The comparison between Z Grills and Traeger is an interesting one that is a classic story about how all products start out as “Specialty Items” and end up as “Commodities” as global competition increases.
This article is going to walk you through the similarities and differences between these two companies so you can decide which brand of pellet grill is right for you.
The four biggest differences between Z Grills and Traeger pellet grills are:
- Advanced Features
Let’s look at each of these in more detail.
By the way…there are ZERO affiliate links on this page which means I have no financial interest in whether you buy any of these grills. This article is meant to be an informational resource to clear up some confusion in the pellet grill market.
Price Differences Between Z Grills and Trager
Let’s get this one covered right off the bat. Z Grills are priced at a steep discount to Traeger grills.
Both brands have lots of different models at different price points there are two valid comparisons that can be made at both the low and high end of the product lines from both brands.
Traeger Pro 22 vs the Z Grills 550A
The Generation 1 Traeger Pro 22 is the least expensive full size grill offered by Traeger and can be found at Home Depot, Amazon, etc. The Z Grills 550A is, other than styling, just about identical to the Pro 22.
Here is a look at the raw numbers for these grills.
|Model||Lower Grate||Upper Grate||Pellet Hopper||Controller||MSRP|
|Traeger Pro 22||418 sq in||154 sq in||18 lb||Standard Dial||$599|
|Z Grills 550A||424 sq in||161 sq in||16 lb||Standard Dial||$439|
These two grills are nearly identical in size and function but the Z Grills model costs about 35% less than the Traeger.
They have the same control system, grease tray design, capacity, etc. Both are excellent pellet grills that can make amazing barbecue. The only real difference between them is price.
Traeger Pro 780 vs the Z Grills 700D3
Traeger responded to the competition for its from low cost brands like Z Grills and Pit Boss by creating new lines of higher end grills with advanced control systems, WiFi capability and integrated meat probes.
|Model||Upper/Lower Grate||Max Temp||WiFi Enabled||Controller||Meat Probes||MSRP|
|Traeger Pro 780||570/210 sq in||500F||Yes||D2 WiFire||1||$999|
|Z Grills 700D3||504/197 sq in||450F||No||PID||2||$729|
Unlike the comparison for the low end grills, there are meaningful differences on these high end models.
The temperature control systems on both of these grill are excellent and will maintain very precise temperatures but utilize different technology. Traeger utilizes their proprietary D2 Controller which takes advantage of the precision offered by utilizing DC power instead of AC (you can learn more about the D2 system in this post) while Z grills utilizes a PID controller system.
The maximum temperature for the Traeger is 50F hotter than Z Grills but the Z Grills comes with an extra meat probe.
The only performance based difference that really matters between these grills is hat the Traeger is WiFi enabled. You can connect the Traeger to your phone and utilize the Traeger app to do all sorts of cool things. You can use your phone to change the temperature or even program the grill to go into a “Warming Mode” once the meat probe indicates the meat you are cooking has reached the desired internal temperature.
The WiFi connectivity on the Traeger is highly functional and pretty neat.
Of course, if you are just looking for basic performance and do not care about hooking up your phone to your grill then you can buy the Z Grills for about 35% less than the Traeger.
The History of Traeger and Z Grills
Traeger essentially invented the concept of pellet grills and held the patent that gave them exclusive rights for their manufacture for about 20 years.
Once the Traeger patent expired in 2006 other brands started competing in the pellet grill market which drove massive improvements in reliability while simultaneously lowering costs. One way that costs were lowered was by outsourcing the manufacturing of the grills to factories in China.
In 2018 the inevitable happened when the Chinese factory that was making Traeger pellet grills decided that they would skip the middle man and start selling directly to consumers at drastically reduced, factory direct pricing.
The Chinese company in discussion is Z Grills.
Below is a screenshot I captured from the Z Grills website in 2018. The information has since been removed, I suspect after they got a letter from the Legal Department at one of these brands.
Advanced Control Features
The biggest difference between Traeger and Z Grills is that Traeger’s higher end grills have WiFi connectivity while Z Grills do not.
Keep your eyes peeled though as I suspect that is just about to change!
It turns out that Z Grills does offer a WiFi enabled grill and it looks beautiful.
The WiFi enabled Z Grills is the ZPGD-11002B and it is only available at Rural King stores. This grill actually looks like an improved version of the Traeger Ironwood series and is priced at less than $600!
The branding between these two companies is extremely different.
Z Grills is clearly a manufacturer that is still trying to learn the lingo of the American barbecue market. Their branding message is that they have high quality grills at aggressively affordable prices.
Traeger is building a rabid base of fans who are part of #TraegerNation by providing wonderful barbecue recipes and resources from folks like Matt Pittman and Daniele Bennett.
Check out the videos on Traeger Kitchen Live or browse through their Test Kitchen, etc. You will see some incredible stuff and pick up some great barbecue tips and tricks.
Should You Buy a Z Grills or a Traeger?
Both brands make great pellet grills buy I personally believe that Traeger grills are too expensive in comparison to Z Grills or even brands like Camp Chef and GrillaGrills.
The pellet grills sitting on my deck are all Z Grills. For more information you can read the following:
- Z Grills 7002B Review
- Z Grills 10002E Review
- Z Grills 600D3E Review
- Three Year Reflections of Owning Z Grills Pellet Grills
That being said, if you love the idea of WiFi connectivity and want to be a member of #TraegerNation then go ahead and buy a Treager. You will pay a little more than needed but you will join a large and growing community of barbecue fanatics!