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Help me choose!!! RT-700, CC Woodwind wifi 36, or YS640s... or other?

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    Help me choose!!! RT-700, CC Woodwind wifi 36, or YS640s... or other?

    I have a Smokin Tex electric smoker. It's now too small for some of the things I've wanted to smoke and I'm not getting the results I think I should be getting (yeah, yeah... a poor musician blames his instruments). So it's served it's purpose as my starter smoker but I've more than graduated - it's time to get a 'bigger boy' smoker. I've decided to go with a pellet smoker since I generally don't have the time I'd need (and want) to hang out and babysit, so for my needs the set and forget of a pellet smoker seems like the right choice.

    Per above, I've narrowed down my field to the RT-700, CC Woodwind wifi 36, and the YS640s. That said... I am open to another option I may have missed. My priorities (not in order) are:
    1. ability to do a long smoke without having to refill the hopper in the middle of the night (one thing I like about the TR-700)
    2. temp accuracy
    3. temp range so I can do anything from Jerky to steaks
    4. enough surface area to be able to smoke multiple and/or large sized briskets
    5. something durable and dependable that can withstand being outdoors full time during hot Phoenix summers

    I've read lots of reviews and they're all over the place with no clear standout. The forums I've read through have some good info, but most people tend to defend their purchases without any helpful, comparative advice. So hoping you all can provide some good insights and rationale to help me pick the right one... even if it's none of the above.

    Thanks to all of you in advance!

    Gatorboy

    #2
    Traeger Timberline 850, or the pellet grill of your choice.

    Comment


      #3
      I just spent a long time looking at different pellet cookers myself. The three you've chosen are all good cookers. I ended up getting the CC Woodwind WiFi 36. Just had some nice features and I added the sidekick burner so I can sear steaks in CI or the griddle. Been using it for 3-4 weeks now and really like it..........but with all pellet cookers just don't think your going to get that deep wood smoky flavor.....it's very light compared to my weber kettles.

      Comment


      • GatorBoy
        GatorBoy commented
        Editing a comment
        Thank you, good point on the add ons.

      #4
      As someone that’s tried a lot of pellet grills I can say a lot of them will do parts of what you desire. Very few pellet grills cannot run overnight without filling. Most use around 1lb of pellets per hour at 225. Even if it burns 1.5lbs/hr a 12 pound hopper will get you 8 hours of sleep and most hoopers are 18lbs plus on bigger pellet grills.

      Jerky to steaks is the hardest part of the equation. If you really like a good sear on a steak, the only pellet grill that really does that is the SmokeFire. With others you’re generally going to need a cast iron pan or something else to assist with conductive heat or you’re going to have a really small searing zone directly over the fire pot only able to do a steak or two at a time.

      If you do lots of jerky, I’d be inclined to suggest a MAK 2 star as you can get quite a bit of jerky (or ribs) if you get a couple extra racks and can even add a cold smoker box. It’s all stainless and aluminized steel. However, it’s a good jump up in price from models you’ve listed.

      Another thing I’d ask is have you ever had food from a pellet smoker before? I actually had a Smokin Tex before I got into pellet grills and know it’s possible to lay down strong smoke on one and can even overdo it. That overdo concept is pretty much impossible with a pellet grill. I’ve never over smoked anything in almost a decade of various pellet grills. I didn’t dump the Smokin Tex because of that, but because of thinking I could be happy with one grill/smoker for everything with a pellet grill and not being happy with smoking poultry in the Smokin Tex. Now I’m back to a pellet grill, charcoal grill/smoker, and a gas grill. You might keep the electric around for jerky and heavier smoke on butts or brisket alone.

      If you’re confident you’ll be happy with lighter smoke profile, then you have to ask do you value American built or not and think you’d potentially keep the cooker for a good decade. If so, Yoder, MAK, Lone Star Grillz, Smokin Brothers, Cookshack, and Blaz’n all worth a look. My experience from MAK and Memphis is there’s no comparison between US made and imports for construction quality and materials. Memphis recently shipped manufacturing overseas but kept top of market prices, so that’s why they are not on my list you should check out.

      If you value decency (in build quality) at a better cost, I think CampChef and Recteq are good choices. I had a Woodwind with the SearBox and it was a good machine. The SearBox was a good steak and chop searing tool for reverse sears. You also might look at Grilla.

      Cooking results wise, for smoking there is very little difference between American and imports. American I have had do have a little better smoke profile, but not because they are American, because of different drip tray and exhaust designs that just get more smoke flowing by food. Might be mental too :-) For any attempts to sear, definite advantage to American, but still not like a gas or charcoal grill. Most imports use a solid drip pan so all heat is indirect. Note the use of most a lot, sorry there are exceptions to every case…like Woodwind has that perforated drip tray, but it’s nothing to MAK, Memphis, Blaz’n, etc. searing solutions.

      If you’re not 100% sure you’ll like pellets, buy a used pellet grill, scan the old stock CampChef models on eBay if they’re still there, etc. and get a cheaper one to test out for a while before getting a long term grill maybe. A couple years ago I bought a CampChef STG or STX new on eBay for about $275 shipped knowing I’d only have it 6-8 months until the SmokeFire was released.

      Having chased the magical unicorn, there is no clear standout in pellet grills, I’ve had several that were really good, a few that were OK, and a couple that were just garbage. They are fairly good smokers and mediocre at best grills. Yes, despite the way that sounds I’m a pellet fan as convenience wins and pellet cooked food beats an oven or crock pot any day of the week. You just have to lay out your most important features and start finding the best matches.

      AND Welcome to the Pit!

      Comment


      • glitchy
        glitchy commented
        Editing a comment
        Oh, and not trying to upsell you…just saying the CampChef especially is going to feel cheap compared to what your used to. Of the imports, Grilla and Reqtec are going to be the closest for materials to American made. Still thinner steel than most American, but thicker than other imports. I think both have stainless grates too which is also rare for pellet grills.
        Last edited by glitchy; August 21, 2021, 10:37 AM. Reason: Typo

      • ItsAllGoneToTheDogs
        ItsAllGoneToTheDogs commented
        Editing a comment
        GatorBoy Glitchy already mentioned everything and more that I was going to. But one thing on your wishlist is saying you like the RT because of the hopper size. Honestly that's just a marketing gimmick from RT. ALMOST every quality pellet grill with a 20lb hopper will run 20+ hours at or below 250. The standard rule of thumb, depending on grill and weather is 1lb per hour. My MAK burns quite a bit less than that almost year round.

      • Remsleep
        Remsleep commented
        Editing a comment
        I'm new here and certainly no expert, but I just got a Smokin' Bros. PP30 and am extremely pleased with it: Built like a tank, although a lighter tank than the Yoders, I think, and have had nothing but good results on it. The wifi is a little basic at this point, but I believe they're working on an all-singing, all-dancing app for release fairly soon. I especially like the front-mounted pellet hopper, which creates a built in shelf, as opposed to the usual side-mount.

      #5
      Originally posted by glitchy View Post
      Having chased the magical unicorn, there is no clear standout in pellet grills, I’ve had several that were really good, a few that were OK, and a couple that were just garbage. They are fairly good smokers and mediocre at best grills.
      I think this is the key phrase. You're seeking a machine that does everything and does it well. The easy answer is that such a machine does not yet exist. I recently bought a YS640S which I am happily learning. But, I only look to it for low and slow smoking. I did a lot of the same research you are doing before I decided on the Yoder. I think you will be frustrated with any pellet smoker if you want it to do it all. If you decide you want a smoker and you accept the light smoke profile of a pellet machine, you will be probably be happy with any of the options you listed.

      Oh, and welcome from Chicagoland.

      Comment


      • GatorBoy
        GatorBoy commented
        Editing a comment
        Very good point that I'm reconsidering, esp after also reading Glitchy's post that states the same point. I have a great Twin Eagles grill and thought maybe it'd be nice to mix it up... but this should be low on my priority list. Thank you for the feedback - very much appreciated!

      • GatorBoy
        GatorBoy commented
        Editing a comment
        Yes, I agree 100% about that now and realize it's a non-issue since I have a grill I am very happy with. Question for you... hard to compare IL to AZ but how well does your Yoder weather and any concerns about rusting? I'll have my smoker outdoors all year round.

      • Draznnl
        Draznnl commented
        Editing a comment
        My Yoder is at my house in Florida and going through its first hot, humid summer right now. Ask me how it handled those conditions in a couple of months when I am down there too. Sorry.

      #6
      I'll add in that temp accuracy in a pellet smoker is not as desirable as you might think. Most pellet smokers will need to fluctuate 15-20 degrees above and below your setpoint temp to produce any meaningful smoke. If you want long burn time, low effort, and a heavier smoke profile, you might want to consider one of the insulated cabinet smokers. LSG, Humphries, and Meadow Creek all make well reviewed models in a wide range of sizes.

      Comment


      • GatorBoy
        GatorBoy commented
        Editing a comment
        Ha... ok, now I've got to add 3 more to my list to look at. More think' drinkin' I guess

      • willxfmr
        willxfmr commented
        Editing a comment
        glitchy Humphrys claims theirs can be used as a grill, but I have never used one, so I can't say for sure. Yet....

      • Old Glory
        Old Glory commented
        Editing a comment
        I owned a Humphrey smoker. Nice unit but I am not sure how you can grill on them.

      #7
      First of all. Welcome from Virginia.

      You have a good list there and I would also seriously consider glitchy and his remarks. He has a ton of experience in this space and is a very reliable source. I recently went down this same path and ended up with the Grilla Grills Silverbac. I could not be more pleased with the quality and with the company itself regarding their support and responsiveness. Worth considering as well.

      Comment


      • glitchy
        glitchy commented
        Editing a comment
        You’re too kind David.

      • GatorBoy
        GatorBoy commented
        Editing a comment
        Thank you David! Adding Grilla to my search as well

      #8
      The best smoker is the one that will make you the happiest. For me it was the Yoder 640, and I haven’t regretted the decision even once.

      Comment


      • ofelles
        ofelles commented
        Editing a comment
        +1

      • GatorBoy
        GatorBoy commented
        Editing a comment
        Not sure where you and ofelles live but I was intrigued by the Yoder but worried about how it will weather. I live in AZ and stuff deteriorates quickly after 1-2 summers.

      • Donw
        Donw commented
        Editing a comment
        I live right by the ocean with saltwater bays on three sides, and a saltwater marsh behind. Very harsh conditions for anything metal but the Yoder has stood up well. After three years some small amount of surface rust showed right around the hinges, but a quick wire brushing and an application of the paint Yoder sent with the smoker took care of that. The weakest point is the stand which I brush and repaint every 2 years.

      #9
      GatorBoy I would listen closely to glitchy as I've watched and read his pellet cooker journey over the past several years. He's owned and tried more than most folks will own in a lifetime!

      You don't tell us if you have another grill, but I assume you have something other than the Smokin Tex electric smoker. If so, do you plan on keeping that? If you have a solid gas grill or even charcoal grill to supplement a pellet smoker, then I think you can get by with any of the ones you mention. The limitation on all of them seems to be when it comes to searing performance or direct grilling. You just don't get the same kind of burgers on a pellet smoker that you get on a grill or flat top (griddle), as there is really no direct radiant heat, except for right above the burn pot on those that have a feature to open up the diffuser.

      If you wanted just ONE grill/smoker, my personal take is that I would look hard at the Camp Chef offerings, as you can add a propane side-grill option to the end of that Woodwind that you mention, and that solves all your searing needs. And as glitchy mentions, the SmokeFire can also grill better than most pellet smokers out there, and might be something to consider, despite some of its limitations.

      Comment


      • jfmorris
        jfmorris commented
        Editing a comment
        glitchy I forgot about the flameouts and pellet feed issues. That would be a concern for sure with the SmokeFire.

        I have one friend down in Orlando who bought the original Woodwind based on the fact that it would let him dispense with the need for a separate grill for searing, and he has been very happy with it, and even spent the money to upgrade the controller when they rolled out Wifi. He had a Kamado Joe before that, but never could get the hang of it, and is much happier now.

      • glitchy
        glitchy commented
        Editing a comment
        The CampChefs are hard to beat. I never have a pellet grill long enough to speak about longevity, but the Woodwind w/Searbox definitely seems like the best do everything package in a pellet grill under $1300 (< $1000 for 24"). lots of great features with the fire pot dump, WiFi, etc. There mobile app was the best I've seen yet, but that's still kinda rapidly evolving for the whole pellet world trying to compete with wireless thermometers as a built in feature.

      • GatorBoy
        GatorBoy commented
        Editing a comment
        100% agree and was a silly mistake on my part not to have considered the fact I have a Twin Eagles gas grill. So that part of the equation is null.

      #10
      I have had an RT-700 for about 2.5 years now and love it. No regrets at all.

      Things in particular that I like:
      Excellent build quality. It's a tank.
      Rock solid temp control. Never varies more than a couple degrees from set point.
      40lb pellet hopper. No worries for overnight cooks.
      WiFi and phone app. I monitor overnight cooks from my warm bed.
      Exceptional customer service from Recteq.
      6year bumper to bumper warranty.

      Areas for improvement:
      No pellet dump.
      Not great for searing. I have other options for searing so no issue for me.

      Good luck with your decision. I love cooking on a pellet grill. No issues with smoke profile for me. We like a lighter smoke flavor in our house. Plenty of smoke billows out the stack though.

      Comment


      • GatorBoy
        GatorBoy commented
        Editing a comment
        That's a solid recommendation! Feeling more and more like I wont' go wrong with any of these, but have been leaning toward RecTeq. But can you tell me more about the pellet dump? Haven't had a pellet smoker before so not sure what that means or entails.

      • Jfrosty27
        Jfrosty27 commented
        Editing a comment
        GatorBoy The pellet dump is feature that allows for a quick emptying of the pellet hooper for maintenance or to change pellet wood type. I have never needed it because I use the same pellet blend for all cooks. And if I did need to clear the hopper fast, I have a small shop vac for that.

      • Jfrosty27
        Jfrosty27 commented
        Editing a comment
        GatorBoy all the cookers mentioned here are solid for sure and I considered each. In the end the 6 year bumper to bumper warranty landed me with RT.

      #11
      I went Through a similar processes earlier summer. I already on a Traeger and a WSM but was looking to get something else. I settle down either Rec Tec and Grilla.

      One of the things that I did was I searched reviews both on the Internet and on YouTube not on the first time people used the smoker but how they fared or how they held up after at least a year of using them. I also specifically searched for reviews/videos of people using them in snow and cold temperatures. I went with the Grilla and couldn’t be happier.

      Comment


      • Jfrosty27
        Jfrosty27 commented
        Editing a comment
        I cook on my Recteq all year round here in Wisconsin. I have their insulating blanket which really works.

      • GatorBoy
        GatorBoy commented
        Editing a comment
        Interesting you went with Grilla over RT, can you share why? And JFrosty, no idea they had an insulating blanket... but probably will be of little use to me in AZ 😂😂

      • radiodome21
        radiodome21 commented
        Editing a comment
        It’s funny. At one point I had both in the shopping cart and I was ready to check out. I guess in the end though, I just like the Grilla story more. They started out as I believe a metal fabrication company who kind of delved into the side thing, which stuck and I think it's just kind of cool. That’s how the company I work for eventually took off. I think they’re both awesome smokers. I also like the insulated steel jacket they have, which helps in the Midwest.
        Last edited by radiodome21; August 20, 2021, 06:28 PM.

      #12
      I have an original RT-680 which I have upgraded to the new burnpot, ceramic igniter and wifi controller - all of which are standard on the 700 now. It has been very reliable and always keeps the temp spot on. No regrets.

      It is great for both low temperature cooks and high temps for pizza and chicken, but for me any pellet grill that sears is either too hard to change to sear mode on the fly and takes too long to come up to sear temps. So I wouldn't try to use one for both, despite what the manufacturers claim. Get something separate for searing. I use a torch.

      Comment


        #13
        I think the Grilla Silverbac needs to be in the conversation as it offers more value than the Recteq.

        However, given your requirements I’d lean towards the Camp Chef as you can add a searing station that would work well for your needs.

        If size is less of a consideration, the Silverbac would be a great choice paired with some GrillGrates.

        Comment


        • GatorBoy
          GatorBoy commented
          Editing a comment
          Duly noted and now on my list to research - thank you!

        #14
        I am going to second and 3rd the guys that recommend a Grilla product. I have the small Grilla Chimp, and I use the heck out of that thing. They shipped manufacturing to China a few years back to stay competitive on cost in their price range, but the headquarters are in my home state of Michigan, and their customer service is top notch. I would suggest giving them a good look before you buy. If I ever buy a larger pellet grill, I will be leaning strongly towards their products.

        Comment


        • GatorBoy
          GatorBoy commented
          Editing a comment
          Thank you, now on my list to look into!

        #15
        In my garage right now I also have their 3 piece outdoor kitchen still on the pallet that was delivered yesterday. Just waiting for my BIL to come over so he can help we unload it. Or get suckered into doing it.

        Comment

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