You know the drill. You’ve got everything prepared for the perfect summer barbeque and then the inevitable happens: rain storms in. Suddenly, you’re left wondering if it’s safe to take your grill into the garage and cook your meal in there. However, that’s not something you should do.
Using a propane or charcoal grill in a garage is not safe even when you leave the garage door open. The risk of carbon monoxide poisoning and the possibility of a fire occurring are far too great.
Is it worth it to lose your house and possibly your life just so you can grill that juicy steak? Certainly not, at least for me.
If you don’t believe me and want to learn more about the details, read on. I will also provide a couple of tips that can allow you to grill even in bad weather.
Table of Contents
- The Dangers of Grilling in the Garage
- Can You Grill in the Garage with the Door Open?
- How to Safely Grill in the Garage
- Tips for Grilling in Bad Weather
The Dangers of Grilling in the Garage
Let’s take a look at two of the most important dangers you will be facing if you decide to grill in your garage instead of outside.
Unless you love fire, seeing your garage and possibly your house go up in flames is the worst thing that could happen.
It’s not like grills are monsters that set everything in their vicinity on fire but just a second of negligence could cause an accident. The risk of losing your house just because you chose to grill in the garage is certainly too big.
Even when you are grilling outside you are supposed to keep the grill away from anything flammable, including your house, railings, and furniture.
The situation is not improved by the fact that the garage is usually used for storing flammable materials. Gasoline, paints, and cleaning chemicals are usual suspects and all it sometimes takes is a spark to set the whole place on fire.
It may come as a surprise, but according to National Fire Protection Association, gas grills account for more home fires than charcoal grills. The main causes of fires were leaks and breaks.
Carbon monoxide poisoning
The risk of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning is also something that you should take seriously when considering grilling in enclosed spaces.
Carbon monoxide is the product of the incomplete combustion of fuels such as charcoal and propane.
According to CDC, in the US, more than 100,000 people visit the ER due to accidental carbon monoxide poisoning and at least 420 people die each year. Mind you, these numbers are not caused only by grills and griddles, but it’s still a huge red flag.
The main issue with carbon monoxide is the fact you cannot see, smell or taste it. It’s a silent killer that can only be detected using CO detectors.
Outdoors, it’s not a big deal because fresh air is constantly coming in and the harmful gas can’t build up. Indoors, however, it’s a completely different story. Once the concentration builds up, it can cause headache, dizziness, nausea, difficulty breathing, and in extreme cases even death.
Can You Grill in the Garage with the Door Open?
Many people think that grilling in the garage is safe when they leave the garage door open. That is however not true.
Yes, leaving the door open greatly decreases the chances of carbon monoxide buildup to dangerous levels. But it in no way reduces the chances of a fire occurring in the garage.
On the other hand, if there’s nothing that could convince you to change your mind, then leaving the door open is definitely something you should do. It will allow some fresh air to come in and blow away the harmful gases and fumes.
How to Safely Grill in the Garage
There is one option you could choose to stay on the safe side. And that, my friends, are electric grills.
Electric grills don’t produce carbon monoxide as there is no combustion involved. No combustion, no carbon monoxide. They do produce heat though so placing the grill far away from anything flammable is still a must.
Not everyone is a fan of electric grills which is understandable because they lack some of the flavors that grills give. However, they are very versatile and with many foods, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between an electric and a normal grill.
Instead of an electric grill with ridged cooking top, you could opt for an electric griddle with a completely flat cooking surface. This surface provides better versatility and you can use it to cook food that would be impossible to cook on a grill with grates. Smash burgers, stir-fries, eggs, and pancakes are just a few examples.
No matter whether you opt for an electric grill or take this risk with a propane grill, having a fire extinguisher nearby is highly recommended. In fact, you should have one even when grilling outdoors.
Tips for Grilling in Bad Weather
If it’s bad weather that’s causing you to think about grilling inside the garage then there are some things you can do.
If it’s raining, then the obvious choice is to shelter the grill and the area around it. Multiple options are available, from umbrellas and retractable awnings to more specific products built for grilling such as grill gazebos. All these items can be purchased at most home improvement stores and online.
Apart from setting up my grill in a covered carport, I like to use a patio umbrella when it’s raining. It works great, the cost is low and it takes just a few minutes to set it up. Plus, when you are not using it, it doesn’t take up too much space.
Whichever solution you choose, make sure there is enough clearance between the grill and whatever is used to shelter it. The hot air and smoke raising from the grill may damage some materials and you don’t want to find out the hard way. Also if the clearance is too low, the material may catch fire.
Wind can be a nasty enemy when you are trying to cook up something delicious on the grill. The first solution is using the lid. When the lid is closed, it prevents the wind from blowing away all the heat and causing food to cook too slowly.
If your grill didn’t come with a hood, you may try moving it to someplace sheltered from the wind like on the other side of the house. Alternatively, portable windbreakers can be bought and set up around the grill.
Grilling in cold weather, especially in winter, is actually fun. Wear something warm, grab your favorite beer and you are good to go.
When the temperature drops low, grilling will take a bit more time. Again, using a lid is the best thing you can do as it will trap the heat inside. Also when your food is done, it will cool down very quickly, so it’s a good idea to either use a preheated plate or bring the food indoors and eat it there.
One issue you may encounter in winter is when your propane regulator freezes. Not an issue with charcoal grills or hybrid grills right?
The simple truth is that you should not grill in the garage, even with the door open unless you are using an electric grill.
The dangers of using a grill indoors are real and not worth taking the risk. Fire hazard and carbon monoxide poisoning are the two major risks and both can have deadly outcomes.
Electric grills and griddles are great alternatives that don’t produce carbon monoxide and are easy to use and require no fuel.
Happy and safe grilling!
Can you use a charcoal grill in a garage?
No, charcoal grills should not be used in the garage even with the door wide open. They are designed only to be used outdoors and should be kept at least 10 feet away from the house or other structures.
Not only can a stray hot coal set the garage on fire, but the burning process also produces carbon monoxide which is a dangerous poison.
Is it safe to use a pellet grill in the garage?
No, it’s not safe for the same reasons propane and charcoal grills are not safe – the risk of fire and CO poisoning.
Is it illegal to cook in your garage?
It’s probably not illegal but you should check local regulations and safety standards before attempting to cook in your garage. Or use an indoor grill.