Traeger grills are like the Rolls-Royce of outdoor cooking appliances. In my years of grilling pork butts and ribs with Traeger and many other brands, I have gained the experience needed to advise whether they are worth the high price tag. This article will look at what makes Traeger grills so popular and help you decide if they're worth the money.
Summary of the Key Findings
- Traeger grills are known for their high-quality pellet grills’ leading-edge technology and ease of use.
- Traeger grills are priced at a premium compared to the competition.
- The quality of Traeger grills makes them a worthwhile investment for serious grillers.
5 Reasons Why Traeger Grills Are So Expensive
Since Joe Traeger founded the company, it has been known for its high-quality materials and advanced features, which set it apart from Pit Boss, Z Grill, and other grilling brands on the market. But these factors also contribute to their higher price point. Here are some specific reasons top-of-the-line Traeger grills cost more than their competitors do.
1. Traeger Technology
Traeger sets the standard for creating technology that leads the grilling industry. However, this new tech takes money to develop and adds cost to the device.
At the forefront of its technological advances are its wifi-enabled pellet grills. The Traeger app allows you to control the pellet grill remotely, provides precise temperature control, checks on your food status, implements super smoke mode, and receives notifications when it's time to take your meal off the grill.
Your smartphone, or smartwatch, is now the control center for your pellet grill. You can monitor the amperage output of the pellet augur so you can detect and correct jams quickly and efficiently. The pellet sensor makes it so you also can be informed when the pellet hopper is getting low. This way, you can quickly refill it.
Other companies have followed Traeger's lead and begun offering similar wifi-enabled grills, but none have been able to match the quality or frequency of Traeger's innovation.
2. Traeger Mechanics
The company has dedicated a significant amount of time and research to developing advanced features that make grilling with a Traeger grill better.
One example of this is their DC motor, which powers the augur that feeds fuel pellets into the grill.
This design offers superior speed control, which works to keep the temperature of your grill consistent. Additionally, this motor is brushless, which increases its lifespan and efficiency.
The auger is another area where the company has made significant improvements, and it moves pellets into the grill more quickly and efficiently than ever before. This design also makes it easier to clear jams if they occur because it is a single piece attached to the drivetrain.
Also, Traeger models like the Traeger Pro, Traeger Ironwood Series, and Traeger Timberline have more square inches of cooking surface than much of the competition. They are designed to reduce flare-ups while you barbecue and the stainless steel grilling area makes them competitive with lower-priced brands.
These and the downdraft exhaust system are a few of the many advanced features that set Traeger pellet grills apart but also make the brand more expensive than Z-Grills, Green Mountain Grills, Camp Chef, and Grilla Grills.
3. Traeger R & D
Of course, in order to develop new and innovative features, the company has to invest in research and development. This is an ongoing process that takes money, the costs of which are passed on to the consumer.
The Traeger R & D team has filed more than 50 patents covering almost all of the best-selling pellet grill parts . These include hopper liners, grill leg designs, wifi connectivity battery systems, grill front panels and lid, towel bars, grill chimneys, stainless steel rack systems, variable speed fan, and many other items.
In addition to the wifi-enabled pellet grills, the brand is also known for its high-quality wood pellets. Made of natural hardwood with no additives or artificial flavors, they're perfectly calibrated to provide consistent heat and flavor with every single fire. This fuel has a higher purchase price than other options on the market but is designed to work seamlessly with the company’s equipment.
All of the research into these advancements shows that the investment in improving their quality products is one of Traeger's priorities.
4. Traeger Legal
Of course, any major company has to invest in legal counsel. This is part of the cost of doing business and is passed on to the consumer. However, the firm has had more than its share of legal issues in recent years.
Joe Traeger left the company after he sold it to a private equity firm in the late 2000s.
However, he was hired by a rival company, Dansons USA, the maker of Pit Boss Grills and Louisiana Grills . They wanted him to provide the company with credibility and good PR exposure.
In 2019, Traeger Grills sued Dansons over a number of trade secret and intellectual property issues, such as branding and pellet grill design . A 2020 case followed this suit, alleging false advertising about Traeger's pellets .
Both lawsuits ended up with findings in Traeger's favor. However, they caused the grill company to spend resources on its legal defense.
5. Traeger Marketing
Traeger is the name leader in the pellet grill industry. With a 3% household penetration, this brand enjoys broad reach and significant name recognition .
The grill company firmly believes in its brand and actively works to promote it through multiple channels. As their CEO says, "Our ambition is not to own the wood pellet market. We already own it. Our ambition is to dominate outdoor grilling globally."
"The only competitor that's going to beat us is the one that builds a better cooking experience at home."
- Jeremy Andrus
CEO of Traeger Grills.
A crucial part of Traeger's marketing strategy is its social media presence. The company has an active Instagram account with more than one million followers. It also maintains a YouTube channel with over 150,000 subscribers, and its Facebook page has 500,000 followers.
Traeger regularly posts about recipes, new products, and special promotions on these platforms. The company also encourages user-generated content, reposting images and videos from customers who tag them.
This social media activity helps to keep this grill company at the forefront of potential customers’ minds. It also creates a community of grillers about the products and BBQ flavor. However, it does come at a monetary cost.
So does the company's traditional media advertising, including TV spots, outdoor, radio, and digital buys. Traeger is not afraid to market aggressively, but this spending requires the company to recoup those costs in the price of its grills.
The Pros And Cons Of A Traeger Grill
Now that we've looked at some factors that contribute to the cost of a Traeger, let's break down the pros and cons.
The most significant advantage of a Traeger smoker is the taste and quality of your food.
The wood pellets produce consistent, robust smoke that infuses your food with flavor without the struggles of wood-burning systems. They also come in various options, so you get to choose the perfect wood-fired flavor profile for your grilling needs.
Another benefit is the range of cooking options available, including grilling, baking, and smoking. This versatility means you can use your grill for a wide variety of meals, everything from grilled steaks to baked casseroles to smoked turkey legs.
Precision temperature control is also much easier on a Traeger than on other systems. Like on a gas grill, food cooked with the digital temperature control system is done evenly and at your target temperature. This is especially important for smoking, where maintaining a low and consistent temperature on the cooking surfaces is key to success.
Perhaps the most significant advantage of a Traeger is the set-it-and-forget-it convenience. Once you've set your temperature, the wood pellet grill will do the rest of the work for you. This means you can spend your time socializing with guests or working on other tasks while your food cooks.
The wifi technology is also a nice bonus, allowing you to monitor your grill's temperature and status from afar.
It may go without saying, but an electric grill needs electricity to operate. This means you're limited in where you can use this high-quality grill.
If the power goes out, your grill won't work, so it's not ideal for emergency situations. Wifi connectivity also means you need to have access to signals while you BBQ.
Cooking on a wood pellet grill like Traeger takes more time than other methods. While the set-it-and-forget-it precise temperature control of the smoker is convenient for consistent cooking, the low temperature of smoking means it will take longer to cook meat.
This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it's something to keep in mind if you're looking for a quick meal.
Traeger grills can get up to 500 degrees at the cooking surface. But when you need an extremely hot grill, this may not be enough. If you're looking to sear a blue steak, a Traeger may not be the best option.
The cons would not be complete without a discussion about money. Another potential downside is the initial cost of the different models of Traeger. They're not cheap, with a price range from $299 to thousands of dollars for those with many square inches of cooking space. You certainly can find other brands of wood pellet grills or a charcoal grill at lower price points. And while this brand may last longer than a Pit Boss or a cheaper new grill, it is not an inexpensive option.
But the initial startup cost is not the end. These grills require wood pellets, and some people have found that using any brand other than Traeger results in adverse consequences for their equipment. Thus, you may find yourself purchasing name-brand fuel that cost three times as much as generic.
How Long Will a Traeger Grill Last?
A Traeger grill will last up to 15 years with appropriate care and maintenance. This is well beyond the three-year warranty that the company provides. An old grill, purchased used, may still have plenty of life left in it and last longer than Grilla Grills, Pit Boss, Camp Chef, or Z Grill.
Are Traeger Pellets Expensive?
Yes, Traeger pellets are expensive and they are pricier than other types of wood fuel. And unfortunately, using a brand of fuel other than those from the manufacturer will void the warranty. However, many people use other brands because some affordable alternatives have been found to work effectively with Traeger grills.
Is There Anything I Can Do to Extend the Life of My Traeger Grill?
Yes, you can do a few things to extend the life of your Traeger grill. This includes regular cleaning, storing it away from chlorine and humidity, and replacing parts as needed.
Can Traeger Grills Rust?
Yes, Traeger grills can rust. Like other grills, they are designed for outdoor use, but you should use a cover to prevent corrosion from moisture. You can also spray them with a rust inhibitor. Finally, keeping them away from the corrosive effects of chlorine can also help.
However, this tendency to rust is no different than other grills from rivals like Z Grills, Pit Boss, Camp Chef, or Grilla Grills. Even the high-end Traeger Timberline or Traeger Pro models have this issue.
Can You Use a Traeger Grill in a Garage?
No, you should not use a Traeger grill in a garage - this grill is designed for outdoor cooking. Like all wood-burning or open flame grills, it produces carbon monoxide. This colorless and odorless gas is dangerous in an enclosed space like a garage.
Is It Worth It To Buy A Traeger Wood Pellet Grill?
There is no doubt that I like Traeger grills. They're well-made, have precise temperature control, and come with a host of features that other brands don't offer.
But the question remains, are they worth the price? You can certainly find a lower price point for other barbecue grills at big box stores. You need to consider your budget, preferences, and lifestyle. I think they are appropriate for serious grillers looking for an upgrade from a standard smoker.
If you are interested in looking more closely at the best grills in the Traeger family, click here for our review.