One of Z Grills’ best-selling models is the 450 model. Recently, the 450 was updated and improved and is now known as the Z Grills 450B. In our Z Grills 450B review, we take a brand new Z Grills 450B and put it through a series of tests to see how well this new model does.
In this BBQGrillAcademy.com article we will cover:
- What’s New in the Z Grills 450B
- Unboxing of the 450B
- An in-depth review of the 450B
- Our thoughts on this new model
So let’s get into it!
What’s New on the Z Grills 450B Wood Pellet Grill
Pellet grills are constantly evolving and improving. Years ago, a pellet grill was just a regular grill with a hopper, auger, and an ignitor controlled by a cyclic controller. It fed pallets, lit them on fire with an ignitor, and a fan kept the flame going.
Today, the story is much different. Today’s pellet grills are equipped with wireless technology, smart digital controllers, and some manufacturers are even incorporating touch screen technology into their controller displays.
So it makes sense that Z Grills took the time to update their most popular model to 450. The 450 is a small and compact pellet smoker and grill that is considered a budget option and a great entry model for most backyard warriors.
The 450 models are not jam-packed with technology and features, but still, Z Grills made changes to improve the 2450 B and kept it reasonably priced.
A New Digital PID Controller
The first and most noticeable improvement is the new digital PID controller. Out is the old cyclic controller and the new digital controllers found in other popular models, such as the 700D4E.
The new digital PID controller reads both the internal temperature of the grill and the temperature you want to cook at. It then uses its own algorithm to control the pellet feeding, fan speeds, and igniter to get the most accurate cooking temperature and keep it there.
Old cycle controllers basically turned the auger and igniter on and off in cycles to reach whatever target temperature was set. This created temperature fluctuations, and often the target temperature was exceeded. By using a mini computer brain to control how often pallets are fed and how often pellets are lit, the 450B can keep a more precise and controlled temperature.
New Features of the Z Grills 450B Controller
As I said before, this grill does not include WIFI, but the new controller does include a manual feed feature, two integrated meat meat probe ports, and a large digital LCD display. The meat probes are included.
In addition, this model features a pellet level window, which is a small cutout on the hopper that allows you to monitor pellet consumption. It’s not all that useful; it only gives you an estimated overview of how many pallets are left inside the hopper, but it is nice to have an idea of when your pellets are running down.
The temperature range for the 450B remains the same. The grill can operate anywhere from 180 degrees to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. This means that this grill can work well as a smoker and operate comfortably at temperatures of 200 to 275 degrees. It can also comfortably grill decent-sized cuts of meat at a temperature of 300 to 350 degrees.
Although this grill is rated for a maximum temperature of 450 degrees Fahrenheit, during our tests we discovered that it took some time to reach that temperature. The 450-degree temperature is great for cooking quickly and at a high temperature, but this temperature is not high enough to sear large steaks, such as Tomahawk steaks. However, this temperature range is great for those wanting to grill hot dogs, burgers, chicken, small stakes, and other foods.
A Pellet Cleanout door
This is a feature that numerous Z Grills customers requested. Old grill models did not feature a pellet clean-out door, meaning that if you had pellets left in your hopper or wanted to switch out the pellet flavors, you had to “scoop out” the pellets.
Scooping pellets is not a big deal for some users, but having a pellet clean-out door does add convenience and makes the grill more enjoyable. Especially if you want to change pellet flavors, you are talking a few minutes of scooping pellets versus a few seconds when using the back pellet door on the hopper.
Having owned a few pellet smokers, I can tell you that leaving unused pellets in humid climates like in my home state of Florida is not a good idea. The clean-out door allows you to quickly swap out pellets or empty old pallets for dry storage in a good pellet bin.
Accessories included in the Z Grills 450B
Z Grills is a brand known for its affordability and great bundles. The pellet grill market is very competitive, so it makes sense to include a few accessories with most pellet grill models.
The 450b does include a few accessories in certain bundles. You can get a grill cover, two meat probes, and, depending on the bundle, two bags of pallets.
Notably, when you open the box of your brand-new Z grills 450, you will find a complete set of tools to assemble the grill, as well as a pair of gloves for assembly. Sure, these are not accessories, but it is nice to have the tools to assemble the grill included.
Z Grills 450B Unboxing, Overview & First Impressions
Z Grills Brand Overview
Z Grills is a brand best known for making affordable pellet grills for the masses. However, what a lot of people do know is that Z Grills has been manufacturing grills for over 30 years for other popular brands, including Traeger. That’s right, this company built some of the older Traeger models we are all familiar with.
In 2016, Z Grills decided to make their own grills and start selling them under their own brand and logo, keeping their promise to make affordable pellet grills with good build quality and good features to cook good barbecue. We will talk more about the two brands in an in-depth article comparing both Z Grills and Treager grills.
Is it a smoker or a grill?
Pellet grills are frequently referred to as pellet smokers because they can operate at low and slow smoking temperatures, and because they burn wood pellets, they produce an authentic wood-smoked barbecue flavor. So, in short, this grill can also work as a smoker and as a grill at temperatures of up to 450 degrees.
The 450B’s construction quality is comparable to that of the majority of market-leading pellet grills. Z Grills uses powder-coated heavy-duty steel to construct the main cooking chamber’s side walls and most of the grill. There are better-finished and more refined grills, but few of them will be priced in the same range as this grill. If properly maintained, this grill should last a long time. There are other brands that use thicker steel, stainless steel, and strong hinges, but those grills tend to be more expensive.
Packaging and assembly
Inside the thick cardboard box, a shield made of Styrofoam was made to fit the Z Grill 450B and protect the main cooking chamber. Several of the pieces were wrapped individually in plastic to prevent scratching and damage. There are tools available for assembling it. The instructions are clear and no parts were missing or mislabeled. This grill was simple to put together, and assembly took around an hour.
Unboxing and setup
The 450B was predominantly packaged as a single unit. The hopper, auger, and fire pot are all in one piece and come assembled from the factory. All that remains is to connect the legs to the main chamber and the controller unit to the grill. You will also need to make sure you connect the internal cooking chamber temperature sensors to the PID controller. Many people forget to do this and end up calling support because their brand new grill is displaying errors.
Some screws were in tight spaces and were difficult to get to. Overall, assembly was very easy, and after about an hour, I was ready for the burn off.
Each Z Grill is backed by a 3-year warranty, which is fairly standard in the pellet grill market.
In-depth review of the Z Grills 450B
After assembling the Z Grills 450B, we conducted the recommended burn off, which consists of running the grill at varying temperatures and stages without any food inside. Burning of any manufacturing contaminants, plastics, oils, you get the idea. The burn off is how you clean your grill using heat before it is first used to cook food.
So we wanted to see how the Z Grills 450B performed cooking at high temperatures. We know it is easy for a pellet grill to cook low and slow, but we wanted to see how capable this grill was of heating up the cooking chamber to 450°.
So we grabbed some pork belly, some chorizo, and small pieces of steak for our first grilling test. We found that the grill was able to reach 450 degrees without a problem and stay there while producing enough heat to slightly sear thin fat caps, and yes, it did produce amazing flavor.
However, when we slowed down the grill to 350 degrees and then wanted more heat to sear crisp the outside of the meat, it did take a little bit of time for the grill to get back up to 450 degrees. So the point here is that although the grill is capable of reaching 450°, it does take time and work for the grill to get there.
Also, when you open the lid, the grill does lose some heat and it does take a few minutes for the grill to get back to temperature. We experienced this more while cooking at high temperatures but not as much when cooking low and slow in our test below.
Low and slow smoking
We also wanted to do a test cooking low and slow, meaning smoking meat. For this test, we picked a rack of ribs and did the 321 method, which is a lengthy and long technique for smoking ribs, achieving amazing texture and flavor.
For this test, we set the grill at 250 degrees, and it stayed there throughout the cook. The total time of the cook was about 6 hours, during which we saw very little temperature fluctuations, and it was amazing to see how well the grill did at cooking low and slow.
The grill maintained the set temperature; there were no mishaps; the pellet hopper held sufficient pellets for the entire cook; and the test was a success overall.
We also notice that when 450B is cooking at a low temperature, the fan goes to a lower speed, which is good because it is amazingly quiet and the grill also consumes fewer wood pallets.
I have tested many pellet grills and smokers, including Traegers and Camp Chef, and one feature that I miss and wish I had in the 450B but I do have in those for the grills is a Smoke Mode, or a way of controlling the amount of smoke the grill produces when cooking.
The amount of smoke you get in the 450B is pretty much determined by the programming of the PID controller, and there’s very little you can do about it. I like having control. Maybe it’s just me, maybe I’m just a controlling person, but I like having the feature. And I must remind you again, this is an economical grill, and it did very well at keeping the temperature steady, and yes, the ribs came out amazing.
To Z Grills 450B it’s a small grill great for small families or for those wanting a grill big enough to cook real meals, but small and light enough to take on the back of your pickup truck to the beach or camping site.
This grill features 459 square inches of cooking space split between the main cooking grate and a smaller top warming rack. Capacity is good enough to throw a couple racks of ribs with some veggies, bread, and a little cup of smoked mac and cheese on the grill.
Don’t expect 459 square inches of space to be enough to feed a large group. If you are a person who enjoys entertaining, I would recommend a pellet grill in the range of about 700 square inches.
However, if you’re looking for a small grill because you don’t have a lot of space on your patio and are looking for something affordable but that can cook and not consume a lot of pellets because its cooking chamber is small, the Z Grills 450b checks all those boxes.
What we liked:
- Quiet and great performance when cooking low and slow. The fan speeds up when the cooking temperature is set above 275 degrees.
- It’s easy to assemble and put together, although you might need some help moving the shipping box around.
- Easy and simple to use. ( very easy )
- The grease bucket is easy to empty out.
- The large wheels help move the grill around with ease.
- The caster wheels lock the grill in place nice and tight.
- Small footprint, easy to store in a small garage space or corner.
What we didn’t like:
- The grill lid gets very hot when cooking at high temperatures. But well, it is a grill.
- No WIFI
Two things can be found in your car besides your 450 B. No meat probe for sale. You could also get one. They are essential in smokers, as they tell you the exact temperature of your meat, which will help you reduce the chances of undercooking or overcrowding your meat without opening the lid. Z Grills has six pieces available for the price of 450 B. Please read our guide to wireless meat thermometers for further information. The only optional extra you can get is a thermal cover. 420B
Specs for the Z Grills 450B Wood Pellet Smoker
|Dimensions in inches:||43 Long × 24 Wide × 47 Height|
|Pellet Hopper capacity:||15 pounds|
|Cook Area Main Rack:||331 square inches|
|Cooking Area Warming Rack:||128 square inches|
|Shipping Weight:||95 pounds|
The grill cooking grates are porcelain coated steel, which makes for a great nonstick cooking surface, but if the grates are dropped or the wrong cleaning tools are used, the coating can be damaged or chipped.
Testing and benchmarks
While testing the Z grills 450 B we used a few testing benchmarks but overall we took into account how long it took for the grill to reach certain and most commonly used temperatures those are 250 degrees 275 degrees and 350 degrees. We also looked at how well the grillat maintained the set temperature and we also watched for any fluctuations during the cook.
Temperature variances and accuracy
The temperature sensor in the 450B is mounted inside the cooking chamber on the left side wall. The grill did a great job at reading out the accurate temperature and when comparing temperatures between the LCD temperature display and my heat gun temperature readouts, never exceeded a 5 degree difference. Overall, the temperature readings in this unit were very accurate. The center of the grill does get hotter faster than the sides of the grill, and that is because the fire-pot, although covered with a heat buffer and above it is the grease pan, is located directly in the center of this grill.
Time notes: getting to testing temperatures
We mainly used three temperature settings during our tests: 250, 275, and 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
How does the Z Grills 450B compare to the competition?
The 450B is an entry-level, economical small pellet grill, and comparable brands are Traeger, Camp Chef, and Pit Boss. Comparing any Z Grills to Traggers is a bit difficult since Traeger’s line up starts a step above the 450B with the Pro Series which is a larger, more expensive grill.
Then there is Camp Chef, which in comparison sits closer to Z Grills in terms of grill sizes, pricing, and quality, but is still priced higher than most Z Grills. Then we have Pit Boss. Pit Boss is the closest brand to Z Grill in terms of price and offers similar size and price models.
So how do these three popular brands compare? Well, Traeger leaves Z Grill in the dust when it comes to technology. Not necessarily quality, but technology. Arguably, there isn’t another brand putting out the tech that Traeger is. Pit Boss is comparable in terms of pricing, but Z Grills is giving you more for less.
Lastly, Camp Chef. Camp Chef quality is comparable to Z Grills, but they give you good tech for your money but not necessarily better quality. Camp Check is a good middle ground between Z Grills and Pit Boss, but a step below Traeger.
We enjoyed testing and cooking in the 450B to write this review. This grill is a great pellet grill and a good fit for those looking for something economical that won’t break the bank but will allow you to enjoy good wood-fired flavor.
This grill is great for grilling burgers, hot dogs, chicken, and smaller cuts of meat. This grill excelled in its capacity to smoke low and slow. We definitely recommend this grill and our overall score for this grill is an 8 out of 10.
Build quality and smart or advanced features like Wi-Fi are areas where this grill lacks compared to others. But what we will appreciate the most is its simplicity, which we believe will attract many buyers to this model.