Traeger and Pit Boss are currently the most well known/popular brands in the pellet market right now. The Traeger brand started in the 1980s being the foundation of the idea/concept of pellet grills. Pit Boss is a subsidiary brand of Dansons Inc which was founded in 1999. Dansons also own other pellet grill brands, Lousiana Grills and Country Smokers. How Traeger and Pit Boss sell/distribute their pellet grills is very similar. For instance, both brands sell various specific models in the Big Box Stores (Walmart, Lowes, Costo etc). They are also both heavily marketing their pellet grills with celebrity/chef endorsements, with Pit Boss even being the official grill of NASCAR. Quite a clever marketing move there I think by Pit Boss. However, I want to cut through the marketing and compare Traeger vs Pit Boss pellet grills in a price vs features analysis.
Through my analysis below you will see that while previous/early Traeger and Pit Boss pellet grills started off in direct competition, they are actually moving further apart with their features and prices of their products. Pit Boss has always been a value proposition brand. In other words, they have always tried to offer the largest grills they could for the price point while including some features discussed below not found on many pellet grills, including Traeger’s. Traeger, on the other hand, has lately been putting more focus on improving the internal components (auger motor/combustion fan) of their pellet grills and their control panels. Therefore, many current Traeger and Pit Boss pellet grills do not fall into the same class of pellet grill. To learn more about the different pellet grill classes please read this post.
Introduction To Traeger vs Pit Boss Pellet Grills
So before I jump in comparing the current product ranges of Traeger and Pit Boss against one another I should clarify how I want to compare them. I’m not going to discuss every single model for a couple of reasons. First, there is simply just too many. As discussed above, both Traeger and Pit Boss are offering some models only in certain Big Box Stores. The reality in most instances is a change of lid colour and adding a shelf or two which is not found on more commonly available models. However, there are a couple of exceptions to that statement. How I think its best to approach this Traeger vs Pit Boss comparison article is to discuss each companies offerings under certain price points. Namely, Traeger vs Pit Boss pellet grills under $500, under $1,000 and under $2,000.
Traeger vs Pit Boss Pellet Grills Under $500
If you only have a budget of under $500 to spend and you are purely looking at either a Traeger or Pit Boss pellet grill then you defiantly have more options with Pit Boss than you do with Traeger. On the Traeger side, you are purely limited to their portable pellet grill range with models such as the Traeger Tailgater, or their even smaller tabletop grills, the Traeger Scout or Ranger.
On the Pit Boss side, there is a much more extensive range of options to consider. I have a separate post on budget Pit Boss pellet grills, many of which can be found for under $500. With Pit Boss at this price point, you also have a second option, ignoring the grilling side of things and going for a vertical pellet smoker. On a vertical smoker, they are only suitable for wood-fired flavour while ‘low and slow’ cooking. However, if you already own a propane grill which is still in good working order and you are looking for the best ‘bang for your buck’ to just purely smoke. Then a vertical pellet smoker maybe your best option under $500.
So in summary, for under $500 you have a couple of small pellet grill options from Traeger, mainly their Tailgater or the compact Scout or Ranger grills. With Pit Boss under $500, you have small grill options such as Pit Boss’s own Tailgater, along with a couple of other grills such as the 340. However, if you are purely interested in wood pellet smoking for under $500 and portability isn’t a feature you’re looking for then a Pit Boss vertical pellet smoker is worth considering.
Traeger vs Pit Boss Pellet Grills Under $1,000
With a budget between $500 to $1,000 comparing pellet grills between Traeger and Pit Boss is where its the most interesting. However, first I want to explain why I’m not going to compare models such as Traeger Gen 1 Pro 22 or 34. The reason is these grills are being phased out. Furthermore, they include previous generation Traeger components. Therefore, while slightly larger than the Gen 2 Traeger Pro Series models discussed below, they don’t feature the best technology available from Traeger at this price point.
Traeger Pro 575 and 780 Pellet Grills
I have a full article on the Traeger Pro Series pellet grill range, so below I’ve just included a few highlights of their specifications to compare them against the Pit Boss pellet grill range for under $1,000. In terms of cooking area, the Pro 575 provides 575 square inches of cooking space, and you guessed it, the Pro 780 provides 780 square inches of cooking space. The important improvements Traeger have made with their latest Pro series pellet grills is the introduction of the D2 Direct Drive platform along with the new PID (Proportional, Integral, Derivative) D2 control panel. The previous generation Traeger Gen 1 Pro Controller was time-based, and not as accurate. The Pro 575 and Pro 780 also features Traeger WiFire, one of the most compressive WiFi/App pellet grill offerings on the market today.
Pit Boss Platinum Pellet Grills
To clarify, there is a huge range of pellet grills available from Pit Boss at a lower cost than their Platinum range of grills I’ll discuss below. However, this is a comparison article against Traeger’s pellet grills. Therefore, we should be looking at the best offerings from Pit Boss for under $1,000, and that’s their Platinum range which currently includes the Lockhart and KC Combo. As above with the Traeger Pro Series, I have a separate/detailed article on the Pit Boss Platinum pellet grill range. Below is just a quick overview of their features.
The Lockhart is a horizontal grill and vertical smoking cabinet combination, whereas the KC Combo is a pellet grill/gas grill combination. More pellet/gas grill combinations have started to come onto the market since Camp Chef started to offer their SmokePro and Woodwind pellet grills with either their propane Sear Box or Sidekick. More, recently the pellet/gas Cuisinart Twin Oaks has come onto the market. In fact, the KC Combo is not the only pellet/gas combination grill from Pit Boss, there is also the lower-specd, lower-priced Pro Series 1100 and PB 1230.
Traeger Pro Series vs Pit Boss Platinum Range
Now we’ll look at the notable differences between these two product ranges for under a $1,000. The first notable difference will be the size of the pellet grill offerings from Traeger and Pit Boss. The largest Traeger offering with its 780 square inches of cooking space is significantly less than the 2,136 square inches of cooking area on the Lockhart and the 1,001 square inches of cooking area on the KC Combo. Therefore, if you are looking for a pellet grill purely on the largest cooking area, both Pit Boss grills are offering significantly more. In terms of general utility and functionality, the Lockhart and the KC Combo also offer more with either the vertical smoking cabinet or gas grill.
Pit Boss is also well known for their flame broiling/searing capabilities with their sliding grease tray that lets the flames from the pellet fire reach the cooking grate. Along with the fact Pit Boss also include cast-iron grates apposed to steel wire racks which are found on the Traeger, searing performance is also generally regarded as an area where Pit Boss outperform Traeger. However, it should be noted having direct access to the pellet fire can increase the risk of grease fires. Furthermore, when flame searing you have to be really careful not to burn/dry out the food. On any pellet grill (including Pit Boss/Traeger grills) you can add a set of GrillGrates which can dramatically improve searing performance while not drying out the food. Therefore, the benefits of the cast-iron racks/flame broiling may not be a significant difference in the Traeger vs Pit Boss debate if a set of GrillGrates is to be used.
In terms of the control panels used on the Traeger Pro Series and Pit Boss Platinum range, there are some notable differences. In terms of temperature range, they are very similar, with both Traeger and Pit Boss having maximum temperature settings of 500 degrees. Furthermore, Pit Boss, like Traeger are using PID algorithms in the Plantium range control panels. This means the control panel is constantly monitoring the internal temperature of the grill against the set temperature to make adjustments. Therefore, the temperature can be set and held within a 5-degree range.
However, I do believe the Traeger D2 control panel is superior to the control panel fitted to the Pit Boss Platinum range in terms of its capabilities. While Pit Boss is offering remote monitoring and control of the Lockhart and KC Combo with a smartphone app (SmokeIT), its only available with a Bluetooth connection. The problem with Bluetooth is that its only able to communicate with the grill from a relatively short distance, from within your own garden/yard. It can potentially connect from inside your home. However, Bluetooth connectivity is notorious for connection drops with internal/external signal transfer (through walls).
Traeger is using WiFi (WiFire) connectivity for their D2 control panel. Therefore, once properly set up with your homes WiFi router you will be able to monitor and control the pellet grill from any location with a WiFi/4G/5G signal. Furthermore, the Traeger Pro Series pellet grills can be upgraded with the Traeger pellet sensor which also sends data to the WiFire app. Therefore, while away from the grill you are able to know the percentage of pellets remaining in the hopper.
Where Traeger is using DC brushless motors for the auger/combustion fan I don’t believe that to be the case on the Pit Boss platinum range, but I could be wrong. I’ve not been able to find out either way if that’s the case or not. DC brushless motors are superior to AC brush motors in both power and durability. Therefore, with the current information available I believe the Traeger grills likely feature better quality/more durable internal components.
Traeger vs Pit Boss Pellet Grills Under $2,000
As of this moment, Pit Boss does not currently offer any ‘Premium’ pellet grills in the range of $1,000 to $2,000. The Pit Boss Platinum range is currently the brands highest priced/highest specification models. However, there are several models of Traeger pellet grills in this price bracket as part of the Ironwood and Timberline ranges. Hence, as I referenced above, this shows how the two brands of Traeger and Pit Boss in terms of their products/price-point are moving further apart. Pit Boss is still heavily focusing on the value proposition where Traeger is trying to position its self as a more premium product. The links above are to my detailed articles on the Traeger Ironwood/Timberline pellet grills. I’ll just quickly discuss below what improvements/upgrades Traeger has made with these models over their Pro Series.
What I feel is the most significant upgrade over the Traeger Pro Series with both the Ironwood and Timberline pellet grills is the rear Downdraft Exhaust. This is part of a redesign of the internal cooking area Traeger have carried out as part of their Tru Convection cooking system. With this design, the heat/smoke rises up and over the top cooking rack and then back down and underneath the grease tray/heat deflector to leave out of the back of the pellet grill through the downdraft exhaust. The benefits of such a design are improved heat dissipation within the grill and increased exposure to the wood smoke for enhanced flavour. It also likely has an impact on pellet consumption. However, I don’t have any data available to prove that either way currently.
What should also be noted is the Traeger Ironwood and Timberline models in particular use elements of twin wall construction. This effectively acts as a form of insulation. An insulated body on a pellet grill has two benefits. First, it keeps in more of the heat from the pellet fire, hence a well-insulated pellet grill will use fewer pellets to get up to temperature and maintain temperature. However, another benefit of a well-insulated pellet grill is that its impacted less by external temperature changes. Its likely for instance in cold/windy weather that a Traeger Ironwood and particularly the better insulated Timberline will be able to achieve and hold more stable cooking temperatures over the Pit Boss Platinum range.
The final main difference of the Ironwood and particularly the Timberline over the Pro Series and Pit Boss Platinum Range is the use of stainless steel internals. The use of stainless steel means corrosion on the internal cooking surfaces is not a concern. This impacts the usable life of these components, but it also makes it easy to clean the pellet grill. I’m not implying that Traeger is the only pellet grill manufacture to use stainless steel in the construction of their pellet grills, far from it.
There are many pellet grill manufacturers priced above and below the price of Traeger grills that use stainless steel. Brands such as REC TEC and Grilla Grills use quite a bit of stainless steel. Furthermore, all Luxury class pellet grills from Cookshack, MAK Grills, Coyote, Memphis and Twin Eagles are made almost exclusively from stainless steel. My main point is, in a comparison of Traeger vs Pit Boss, the use of stainless steel on certain pellet grills is a notable difference.
Conclusions On Traeger vs Pit Boss Pellet Grills
As of this moment, how do the Traeger vs Pit Boss pellet grill/smoker ranges compare? Well, in the under $500 category while Traeger does have a few offerings (Tailgater, Scout, Ranger) Pit Boss are offering a much wider selection of both horizontal grills and vertical smokers. Purely in terms of provided cooking area, the Pit Boss range offers more. Moving up to the sub $1,000 category its a similar situation again. Pit Boss is offering pellet grills with much larger cooking areas with their Platinum range for instance than you get with the Traeger Pro Series. However, I generally believe the fit and finish of the Traeger Pro Series to be superior to the Pit Boss Platinum Range. Furthermore, the Traeger D2/WiFire control panel offers more options on how to monitor and control the pellet grill over the Pit Boss. Pit Boss currently doesn’t produce any pellet grills over $1,000 where Traeger produce four models currently, two each in the Ironwood/Timberline ranges.
The above shows that while Traeger and Pit Boss used to be in direct competition with each other, their current pellet grills which directly compete with each other are getting less and less. Pit Boss is really now in direct competition with brands such as ZGrills, Oklahoma Joes and Cuisinart. Whereas Traeger is in direct competition with brands such as REC TEC, Grilla Grills and Camp Chef. The last point I just want to make on the Traeger vs Pit Boss debate is while both are American companies, neither brand currently offers a pellet grill made in the USA. Therefore, there is no reason to choose one brand over the other for patriotic reasons.
That’s it! Thanks for reading, I hope you found my article above interesting/useful. While I appreciate many people may only know Traeger and Pit Boss as pellet grill brands there are actually many others. You may also want to check out my Pit Boss vs Camp Chef article. For many more of my articles check out my wood pellet grill/smoker guide to explore all your options. 🙂