If you’re not aware of Z Grills they are budget focused pellet grill/smoker brand producing pellet grills in the sub $500 and sub $1,000 price brackets. Despite being a budget-focused brand, Z Grills obviously want to keep up with market trends to keep their products competitive/compelling. Therefore, Z Grills have now introduced a new range of pellet grills with PID control panels. If you’re not sure what PID stands for or why you should care, don’t worry we’ll get into that. I’ll also discuss my thoughts on these updated Z Grills PID control panels and how to navigate the Z Grills range of pellet grills/smokers.
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So part of the reason I wanted to write this article was to bring awareness to the fact that Z Grills are now producing pellet grills with PID control panels, but also to help people actually navigate the Z Grills website to understand which of their pellet grills actually have their updated PID control panels. I spend a lot of time reviewing the specs/features of various different makes and models of pellet grills, but it even took me a while to work out which Z Grills models have specific features. Z Grills product branding is a bit all over the place, using only model numbers and not using names to help customers quickly understand lower/higher specification models.
Therefore, after we have discussed the features of the two new PID control panels I want to show you how to check exactly which model has which features as quickly as possible through the Z Grills website so you know exactly what your purchasing. This is important because currently, Z Grills has several models with what appears to be the exact same control panel, however, some are running a PID temperature algorithm and some aren’t.
What Is A PID Control Panel & Why Should You Care?
PID stands for Proportional Integral Derivative, but what the hell is that? Well, its a mathematical algorithm that’s used as a means to precisely control a process, in the case of a pellet grill, its for precisely controlling the temperature. Basically, a PID control panel is constantly looking at the internal temperature probe inside the pellet grill/smoker and looking at what adjustments need to be made to the pellet feed auger or combustion fan to get as close to the set temperature as possible. I have two detailed articles on how a PID control panel and how a pellet grill works in general if you really want to get into it. But really, all you really need to know is a PID control panel can more accurately control the internal temperature inside the pellet grill/smoker.
Previously, Z Grills like many other pellet grill manufacturers only offered pellet grills with time-based control panels. In other words, the control panel would run the auger/fan a set amount of time for a set temperature. The result was a temperature accuracy of 25-degrees on either side of the set temperature. Whereas a PID control panel can hold the temperature inside the pellet grill/smoker to within 5-degrees on either side of the set temperature, hence, much more accurate temperature control than a time-based control panel.
The Latest Z Grills PID Control Panels
There are currently two designs of control panel fitted to Z Grills pellet grills/smokers which are running PID temperature algorithms which you can see in the image below. As Z Grills do not provide specific model numbers names for their control panels, we’ll just have to refer to them as vertical and horizontal. Anyone who has previously looked at the Z Grills range before will notice the vertical control panel which was running a time-based temperature algorithm. The problem is the latest vertical control panel running a PID temperature algorithm looks identical to the previous generation time-based control panel which is also still fitted to some Z Grills models.
Just to make things even more confusing there are actually two versions of the horizontal PID control panel above. As you will notice, the horizontal control panel above has no meat probe ports and its fitted on the 450B model. Well, there is another version of the horizontal PID panel with two meat probe ports fitted to the latest 700 series models. Something else to note about both of the new PID control panels is that while they can display and control the temperature to within +/- 5-degrees the temperature settings are still in 25 to 50-degree increments.
How To Quickly Find PID Z Grills Pellet Grills/Smokers
As I’ve stated above, Z Grills product branding/model numbers is a bit all over the place. Trying to work out which Z Grills are actually fitted with their latest PID control panel when a model is fitted with a vertical control panel is not easy. There is however a Comparison Tool on the Z Grills website which you can use to quickly find out if the model you are interested in does or does not feature a PID control panel.
With the comparison tool, you can also see which Z Grills models offer direct-flame access (only a couple currently). It will also state if a specific model has other features such as a hopper cleanout chute (very handy), meat probes, pellet hopper view window etc. You will also notice that above the PID Controller check box there is a ‘WiFi Controlled’ option.
Do The Z Grills PID Control Panels Offer WiFi/App Functionality?
Many different pellet grill manufacturers have been releasing PID control panel upgrades. First, there was Camp Chef with their Gen 2 PID/WiFi control panel, more recently Grilla Grills have released their Alpha Connect control panel. Then there is the Pit Boss SmokeIT Legacy Control panel which does not actually feature PID technology but does offer, you guessed it, WiFi/App functionality. So what about Z Grills and their latest PID control panels, do they offer WiFi?
Well no, Z Grills have not included WiFi functionality into this first generation of PID control panels. However, as you can see from checking out their comparison tool through the links above, they mention WiFi Controlled as a possible feature. Therefore, that tells me that Z Grills are obviously working on a WiFi control panel. It may also be the reason why Z Grills are not currently offering these current PID control panels as a retrofit option for existing customers. They may sooner rather than later be also introducing a WiFi/PID control panel.
Conclusions On The Z Grills PID Control Panels
I’m happy to see that Z Grills are now offering pellet grills with PID control panels for better temperature accuracy while still being a low-cost means to attract new customers to the world of pellet grills/smokers. Though keeping the exact same design for the vertical control and still selling some models with a non-PID control panel is not ideal and could easily confuse potential customers with what they are actually buying. Therefore, as I say, if you are actually considering a Z Grill, definitely use their Comparison Tool.
It is a bit disappointing that these current PID control panels still have 25-50 degree temperature settings, the PID technology enables tighter temperature control. Therefore, I would have hoped that the control panels would have offered more control options over temperature. It’s also disappointing that WiFi functionality is missing, but as I’ve said above, there are clear signs that Z Grills are working on a WiFi control panel.
That’s it! I hope you found this summary article on the latest Z Grills PID control panels interesting/useful. If you have more questions about the brand, please check out my Z Grills FAQ page. Or if you would like to learn more about your pellet grill/smoker options in general, please check out my Wood Pellet Grill/Smoker Guide. 🙂
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.