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Traeger Ironwood vs Weber Smokefire (Gen II)

Traeger vs Weber

Traeger Ironwood vs Weber Smokefire (Gen II)

When it comes to grills, Traeger and Weber are two of the biggest brands around. They’re market leaders in their spaces and pace their competitors when it comes to technology, improvements, and quality.

In the pellet grill space, Traeger is the clear leader and has been for many years. They offer many varieties of pellet grills for every size and budget. That’s helped them to be the biggest year after year.

Weber is more known in the gas and charcoal grill spaces, with their grills consistently selling the best and getting the best reviews. Recently, though, Weber’s thrown their hat into the pellet grill ring with the SmokeFire line.

Traeger vs Weber

So, what happens when one of the leaders in the gas and charcoal space goes head to head with a leader in the pellet space? First, let’s look at some of the critical features for both so you can decide which one is truly the best.

Traeger Description and Features

Because they’ve been in the pellet grill business for a long time, Traeger offers a lot of variety for their customers. They provide portable grills, but here are their three main lines:

  • Pro: Smallest line, aimed more toward beginning grillers. Two different sizes, price range approximately $1000.
  • Ironwood: Mid-tier. Plenty of grill for most backyard chefs. Price range is approximately $1500.
  • Timberline: Top of the line. All the bells and whistles you could ever want. Huge. Price range is approximately $2000.

For this comparison, we’re going to use the Ironwood line. They’re closest in features and size to the SmokeFire, so they should provide a good partner. We won’t be talking about the Pro or Timberline today, but they’re great grills.

The Ironwood series comes in two varieties: the Ironwood 650 and Ironwood 885. The only differences between the two are size and price. We’ll call those out, but when we’re talking about the Ironwood, you can apply most notes to either model. First, let’s look at some features:

  • WiFire Technology: Runs through the Traeger app. Allows you to monitor and adjust temperatures right from your phone.
  • Digital Controller: Easily adjust the temperature in 5-degree increments. Super convenient!
  • Pellet Sensor: Connects to the app and lets grillmaster know when pellets run low. No more running back and forth to check the hopper!
  • Downdraft Exhaust: Keeps fresh smoke running over your food, giving that wood-fired taste that you’re buying a pellet grill for.
  • TRU Convection System: Partial or complete insulation keeps hot air moving and cooks food evenly while avoiding flare-ups.
  • Easy pellet clean-out and switching.
  • Cooking Space: 650 square inches (Ironwood 650), 885 square inches (Ironwood 885).
  • Weight: 149 pounds (Ironwood 650), 175 pounds (Ironwood 885).
  • Max Temp: 500 degrees.
  • Pellet Capacity: 20 pounds (equivalent to 1 standard-sized bag of pellets).
  • Price: $1400 (Ironwood 650), $1600 (Ironwood 885).

Weber SmokeFire Description and Features

Weber released the first generation of their SmokeFire in early-2020. There was a ton of fanfare around the release, but customers had a lot of complaints around the first generation. Complaints were all over the place but generally centered on:

  • Firmware and software issues.
  • Issues with the pellet hopper clogging and stopping the flow of pellets to the auger.
  • Jams in the pellet hopper.
  • Grease and ash build-ups leading to grease fires and flare-ups.

In particular, the last point is troubling because grease fires can be a scary and unsafe experience. Weber quickly released a second revision of the SmokeFire that corrected many of these issues, but is it enough?

Like the Traeger grills, Weber offers the SmokeFire in two models: the EX4 and EX6. Again, the only significant differences are in grill size and price. We’ll note those where appropriate. Now onto the features!

  • Weber Connect: Weber’s smart grill technology. Control many aspects of your SmokeFire right from the app.
  • Porcelain-Enameled Finish: Designed to withstand harsh temperatures and help keep the grill better insulated. Also, really nice looking!
  • Flavorizer Bars: Better, more consistent heat on your food. An outstanding feature for searing at the end of a long cook.
  • SmokeBoost: Optional feature to let pellets smolder a bit longer, bringing an extra hit of smoke to your meal.
  • Cooking Space: 672 square inches (SmokeFire EX4), 1,008 square inches (SmokeFire EX6).
  • Weight: 156 pounds (SmokeFire EX4), 178 pounds (SmokeFire EX6).
  • Max Temp: 600 degrees.
  • Pellet Capacity: 20 pounds (equivalent to 1 standard-sized bag of pellets).
  • Price: $1000 (SmokeFire EX4), $1200 (SmokeFire EX6).

Comparison

On the surface, there are many similarities in the size and features between the Ironwood and SmokeFire. You can see that Weber was definitely taking notice of all Traeger’s features and designing the SmokeFire accordingly.

Now that we know a little bit more about the grills, let’s compare them head-to-head. We’ll look at several areas and give winners for each before deciding the ultimate winner!

Price

The Ironwood series from Traeger is priced between $1,400 and $1,600, depending on the model you want to buy. The SmokeFire comes in at $1,000 and $1,200. That’s an enormous difference for similarly-specced grills.

The SmokeFire’s price might result from its initial launch issues or because they’re looking to take a big chunk of Traeger’s market. No one knows if the SmokeFire’s price will end up going up to match Traeger’s. 

But, for now, the SmokeFire offers consumers a ton of value at a highly competitive price point.

Advantage: Weber SmokeFire

Looks

They say that beauty’s in the eye of the beholder, and that’s definitely the case with pellet grills! Of course, in the end, you want a grill that’s going to serve up fantastic food, but these grills are going to be a centerpiece in your backyard, so they should look nice as well.

The SmokeFire has the iconic Weber look: black, shiny, and sleek. The Ironwood, on the other hand, looks more like a classic smoker. It’s a bit longer and lower to the ground. You can’t go wrong with either, but, in our opinion, the Ironwood looks just a little bit nicer.

Advantage: Traeger Ironwood

Cooking Area

When you’re spending more than $1,000 on a pellet grill, one of the things you’re most concerned about is the cooking area. How much can you fit on your grill?

With the Ironwood 650, you’re getting 650 square inches of space. On the Ironwood 885, you’re getting 885 square inches of space. Both models split their space between two racks. To put that into context, the Ironwood 885 can fit up to 9 full-sized pork butts! That’s a lot of meat and enough to satisfy any party. The Ironwood 650 can fit about six pork butts.

Compare that to the SmokeFire. The smaller EX4 model has 672 square inches of space, which is right on par with the Ironwood 650. The Weber offers a little more, but not enough that most consumers will notice.

However, the SmokeFire EX6 has a whopping 1,008 square inches of cooking space! We did the math, and that’s about 12% more space. Given the price point, that’s an enormous grill. There’s nearly no limit to what you can cook in the SmokeFire EX6, so if size matters to you, this is a big plus.

Advantage: Weber SmokeFire

Cooking Temperature

Temperature is a huge deal for any grill. Too cold and your food’s not cooking. Too hot, and it’s burning. Holding temperature is enormous for smoking as well. So how do Traeger and Weber hold up?

The Traeger’s minimum temperature is 165 degrees, excellent for long, slow cooks (think brisket). The Weber’s minimum temperature is 200 degrees, which will also work for the most part.

On the other hand, the Ironwood only gets up to 500 degrees, whereas the SmokeFire gets up to 600 degrees, meaning that the SmokeFire is your better bet for things like searing.

Some users of the SmokeFire also report insulation issues, with the grill either losing heat or having flare-ups. If you’re using it primarily as a grill, maybe that’s not a huge deal. But, if you’re using it as a smoker, it definitely could be.

So, if you’re primarily using your pellet grill as a smoker, go with the Traeger. If your primary use is as a grill, Weber’s your best bet. However, because of the insulation issues with the Weber, the overall edge here goes to Traeger.

Advantage: Traeger Ironwood

Technology

A decade ago, technology in a pellet grill would have sounded crazy. Today? A ton of tech is stuffed into these grills designed to make your cooking day much more manageable.

Traeger’s WiFIRE setup is tried and true. Connect your mobile device to the smoker, and you’re good to go. Control your temperature and monitor your cook (through smart meat probes!) from anywhere you’re connected. If that’s not enough, Traeger offers more than 1,500 recipes for you to look over and try out. A little inspiration is never a bad thing.

Weber counters with their Weber Connect. It offers various timers (know when to flip, total cook time), as well as functionality to control your temperature.

On the surface, the two services sound similar. However, when the SmokeFire was released, Weber Connect was so broken that Weber actually acquired a company offering similar software and completely re-engineered everything.

Weber Connect is much more stable now, but that experience left a bad taste in many consumers’ mouths. If the new Weber Connect stays stable and keeps adding features, this is a topic you can revisit, but, for now, the stability of Traeger’s WiFIRE makes it the pick.

Advantage: Traeger Ironwood

Design

The design here has less to do with the looks of the pellet grill but how everything fits together. Are there any widespread issues? Any components that frequently break? In other words, how long-lasting can you expect your pellet grill to be?

The Traeger Ironwood is, by any measure, a solidly-built and designed pellet grill. Traeger is a veteran in developing pellet grills, and, for the most part, everything just works with the Ironwood. Temperature control and heat transfer are great. The technology aspect of it is also well-integrated. Some users of the Ironwood complain about stability and build quality, but it’s a good value at its price point.

The Weber SmokeFire came out with a ton of great-sounding features, but, as discussed, there were so many widespread issues with the design and technology that Weber needed to release a revised version in under a year. That’s not a great sign.

For the most part, Weber’s revisions fixed the problems. However, the SmokeFire still has an issue where hot ash gets below the fan and hits the grease pan. If you’re not careful, that can lead to grease fires, which are a disaster for any grillmaster. Yes, you can use a tray to catch the grease, but Weber hasn’t done a great job publicizing that.

Again, this design issue may get ironed out in future releases, but, like cars or new phones, the third or fourth release will likely blow the first couple away. For that reason, the tried and true Traeger Ironwood keeps it ahead.

Advantage: Traeger Ironwood

Conclusion

To be clear, both Traeger and Weber make good quality products. If you buy any of the Traeger products or Weber’s SmokeFire, you’re going to be making some great food.

The Weber SmokeFire has a ton of potential, and chances are pretty good that Weber will iron out the design issues and come out with a real competitor. We love the concept, the features, and the price, but there are just a few too many issues right now.

That’s why, in this particular competition, Traeger is the winner. Yes, their pellet grills are a bit more expensive. But, for that cost, you’re getting a well-built grill with almost all the bells and whistles you could want. 

Traeger’s worried about the design, so all you have to worry about is getting your food ready. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a grillmaster who’s new to the game, Traeger has you covered.

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