I've had my Rec Tec for a year. Overall, I'm very happy with it. My opinions:
-Very high quality for the price
-Customer service is indeed superb. When the inevitable issues with a new piece of machinery have arisen, I've been able to get through to one of the owners almost immediately, and they have stuck with me until the problem was solved, including pronto shipping of replacement parts on one occasion.
-I get to sleep at night during a long cook of a brisket or pork shoulder.
-Very high capacity for the price. Easily does 2 briskets or 4 pork butts, and I have managed 3 briskets or 6 butts at a time.
-My family and friends rave about the degree of smokiness, which as I state below, is less than I prefer.
CON: (only one)
I prefer the strong smokiness to my briskets and butts that I grew up with in the south. I have put great effort into smoking techniques, different pellets, and mods on the Rec Tec, and have concluded that the flavor I am looking for is not possible on pellet smokers. It is solely related to the fact that the heat and smoke are produced by a fan, and this fan rapidly pushes the smoke through the cooker and out the stack. Trying to choke down the unit to get more smoke interferes with its inherent modus operandi. The "Xtreme Smoke" function does not provide significant improvement in smokiness, though seems to even out some of the temp differentials across the grill.
That being said, there are a few things that have gotten me closer to my goals on the Rec Tec (long slow cooks with brisket and butts):
-Presmoking for 4 hours with the A-Maz-N tube smoker (I put it over the upside-down heat deflector with the unit off and the drip pan removed, then reinstall drip pan and fire it up)
-Use 100% hickory pellets for the pre smoke and for the cook, until the bark is formed; then switch to cheaper Bear Mountain (alder base wood) pellets for the remainder of the cook.
-Start with cold meat
-Cook at 250 degrees using Xtreme Smoke
-I use a downdraft hood similar to the one commercially available, but saved $90 by fashioning it out of 3" venting from the hardware store (see below)
-Plot the temps at various locations and heights across the grill. There is no substitute for getting to know the peculiarities of your unit. I've learned that with my setup, the heat gradient goes from hottest at the upper right rear of my unit to coolest at the lower left front of my unit. The gradient is as much as 60 degrees and doesn't correspond to the temp that the RecTec probe shows. This is not a flaw, but a characteristic that it helps to understand. Thus I orient my brisket with the point to the right, and the flat to the left. I also cook with the fat side up to protect the brisket from the higher temps above. Butts are much more forgiving, and I simply rotate them.
I would strongly recommend this cooker and this company, with the single caveat regarding smoke level.
Obviously, others may have different takes, but hope this helps.
..made from cheap 3" ducting from hardware store
Edited by tongatim - 11/3/15 at 8:50pm