Even here in Florida, the weather doesn’t always cooperate with us. If it rains and you’ve planned a barbecue, the next place you’re probably going to think to grill is in your garage.
As tempting as that sounds, using a gas, propane, or charcoal grill in the garage can be very dangerous. Using the wrong type of grill indoors puts you and your family at higher risk from smoke inhalation or fire.
No burger is worth your family’s safety.
However, with some pre-planning and the right equipment, you can grill in the garage safely.
This article will look at the different types of grills you can safely use inside a garage, and ways to keep your garage safe during and after grilling.
Can You Grill in the Garage with Gas or Electric Grills?
Even a small grill or smoker poses a fire-risk when moved into your garage.
Leaving your garage door open doesn’t matter as much as you think.
Grilling in your Garage: Natural Gas, Propane, & Charcoal Grills
Propane, charcoal, or gas grills pose significant risks that should rule out indoor grilling.
Not only is there a fire risk, but the flames in traditional grills give off carbon monoxide as a byproduct of the burning process. Even if you have a carbon monoxide detector in your garage, it may not be enough.
You’ve likely heard of a few of the dangers of carbon monoxide. Because it’s an odorless gas, it’s difficult to detect before reaching dangerous levels.
Where there’s fire, there’s smoke.
In a confined space, that presents a severe risk of smoke inhalation. Inhaling the smoke trapped in your garage can also increase your cancer risk since the smoke contains various carcinogens.
All flame grills come warn about the flammable substances used to create the heat that cooks your food. Whether you use wood, charcoal, gas, or propane, it all comes with a significant fire risk.
Gas grills can potentially explode if leaked fuel ignites.
Though these risks still exist outdoors, the potential damage is dramatically worse inside any enclosed or partially enclosed area.
Additionally, your garage likely has many items that are highly flammable.
Most people store flammable items like cardboard, motor oil, and gasoline in their garages. Bringing an open flame near these items only amplifies the fire risk.
Never store propane tanks in your garage!
Finally, in an open space like your backyard, all the grease carried by grill smoke dissipates safely. Inside, this grease accumulates on the walls of your garage over time. Grease build-up increases fire hazards and may irreparably damage the items stored inside your garage.
Grilling in Your Garage: Electric Grills
Electric grills are the only type of grill that you can safely use to grill in the garage. They don’t produce flames to cook food, so they’re approved for indoor use.
Since they’re a contact grill, electric grills avoid the carbon monoxide risk posed by an open flame. Of course, having a good ventilation system is still crucial to remove any smoke if you can’t keep the garage door open.
As an additional benefit, electric grills generally come with nonstick grates that make cleaning much easier. This feature helps reduce the potential for igniting drippings and creating a fire risk.
Everyone knows there’s a noticeable taste difference between flame-grilled and electric-grilled food.
However, for those occasions when you want to avoid the rain, an electric grill lets you grill inside a garage without the risk.
Safety Rules for Grilling Inside a Garage
You’re likely familiar with basic safety precautions for flame grills, but you should take certain precautions when electric grilling.
Good Grilling Habits
As with outdoor grilling, it’s crucial to develop safe habits when indoor grilling. Keep these safety measures in place every time you grill.
Never leave your grill unattended, especially when grilling in the garage. The potential for a fire to get out of hand is much higher indoors, even with an electric grill.
Batch grilling, simply grilling smaller quantities of food, helps prevent flare-ups by minimizing drippings.
Most importantly, clean your grill after every use. Keeping your grill clean is the best way to reduce fire risk.
Prepare Your Garage Before Grilling
When choosing a grill, you can’t ignore your garage space. To make your electric grilling as safe as possible, consider the size and placement of your grill inside your garage.
Select an electric grill that won’t be too big for your garage. The right-sized grill will help the cooking smoke and fumes adequately vent away from your home.
Planning where to place your grill is equally important.
Make sure you clear the area of flammable materials and place the grill on a flame-resistant surface. Think about how you’ll access your grill, and remove any obstacles or tripping hazards that might cause injury.
Ensure that you plug your electric grill into a surge-protected outlet without using an extension cord. Using an extension cord introduces an unnecessary fire risk for any heat source.
Shut Down Checklist
Place a personal shut-down checklist on the wall near your grill. This list will help you double-check your process when you turn off and clean your grill.
Accidentally leaving your grill on, whether you choose to grill indoors or outside, can easily cause a fire.
My checklist helps me confirm that I have turned my grill off and unplugged it as a double precaution.
While I hope you never need to deal with a grill-related fire, preparing for one—just in case—will help you stay safe.
Keep a hand-held fire extinguisher near your grill, away from the heat. Practice using your fire extinguisher, too, so you know how to operate it in a high-stress situation.
Suppose you simply must grill before getting a fire extinguisher. In that case, another trick is to keep baking soda nearby to extinguish small flames.
Alternatives to Grilling in the Garage
There are some alternatives if you’re simply too attached to your wood-burning, charcoal, gas, or propane grill to consider going electric.
Even if you’re willing to sacrifice your own dry clothes for the sake of the hamburgers, if you don’t have a garage, even an electric grill isn’t always an option.
A grill canopy that protects you from the rain while still allowing proper ventilation is one of the least expensive options.
If cost isn’t an issue, a dedicated outdoor kitchen means you can keep grilling year-round, while keeping your garage safe. A dedicated outdoor grill is another option, especially if you have a rooftop deck on your garage.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
FAQ 1: Is it safe to grill in a garage with the door open?
Though keeping the door open will help with ventilation, flame grills still present a fire hazard when grilling in the garage. It is not safe to use a natural gas, propane, charcoal grill or pellet grill in the garage.
FAQ 2: Is it safe to store a grill in your garage?
Once it has cooled off and has been cleaned, any grill can be stored in your garage to keep it safe from the elements. Ensure solid fuel sources like charcoal and wood pellets are stored at a safe temperature away from flammable substances. Never store propane tanks indoors.
FAQ 3: Does a propane grill give off carbon monoxide?
Yes. Both charcoal and propane grills produce carbon monoxide.