.
Traeger Pro Series 780 vs Louisiana Grills Black Label 1000
Where possible when I do my pellet grill comparison articles I try and pick one pellet grill from each brand which retails for the same or similar price point. Now, while both of these brands sell products through various retailers they also sell products directly through their own websites. Therefore, I’ve chosen a product from each brand at the same price point based on the brand’s website. Namely, the Traeger Pro series 780 and Louisiana Grills Black Label 1000, as both retail for $999. I chose an image of each these grills for the introduction to this article above. Right, let’s look at how they compare on cooking area, cooking functionality, their control panels and other notable features.
Cooking Area & Functionality
As you may have guessed, the Traeger Pro 780 provides 780 square inches of cooking area. However, that cooking area is divided up by space provided from the main cooking grate (570 sq.in) capable of grilling & smoking and an upper smoking/warming rack (210 sq.in). The Louisiana Grills Black Label 1000, actually provides a little over 1,000 square inches of cooking are (1,028 sq.in). The Black Label 1000 divides up that space with 661 sq.in on the main cooking grate and 367 sq.in on an upper smoking rack. Therefore, both on the main cooking grate and overall cooking area, the Black Label 1,000 is offering a bit more space.
With cooking functionality, the Louisiana Grills Black Label 1000 also has the edge over the Traeger. The Black Label 1000 comes with porcelain-coated cast-iron cooking grates and direct-flame searing. Furthermore, the maximum temperature setting on the Black Label 1000 is 600 degrees compared to 500 degrees on the Traeger Pro 780. What this means is that out of the box the Louisiana Grills pellet grill will offer better searing/grilling performance. Typically Traeger pellet grills need a set of GrillGrates to get really good grilling/searing performance.
Materials and Construction
Generally, both of these ranges of pellet grills are very similar in their materials and construction. They are mostly made from 14-gauge painted steel, you won’t find much stainless steel on either of these pellet grills. The most notable difference is their cooking racks. The Traeger Pro Series range features porcelain-coated steel wire racks, whereas the Louisiana Grills Black Range features porcelain-coated cast-iron grates. The benefit of cast-iron racks being better heat retention, hence better grilling performance. Therefore, as stated above, the Traeger can really benefit from a set of cast-aluminium GrillGrates.
Something also important to note is both of these pellet grill ranges are single wall construction. Some pellet grills even at this price point (i.e Grilla Grills) feature twin-wall construction to hold in heat, and keep the cold out when grilling in winter. Therefore, with either of these pellet grill ranges, for good winter cooking performance, an insulated blanket is pretty much a must.
Control Panels & WiFi Functionality
Both the Traeger Gen 2 Pro Series and Louisiana Grills Black Label range feature a PID control pane with WiFi functionality. What a PID (Proportional, Integral, Derivative) control panel offers is precise temperature control within 5 degrees of the set temperature. It’s a significant improvement on the relatively basic control of the Gen 1 Traeger Pro Series Control Panel, which could only maintain the internal temperature to within 25 degrees of the set temperature.
As I discuss in my Traeger WiFire article, all Gen 2 Pro Series models come with WiFi (WiFire). While the Pro Series doesn’t have all the same features of the more expensive Ironwood/Timberline ranges, the core functionality of being able to monitor and adjust the cook remotely are there. Each Traeger Gen 2 Pro Series can also be updated with the Traeger pellet sensor for remote pellet hopper monitoring from the app. Over particularly long smoking sessions when its cold (increased pellet consumption), the pellet level sensor could be useful.
The Louisiana Grills Black Label range also features a PID/WiFi control panel for precise temperature control. As stated above, the maximum temperature setting on Black Label grills is higher than the Pro Series at 600 degrees. Furthermore, the Black Label control panel also comes with 2 meat probe ports, whereas the Traeger grills come with just one.
Now, something to be aware of, the Louisiana Grills sibling brand Pit Boss has released their own updated Pro Series range, with a similar PID/WiFi control panel. There have been some issues with temperature accuracy etc with the control panels that have required firmware updates. Unfortunately, to get those updates, owners have been having to mail the control panel to Pit Boss to get them fixed. As the Louisiana Grills Black Label panels likely use the same/similar components, there may be firmware fixes required, though I’m not aware of any issues as yet.
Conclusions On Traeger vs Louisiana Grills
The latest Black Label range form Louisiana Grills makes their offerings much more competitive to Traegers current Gen 2 Pro Series. Both ranges now feature PID/WiFi functionality. However, as discussed above, the Black Label range has the edge on cooking area and functionality (direct-flame/cast-iron grates). There are a few questions around the reliability of the new PID/WiFi control panels used by Danson branded pellet grills. However, I’m sure these issues will be ironed out.
From what I’ve seen so far of the App software used by Pit Boss & Louisiana Grills (SmokeIT) I do still think Traeger’s App is a much cleaner interface and more userfriendly, with video recipes etc. Though, as that’s purely software SmokeIT could be improved significantly over time for the benefit of existing and new customers. What I do think this comparison does show is from this point forward, even for under a thousand dollars, to be competitive, brands need to offer PID & WiFi functionality.
That’s it! Thanks for reading, once more specific pricing/distribution details are available for the Louisiana Grills Founders Series I’ll expand this article with more Traeger vs Louisiana Grills product comparisons. For more information on all things pellet grill/smoker related, please check out my Wood Pellet Grill/Smoker Guide. 🙂
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.