MAK Grills Tech Talk, Flame Zone (available as a retrofit kit too)


When MAK Grills built the first 2-Star in 2009, we pioneered many innovations never seen before in the pellet grill industry (we have the Vesta awards to prove it!). One of the unique features we created was direct-heat grilling with the addition of volcano shaped embossed holes in the grease pan. This allowed the heat from the burning pellets to flow through the pan directly to the steak sizzling right above on the grate. Because of the shape of the embosses, the heat was able to travel through them but not the flame (like on a gas grill), minimizing flareups while still caramelizing the fats in the steak. The shape of the embosses also diverted grease away from the fire and down the pan to the grease trough.

Over the years since inception, we have created many improvements to the FlameZone system. We changed from a single area to the entire grill surface, added a tray for better grease control, created better covers, etc. All the while I was making proto after proto of the reverse funnel system we make today. It took about three years to fully develop and it is AMAZING! The biggest hurdle in this area of the grill is making the multiple variables all work together. Grease draining, air flow, heat distribution, grate height, TC location, smoke output, O2 levels for the fire, diffusing the fire, pan structural integrity, positioning of embossed holes, and heat to the cold smoke chamber were all variables that had to be right. The previous version, while effective for grilling, had some setbacks in a lot of the variables above that we wanted to make better. The biggest one was how to maximize the heat from the fire pot and put it where it belongs (at the food level). The old system trapped a bunch of heat in the belly of the grill that slowly pushed its way up and into the cooking chamber; the current system uses a reverse funnel system to allow the heat to flow directly to the pan and into the cooking chamber where it belongs.

This opened up a slew of great results:

Better pellet consumption: We didn’t need to burn as many to maintain a set point temperature.
More smoke: Because fewer pellets are burned the time between feeding is longer, so that when pellets do fall in, they create smoke.
Faster start-up and faster to set point: Because the heat is forced to the grill cooking area it gets hotter way faster!
Hotter grilling temps: Because we are directing the heat right to the grill surface the grilling temperatures are much hotter (around 600 degrees at grate level with FZ covers off).
Better heat distribution: The diffuser is placed inside of the funnel and pushes the heat outward, creating a more even distribution of heat for smoking and baking.

This is certainly one of the best improvements we have made to the MAK Grill’s functionality! As always, we try our very best not to leave customers behind if we can at all help it. So, if you have an older 2-Star Grill (prior to 2017), you can purchase a retrofit FlameZone kit. It comes with a new grease tray, diffuser, grease pan, flame zone covers, grill grates (because they run horizontal in the new system) and instructions. You can simply remove your old components and add the new ones. Please recycle, MAK parts will last years so we don’t want them in the landfill! 1 Star owners after 2017 can purchase this upgrade kit as well; 2016 and older 1-Stars have their own smaller version of the FlameZone.

Here is the marketing lingo that we will be adding to the website.

Made entirely from American 304 stainless steel, our FlameZone™ technology takes pellet grill versatility to the next level. Not only can you smoke your favorite foods to perfection, you can grill and sear with direct heat through the perforated holes.
MAK Grills feature a centrally-located removable firepot that sits in the middle of the pit. The FlameZone™ uses a funnel system which sits just above the firepot to divert heat up toward the primary cooking surface. A diffuser fits directly over the top of the firepot and inside the funnel to evenly disperse heat to the cooking surface.
The FlameZone™ pan sits just under the primary grill grates and covers the entire funnel. 88 perforated holes in the top allow heat to pass through, and allow you to use the entire primary cooking space of the smoker as a grill—direct heat but indirect flame enables you to capture a perfect sear without drying out your food. It also means you won’t have food or grease falling directly into your firepot.
When you want to switch back to smoking, baking or roasting (i.e., indirect cooking), just cover the perforations in the FlameZone™ pan with our stainless-steel covers. With a separate cover for front and back, you can even cover the back section to smoke a steak and then move it to the front uncovered section for a nice reverse sear.
The FlameZone™ has revolutionized our grills. Not only is heat redirected to the grate (where it’s most needed), the funnel system means your pit will reach setpoint temps faster. You’ll also see better heat distribution, more efficient pellet consumption, much hotter grilling temps, and more smoke, all due to the superior heat management of the FlameZone™ system.
It improves so many aspects of pellet grill cooking you’ll kick your gas or charcoal grill to the curb!
The MAK FlameZone™ comes standard on all 2-Star Grills, and is available as a retrofit kit for 2-Star Grills built prior to the 2017 model. You can also purchase a FlameZone™ kit for MAK 1-Star Grills (older models may require a Quick-Change kit rather than the full funnel system).
A couple questions please.

Will we be able to see any videos of it in use?

What's the reasoning in having the FZ run horizontal? It Seems like it would be more inconvenient to reach across say a griddle & grill grates of food if you're cooking a couple of different items? I guess I'm just use to working left to right when I grill instead of having to reach to the back?

Thanks for the explanation above. Very informative!


Your welcome, videos will take some time as we are currently working on all the 2019 release items.
If you want to shoot us an email we can get some shop video out to you to look at.
I will also add some pics here once we have them ready.

The grill grates run horizontal now because the Flame Zone pan is "peaked" in the center. We created this rooftop design to improve grease flow and added strength in the pan to withstand all the heat.


New member
Excellent and very informative post, Bob! Thank you! It was actually the Flame Zone setup that got me to sell my old 1 Star and buy my current 2017 2 Star. It just made perfect sense to me when I first saw it... and now that I have it, what a huge difference the Funnel FZ makes. It has actually turned my MAK into one of my all time favorite “grills” ever... and I have had my fair share of some pretty nice grills.


Great explanation. Now I know why our MAK works so well. As far as grilling with the new flame zone and reverse funnel systems gets the surface grill sizzling hot.


New member
According to the MAK website, this comes standard on all 2017 and newer 2 Stars, and it "retrofittable" to pre-2017 models...
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