Wood Pellet Grill/Smoker Guide 2020 – Find The Best Pellet Grill For You

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

I’ve been writing summary/review posts on a wide range of wood pellet grills smokers from different manufacturers for a while now. Therefore, I thought I should probably make a single resource page linking to all my articles on wood pellet grills/smokers on the market today. I’ve written about budget/starter pellet grills, mid-range units all the way up to luxury grills. Below you will also find articles on the various unique features/accessories some manufacturers offer as well as posts on how to repair various pellet grills. I’ve decided to order the links to the different posts based on which class a particular model/brand each pellet grill sits in. If you are not sure on the different pellet grill classes please first read my post on how to choose the best pellet grill for you. Enjoy 🙂

If you new to concept of pellet grills/smoker this video quickly and simply explains their benefits: Video – BBQGuys.com

Economy/Budget Class Pellet Grills

These are the cheapest pellet grills currently available. They are typically pellet grills based on previous-generation controllers. Hence, temperature/smoke control is generally not as advanced on these grills as it is on Practical or Premium Class pellet grills. They also generally use cheaper materials and less stainless steel than Practical/Premium Class grills etc. However, this class also includes small portable pellet grills which can have advanced features.

Traeger Scout and Ranger Pellet Grills

Traeger Ranger Pellet Grill
Traeger Ranger Pellet Grill: Image – Traegergrills.com

The Scout and Ranger are Traegers smallest/cheapest pellet grills currently on offer. While they can be used for grilling/smoking in your backyard that’s not their primary intended use. These portable pellet grills are mainly intended for camping/hunting/fishing trips or to be used as a small tailgating grill. The Scout and Ranger are the same physical size. However, the Ranger uses a superior Digital Arc controller and features a larger pellet hopper.

Pit Boss Budget Pellet Grills

Pit Boss Wood Pellet Grill
Pit Boss Pellet Grills: Image – BBQGuys.com

Models such as the Pit Boss 340, Tailgater and 700 are the cheapest pellet grills that Pit Boss offer. These units do not feature PID temperature controllers or WiFi. Therefore, the temperature settings step up in 25-degree increments. So these grills are not capable of more precise temperature control within a couple of degrees as seen on higher specification pellet grills. However, they do offer cast iron grates and flame broiling features in some cases. Generally seen as a good/low-cost option and entry point into the world of cooking/smoking with wood pellets.

Camp Chef SmokePro Pellet Grills

Camp Chef SmokePro Pellet Grills
Camp Chef SmokePro Grills: Image – Campchef.com

The SmokePro range of pellet grills were the first units that Camp Chef brought onto the market and they are now their entry-level grills. However, Camp Chef is building a strong reputation for good build quality and unique features which all started with this SmokePro range. For instance, Camp Chef features a quick clean out ash pot positioned under the grill beneath the firepot, simply twist to release and empty. While SmokePro units didn’t originally come with PID temperature controllers they do now and can be upgraded with WiFi with the Gen 2 Controller.

Z Grills Wood Pellet Grill/Smokers

Z Grills Wood Pellet Grills Smokers
Z Grills Wood Pellet Grills: Image – Amazon

The Z Grills brand first arrived in 2016 to focus purely on the budget/economy end of the wood pellet grill market. Very similar in features and appearance to the previous generation Traeger pellet grills. However, the latest iterations in the Z Grills range do show some other design ideas, such as adding flame broiling capabilities. While these pellet grills are relatively basic compared to more modern alternatives in the Practical/Premium classes below they can serve as a low-cost introduction to pellet cooking. In this post with the help of an owners review, I discuss the capabilities of these entry-level wood pellet grills.

Cuisinart Woodcreek/Twin Oaks Pellet Grills

Cuisinart Wood Pellet Grills
Cuisinart Wood Pellet Grills: Image – Cuisinart.com

While Cuisinart is new to the pellet grill game their Woodcreek (pellet) and Twin Oaks (pellet/gas) grills are impressive for their relatively low price. They do not feature PID temperature controllers or WiFi, though Bluetooth control is possible. While precise temperature control is not where these grills will shine they are large capacity grills that offer a lot of ‘bang for your buck’. The large twin-wall insulated lid and huge 30lb pellet hopper are particularly notable features of these grills. As these Cuisinart grills can reach 500 degrees and they feature cast-iron grates they also have reasonable searing performance.

Practical Class Pellet Grills

In this class of pellet grills/smokers, you get a step-up in materials, build-quality and features. For instance, within the Practical Class, you will find several grills with PID/WiFi panels for more accurate temperature control and remote monitoring and adjustment. Though obviously will have to pay more for these pellet grills over their Economy Class counterparts.

Traeger Pro Series Pellet Grills

Traeger Pro Series Pellet Grill
Traeger Pro Series Pellet Grill: Image – Traegergrills.com

The most popular range of Traeger pellet grills is the Pro Series. There are however two generations of Pro Series grills with the first generation using older analogue controllers. The new generation of Traeger Pro Series pellet grills is based on the new DC (Direct Current) D2 Direct Drive platform and features WiFire which is Traeger’s new WiFi integration and App which includes recipes and downloadable grill settings. Traeger started the pellet grill revolution in the 1980s and the Pro Series is the most popular range of wood pellet grills on the market today. If you are looking for a solid/mid-range pellet grill with a strong developed community to get up to speed on pellet grilling a Traeger is worth considering.

Camp Chef Woodwind Pellet Grills

Camp Chef Woodwind Pellet Grills/Smokers
Camp Chef Woodwind Pellet Grills: Image – Campchef.com

A step-up from the SmokePro, the Woodwind range of pellet grills/smokers from Camp Chef offers a few notable improvements. First is the PID/WiFi controller with a bright colour screen and four meat probe monitoring ports. The Woodwind grills also feature a stainless steel lid for easy cleaning and increased durability. With the Woodwind range, Camp Chef also introduced the option of a propane sear box or sidekick accessory. Its also worth noting these pellet grills can also direct flame sear/broil. Therefore a Woodwind pellet grill is one of the most flexible units on the market.

Weber SmokeFire Pellet Grills

Weber SmokeFire Pellet Grills
Weber SmokeFire Pellet Grills: Image – BBQGuys.com

A very well know brand when it comes to propane grills Weber has now decided to enter the pellet grill market with the SmokeFire. The build quality of these pellet grills is very high for the price point. With the rear-mounted pellet hopper and drop-down burn pot, its clear Weber have decided to try and bring some new ideas to the table. These grills do feature a maximum temperature setting of 600 degrees which is not common in this class and not found on some other grills in higher classes. How successful the launch of the Weber SmokeFire range has been though is still open for debate.

Broil King Baron/Regal Pellet Grills

Broil King Pellet Grills
Broil King Pellet Grills: Image – BBQGuys.com

Another new player to the pellet grill game, though Broil King has been making propane grills for many years. Broil King has introduced the Baron and Regal, with the Regal being the higher specification pellet grill. These are well-built products from 16 and 14 gauge steel respectively. They feature a clever ash cleanout system and bright/easy to use control panels. They also have a 600-degree maximum temperature setting and cast-iron grates with good searing performance. A rotisserie kit can also be included with these Broil King pellet grills giving them more utility/functionality.

Green Mountain Grills

GMG Davy Crockett Pellet Grill
GMG Pellet Grills: Image – BBQGuys.com

Since 2008 Green Mountain Grills (GMG) have been producing well-built/competitively priced pellet grills with excellent temperature control. GMG has been using PID (Proportional, Integral, Derivative) controllers on all their pellet grills from the start. They also offer WiFi integration on all their models, even their little Davy Crockett portable pellet grill. All GMG pellet grills including the Davy Crockett, Daniel Boone (mid-sized) and Jim Bowie (large) can flame sear/broil with the sliding grease tray accessory. In Prime specification, some of the pellet grills also feature an ash vacuum port for easy cleanup and an adjustable heat shield. GMG also manufacture a trailer-mounted commercial cooking unit called the Big Pig Trailer Rig.

Premium Class Pellet Grills

With Premium Class there is another jump up again in build quality and materials over the Practical Class. For instance, you will find more use of stainless steel and better insulation with twin-wall construction and lid gaskets. What this means is these grills can typically hold a more consistent temperature in colder climates with less need to use an insulated grill blanket.

Traeger Ironwood Pellet Grills

Traeger Ironwood Pellet Grills
Traeger Ironwood Pellet Grill: Image – Traegergrills.com

The Ironwood range is a step-up over the Traeger Pro Series. While they are based on the same D2 Direct Drive platform they feature a more advanced D2 control panel with Super Smoke and Keep Warm modes. More stainless steel components are found on the Ironwood grills over the Pro Series. They also feature insulated sidewalls. Furthermore, the Ironwood 650 and 850 are simply larger grills than the Pro Series grills. While not included you can add the Traeger Pellet Sensor and monitor the hopper level through the WiFire app.

Traeger Timberline Pellet Grills

Traeger Timberline Pellet Grills
Traeger Timberline Pellet Grill: Image – Traegergrills.com

The Timberline range is currently the highest specification of pellet grills Traeger produce. While they feature the same D2 control panel as the Ironwood range there are some noticeable differences. The Timberline range is fully lined with stainless steel internally. The grill racks on the Timberline grills are also stainless steel, making them easier to clean and providing increased durability. The front and side shelf is also made from stainless steel. The horizontal downdraft exhaust enables Traegers Tru Convection cooking performance, providing even heat/smoke distribution throughout the grills.

Luxury Class Pellet Grills

The Luxury Class of pellet grills is intended for those who want (and can afford) the absolute best. Therefore, that includes heavy-duty internal components such as the auger and combustion fan etc. However, more significantly is what these grills are made from and how they are constructed. Expect to find almost exclusively stainless steel construction on these pellet grills/smokers.

Cookshack/Fast Eddy Wood Pellet Grill/Smokers

Cookshack Wood Pellet Grill/Smokers
Cookshack/Fast Eddy Pellet Grill: Image – BBQGuys.com

Cookshack along with their design partner Fast Eddy have been making full stainless steel luxury wood pellet grills for longer than anybody else. Furthermore, these grills are not only designed/engineered in the USA they are made in the US at the Cookshack factory in Ponca City, Oklahoma. The Cookshack pellet grills have high max temperatures of 600 degrees and offer direct flame searing/broiling capabilities. However, they also have the ability to cold smoke which is not a common feature on pellet grills. They currently produce two residential units the PG500 and the PG1000. The PG500 is the cheaper of the two whereas the PG1000 features twin-wall insulated construction.

Coyote Pellet Grills/Smokers

Coyote Wood Pellet Grills
Coyote Pellet Grill: Image – BBQGuys.com

While Coyote has been producing luxury outdoor kitchen and freestanding gas/charcoal grills since 2011 they are relatively new to the pellet grill game. However, they are offering currently the cheapest 304-grade stainless steel pellet grills on the market today. The Coyote pellet grills are available in widths of either 28″ or 36″ and freestanding or built-in configurations. These wood pellet grills can reach a temperature of 700 degrees, therefore, they are capable of searing. With the appropriate grease tray insert fitted flame broiling is possible.

Memphis Pellet Grills/Smokers

Memphis Pellet Grill
Memphis Pellet Grills: Image – BBQGuys.com

If you have or looking to build an outdoor kitchen and are looking for a built-in pellet grill you should definitely be considering a Memphis pellet grill. The built-in units are made from 304 stainless steel to even withstand salty coastal air. However, Memphis does offer freestanding grills also made from more affordable 430-grade stainless steel. Memphis grills have high maximum temperature settings from 550 up to 700 degrees. They also offer direct flame broiling with the direct flame grease tray insert.

Twin Eagles Wood Pellet Grills

Twin Eagles Pellet Grill/Smoker
Twin Eagles Pellet Grills: Image – BBQGuys.com

As of this moment, the highest specification (and most expensive) wood pellet grill you can currently buy is a Twin Eagles pellet grill/smoker. Available as either a free-standing or built-in unit at 36″ in width. These pellet grills have the lowest (140 degrees) and highest (725 degrees) of any pellet grill on the market today. With the sear plate or charcoal tray inserts the Twin Eagles pellet grills can sear/flame broil at between 1000 and 1500 degrees respectively. Along with their full-colour WiFi enabled touch screen displays these are currently one of the best pellet grills you can buy today.

Wood Pellet Grill Informative/Discussion Articles

As well as writing my pellet grill review articles I’ve also written various articles on other more general pellet grill topics. Below I’ve included links to my various wood pellet grill articles and a quick summary of the contents of each one:

Are Traeger’s The Best Pellet Grills/Smokers?

Traeger Pellet Grill/Smoker
Traeger Pellet Grill: Image – Traegergrills.com

As Traeger is the oldest and most well-known pellet grill/smoker brand there is an ongoing debate whether Traeger produces the best pellet grills. So with this article, I wanted to discuss the features/capabilities across the whole range of Traeger pellet grills compared to previous and current grill generations (D2 Direct Drive/Downdraft exhausts etc). I discuss areas where I think Traeger grills excel and whether they lack certain features compared to other brands of pellet grills. Whether those features are important to you or not will help you to determine if a Traeger pellet grill/smoker is going to be your best option.

Best Traeger Grill Accessories

Traeger Pellet Grill Accessories
Traeger Pellet Grill Accessories: Image – Traegergrills.com

If you already own or are looking to purchase a Traeger pellet grill there are several specific accessories which I think pretty much every Traeger owner should consider. For instance, Traeger produces their own degreasing cleaner which is worth considering, as it will do a good job of cleaning your grill while not causing damage while being food-safe. The article also discusses the pellet bucket filter kit which is important to reduce the amount of fines/dust going into the pellet hopper. I also discuss Traeger’s custom made grill covers and insulated heat blankets. If you want to cook with a Traeger in the colder months/climates an insulated heat blanket will really help you achieve higher/more stable temperatures.

Traeger Pellet Sensor – How To Install and Calibrate

Traeger Pellet Sensor
Traeger Pellet Sensor: Image – Amazon.com

While the top-of-the-range Traeger Timberline pellet grills come with an integrated pellet sensor the Ironwood and Pro Series pellet grills do not come with a pellet sensor as standard. However, both Ironwood and Pro Series (Gen 2) Traeger pellet grills can be upgraded with a pellet sensor. The pellet sensor connects up directly to the D2 Control Panel for power and data transmission. Therefore, a percentage capacity readout is sent to the WiFire app so the user can monitor the remaining pellet hopper capacity while away from the pellet grill. The reading is given as a percentage, for instance, 40% remaining etc. This feature is particularly useful if you are doing a long/smoke cook of a brisket or pork butt. You can check the hopper capacity remotely and be confident you still have pellets remaining to finish the cook. This article covers how to install and calibrate the pellet sensor.

What is Traeger’s D2 Direct Drive?

Traeger D2 Direct Drive
D2 Direct Drive: Image – Traegergrills.com

The second-generation Traeger Pro Series, Ironwood and Timberline pellet grills are all based on a new control platform called D2 Direct Drive? But what exactly is D2 Direct Drive and why is it an improvement over the previous control system used on older Traeger pellet grills? Well, previously the pellet feed auger motor and induction fan used AC motors. In the D2 Direct Drive platform, the motors use DC power. What this means is instead of the control panel turning the motors simply on/off it can vary the speed of the auger and combustion fan to more precise control the burn and in turn the temperature inside the pellet grill/smoker.

Traeger WiFire vs Camp Chef Connect

Traeger WiFire vs Camp Chef Connect: Images – Traegergrills.com and Campchef.com

Remote monitoring and control of pellet grills via WiFi is fast becoming an essential feature for many people looking to purchase a new pellet grill. Its understandable, as most people simply don’t have the time to be in close proximity to monitor their pellet grill over several hours. Furthermore, if you are doing a long/slow cook overnight its much easier to let your phone monitor the grill for you. In this article, I compare the features/capabilities of Traegers WiFire app against the Camp Chef Connect app.

Camp Chef Sear Box vs SideKick – Which Is Best For You?

Camp Chef Sear Box
Camp Chef Sear Box: Image – Campchef.com

With either a Camp Chef Woodwind or SmokePro pellet grill you can fit a propane attachment called either the Sear box or SideKick. While these two propane accessories are similar in many ways and appear to cost the same they are actually very different in their capabilities/functionality. With this article, I try to help Camp Chef owners or potential owners answer the question of which one would be best for them. While several models of Camp Chef pellet grill can flame broil over the pellet fire at around 650 degrees a propane grill can sear at 900 degrees. Hence, adding either the Sear Box or SideKick to a Camp Chef pellet grill make it one of the most flexible pellet grills currently on the market.

Camp Chef Gen 2 PID/WiFi Controller Upgrade

Camp Chef Gen 2 WiFi Controller
Camp Chef Gen 2 PID/WiFi Pellet Grill Controller: Image – Campchef.com

WiFi integration and remote monitoring/control of a pellet grill is quickly becoming a crucial feature for many pellet grill owners. Therefore, Camp Chef has introduced the Gen 2 PID/WiFi controller which can be retrofitted to first-generation Woodwind and SmokePro pellet grills. Not only will this upgrade an old Camp Chef pellet grill with WiFi control via and the Camp Chef Connect app it also provides PID temperature control. What this means is this controller can give an old pellet grill the ability to keep the temperature within a 5-degree range apposed to a 25-degree range.

Top/Best Brands of BBQ Wood Pellets

Best BBQ Wood Pellets
BBQ Wood Pellets: Image – Amazon.com

With this article, I discuss the various brands of BBQ wood pellets on sale today and discuss which flavours (Apple, Hickory, Oak etc) are best for cooking/smoking which foods. When you purchase a pellet grill is important to check if within the warranty period you have to use a specific brand of wood pellets. Within this article, I also discuss the differences between wood pellets used in pellet stoves/boilers and those used in pellet grills/smokers. Furthermore, I discuss the differences between full flavour and blended BBQ wood pellets as its important to know what you are actually buying to work out if you are getting a good deal. Importantly within this post I also discuss how you can test the quality of the wood pellets and why you should screen them for dust/fines before loading them into your grills hopper.

How Are Traeger Wood Pellets Made?

Traeger Wood Pellet Mill
Traeger Wood Pellet Mill: Image – Traegergrills.com

My background and experience is in how to make wood pellets and its how I got into wood pellet grills in the first place. Therefore, one of the first articles I ever wrote regarding BBQ wood pellets/pellet grills was this article on how Traeger wood pellets are made. With the help of a video from Traeger, I discuss how the raw material is prepared and processed to make wood pellets. I can tell you from many years of experience, while the process may look pretty simply is a fine balancing act to actually produce good quality/durable wood pellets. For instance, if the wood is slightly too dry you will end up with dust. Slightly too wet and you can end up with a blocked pellet mill die.

Wood Pellet Grill Maintenance/Repair Articles

Pellet grills, just like any appliance will need maintenance from time to time and certain parts may need to be replaced if they are not working correctly. Therefore, I’ve written a series of articles on how to repair/maintain certain pellet grills and how to resolve issues such as auger blockages.

Traeger Won’t Turn On!? – How To Fix Your Pellet Grill

Traeger Pellet Grill
Traeger Gen 1 Pro Series Pellet Grill: Image – Traegergrills.com

This is my summary article on how to work out what the problem is with your Traeger pellet grill and how to fix it. For instance, before you start randomly changing/replacing components one of the first steps is the check the cylinder fuse on the back of the control panel. If the fuse is fine I then discuss the next steps to get your Traeger pellet grill going again. Please note this article is to help with older/Gen 1 Traeger pellet grills. It will not provide assistance on how to resolve issues on the Gen 2 Pro Series, Ironwood or Timberline Traeger pellet grills. Within this article, I discuss how to check the control panel and cable connections to each of the components, auger, hot rod, induction fan and temperature probe. Ultimately to find out which component (if any) has failed and is stopping the grill working properly.

Traeger Control Panel Replacement/Upgrade

Traeger Control Panel
Traeger Pellet Grill Controller: Image – Amazon

For owners of old Traeger pellet grills, they may want to consider upgrading their controller to a newer Gen 1 Pro Series controller with dual meat probes. In other instances, the control panel may simply have become faulty and need to be replaced. In this article with the help of a couple of instructional videos, I discuss the process the removing and replacing a Traeger controller. Its a relatively straight forward process. However, you will need to take your time to avoid damaging wires/other components. I also discuss in this article how to determine if the controller is faulty or if the problem lies elsewhere with other components such as the auger motor/temperature probe.

Traeger P Setting – What Is It? (+ How To Adjust It)

Traeger P Setting
Traeger P Setting Adjustment: Image – Traegergrills.com

If you own an older Traeger pellet grill (pre D2 control panel) you may have a small button recessed into the control panel next to the digital temperature display. Well, this small button can be used to adjust the P Setting on the pellet grill, but what the heck is a P Setting anyway? Well, the P setting stands for Pause Setting. Essentially, on the older Traeger controllers to feed the fire to a set temperature the auger was simply turned on and off in bursts. Well, the gap between these bursts when on the smoke setting can be adjusted by changing the P Setting. Live in a cold climate? Its likely you will want to adjust the P Setting.

Traeger Temperature Probe Replacement

Traeger Pellet Grill Temperature Probe
Traeger RTD Temperature Probe: Image – Amazon

If you own a Traeger pellet grill and its not achieving or maintaining its set temperature the RTD temperature probe may need to be replaced. In this article, I discuss the process of how to remove the old probe and replace it with a new one along with the help of some official how-to videos from Traeger. In some cases, the Traeger pellet grill temperature probe may just need a good clean to remove fat/grease to get it working properly. I also discuss how you can use an infrared heat gun to test if the RTD probe is working or not and if it needs to be replaced.

Traeger Hot Rod Igniter Replacement

Traeger Hot Rod Igniter
Traeger Hot Rod Igniter: Image – Amazon.com

The hot rod is positioned in the base of the firepot. Its a resistive electrical heating element, essentially its very similar to the element in an electric kettle. As the hot rod igniter heats up the pellets start to smoke and with the assistance of the induction fan combustion will take place. Well, that’s what happens when the hot rod igniter is working in a Traeger pellet grill. If your Traeger pellet grill won’t get going the hot rod igniter may need to be replaced. I’ve included a couple of different instructional videos in this post to show you how to remove and replace the hot rod. They are also applicable for replacing the firepot itself. Many hot rods also come with a 5A cylinder fuse which fits on the back of the control panel.

Traeger Induction Fan Replacement

Traeger Induction Fan
Traeger Induction Fan: Image – Amazon

While a properly functioning hot rod igniter and pellet auger motor are important components to get the fire going the induction fan is equally important to feed the fire with sufficient air. The induction fan is also commonly referred to as the combustion fan. Located fairly close to the bottom grate of the pellet hopper its easy to tell by looking up under the hopper if the fan is working. If the induction fan has stopped working luckily it is one of the easiest/quickest components to replace. You can remove and replace the induction fan without having to remove the pellet hopper.

Traeger Auger Jam Repair and Replacement

Traeger Auger Motor
Traeger Auger Motor: Image – Amazon

If your Traeger pellet grill is no longer feeding pellets into the firepot while the auger motor could have failed it could also simply be the result of a blocked/jammed auger. Auger jams are most often caused by water/rain getting into the pellet hopper and expanding the wood pellets. Expanded wood pellets will jam up the auger to the point the motor cannot free the auger. Within this post, before I discuss how to change the auger motor I go through the process to check and resolve an auger jam. After the auger jam has been resolved by simply changing the fuse on the control panel it may be possible to get the pellet grill up and running again.