Pit Boss vs Z Grills – Pellet Grill Comparisons

Hi, I’m Chris. About Me

While Pit Boss now have their Platinum Series the main focus of the Pit Boss brand is on the value/budget segment of the pellet grill/smoker market. That’s also where Z Grills are focusing their product range, as entry-level wood pellet grills and smokers. Therefore, for this brand comparison, they are in direct competition which hasn’t been true to the same extent with my Traeger vs Pit Boss or Camp Chef vs Pit Boss articles. I’m going to pick a couple of models from Pit Boss and Z Grills that retail at a similar price point and see how they compare, what are their strengths and weaknesses?

Pit Boss vs Z Grills
How do Pit Boss pellet grills (left) compare against the offerings from Z Grills (right)?

PelHeat Pellet Grill/Smoker Database

Research/compare over 290 pellet grills/smokers on sale today


Introduction To Pit Boss vs Z Grills Pellet Grills/Smokers

At the budget end of the pellet grill market, you shouldn’t expect certain features. You’re generally not going to find PID control panels or WiFi functionality.

You are also unlikely to find twin-wall insulated construction, therefore, for winter grilling, it means an insulated blanket is pretty much essential.

However, you can, in some cases, get features such as direct-flame access, and I’ll discuss more about that below, as both Pit Boss and Z Grills do provide that feature.

Pit Boss is by far the more well-known brand over Z Grills (here’s proof). However, over the last couple of years, Z Grills have been growing in popularity as a low-cost option to enter the world of cooking with wood pellets.

Pit Boss has an extensive range of both horizontal and vertical pellet cookers. However, Z Grills purely sells horizontal pellet grills/smokers. Therefore, that’s where I’ll focus this comparison.

Pit Boss 440 Deluxe vs Z Grills 6002E

Neither of these pellet grills is portable, though they are relatively small so they are only really suitable for a small family.

Both of these pellet grills also cost significantly below $500 and are typically priced at around $350, making them some of the cheapest small pellet grills on the market.

Along with the small size of these pellet grills, as I’ve discussed above, don’t expect many of the premium features found on more expensive pellet grills (PID, WiFi etc).

Pit Boss 440 Deluxe

Pit Boss 440 Deluxe Pellet Grill/Smoker
  • Total Cooking Area = 518 sq.in (373 sq.in at the main grate)
  • Pellet Hopper Capacity = 5 lbs
  • Temperature Range = 180 to 500 degrees (650 + Direct Flame)
  • Direct-Flame Access? = Yes
  • PID Temperature Control? = No
  • WiFi/App Control? = No
  • Typical Price = $349

Z Grills 6002E

Z Grills 6002E Pellet Grill/Smoker
  • Total Cooking Area = 572 sq.in (332 sq.in at the main grate)
  • Pellet Hopper Capacity = 8 lbs
  • Temperature Range = 180 to 450 degrees (650 + Direct Flame)
  • Direct-Flame Access? = Yes
  • PID Temperature Control? = No
  • WiFi/App Control? = No
  • Typical Price = $339

Cooking Area Provided (Grilling and Smoking)

As these are very small pellet grills/smokers, every square inch counts. However, whenever you’re comparing pellet grills, you need to check the detail on cooking areas. Typically, a manufacturer will state the overall cooking area.

Which commonly includes an upper rack(s) which are only suitable for smoking (low-temperature cooking). If you wish to cook burgers/steaks, you need to find out if the main cooking grate is large enough for your needs.

In this instance, the Pit Boss 440D provides a total cooking area of 440 square inches. However, the main cooking grate only provides 340 square inches.

Pit Boss 440D Cooking Area
It wouldn’t initially appear so, but the Pit Boss 440D actually provides a larger primary cooking grate over the Z Grills 6002E

The Z Grills 6002E, you would guess, provides a total cooking area of 600 square inches. However, it actually has 573 square inches. When it comes to the main cooking grate, that’s 332 square inches.

Hence, this is a prime example of how you could reasonably argue model numbers and ‘total cooking area’ figures can be misleading.

You would presume from looking at the model numbers, the Z Grills would have a larger main cooking grate when that’s actually not the case at all.

Temperature Control & Direct-Flame Access

Now both of these pellet grills use basic time-based control panels, similar to the previous generation Traeger control panels. However, there is a difference between them in terms of their temperature range.

The Z Grill 6002E has a temperature range of 180 – 450 degrees, whereas the Pit Boss 440D provides a range of 180 – 500 degrees.

That additional 50 degrees would typically provide the Pit Boss with better grilling/searing performance over the Z Grill.

However, in this instance, that’s not the case as the Z Grill 6002E also actually provides direct-flame access, which will likely get the cooking grate up to 650 degrees.

Z Grills Direct-Flame Access
The 6002E is currently the only Z Grills model to feature direct-flame access

The Pit Boss 440D has direct flame access as well, like most Pit Boss models. Oddly on the Z Grills side of things, the 6002E is their only pellet grill currently with direct-flame access.

The larger Z Grills, such as the 1000E discussed below, don’t come with direct flame access. Also, I should note, only a very small area in the centre of the cooking grate on the Z Grill actually benefits from direct-flame access.

Hence, slap in a set of GrillGrates in the Pit Boss 440D and with its higher 500-degree temperature setting and the grilling/searing performance between the two pellet grills is likely very comparable.

Hopper Capacity & Run Time (Smoking/Grilling)

As these are very small pellet grills, they also come with pretty small hoppers. The Pit Boss 440D can hold only 5lbs and the Z Grills 6002E doesn’t hold much more at 8lbs.

If you check out my pellet usage article, you’ll see that means for smoking/low-temperature cooking, the hopper on the Pit Boss 440D should last for around 3 and a half hours, and the Z Grills 6002E should run for around 5 hours.

However, when it comes to grilling (450-500 degrees), you would need to pay close attention to these small hoppers.

Z Grills Pellet Hopper
While the Z Grills 6002E has the larger hopper at 8 lbs its not much bigger than the Pit Boss 440D at 5 lbs, both are very small hoppers

When grilling/searing on the maximum temperature setting, you can be burning through around 3lbs per hour, potentially more in winter/cold weather.

Hence, the Pit Boss 440D, when grilling, may last less than 2 hours, and the Z Grills 6002E will probably run out after around 3 hours of grilling.

However, don’t be tempted to leave the lid open so you can see the level of pellets. If rain gets into the hopper, you’re going to regret that decision, as it may end up causing an auger blockage.

So Which Is The Better Pellet Grill?

Well, while the Pit Boss 440 Deluxe has a slightly smaller overall cooking area compared to the Z Grills 6002E, it does have the larger main grate, and a larger area of the grate has direct-flame access.

Add on top of that, the Pit Boss 440 Deluxe has a higher temperature setting of 500 degrees I would probably just give it the edge over the Z Grills 6002E, but there is not much in it at all.

Both cost a very similar amount, therefore your choice may just come down to availability.


Pit Boss Sportsman 820SP vs Z Grills 1000E

Now we’re going to look at the largest pellet grill/smoker that Z Grills currently offer and compare it against a Pit Boss pellet grill at a similar price point.

The Sportsman 820SP is by no means the largest pellet grill Pit Boss produces, that’s the Lockhart.

However, the Lockhart is more expensive than the Z Grills 1000E, hence why I haven’t chosen it for this comparison.

Both the Pit Boss Sportsman 820SP and Z Grills 1000E retail for just under $700, so let’s see how they compare shall we?

Pit Boss Sportsman 820SP

Pit Boss Sportsman 820SP Pellet Grill/Smoker
  • Total Cooking Area = 849 sq.in (593 sq.in at the main grate)
  • Pellet Hopper Capacity = 21 lbs
  • Temperature Range = 180 to 500 degrees (650 + Direct Flame)
  • Direct-Flame Access? = Yes
  • PID Temperature Control? = No
  • WiFi/App Control? = No
  • Typical Price = $699

Z Grills 1000E

Z Grills 1000E Pellet Grill/Smoker
  • Total Cooking Area = 1,056 sq.in (428 sq.in at the main grate)
  • Pellet Hopper Capacity = 20 lbs
  • Temperature Range = 180 to 450 degrees
  • Direct-Flame Access? = No
  • PID Temperature Control? = No
  • WiFi/App Control? = No
  • Typical Price = $729

Cooking Area Provided (Grilling and Smoking)

Again, this is a similar situation to the smaller grills. For instance, Z Grills promote the ‘massive’ 1,060 square inches of cooking area on the 1000E, however, that’s provided over three racks.

Hence, the main cooking grate (suitable for grilling and smoking) is only 428 square inches. So what about the Pit Boss Sportsman 820SP?

Well, the Pit Boss may seem less impressive on first review, stating a total cooking capacity of 849 square inches. However, as we have already established, these ‘total cooking capacity’ figures don’t tell the whole story.

That 849 square inches is provided by just two racks, not three. Furthermore, the main cooking grate on the Pit Boss is 593 square inches, hence quite a bit more than the Z Grill.

Temperature Control & Direct-Flame Access

In terms of the control panels, the Pit Boss Sportsman 820SP and the Z Grill 1000E are fitted with the same versions as their smaller siblings.

Hence, again you are looking at a temperature range of 180 – 450 degrees on the Z Grills and 180 – 500 degrees on the Pit Boss. However, the difference comes with direct-flame access.

In this instance, the Z Grill 1000E does not benefit from direct-flame access whereas the Pit Boss Sportsman 820SP does.

Furthermore, its one of Pit Boss’s better integrations of the direct-flame access functionality, where the grease tray can be opened and closed by a lever on the outside of the pellet grill.

This is much safer than some Pit Boss models where you have to lift up the cooking grates to open and close the grease tray for direct-flame access.

Pit Boss Sportsman 820SP Direct-Flame Access Lever
Direct-flame access lever on the Pit Boss Sportsman 820SP

Hopper Capacity & Run Time (Smoking/Grilling)

Both of these pellet grills from Pit Boss and Z Grills are much larger than the first models we looked at above. Therefore, they also have considerably larger BBQ wood pellet hoppers.

The Pit Boss Sportsman 820SP features a 21 lbs hopper and the Z Grills 1000E features a 20 lbs hopper. Hence, importantly, both of these pellet grills can take a full 20lb bag of pellets in one go which is handy.

In terms of run time as they basically have the same size of pellet hopper you would be looking at around 13 hours of smoking (going low and slow) and roughly 6 hours of grilling/searing.

So Which Is The Better Pellet Grill?

Well I think with this comparision its a pretty easy win for the Pit Boss Sportsman 820. It offers the higher temperature setting at 500 degrees, direct flame access and it has the larger main cooking grate.

The plus points for the Z Grills 1000E are the larger cooking area overall and the cabinet is nice feature. However, when it comes to core cooking functionality, its a win for the Pit Boss.

Conclusions on Pit Boss vs Z Grills Pellet Grills/Smokers

So what are my final thoughts? Well, when it comes to the smallest units (Pit Boss 440 Deluxe vs Z Grills 6002E) I think the Pit Boss just wins, but its very close.

They both offer direct flame access along with the higher temperature setting at 500 degree, and the Pit Boss has the larger main grate,

With the larger pellet grills though (Pit Boss Sportsman 820SP vs Z Grills 1000E) I also think the Pit Boss is offering better value for money, but its a clearer win.

It provides a main cooking grate that is larger, higher maximum temperature setting (500 degrees) and direct-flame access which the Z Grills doesnt.

That’s it! I hope you found this Pit Boss vs Z Grills article useful. I have lots of other comparison articles such as Pit Boss vs Oklahoma Joe’s and Z Grills vs Grilla Grills for you to check out.

I also recommend you review my Wood Pellet Grill/Smoker Guide to understand all your options, no


PelHeat Pellet Grill/Smoker Database

Research/compare over 290 pellet grills/smokers on sale today


Recent Posts