How Much Clearance Does a Grill Need? A Comprehensive Guide

The GrillingDad Answer: For fire safety, it is recommended to leave at least 3 feet of clearance on all sides of your grill. This means it should be 3 feet from the side of your house, as well as 3 feet below any canopy or covering you may use it under. 

No matter what size home you live in, a grill is a must if you want to regularly enjoy tasty meats as part of your dinner! But as you are shopping for a grill, you may wonder what kind of clearance a grill needs. 

Want to know more about where to store your grill? Let’s look at everything you need to know about grill clearance!

Why Clearance is Important for Grills

One of the biggest concerns when it comes to grilling is fire hazard. A grill produces high heat and flame and if it’s placed too close to flammable materials, such as paper, leaves, wood, or fabrics, it can easily ignite them. 

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NEPA), grills are a major cause of damage to private property and it is important to take precautions before using one in or near your home. 

One of these is, in addition to flammable materials being kept near your grill, it’s also important to consider combustible materials that may be around your grill. These are materials that can burn, but are not necessarily flammable.

For example, a wooden deck can be a combustible material. That’s why it’s important to use a grill mat or pad if you’re grilling on a wooden deck.

Airflow is also an important consideration when it comes to clearance for grills. Proper ventilation is necessary to keep the fire burning evenly and prevent dangerous flare-ups. It also helps to keep the temperature of the grill consistent, which is important for cooking food evenly.

The Minimum Clearance Required for Grills

The minimum clearance your grill requires will depend on the type of grill you have as well as where you plan to place it in your yard. You will also want to consider the following:

Size

The size of your grill is an important factor to consider when determining the minimum clearance required. The larger the grill, the more space you’ll need around it.

As a general rule, you should provide at least three feet of clearance on all sides of your grill no matter how large or small. This will help ensure that no flammable materials are within close proximity to the heat source.

Location

The location of your grill is critical. You’ll want it away from your house if possible, but also near enough to a power source if it needs one. While a cement patio is the best place for a grill, not everyone has one in their yard.

Although it might seem easy to put your grill in the grass to keep it off the wooden patio, this can be just as dangerous (if not more) as putting your grill on a wooden patio. 

If you’re using a gas grill, you’ll additionally want to make sure that the propane tank is located away from flammable materials as well.

Overhead Clearance

You should always provide adequate clearance above your grill to prevent fires. As a general rule, you should provide at least 3 feet of clearance above your grill, make more if your patio is covered with a canopy or other easily ignitable material. This will help ensure that your grill has enough airflow to avoid any safety hazards.

Level Surface

Finally, make sure that your grill is placed on a level surface. This will help prevent it from tipping over, which could result in a fire. If your grill is not level, it could also cause grease to build up on one side of the grill, which could increase the risk of a grease fire.

Related >> How to Clean a Grill After a Grease Fire: Tips and Tricks

Remember that the clearance recommendations may vary by grill and that a pellet grill may require less clearance than a charcoal grill which could have an open flame. 

Shopping for an apartment? Ensure you check your HOA rules about grills first. Head over to our Understanding HOA Regulations for Pellet Grills article to learn more. 

Different Types of Grills and Their Clearance Requirements

When it comes to grilling, safety is always a top priority. Different types of grills have varying clearance requirements to ensure safe and efficient operation. 

Gas Grills

Gas grills are a popular choice for outdoor cooking, but they do require a bit more clearance than other types of grills due to the risk of gas leaks.

The clearance requirements for gas grills can vary depending on the manufacturer, but generally, you should have at least five feet of clearance on all sides of the grill. This includes overhead clearance as well, so make sure there are no overhanging branches or structures above the grill.

Charcoal Grills

Charcoal grills are a classic option for outdoor cooking, but they require ample clearance due to their open flame and inability to control temperature.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends at least three feet of clearance on all sides of a charcoal grill. This includes overhead clearance, so don’t put your charcoal grill under a low awning.

Electric Grills

Electric grills are a convenient and easy-to-use option for outdoor cooking, but they do need to be near an outlet to work. The clearance requirements for electric grills can vary depending on the manufacturer, but generally, you should have the basic three feet of clearance on all sides of the grill.

Pellet Grills

Wood pellet grills are a newer type of grill that uses wood pellets as the fuel source. These grills are popular because while they have an open flame, it is controlled and these grills are seen as safer than charcoal grills because of their electric component.

The clearance requirements for wood pellet grills can vary depending on the manufacturer, but generally, you should have at least three feet of clearance on all sides of the grill.

Fire Pits

Fire pits are a great option for outdoor entertaining, but they do require a bit more clearance than other types of grills due to the open flame. The clearance requirements for fire pits can vary depending on the manufacturer, but generally, you should have at least ten feet of clearance on all sides of the fire pit.

This includes overhead clearance, so make sure there are no overhanging branches or structures above the fire pit.

Grill Styles and their Clearance Requirements

Different grill styles can also have varying clearance requirements. Here are some common grill styles and their clearance requirements:

  • Built-in grills: Built-in grills require at least 36 inches of clearance on all sides to ensure proper ventilation and safety.
  • Portable grills: Portable grills require at least three feet of clearance on all sides to ensure safe operation.
  • Tabletop grills: Tabletop grills require at least three feet of clearance on all sides to ensure safe operation.

Overall, it’s important to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for clearance requirements to ensure the safe and efficient operation of your grill. Always make sure to keep your grill clean and free of any built-up grease or debris, and never leave your grill unattended while in use.

Other Grill Clearance Safety Tips

When it comes to grilling, maintaining proper clearance isn’t the only essential thing for ensuring safety and a great grilling experience. Here are some tips on how to prevent a fire disaster while using your grill:

Cleaning and Maintenance

Keeping your grill clean and well-maintained is the first step in maintaining proper clearance. Regularly clean your grill to remove any grease or debris that may have accumulated. This not only helps prevent fires but also ensures that your grill is working efficiently.

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05/24/2024 04:17 pm GMT

Debris

Make sure that there is no flammable material within close proximity to your grill. This includes paper, leaves, wood, or fabrics. Keep your grill area free of any debris that may pose a fire hazard.

Grill Cover

Using a grill cover can help protect your grill from the elements and keep it clean. However, make sure to remove the cover before using the grill and place it far from the grill as it could easily catch fire. 

Grilling Experience

Proper clearance not only ensures safety but also enhances your grilling experience. Having enough space to move around the grill and access your tools makes grilling more enjoyable and less stressful.

Frequently Asked Questions

a fire extinguisher by a fire

Do I need a fire extinguisher when grilling?

Yes, it is always a good idea to have a fire extinguisher nearby when grilling. Accidents can happen, and having a fire extinguisher on hand can help prevent a small fire from turning into a larger one. Make sure the fire extinguisher is rated for Class B fires, which are fires that involve flammable liquids like propane.

What are some health and safety tips to keep in mind when grilling?

Always monitor the grill when it is in use, and keep a fire extinguisher nearby. It is also helpful to have fireproof gloves on hand and an emergency plan in case something goes wrong. If you experience a fire, reach for a fire extinguisher because water may only make the situation worse. 

How much clearance does the cooking area of the grill need?

The cooking area of the grill should have at least 20 inches of clearance on all sides to ensure proper airflow and prevent safety hazards. This clearance should be maintained even when the grill is not in use.

Is grilling safe during summertime?

Grilling can be a fun and enjoyable activity during summertime, but it is important to take safety precautions no matter what season it is. Keep the grill away from any combustible materials, and make sure to have a fire extinguisher nearby.

Also, make sure to properly clean the grill after each use to prevent grease buildup, which can cause a fire.

Worried about a fire? Check out our guide How to Put Out a Grill Fire + Grill Fire Prevention Tips.

Photo of author

Hope Davis

Born in Denver, Colorado as the oldest of 5 children, I learned at a young age that the grill was one of the best ways to prepare food for a crowd. And during the winter storm months, when the snow was likely to knock out the power to our house, the propane grill was a lifesaver! You wouldn’t believe the number of things you can cook on a grill when necessary. With parents who couldn’t tell salt from pepper unless you told them, I spent my late teen years making my own seasoning mixes and marinades to dress the meat before barbecues. It wasn’t long before I developed a secret marinade that people still beg me to make for them today! When I was 21 years old I bought my first smoker. Picked up some cedar chips for making a cedar plank salmon...and well, the rest they say is history! I’ve been grilling and smoking all kinds of creations ever since and I’m always excited to share my passion with others through my favorite medium--writing!

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