Launched in late 2019, the USSC Grills brand is an offshoot of USSC (United States Stove Company) who have been selling wood stoves since 1869. I’ve known of USSC for many years, since my early days with pellets and the USSC pellet stoves. So when USSC Grills was launched to offer a selection of pellet grills USSC they had the opportunity to leverage their brand’s heritage and many years experience with pellet combustion technologies. Their pellet grills are not by any means ‘bad’, however, as I discuss below, for their price point/features they are just lost amongst other competing pellet grills/smokers.
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Introduction To USSC Grills
As I’ve stated above, the parent company USSC has been around for well over a hundred years, they know how to sell, market and distribute products. Therefore, you will find USSC Grills in places like Walmart and Lowes. However, their online presence is very limited, you will be hard-pressed to find online promotional materials on these pellet grills. Furthermore, you will find very few if any ‘YouTubers’ or ‘BBQ influencers’ talking about these pellet grills. I think part of the reason for that is these pellet grills currently do not really have any unique selling points. Furthermore, they are priced as mid-range practical/premium pellet grills, hence they are trying to compete with the biggest names in the business.
The USSC Grills Range
There are currently three pellet grills/smokers within the USSC Grills range. All three have the same appearance/feature set, the only difference between them being the size of the cooking area provided. The model numbers indicate the provided cooking area in square inches, the three models are:
- Hooch 350 Pellet Grill/Smoker – $499
- Cumberland 730 Pellet Grill/Smoker – $799
- Irondale 890 Pellet Grill/Smoker – $999
OK, Things I Like About USSC Grills
So overall my thoughts on the USSC Grills range is ‘meh’. However, there are some features and components I like to see on a pellet grill/smoker which these USSC Grills do have. In terms of features like the hopper, all of the USSC Grills have an 18lb hopper. This size of hopper is still an industry average therefore its not really a positive or a negative. As BBQ wood pellets come in 20lb bags, it would be better just to round the hoppers out to 20lbs, but its not really a big deal. In terms of pellet consumption, I would estimate these single-walled grills for smoking are going to be right in the 1-2 lbs per hour range as I discuss in my article on pellet usage/consumption.
Ok, so the first thing I like is the stainless steel cooking grates/warming rack. Using stainless steel on these components has two benefits. First, being stainless steel they are going to last longer. Second, you can clean them with a grill brush not worrying about taking off a porcelain coating as is the case with just standard steel cooking racks. I have a separate article on the best tips to clean a pellet grill which you may want to check out.
The control panel is arguably the most important component of any pellet grill/smoker. How accurately the control panel can manage the auger and combustion fan to achieve and maintain a set temperature will make or break the reputation of a pellet grill/smoker. Therefore, it is good to see that USSC Grills have used PID technology for their control panels. If you’re not aware of what a PID control panel is please check out my article linked above. But basically, a PID control panel is constantly monitoring the internal temperature of the grill against the set temperature and making constant adjustments to the auger/combustion fan.
Now, if you read the USSC Grills sales literature no mention is specifically made of PID technology. However, the description of the control panel means it has to be using PID technology. Only a PID control panel can adjust the temperature within 5-degree increments. Also, the manual of the USSC Grills states the following:
“During operation, the technology in this grill’s programming learns the fuel rate needed to sustain the selected cooking temperature.”
Well, only a PID control panel is capable of doing that. Earlier pellet grills/such as the Gen 1 Traeger Pro Series featured a time-based algorithm control panel. Time-based panels were not capable of adapting to precise changes, they were simply on or off around a set temperature inside the grill. Therefore, the PID technology of the USSC Grills is a feature I like.
Things I Don’t Like About The USSC Grills Range
So as I’ve stated above, bringing out a new range of pellet grills/smokers within the $500 to $1,000 bracket, the most competitive price bracket in the market, is a tough challenge. Therefore, for a brand/grill to stand out or even compete it needs to offer the same features or more of its direct competitors. Below, I’ve included a list of several pellet grills/smokers which are available within this price bracket:
- Traeger Gen 2 Pro Series
- Traeger Ironwood Series
- Camp Chef Woodwind Pellet Grills
- Green Mountain Grills
- Grilla Grills
- RecTeq Grills
- Pit Boss Platinum Series
- Louisiana Grills
- Expert Grills Pellet Grills/Smokers
- Weber SmokeFire Pellet Grills
- Broil King Pellet Grills
You get my point, there is a lot of competing pellet grill/smoker brands within the $500 to $1,000 price range. Therefore to compete, does the current USSC grills range offer WiFi/Smartphone functionality? nope. Do they offer direct-flame access for better high-temperature searing performance? nope. Do they offer any twin-wall insulated construction to reduce pellet consumption and aid winter cooking performance? nope.
My point is, for the price range that USSC Grills wants to sell their products at they are just not competitive. You can get a lot more in some cases for a lot less from some of the competing pellet grill brands above. Therefore, I think for USSC Grills to be competitive they either have to significantly lower the price of their existing range, or update their features/specifications to be competitive.
Conclusions On The USSC Grills Range
Within the title of this article, I stated ‘missed opportunity’, and that really sums up how I feel about the existing USSC Grills range. They are offering a very average product which is priced above where they should be for the features/specifications they have. Personally, if I had a brand like USSC with a heritage going back to 1869, I’d be looking to produce a made in the USA pellet grill/smoker. The current USSC range is produced in China which is pretty much exclusively the case with most grills under $1,000.
Yes, manufacturing in the US would involve selling smaller quantities of a higher-priced product. However, it would also be a higher specification/higher quality product that could properly leverage/carry the USSC brand. With the current USSC Grills range yes, they are in the price bracket where the most grills are sold. However, if your product doesn’t compete on features, not many are going to be sold, are they?
That’s it! Thanks for reading, I hope you found this article interesting/useful. To check out all your pellet grill/smoker options on the market today, 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.