If you are on the look for a pellet smoker, you have very likely stumbled upon a Z Grills or a Traeger grill. How to choose which is best for you?
No need to look further. We’re here to tell you all about the Z Grills vs Traeger debate. We did the research so you can easily find out which one is best for your use.
In today’s market, you’ll find many brands selling grills and smokers. Don’t let the price ranges, accessories, features, or even marketing jargon confuse you. There’s isn’t always a ‘best in the business’ because different types cater to users’ unique needs.
What is important is that you understand the pros and cons of each grill brand and model. Based on this information and while taking into account your personal preferences, you can identify the best grill for your next outside gathering. That’s how you’ll know you get the best value for money, no matter the price tag on the one you pick.
For the inside story on both the Z Grills and Traeger brands, you’ll find all you need below.
Table of Contents
- 1 At a Glance: Z Grills vs Traeger Main Differences
- 2 What is Z Grills?
- 3 What is Traeger?
- 4 How do Z Grills Compare to Traeger? The Differences
- 5 Z Grills vs Traeger Grills Similarities
- 6 Z Grills—Why Should You Pick it?
- 7 Traeger Grills —Why do People Love it?
- 8 Which Grill Will Work for You?
- 9 Final Thoughts on These Two Wood Pellet Grill Brands
At a Glance: Z Grills vs Traeger Main Differences
|Material||Stainless Steel or |
Powder Coated Steel,
depending on the model
|Powder Coated Steel|
|Warranty||3 years||3 years|
|Grills||Ceramic coated||Porcelain coated|
|Where to Buy on Line||Z Grills Website||Traeger Website|
What is Z Grills?
Z Grills can be seen as a newcomer to the industry in terms of selling their own products. However, there’s no reason to underestimate them because they’ve actually been producing grills for other market-leading brands for a long time—30 years. And yes, there’s a possibility they even once manufactured Traeger grills
This changed in 2017 when they decided to launch their own product line. They made this dream a reality thanks to a crowdfunding project. So, even though it seemed as if they came out of nowhere, they had industry experience. They were focused on providing an affordable pellet grill option. This resulted in impressively fast growth in sales numbers and popularity.
Part of the Z Grills marketing message is that the grills allow you eight different cooking options. That’s two more options than the Traeger’s since you can also sear and char-grill. But, just because it can perform the task doesn’t mean you’ll get the best sear or grill in the business.
With Z Grills you can pick from their different ranges which include:
The larger Z Grills give you a cooking surface of up to 1060 square inches and they can usually reach 450°F.
For any Z Grills model you purchase, the setup process plays an important role in the outcome of your dishes. Watch this video to grasp the interesting startup and burn-in process.
Where are Z Grills Manufactured?
Today you’ll find your Z Grills wood pellet grill manufactured in the US. The headquarters is in Ontario while Salt Lake City hosts the brand’s telesales center. There’s also a warehouse in Los Angeles.
What is Traeger?
When you’re working with a Traeger grill you’re benefiting from over 30 years of experience, since the Traeger was developed in 1985 and patented the next year. The motivation behind the design was to have a better option than the grill the Traeger family owned which, while cooking a chicken, burst into flames. Starting to sell them in 1988, they were very popular.
Traeger was a family business started by Joe Traeger, which he sold in 2006 for over $12 million. It continued as a popular brand, with over two million grills being sold over the course of five years.
Although the brand was active in Oregon in the past and even outsourced certain tasks to China, its headquarters today is in Salt Lake City.
Joe’s design was a market leader thanks to the LMH controller in the wood pellet smoker which made it effortless to grill. You simply picked a setting for a certain duty cycle: low, medium, or high heat.
Today you’ll find the LMH controller concept in many pellet grills because Traeger’s patent has expired but of course, the brand never stopped innovating. You’ll benefit from even more high-tech features that simplify grilling and smoking, such as the digital method of monitoring the temperature and the Traeger app that you’ll find on all new models. Via a Wi-Fi connection, you can manage the grilling process by using your mobile phone and the Traeger app.
Is a Traeger Good for Grilling and Smoking?
You’ll see Traeger pellet smokers advertised as being excellent for six different types of cooking:
However, experts will tell you that it’s not perfect for grilling. This is because of the design that provides indirect heat. In contrast, grilling is best done on an open flame, providing direct, extreme heat. So, if grilling is your main cooking preference, know that it may be a lot different than other grills you’ve tried out and you may have to compromise on your expectations.
One of the selling points of Traeger models is their versatility. If you get creative you can do almost any type of cooking with wood pellet heat. In the video below you’ll find proof that even a dish like a soup or a dessert can become a reality on your Traeger.
How do Z Grills Compare to Traeger? The Differences
Z Grills models aren’t as technologically advanced as Traeger’s. While you can use an app and Wi-Fi connection to manage your cooking process with most of Traeger’s new products, this isn’t an option with Z Grills.
The design of the grills also differ. Many of the Traeger models—though not all—have double-wall construction. This determines the level of heat retention your grill will have. With Z Grills this is not a feature, so you can’t expect exactly the same performance. However, you don’t often find a Z Grills customer complaining about Z Grills temperature problems.
Also, consider how you prefer to cook before you decide which one to buy. On most Traeger grills you’ll have one main grill to use but on Z Grills you can have a grill as well as a rack for warming. Depending on your cooking habits you’ll find one or the other more appropriate for your workflow.
Traeger does impress with many of its extra features. Apart from the Traeger app you’ll also have a built-in meat probe in many of the models. This means you have no additional expense to buy one and it’s effortless to know exactly what’s going on inside your pound of steak.
A major difference is in the price of course. You can pick up a Z Grills for almost half the price of a Traeger. You’re sacrificing features such as using an app to monitor the cooking process and with some models, you have to pick between a single or double-wall design. Still, both are good value for money in the end.
When you’re ready to buy, remember that while you can easily order a Z Grills, often from popular online stores, you may have to find a dealer in your area first if you settle on getting a Traeger.
Z Grills vs Traeger Grills Similarities
In their basic functioning, Z Grills and Traeger models work the same. You load wood pellets into a hopper and the grill itself will move them into the main section to burn. It will feed the pellets according to the heat settings you pick.
What you’ll love about the Traeger is the fan that circulates the air, resulting in optimum wood smoke flavor and temperature consistency. This also means much less effort, because you don’t have to turn the meat as often as you’re used to.
You’ll find some models that have very similar sized grills. If you decide how much cooking space you need for your usual smoking sessions, you’ll find models from both brands to suit your needs. However, Traeger does have the biggest models.
With Traeger and Z Grills wood pellet grills, many of the quality features are the same as well, so no matter which brand you pick, you know you’re getting a durable grill. This is thanks to powder-coated steel used in many models. The shapes and designs are also similar, so you’ll find options from both that will work for your available space.
Do yourself a favor and research the details of these elite grills, for example, the wheels. You’ll find two- and four-wheel options from both, so make sure you pick one that will allow the most maneuverability for your specific setup at home.
There are even elite models with all-terrain wheels. So, if you know you need to move your grill over rough terrain sometimes, or there may be some mud in the garden after a rainfall, it’s wise to look for the all-terrain wheels.
Z Grills—Why Should You Pick it?
On this page, you’ll read a lot about Traeger’s state of the art features, but that doesn’t mean it’s the ideal option for you. Z Grills does manufacture excellent wood pellet grill smokers, and because they come at lower prices, they make it easier for the average consumer to test out new grilling methods.
A Z Grills pellet smoker can also be your ideal buy if you’re not sure if you’ll use your grill a lot. If you’re new to this cooking method it makes sense to start out with a more affordable option. If you do fall in love with grilling this way, you can start looking at more gadgets or a higher priced model from Traeger if you want the luxury of managing it via an app.
You may also appreciate the Z Grills models because of the combustion process. There will be very little waste, which means it’s more sustainable and less cleaning for you.
Traeger Grills —Why do People Love it?
Traeger is the ultimate choice if you’re all about luxury cooking. You can sit and enjoy your family’s company while monitoring your grilling or smoking via an app. No more getting up to work in the heat. With the Traeger doing all the work, such as allowing the right amount of pellets into the smoker, you can simply look forward to enjoying the food when it’s done.
Which Grill Will Work for You?
Who will Enjoy the ZPG Models from Z Grills?
One of the first selling points of the Z Grills is the price. If you’re shopping on a budget and you’re not too fussy when it comes to double-wall designs, a Z Grills pellet grill will be more than sufficient for your taste. You still get the benefit of your grill’s temperature being digitally controlled, but you don’t have to pay a large price tag.
Also, perhaps you prefer your cooking process to be more hands-on, in which case monitoring via an app may be an unnecessary feature? Try a Z Grills and you’ll have what you need.
Control & Temperature Considerations—Who Should Buy a Traeger Grill?
There’s a reason why Traeger is a market leader in pellet grills. They produce quality products with exceptional tech features. If you want the ultimate in luxurious living, purchase a Traeger grill that allows you to do so much more at a touch of a button, without even getting up from your chair. Existing customers really do enjoy how easy it is to feel like a pro chef and how effortless the app makes it to set up your cooking process.
Traeger is also for those who enjoy always being in control. A Traeger can have a pellet sensor. This will alert you when the level of pellets drops too low, so you know it’s time to buy or refill. These notifications can help prevent cooking disasters—you know you don’t want to run out of pellets while smoking a piece of meat.
Another attraction is for those who are all about experimenting with flavor. Traeger sells its own wood pellets and you can purchase different flavors. Then use features such as Super Smoke Mode—available via the app—to optimize the taste of your food.
You’ll also appreciate the larger models if you need to cook for a large group of people since Traeger can give up to 1300 square inches of grilling surface compared to only about 1000 square inches from ZPG models. Just know that Z Grills is known to reach higher temperature ranges than Traeger.
What is the Best Traeger Grill for the Money?
Similar to when you compare different grill brands, finding the perfect Traeger grill is a very personal decision.
Firstly, the brand has different series of grills, namely:
- The Pro Series: This caters excellently to wood-fired flavored dishes.
- Ironwood Series: The advanced cooks who enjoy experimenting may prefer these with more features, such as a Super Smoke Mode.
- Timberline Series: Here you’ll have three different tiers so you can make many pounds of food in one go.
In all the models you’ll find quality components and you can use the Traeger app to monitor your grilling process, so you get all the benefits technology and grills can offer you.
For clarity, you can look at the numbers next to a grill’s name to gauge the size of the grill you’ll get. The number represents the surface’s size measured in square inches.
Apart from the grills’ features, you should also consider your own needs. For example, if you usually only cater for a small family, there’s no reason to purchase a large Traeger model.
In general, many people prefer the Pro 575 model. Although it’s a smaller unit, it’s ideal for family use and it’s been upgraded since a few years back, so now it gives you all that Traeger is famous for. Just know that you’ll settle for single walls, which means it doesn’t retain heat as well.
Another consideration is the Timberline 1300 which comes at a higher price but the large capacity, double-wall construction, and some nifty extras such as a work shelf. For the serious cooks, this is worth the money.
Final Thoughts on These Two Wood Pellet Grill Brands
Now you need to make a list of your preferences when cooking, the area where you’ll use your new grill, and also what your budget can afford. This you can compare to our facts about these two models.
With both brands, we compared you’ll get excellent results in terms of food and that’s the most important, right? Thanks to wood pellets automatically fed into your smoker, cooking is effortless and with the consistent temperature, your meat will be cooked to perfection.
You simply need to decide how much luxury and technology you want as part of the process, which is where Traeger is a winner. But for a more affordable option, one can see why Z Grills quickly made its mark on today’s wood pellet grill market.