Pellet grills are one of the most convenient ways to smoke meats and vegetables. Simply toss your food onto the pellet grill, check on it every few hours, and wait until the food goes from bland to smoky bliss.
Using my pellet grill more during the cold, rainy months in the Pacific Northwest made me wonder if we can use smokers and pellet grills under covered porches, patios, and decks.
After all, a little bad weather shouldn’t ruin a good smoking session especially when family and friends come over.
So can pellet grills and smokers be used under covered porches, patios, or decks?
Pellet grills and smokers can be used under covered porches, patios, or decks. However, there needs to be sufficient airflow to blow the smoke out of the covered enclosure. Pellet grills, smokers, or any grills should not be used in enclosed spaces or areas with poor airflow such as a garage.
The only exception to not using a smoker in a garage or indoors is when the smoker is rated for indoor use such as electric smokers.
However, this article will focus on charcoal and wood grills and smokers.
So similar to using a regular BBQ grill, pellet grills and smokers should only be used where there is good airflow circulation to blow the excess heat and smoke away.
Let’s quickly cover some things to keep in mind if you decide to use a pellet grill or smoker underneath a porch, patio, or deck.
Smoky Smell And Residue From Pellet Grills And Smokers
The first thing to keep in mind is that smokers and pellet grills produce a lot of smoke. This smoke will rise with hot air which means that the majority of the smoke will come in contact with the porch, patio, or deck covering.
So expect to see and smell the smoke from the smoking session days later.
Depending on the thickness of the smoke, there may be black residue that visibly starts building up on the ceiling of the covering. Over time this residue should be power washed or cleaned off before it builds up too thick.
Not to mention the smoky smell will soak into any cloth seats, coverings, or drapes. However, a quick wash should clean off the smell unless you prefer to keep that delicious smoky smell around.
Where To Position Pellet Grill Or Smoker Underneath Covering
Another important thing to keep in mind is positioning the pellet grill or smoker underneath the covered porch, patio, or deck.
The goal is to have the pellet grill or smoker exhaust facing a window or door so the majority of the smoke will be pointed outside.
For example, I place my Traeger pellet grills near the railing underneath my covered porch. This way the exhaust vents on the back are pointed outside and away from my door and covered ceiling.
My porch has a ceiling that is about 10 feet high so it provides enough space for the hot smoke to cool down before hitting the ceiling.
Ceiling Clearance For Pellet Grills Or Smokers
Pellet grills and smokers need a certain amount of distance or ceiling clearance so that the smoke does not ignite the ceiling.
Check with your owner’s manual to make sure you are allowing the proper distance for your smoker or pellet grill since some smokers produce higher smoke heat that needs additional clearance than the one below.
Below is the recommended minimum overhead and back and side clearance for the Traeger pellet grill (source).
So are you can see from my porch photo and the recommended minimum distances, I placed my Traegers further than 12 inches from my deck and the ceiling is further than 40 inches away overhead.
Using a Pellet Grill or Smoker on a Wood Deck
A common question is whether or not a smoker or pellet grill can be used on a wood deck.
Pellet grills and smokers can be used on a wooden deck. However, ensure that there is at least 12 inches of clearance behind and to the sides of the smoker so that the railing does not get hit with hot smoke. Keep in mind that there are some natural risks whenever you’re dealing with live fire.
Pellet grills and smokers also need at least 40 inches of vertical clearance so that the hot smoke can cool before hitting any ceiling or flammable item.
Consult with the smoker or pellet grills owner manual to make sure there is enough clearance. Take the necessary precautions to safely operate the smoker on a wood deck and have a fire extinguisher nearby.
Capturing Grease From Pellet Grill Or Smoker
Make sure to capture any grease or oil from the pellet grill or smoker so the wood deck does not get stained or ruined.
Most pellet grills and smokers have grease slides, buckets, or traps so make sure it’s empty before using the smoker.
Removing grease or oil stains from a wood deck can be a huge pain depending on the wood color and the severity of the grease stain. Typically a power washer will remove most, if not all, the grease and oil but it’s best to not have this issue in the first place.
Using a Traeger pellet grill or smoker under a covered porch, deck, or patio is a great way to continue smoking if it rains or snows.
However, the pellet grill or smoker does need adequate ventilation or airflow to ensure that the space does not get completely smoked out.
Also, keep in mind that the hot smoke does need to safely exit which means allowing enough distance between the railing or walls AND the ceiling. Check with the owner’s manual to make sure that the smoker or pellet grill is placed in a spot that allows the hot smoke to safely disperse.
The good news is that some bad weather doesn’t have to ruin a date with some delicious smoked food.
Pellet grills and smokers can be used under covered porches, patios, or decks. However, there needs to be sufficient airflow to blow the smoke out of the covered enclosure. For example, a covered porch or patio should have windows or gaps that allow the smoke to blow out. Pellet grills, smokers, or any grills should not be used in enclosed spaces or areas with poor air flow such as a garage.
I’ll be smoking my meats and veggies underneath by covered porch all throughout the rainy months here in the Pacific Northwest. Hopefully, you get to as well.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Can a pellet grill or smoker be used in a screened in porch?
A: Pellet grills and smokers can be used in screen in porched as long as there is enough airflow and ventilation.
The smoker and pellet grill must be placed in a spot that allows the smoke to safely exit the covered area. Pellet grills and smokers also need a certain distance away from railings and walls as well as the ceiling to allow the hot smoke to safely disperse.
Check with the owner’s manual to ensure the smoker or pellet grill is placed in a safe area.
Q: Can a smoker be used under a canopy?
A: Smokers can be used underneath a canopy as long as the sides of the canopy are not closed or walled off. As a general rule, smokers need at least 12 inches of clearance from the back and sides of the smoker and 40 inches of clearance overhead. This clearance will allow the hot smoke to cool.
Keep in mind that the canopy cover will likely turn a dark gray or black color over time as the smoke continues to hit the canopy.
Q: Can you use a pellet grill in the garage?
A: Pellet grills cannot be used in a garage or any enclosed space. Pellet grills produce smoke, heat, and other contaminants such as carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide. The smoke from pellet grills needs space and airflow in order to properly vent away.
Pellet grills can be used underneath a covered porch, balcony, or deck but a garage will not have enough airflow to safely use a pellet grill.
In fact, too much smoke exposure will cause serious health issues, which is why the smoke needs to safely vent away from the pellet grill.
Q: What do I do when traeger pellet grill is losing temperature?
A: Typically a Traeger pellet grill will lose temperature mid-smoking session when the firepot is full of ash. Wait until the pellet grill cools down and vacuum out the firepot. Check out this guide on how to quickly clean out the firepot in a few simple steps.