REC TEC entered the pellet grill market a few years ago to be something different. While this grill isn't revolutionary, it comes with committed support and an excellent marketing campaign. In a short time, it has become the low-cost pellet grill to beat. The construction is solid and the design attractive. As a pellet grill, it is good, but its performance is typical of units in the thousand dollar range. The pellet controller works very well and simply with five-degree increment adjustments.
- 702 square inches of total cooking area
- 180 to 500 F/82 to 260 C temperature range
- 40-pound capacity rear mounted pellet hopper
- Stainless steel rod cooking grates
- Five degree increment control setting
- Steel powder coated construction
- One interior light
- Made in China and assembled in the United States
- Precision temperature controller
- Very large hopper capacity
- Large cooking capacity
- No pellet hopper release
- Fire pot cannot be removed for cleaning
The guys who started REC TEC wanted to produce a grill with the kind of temperature control you would find in an indoor oven. This, of course, meant a pellet grill. Pellet grills are computer controlled cookers that use an auger to feed wood pellets into a fire pot and a fan to accelerate the fire, creating an extremely efficient heat.
These days there are a lot of pellet grills on the market and to differentiate yourself takes a good deal of marketing, something REC TEC has excelled at. This pellet grill has shown up all over the internet and proven to have a strong following. Their support has also proven very responsive and the warranty is very strong. There is even a 30 day, no questions asked return policy so you can see that they are very serious about having happy customers.
The temperature control unit on this grill is good and easy to use. It can be started with the push of a button, making it a very easy grill to use. In testing, the reported temperature inside the grill differs frequently and by a considerable amount with the actual temperature in the center of the cooking grate. This is not uncommon with pellet grills, but certainly something to adjust for. Others have reported this problem as well. This is caused largely by airflow inconsistencies inside the large cooking chamber. You should consider using an independent method of checking the cooking temperature.
The body of this pellet grill is thick and well put together, but there are air leaks around the door and wind can rob this unit of heat quickly. Experienced pellet cooks know that adjustments may need to be made in cold temperatures and high winds. A common method for this is a welding blanket over the grill to conserve on pellets. Since the unit is not insulated this would be a must for those who live in northern climates or anticipate using this unit when it is cold.
There are a couple of things I like to see on pellet grills that this model is lacking. One is a pellet release door so that the hopper can be emptied easily. I might like my pork smoked with hickory, but my brisket with cherry wood. Since there isn't an easy way to empty the pellets out of this units hopper, that can be a problem. The other thing I like to see is a removable fire pot for cleaning. While much of the ash is going to be blown out of the fire pot by the fan some will remain, and ash will build up in the bottom of the unit. The best method for cleaning this out in the REC TEC grill is with a vacuum.
There is a sear kit option, but this is just a set of three GrillGrates, the anodized aluminum grilling grates that have been such a success in recent years. These hold and transfer heat better than stainless steel, providing a better cooking surface for foods that you want cooked with a searing surface. While this doesn't make the grill any hotter than its maximum 500 F temperature, it does provide a good surface for steaks and chops. REC TEC offers them at a competitive price and if this is going to be your only grill it might be worth paying for.
Pellet grills are not cheap, nor should they be. These are complicated appliances with moving parts and computer controls. They need to have solid construction and good engineering to work properly. The REC TEC RT-680 is one of the lower priced pellet grills on the market, especially considering the size. Considering that factor as well as the issues raised above, I would have to say that this is a good unit for the price. There are better, but they tend to cost a lot more.
Disclosure: Product samples were provided by the manufacturer for review purposes.