Pellet grills are versatile cooking machines that can slow smoke a brisket, sear a steak, and even bake a pizza.
So if you live in an apartment complex then it makes sense to figure out whether or not a pellet grill can be the next addition to your balcony or patio.
After all, a pellet grill set to a high cooking temperature will not produce a significant amount of smoke so this would be similar to using a propane or electric grill.
So can you have a pellet grill at an apartment?
Generally, pellet grills can be used in apartments that allow for propane and electric grills on balconies or patios. Pellet grills use electricity to burn wood pellets in order to create heat and smoke so are usually classified as controlled cooking devices.
Unlike charcoal and wood grills, pellet grills do not have an uncontrolled open flame which is usually prohibited in apartments.
However, each apartment complex will have its own unique terms and conditions outlined in the apartment’s lease. So make sure to read through the lease to see if pellet grills or outdoor cooking devices are prohibited from being used on the balcony or patio.
To be certain that pellet grills are allowed in your apartment before spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on a pellet grill, double-check with the apartment manager or leasing office.
Double-checking is far better than receiving a fine for firing up the pellet grill on your balcony and patio and then not being able to use it in the future.
What Is A Pellet Grill?
A pellet grill is a cooking device that uses electricity and wood pellets to create smoke and heat. Pellet grills have a small controlled fire in the fire pot but the food cooks from indirect heat on a pellet grill via smoke and hot air.
Below is an image that shows the internal components of a pellet grill and how it takes wood pellets, feeds it into the fire pot, and uses a hot rod to create heat and smoke.
Unlike charcoal and wood grills, a pellet grill can be turned off at anytime by using the controller or unplugging the grill.
Generally, apartments do not allow uncontrolled fires or grills in case of an emergency. This is why propane and gas grills are sometimes allowed on apartment balconies and patios while charcoal grills are not.
So pellet grills should be allowed if the apartment complex allows for propane and gas grill use.
If your apartment complex does allow pellet grills then make sure to check out this list of the 11 easiest meats to smoke for some cooking inspiration.
Example Apartment Lease Prohibiting Pellet Grills
Although pellet grills should be allowed in apartments that allows gas and propane grills, there are times the lease explicitly prohibits any sort of outdoor grill.
For example, see the Fire Hazard provision below of an apartment lease agreement where grills and barbeques are prohibited from being used in any apartment balcony or patio.
This lease explicitly prohibits “outdoor cooking or open flame devices” which means even a gas or propane grill cannot be used in this apartment.
In this apartment complex, pellet grills and any other grill can only be used on the ground level at least 3 feet away from the building. So the lease agreement will usually outline whether or not a pellet grill can be used on a balcony or patio.
Can Pellet Grills Be Used Indoors?
Although some electric grills and griddles can be safely used indoors, these grills and griddles do not produce smoke or burn wood pellets. On the other hand, pellet grills produce heat and smoke by burning wood pellets.
So can pellet grills be used inside?
Pellet grills cannot be used inside since burning wood pellets produces smoke, carbon dioxide and other chemicals, which is lethal. Additionally, pellet grills produce a lot of heat which would quickly make any indoor area very hot.
Below is a photo of my Traeger pellet grill as it starts the ignition sequence:
The amount of smoke a pellet grill produces during the ignition sequence alone is a good enough reason to not use a pellet grill inside.
Although pellet grills can be used under covered porches, patios, and decks, there needs to be sufficient air flow 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 or a kitchen.
Toxic Emissions of Burning Wood
Regardless of whether a pellet grill is used underneath a covered enclosure or outdoors, there needs to be sufficient airflow to blow the smoke away.
The smoke produced by burning wood has carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, sulfur oxides, and nitrogen oxides.
When wood is burned, the combustion reaction produces heat and emissions in the form of water, organic vapors, gases, and particulates. The emissions of most concern are carbon monoxide (CO), carbon dioxide (CO2), sulfur oxides (SOx), and nitrogen oxides (NOx).source: wood-energy.extension.org
All of these chemicals are toxic and can be lethal if exposed to wood smoke for too long. So make sure to always have sufficient airflow so that the smoke can safely dissipate away from you and others.
Pellet grills are versatile cooking devices that can smoke, grill, and bake food. It’s understandable to want to add a pellet grill to your cooking options since you can do so many different styles of cooking with one machine.
However, if you live in an apartment then make sure to check the apartment’s lease and double check with the apartment manager or leasing office to make sure pellet grills are allowed.
Pellet grills can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars so you want to make sure you’re allowed to keep and use a pellet grill before investing in one.