Do I Need a PID Controller for a Pellet Grill? Your Complete Guide

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.

    1. What is a PID controller?
    2. How does a PID controller differ from a normal controller?
    3. How does a PID controller work?
    4. Why choose a pellet grill with a PID controller?
    5. Which pellet grills have a PID controller?
    6. Do I need a pellet grill with a PID controller?

    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. A PID controller makes sure that the temperature swings are minimal or nonexistent. They’re ideal if you want consistent, perfect results each time you use your grill or want to be as hands-free as possible during the cooking time.

    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:

    • Z Grills Pioneer 450B . – 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 $429, it’s difficult to pass up!


    • Z Grills 600D3E – 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 7002C2E – 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 need and deliver incredible results with every single use for years to come.

    • Z Grills 700D4E – Our 2021 new 700D4E 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.

    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 .