So here’s an interesting bit of information for you…
Nearly half of U.S. adults (45%) plan to purchase a new grill or smoker in 2016. That was one of the most important results of a study recently released by the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association. So the good news is that there is endless information on which is the best smoker or grill, but the bad news is there’s endless information on which is the best smoker or grill. There is a good chance you’ll slip into info-overload and decide on nothing.
If you’ve been searching a while you’ll know that REC TEC make some of the best smokers on the market. REC TEC is the only grill with Smart Grill Technology. This patented technology adjusts the rate at which pellets are added to the fire pot so the desired temperature is kept even and it does it automatically, so you don’t need to be monitoring the heat. However, they have a range of different models and deciding which on is right for you can by difficult.
To save you the stress and frustration I’ve put together, what we’d like to think is, the ultimate REC TEC’s comparison guide, that’ll save countless hours of searching the net and have you smoking in no time at all. We’ll be looking at the difference between the two models as well giving you a full review of each.
- REC TEC grill comparison table
- Rec Tec Mini Portable Pellet Grill (RT-300) Review
- Rec Tec Wood Pellet Grill (RT-680) Review
- How does a REC TEC Grill work?
- What I and others like about REC TEC grills
- Frequently Asked Questions
- How even is the heat distribution?
- How does my food taste?
- Can I use other makes of pellets with my REC TEC grill?
- Is cleaning up easy?
- Can I use my REC TEC in any weather?
- The overall verdict
REC TEC grill comparison table
Firstly, let’s look at a table that compares the features of the REC TEC 680 and the REC TEC mini:
|Features||REC TEC 680||REC TEC MINI|
|Cooking Area||702 sq/in||341 sq/in|
|Pellet Capacity||40 lbs||15 lbs|
|Temperature Control||Proprietary PID Algorithm||Proprietary PID Algorithm|
|Fire Pot||10 Gauge Stainless Steel||10 Gauge Stainless Steel|
|Limited Warranty||6 Years||2 Years|
As you can see from the table the big difference here lies in the amount of space you have to cook with. The RT-600 comes with a whopping 702 sq/in whereas the mini (RT-300) comes with 341 sq/in.
Other notable differences lie in the limited warranty period; 6 years on the RT-600 compared to 2 years on the mini.
And finally the mini gives you the ability to crank the temp right up to 550 degrees compared to 500 on the RT-680.
So let’s talk REC TEC and why we recommend it
REC TEC grills always make their way onto the top lists, compiled by experts and those in the know but more important than any list or rating is customer satisfaction and the continual positive feedback.
The REC TEC combines three essential factors, namely versatility, quality, and convenience, into one powerful grill and smoker that works perfectly for both the amateur and the professional chef.
Now we know the differences between the two, lets deep dive into each model and review them.
Rec Tec Mini Portable Pellet Grill (RT-300) Review
Don’t be fooled by the word ‘mini’.
Yes, it smaller than the RT680, but with a grilling surface of 341 sq in, you aren’t compromising much in space, for the portability and convenience. You’re still going be able to feed your family and a couple of guests.
The temperature range is 180˚F-550˚F (adjustable in increments of 5 degrees), so if you’ve ever been frustrated by the lack of heat capacity of your old smoker, or read reviews where this is an issue, the Rec Tec Mini is what you’re looking for.
A long lasting RTD controls and maintains grilling temperatures so you don’t have to and a drip pan catches fat drippings, preventing the potential of a fire.
A 15 pound pellet capacity also allows you to grill for more time, without having to worry about the fire dying down. As with its big brother, the unit uses a patented PID algorithm for controlling temperature, which is what allows the food to cook evenly.
Being portable means it needs to be able to be moved around, easily, and with the minimum amount of fuss and the lightweight frame does just that. The folding legs add to the convenience.
Some folks aren’t too happy that the REC TEC is made in China, but I can assure you the quality is excellent and at an affordable price. Something else that might put people off is that no accessories are included. Of course you can add the custom cover, searing kit, spices and a thermometer, but it’s going to cost more.
But if you chat to a REC TEC owner they’ll happily forego the accessories for the quality, portability, ease of use and the excellent value for money.
Rec Tec Wood Pellet Grill (RT-680) Review
I’ve referred to RT-680 as the big brother, and there’s good reason for that. The sturdy construction and eye-catching appearance, along with a 40 pound pellet hopper, 680 square inch cooking surface and nine inches of headroom, makes this one heck of a grill.
The REC TEC and Traeger are often compared because the basic body is very similar, both are large pellet smokers and priced in the same bracket.
Comparing apples with apples, right? Not so much. As much as I would recommend it and still join you for a BBQ using your Traeger, the REC TEC offers quite a bit more and so for the purpose of this review I ‘m going with REC TEC.
The REC TEC Wood Pellet Grill is a good-looking piece of equipment and it’s made of 304 Stainless Steel that will never warp or rust.
The fire pot, deflector shield, drip pan, hardware, grates, pull handle, bull horns, and even the logo are all 304 Stainless. The drip pan, heat deflector and fire pot are all made of stainless steel, and the seams are sealed, and powder coated to ensure longevity.
Quality and affordability hasn’t been compromised at all, and that’s what makes this one of our go-to grill.
Like the Mini, the REC TEC Wood Pellet grill uses the manufacturer’s PID algorithm and stainless steel fire pot to ensure the temperature is even and maintained throughout the cooking experience.
And just like the Mini, all of this is done with the flick of a switch.
Because the REC TEC can handle 180ºF to 500ºF in 5º increments, it allows you to make very precise adjustments, which means whether you’re grilling, baking, searing or smoking, the results are outstanding.
Once again we need to mention that the grill smoker doesn’t come with any additional accessories. As is the case with the Mini you can order other items, like the custom cover, the searing kit, cooking mats, spices and sauces, pellets and a front folding shelf. But each comes with an individual price tag.
We have mentioned the six year warranty previously, but we need to mention it again. No other product offers you this guarantee, and it one of the reasons people choose to go REC TEC.
As with the Mini, it’s not easy finding too many negatives when it comes to REC TEC grill. Feedback from fellow BBQers, comments and input on various forums all agree that it’s an excellent product, at an excellent price, with unmatched customer care and service.
Let’s now look at the specifics; just how does a REC TEC work?
How does a REC TEC Grill work?
Literally, with the flick of a switch.
As soon as you turn the grill on it gets to work, with the Smart Grill processor, charging up the igniter rod, which supplies the fuel and creates the smoke. At this point, the grill begins to increase the amount of pellets that are used, allowing the heat to increase and achieve the temperature you’re wanting.
As the ever-so-clever REC TEC approaches the required temperature it automatically assesses the correct amount of pellets to be fed in order to keep the temperature and amount of smoke steady.
If you, like some, need to look busy, opening the grill, regularly monitoring the progress, some heat will be lost, but once again, the smart grill technology kicks in, and automatically makes the necessary calculations, adding more pellets to get the temperature back to where it should be.
Impressed? Not yet? The guys and grills (oh no I didn’t) over at REC TEC are so confident about their product they offer a two-year warranty on the Mini Portable Grill and a six-year warranty on its big brother, the REC TEC 680. There’s no way you’re going to find a better warranty than that, and their customer and after sales service is impeccable.
What I and others like about REC TEC grills
- Easy to assemble – the grill doesn’t arrive assembled but in my own experience, and feedback from others, it takes about an hour to put together. Sometimes less because the new owner just wants to get smokin’.
- Heats up quickly – there’s no waiting around for your grill to heat up and when it gets to the temperature you want it maintains it, perfectly during windy, cold and rainy conditions. Users can adjust the temperature in five degree increments, ensuring absolute precision.
- Economical use of pellets – the assumption is that because the hopper holds up to 40 pounds of pellets, the unit goes through them quickly. But it’s definitely not the case. Usually a 20 pound bag of pellets lasts than an equal amount of charcoal.
- Easy to use – once you’ve assembled your unit, you simply plug it in, fill it with pellets, add your food and start grilling. It switches on at the touch of a button, you set the temperature and you’re good to go.The unit shows you the temperature inside of the grilling chamber, so you always know exactly how hot it is.People love that there’s no fiddling with matches, lighter fluid or gas when they light their REC TEC and the fact that they never have to worry about the temperature inside the unit, or outside.
- Easy to clean – The REC TEC grill is very easy to clean. The interior light has a lens that can be removed and washed in warm water, and it has a 12 gauge drip pan that catches all of your food drippings, which means if you cover the drip pan with aluminum foil, it makes clean up a breeze.
The steel cooking grates are durable and easy to clean and you don’t have to worry about scratching them when cleaning or cooking. The exterior of the grill has a powder coated finish, and you can use a damp rag to keep it looking spotless. If you keep the grill covered when not in use, you’ll never have problems with dirt, grime or rust. And of course there’s that six year warranty again.
Frequently Asked Questions
How even is the heat distribution?
The simple answer is very even. The Mini and the RT-680 use a patented PID algorithm to keep the temperature even across the cooking area, and second, the RTD keeps track of the temperature to ensure it’s correct. Over and above that, the grill comes with a heat deflector built into its fire pot, and a blower fan that keeps hot spots away and the drip pan makes sure there aren’t any flare ups.
How does my food taste?
Finger lickin’ good. Food grilled or smoked always tastes better, and some say the pellet smoked food tastes better than that cooked with charcoal. Another handy tip I’m more than happy to share with you is that, like with all grills, the secret to great tasting food lies in the preparation of the grill. Before you cook, preheat the grill to between 400 and 500 F for 10 minutes and it then it should be good to go. If you want to smoke something, then bring the temperature down to 180 – 220 F, allowing you to slow cook for as long as you like.
Can I use other makes of pellets with my REC TEC grill?
Sure you can but always check the quality first. Substandard pellets can lead to ash accumulation inside the fire pot and if this happens, it’s going to affect the grill’s ability to reach high temperatures or stabilize at low temperatures. In other words, the performance of your REC TEC will be compromised. I suggest if you’re going to use different types of pellets, test them first in a bag and see how they do. Doing it this way won’t cause any damage to the grill and it won’t affect your warranty.
However, it’s important that you never use genuine mesquite wood pellets because they lead to excess accumulation of sand.
Is cleaning up easy?
You can bet your brisket it is. Both the models are easy to clean because of the grill. Both come with drip pans, which if covered with aluminum foil, mean you simply give it a wipe down.
Can I use my REC TEC in any weather?
Absolutely! The excellent quality and workmanship ensures no heat escapes from the grill and no cold air can get in. I suggest ordering the cover, just for added protection, ensuring your REC TEC is looking bad a$$ all of the time.
The overall verdict
Hopefully, this comparison guide has helped you decide which RECT TEC grill is right for you. Apart from the cooking space, there’s not much in it so only go for the bigger version if you are cooking for a large group of people on a regular basis. Aside from that – we whole-heartedly agree that REC TEC are some of the best grills around and you won’t be disappointed.