Do I Need a PID Controller for a Pellet Grill

pid controller

One of the reasons why pellet grills are exploding in popularity is due to their ability to maintain a constant temperature, and one of the best ways to do this is to purchase a grill with a PID controller.

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    What is a PID Controller?

    PID stands for Proportional, Integral, Derivative, which essentially means that they use algorithms and an internal computer to monitor the internal temperature of your grill and make automatic adjustments to keep it at that temperature. (If you want to get deep into the nerdy math around this, see this link.)

    How Does a PID Controller Differ From a Normal Controller?

    A normal controller works on a timed basis, feeding the fire at timed intervals. This works well, but imagine these two different scenarios:

    1. You’re grilling outside on a 95F day, with no wind
    2. You’re grilling late in fall on a breezy day

    The temperature outside the grill, which of course will affect how well your grill holds on to heat, is hugely different. When you have a pellet grill with a normal controller, it won’t adjust how your fire is fed based on those two different scenarios, which can lead to temperature swings. If you have a good grill they won’t be major swings, but a PID controller will step up the results you get with your pellet grill.

    How Does a PID Controller Work?

    There’s a lot going on inside a PID controller, but the basic principle behind how it works is simple.

    We enter a “setpoint” into the PID controller via the display, which programs the controller to try to keep the temperature within the grill at that temperature. For example, if we’re smoking burgers, we’ll want to keep the temperature at about 225F.

    The PID controller then compares our setpoint with the temperature inside the grill via a sensor. If the temperature is the same (in the case of our example, 225F) then the PID doesn’t need to take any action.

    However, if the temperature is less than 225F, then it will take action to raise the temperature, feeding more pellets into the fire. It’s this mechanism that makes it more reliable at keeping a constant temperature than other controllers, which work on a time-based setting, releasing pellets regularly based on programmed times for each temperature.

    Why Choose a Pellet Grill with a PID Controller?

    If you choose one of our Z Grills that doesn’t have a PID controller, are you going to get bad results? Of course not! But you may find that you get slightly different results based on the external world. That means you could cook the exact same cut of meat on two different days and get a different result.

    Let’s explore the benefits of opting for a grill with this advanced technology:

    1. Consistent Temperature Control

    PID controllers excel at maintaining a steady temperature, eliminating temperature fluctuations that can affect the quality of your grilled masterpieces. Whether you’re searing a juicy steak or slow-smoking a rack of ribs, a pellet grill with a PID controller ensures that the temperature remains precisely where you want it. This level of consistency allows you to achieve the perfect level of doneness and flavor every time.

    2. Improved Efficiency

    With a PID controller, your pellet grill operates with optimal efficiency. The controller continuously monitors and adjusts the pellet feed rate and airflow to maintain the desired temperature. By minimizing temperature swings and wasteful pellet consumption, you can grill for longer periods without worrying about refilling the hopper frequently. This efficiency not only saves you time but also helps you maximize the use of your pellet supply.

    3. Enhanced Versatility

    Pellet grills equipped with PID controllers offer a wide temperature range, allowing you to explore a variety of cooking techniques. From low-and-slow smoking to high-temperature searing, you have the flexibility to experiment with different flavors and textures. The precise temperature control ensures that your dishes turn out just the way you envision them, making your culinary creations truly exceptional.

    4. Ease of Use

    One of the significant advantages of a pellet grill with a PID controller is its user-friendly operation. These controllers are designed to simplify the grilling process, even for beginners. With intuitive controls and digital displays, you can easily set and monitor the desired temperature. This means less time spent fussing over the grill and more time enjoying the company of family and friends.

    5. Consistency Across Seasons

    Grilling enthusiasts often face the challenge of maintaining consistent temperatures, especially during changing weather conditions. A PID controller helps overcome this hurdle by adapting to external factors that may affect the grill’s performance. Whether it’s a scorching summer day or a chilly winter evening, the PID controller compensates for ambient temperature changes, keeping your grill steady and reliable.

    6. Precision for Culinary Creativity

    If you love experimenting with different recipes and flavors, a pellet grill with a PID controller becomes an invaluable tool. The precise temperature control allows you to explore various cooking styles, such as low-and-slow smoking, high-heat grilling, or even baking. With the ability to dial in the exact temperature you need, you can push the boundaries of your culinary creativity and impress your guests with remarkable dishes.

    Which Pellet Grills Have a PID Controller?

    If you’re ready to upgrade to a pellet grill with a PID controller, we’ve got the perfect models for you. Here are our recommendations:

    This is a great beginner and budget-friendly grill complete with PID controller and pellet cleanout system to make maintenance a breeze. With over 500 5-star reviews and at $399, it’s difficult to pass up!

    Z Grills Pioneer 450B

    If you want a grill that can do it all, look no further! The 600D3E has a PID controller that will keep your temperature consistent, and if you’re not smoking you can also bake, roast, braise, grill, and more all on the 600D3E. It also comes with a side plate flame broiler for easy searing!

    Z Grills 600D3E

    If you’re someone who loves to have the top-spec of everything, the 7002C2E is for you! This professional-grade pellet grill will meet your every

    Z Grills 7002C2E

    Our 2022 new 700D4E pellet grills features a digital PID control board and twin-wall construction for even temperatures. Take control over your food’s destiny with the included meat probes. The LCD allows you to easily monitor the progress of your meat, so you never have to worry about overcooking on the grill again.

    Z Grills 700D4E

    Do I Need a Pellet Grill with a PID Controller?

    If you’re still on the fence about whether or not you need a PID controlled pellet grill, answer these questions:

    • Do I want reliable results every time?
    • Do I want to be completely hands-free?
    • Do I live in an area where the temperature differs significantly?

    If the answer to any or all of those is “yes”, then a pellet grill with a PID controller is a great idea. With Z Grills, PID-controlled pellet grills are high-quality and affordable. If you answered “no” to two out of three or all of the above, then a normal grill may suit you just fine – either way, you can browse our entire range of pellet grills here.

    About The Author

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    Z Grills

    Z Grills is a grill manufacturer with over 30 years of experience within the industry. With over 650,000 pellet grills sold and 85 million cooks made, trust us.

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    1. Timothy Frye says:

      Dose my z grill smoke have a pid controller 550b2

      1. z grills Author says:

        Yes, the 550B2 comes with a PID controller.

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