Welcome, you are in the right place. You are in the market for a new grill and are comparing Z grills vs Traeger. In this article, we take a deep dive into these two excellent pellet grill companies and compare the two.
We will cover the differences between Z Grills and Traeger grills, how they compare, where they differ, their top-selling models and series, and which one wins.
Z Grills Overview
In spite of the fact that Z Grills is a relatively new company when it comes to selling directly to customers, but they have been making pellet grills for 30 years. I know, how come? Well, a lot of the grills you’ve come to know and love are or were made by this manufacturer.
The plan was simple; introduce a solid, budget-friendly pellet grill and compete with well-seasoned pellet grills brands in the market. After a successful crowdfunding campaign, Z Grills launched in 2016.
Even with its short history, the brand has grown quickly, becoming a well-known household name in the BBQ world. Many pellet grill brands are offering good pellet smokers, but few come close to the price range offered by Z Grills.
Related: Z Grills VS Pit Boss
Z Grills – Why Should you Consider a Z Grills pellet grill
Well, the first thing you will hear in the Interweb is that Z Grills are not made in the US, but very few pellet grills are. Traeger’s pellet grills, for example, used to be made in the US, but as the company expanded and grew, they too moved their manufacturing overseas.
Both companies offer excellent grills and quality, but we will get to the main differences later in the article.
Z Grills manufactures good wood pellet grills at an affordable price range meeting the budgets of a larger consumer base. Specialty for those learning grilling techniques is great to start with something inexpensive.
With Z grills, you get a good product and solid grills without the bells and whistles found in other brands, which drive the costs up and many don’t even need. So if you are looking for a good wood pellet grill at a reasonable price without all the expensive glare, in other words, you just want a grill, consider Z Grills.
Traeger pellet grills are the original pellet grills. Yes, that’s right. Traeger was the first pellet grill in the market.
Traeger grills launched in the 1980s, and Traeger quickly patented the pellet grill technology. Traeger is recognized throughout the industry for its advanced technology, PID controls, and quality. It is known as the ORIGINAL wood pellet smoker.
Traeger’s patent expired in 2006, opening the door to other grill manufacturers to launch their own wood pellet grills. Not many people know that Joe Traeger started his company selling pellet stoves before Trager Grills was born.
Where Traeger shines is its quality and advanced features. The company’s headquarters are now in Salt Lake City.
Related: PitBoss VS Traeger
Why ( or when ) Should you consider Traeger pellet grills
Well, let’s go straight to the point, quality and features come at a cost, but if you want the latest tech, advanced PID controllers, quality, and features, Traeger will deliver but at a price.
If budget is no issue and you want a good pellet grill from a company that has been around for over 30 years, the Traeger grills will deliver.
A Traeger pellet smoker sets the standard for quality, fit and finish. You get elegance while plus the best performance, technology, and temperature control.
Traeger customers love their grills, and besides the high price of admission, there is very little wrong that can be said about Traeger grills.
Traeger does offer three different series at a wide range of prices, including the Pro series, the Ironwood series, and the Timberline series being their top of the line.
Now, Let’s Get Busy Z Grills VS Traeger Pellet Grill Comparisons
Now that you know a little bit about each company and what type of product they build, let’s compare the two.
Now, comparing these two grill companies is a bit difficult because these companies target different goals. Z Grills want to offer the best pellet grill possible at the most affordable price. In contrast, Traeger aims for raw performance, features, and quality, and price, well, not so much. We will go over the main differences and help you decide which is for you.
Some people have the means to buy a Traeger but wonder if they should spend the money on a Traeger. Others wonder if it is worth pushing out the extra cash to get one. Knowing the differences between these brands will help you make an informed decision regardless of your situation. So here it is folks, Trager vs Z Grills. Roll the tape!
Z Grills vs Traeger Grills Similarities
Well, let’s start with the obvious; both brands focus on pellet grills, and both wood pellet grill brands offer a wide range of models, from portable smokers and portable pellet grills to giant grill models. Both companies have focused heavily on introducing new wood pellet grill technology like WIFI and mobile apps.
Their shapes and cooking chamber are similar, and both brands offer models in all square inches ranges. With both Traeger and Z Grills, you get convenient features like ample cooking space, automation, and digital temperature controllers with at least one meat probe.
Z Grills vs Traeger Grills – Where the Similarities End
Price – Z Grills wins
Let’s start right off the bat and address the elephant in the room, price. There is no if’s, butts, or what; Z Grills are less expensive than Traegers. Now hold your wood pellets and don’t throw them to the screen yet.
The fact that one brand is cheaper than another or vice-versa doesn’t make them better or worst than the other. Z Grills is in a favorable position and can afford to sell their grills for less. First, Z Grills started as a grill manufacturing company, meaning they had a lot of knowledge and equipment to build their grills themselves, eliminating the middle man and reducing costs.
Second, Z Grills, is mainly an e-commerce brand needing fewer resources to run the company.
Lastly, Z Grills can offer grills at very competitive prices by using less expensive components and building simpler grills but good construction.
Z Grill’s core values include delivering affordable and premium pellet grills. Traeger offers an amazing variety of grills and is the most popular manufacturer with records sales each year. At their price range, they offer the best quality and features and are arguably well priced for what you get.
Temperature Control – Traeger wins
Here is one area where Traeger dominates and outperforms even some of the best hand-made USA-born grills. The reason is Traeger’s D2 digital controller, which is smart enough to control a variable speed fan, igniter, and auger accordingly when it senses temperature drops or events such as opening and closing the lid door.
Sure, pellet grills made of full 304 stainless still might do better at heat retention, but double-wall steel with an intelligent brain can outperform it and be more efficient at grilling and smoking while burning less wood pellets.
For instance, the Traeger Timberline series grill features double insulation throughout the cooking chamber, making a solid pellet grill. The are other grills in this price range that are exceptionally well built. However, they still rely on older technology and cyclic auger system to control pellet feeding and temperature.
Z Grills temperature controllers or PIDs are simpler and offer simple functionality, check the temperature, feed wood pellets, rinse and repeat.
While Z Grills and Traeger provide suitable temperature controllers, Traeger controllers are incredibly good and precise. Using digital technology and sensors gives you a much more accurate temperature.
Warranty – Equal – well, sort of.
Both companies offer a three-year warranty to the original owner. Traeger doesn’t point out limitations in the warranty towards corrosion and paint failure, but Z Grills website mentions explicitly that their warranty does not cover paint defects and corrosion, So if you run the grill too hot and the paint chips off,,, tough luck.
Cooking surface area – a dead heat.
Both companies offer grills in a variety of sizes, from portable pellet grills to massive 1k plus square inches grills.
Both companies offer grills comparable to two, three, and four-burner gas grills. Their larger grills feature warming racks and plenty of space to smoke turkeys and big pork shoulders.
Temperature Range- slight edge Traeger
Both Z Grills and Trager put out good heat for cooking, baking, and grilling. Most pellet grills do not get above 500 degrees in part because their fire pot is covered with a heat shield. A charcoal grill can easily get above 500 degrees, but most Traeger pellet grills and Z Grills will struggle to match the heat output of, say, a kamado grill.
There are grills from brands like Camp Chef and Pit Boss that feature slidable firepot heat shields allowing the direct flame to reach the grilling surface for searing and grilling, reaching higher temperatures.
Most Traeger grills can sustain high temperatures with little effort, and the top Z grills models can too. However, due to Traeger’s high-quality cooking chamber insulation and constriction plus precise temperature control, I give the edge here to Traeger.
It is not just about temperature range is also how safely and efficiently the grill can sustain and retain heat.
Hopper capacity Potato Potato
The pellets are stored in the Pellet Hopper so that gravity pushes them towards a rotating auger and towards the fire cup, where they are ignited. The size of the hopper will not make a difference in cooking, temperature control, or anything that can make a grill better or worst. The sole purpose of the pellet hopper is to hold pellets.
Now, suppose you are planning on cooking for long periods. In that case, a larger hopper might be beneficial because you are less likely to need to refill the hopper during the cook. If you are smoking meats, a 20-pound hopper can easily handle 16 hours of smoking.
Pellet grills burn about a pound to a pound ad half of pellets per hour. Both Z Grills and Traeger offer grills with good pellet hopper capacity and sizes. Don’t expect big hopper capacity on either brand portable pellet grill models.
Features Apps and WIFI- Definitely Traeger
Ok, this is where the significant differences begin, and the similarities stop. The most significant gap between these companies is their technology offerings like mobile apps, WiFi capabilities, and automation when comparing Z Grills vs Traeger grills.
Traeger has one of the best, most “mature” mobile apps among the top grill brands. I have read grill reviews where customers rave about the grill, oh is 304 stainless still, and the horns are cool but could you fix your app? Hum hum, rec tec 😉
The bottom line is that Traeger is a huge company with the resources to employ a talented ground of developers and engineers, spend millions and research and development, and put out crazy tech. The downside is, this comes at a cost.
However, if you want good tech with your grill, and you should, this automation not only is great but also allows you to enjoy more your time with friends and family.
Z Grills is not there yet when it comes to technology. Some of their older models seemed to be a step behind other pellets grills when it came to technology, but the grills have always been solid.
However, Z Grills’s new models are catching up and are offering WIFI-enabled controllers, mobile apps, and all at, you guessed it, cheaper prices. Sure Z Grills app is not on par with Traeger’s, but you get cooking temperature monitoring and grill’s temperature control right from the app.
Last but certainly not least, Construction and Built Quality – Traeger Wins
Okay, so probably you guessed by now that the Traeger would take this one, but since this is a Z Grills vs Traeger comparison article, this topic has to be discussed. When comparing pellet grills, many talk about metal thickness and useless inches, and 304 stainless steel, pretty welds this and that.
The button line is for most users, non of this BS will matter, but it is a good sales point and a way for grill brands to brag about their grills. Is like talking about horsepower in SUVs; a 1000 horsepower SUV in carpool sure is useless.
No, I am not saying that construction and build quality aren’t important. After all, both elements play a role in the longevity and durability of your grill, but for the average person is not that important. Many spend unnecessary money on a grill because it has two stainless steel layers and shiny screws.
Here are two things to keep in mind regarding build quality and construction. Construction and quality are important, especially if you intend to use your grill often. The temperature range at which pellet grills operate can be hard on parts, and eventually, something can fail. So the better the grill is built, the more likely it will outlive your car.
Second, double-wall cooking area ( main cooking chamber ) construction like Traeger’s is ideal for smoking meats and consuming less wood pellets; why? Because they can retain heat better. Powder-coated steel is very durable and standard in good quality grills. That said, stainless steel material parts and components can be found in both Z Grills and Traeger.
Traeger takes extra care and puts more details into constructing their grills. The fit and finish in a Traeger grill is better, but Z Grills consultation is not far behind. Where the Traeger nails it is with its double-sided wall construction.
Regardless, if you are burning wood pellets, you get wood-fired flavor and a wide temperature range for every cooking method.
Z Grills and Traeger models and Series comparison
Z Grills and Traeger have different grill collections with varying price ranges and features. We will show both brands’ entry models and work our way up to their top offerings. Both companies offer a portable pellet grill model, but their top-selling is their free-standing grills.
Traeger Pro Series | Z Grills 450 / 550 Series
Both of these series are both vendors’ entry-level grills. The Trager includes more features, including WiFi, but Z Grills entry models are about half the cots of Traeger’s Pro models.
Traeger Ironwood Series | Z Grills 600-700 Series
The Traeger Ironwood Series is the mid-entry-level Traeger grill. It offers a bundle of features, including double sidewall construction, top lead heat seal/gasket, and of course, WIFI.
The Z Grills 600 -700 series introduces better temperature control with digital PID controllers. The construction is upgraded using stainless steel components, stainless steel lid, and handles. You also get excellent storage space and meat probes. Still, you miss some of the features found on the Ironwood wood-like Alexa integration and WiFi, but again, you get a good quality grill at half the cost. And yes, for less.
Trager Timberline | Z Grills 1000 Series
These are both Traeger and Z grills top-of-the-line grills, and if additional cooking space is at the top of your priority list, these grills are large. At this level, you get the best both companies have to offer. Z Grills will treat you to stainless steel components, WiFi, and ample storage.
Traeger will give you every gadget you can think of, a large cooking surface area and a FULL double-wall insulated cooking chamber.
A new Z Grills model is available with WiFi in this series, called the Multitasker.
Popular Models from each Brand
Traeger’s Pro 575 is the brand’s most popular grill, and for a good reason. The Pro 575 is Traeger’s least expensive grill, but yet you get their new D2 controller, WiFi, and mobile app controls with Alexa integration. The mobile app lets you set up alerts and send you notifications if the auger jams. Needless to say, you get Traeger’s quality and well-built grill.
Traeger’s D2 controller can control a variable speed fan and auger for more precise control throughout every temperature range.
The Ironwood line includes all the technology found in the PRO models with the addition of double-side walls construction, better complements, construction, and finish. This pellet grill series takes the PRO and boosts it to the next level.
The Z Grills 450B Wood Pellet Grill is Z Grills’ newest version of their top-selling 450A. The most significant change is the PID controller in the 450B is brand new and digital. You also get a see-through window to see the pellets level and a pellet clean outdoor.
The cooking space remains the same.
The Flagship 700D4E is a new grill model for Z Grills. This pellet grill is doing very well because it features high-end stainless steel components, offers ample cooking space, a warming rack, good storage, and a digital PID Controller. This pellet grill is still half the cost of a Traeger grill.
We conducted a comprehensive review of the 700D4E, and the findings were quite good considering its price. Overall, we discovered that this grill performs all of its intended functions well.
Where are Z Grills manufactured, are they made in the USA?
Z Grills are built in China, but they have customer support and other operations here in the US, with their central warehouse in California. There are pellet grills made in the US from brands like Smokin Brothers, Yoder Smokers, and Mak Grills.
Why do people love Traeger Grills?
Traeger offers great well-built grills with great technology and features. It is easy to cook in a Traeger. The company keeps its customers happiest by providing extraordinary support and customer service.
Is Z Grills a good smoker?
Z Grills are great smokers and can operate at low temperatures to smoke meats. Sure some people are die-hard fans of traditional grills and will never abandon a wood smoker. But with Z Grills, you get a lot more than just a smoker for your money.
Z Grills vs Traeger – The Winner
Well, Traeger takes the win but not by much. As learned in this article, Traeger offers superior technology and slightly better construction quality, but it comes at a cost. Z Grills are not far behind, and if you want a good grill, Z Grills will not disappoint.
Z Grills are quickly catching up, and already you buy Z Grills with WIFI and better build quality. Remember that Z Grills is only a few years old company. A Z Grill is budget-friendly and a good all-around grill for most. If budget is not an issue a Traeger grill will not disappoint.
The takeaway here is simple, Traeger makes high-quality grills and is an amazing grill brand but if you are looking for good quality and an affordable pellet grill look at a Z Grill.