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Z Grills 450A Smoker Overview

The Z Grills 450A is an extremely capable, easy to use smoker for smaller families. With the same smart PID controller as its larger siblings the 7002B and 700E-XL, and featuring handy front and side benches, it is the perfect choice for apartments or smaller back yards.

Z Grills 450A Pellet Smoker
Z Grills 450A Smoker

Key Features

  • Stylish all black finish looks great in any backyard
  • Top grill rack for additional cooking space
  • 7kg hopper capacity enough for even an overnight brisket
  • Heavy duty wheels for easy moving around
  • Versatile cooking from low temp smoking and high temperature BBQ
  • Front bench is super handy when taking food in/out of the grill
  • Heavy duty quality components
  • PID controller for automatic temperature control
  • Fast heat up time takes only 15 minutes to >200ºC

Dimensions & Weight

  • 115cm wide x 71cm deep (with front bench down) x 125cm tall
  • 38kg with no pellets in hopper. Pellets will add up to 7kg
450A Smoker Dimensions

Electricity Requirements

  • 240V AC (not DC)
  • Minimum 500W power supply from battery pack (high power draw for ignition rod during initial startup)
  • Average power draw after startup 40 to 50W.
  • To run the grill for 8 hours at least 400Wh of battery capacity will be required.

Wood Pellet Hopper

The 450A hopper can hold up to 7kg of wood pellets, enough for 16+ hours of low temperature cooking or 7-10 high temp cooks.

How many pellet to add into the hopper?

It is not advisable to fill the hopper right up, instead just add enough for each cook. This is because pellets can slowly absorb moisture, especially in humid conditions. A full hopper may be enough for multiple cooks so some of the pellets may be exposed to air for weeks or months. By only adding enough pellets for each hook (plus little extra as a buffer), pellets are not sitting for long.

Click here to learn more about wood pellets, including how to store them.

How fast are pellets used?

The pellet usage will differ greatly based on type of pellets used, outside air temperature, wind exposure and what temperature the grill is set at. Below is just a rough guide.

  • Low temperature operation = 0.3 to 0.5kg/hour (0.7 to 1.1lbs)
  • High temperature operation = 1 to 2kg/hour (2.2 to 4.4lbs)

Cleaning out wood pellets

Burning out all the pellets is recommended if not planning to use the grill for several weeks or longer, especially in humid climates. Click here to jump to the cleaning section to learn how.

Grill Racks

  • Main grill rack: 55cm wide x 39cm deep.
  • Top grill rack: 56cm wide x 15cm deep
  • Total cooking area: 0.29m2
450A Grill Rack Dimensions

Can the top grill rack be removed?

  • Yes it just lifts out
  • It is advisable to leave the top rack out when not in use as it makes accessing food on the bottom rack easier. To neatly store the grill rack when not in use, grab a set of Magnet Hooks which are perfect for hanging the top grill rack on the left side of the grill.

Vertical height for food

The image below shows the space available for food. Take out the top rack to give the full 17.5cm vertical height for food.

450A vertical grill race space

What are grill racks made from?

The grill racks are made from steel with a ceramic (enamel) coating similar to bake trays and the inside of your oven. This coating makes them durable and easier to clean.

Click here for more information about cleaning.

Grease Tray

The grease tray sits just below the grill racks, sloping from left to right. Gaps along the front and rear sides of the grease tray allow the hot air flow from below to rise up into the cooking area.

Grease and juice drips from food on the grill rack down onto the grease tray and drains left to right down to the V channel then through the spout into the grease bucket.

To make cleaning easy the grease tray can be lined with foil. It is important that the foil is wrapped tight at the edges though, as the gap front and back of the grease tray must be open to allow hot air to rise up.

Click here for cleaning instructions.

GREASE FIRE
If a grease fire occurs, keep the grill lid closed and turn the grill to SHUT DOWN and the power OFF to stop the fan feeding the fire with more oxygen.
– Wait until the fire goes out.
– Do not apply water or try to smother the fire.
– If the lid is already open a dry chemical (A-B-E) fire extinguisher can be used to put out the fire if required.
– Do not open the lid if there is an active grease fire as it may flare up.

How It Works

The controller monitors the temperature in the grill and intermittently operates the auger motor, rotating the spiral auger shaft to push pellets from the hopper into the fire-pot.

The wood pellets are lit by the ignition rod and a fire is then automatically maintained.

Firepot ignition process

A fan underneath the hopper blows air through a number of holes in the fire-pot, feeding the fire with oxygen.

After circulating around the grilling area, the hot air and smoke is vented out through the chimney.

How To Use

Controller Operation

Z Grills Pellet Smoker PID Digital Controller with Labels

The Z Grills 450A uses a digital PID controller to manage the operation of the grill.

Click here for a more detailed overview of how the controller works.

Current grill temperature is shown on the LCD display.

Food probe temperatures(if plugged in) are shown on the LCD display by pressing the FOOD PROBE TEMP button. Pressing the button multiple times will cycle through the display of P1, P2 then the grill temperature. After several seconds the display will return to the grill temperature.

Setting the temperature is as easy as turning the dial to the desired setting. The LCD display shows the temperature in degrees Celsius, but the temperature dial has both ºC and ºF in case working to a recipe in Fahrenheit.

Controller Settings

  • Shut Down: Controller must be set to Shut Down when plugging the power in otherwise ER2 error will be displayed. Turning to Shut Down after the grill has been operating will run the fan for 10 minutes to let the fire burn down. Only turn the power switch off or unplug the grill once the fan turns off.
  • Smoke: Turn to this setting to fire-up the grill. Smoke setting also provides the maximum amount of smoke with a temperature of 70 to 90ºC (160 to 195ºF) depending on the outside temperature.
  • 82ºC will provide the most stable lowest temperature (more-so than SMOKE). In hot weather the grill not be able to maintain such a low temperature as the smallest fire provides too much heat.
  • 107 and 121ºC are the most commonly used temperatures for low and slow cooking and will still provide some good smoke in batches ever few minutes.
  • 135 to 232ºC will provide very little smoke as a constant fire is burning.

Priming the grill with pellets

The first time the grill is used, and after each time the pellets totally run out, the grill needs to be primed with pellets. Priming means feeding pellets from the hopper through the auger tube into the fire-pot.

Z Grills smoker auger motor turning auger
Auger motor slowly rotates the spiral auger shaft to feed pellets from the hopper into the fire-pot

Follow the instructions below to prime the grill with pellets:

  • If the grill has previously been used, vacuum out the hopper and fire-pot.
  • Pour fresh, dry pellets into the hopper. The hopper does not need to be filled right up, just add enough for each cook.
  • With the grill lid open, turn the controller from Shut Down to Smoke. The auger motor will intermittently run to feed pellets from the hopper through the auger tube into the fire-pot.
  • After 5-7 minutes (depending the length of the pellets) they will begin to drop into the fire-pot.
  • To fire up the grill, turn the controller back to
  • Shut Down then Smoke to turn the ignition rod back on again.
  • If LER (low temperature error) is shown on the display, just turn back to Shut Down and Smoke again.

Startup the grill

Open grill lid

  • It is important to open the lid to allow fresh air to circulate during the start up process.

Check pellet level

  • Make sure there are enough wood pellets in the hopper. Click here to learn more.
  • If the grill has not been used for a long time check to ensure the wood pellets are loose, dry and shiny. If any signs of moist pellets remove them all, run the grill empty and use fresh, dry pellets.

Clean fire-pot

  • Always check to make sure the fire-pot does not have too much ash accumulated.
  • It is best to vacuum out before each cook.

Plug in and turn controller to SMOKE

  • Turn the dial to SMOKE to begin the startup cycle.
  • Pellets will intermittently drop, the fan will run and the ignition rod will get red hot to light the fire.
  • If smoke is not released within 3-4 minutes, remove the grease tray and check the fire-pot.

Smoke and fire

  • Wait to see a cloud of smoke to been released and then hear the roaring sound of the fire.
  • Close the grill lid and set controller to the target temperature.

Wait for heat-up

  • Wait for the grill to reach the target temperature before placing in food.
  • It is normal for the temperature to rise above the target before settling back down.

Keep the lid shut!

  • As the saying goes, “If you keep looking, you’re not cooking, so keep the lid shut!
  • Use the food probe to monitor the temperature rather than opening the lid too often.
  • The temperature will drop each time the lid is opened and may spike back up above the target if the lid is opened for too long as lots of pellets will have been delivered into the fire-pot.

Normal operation

Once the grill has successfully started up and exceeded 60ºC the controller will turn off the ignition rod and commence normal operating mode.

The operating logic is basically as follows:

  • IF LOWER than the target temperature, deliver more pellets into the fire-pot
  • IF HIGHER than the target temperature, deliver less pellets into the fire-pot

Each time pellets are delivered into the fire-pot (roughly once every 60 to 90 seconds) and begin to burn, heat is released resulting in small temperature swings around the target, which is normal. 

Shutdown the grill

The grill needs to ensure the fire is totally burnt out by running the fan for 10 minutes before turning itself off.

Always follow the correct process outlined below when shutting down the the grill.

Temperature above 160ºC

  • If the grill is currently above 160ºC, turn the grill down to Smoke for 10 minutes to allow the fire to die down, then turn the controller dial to Shut Down.
  • The fan will run for about 10 minutes then turn itself off.
  • Always wait for the fan to turn off before turning the power switch off or unplugging the grill from power.

Temperature below 160ºC

  • If the grill is currently below 160ºC, turn the controller dial to Shut Down.
  • The fan will run for about 10 minutes then turn itself off.
  • Always wait for the fan to turn off before turning the power switch off or unplugging the grill from power.

Power cut mid cook?

If during a cook the grill is accidentally turned off or power is cut, it needs to be turned back on to allow the fire to safely burn out.

Power off for less than 30 seconds

  • If the power is off for less than 30 seconds the fire is most likely still burning.
  • Leave the grill lid shut and turn the controller to Shut Down then directly back to the target temperature.
  • The startup cycle will run again, so if the target temperature is low (<121ºC) the temperature may spike back up above before settling back down.

Power off for longer than 30 seconds

  • If the power is off for longer than 30 seconds, the lack of air flow from the fan may have resulted in the fire going out.
  • It is important to OPEN THE GRILL LID to allow good air flow during the grill firing back up again.
  • Turn the grill to Shut Down then back to SMOKE.
  • As soon as a confirmed the fire is established (after cloud of smoke) shut the grill lid and turn back to the target temperature.

Power can’t be provided

  • If power can’t be provided within a couple of minutes, extra care must be taken when turning the grill back on, as burn back resulting in a smoky hopper can occur. This is more likely if the grill was operating at a high temperature with big fire when the power was cut.
  • Follow the procedure outlined above for the “longer than 30 seconds” but also open the hopper lid and check to see if any smoke appears.
  • If the grill fires up as normal and no smoke appears from the hopper, continue with the cook as normal.
  • If any smoke appears from the hopper, scoop out as may pellets as possible (removing the top of the hopper if required) and then run the grill until empty. Once the fire is out and the grill has cooled down, vacuum out the hopper and fire-pot and then prime with fresh pellets.

Temperature Stability

Realistic temperature expectations

Z Grills controller’s PID software has been refined to maintain the most stable temperatures possible, but like any pellet smoker, temperature swings around the target are normal. This is simply due to the way the controller logic works and the fact that pellets are delivered every 1 to 2 minutes and so releasing heat in batches.

Controller display vs grill rack temperature

Grill rack temperature readings may be lower than the grill display if the probes are close to cold meat. Much higher readings will result if the probes are close to the front or rear of the grill where the hot air is rising from below. It is therefore best to take reading in a more central location on the grill rack and not too close to food.

Stable temperature tips

To maintain the most stable temperatures, follows these tips:

  • Avoid opening the lid too much (can result in temperature spikes once lid is shut again).
  • Keep the grill out of direct cold wind, as it can impact the temperature regulation.
  • Keep the grill out of direct sunlight (if exceeding the target temperature).

Click here to learn more about how the controller works to manage the temperature.

Changing from HIGH to LOW temperatures

If the grill has been operating at a high temperature and is then set to a lower target, the grill will take a long time to cool down as fire in the fire-pot will keep producing heat.

The temperature will drop much slower in hot weather.

To drop the temperature more quickly:

  • Open the lid to release heat until the controller displayed temperature drops close to the new, lower target, then shut the lid and continue cooking. 
  • Do not keep the lid open too long as if the temperature drops below the new target then too many pellets will be delivered causing a temperature spike. 

Temperature spikes

Temperature spikes up to 120ºC are common in the first 10 to 15 minutes after startup even when set to a lower target due to the large amount of pellets delivered into the fire-pot.

  • Open the lid for a minute to release some heat, or just wait for the temperature to gradually come back down, which may take 5 to 10 minutes. 
  • Next time, leave the lid open a bit longer after the initial cloud of smoke clears to release some more heat. 
  • The grill will gradually settle at the desired target but small swings of +/- 5ºC are normal. Because the heat is indirect this temperature cycling will not adversely effect the cooking of food. At higher temperature larger swings are common, especially in windy weather.

Hot weather operation

In hot weather the grill may not be able to maintain temperatures below 100ºC (on SMOKE or 82ºC setting) as even the smallest fire still provides lots of heat.

This is particularly the case if the grill is in direct sunlight, as even without the fire operating the grill maybe 40ºC or higher!

Temperature Issues

A number of factors can contribute to the temperature not being a stable as normal. Click here to help troubleshoot temperature issues.

Cleaning

Keeping the Z Grills 450A smoker clean is very easy.

Grease Tray & Bucket

  • Remove foil from the grease tray and wipe off any surface grease. 
  • Dispose of any grease in the grease bucket and wash clean with warm soapy water. For easy clean up, line the bucket with foil.
  • Clean the V channel that the grease tray drains into as well as the spout leading to the grease bucket. To clean the spout just push through a cloth or paper towel.

Grill Rack

  • Use a Koala Claw wood scraper or other gentle material to scrape off any large chunks.
  • Do NOT use a stainless steel wire brush as it can damage the ceramic coating.
  • Wash in hot soapy water or just wipe down with a moist cloth or BBQ cleaning wipes.
  • Do NOT use acidic or strong chemical cleaners as they may damage the grill rack ceramic coating.

Fire-pot

  • Ash accumulates in the fire-pot and surrounding area and needs to be vacuumed out after each long cook or every 3-4kg of wood pellets usage. 
  • Only vacuum out ash when the grill is cold, switched OFF and unplugged.
  • Some wood pellets produce lots of ash so may need to be cleaned after every cook.
  • If any grease has dribbled down into the fire-pot area, clean with BBQ cleaning wipes. 

Chimney

  • Once every 50+ hours of use, remove the chimney cap and clean the chimney pipe with an old toothbrush to remove accumulated soot.

Hopper

  • If wood pellets sit for a long time (weeks) in the hopper they can become moist. This is especially the case in humid climates. Click here to learn more about wood pellets.
  • So if not planning to use the grill for more than a few weeks (especially in humid climates) it is a good idea to run the grill empty of pellets.
  • Scoop out pellets until you reach the protective guard.
  • The guard can be temporarily lifted out by removing the 2 screws that are just under the lip as shown in the photo below.
Screws securing the hopper guard in place
  • Scoop out most of the pellets, then run the grill until they are all burnt out and the temperature drops (fire is out).
  • Turn the grill to Shut Down.
  • If the controller display shows LER (low temperature error), just turn to Shut Down and unplug from power.
  • Once cooled down, vacuum out the hopper entry and fire-pot.
  • Before the grill is next used it will need to be primed with pellets. Click here to learn how.

Grill Surfaces

  • Wipe down the inside and outside of the grill with BBQ cleaning wipes, or warm soapy water and moist (not too wet) cloth.
  • Cover the grill with a protective cover when not in use if stored outdoors. The grill must not be exposed to rain. 
  • Gently clean the temperature sensor inside the grill with wire-wool to ensure accurate temperature readings. 

Food Temperature Probe

  • Food probes must be scrubbed thoroughly after each use with hot soapy water to avoid food contamination.
  • Do not immerse the entire probe or cable in water. 
  • Avoid twisting or kinking the cable as it may be damaged.

Click here for more information on Z Grills smoker cleaning.

Errors

If there is a problem with the operation of the grill an error will be shown on the controller display and the grill with turn off.

LER: Low temperature error (click here to learn more)

HER: High temperature error (click here to learn more)

ER1: Temperature sensor signal error (click here to learn more)

ER2: Controller system error

  • This will occur if the power is plugged in when the grill is already turned to a temperature setting.
  • If happening mid cook, there may be a problem with the power supply or the controller.

Owner Manual

Click here to download the latest copy of the owner manual for Z Grills 450A (V2) smokers.

450A V2 Grills Owner Manual Cover

Older versions of the manuals for 450A grill models can be accessed here, but for most up to date operation and safety information please refer to the latest version linked above.

450A Model Change History

The 450A model that we began selling in Australia in 2019 and has undergone a number of improvements and the addition of new features over the years.

The model version (V2) is printed on the silver specifications sticker on the underside of the hopper lid, as shown below.

450A V2 Specification Label

Below is a summary of the key changes implemented with each model. Version numbers increase only when structural component changes are made.

Model (period sold)Changes
ZPG-450A V2
(10-2021~current)
– Limited edition bronze lids
– Revised hopper design for better pellet feeding
– Both oC and oF on controller plate
– Stronger auger design
ZPG-450A V1
(Late 2019~12/2020)
– Original model in Australia

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