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How to Vent an Outdoor Grill (Reviews / Hoods)

Steve Sheinkopf  |  March 12, 2019  |  3 Min. Read

Ventilation  |  BBQ Grills

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grill-on-porch
Love this room, but will it vent?

 

Imagine you are finishing your three-season porch, and the idea pops into your head. Why not place a grill on the countertop? You are still mostly outside yet protected from the elements.

So you place a professional grill internally laughing at your friends for not being this smart. You have the right furniture, maybe a fire pit, an inside TV, and a matching sound system. 

It's all great until you turn that grill on and it goes horribly wrong.

My Personal Experience

I will never forget the call.

The head of the maintenance division of my largest customer had an issue with a vent over one of his client's grills. It was not moving the smoke out of the three season porch. Would I look at the unit and installation?

So I brought a couple of sausages (for grease and smoke) to cook and see where the smoke traveled.

It was a gorgeous house, but I could see the problem before I even turned the grill on. The hood could not handle the smoke from cooking only two sausages. The smoke covered this beautiful Italian style sunroom.

The grill was far too powerful plus the metal cover acted like a snorkel pushing the smoke out even further.

All I could think of was how much would cost for such a poor installation. Lucky for me, this job was supplied previously by someone else.

The contractor spent $35,000 on a custom hood, high CFM blower and redesigning the duct and end cap. Lucky for him, he had the labor.

Before you read about venting an outside grill on the inside of your house, I do not recommend placing a grill inside unless you prepare correctly. Even then, I still heavily advise against it.

You can read more about the top mistakes to avoid when buying an outdoor BBQ grill by clicking this link. 

How to Vent an Outdoor Grill

Fortunately, you use the same principles as interior ventilation (I cover all this in the Ventilation Buying Guide). You have to consider capture area, CFM, and lastly proper ducting.

Before we discuss how to vent an outdoor grill, make sure you review these two essential steps:  

  • Consider placing the grill outside (I will repeat this statement a few more times).
  • Check with your town's regulations for any code issues.

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Capture Area

This customer's first issue was the shallow hood. When his client cooked, the smoke would bypass the hood and head into the room.

The hood always chambers a large volume of smoke and then the blower pushes the smoke to the outside.

A big blower and a shallow hood will not work.

So, the first step is to specify a deep hood of 27 inches or greater. Smoke from sausage or burnt meat will stay in the hood and not spill over into the room.

If there is some exposure to outside elements, you also need the hood to be outside rated. Outdoor rated hoods are all steel and will not rust. Best has two styles, but you should look at more commercial types.

WPD38136

Best Hood WPD38136

WPD39M36

Best Hood WPD39M36

CFM

CFM (cubic feet per minute) is a measure of blower speed. This translates to how many cubes of air are exhausted per minute. For a grill enthusiast with a professional 36 or 48-inch grill, you should buy a big enough blower.

Best, a well-known hood manufacturer, produces a 1,500 CFM blower, which will still be underpowered. You should look at a commercial rooftop blower of 1800 CFM or more.

CFM

Ducting

The most efficient way to duct is straight up. Think about it. Smoke travels straight, so this way the blower is working most efficiently.

Many people will plan the vent as an afterthought with tons of bends and turns. Bending the vent reduces the flow of the smoke. So remember straight up, or if necessary, straight back.

Ducting specs have to be accurate as well. I have been on jobs using dryer duct for cooking applications. This will not work.

Dryer duct is 4 inch round pipe, but for exhausting cooking should be 6-10 inch round piping. For grills, it should be 10-14 inch round to handle that volume of smoke.

Vented-Grill
Much Better. 

Grill Cover

That metal cover could also be a problem. You may want to remove it completely to avoid it projecting smoke to the outside.

Problems with Venting Grills

Grills singe and sear meats creating a ton of smoke. The average BTUs of better grills has increased as well up to 120,000 BTUs.

Together, heat and smoke create a problem for undersized hoods. Most of the time this is not an issue, because you open the grill when you are outside, and the smoke escapes into the atmosphere.

However, enclosing the grill and you have potential issues, especially in a three season porch or even in the house itself with a small pro grill.

Conclusion

Next time you grill, watch the amount of smoke.

If you love to grill and want an outdoor grill in your house, then plan your setup accordingly.

Specify a larger hood shell with adequate CFM and the right ducting. You do not want your house covered in smoke and grease.

Lastly, I still do not recommend this. People have complained from all over the country, because of poor installations.

Make sure this is adequately engineered. You should have a restaurant supplier devise a proper vent plan before you even think about it.

Good Luck.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much CFM do I need for an outdoor grill?

It depends on the type of grill you have but 1800 CFM and up is ideal.

Can I put a gas grill on a screened in porch?

You can, but should not without proper ventilation.

Can I use a grill on my balcony or indoors?

In Boston, you cannot place LP gas on your rooftop or balcony. You can use natural gas. Outside grills on the inside of your house is not a great idea. You will have to vent accordingly. First check with your town.

How far should my built-in grill be from the house?

There is no measurement per se. You do not want smoke blowing into your house.

Additional Resources

Get the Yale Ventilation Buying Guide with features, specs, and inside tips to properly vent any space. Well over 500,000 people have read a Yale Guide.

view our ventilation buying guide

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Steve Sheinkopf

Steve is the third-generation CEO of Yale and a lifelong Bostonian. He currently resides in Boston, one mile from where he was born. Despite being one of the worst goalies of all time, he is a huge hockey fan of college hockey and the Boston Bruins. The love of his life is his daughter Sophie.

Steve has also been featured in numerous publications such as the New York Times, Consumer Reports, The Boston Globe, Bloomberg Radio, and Entrepreneur, for his knowledge of how to buy appliances and appliance repair.

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