Pellet grills/smokers have lots of positives from their flexibility of low and slow smoking to a high-temperature grilling (with the right pellet grill). However, there is one main obstacle to entering the world of pellet grills for many people, and that’s the upfront cost. Due to how a pellet grill works and the number of internal components, pellet grills/smokers will as a result always be more expensive on average than charcoal/gas grills which are much cheaper/simpler to produce. Well, there is now a new affordable means to enter the world of pellet grilling/smoking, the Spider-22. But its not actually a pellet grill, let me explain.
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I’ve previously written about why pellet grills are more expensive than charcoal/gas grills on average. However, explaining why that’s the case doesn’t really make a difference to some who cannot afford a dedicated pellet grill/smoker. Therefore, that’s where the Spider-22 can serve as a low cost ($279) introduction to the world of pellet cooking.
Now, that’s presuming you already own a 22″ Original, Master Touch or Kettle Premium from Weber. But as many people do own these charcoal grills, that’s a pretty big market of potential customers for the Spider-22. What about purchasing a new 22″ Weber grill and the Spider-22, is that your best option? Well, I’ll discuss that too.
Introduction To The Spider-22
So the Spider-22 originally went by a different name, it was called the PELLA and first appeared in 2019 via a Kickstarter campaign. The campaign was successful and raised the funds required to carry the project forward to start producing them in bulk to get the unit cost down to under $300.
Now, over the years I’m sure you like myself have heard of various Kickstarter projects that ultimately went nowhere. However, that’s not the case here, and I’ll give you a good reason why. The company behind the PELLA (now called the Spider-22) is called Atlas Product Manufacturing Group, but who’s that?
Well, Atlas Product Manufacturing Group (Atlas PMG) were established in 2012 and has been the engineering brains behind many of Kamado Joe products for many years. If you’re not aware of Kamado Joe they are pretty much the best Kamado charcoal grills on the market today.
Furthermore, the Pellet Joe by Kamado Joe is the first ceramic pellet cooker, and if you check out my linked article, I’m very impressed by it. So the brains behind the Pellet Joe, that would be Atlas Product Manufacturing Group.
The Pellet Joe is an excellent pellet grill/smoker, but, it will set you back just under $2K. Hence, its simply not a viable offering for many average BBQ buyers, especially those who only use their grill on a semi-regular basis.
Hence, many of those people will likely just own a charcoal grill, probably a Weber grill, likely a 22″ Weber grill, hence this is where the Spider-22 comes in.
Features Of The Spider-22
As you can see the Spider-22 is not a pellet grill in and of itself, its essentially a self-contained pellet burner with a hopper and control panel, it requires the cooking chamber of a Weber 22″ Kettle Grill to become a pellet grill/smoker.
So let’s talk about features, well, the hopper on the Spider-22 can hold 12lbs of pellets, pretty reasonable for its size. I also like the locking clips on the hopper lid. In terms of run time Spider Grills state a full hopper should last around 12 hours running at 225 degrees, hence a 1lb per hour pellet consumption.
A pellet usage of 1lb per hour may be possible, but 1lb per hour would be below average pellet consumption for most pellet grills as you can read from my pellet consumption article.
Though the cooking chamber on the Weber 22″ Kettle is a lot smaller than many dedicated pellet grills on average, so 1lb per hour could potentially be possible.
Then again as a Weber Kettle is not an insulated cooking chamber, you will not achieve 1lb per hour at 225 degrees in the colder months of the year, consumption will be somewhere up to 2lbs per hour in all likelihood.
In terms of temperature range, well the Spider-22 can go as low as 175 degrees and as high as 500 degrees. The 500-degree maximum temperature setting is impressive and will produce a high enough temperature for reasonable grilling/searing performance.
Throw on a set of Grill Grates and you will get even better grilling performance. Just remember, with higher temperatures comes higher pellet consumption. At 500 degrees the Spider-22 will likely be going through 3-4lbs of pellets per hour, hence a run time of 4 to 8 hours from the full 12lb hopper.
Its really good to see that Spider Grills have fitted a PID control panel to the Spider-22 for accurate temperature management. Unfortunately, the Spider-22 does not currently feature any WiFi/App functionality or meat probe ports.
Such features would increase the cost of the Spider-22 hence I understand why they are not included. Who knows, they may come out with a slightly more expensive Spider-22 at some point, the Premium Spider-22 with WiFi/App functionality.
Who Is The Spider-22 Really For?
For anyone who already owns a 22″ Weber Kettle and wants a low cost means to enter the pellet cooking game, the Spider-22 is pretty much a no brainer for its features and $280 price point.
Furthermore, for anyone who wants’s to have the flexibility of both a charcoal and pellet cooker, again a 22″ Weber Kettle and the Spider-22 is the lowest-cost means to achieve this.
But what about someone who owns neither a 22″ Weber Kettle nor a pellet grill and they are purely focused on getting a pellet grill/smoker, what then?
So depending on which version of the 22″ Weber Kettle you choose the starting point will be between $120 up to $230, add in the cost of the Spider-22 and you have a total cost of between $400 to $510.
Can you get a dedicated pellet grill between the $400 to $500 price point? Yes, do I think that would be a better option than the 22″ Weber Kettle and Spider-22? Well, that depends.
In terms of cooking area, on a 22″ Weber you have 363 sq.in. Well, for up to $500 you have options such as the Camp Chef SmokePro XT 24 which will provide a total cooking area of 570 sq.in with 429 sq.in across the main cooking grate.
In all other regards, the Camp Chef can match the Spider-22 in terms of maximum temperature setting (500 degrees) and it also uses a PID control panel for good temperature accuracy.
The Davy Crockett actually has a slightly higher maximum temperature setting of 550 degrees. Furthermore, it even features WiFi/App functionality so you can monitor/control the grill from your phone.
There are also dedicated vertical pellet smokers for under $500, however, that’s not really a fair comparison, as they can only smoke and not grill.
As the Spider-22 is a niche product (currently) there are not that many reviews on YouTube I can reference. I came across one from the channel HowToLou below though that gives a good summary of the Spider-22’s features and functionality.
Lou shows that the Spider-22 was able to hold an accurate temperature in relation to his separate digital thermometer and the Spider-22 was able to cook burgers well with its 500 heat output.
Conclusion On The Spider Grills Spider-22
So what are my final thoughts on the Spider-22? Well, I’m all about pellets, and introducing a new/low cost means to introduce more people to the benefits of cooking with pellets I’m all for.
The 22″ Weber is the perfect charcoal Kettle grill to design the Spider-22 for, its the most popular charcoal grill in the world with a design that hasn’t changed since it was introduced in the 1950s! Hence, lots of people have a 22″ Weber Kettle in their backyard.
Does it make sense to buy a new 22″ Weber Kettle and Spider-22? Well, maybe, after all, you have the option of cooking with charcoal or pellets whenever you feel like it. There are dedicated pellet grills around that total package cost that can offer larger cooking areas/WiFi support etc.
So really, its horses for courses, individual preference/needs etc. Overall though I’m very impressed with the design/engineering of the Spider-22, and if you already own a 22″ Weber and no pellet grill/smoker you should seriously consider one.
That’s it! Thanks for reading, I hope you found this summary article on the Spider-22 interesting/useful. Please also check out my Wood Pellet Grill/Smoker Guide to review all your options. 🙂
Back in 2007 when I first become aware of pellet grills and smokers the only brand I was really aware of was Traeger. Traeger is really where this whole concept of cooking with pellets started in the 1980s. It was a ‘slow burner’ (pardon the pun) but since the 2010s is really when pellet grills and smokers started to get mainstream awareness, discussed alongside gas and charcoal grills. There are now over 30 pellet grill/smoker brands that I’m aware of, and the link above goes to my A to Z list of brands article.
Now, you may already be aware of a few of the other brands such as Pit Boss, Camp Chef, Z Grills and I’m sure you are aware of Weber, though you may not have known they have entered the pellet grill game. However, they are now many, many more brands to look into. Some may be what are commonly referred to as ‘Traeger clones’, but many others are offering their own unique designs and features.
A pellet grill/smoker is only as good as the BBQ pellets you put into it. The type/quality of the BBQ wood pellets you use will impact temperature performance and smoke flavour. There are many pellet flavours including Apple, Hickory, Mapel, Oak and Walnut to name but a few. However, some brands are hardwood blended pellets whereas others are 100% single wood species.
In this article, I provide details on over 20 brands of BBQ wood pellets, their range of flavours, whether they are 100% single wood species or hardwood blended pellets, their typical price and where they are available. I also provide tips on how to get the best deal when buying BBQ wood pellets and how to test pellet quality. Finally, I discuss the new kid on the block, charcoal pellets and their special attributes compared to all other hardwood BBQ pellets.