Z Grills ZPG 450A Review: How Does It’s Low Price Perform?

Z Grills ZPG 450A Review

Attractively priced, surprisingly well-built, and, it comes with a 30 day money back guarantee, it’s easy to see why your interest is sparked with the best-selling Z Grills 450A.

This set and forget pellet smoker is the smallest in the Z Grills line-up, making it perfect for smaller families who want wood-fired smoking, grilling, baking and roasting at the touch of a button.

But, what’s it really like to cook on? What features does it have? And, how hard is it to clean? In this Z Grills ZPG 450A review, we give you all the details you need to decide whether this is the new barbecue for you.

Note! – There is a new version of this smoker available.

It’s the Z Grills 450B and for hardly any extra, it’s got an upgraded PID controller, manual feed button, pellet hopper window and hopper cleanout feature.

Read our full review of the Z Grills 450B here.

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Features of the Z Grills ZPG 450A

Construction:

  • Quality powder-coated steel
  • Porcelain-coated iron cooking grates
  • Great size for smaller families but big enough to fit large cuts of meat too
  • Moderate 15 pound pellet hopper gives about 15 hours of unaided cook-time

Ease of use:

  • Upgraded PID temperature controller holds heat tight for consistent results
  • Temperature maxes out at 450°F which is hot enough for grilling
  • Easy-drain grease system makes clean-up easy

Included extras:

  • Waterproof cover
  • 30 day money back guarantee when purchased through the Z Grills website

In-Depth Review of the Z Grills 450A

Before we get into it, I’m just going to say that it’s pretty crazy Z Grills can build such a decent pellet smoker for so little. Featuring as one of our best budget smokers and best pellet smoker for the money, there’s no denying that the Z Grills 450A is great value.

But, while you’re reading this review, keep in mind that the ZPG-450A isn’t top of the line. In fact, it’s the smallest and cheapest pellet smoker that Z Grills make. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles. But, if you’re looking for a solid build with reliable performance at a low price, keep reading.

Construction

Like the majority of mainstream pellet smokers, the Z Grills ZPG-450A is made from heavy-duty powder-coated steel. And, while it’s not super thick, the whole smoker does have a surprisingly solid feel that fits together well for a tight seal.

Naturally, some people are going to want to stick some high-temp grill seal tape on there to stop smoke from leaking around the door. The amount of smoke that does leak is pretty minimal and in the normal range. We don’t feel affects the performance at all. Just mentioning it so you can grab a gasket with your purchase if you like to keep it all in. You can always add one later if it bothers you too.

The cooking grates are pretty standard, but good, porcelain-coated cast iron. They’re rust-resistant, easy to clean and won’t cause the food to stick too much.

Other than that, the 450A cart is strong enough and sturdy enough for regular use, the wheels are large enough to make the unit easy to move, and the fold-out table is definitely a nice, convenient addition.

Capacity

The Z Grills ZPG 450A was designed for small families. On the bottom rack, you’ve got 324 square inches and on the top there’s another 128 square inches, giving a total of just over 450 square inches.

What that looks like in terms of cooking is enough space to smoke 3 regular-sized chickens, 18 burger patties or 4 racks of ribs laid down. So, while the 450A is advertised to cook for 2-4 people, unless you’re big eaters, there is actually enough room to cook for guests or to have some leftovers too. It’s really pretty generous.

And, having a smaller pellet smoker does use less pellets as it doesn’t have to heat as large an area. Bigger isn’t always better when appropriately sized means cheaper running costs.

Speaking of pellets, the hopper on the 450A will hold 15 pounds. At about 1 hour of smoking per pound, that’ll give you about 15 hours of smoke time where you don’t need to touch a thing.

Just be aware that if you’re cooking at the max temperature, you will use pellets faster. But, grilling doesn’t take that long either so refills probably won’t be an issue.

Performance

In 2020, Z Grills updated their temperature controllers to the more precise PID-style technology. This means that the 450A will hold as close to your target temperature as possible, which translates into about +/-10°F.

A steadier temperature means more consistent results and the ZPG-450A does deliver time and time again.

Effortless it truly is. Simply turn it on, set your temperature, let it heat, load your meat and go do something else while your smoker does it’s thing.

The 180-450°F temperature range lets you smoke, bake, roast, braise and barbecue, all with unbeatable flavor of hardwood.

For anyone who likes a really strong smoky flavor, there’s actually a separate ‘smoke’ setting too. It doesn’t get that hot so you do need to bump it up to a normal setting to cook. But, it’s a useful feature to use at the start of your cook to bump up that smoky flavor.

The only area where we feel the Z Grills 450A is a bit of a let-down is it’s max temperature. Although it’s marketed as ideal for searing, in our opinion, 450°F isn’t quite hot enough for great results. Nevertheless, it can get the job done, especially if you’re not planning on grilling that often.

Also keep in mind that the upper and lower grate configuration means you won’t have the full 450 square inches of space for grilling as you can only use the bottom rack that’s closer to the heat source.

Included Extras

For the price of the Z Grills 450A, you shouldn’t expect any extras at all. After all, you’re already getting a great smoker for a rock bottom price. But, Z Grills like their value and, again, deliver with a free rain cover included with every grill. A cover to protect your barbecue isn’t really an optional extra so we give them a big tick for including it as an essential.

There’s also a 450APRO model which includes a dual meat probe as well. The meat probes hook into the controller and show you the internal meat temperature on the LED display so you know for sure that your meat has reached a safe temperature but isn’t overdone.

The 450APRO isn’t a lot more expensive than the standard 450A but means you’ve got everything you need ready to go.

Warranty

The Z Grills ZPG-450A comes with a 3 year warranty. It’s not a long as Pit Boss’s 5 years and recteq’s 6 years, but, it’s definitely a decently long enough period to have confidence that your investment will last.

Z Grills also have a 30 day money back guarantee. At the time of writing this, I believe that this only applies to smokers bought through ZGrills.com so jump on this link to take you straight there (yes, we do earn a small commission, no you won’t pay any more).

Optional Extras

A meat probe and a cover (both included in the 450APRO package), are really all you need to smoke on this great value pellet smoker. But, if you do live somewhere that gets colder, using an insulation blanket is going to save you money by minimizing heat lost and boosting fuel efficiency.

There’s also a whole heap of high-quality accessories and pellets that Z Grills sell. Click here to check them out.

Cleaning the Z Grills 450A

Cleaning the 450A is pretty simple really. Like all barbecues, giving the grates a scrape down when they’re still warm makes light work of it. Then, regularly the grease tray will need a clean (unless you use foil on it which is all good), and the ash should be vacuumed out of the firepot.

Like the recteq’s, there’s no door to empty the pellet hopper. The plus of that means that there’s fewer joins where moisture can get in and wreck the pellets. And, the minus is that there’s no easy way to remove any unused pellets. You don’t need to clean the hopper every time you use it though. But, when you do, simply scoop any extra pellets out and then use a shop vac to pull them out of the auger. That’ll also get rid of any pellet dust that can cause problems too.

Check out the video below to see how it’s all done.

Pros of the Z Grills ZPG-450A

  • Strong and sturdy build
  • Updated PID temperature controller reliably keeps the temperature within a few degrees of your target
  • Great size for smaller families
  • Reliable performance gives consistent results
  • Easy to clean
  • Comes with free waterproof cover
  • 3 year warranty
  • 30 day money back guarantee when purchased through ZGrills.com
  • No pellet hopper purge door minimizes moisture in the hopper

Cons of the Z Grills ZPG-450A

  • There’s no WiFi for remote control
  • We feel that it’s not quite hot enough for optimal grilling and searing
  • No easy way to get unused pellets out of the hopper

Specs for the Z Grills ZPG 450A Wood Pellet Smoker

Barbecue type: Wood pellet grill and smoker

Barbecue material: Powder-coated steel

Grate material:  Porcelain-coated iron

Cooking capacity: 450 sq. in.

Pellet hopper capacity: 15 lbs

Heat Range: 180-450°F

WiFi: No

Fuel type: Wood pellets

Price guide: $

Model: ZPG-450A

Assembled size (in): 49”H x 45”W x 28”D

Weight: 84 lbs

Warranty: 3 years

FAQs About the Z Grills 450A

Q. Does the Z Grills 450A have WiFi?

There’s no WiFi on the 450A.

Q. Is there a pellet hopper purge door on the 450A?

No. It’s built without one to minimize how much moisture can get into the hopper and ruin the pellets. To empty it fully, scoop any unused pellets out and use a shop vac to suck the excess out of the auger. Alternative, you can burn the last few through.

The upgrade to this model, the Z Grills 450B does have a hopper cleanout though. Read our full review here.

Q. Can I grill on the Z Grills 450A?

It is advertised as suitable for grilling and searing. But, at a max temperature of 450°F, grilling and searing are doable but not optimal.

Q. Where are Z Grills made?

Like most pellet grills, Z Grills are manufactured in China. China doesn’t necessarily mean poor quality though and Z Grills are great quality for their low price.

Q. What’s the difference between the 450A and 450APRO?

The 450A is the smoker and the cover. The 450APRO is the smoker, cover and 2 meat temperature probes that hook into the main controller.

Q. What’s the difference between the 450A and 450B?

The 450B is the 2021 upgraded version of the 450A. It’s got a PID temperature controller for precise control, pellet hopper window, hopper clean out and manual feed button so you can heat it up faster. Check it out because it’s a great price.

Q. What brand of pellets should I use in a Z Grills smoker?

Any quality brand of pellets will work just fine in the Z Grills. Check out our review of the top pellets for smoking.

Our Verdict on the Z Grills ZPG 450A Review

When it comes down to it, there’s just no denying that the Z Grills 450A is great value at a bargain price.

Yes, it’s smaller than average. No, it doesn’t have WiFi and it’s a bit marginal when it comes to grilling. But, the 450A does have everything you need for simple wood fired smoking at home that gives consistently great results.

Ideal for smaller families or anyone on a budget, the Z Grills ZPG-450A delivers quality, durability and function with an attractive price tag. And, with a 30 day money back guarantee, why not give it a try today?