If you are researching the best wood pellet grills/smokers under $1,000 you should be considering a Grilla Grill. I feel a bit of a kindred spirit with Grilla Grills as their journey into the world of pellet grills is very similar to my own. It started with an interest in wood pellets as a heating fuel for furnaces which then developed into a passion for wood pellet grills/smokers. Today Grilla Grills offer a range of units including their very unique Grilla pellet grill, the more conventional Silverbac and their compact/portable unit the Chimp. With this post, I want to discuss the features on the Grilla Grills that particularly stand out to me along with some owner reviews.
As you will see below Grilla Grills are constantly researching how they can improve their pellet grills/smokers while still offering their products a competitive price point that most people can afford. The price point and specifications of the Grilla Grills put them in what I refer to as the Practical Class. If you are not aware of the different classes of pellet grills/smokers please check out my post on how to choose the best pellet grill to meet your needs.
Introduction To Grilla Grills
Based in Holland, Michigan the foundation of Grilla Grills is a family-owned steel fabrication business producing parts for the automobile industry among others for over 40 years. While the main fabrication of their grills is not made in the USA, several of the accessories/components for the grills are. The idea of developing their own range of pellet grills/smokers came about from looking at the competition and seeing an opportunity to make what they feel are better products while still keeping the price affordable to most people.
The Grilla was the first pellet grill/smoker Grilla Grills produced. A very unique design of pellet grill/smoker (my personal favourite) which I’ll discuss more below. Then came the Silverbac which has the general appearance of many other pellet grills on the market, but has some notable improvements. Finally, there is the Chimp, a small/portable grill which can be used for camping/RV/tailgating trips.
Grilla Wood Pellet Grill/Smoker
I think its only natural that I start with the Grilla, as its was the first Grilla Grill to hit the market. You will not find another pellet grill out there like this one. So let’s discuss the basic features first. Its got a 20lb pellet hopper, so while this unit looks (and is) very compact it can still take a full bag of hardwood grill pellets in one go. In terms of cooking area, again the compact size of this unit can be deceptive as it provides a very reasonable 488 square inches. In terms of temperature range, the Grilla can be set between 180-500 degrees. The Grilla is available with two control panel options, the Pro or Alpha. I’ll explain later in this post what the differences are between the Pro and Alpha, and why you should want to upgrade to the Alpha controller if your budget allows.
Other notable features of the Grilla (and all Grilla Grills) is the extensive use of stainless steel around and within the combustion zone. The use of stainless steel will dramatically increase the service life of these pellet grills over much of the competition at this price point who use galvanized carbon steel. The Grilla also comes with stainless steel cooking racks and grates, which again will last substantially longer than the wire carbon steel porcelain-coated racks used on many other pellet grills/smokers. Grilla Grills also offer the option of GrillGrates during the ordering process which I’ve previously discussed in the linked post above offer a lot of benefits.
Why Is The Grilla My Favourite Design of Grilla Grill?
So just to be clear, I don’t as yet personally own a Grilla Grill, I’m talking more from the perspective of if I was was to order one it would be the Grilla. Why? Well, a couple of reasons. I like clever engineering/design solutions that provide multiple benefits. What do I mean by that? Ok, first the design of the Grilla is obviously very upright/vertical, that makes it easier to actually use. Many pellet grills, especially units within this price bracket are quite low down, so you will have to stoop over to use them.
Second, the round/inverted cone design of the pellet burn chamber and grate above will provide more even heat distribution over the cooking surface compared to grills with a horizontal design. Furthermore, the Keep Heat Swing Lid is superior to a lift-up lid in several ways. First, as the name implies you can open the lid just enough to check on the food and it will keep in more of the heat/smoke than conventional lift-up lids. Its also much more user-friendly, even those with limited mobility/disabilities could easily use this pellet grill. And finally, well the viewing glass to see and check on the pellet fire is just cool isn’t it!
Silverbac Wood Pellet Grill/Smoker
If you are looking for a more conventional pellet grill design then you might want to consider the Silverbac. Like the Grilla the Silverback features a 20lb pellet hopper. Furthermore, the Silverbac is also offered with either the Pro or Alpha temperature control panel. Therefore, the temperature range is also between 180-500 degrees on the Silverbac as it is on the Grilla. The Silverbac provides a total of 692 square inches of cooking space, therefore just over 200 square inches more than the Grilla.
Just like the Grilla the Silverbac features extensive use of stainless steel for the grease tray, heat deflector and pellet burn pot. However, the Silverbac also features a 12 gauge re-enforced stainless steel lid. The handles on the Silverbac and the hopper lid are also made from stainless steel. The lower half of the Silverbac around the combustion zone is also twin-wall construction which acts a thermal blanket. This pays dividends in cold weather conditions, making sure more of the heat from the pellet fire goes up towards your food and not radiating through the sides of the grill. This also means pellet consumption is reduced when smoking/grilling during colder weather.
With the Silverbac though you have a choice to make. You have the option of either a lower cabinet with doors for the storage of a bags of wood pellets. Or you could choose to have the Silverbac pellet grill sit upon the all-terrain Pro Cart. There are a couple of different scenarios where the Pro Cart maybe your best option. Let’s say for instance you want to store your pellet grill in a garage/barn that’s quite far away from where you actually do your outdoor cooking next to the house. In that case, the large 8″ by 2.5” poly foam run-flat ball bearing wheels are going to make your life a whole lot easier when it comes to moving your grill around. However, you may even want to take your Silverbac to compete in BBQ competitions, in that case the Pro Cart is pretty much a no-brainer.
Chimp Wood Pellet Grill/Smoker
The latest pellet grill from Grilla Grills is the Chimp. While this may be a very compact and small grill compared to the Grilla and Silverbac it has all the same core features of those grills. Namely, stainless steel internals and a 180-500 degree temperature range. In fact, the Chimp was the first Grilla Grill to include the Alpha control panel which I’ll discuss more below.
As should be expected, the Chimp features a slightly smaller pellet hopper than the Grilla and Silverbac at 15lbs. However, that’s still sufficient for many hours of grilling, even at the maximum temperature setting of 500 degrees. Quick-release foldable legs, add to the convenience of this pellet grill as a truly portable unit. The demand for portable pellet grills has grown significantly in recent years to fulfil peoples desires to have great tasting food out and about. So whether you enjoy tailgating or an RV lifestyle, you can now take your portable pellet grill with you and enjoy pellet grilling pretty much anywhere. Though you will still need a source of 120V AC power, but that’s easy to do with a suitable 12V DC to 120V AC inverter.
Grilla Grills Pro and Alpha Control Panels
Arguably the most important component on any pellet grill/smoker is its control panel. After all, there is no point having pellet feed augers, hot-rod igniters and fans to create and feed a fire without the brains to control them. Both the Grilla and Silverbac come with the option of Grilla Grills Pro or Alpha control panels. The Chimp is purely available with the latest Alpha control panel. The Pro versions of the Grilla and Silverbac are a little cheaper than their Alpha siblings. Therefore we should really discuss the benefits of the Alpha control panel and how it works.
So as you can see from the video above, the Alpha control panel is a combination control panel. It provides both the time/pause based logic of the Pro controller and the option of PID (Proportional Integral Derivative) temperature control. In this regard, the Alpha control panel is very unique. Its the only control panel from any pellet grill manufacturer that I’m currently aware of that contains time-based and PID based temperature control in a single control panel. But why would you even want that feature, and what the heck does PID really mean anyway?
The Pros and Cons of PID Controllers
You will find many websites (including mine) which discuss and review the specs on pellet grills/smokers singing the praises of PID temperature controllers. Why? Well if you are looking for the most accurate temperature control on a pellet grill/smoker you want to opt for PID if its within your budget. I’m going to use the analogy of a modern engine to explain why.
The computer (ECU) in your car/truck is constantly and precisely measuring and monitoring fuel/air mixture in the engine to give you the best efficiency and power. On a pellet grill/smoker, a PID temperature controller is constantly looking at the internal temperature of your grill and comparing it to your set temperature. A PID temperature controller will then precisely adjust the pellet feed auger and fan speed/run-time (fuel/air mixture) to get the grill up to the set temperature and hold it there within a 5-degree range. Brilliant! However, very accurate temperature control can come at the cost of smoke production. After all, smoke is produced by inefficient combustion. In other words, when the fuel/air mixture is not perfectly balanced.
The ProSmoke mode on the Grilla Grills Alpha control panel as the video above shows deliberately creates a swing in the feed rate of pellets into the firepot. This imbalance in the fuel/air mixture create smokes, but in doing so the temperature will swing roughly 25 degrees from the set temperature. Now depending on what your cooking and how smoky you want your food to actually taste with the Alpha controller you can easily and quickly jump between the Pro and Alpha smoke modes. In other words, you can quickly change between increased smoke production and more precise temperature control.
Grilla Grills Owner Reviews
Whenever I do my spec analysis articles on different makes and models of pellet grills when I can find them I like to add in owners reviews. Where possible I like to reference reviews from people who have owned the grill over a decent length of time, to show how its has held up. Well, the video I want to reference below is from Jus’ Piddlin BBQ. This is an inspection of the Grilla Grill Silverbac after 2 years of use and apparently 200-300 cooks.
As you can see from the video above the Silverbac has held up pretty well, with no signs of corrosion/rust. All of the components are original and in working order. As Jus states in his video, the control panel did need to be changed, but he explains the reasons why. It should be noted as is stated in the video above, that particular Silverbac is an older model. The current Silverbac has a full stainless steel combustion zone (burn pot, heat deflector, grease tray). Also, the current Silverbac benefits from a reinforced lid to resolve any potential issues of warping under high temperatures.
Conclusions On The Grilla Grills Pellet Grill Range
I’m impressed with the range of pellet grills/smokers Grilla Grills are offering, especially for their price point of under $1,000. I think they have found a good balance of using higher quality materials where it counts while at the same time keeping the cost of their pellet grills affordable to most people. With the Silverbac that’s catering to those who will be cooking for a large group of family/friends. The Grilla while slightly smaller in cooking area I still think is going to be sufficient for most people/for most events. Furthermore, the unique design and benefits of the Grilla make it stand out from other pellet grills. The Chimp meets a growing demand for small/portable pellet grills to take in an RV or to go tailgating. On the subject of growing demand, WiFi is a feature that does appear to be growing in demand. While Grilla Grills don’t currently offer a WiFi option it should be available before the end of 2020 and it will also be available as a retrofit.
That’s it! Thanks for reading, I hope this analysis of the Grilla Grills range of pellet grills has been interesting/informative. You may want to check out my ZGrills vs Grilla Grills or Traeger vs Grilla Grills articles. If you want to pick up a Grilla Grill you can do so directly through GrillaGrills.com. If you would like to review my other articles on various makes/models of pellet grills please check out my wood pellet grill/smoker guide. 🙂