If you’d like to invest in a pellet grill but are leery of the cost, Z Grills just might have the right model for you. This up-and-coming manufacturer offers pellet grills at reasonable prices. How well do their products stand up against the competition? To find out, I compiled this Z Grills review.
All You Need To Know About Shopping For a Pellet Grill
In this section, we’ll provide you with tips on how to choose a pellet grill that will suit your needs. Even if you’ve purchased a pellet grill before, there’s always something more to learn.
What is a pellet grill?
Pellet grills are fueled by small cylinders made of compressed hardwood sawdust. These pellets are stored in a hopper and fed into the fire box using an auger component. A digital control panel allows you to pre-set the temperature, depending on the type of cooking you’ll be doing. Since the auger and the control panel are powered by electricity, you’ll need an electrical outlet or power converter in order to use the grill.
What are the advantages of cooking with a pellet grill?
Since pellet grills can be fired up within minutes, they offer a convenience that charcoal-burning units lack. Unlike gas grills, however, they also imbue the food with authentic wood flavor. Best of all, you can customize the flavor with different types of wood pellets. Try apple or hickory for pulled pork, oak for steaks and other beef products, and milder woods like alder for grilled seafood.
These units allow you greater control over the temperature than their charcoal- or gas-burning counterparts. They’re also more advanced on a technological level, which can be daunting to first-timers. However, once you’ve gotten the hang of pellet grilling, you’re bound to be impressed by the overall ease of the process and the quality of your results.
How to Choose the Best Pellet Grill
When it comes to shopping for a pellet grill, you have two basic requirements to fulfill: quality and value. While you don’t want to go over budget, it’s just as important to purchase a high-end product so you won’t have to replace the grill every couple of years.
Key Features of Pellet Grills
Quality and value are the two most important features to consider, but they’re not the only ones. Here’s a basic primer on the other features and benefits to be aware of when shopping:
400 to 600 square inches should be sufficient for an average-sized family. Singles and couples can get away with even less space. If you frequently entertain, consider investing in a larger unit.
Try to find a model with a range of about 180 to 550 degrees. The hotter the grill gets, the easier it will be to achieve a good sear on grilled meats. If it’s able to maintain lower temperatures, it can be used for smoking, braising, or dehydrating.
This component should be fully digital, with an LED display to make the numbers easier to read. Dual meat temperature probes are another nice feature to have—they allow you to keep an eye on the grill temperature and the doneness of the meat at the same time.
Standard grills can hold about 18 pounds of pellets. For travel-sized units, look for a smaller hopper—this will make the grill easier to transport. Large grills would naturally benefit from bigger hoppers, but make sure to check the pellets frequently for signs of moisture damage.
At low temperatures, pellet grills might burn through one-third to one-half a pound of pellets per hour. When you’re using a moderate-heat cooking application like roasting, you can expect to go through about one pound of pellets per hour. Grilling and searing will typically burn more fuel, sometimes as many as four pounds per hour. Keep these numbers in mind when shopping, and pay attention if the unit is burning through fuel at a faster rate.
A reputable pellet grill manufacturer will stand behind its product by offering a guarantee on parts. Be aware that these warranties usually apply only to defective parts—normal wear and tear isn’t covered. That’s why it’s just as important to start with the highest-quality grill that you can afford.
Are there any safety precautions I should be aware of when using a pellet grill?
Since pellet grills are powered by electricity, there’s always a slight risk of shock. To minimize this risk, keep all the electrical cords out of the way of foot traffic, and inspect the cords regularly for signs of wear and tear. Most importantly, never use a pellet grill in rainy weather.
As mentioned above, it’s also a good idea to keep an eye on the pellets to make sure they haven’t gotten wet. In addition to increasing the shock risk, wet pellets can cause the auger component to jam, leading to temperature fluctuations. Finally, always set up your pellet grill in a well-ventilated area, giving the exhaust component plenty of space to do its work.
For more information on how to safely maintain your pellet grill, check out this YouTube tutorial:
Z Grills Review
Now that you know what to look for in a pellet grill, let’s see how the offerings from Z Grills stand up to the criteria.
The 450A features a main cooking chamber constructed of heavy-gauge powder-coated steel, porcelain-coated cast iron cooking grates, and a hopper with a 15-pound capacity. An additional warming rack provides you with extra cooking space, bringing the total to 450 square inches. The straight-legged model comes equipped with two locking caster wheels and a side shelf for prep or storage. The digital panel is controlled by a user-friendly knob component, and the LED display is easy to read. Like all the Z Grills models listed here, the 450A offers a temperature range of 180 to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
This model is the smallest in the Z Grills lineup, but it’s sufficient for couples or average-sized families. The cast iron cooking grates make the grill easier to clean, but their quality isn’t the best. Fortunately, Z Grills offers a three-year warranty on defective parts. In our experience, the customer service department can be difficult to deal with, so be prepared to deal with a long string of phone calls if you experience a problem.
- Simple, straightforward design
- Affordable price
- Durable construction
- Insufficient drip bucket
- Hopper is on the small side for a unit of this size
- Minimal temperature range
- Side shelf sits too close to chimney
Like the 450A, this grill is constructed of heavy-gauge steel with a powder finish. The cast-iron cooking grates are coated with porcelain, offering a grand total of 538 square inches of cooking space. The optional warming rack offers versatility, and the hopper can hold 20 pounds of pellets at once. In addition to being slightly larger than the 450A, this unit features a cart-style design with a lower shelf where you can store your barbecue tools or additional pellets.
We find the digital control panels on the Z Grills series to be rudimentary, especially compared to some of the competition. On the bright side, however, they’re easy enough for first-timers to use. The temperature range of 180 to 450, on the other hand, leaves something to be desired. We would prefer a broader range, especially when it comes to larger units. The other downside to this model is the grease management system, which isn’t as efficient as it could be. This makes cleanup more difficult and time-consuming.
- Relatively low price
- Simple to put together
- Cart-style design offers additional storage
- Finicky starter
- Insufficient grease management system
- Rudimentary control panel
- Temperature control can be erratic
This is one of Z Grills’ bigger units, offering up 694 square inches of cooking space when the optional warming rack is installed. The fire box is constructed of durable powder-coated steel, and the cast iron grilling grates are coated in porcelain for easy cleanup. Like the other units listed here, however, the cast iron is not as sturdy as you might hope, especially if you use the grill frequently.
The hopper on the ZPG-7002E can hold 20 pounds of pellets, which is adequate but not particularly generous, especially at high temperatures. We would advise keeping a close eye on the pellet level if you’re grilling for long periods of time. The cart-style design offers a lower storage shelf, and the digital control panel matches the other units listed here. It’s easy to use, but it won’t win any points in the sophistication department. Finally, we’ve noticed that the 7002E is capable of maintaining a fairly accurate temperature, even during extended use. It’s also worth noting that its range is slightly higher than the 450A or 550B—it can heat from 180 to 475 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Durable cooking chamber
- Can be used for baking
- Temperature is generally accurate within 20 degrees Fahrenheit
- Insufficient grease management system
- No hopper cleanout system
- Storage shelf is on the smaller side
This model is similar to the 7002E in almost every respect. The temperature range is slightly different, spanning from 160 to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. That makes it a better choice for making beef jerky than for baking pizzas, so keep this in mind if you decide to invest in this unit. The fire box features a powder-coated heavy-gauge steel construction with porcelain-coated cast iron grilling grates. Like the other Z Grills units, its 694 square inches of cooking space are rounded out with an optional warming rack. The 20-pound capacity hopper should keep the unit fueled for up to 20 hours of use, and the digital control panel with LED display is user-friendly and easy to read in the dark.
The 7002B also features a cart-style design, but we find that the shelf is sturdier and more solid than the one on the 7002E. If you’re looking for a unit that can turn out exceptional smoked meats and beef jerky, then this could be the right fit for you.
- Good temperature control
- Temperature can be set low enough to dehydrate meats
- Easy to assemble
- Replacement parts can be difficult to find
- No special features to speak of
- Temperature can be adversely affected by the weather outside
The 700E boasts a cabinet-style design, supported by four wheels for additional maneuverability. If you’re the type of griller who prefers a lot of storage space, this model is worth a closer look.
The main cooking chamber of the 700E is composed of durable powder-coated steel. Porcelain-coated cast iron grates offer 504 square inches of grilling space in the main cooking area, with an additional 190 square inches available when you add on the optional warming rack. The hopper is capable of holding up to 20 pounds of pellets at once, which is fairly standard for a unit of this size. As far as pellet efficiency goes, this unit isn’t quite as reliable as the 7002 series. You can expect to burn through about one-and-a-half pounds of fuel per hour with this system. Like the rest of the grills listed here, the digital panel offers a knob controller and LED readout display.
- Hopper is broad enough to be used as a shelf
- Cabinet-style design
- Easy to maneuver, especially for a grill of this size
- Affordable price point
- Wheels are on the flimsy side
- Finicky temperature control
- Control panel is quite basic
Like the 7002B, this model can be set to a temperature as low as 160 degrees Fahrenheit, with a high temp of 450 degrees. This makes it a good choice for low-heat cooking applications such as smoking and dehydrating. Its cabinet-style design gives you ample storage space for tools and spare pellets, and the 20-pound capacity hopper is sufficient for long cooking periods.
The cooking chamber and cabinet doors are composed of sturdy, heavy-gauge steel with a powder finish. The cast iron cooking grates have a porcelain coating for easy cleanup, and offer 504 square inches of grilling space. An optional warming rack brings the total up to 694 square inches. If you’re planning on making large batches of beef jerky, the warming rack is an excellent addition.
The wheels on this model are just as flimsy as the ones on the 700E, which is disappointing but not altogether surprising. Similarly, the control panel isn’t as effective as the ones on the 7002 series. While you should have good luck when cooking at lower temperatures, these cabinet-style Z Grills aren’t the best choice for seared meats.
- Generous amount of storage space
- Cabinet-style design offers protection from the elements
- Affordable price point
- Good choice for beef jerky or braised meats
- Wheels are small and inadequate for a grill of this size
- Not effective for grilling or searing
- Erratic temperature control
The 7002ENC is the largest model on our list, offering 700 square inches of cooking space when the optional warming rack is installed. The cooking chamber is constructed of heavy-gauge powder-coated steel, along with the 20-pound capacity hopper. A cart-style design makes this grill more maneuverable than many of the others listed here, and the wheels are large and sturdy enough to hold up to years of grilling. The storage shelf comes in handy for keeping spare pellets handy, as long as you remember to bring them inside when the weather turns.
This unit can be assembled in less than an hour when you use the proper tools. Porcelain-coated cast iron grilling grates make cleanup a snap, and the additional cooking space comes in handy for larger groups. However, we’ve found that the temperature control on this unit is more finicky than some of the competition. Also, while the wheels are tough and durable, they’re set in an awkward position, making the grill difficult to maneuver.
- Ample cooking space
- Fast assembly
- Affordable price point
- Easy to clean
- Difficult to maneuver
- Less-than-accurate temperature control
- Not a great deal of storage space
The Bottom Line
Since all of the units listed here are affordable and easy to use, it was difficult to narrow it down to a single favorite. They’re so similar in construction and even in size, you might be just as happy with any of them.
However, since the 700D is the most versatile and convenient model on our list, we would give it the edge over the competition. The cabinet-style design is both useful and stylish, providing you with all the storage space you’ll need. We especially appreciate the fact that it can maintain temperatures low enough to dehydrate meats. While searing isn’t its strong suit, it’s sufficient for simple grilling tasks like burgers and bratwurst. The oversized warming rack is also useful for keeping bread products warm while the meat cooks.
If the Z Grills have a downside, it’s that they aren’t as sophisticated as some of their higher-priced competition. For example, they aren’t equipped with WiFi capability, so they can’t be controlled remotely. As far as bargain pellet grills are concerned, however, Z Grills just may have cornered the market.
We hope our Z Grills review has provided you with all the information you’ll need to make the purchase that’s right for you. Best of luck, and happy grilling!