Z Grills ZPG-450B Review — Hands-on Experience & Takeaways

By Luna Regina | Updated
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When it comes to pellet grills, Z Grills ranks among the few household names that you can always rely on. Many of its products are on the bestseller list, including the Z Grills ZPG-450B. This model makes a solid starting point for new grillers to gain hands-on experience while learning the ropes of BBQ. And who knows, it might be what you need for those upcoming cookouts.

Z Grills ZPG-450B Review: Impression of the Features

Z Grills ZPG-450B Review

In an attempt to keep things straight to the point, here are our takeaways on the most notable features. For good measure, we’ll also address some concerns about pellet grills to the best of our knowledge.

Z Grills ZPG-450B ReviewZ Grills ZPG-450B Review
  • Good price for value

  • Ample cooking area

  • Decent heating prowess

  • Sturdily built

  • Easy to push around

  • Free tool kits, gloves, > rain cover

  • Free pellet bag

  • Time-consuming assembly

  • No mobile-controllable option

  • Lacks accessory side table

  • Takes hours to cool off

How Many People Can This Grill Serve?

Z Grill ZPG-450B Size

For starters, the cooking chamber equips two cooking grates to maximize its area. The primary cooking surface comes in at 331 square inches, while the secondary/warming rack adds another 128 square inches. And by its look, you can already tell that a big feast is on the way.

Boasting 459 square inches in total, it can fit three whole chickens or 18 beef patties. Even when two rib racks are in place, there’s plenty of room to spare for other side dishes or veggies. Don’t just settle for the all-time classic hotdogs or burgers when there are other options available.

Unless you’re entertaining a large crowd with ten plus attendees, sticking with this model is your safest bet. For a typical family with a friend or two coming over, the 450-B should suffice. It would be a huge waste to purchase anything bigger or more expensive just to keep the party going.

Grilling baby ribs on the ZPG-450B

In an ideal scenario, this grill might accommodate enough food for up to seven people and keep everyone well-fed. You may attempt to stretch that number when the unexpected guests arrive, but there’s only so much that grill can do.

As for the exterior dimensions, the whole assembly measures 43 inches long by 24 inches wide by 47 inches tall. To put things in better perspective, this pellet-fueled cooker is about the height of your chest.

Be that as it may, you still need space to accommodate it. But don’t worry: a medium garden or backyard, preferably with a garage, should do it. This grill doesn’t need much room for movement and storage, and that’s all that matters in the end.

Sturdily Built From Top to Bottom

The upper body and hopper

1. Overall Body

In terms of overall durability, the body and lid are powder-coated steel while both cooking grates are porcelain-coated steel. Although stainless steel would make a better material choice, this is as good as it gets, given the price.

For the time being, the weatherproofing properties should hold up well against extreme heat and moisture. It would take years before the protective coating starts to flake or chip off.

2. Hopper

Inside the hopper

Once filled to the brim, the hopper can pack up to 15 pounds of pellets, which seems plenty at first. But that supply may last for just a few hours on a  non-stop cooking session when on high settings.

Struggling With the Components

Opening the package

Upon opening the package, the body and hopper come attached with each other while other components are neatly packed within. Thanks to the styrofoam paddings and bubble wraps, everything stays in place during shipping.

Before assembling the grill

Under normal circumstances, you may have to spend as much as two hours putting the parts together by yourself. Although the grill itself proves tough to assemble, it would be much quicker if you have someone else to help.

Assembling the lower body

When securing the rear legs, you need another person to position the screws from within the cooking chamber. At the same time, you’ll be securing the legs into their designated spots from the outside.

Turning the grill upside down

To make things easier for both of you, lean the grill on its side first. And just to be safe, lay the body on a piece of styrofoam to prevent scratching/scraping the paint job.

In case you have any trouble at all, an instruction manual with diagrams will clear things up. On top of that, Z Grills includes a free toolkit set along with the package to further sweeten the deal.

The installation manual
The assembling tool kit
The assembling tool kit

Manual Control Only

1. PID Controller System

Dialing the temperature

Despite being hailed as the upgraded version of the previous 450A series, there’s hardly any significant modification with this model. Similar to other Z Grills units, the 450B utilizes the PID controller as its operating system. It’s the same mechanism employed by the Z Grills 450 and other pellet grill brands like Traeger and Camp Chef.

The set-and-forget design is a major selling point that distinguishes pellet grills from conventional BBQ grills. It can hold the fire in check so you don’t have to meddle in or rely on guesswork. With an intricate feeding mechanism, pellet grills heat up intensely and precisely the way you intended with pinpoint accuracy.

2. Control Panel

Schematic of the control panel

No doubt that this grill manages to stabilize its temperature, but its physical control panel is rather rudimental. The simple board features an ON/OFF switch, an auger booster, and a temperature dial to fine-tune the flames. There’s also a digital display screen that shows the temperature as well.

While premium pellet grills offer other functions like timer or fuel level alert, this model keeps things straightforward. You can still make all the necessary adjustments, which makes this grill nothing less than a solid choice. And considering the price, it doesn’t get any better than this, so let’s be realistic.

If the preset burn rate isn’t enough to compensate for lost heating, you can take things into your own hands. By boosting the standard auger speed, you can make up for the heating sacrificed when you open the lid. Each turn of the knob equals a 25°F increment.

3. No Remote Control Option

Without a mobile-controlled app, the grill makes it impossible to monitor or adjust the temperature from a distance. It’s not as if there is a remote control or mobile app, which many folks find frustrating sometimes.

Unless you have someone else to step in, there’s no way you can leave the grill alone on its own. So, either prepare things beforehand or don’t stray too far away.

4. Shutdown & Cooling

The shutdown cycle is a sequence where the auger stops but the fan continues spinning for another ten minutes. This process is to finish off the remaining pellets that were already loaded on the auger. Don’t unplug the power cord just yet: the fan will eventually turn off on its own.

Flexible Mobility

All-terrain wheels and casters

The entire assembly rests on two sets of wheels: two frontal all-terrain wheels and two rear swivel casters with locks. These heavy-duty wheels provide swift and fluid maneuverability that lets you steer the grill around the backyard with little effort.

True to their names, the two versatile wheels can traverse across bumpy and rough surfaces. Meanwhile, the agile swivel casters are similar to those of any office chair. You can make the grill turn corners or go sideways as smoothly as you would with a shopping cart.

On the whole, the 75-pound grill is light enough for one person to comfortably shift it to a new spot. That said, you’ll prefer a flat concrete surface to a pebble-strewn lawn, so try not to strain or overexert yourself. And if possible: keep it nearby, ideally somewhere close to a power outlet.

Choosing the Right Temperature

As a rule of thumb, one pound of pellets goes into heating and maintaining the grill at around 170°F. That’s the very sweet spot for slow-roasting and braising thick items to perfection with the optimal level of smoke.

But grillers with a jaded palate are unlikely to stick with that recommended temperature until the end of the cook. More often than not, they will make constant changes along the way.

Before cooking the ribs

1. Preheating 

To kick things off, preheat the grill for ten minutes (the fire hovers around 170°F to 195°F). This warm-up step helps the grill ready itself for the long cook ahead. And among the specialties available for smoking on low heat, hardly anything is more appropriate than baby rib.

2. Grilling and Smoking

As the heat gradually builds up, set the knob to 225°F - 250°F to start barbecuing. And depending on what you’re cooking, the whole process could take up to a few hours or an entire evening. But for this entry, it took about six to seven hours to barbecue those rib racks to perfection.

3. Searing

And to finish things on a high note, a quick searing session never hurts anyone. Tune the heat all the way up to 400°F and cook over an open fire for three minutes per side. It’s also the highest temperature the grill can keep its firepower range within control, so let’s not overstep that threshold.

4. Resting and Serving

Resting the ribs before servingResting the ribs before serving

When opening the lid, the ribs come out sizzling hot with golden-browned charred marks instead of bone dry or undercooked. On the inside, you can already spot the signature pinkish smoke rings with juicy and tender meat. Let the food rest for about 10 minutes before serving.

The Little Conveniences That Count

The wood pellet bag

The hopper makes some slight tweaks in the form of a see-through window and quick-drain chute. Though these small improvements let grillers keep close tabs on the hopper, they aren’t major or groundbreaking innovations. A notification feature when the pellets run low would be preferable.

Heat-resistant gloves

Other than the grill, you can also find a pair of gloves and rain cover as part of the package. Granted that these accessories don’t affect or improve food quality, it’s nice to have them at your disposal nonetheless.

The only thing missing is another side table to set up condiments/dressings, which would have completed the entire assembly.

Warranty & Customer Support

With lots of moving parts and electronics involved, it’s only a matter of time before daily wear-and-tear takes its toll. Whether you like it or not, something is bound to break or malfunction at a certain point down the road.

When that happens, there has to be some sort of protection coverage waiting to kick in. To vouch for its quality and craftsmanship, Z Grills stands firmly behind every model with a three-year limited warranty policy.

The warranty policy

Anything from missing parts to faulty software, don’t hesitate to call or mail in for after-sales assistance. You’re also entitled to a hassle-free full refund within 30 days of purchase upon receiving defective units/delivery damages. Just have your receipt with contact info/shipping address ready.

However, all shipping and restocking fees are non-refundable and at your own expense. Furthermore, Z Grills is exempt from all rusting/oxidation damages caused by extreme heat and external factors.

Troubleshooting

On several occasions, you may see critical error messages on the grill’s display while cooking. It’s most likely because of a problem that needs to be resolved before you can continue.

Issue CodeDescriptionPossible Cause(s)Solution
LErTemperature drops below 120°F for 20 minutes straight (and counting)Hopper low on fuelClogged firepot1. Dial to Shutdown
2. Turn off
3. Fill the hopper with pellets
4. Restart
HErTemperature exceeds 550°FFirepot overfed with pellets1. Dial to Shutdown
2. Let the grill burn off the pellets in the auger
3. Turn off
4. Clean the firepot
5. Restart
Er 1 (Temperature Sensor Failure)The grill can’t receive and read temperaturesLoose/disconnected thermal probesSecure the probe sensor cable back into the control board.
Er 2 (Incorrect Startup Setting)The grill fails to startImproper startupCold weatherLoose power connection1. Try a different outlet
2. Dial to Smoke
3A. Switch on the grill
3B. If the problem persists, switch off the grill. Repeat the steps.

Things to Remember

Here are the key pointers to bear in mind when cooking on this pellet grill.

1. Deodorize the Grill Before the First Cook

Don’t attempt to grill anything before you’ve deodorized the grill before its first cook. Dial the temperature knob to HIGH (400°F) for 45 minutes, and let the grill rid itself of any unpleasant odor. To an extent, you can think of it as an initiation ritual. Allow the grill to cool off, then you can start barbecuing.

You may also notice a considerable amount of white/gray smoke coming from the grill on its maiden cook. According to the manual, this is normal when starting the grill for the first time. From our experience, the smoke should disperse after forty five minutes to an hour, so don’t worry about it.

2. Refrain From Opening the Lid

It’s perfectly fine to check up on the food every now and then. But little do you know that each time you open the lid, you can compromise the internal heating.

And we haven’t mentioned general heat loss to the surrounding environment. Other external elements like wind and snow can also affect your cooking.

To save time, try to keep the lid closed. You may examine the cooking chamber once or twice every hour in quick glances but no more than that.

3. Deal With the Smoke

If smoke rises from the hopper, that’s because the firepot has either exceeded its capacity or clogged itself with ash. The fire isn’t strong enough to consume the pellets, creating a backlog filled with pulverized wood dust. But the solution is simple to follow:

  • Open the lid and hopper 
  • Dial to SMOKE for ten minutes. If the smoke clears up, resume cooking as usual. Otherwise, dial to SHUTDOWN
  • Clear out the pellets within the hopper
  • Dial to HIGH to burn off the pellets already loaded on the auger
  • Shut down the grill. Let cool off. Vacuum the firepot. Resume cooking as normal.

4. Mind the Burn Rate

While smoking briskets on low heat overnight, it takes just a few hours to drain the entire stock in one go. So when you tune the heat up to 350°F for searing steaks, the sizzling burn rate accelerates accordingly.

Therefore, storing a spare pellet bag close by seems like a smart decision. And it also goes without saying: never add pellets directly into the burning firepot.

5. Experiment With the Pellets

Each type of pellet (pecan, hickory, mesquite, apple, oak, etc.) offers a unique taste. By mixing different pellet combinations, you can intensify the flavors until you find the perfect pairing.

If you have no idea which pellet flavor to go with, you can play things safe with a signature blend. They go well with just about anything you cook.

A Reminder on Cleaning

Upon wrapping up and calling it a day, the grill often ends up a greasy mess covered in residue and burnt bits.

It’s best to cover the grease bucket and grease tray with disposable aluminum liners before cooking. These metal sheets won’t spare you from cleaning duties, but at least things will be less time-consuming than you anticipated.

Even after switching off and unplugging the grill, it takes hours for the remaining heat to cool off completely. That’s okay: the grill can wait until the next morning when it will be safer to approach.

But by that point, the grime and gunk on the grates have already dried up or hardened. Therefore, you should soak the grates while they’re still warm, preferably overnight, before scrubbing them later.

What to Do With the Remaining Pellets

The unused pellets may come unraveled or degrade when exposed to moisture. While the hopper can house them just fine, cover the entire grill in the tarp provided just for good measure. 

And instead of scooping old pellets by hand or using a workshop vacuum, why not let the hopper empty itself? 

To keep everything neat, position a bucket or plastic bag beneath the door before unloading the hopper. Once you’ve collected the unused pellets, keeping them dry for the next cook or discarding them is up to you.

Bottom Line

The Z Grills ZPG-450B is neither the biggest nor the fanciest thing that the market has to offer. Nevertheless, this all-encompassing pellet grill can handle just about anything thrown in its way with great results and satisfaction. If it’s your intention to purchase a pellet grill, don’t miss out on this candidate.

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Luna Regina

A writer and entrepreneur, Luna’s day doesn’t start at the computer keyboard, but in the kitchen.

Half of her working hours are spent on mixing ingredients for her recipes. The other half involve working with the tech team to research and test the tools and appliances that promise to make kitchen work effortless and mess-free. From a kitchen knife or water filter to the Instant Pot, if it can help save time and effort for the home cook, Luna and her team are on it.

Luna’s extracurricular pastimes include camping, travel, and photography.