Rounding out our Z Grills reviews is the 1000 series which is an immediate upgrade over the 700 series. It offers the largest cooking space (1060 sq. in.) of any Z Grill’s series and also has some notable features which are not found on all the previous models.
One of them is the upgraded cooking area which is split over three grates (bottom, middle and upper), instead of two like in the 450, 550, 600, and 700 series. The other one is the ash cleanout system which consists of a slide-out ash tray beneath the main fuel compartment. The 1000 series models also come with side shelves with tool hooks – the only other series that offers this is the 600 series.
The design of the 1000 series is equally slightly different from the rest. They drop the barrel design and instead have more width on the mid and upper parts of the cooking chamber.
The 1000 Series Models
Like the 700 series, there are four base models in this series (1000D, 1000E, 10002B, and 10002E) categorized into two groups with the major difference between them being cosmetic styling. The 1000D and 1000E feature an enclosed cart/cabinet design and have four wheels – they only differ in color and lid material.
The 10002E and 10002B models feature an open-cart design and have a two-wheel system. Lid material and color is also their main difference. However, while each model in the 1000 series features a side shelf, these two also have a front shelf – the 1000D and 1000E don’t have one.
All the four models are identical in the cooking capacity as well as the guts including, the auger system, grease management system, and thermostat. The controller is the same standard controller (with LED display) found on the 700 series base models and the other previous series. The temp range is equally the same at 180 – 450°F and even the hopper capacity at 20 pounds.
Similar to the other base models in the other series, these don’t have meat probes, a pellet hopper clean-out system, or the flame boiler offered by the 600 series models.
After owning and testing two models of the 700 series (700E and 7002B), we found that they are quite similar in terms of performance and so this round we decided to get just one model for our 1000 series test. We got the ZPG 10002B which is the most affordable model in the series.
We’ve been testing it out for the past two weeks and as it’s our tradition we’ll share our experience using and cooking on it in this review but in a way that will cover all the 1000 series grills. Let’s dig into the matter straightaway.
There’s a notable difference in the design of the 1000 series which we saw immediately when we had our 10002B set up. The cooking chamber has more width on both its mid and upper parts – it’s not really a complete barrel-style like we saw in the earlier models and the reason for this is mainly to create space for the additional third rack that the 1000 series models offer.
Another notable change is the addition of an ash tray which is located underneath the main fuel compartment of the grills. It has a lever that allows you to slide it out of the backside of the grill.
All of the models in the series have a side table located on the right end which is quite useful for food preparation and large enough to hold items like trays, plates, sauces, and spray bottles. The tables also have hooks where you can hang other tools and items like pans – there’s no bottle opener though like on the 600 series models.
The 10002E and 10002B have even front-mounted shelves which provide more prep space than the 1000E and 1000D models which only have a side table. It’s a bit small though with just enough space to hold smaller items like spices, and beverages. I didn’t find it quite as useful as the side table because I often knocked off whatever I put there when I opened the lid.
The pellet hopper lid of all the models is just as large as that of the 700 series hence also works great as a prep station/work surface. The only downside is that it’s a bit high to use which was the same problem we had with the 700 series models. However, the shelves are all counter-height and comfortable to use which is not something you don’t find on most smokers – they are usually at a lower height.
The 10002B (and also the 10002E) has an open-cart design, so you only have a bottom shelf that is sufficiently large to provide ample space where you can store the pellet bags and several other items. The 1000E and 1000D offer an enclosed storage cabinet that’s about the same size (5400 cubic inches) as the one on 700 series models (700E and 700D).
When it comes to size, the 1000 series smokers are quite larger than the rest. Our 10002B model measured 54 x 29 x 53 inches which is the same size as the other three models in the series. In comparison, the 700 series models measure 48 x 22 x 41 inches while the 600 series (L6002B that we tested) measure 47 x 21 x 49 inches. They are basically taller and wider than their predecessors – not really suitable for small backyards, patio or entertainment areas.
They are heavy too, weighing around 134 pounds (10002B and 10002E models) and about 144 pounds (1000E and 1000D models).
Wheeling the 10002B around required some effort not just because of the weight but also the fact that it adopts a 2-wheel system where you have to lift it on the left end with the side-lift bar. If you don’t have strong arms then you may likely need some help to lift and move it around. Its wheels are larger than those of the 7002B or 7002E, so it’s able to move over most rough or soft terrains.
The 1000D and 1000E models feature four caster wheels which make moving them easy but the caster wheels are just as small as those on the 700E and 700D models meaning they are likely to get damaged fast if moved over rough terrain. They have the locking mechanisms though, to help securely keep the unit in place when cooking or not in use.
In terms of aesthetics, all the grills look sleek and appealing. One of the reasons we got the 10002B, instead of the 10002E, is the color. We got it because we didn’t want a shiny grill like the shiny, stainless steel 700E we had – it turned out not to be the best decision because the stainless surface reflects giant rays of sunshine that was almost blinding sometimes and made it hard for us to take pictures and even shoot videos of the grill.
The 10002B has the same sleek all-black finish as our 7002B model which better suited our needs. The 1000D model also has the same distinct bronze finish as the 700D model which we still consider to be the most appealing finish of all Z Grills models – the 1000E has a shiny, stainless steel finish much like the 10002E and 700E models.
The four models of the 1000 series are all made from powder-coated steel with some of the parts that matter like the auger, drip tray, and pellet hopper made out of stainless steel. It’s basically the same construction as the 700 series models.
However, after we inspected our 10002B, we found it to be much sturdier than the 7002B or any of the 700 series base models. The cooking chamber walls, for instance, were thick and relatively substantial compared to those of its predecessors despite not being double-walled. The pellet hopper lid and the drip pan are equally slightly thicker and look like they can last for a long period.
The bottom half of the grill seems to have been improved too. The storage shelf is thicker and the legs as well, especially the two studs – they are thick and strong. The whole unit just feels very solid and stable. The wheels like we mentioned above are larger and more rugged (offer great traction), suitable for rough outdoor terrain. They are able to support the weight of the grill very well.
There was no flexing either in the hopper assembly when lifting the grill to move it which was one of the quality issues we had with the 7002B model. The hopper attaches securely to the cooking chamber and remains that way throughout our tests.
The grab handle on the hopper for lifting and rolling the grill around was pretty solid too. The connection is secure – we didn’t feel it flex at any moment when lifting and moving the grill, even with the hopper filled.
The grates are cast iron with porcelain coating which is the same case with all the other Z Grills models. They are, however, thick and strong which again is an improvement from the ones on the 700 series models as they were a little thin and likely to bend.
In general, we were really pleased with the build quality of the 10002B. It’s certainly not the same as the 7002B we had. Everything looked slightly improved and we couldn’t find many complaints regarding the quality except for some who pointed out that the porcelain coating on their grates had warped and peeled.
A few others mentioned that some of the stainless steel parts like the drip tray and the pellet hopper started to corrode and rust after a year of using the grill. For us though, we found it to be well-built, very stable, and likely to last longer than the 7002B or the 700E.
We can’t say much about the build quality of the other models in the 1000 series (1000E, 1000D, and 10002E) but according to Z Grills, they are constructed in a much similar way hence they are also likely to be durable.
However, the downside to the 1000D and 1000E models might be the wheeling system as they have the same small caster wheels that the 700E had which can easily break or get damaged if frequently rolled over rough terrains such as rocks.
The Z Grills 10002B arrived in two boxes delivered by FedEx. Several users claimed that theirs came in one box but two boxes are what ours came in. Both boxes arrived in great shape, weighing 122 pounds (the large one) and 48 pounds (the small one). The packaging was really impressive – there was hardly any wasted space in the way everything was packed.
The larger box contained the cooking chamber with its lid attached. The inside was full of parts, completely filled to maximize space usage. We opened the small box and it contained the base (cart), the grates, and the drip tray along with other parts to complete the grill build.
Both boxes were securely wrapped in plastic straps which is something we appreciated given the heavyweight of the boxes – they made sure everything stayed put inside as they were jostled around during transit. All the parts and pieces were present and intact, with no dents or anything which we were also pleased with considering that a few users reported that their cooking chamber had a lot of dents.
Like the previous Z Grills units, the 10002B came broken down into separate individual parts, so there was more assembly work involved which we expected and were already used to having set up four Z Grills smokers before. We were able to put it together in about an hour. There were those that reported having difficulty assembling it which is true if you sort to do it alone.
The provided instructions are clear and detailed – it takes you through each step and all the necessary tools you need to finish the set up including the wrenches, screwdriver, and assembly gloves are provided. With a helping hand, you should be able to set it up in roughly an hour and a half.
All the parts fit together well and unlike the 7002B model, the cooking chamber lid did fit well but still though we added some gasket seal tape around the edges to ensure a tighter fit that would keep the wind gusts out and ensure minimal temperature swings.
Similar to the other Z Grills model, this too requires seasoning which is even recommended in the instruction manual. You have to set the grill at 450°F maximum temp and let it run for about an hour to burn off all the manufacturing oils and debris inside the cooking chamber.
All the 1000 series models come with a grill cover and we got ours which we tried and it did fit well. It seems to be a strong rain cover made with a 420D waterproof polyester fabric although some people claimed on several online forums we looked at that theirs didn’t really last long – they claim it fades to grey after around 6 months while others said that it develops tears along the front after having it for a year.
On the plus side, unlike the one we got with the 7002B and 700E models, this at least had eyelets where you can use bungee cords to secure it to the smoker or even install your own drawstring to fit it real tight at the bottom of the smoker, especially if you reside in high wind areas.
Controls/Using the Unit
There are no fancy bells and whistles with the 1000 series models. They come with the same standard controller found on the 700 series base models which includes a basic control panel featuring the red LED display, power button, and the analog temperature dial common on the other Z Grills base models.
The settings are just as basic as the rest – on the temperature dial you have the “Shut Down Cycle” setting, “smoke” setting, and the temperatures you can set ranging from 180 to 450°F. You can adjust the temperature at 25°F increments which is actually the same as the other previous Z Grills models.
The LED display is equally the small screen that the 7002B and 700E models had, so reading it in direct sunlight is going to be a problem, plus the whole control panel isn’t backlit which means you can’t see the temperature dial and the power switch in the dark. You’ll have to use a flashlight if cooking in the night and you don’t have good lighting on your backyard or patio.
The 1000 series has no built-in meat probe and this is the same case with all the other Z Grills models except the 700 series upgraded models which come with two built-in temperature probes. You have to get a separate meat thermometer for monitoring the internal temperature of your meats so you can know exactly when they are ready.
Generally, there’s no improvement or upgrades done on the controller or the control panel – it’s just as simple and basic as the rest.
Even though there was no PID controller on the 10002B, we’ve found its overall performance (temperature control) to be very good. The biggest downside is that it takes a bit longer to be ready to cook whenever you fire it up from the start.
We used a stopwatch to measure how long it took to heat up to the desired temperature and the results weren’t quite pleasing. We set it to 225°F and it took around 2 minutes and 40 seconds to first smoke and around 11 minutes to reach 225°F where it continued heating, reaching a maximum overshoot temperature of 246°F.
We had to wait for about 25 minutes for it to come down to 225°. When we tested the ZPG-450A model (Basic Series model) it also overshot to 350°F but it quickly cools down to our set temp of 225°F – it took just 15 minutes to come down which is 10 minutes less than the 10002B that had only overshot by 17°F.
This is a problem that we noted mostly at low smoking temperatures (250°F and below) – it heats up to the target temperature fairly quickly (in about 10 to 15 minutes) and then overshoots by about 15 to 25°F where you have to wait for another 15 to 20 minutes for it to stabilize at your set temperature.
Another thing we noted is that it doesn’t get to the maximum temp of 450°F. The hottest we achieved was 433°F, on a sunny day (around 75°F) with the wind very calm. We had the same experience with the 7002B and 7002E models which often maxed out at 425°F and 430°F respectively.
We did try to use pure oak wood pellets as we did with the two 700 series models to see if there would be any difference and indeed there was as we recorded 454°F on our separate IR thermometer. Getting to 450°F was hard when we used the hickory and the applewood pellets that we had.
Even though it overshoots and takes a long time to stabilize, the 10002B was able to hold temp pretty well once it had stabilized. The regular temperature controller kept the heat relatively consistent and close to what it was actually set at, especially at low temp settings.
On the 225°F settings, for instance, the grill would run nicely within 10°F up or down the set temp. The largest variance was when set at 300°F and above – it would sometimes fluctuate +/- 20°F of where you set it.
We also did a couple of tests to see how the heat distribution pattern was on this grill, from right to left as well as top to bottom. Surprisingly, there was little temperature variance between the different parts.
For the first test, we set the grill to 225°F and used a digital thermometer to check the temperatures across the top and bottom cooking grates. There was a 10 to 20°F difference between the top and bottom grate but there wasn’t much variance from one end of the cooking grate to the other, especially at the bottom grate.
At the bottom grate, the temperature on the left end was 210°F, middle 220°F, and right end 219°F while at the top grate, the left side temp was 224°F, middle 230°F, and right side 246°F.
Next up we set the temp to 350°F, and again the middle section of the grates was the hottest, except for the top grates where the left side was the hottest. At the bottom grate, the left side read 348°F, center 355°F, and the right side 337°F. At the top grate, the left side was 374°F, center 357°F, and right side 362°F.
The last test we did was to set the grill to “High” which is the top temperature at 450°F. After about 40 minutes the control panel was indicating a temp of 444°F. On our instant-read IR thermometer, the temp read 459°F on the center of the bottom grate. The grill was really hot and this was due to the pure oak wood pellets we used and the fact that the weather was relatively good. The left side was at 454°F while the right was at 438°F.
Generally, the grill stayed impressively close to the target temperature, especially at the middle section of the grates which happen to be directly over the firepot.
We noted that the top grate got a bit hotter than the bottom grate but this was because we did the tests with an empty smoker. We found that when we load it, the meat on the lower grate would cook faster than that the one on the top grate because it soaks up most of the heat before it can reach the top grate.
Another thing we noted was that the left side of the grill (mostly on the top grates) runs hotter than the right when at high temperatures which is the opposite of what we saw at low temperatures. If you are cooking lots of food, then you’ll need to move them around, especially the ones on the top grates to ensure even cooking, but overall the heat distribution is fine – there are really no massive hot spots.
We did these tests under ideal conditions (light breeze, 65°F), so the results would be different under extreme cold and windy conditions. The insulation of the cooking chamber isn’t thick enough to withstand temperatures below freezing and still maintain consistent heat.
You’ll also need to get an instant-read IR thermometer because the digital readout appears not to be so reliable. It was about 15°F low in about 8 cooks that we did – if it reads 250°F, our IR thermometer was at about 265°F. In fact, it was about 35°F low in our first cook, so you would really need a separate grill thermometer and also a meat thermometer to ensure your cooking temperatures are always where you expect them to be.
The Cooking Results
We’ve had a great experience with the previous Z Grills smokers when it comes to cooking results and it was the same case with this 10002B model. We did plenty of cooking on it, both low and slow, and hot and fast. We smoked and roasted a variety of meats (from ribs to chicken to pulled pork), and even did some slow roasts all within the first week and the results were outstanding.
Low and Slow Smoking
Smoked Beef Chuck Ribs
The first cook was a 4-bone section of beef chuck ribs which weighed 5 pounds. We removed the fat cap and the tough silverskin beneath to allow the beef rub to penetrate the meat nicely and also make for less fatty smoked chuck ribs.
We slather the ribs with Dijorn mustard that contains horseradish to give it a little hint of flavor and also help our dry rub cling to the surface of the ribs. We then seasoned it liberally on all sides with our dry rub which was a simple mix of coarse Kosher salt, coarse black pepper, and garlic powder.
We had preheated the smoker to 250°F using pure oak pellets and some apple pellets as well to add sweet flavor and keep the heat steady. We placed the ribs on the smoker and let them smoke for 3 hours where we spritz them with a hot sauce and vinegar blend to keep things moist and develop that yummy bark.
We continued smoking the ribs while spritzing the ribs every 45 to 60 minutes until they reached an internal temperature of 203°F (in the thickest part). This process typically took about 8 hours as we used a meat probe to keep an eye on the internal temp. They hit 203°F at the 8th hour where we removed them and wrapped them up in butcher paper, and let them rest for about an hour before slicing them into individual ribs.
The results were amazing. The ribs cooked properly. They had a nice exterior appearance (not too dark). They also had a good smoke ring and the meat was moist and tender – not quite fall-apart tender, just tender enough to bite through and cleanly come off the bones. The flavor was great (not too peppery or salty) and we could as well taste a mild smoke flavor which added a little extra “wow” to the ribs.
Our second cook was briskets. We prepared two briskets (5 pounds each) well coated with the same dry rub we used to season the beef chuck ribs. We smoked them at 225°F as we did in the 7002B until the internal temp in the thickest part was 202°F which was after about 8 hours.
They turned out pretty well. They had a beautiful smoke ring (around 3/8 inches all round) and tasted great. The meat was fairly tender and juicy with a nice smoky flavor that wasn’t too strong.
We did smoke a whole chicken (4 pounds) in one of our tests too and the result was also incredible. We smoked it for about 4 hours at 275°F and removed it immediately the internal temp in the thighs registered 165°F. The skin wasn’t crispy. It felt a little bit rubbery but the meat was juicy and tender.
We had brined our chicken to ensure it was seasoned all the way through and this indeed paid off – all that great flavor of salt, herbs, and spices were infused throughout the whole chicken which plus the mild smoky flavor made the meat quite delicious. We were pleased with the results except for the rubbery skin.
Other meats we smoked on the 10002B over the one week were chicken wings and a couple of pork butts, and they all turned out great. Unfortunately, we were not able to try smoking fish but we saw several reports of people claiming the grill had difficulty maintaining low temperatures (below 200°F), so smoking fish or doing any kind of cold smoking could be a challenge.
Like the 700 and 600 series models, the 10002B was able to deliver incredible results when we tried slow roasting. This round we decided to slow-roast a 4.4 pounds lamb shoulder with rosemary and garlic as it’s easier than a lamb leg. We first mixed rosemary, garlic, salt, pepper, and olive oil, and then spread the mixture all over the lamp on both sides.
We then placed it on top of sliced onions in a roasting tray and poured in water and red wine around the base of the lamb (not on top). We covered the lamb with foil and placed it into the smoker (preheated to 325°F) and then slow roasted it for 4 hours.
After 4 hours, we removed the lamp, removed the foil, and turned the temp up to 425°F. Once the temp had reached 425°F we returned the lamb to the smoker and roasted it for an additional 30 minutes before taking it out.
The result was an incredible lamb roast that was meltingly tender and infused in every part with the delicious flavors of the rosemary, garlic, and red wine. It was gloriously juicy and we did enjoy it.
With the maximum temperature of 450°F, the 10002B like its other counterparts is more of a smoker than a grill. There’s no broiler plate or access to open flame either, so even if you crank it up to 450°F to do a simple searing such as grilling hot dogs and hamburgers you won’t get deep grill marks – you would still be cooking with indirect heat instead of directly over the firepot like on the Z Grills 600 series models. We tried to grill some hot dogs and although they were cooked well, the best we got was only slightly visible sear marks.
The Smoke Flavor
We were a little displeased with the smoke output of the 10002B. The meat came out great but the smoke flavor was always mild when the temp was above 200°F – the smoke output would be less or even none sometimes.
The only time it puts out a decent amount of smoke is when you adjust to the Smoke setting (160 to 180°F). It smokes steadily after around half an hour and then the smoke is intermittent – this was the same case with the other Z Grills unit and we found it not practical since we had to cook above 200°F most of the time even when doing low and slow smoking.
We’ve seen complaints about smoke leaking out of the ash pan. We didn’t experience that but we had a problem with the cooking chamber lid which was slightly different from the body and this led to a slight leak of smoke. We fixed it though by adding some gasket seal tape around the lid and there was no smoke leaking out anymore. Generally, if you want a strong smoky flavor, then you may need to get a smoke tube to help increase the smoke output.
The 1000 Series offers the largest cooking space compared to all previous Z Grills series. Each model in the series offers a total cooking area of 1060 square inches which is plenty of space to suit medium to large families or for entertaining a lot of people.
The thing that, however, stands out the most is the fact that the cooking area is split across 3 grates rather than 2 found on the other Z Grills series. There’s the primary cooking grate at the bottom that offers 432 square inches of area, a middle warming grate offering 374 square inches, and an upper warming rack that provides 255 square inches of space.
The three grates not only give you plenty of room to cook a lot of food at once but they allow you to spread them well across the grill. You could load in there 6 full slabs of ribs, two on each grate, and they would all fit very well. It can even accommodate 7 chickens or 52 burgers at any one time.
The vertical space between the grates is a bit small but each of them is easy to remove, so you can remove the middle rack to get extra height clearance on the primary grate when you want to fit something big such as a beer can chicken. You can as well take out the middle and upper grates to create more clearance for huge briskets, multiple Boston butt pork shoulders, or even a whole turkey.
One thing to note though is that the size of the primary cooking grate (which is the closest to the target temperature) on the 10002B and the other 1000 series models is actually smaller than what the Z Grills 700 series models offer – it’s 428 square inches against the 504 square inches of the 700 series.
Therefore, although the 1000 series models offer more cooking space overall, for cooking/smoking more food at ideal temperatures the 700 series grills actually offer a little more space.
The Z Grills 1000 series comes with an exclusive ash cleanout system in the form of an ash tray/pan. This is yet another feature that not only sets it apart from the other Z Grills series but also over other pellet smokers in the industry.
The ash tray is located right underneath the main fuel compartment (firepot) and it catches most of the ash that’s produced by the grill as the wood pellets burn above it.
Most of the ashes from the burning pellets fall directly into it which after cooking you can easily clean by pulling the tray out (by pulling a lever) from the back of the grill and then dumping the collected ash into a garbage bin. It’s an upgrade that really makes cleaning ash from the grill easy and convenient as there’s no dismantling required.
For almost every other pellet grill, you have to go through the hassle of dismantling the grates, and grease tray every now and then to sweep/scoop out the ashes or use a Shop Vac to clean them out of the bottom of the grease tray.
As for the grease drippings, the 1000 series features the same grease management system that comes standard in most of the other Z Grills base models. There’s a grease pan to collect the drippings and it’s slightly set at an angle to help direct the collected grease into a small grease bucket that hangs under the side shelf.
The system seemed to do its job well in our tests as all the grease on the collection pan drained into the bucket, there was no pooling or bents. The only problem is that the grease bucket hangs loosely on a small hook on the exterior (the right side of the unit).
There’s no latch to hold it in place. I have accidentally knocked it off the grill several times during our tests dumping piles of grease all over the deck which was annoying as heck. It always made a mess that was extremely hard to clean – even a dog hanging around the grill can easily knock it off by mistake.
You can cover the grease pan with aluminum to avoid having the grease drain into the bucket. It’s a huge time saver and helps keep the cooking chamber in cleaner condition. The grates only require the usual scraping as they have a nonstick porcelain coating that allows for easy release of foods. The exterior of the grill cleans easily too with just warm soapy water and a soft cleaning rag.
There’s no pellet emptying door on the hopper like in the 700 series upgraded models (700D2, 700D3, 7002F, and 7002F2) so there’s no easy way to dump or change the pellets in case you want to change the wood flavors – the only way is to use a scoop and then remove the pellets by hand.
Similar to the 700 series base models, the Z Grills 1000 series models come with a large hopper that’s capable of holding up to 20 pounds of wood pellets at once which gives you roughly 15 hours of nonstop smoking.
However, we noticed that the initial startup tends to use pellets faster compared to subsequent startups. That said though, the 10002B was fairly efficient as far as pellet consumption is concerned. It used around 1½ pounds per hour when at low temperatures, just about the same rate as the 700E and 7002B models – the higher the set temperature the faster it burns through the pellets.
One serious issue we had with this unit was the hot rod ignitor failing to work during the first startup, which was very irritating. Fortunately, I have some background in mechanical work, so I was able to locate the loose connection in the control box and get the grill fired right up. It was a minor setback but it could be a very big issue for someone with little or no mechanical/wiring knowledge.
The 1000 Series offers the most cooking space of all the previous Z Grill smokers we’ve had and it’s no doubt the ideal option to consider if you have a large family, love to entertain, or just need a larger cooking capacity that will allow you to make lots of food at once. We’ve had a great experience with the 10002B and did plenty of cooks on it which almost all turned out fantastic.
Apart from the fact that it tends to overshoot past the target temp and takes a long time to stabilize, we have very few complaints about its performance. The smoke production is mild but that’s nothing new as it’s the same case with the other Z Grills models.
Generally, the 1000 series is worth considering if your main concern is cooking space. If you also want a smoker that’s slightly easier to clean, then it’s an option you can equally consider.