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Summertime means baseball games, cold brews with friends, and cookouts! What’s more centralized to the American summer than the grill? Just the word grill conjures up delicious visions of charred burgers and juicy steaks, both with those awesome cross-hatched grill marks. Add some potato salad and watermelon and you’ve got all the makings of a summer feast fit for friends and family.
If this is the summer to upgrade or replace that old charcoal grill you purchased decades ago, you might be considering a newer pellet grill with more functionality and versatility. If that’s the case, you may have come across Traeger or Z Grill brand pellet grills.
Pellet grills are really grills in name only. It’s easier to think of them as outdoor ovens, cookers, or smokers because of their ability to maintain low temperatures steadily over long hours. The low-and-slow method these grills specialize in gives wood pellet fuel the ability to infuse flavor into the meats on the grill rack.
With all the versatility available in pellet grills, you’ll want to find a pellet grill that’s versatile in design, being able to accommodate anything you want to cook. That’s why the Z Grill ZPG-700D 8 in 1 is the best on the market.
In 2017, Z Grill burst onto the grilling scene after raising nearly half a million dollars from crowdfunding investors and the grilling world was never the same. Z Grill caught the attention of enthusiastic grillmasters across the country as soon as its products hit the market.
People soon realized that these pros weren’t new at all, but had been helping Traeger build their brand before deciding to go it alone by selling its products under its own name directly to the public.
Once Z Grill’s involvement with Traeger became common knowledge, folks flocked to stores to purchase Traeger-quality grills at the reduced price that Z Grill offered. Quickly, the Z Grill brand became one of the most popular wood pellet grills on the market.
Z Grill puts emphasis on its company culture. The brand is headquartered in Ontario, California which is just east of Los Angeles. This location gives the company access to cooking outdoors at its own facility all year long. Z Grill’s state-of-the-art offices are home to indoor and outdoor kitchens where it’s not uncommon to find BBQ classes, happy hours, pop-up restaurants, and other events on the full outdoor deck.
Z Grill has satellite offices in Salt Lake City, Utah as well.
Traeger is the original creator of the Wood-Fired grill. For over 30 years, folks have turned to Traeger again and again for consistent flavor and results for each of their barbeques. Traeger truly leads the industry and excels at creating the great tasting barbeque flavors that demanding outdoor chefs crave.
When speaking about brand history, Traeger’s story is inspiring. It was the original grillmaster that designed and marketed the first wood pellet grills which were developed to resemble traditional offset barrel smokers. The difference was that the offset box of the barrel smoker was replaced by a wood pellet hopper.
In the early 1980s, wood pellet technology was unheard of. Traeger Grills rallied around this cooking method and innovated grills to support its forward-thinking design. The brand developed a way to feed pellets into a firebox by rotating auger. This created a safer environment to cook on when compared to an open flame.
At the time, cooking with wood pellets was revolutionary. Up until the time this design was created, it wasn’t possible to get a smoky, wood-fired flavor on a grill or smoker without manning a fire. The main selling point of pellet grills quickly became ease of use. These grills helped people create their favorite recipes without the mess or fuss of traditional smokers.
Here are the z grills & traeger grills you can buy:
- Best Overall - Z Grills ZPG-700D 8 in 1
- Runner Up - Traeger Grills TFB38TCA Renegade Elite Wood Pellet Grill
- Best Budget - Z Grills ZPG-450A 6 in 1
- Best Use of Technology - Traeger Ironwood 885 Wi-Fi Controlled Wood Pellet Grill
- Best Compact Design - Z Grills ZPG-550B 6 in 1
- Best Versatility - Traeger Pro 780 Wi-Fi Controlled Wood Pellet Grill
For the complete product list, please continue reading...
Z Grills vs Traeger Grills 2020 Reviews
1. Best Overall - Z Grills ZPG-700D 8 in 1
- 694 sq. in. of total cooking area
- 20 lbs. hopper capacity
- Weighs 146 lbs.
- 48″ x 22″ x 51″
- Porcelain-coated cast iron cooking grates
The Z Grills 700D has it all. You can grill, bake, smoke, braise, roast, barbeque, char-grill, and sear on this jack-of-all-trades appliance, all at the push of a button. Using what Z Grills calls Smart Smoke Technology, the grill maintains the right temperature easily without having to man an open flame or monitor temperature gauges. With a temperature range of 180°F to 450°F, you can simply set the temperature and let the grill do the rest.
The grill includes a 3-year warranty so you can enjoy consistently well-smoked wood flavors in all your foods worry-free. Additionally, the large hopper capacity and huge grilling area mean that you can cook for a few intimate family members or invite the neighborhood over for a summer holiday barbeque.
This grill features a bottom cabinet to conveniently store supplies, different wood pellets, and cooking utensils. The cart can be upgraded to include locking caster wheels making your grill easily moveable if you want to relocate it to a different area of your yard.
You can easily grill for about 20 hours using a single 20-pound bag of pellets so you don’t have to worry about refilling. Temperature accuracy is all but guaranteed to stay within 10 degrees of the temperature you set, regardless of the weather or season.
The game-changing versatility of the 700D is what everyone talks about. If you want to slow smoke a rack of ribs and burgers, or bake some cornbread, it’ll do it all with ease. There simply isn’t a way to infuse the flavor of wood into all of your food more easily than with the Z Grills 700D.
Affordable price point
Warranty is included
Superior temperature accuracy
Can sear food
Larger grill may not fit in limited space
More expensive than novices would like
2. Runner Up - Traeger Grills TFB38TCA Renegade Elite Wood Pellet Grill
- 42.25” x 23.5” x 9.75”
- Weighs 120 lbs.
- 19,500 BTUs
- 110 volts
Traeger Renegade is well known for its diverse ability to prepare a number of foods in 6 different cooking styles. This 6-in-1 outdoor cooker allows grillmasters to smoke, roast, braise, grill, barbeque, and even bake outdoors all year long on just one appliance.
Cooking with wood pellets allows you to infuse different flavors into your prepared meats, depending on the type of wood you choose to smoke. You’ll never want to go back to a gas or charcoal grill again after trying this grilling technique. Each piece of meat is cooked to perfection, regardless if you want it cooked hot and fast or low and slow.
The integrated digital controller continuously monitors cooking temperature to keep your set temperature within 20 degrees of accuracy. It’s easy to use by setting it and forgetting it until your dinner is ready to come off the grill. You can depend on your Renegade Elite to prepare your food perfectly each time.
If you want to expand your wood-fired cooking horizons past smoking meat, this grill is perfect for creating wood-fired pizzas, too. With 380 sq. in. of cooking space on the Renegade Elite, your imagination is truly the limit and it’s still small enough to fit just about anywhere.
One drawback of the 6 in 1 Renegade Elite is that it struggles to get to higher temperatures to sear meat. While your food is always grilled to absolute perfection with this grill, it won’t have the telltale cross-hatched sear marks that so many barbecuers love.
Another issue may be that it can’t char-grill. If you want burnt ends on your brisket, you may want to look elsewhere since this grill just doesn’t have the ability to char meat.
6 in 1 cooking abilities
Easy temperature control
Makes year-round grilling easy
Cannot sear food
3. Best Budget - Z Grills ZPG-450A 6 in 1
- 452 sq. in. of cooking space
- 15 lbs. hopper capacity
- Weighs 84 lbs.
- 45″ x 28″ x 49″
- Porcelain-coated cast iron
This pellet grill can bake, braise, roast, bbq, smoke, and grill just about any food you want to put on the rack. Throw the ribs on early and let them slowly smoke through the day. Then, just before they’re done, add some cornbread loaf pans to bake and veggies to roast and you’ve got your entire meal ready on one outdoor cooker.
The pellet grill technology infuses flavor into each food item from the wood pellets used to heat up anything on the grill plates. Replace the char-grilled taste from a gas grill with smoked hickory or sweet cherry wood. It doesn’t get better than this.
Upgraded as of 2020, Z Grills debugged known issues and has added more key features to create even better temperature control. Their upgraded digital panel kindles the wood pellets automatically, igniting them and giving you total control over temperature. The accuracy of temperature is guaranteed to stay within 10 degrees of the temperature you set, which means you can set it and forget it while enjoying your day.
With a temperature range of 180°F to 450°F, this grill is quite versatile. However, while you may be able to get the grill up to 400°F and 450°F, it could be a struggle as this grill was not designed to sear food. This means you may have to forfeit the grill marks usually seen on most grilled food.
Easy to clean, all you have to worry about is dusting out the firepot after each use to prevent ash buildup. The grill uses a Waste Oil Collector as well. This specially designed feature helps with safe and easy cleanup. Additionally, the upgraded cart wheels give it an all-terrain feature, making it easy to wheel the grill around your patio or up and down deck stairs to grill in the grass.
Temperature regulates itself
Retains heat well
Versatile for all kinds of cooking
Easy to clean
May struggle to sear food
4. Best Use of Technology - Traeger Ironwood 885 Wi-Fi Controlled Wood Pellet Grill
- Weighs 172 lbs.
- 54” x 27” x 48”
- Powder-coated steel exterior
- 885 sq. in. total grilling area
- Porcelain-coated steel grate material
Traeger 885 model is as high-tech as they come. You can monitor your grill with ease by pairing it to your Amazon Alexa, Google Home, or just by checking the Traeger smartphone app.
Traeger WiFIRE®️ allows novice grillmasters to learn right from professional chefs and pitmasters with the use of recipes. It provides precise step-by-step directions to each recipe in the entire cooking process.
You can completely customize your profile on the app, which allows Traeger to provide recipes and other content specific to your grilling skill level while still satisfying your need for charred meat.
This smart grill automatically downloads any update from the Traeger company to help improve its performance while you just sit back and enjoy the food coming off the grill racks. Most Traeger grills can now reach temperatures of 500°F thanks to the automatic download feature, with no additional labor or parts required.
You can monitor your grill anywhere at any time. The app gives you the ability to turn the temperature up or down remotely. If you need some help in the kitchen, the app gives you demos on things to help you become more efficient. It can also help you better define yourself in the kitchen by building your confidence as a chef and showing you new cooking techniques.
The built-in pellet sensor gives grillers the ability to monitor and gauge how many pellets are left in the hopper so you’ll never have to worry about running out of fuel. Another neat feature of the grill itself is that the bottom cooking grate can be lowered closer to the heat source allowing for the ability to sear steaks.
Uses technology to update existing equipment
High temperatures allow for searing
Teaches you how to grill
More expensive because of the technology
5. Best Compact Design - Z Grills ZPG-550B 6 in 1
- 538 sq. in. of total cooking area
- 10 lbs. hopper capacity
- Weighs 103 lbs.
- Automated electric-feed system
Grill, smoke, bake, braise, roast, or barbecue on-the-go with the Z Grills 550B. This compact grill is perfect for picnics, tailgates, or just packing up for a quick weekend getaway. If you have friends and family to impress at a distant get together, this grill is your perfect solution.
Everything you love about Z Grills is here: The 6-in-1, the precision cooking, the digital thermometer, and the set-it-and-forget-it approach makes this grill the one to choose when you’re out and about. The heat the wooden pellets create is retained by the stainless steel materials of the grill body. The electric feed system continuously feeds wood pellets from the hopper to the firebox, ensuring the heat is constantly circulated throughout the grill.
The temperature of this grill maxes out at 450°F, meaning that it’s great for searing chicken, steaks, and burgers. With a minimum temperature of 180°F, no matter what you need to do, this little grill can help you do it. If the weather is a worry, this grill features a rust-proof cover and tracks.
Since wood pellets give you all the flavor of a wood-fired grill with the convenience of propane or gas, get experimental by baking a pizza at your next tailgate or banana bread for football fans. With 20 hours of cooking per 20 lbs. of wood pellets, the only limit is your imagination.
This grill offers a great grilling experience for the new user and beginner cooks. Set up consists of plugging it in, filling the hopper, and igniting it with a simple push of a button. The digital LED display allows users to check the temperature of the grill in real-time, taking the guesswork out of your masterpiece.
The stainless steel material retains heat exceptionally well and offers corrosion resistance, which translates into a sleek and polished finish as well as a long-lasting grill.
Includes warming rack
Compact design specs
Perfect for beginners
The smaller cooking area might be a turn-off to veteran grillers
6. Best Versatility - Traeger Pro 780 Wi-Fi Controlled Wood Pellet Grill
- Weighs 146 lbs.
- Powder-coated steel exterior
- Porcelain-coated cooking grates
- 780 sq. in. of total cooking space
- 49” x 27” x 55”
While Traeger invented and perfected the pellet grill back in the 1980s, they completely redesigned and upgraded their own products in 2019 by introducing their D2 Direct Drive technology to most of their grill models.
While still needing DC current to operate, Traeger upgraded their motor to a new brushless 20-volt model. This means that the grill is stronger than before and its life is extended even further, while still requiring fewer amps to run. Even larger Traeger models only need a smaller generator while you’re camping, tailgating, or picnicking away from home.
Ignition is easier than ever with their D2 models which also feature Traeger’s Turbo Temp technology. Turbo Temp carefully monitors the interior temperature of the grill and allows for quick temperature recovery after closing the lid to check on your food. Initial heat-up is also much quicker, so you can get cooking sooner.
Traeger’s Pro 780 has all the fancy bells and whistles that veteran pitmasters, grillers, and outdoor chefs love, too. Features like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capability get your grill connected to the internet and allow for easy monitoring of temperature and hopper capacity. With the D2 motor installed, this grill can easily get up to 450°F, allowing you to sear steaks and burgers on the grill rack or quickly cook ears of corn for Mexican Street Corn. The lower-end temperatures are still intact, so you can slowly smoke your favorite chicken and ribs over the course of a few hours.
A great feature that a lot of outdoor chefs enjoy with this grill is the keep warm mode so you eat when you’re ready, not when the grill says your food is ready. If you want to blend wood flavors during the cooking process, Traeger’s Pro series offers a clean-out door that allows you to change pellets quickly while still grilling food.
Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capable
WiFIRE®️ technology makes cooking a cinch
D2 Drive technology makes cooking faster than ever
Lots of features, but more expensive
Traeger and Z Grills both have terrific company backgrounds. Considering their histories together, it’s very little wonder why both create high-quality products that folks love and recommend consistently to their friends and family who are looking to start grilling themselves.
However, when looking at all the key features both of these great brands have to offer in their grills, it’s clear that the Z Grills ZPG-700D 8-1 leads the way on versatility, while also managing to maintain a cheaper price point and temperature range. It has a wide cooking surface that can also be customized by purchasing a smaller or larger version.
Most consumers want to get the best bang for their buck when buying a new appliance like an outdoor grill. These appliances are an investment in your family’s future for years to come. Taking a closer look at each brand’s key features is worth a bit of time and effort before dropping hundreds of your hard-earned dollars.
Temperature control is potentially the biggest issue for pellet grills. You’ll want to find a product that offers the option to precisely control temperature with a dial. Additionally, it should be well-crafted using materials specifically designed for heat retention.
While both brands use solid stainless steel material for the bodies of their cooking chamber, Traeger grills use a double layer for extra fortification and insulation. This enables both products to retain heat just fine.
The differences come in at the dial. Z Grills can be set to 25°F increments. Traeger’s are a bit more precise at 15°F increments.
We want to insert our other comparison guide here because Camp Chef has a great feature when it comes to temperature control. Even though, Traeger has a WiFIRE system Camp Chef a Smart Smoke Technology that boasts about precision when holding the temperature on their grills. You can read our Traeger vs Camp Chef, Traeger vs Pit Boss and the differences of Z Grills and Pit Boss for more information about comparisons of the products.
Versatility is what pellet grills are all about. They can be used as a grill, smoker, roaster, or oven. With this versatility is the need for a wide temperature range to be able to achieve all the different cooking methods.
Most meats smoke on the low end of about 200°F, with searing temps of at least 400°F. This means that the ideal temperature range of a pellet grill should, at a bare minimum, be 200-400°F.
Traeger pellet grills generally range from 180-400°F which is right in that sweet spot for an all in one outdoor cooker. Z Grills, however, have a bit of an edge because their temperature ranges max out at 450°F. This range is better than most other pellet grills.
Any homeowner can tell you that warranties are vital for any appliance, but that is especially true for outdoor appliances that are exposed to wind or other weather. A warranty protects your purchase should an item become damaged, but it also shows that the company believes that it’s putting a well-made product on the market and stands by it.
When it comes to cooking surfaces, this is completely about user preference. If you plan on grilling for a large number of people on a regular basis, it’s probably wise to go for a larger grill with a bigger cooking surface. If you have a smaller family, then a smaller grill can work just fine for you.
Traeger has managed to fit all its technology into a compact, portable version that is good on-the-go. However, with that portability comes a limited cooking surface of a mere 300 sq. in. Their less-mobile models can go all the way up 780 sq. in. of cooking area.
Meanwhile, Z Grills has standardized its surface area ranges from 450 to 1,000 sq. in. Most of its grills come with the crowd-pleasing warming rack which offers additional cooking space for grillmasters.