on January 9, 2013
I ding it 3/4 of a star for UPS Freight's (their choice of a shipping partner) customer service and 1/4 star for 4 missing fasteners (easily replaced at Lowes). Yes it is still worth 5 stars.
This is a review written from the perspective of a Weber Kettle BBQer. Ive used the Kettle exclusively for the last three years or so and decided change things up a bit. I bought the REC TEC for Christmas.
1st - REC TEC's customer service was refreshingly personal, prompt and first rate.
The order was processed the same day I made it on Amazon after REC TEC called to make sure they had the correct address.
Assembly was easy and pretty straight forward and took about an hour. The fasteners weren't ID'd by the location they get installed on the drawing, but if you have even a hint of mechanical inclination, its pretty easy to figure out. (steps say assemble ______ with provided hardware - pictures show major pieces only). Honestly, It could have taken me the better part of a day and Id have still given it a solid review.
Grill lights itself and gets to temp quickly. Burn-in at 400F and it took about 20 min in 40F ambient temp with a bit of wind. Once on temperature, there was very little variance even in the wind (I only saw 8F low once and the rest of the time it was within 3F if not on target)
First cook was a couple 2" thick pork chops. They turned out just as good as my Kettle version but with significantly less work on my part.
Ditto for the second cook which included a 5 pound beef rib roast and three ~ 4.5 pound chickens. Even with all that meat on the grill there was plenty of room for more.
Deciding on the REC TEC was a long process. There are similar grills out there at similar prices - I've read hundreds of reviews on numerous websites (smoke ring, pelletheads, etc...) and despite being the new kid on the block, the REC TEC reviews stood above all the others. I now understand why. They are the best looking and best warranted pellet grills on the market and nobody can touch their current level of customer service.
I would buy this grill all over again and would recommend it to anyone in the market.
** 6 month update is included in the comments **
*** 1.5 Year update below ***
5/20/2014: So here it is almost 18 months later and bottom line - Everything works like the day I bought it and it is still cooking at premium quality level. I would certainly still recommend it (and have). I would probably give it 7 or 8 stars today if it were possible. In addition to being a great grill and smoker, pretty much anything you can cook in the oven you can cook with the same ease on the REC TEC. For more specifics, see below - I'll cover everything that comes to mind after about a year and a half of use.
The great wall of text below is a lot to take in, but offered in an effort to help you make an informed buying decision. In addition to the grill, I recommend the following purchases to make your grilling experience as rewarding as possible. None are deal breakers, so they certainly don't need to be purchased right away (or even at all). They are listed in the order I would recommend to most folks and assume you already have at least one quality instant read digital thermometer ($25 - $90 ea) and a decent set of knives - if not, start there.
1. Insulated food gloves (about $20). Handle whole chickens with ease and allows for pulling pork roasts by hand without the burns.
2. Want to get creative? Pick up a cast iron loaf pan and/or a pizza stone and start baking ...
3. If you find yourself smoking more meats (or wanting a stronger smoke flavoring) a 12 inch smoke tube ($30-$35 online). You can simply burn additional loads of the same cooking pellets in it, or buy small wood chips.
4. If you find you want the ability to sear meats, grab the searing kit (about $80).
======================== Full review wall of text located below ============================
1. Have I had any problems with the grill? - Yes, but only one and it only affected those of us who bought the grill early. It was at about the 6-7 month point and it was a fan issue in which the fan blade hub would slip on the shaft while spinning causing air flow to become extremely reduced. I noticed this as a distinct decrease in flow noise from the fan and a fire with large flames in the fire pot.
I contacted REC TEC right away (I believe it was text via Facebook since I was outside at the time and on my mobile phone) and explained the symptoms. They returned my message with a phone call almost immediately, (under 10 minutes) with a diagnosis of the problem. They told me how to fix it for immediate grill use, and sent me a new complete blower fan assembly to replace the broken one (it was here in two days). It was as easy to repair and replace as they had indicated and the temporary fix worked like a champ - no cooking time lost beyond the couple minutes it took to get and make the repairs.
2. How much can you cook at once? Enough to feed your family (reunion). I had 13 adults and five children at Thanksgiving last year. All the meat (24 pound turkey over a roasting pan and a 12 pound ham) and some of the veggies (potatoes on the grill gates) were cooked on the REC TEC. Everyone was stuffed and there were left overs. I have cooked eight racks of ribs at once (Baby Backs lying flat) and seven racks of St Louis Cut Ribs (could probably fit more if I used racks to stand them up). Eight 5-6 pound whole chickens will fit and so will three full briskets (about 12 pounders).
3. Pellet use - far less than I expected. Due to the sturdy materials used in grill construction and the craftsmanship of the fit up, I don't go through pellets very fast. I've quit keeping track of how much I go through. Suffice it to say that one 20 pound bag of pellets in the REC TEC lasts longer, cooks more, and costs less than two 9 pound bags of charcoal in my 22.5 Kettle.
4. One general complaint I see about pellet grills is that they do not impart a stronger smoke flavoring. If you want to impart more smoke flavor to your meats, my experience with the grill is:
a. Put the (COLD) meat on the COLD grill as it produces much more smoke while coming up to temperature than it does while it is at temperature. Also it produces more smoke at lower (200F or lower) temps than at higher temps.
b. Smoke the meat at 180F for a couple hours and then raise temperature to desired slow cooking temp.
c. A fairly simple remedy I recommend is a 12" smoke tube (about $30-35 online) to provide supplemental smoke - it works for charcoal and gas grilling as well. It will provide ample smoke for a couple hours during the cook for a robust, but not too strong flavor.
5. Another general complaint I see about pellet grills is that they are not a "real" grill. The primary driver for this comment is (not) being able to sear items. While I agree with the `searing' statement, it is fairly easy to remedy with the purchase of the searing kit from REC TEC (for about $80). It performs as advertised - the kit inserts on the right half of the grill, providing plenty of searing space.
6. Cooks like an oven and just as easy to use. From the beginning, we found ourselves looking for excuses to grill. That led to finding new things to grill. I now own a variety of cast iron pans used for cooking things ranging from bread, to meatloaf, pizza (we have a stone for this and the bread), chili, cookies, fries, etc...on the REC TEC.
Cooking is a snap - Plug it in then turn on the grill with the touch of a button, set the temperature (touch of a button), and then set the display actual temperature (touch of a button).
I have the original controller so my controllable temperature band is 200F to 500F in 5F increments. I have been informed that I can set up the controller for the newer 180F minimum - All I need to do is call Ray and he will walk me through (re)setting the controller. I have cooked at literally every temperature setting between 200F and 500F and the grill works like a champ at each setting. It controls temperature right where you set it. I've only seen it off by a few degrees a few times over the last year and a half and that includes cooking in just about all weather conditions and outside temperatures ranging from the low teens to the 90s. It comes quickly back to temperature when its lid has been opened and re-closed.
7. Care and keeping it clean: Grill is well seasoned on the inside but not dirty or greasy. The grill is simple to keep clean using the following routine -
a. Cover the drip pan in aluminum foil and replace it after every cook. Empty and rinse grease bucket as required.
b. Remove the drip pan and vacuum out the bottom of the grill and the fire pot (after about 8 hours of cooking time - not if you're in the middle of a cook though).
c. Remove the light cover and clean with warm soapy water after about 8 hours of cooking (again not if you're in the middle of cooking). Cover pops right off
d. Clean the grill grates with a Stainless Steel Scrubber Pad (about $1.50 each) (also called stainless steel gun cleaning pad - not the same as steel wool or a Brillo pad). Cleaning the grates is a breeze as they are real ¼" stainless steel rod - you won't need an expensive grill brush (or worse - a cheap one).
e. I wipe down the exterior just about weekly with warm, damp, (lightly) soapy rag. Exterior finish is as good as new. I keep it covered when not in use.
on November 28, 2013
When it comes to build quality, this grill is topnotch. It makes the Traeger Texas Grill cheap. I remember assembling the Traeger grill we got from Costco recently. When I attached the first leg and my tightening of the nut to the bolt started to make a dimple on the side of the grill, because of the thin sheet-metal used in the construction of the grill, I felt so uncomfortable of the fact that we got a grill with cost-cutting as an obvious concern of the manufacturer. On the other hand, our new REC TEC grill is of a much better build. It uses stainless steel for its nuts and bolts, heat deflector, fire pot and drip pan. This choice of material is very reassuring that the grill will last a very long time. There is also the convenient features of interior lighting, under grill storage space and a much bigger pellet hopper, or features that the Traeger grill does not have. Also, running out of REC TEC pellets and using other pellet labels won't be a big deal for this grill because using non-REC TEC pellets won't void the warranty of the grill, unlike the Traeger grill.
The REC TEC grill has a more precise temperature control compared to the Traeger grill. However, the slow process by which the REC TEC grill stabilizes at its lowest temperature setting is worth noting. The grill has a lowest set point of 180 F. With an ambient temperature of 60 F in our neighborhood, and setting the grill at 180 F, it slowly cycled many times between a high and low temperature before it settled at 180 F. Starting at 60 F, the grill slowly inched past 180 F all the way to 192 F then slowly went back down to 178 F and back up to 197 F then down to 184 F and back to 194 F then down again until the fluctuation tightened up at 180 F.
On the assembly side, the only thing difficult about it is screwing the 4 metal screws that secure the cover of the bottom of the housing of the controller during the assembly process. As a suggestion, REC TEC should provide a pilot screw to screw and unscrew all 8 holes before the cover is screwed to the housing with the 4 metal screws provided. This should make assembling the grill very easy from start to finish.
At any rate, REC TEC's customer service is superb. They responded to my questions promptly, and apparently with utmost concern to satisfy their customers. One of the owners of the company even guided me through the grill's operation to make sure that the temperature of the grill settles at 180 F.
on October 2, 2014
About ten years ago a friend let me smoke a Turkey and some Pork Butts for pulled pork on his Traeger Texas smoker, which worked well. Ever since then, I've had the itch to purchase a pellet smoker for myself.
Over the past ten years I've done a LOT of research on pellet smokers. I first checked out Traegers then Louisiana Grills and then landed on Yoder because of their heavy duty build and quality craftsmanship. I mean, the Yoder is just mean looking and darn right cool looking. I was certain that I would one day buy a Yoder pellet smoker. However, price kept me from buying one. So about 3 years ago I built my own Ugly Drum Smoker (UDS), but I hated dealing with charcoal, it was a pain to clean, and I really didn't like the way the food tasted on it. Then last Christmas, I found an amazing deal on Amazon for a Masterbuilt Electric smoker. I had also bought an Amaze-N-Tube to go in the electric smoker. That worked better, but I never got the "smoke ring" on my meats. Now I know the ring doesn't mean flavor or taste, but you eat with your eyes and for me, didn't feel like authentic BBQ without it.
Then about a month ago I ran across an add for a newer brand of smoker, the REC TEC. The image of their smoker immediately caught my eye, but I'd never heard of them before. So with much skepticism I decided to check out their website and see what they were all about. The more I researched the more I began to realize how amazing this smoker was.
Finally my mind was changed from wanting a Yoder to now wanting the REC TEC. But I had questions, so I posted a simple question on the REC TEC Facebook page one Sunday afternoon. I thought nothing of it, but a few minutes later I had a response asking for my phone number so I could be called to answer my questions. I gave them my number, half expecting to never get a call, but again a few minutes later, my phone rang. And on the other end wasn't some random sales guy, but Ray Carnes, the actual co-founder of REC TEC was on the other line and quite literally chatted with me for over a half hour on a Sunday!
So after that phone call and my own research here's all the benefits that swayed me to finally purchase a REC TEC smoker:
- Large Cooking Space (702 sq inches) - For the price point, larger than most of its competitors and just the other day I cooked six (6) full sized Baby Back Ribs to perfection!
- Body Metal Thickness (10 gauge steel) - Granted not as thick as Yoder, but this IS a Good thing! (see Consumption)
- Central Burn Pot - Instead of offset like most other brands, which provides more equal heat across the entire cooking area.
- Digital PID Computer - The computer is extremely accurate and has a separate Extreme Smoke option (250 and below).
- Massive Pellet Hopper - 40 lb. capacity! The largest hopper out there!
- Consumption - Average of 1 lb pellets/hr at 225 degrees. Much more efficient than Yoder (averages about 3-4 lb pellets/hr).
- High Heat - 500 degrees, but final setting for "Full Heat", if desired. I can cook pizzas or sear steaks on it!
- Welded and Sealed - The worst thing about most smokers is that smoke escapes from all the joints and seams. REC TEC thought of this and most smoke only comes out the stack or top of the lid (which I put some tinfoil in to seal the lid.)
- No Dampers - This smoker has no dampers, which means that wind and inclement weather will hardly affect the temperature or performance of this smoker! It's also one less thing to worry about or mess with.
- Internal Light - This is a nice feature, though not as bright as I'd like, but at least lets you see how things are going at night.
- Roller-blade style Wheels - All 4, with two smaller ones that swivel and lock.
- Bottom Shelf - This is just nice to put extra bags of Pellets on or anything else you need to keep off the ground.
- Warranty - 6 Years (3 Years all inclusive except for rust or corrosion, and Years 4-6 covered with $99 deductible for major issues.)
- Free Freight Shipping (With Economy Bundle or higher bundle)!
- No Tax (If outside of GA)!
- Up to 2 Years Financing, No Interest (OAC)!!! (Will pay a fee up front, max $129.99 for 2 year financing and decreases as months decrease.) This was the deciding factor for me! I could get this smoker for around $40/month. Yes Please!!!
REC TEC also offers some extras that you can add onto your bundle and if you order them at the same time as a smoker bundle, you get free shipping on those items as well!
So the following Monday after speaking to Ray, I placed my Economy Bundle order, which included the REC TEC smoker, a really nice cover, and a 40 lb. bag of Ultimate Blend Pellets. I also purchased a front shelf ($98.95) and a grill grate ($79.99) that covers half the smoker. The grates are perfect for cooking steaks, burgers, vegetables, etc. Ray even offered the idea to flip the grates over and cook on the flat surface, kind of like a griddle. Though I've not tried this yet. Check out their store to see the other great accessories, rubs, and even apparel that they offer.
My REC TEC Smoker arrived to UT from GA eight (8) days later, to my house, via UPS Freight. Setting it up was not very difficult, but be sure to check ALL the paperwork first, as they have updated instructions that are not in the normal manual, which did clarify a few of the steps. All-in-all, set up took me about an hour and a half to complete. It was missing a wrench, but I owned one that fit, so it was not a big deal, and was only for attaching the side handle.
There is a brief burn-in/seasoning period of 400 degrees for an hour. After that, you're good to smoke!
Since setting up my new REC TEC smoker a week ago, I've smoked:
- 2 whole chickens (Turned out super moist and very tasty)
- 7 lb. Brisket (Beautiful smoke ring and pull-apart tender)
- 6 racks of Baby Back Ribs (Great flavor and not overly smoky)
And I've still got pellets left in my hopper.
I'm very excited to smoke a Turkey or maybe even two for Thanksgiving, even though you can actually fit at least three full sized Turkeys in this thing!
Now every review needs to list the Cons, which are ever so minor:
- Short - I'm 6 feet tall, so the main cooking grate is a little on the short side, but for safety and center of gravity reasons, I understand the need to keep it closer to the ground.
- Brighter Light - As mentioned earlier, maybe an LED light or two.
- No 2nd Shelf - Not that I think it should come with a 2nd shelf, but at least welded on flaps that a 2nd shelf could be added, if desired.
- No Towel - To wipe the drool away each time I use the darn thing!
The best part of the REC TEC Smoker is that it truly is a "Set it and Forget it" Smoker. REC TEC Smokers simply work and makes a BBQ enthusiast, such as myself, seem like a BBQ pit champion! If you're looking for a pellet smoker, I promise, you CAN NOT go wrong with REC TEC.
on May 21, 2013
I don't normally write reviews but felt compelled to this time. I did a lot of research before making the decision and the Rec Tec seems to me to be one of the best values out there. Now that I've received it I'm incredibly impressed with the quality of the components and its performance. I also have a Weber Genesis and while the quality of the Weber is decent, the Rec Tec is clearly superior in terms of the materials.
I've used it for pulled pork a couple of times, ribs and a brisket and all of them came out great. The Memphis style controller makes it as easy as pushing a button. My expectation is that we won't use our oven at all throughout the summer - there just really isn't any reason to heat up the house and the grill is every bit as easy. I'll probably still use the Weber for things like hot dogs just because it heats up a little faster but otherwise this is going to get the bulk of the use.
As others have noted, the assembly instructions could be a bit better. It's not hard to figure out - there aren't all that many parts - but a little more specifics around which hardware to use where would be nice. The biggest challenge with assembly is really just dealing with the weight of all of that high end metal.
The other reason for the review though is the level of service from their team. I've had the opportunity to talk to them a couple of times - the first due to a completely bonehead move that I did. I wasn't paying attention and did some damage to the grill. Long story short, they proactively replaced the part for free even though this was in no way a manufacturing defect or in anyway their fault. The call to let me know came from the president, Ray. The other folks I've talked to there were very friendly and helpful as well. I'm pretty sure that I have at least one of their cell phone numbers now just in case I have any other questions.
Great company and product. I can't recommend it more highly.
on August 10, 2013
Great product and superior Customer Service and warranty. Quality, solid build, easy to assemble, and should last a long, long time. It looks really cool too with the polished stainless steel bull horns. The owner of the Company actually gives you his cell phone number and has no issues taking calls anytime! The accessory packs are great and reasonably priced, especially the Silver IMO.
The grill is so simple to use. Fill the huge hopper for 20+ hours of cooking, plug it in, punch in the temperature, and that's it. Truly set it and forget, but with tremendous results. You are cooking over real hardwoods (hickory, cherry, oak, etc.) with the convenience of precise digital temperature control.
My results have been outstanding with professional quality smoke rings. You can make anything on this from traditional smoking of ribs, brisket, pork butts, etc., to grilling steaks and chops, even Pizza. I love the ability to do reverse sears on meats. I just take a steak for instance, and smoke it at 200 for an hour or two. I then crank up the grill to 500 and sear the meat with great grill marks. When you taste meat cooked in this manner, you'll never cook it any other way again.
In addition to Rec Tec's Silver accessory pack that gives you a few hundred pounds of quality pellets, a cover, a great remote control thermometer, and two "frogmats", I would also recommend getting a product called "Grillgrates". I feel Grillgrates are a must for all pellet grills, as they really help you get excellent sears on your meats. The Rec Tec takes nonstandard size Grillgrates (19.5") so you can custom order them from Grillgrates or call Rec Tec. I replace one of my two Rec Tec grates with 3 interlocking Grillgrates and get fantastic results.
If you're on the fence, get off and get this grill! You'll love you're bull like all of us Rec Tec owners, and with Amazon giving 12 months no interest financing, it's a no brainer.
on April 30, 2013
I did A LOT of Research before buying this Smoker, I have been using an Electric Water Smoker for years and wanted to take the next step.........And I am Glad I chose REC TEC, the quality compared to the Other Brands is by far Better, Thicker Metal and Thick Quality Stainless innards, as well as the Ignotor is much heavier duty looking.
Assembly was pretty straight forward although it might be a little tough for someone not Mechanically Inclined....the Instructions could use a little more info and exploded views.
When I got my Smoker and started assembly it was 4 PM Pacific time and when I got to the Controller some of the wires were not attached (not the 2 that are not supposed to be) so I took a chance and called the numbers on the Website.....The Owner who was standing in line to go to a concert in Atlanta answered his Cell Phone and gave me simple instructions to connect the wires THATS SERVICE ABOVE AND BEYOND, about 5 minutes after that the Natl. Sales Manager called me to help me out not knowing the Owner had called....keep in mind this was 7PM GA. time WOW I AM IMPRESSED as a Salesman who travels and sells all over the state of AZ. this is Top Notch Customer Service
Now the Fun Starts...got a HUGE Brisket , and some Baby Backs to smoke Sat............some Elk to do next weekend, along with some Javelina Sausages YUM
Well Broke it in today with Baby Backs and a Brisket AWESOME Smoke Ring and a great but not overpowering Smoke Flavor, I made the mistake of Brining my Ribs as I have always done and will continue to do, and then using the Rub 0n Rec Tecs website, I should have left the Salt out of the rub recipe they were a little Salty (a little extra glaze at the table cured that problem)...........BUT TASTY and my wife loved the GLAZE recipe too, Next Weekend GAME MEAT
P.S. dont forget to Wrap the Drip Pan, I was os Excited to fire it up I forgot too now I am gonna be out tomorrow with the Oven Brite cleaning the darn thing OH WELL....KUDOS TO REC TEC ON A GREAT PRODUCT !!!!
THANKS GUYS FOR THE GREAT CUSTOMER SERVICE !!!!!
So far we have smoked Baby Backs,Briskets,Pork Butt,Sausages,Elk, ALL came out Excellent, and Yesterday I did a Turkey.......it was Awesome, Crisp skin and Juicy Breast Meat..........I am VERY HAPPY with this Smoker
I also Added 6" in hieght to the legs as I didnt like having to bend over so far
P.S I sold my old Electric,Water smoker a week after using my Rec Tec
on October 31, 2013
Like many of the reviewers here, I have never written a single review in my life. I purchased close to 1000 products since I became an Amazon Prime Member and none of them impressed me enough to make the time.
First, I would like to be redundant, the grill and Customer Service, specifically Jamie and Ray are WORLD CLASS! This is the reason that I rate the product as 5 stars, however, that said, the documentation for installation could contain a few words and two more illustrations. Also, the assembly package could have contained one more allen wrench to take the guess work and frustration out of assembly.
I am not one to sit and count bolts and nuts and get organized before I dive into an assembly project, I am however, the kind of person that will read the assembly instruction from cover to cover before I embark on such a venture. As is my normal procedure, I downloaded the instructions (owners manual.. if you want to call it that) from the web and read it cover to cover last night. Upon completion of my in depth read, I have to admit that they were as clear as mud!
The use of the phrase "with the included hardware" was used extensively throughout the instructions, however, not one place in the documentation was there a list of the nuts, bolts, flat and lock washers nor was there a single illustration showing you that there are enough of each to use a flat washer first and a lock washer second on the back of each and every bolt! The instructions assume that the assembler is mechanically inclined and knows these things intuitively. You have to count every nut, bolt, and washer to determine that there are enough of each for every bolt. Some manufacturers only suggest lock washer or any washers at all for certain applications so it is not safe to ASSume that they are needed on every bolt! Also, a simple illustration showing the fact that the bolt faces outward and then you place a flat washer, then a lock washer, and then the nut on each bolt would help those less mechanically inclined.
The other assemble issues that I had were as follows:
1) They have redesigned the smoke stack/chimney so that it no longer needs a gasket, I wasted a good 15 minutes moving every tool, box, part, and retracing my steps trying to find a gasket that is no longer needed but the instructions still reflect is required, how many minutes does it take to delete that sentence!
2) When I went to install the handle on the end opposite the shelf, much to my surprise, neither of the two included allen wrenches fit the affixed screws so I had to rummage through all of my tool boxes looking for one allen wrench which should have been included.
3) Even though I am an EE, I was still concerned as to whether the two sets of undocumented lugs on the controller board were a pair meaning that the first set was for one controller and the second set for another, or one leg of the controller went to the first set and the other went to the second set. I ASSumed that the former was true and was pleasantly surprised to find out that I was correct. However, a simple schematic or specific instructions would have made it MUCH less stressful because had I ASSumed wrong, unspecified results would have occurred and I would have spent much time on the phone with customer support trouble shooting this issue.
Now, for the controller, I own 5 Traeger grills if you exclude my PTG, that would be number 6 and to be honest, their inefficiency has a lot to do with the amount of smoke that they produce. Conservatively, I would say that the average across my Traegers would be a temperature swing of plus or minus 30 degrees on the smoke setting. This grill, from my limited experience (two hours thus far today) has an efficiency of plus or minus 2 degrees, this is excellent news for those of you who wish to be able to plan your meal and have everything finish at the exact same time. I don't know yet, but would venture a guess (based on the lack of smoke bellowing out of the stack 45% of each and every hour) that the smoke ring produced on this grill will not be as robust as those produced on my Traeger, but not to worry, you can buy an accessory from Rec-Tec called a smoke tube (which I did), the 12" tube lasts like 4 hours (untested by me) and the 18" tube lasts for about 6 (being tested by me now). After watching this efficient grill operate for about an hour and and impatiently waiting for the smoke bellowing out of the stack, I unpacked my 18" smoke tube, packed it with pellets, and used a torch to light it; I let it burn for 10 minutes and then blew it out; I laid it across the back of the grates and have been watching beautiful smoke bellowing out of the stack ever since.
In summary, Rec-Tec grills would not be known first by their AWESOME customer service and second by their incredible product if half as much time was spent perfecting the documentation as was the product (Just Sayin)! I am more than satisfied with my purchase and will certainly be replacing some of my other Traegers with Rec-Tec grills in the near future and will certainly be buying smoke tubes with all of them. I hope that this review answers some of the questions surrounding assembly. If it save one person the amount of time that it took to write, then I am happy to have helped.
********** UPDATE 09/19/2014 ***********
After many months of use, i wanted to revisit my review because i have had several more experience both with my Rec Tec as well as my Traeger grills. I also recently received the newly announced fold down front shelf for a birthday gift and i already had the Traeger installed on my other grills.
I have been trained by me Traeger's over the years that i can either get one long pull for brisket or the like or 4 to 5 small pulls before i must clean the grill or the ashes will build up in the fire box and the grill will flame out without notice and then i will be forced to clean the grill in the middle of making dinner. I am almost embarrassed to admit this but i have been traveling extensively this year and literally kept telling myself before the next long or short pull, i will definitely clean the grill out. Today and literally without exaggeration many dozens of uses later including both dozens of long pulls and probably twice that many short pulls, i was shocked by what i found (besides a tremendous amount of dust) the fire box literally was empty, the body cavity on both sides was inches deep in dust, but the fire box would have kept going for even more abuse. I am going to try not to be so forgetful in the future but it is good to know that if I do forget this grill is Not going to punish me like the Traeger.
I mentioned the shiny new Rec Tec folding front shelf. Well, lets say that for the first time i am truly disappointed in Rec Tec, The locking mechanism on my birthday present a tiny pin that is supposed to pop into place and hold the shelf up does not have enough tension on either side to actually pop into place unless i reach under the grill and inside the tube on each side and push it into place with my pinky! in retrospect, the Traeger design is flawless and mechanically locks into place with one hand each and every time that you use it. I don't know what rec tec was thinking when they came up with this design but it is such a pain in the butt to use that I will probably remove it because my cover will not go over the grill with the shelf out!
on April 25, 2013
1) It took a while to arrive. My wife, not having a tracking number, and having a craving for BBQ got a bit nervous that it wouldn't show at the appointed 5pm and so called the number on the receipt email. The owner answered the phone personally, and after checking on the status of shipping (the BBQ actually showed up while she was on the phone) spent 20 minutes talking to her about how to cook with it. That the owner answers their own phone and talks to customers (when most companies seem to have trouble finding English speaking tech support to farm off calls) is pretty damned refreshing.
2) It came broken. Now you might think this is a negative thing but let me tell you a little story about customer service. First, we only knew it was broken because we got an email before it arrived warning us of a defective fan that fails about 1% of the time. Second, we received a personal apology and the new fan was already in the mail (most companies these days only replace things after they break). Third, he posted a video on how to fix it yourself somehow knowing I'm the sort of guy that likes to fix things himself and not the sort of guy who likes to wait for things in the mail.
After tearing the BBQ completely apart (about 8 screws and 10 minutes of effort) and after dabbing a touch of JB weld in the place of offending epoxy affixing the fan blade I can attest to just how easy this thing will be to repair if it ever breaks and how unlikely breaking seems given the quality of the parts inside.
It looks awesome (those bull horn handles are solid steel and weigh several pounds), it cooks awesome, and it has not a single bad review online.
on December 31, 2014
The RecTec is a good-quality large pellet-smoker. I bought mine after a friend enjoyed his for nearly a year. I have found that it holds cooking temp with surprising accuracy (within ~3 degrees, unless I peek) no matter what the outside temp is doing. The hopper and pellet feed means that you can *easily* get a good 12-18 hour smoke with a single load (and possibly longer, depending on your outside temp).
After using it twice, my RecTec failed to power-up when plugged in. I was bummed as this happened on my Birthday while i was trying to smoke brisket for a big party. I got ahold of the RecTec support team and general manager - even though it was a weekend - and they stepped me through trying to replace and re-wire a few items. Sadly it was a circuit-board problem and they had to ship a replacement. However, the new board arrived within a couple of days and has worked great since! The RecTec team also sent me a folding front shelf for free, as a way of apologizing for the failure. So they get a thumbs-up from me in terms of customer service!
on December 11, 2013
I did not buy this through Amazon, but am so pleased with it, that I want to add my accolades to others.
I have been barbecuing for many years on the traditional double chamber charcoal smoker, and know how to do great slow-cooked southern pork shoulder and Texas brisket. Got tired of staying up all night managing the coals, so thoroughly researched pellet grills for a couple of years. This one sounded too good to be true, but it lives up to the hype in every way. Superb personal customer service continues after the purchase. Impressive construction, and materials just not found anywhere else at anywhere close to this price point.
Since receiving this a month ago, I've cooked 2 loads of 6 large pork shoulders, 2 whole chickens, a pork loin, and our Thanksgiving turkey. Each turned out to my and my family and friends' complete satisfaction. Temp held rock steady, even though I was cooking in 20º overnight temps on two occasions. What a treat to get a full night's sleep while the pork roasts are slowly smoking at 225º. Pellets are very efficient, and the charcoal mess is a thing of the past. The totally controlled temperature and predictable cook times allow for experimenting with other variables in the cooking process (and avoids the embarrassment of the Thanksgiving turkey being over/undercooked, or ready 2 hours before/after dinnertime).
One caveat: I love the very heavily hickory smoked slow cooked meats of my Georgia upbringing. Pellet smokers produce a more lightly smoked meat than a true wood-fired pit or a charcoal burner with hickory chunks. The Rec Tec is no exception. My family and friends way prefer the moderate smoked meats and poultry just as it comes from the Rec Tec. My work around to this issue is to use a tube smoker (such as the A-Maze-N tube smoker) at the beginning of the cook for the extra smoke. Another nice product that does what it promises.
And yes, I know, it's just a guy thing, but the bright red finish, the outrageous stainless steel bull horn handles, and the bull's nose towel ring are so, so cool. Really, really cool. Seriously.
All in all, this is one of the best purchases I've ever made. Hard to believe such a fine product with such excellent service comes for just a few dollars more than the Traeger grill.
(I have no affiliation or personal connection with Rec Tec or A-Maze-N Products)