This article covers how to replace the ignition rod (hot rod) in a Z Grills 700 series pellet smoker.
For 450A grill models click here.
For Grill Models: 7002B, 700E, 700E-XL
Tools Required: Pliers or small socket set, Phillips head screwdriver, Scissors or knife
Spare Parts (from Z Grills): SN ignition rod, mounting bracket, fibre gasket, cable pull wire, cable ties, spare fuse.
New Silicon Nitride Ignition Rod
From November 2021 a new type of type of ignition rod will be supplied to Australian Z Grills customers if an ignition rod fails during the warranty period. To learn more about ignition rods, click here.
What is an ignition rod?
The ignition rod or “hot rod” is responsible for igniting the wood pellets in the fire-pot.
There are two types of ignition rods used in Z Grills pellets smokers in Australia.
Metal tube ignition rods are the most common type used in wood pellet smokers, but Z Grills Australia has recently introduced a new Silicon Nitride (SN) type ignition rod which not only heat up much faster but is also far more reliable.
The ignition rod sits in the tube at the base of the fire-pot. Metal tube ignition rods need to extend out about 1cm as they need to physically touch wood pellets to ignite them.
Silicon nitride (SN) ignition rods get much hotter and get red hot right to the tip, so do not need to extend far out into the fire-pot like the metal tube type.
Step 1. Unplug the Power
Before doing any maintenance or cleaning, always unplug the power to the grill.
Step 2. Empty the hopper
Scoop as many pellets out as you can using a plastic scoop or cup.
Vacuum out the remaining pellets so you can see the Auger.
To make cleaning out all the wood pellets easier, you may want to temporarily remove the guard plate.
4 screws are located just under the front and rear lips of the guard.
Take care not to drop the screws down into the Auger.
Step 3. Remove base cover
Remove the 6 screws (3 front, 3 rear) to release the base cover.
The base cover should drop down once the screws are removed but will be held in place by the power cable.
If possible, gently push the cable up through the cable tension ring to drop the cover down a bit lower. This will make getting the hopper box off a little easier.
Step 4. Release the Controller
Remove the two screws from the controller.
Gentle pull the controller forward and then push back in through the hole in the hopper box.
If the controller is too tight, carefully cut some of the cable ties (from beneath) that are holding the cables in place.
Once pushed through the hole, the controller may dangle down below the hopper box as shown.
Step 5. Remove hopper box
Remove the two front and two rear screws.
Carefully lift the hopper box up and off and place to the side out of the way.
You now have clear access to the controller and all the electrical components.
Step 6. Check the fuse
If the ignition rod tripped the power (quite common) the fuse is most likely blown.
A spare fuse is zip tied to the top of the green fuse box.
Cut the white cable tie and pull the top off the green box with the fuse housed inside.
If blown, swap the fuse out with the spare.
The fuse type is a 3A M205 Fast Blow Fuse, which is widely available from electric parts outlets and hardware stores.
Step 7. Unplug the ignition rod cable
Cut off all the cable ties to free up the cables.
Identify the cable with the sticker HOT on it which powers the ignition rod.
The cable will be purple-white from the controller and white-white leading into the side of the grill to the ignition rod.
Carefully unplug the connector.
Step 8. Remove fire-pot
Undo the 4 screws on the top of the fire-pot using a pair of pliers, spanner or suitable sized socket wrench.
Pull the fire-pot to the right (tap with pliers if required).
To lift out, rotate the pot to the side and lift up and out at an angle.
Flip the fire-pot over and gently undo the screw(s) until the ignition rod can slide out.
The fire-pot may have one or two screws. If there are two screws, remove the bottom one entirely as only the side one will be used.
Step 9. Replace the ignition rod
Pull the thick white cable to remove the old ignition rod from the grill.
Straighten out the supplied wire and bend a big hook at the other end so it doesn’t pull through.
Feed the wire via the small hole through to the fire-pot.
Slide the bracket onto the cable as shown. Do this BEFORE the next step!
Use the wire to pull the new ignition rod cable through the small hole.
Pass the wire between the two cables and bend in half as shown above.
Use tape to secure in place.
Use the wire to pull the new cable through and out the small elongated hole. Ensure the cable sits on the side of the pellet feed tube and does not wrap underneath on its path from the fire-pot to the exit hole.
The supplied thin fibre gasket must be used.
Secure the bracket to the side (or bottom if only one screw) on the fire-pot tube using the screw.
The SN ignition rod may remain a little loose and may freely rotate which is normal.
DO NOT tighten the screw into the side of the ignition rod – it will crack and fail!
Once installed the silicon nitride ignition rod should only extend slightly (if at all) into the fire-pot.
It gets much hotter than the metal style ignition rod and hot right to the tip.
Put the fire-pot back in place by angling the ignition rod to the front of the auger feed tube.
Drop down and then rotate to align the auger feed tube with the big hole in the fire-pot.
Do NOT use force as it should slide in easily if using the correct angle.
You may need to gently push the auger feed tube up or down to slot into the hole in the fire-pot.
As required, gently tap the fire-pot into place so the screw holes align.
Firmly do up the screws. Do not over-tighten.
Step 10. Connect and bundle cables
Wiring plug connections
Depending on your grill model there could be a few different cable configurations.
Use the stickers on the controller plugs as guides (not colours) as the colours may be different to those shown. Controller plug labels are:
MOT = Auger Motor
FAN = Fan
HOT = Ignition Rod
The black box connected to the power cable may not be present in some grills.
The black and pale blue box connected between HOT and the ignition rod (shown below) may not be present in your grill, and is not required. Plug the ignition rod directly into the HOT plug.
Connect the black/red power limiter plug to the purple-white plug labelled HOT.
If no power limiter box, plug the ignition rod directly into the the HOT female plug.
Bundle the cables neatly using the ignition rod cable as an anchor.
Use several cable ties to secure the everything together taking care to ensure none are close to the main fan (underneath) or auger motor small cooling fan.
The hole in the metal plate can be used as an anchor point too.
Ensure the thin, white temperature sensor cable is running down on the inside of the hopper plate as shown. This is required to make way for the hopper assembly that sits over the top of the auger entry.
This cable is best bundled all up at the top where it exits from the grill drum. It is important this cable is not so loose such that it could contact either of the fans, so secure with other cables down below.
Step 11. Replace hopper box
Put the hopper box back in place and secure with the 4 screws.
Step 12. Put controller back
Gentle push the controller back up from below and through the hole in the hopper box.
Check to make sure the temperature sensor cables are still firmly in place.
Depending on the controller model, the colour of the cable ends and terminal block may be different. Both are situated at the top of the controller board.
Use a mirror or selfie camera on your phone to look from underneath the hopper box. This photo shows an acceptable, neat set of cable that will not contact the fans.
If any of the cables are too close to the fans use cable ties to secure more neatly.
Step 13. Test operation
Before replacing the bottom cover first test the operation of the grill.
Plug into power, switch on and turn the controller knob to Smoke setting.
Listen for the fan sound and look to see if the auger it slowly rotating (it turns on/off) intermittently. You may need to wait 30-40 seconds to see it rotate.
The ignition rod should shine bright red within 1-2 minutes of turning the grill to Smoke setting.
Pellets should ignite in 2-3 minutes.
If the fan, auger motor or ignition rod are not working, unplug from power and check the plug connections.
Step 14. Replace base cover
Once once confirmed that the ignition rod is working, turn the grill to shut down cycle.
If there is fire in the fire-pot wait until the fan turns off before turning off.
Unplug the grill from power.
Slide the cover back up into place by wiggling the cable through the cable tension ring if it is loose.
Put all 6 screws back in place. Don’t over-tighten them.
If the auger feed tube has been totally emptied of wood pellets you will need to follow the initial startup procedure to prime the wood pellets. Click here for instructions. The initial burn-in does not need to be completed again.