Can You Use an Electric Smoker in the Garage?


old garage for smoking

It’s Saturday, all your friends are over, the game is on, and you are all dying for a great smoked rack of ribs. However, a torrential downpour is going on outside and your electric smoker does not stand a chance in the rain. What if you moved it to the garage though? 

Putting your electric smoker in the garage is not a safe alternative. Although it may seem like a fine idea to use your smoker with the garage door open, there is still potential for smoke build-up and carbon monoxide which can result in damages to your structure as well as other complications. 

I realize this is a complete damper on your perfect Saturday, but when using an electric smoker, it is essential to adhere to safe user guidelines in order to ensure the safety of you, your guests, and your home. Continue reading to understand why you should not use your smoker in the garage and alternative spots to position it if you are trying to avoid bad weather. 

Why You Should Not Use Your Electric Smoker in the Garage

Electric smokers are the new up-and-coming backyard tool when it comes to smoking and grilling. These machines are fantastic for a few reasons: they are rather compact and do not require tons of room to function, they are great options for beginners who are wanting to get their feet wet in the smoking world, and they are extremely user-friendly as they are a “set it and forget it” type of cooking tool. 

Even better, you do not have to mess with loading pellets or keeping a fire lit for an electric smoker. Simply plug it up, turn it to the smoking setting that you prefer, and you will be enjoying those ribs in no time. 

With it being so easy to use, it would seem that you would be able to set it up in just about any area that has an outlet. However, this is not true. Even though the smoker is electric, the smoker still produces actual smoke. Remember, this is a good thing considering the desired flavor you are trying to achieve. 

Because of this, it makes it unsafe to use in any type of space that is enclosed. I know, when you think of using your smoker, you do not consider it to be an enclosed area because you will have the garage door open. That means ventilation, right? Perhaps you would have a source of air, but there is not enough of it to be considered cyclical ventilation needed to rid the area of smoke build-up. 

You want to make sure that the smoke produced by your electric smoker has plenty of room to escape, and being in your garage, it does not have this. You should not use an electric smoker in the garage because it can:

Pose a Fire Risk 

You are thinking “How on Earth could it pose a fire risk? An electric smoker does not even have an open flame.” I hear you, however, electric smokers have to reach extremely high temepratures to get your dishes to the point of smoked perfection. 

Although there is not an open fire going on inside of it, the high heats do cause the smoker itself to become extremely hot. Believe me, that heat is no less hot just because it is coming from an electric smoker rather than a fire. When applied to the types of food that you are cooking with your smoker, this is a great thing. But, in terms of the structural soundness of an enclosure (like a garage) that an electric smoker is inappropriately placed in? This is not so good.

Smoking in your garage is incredibly dangerous in terms of a fire risk because, if you are like the majority of homeowners, there are quite a few things stored in your garage, and they are certainly not heatproof or fireproof. 

By putting such a hot system in your garage surrounded by other flammable items, you run the risk of melting something away, or even worse, setting something on fire. And as history would prove, fires do not set a great tone for any gatherings. 

Build Up Carbon Monoxide 

If you do not already know, carbon monoxide is a colorless, orderless, and tasteless gas. It is one of those gases that can wreak havoc without you even knowing it, which is why it is so dangerous. When carbon monoxide accumulates to dangerous levels, it can take away needed oxygen and cause you to fall ill. Too much buildup can even prove to be fatal. How does this relate to cooking with your electric smoker in your garage you ask? 

Carbon monoxide is produced through the burning of gas, wood, propane, and even charcoal. When smoking, carbon monoxide is let off from your electric smoker, which is no big deal when you are smoking in an open area. However, if you are in your garage, that smoke can gather in larger levels than if it were out in the open. With a build-up of smoke, there is a concentration of carbon monoxide. 

If the carbon monoxide levels get too high, your garage is no longer a safe place for you to stay in. This especially true when air is stagnant and there is not any sort of airflow going from one side of your garage and out the other. To make sure that you keep your garage and lungs safe, it is best to keep your electric smoker in an area that will allow all of those nasty pollutants to get gone and stay away from your good time. 

Create a Prolonged Stench 

Considering the risk of fire and carbon monoxide accumulation, stinking up your garage may seem completely trivial, but let me paint a picture for you before you decide this topic is irrelevant. Picture a garage that belongs to a family: it is full of baseball gloves, golf bags, old school projects that have been stored away in cardboard boxes, baby clothes packed along the top rows of shelves, Christmas decorations, and a few bins of winter clothes. 

All of these items are cherished by the family and they want to keep them protected. But one day, dad decides to use the electric smoker in the garage. After a long nine hours of smoking, he comes in and realizes that the garage is full of smoke. Weeks later, all of the items in their garage are still riddled with the smell of smoke. No matter how hard he tries, the smell will not lift and it will simply take time for it to finally dissipate. 

First of all, if you walk in and notice a strong smoke smell and see that it has accumulated in any area, there is not enough ventilation. For this family though, smoking ruined the smell of some items that were important to them. Yes, it will fade, but no one likes smoky Christmas decorations unless they are edible. Smoke is a nasty additive when it comes to the smell of your cherished belongings, so keep them protected and go ahead and leave smoking out of your garage. 

Where to Use Your Electric Smoker 

Although it is best to keep your electric smoker out of the garage, there are plenty of options for homeowners, apartment dwellers, and even campers, to smoke without having to worry about any bad outcomes. Just keep in mind your smoker needs to be close enough to where it can reach an outlet or be reached through a surge protected power cord 

 A few different options for where to use your electric smoker include: 

Covered Porch 

If you are lucky enough to have a covered porch (admit it, we all want one) this is a great spot to park your electric smoker. Just be sure that your porch has plenty of airflow on at least three sides of it and that it is not placed directly against your home’s exterior. Otherwise, a covered porch is a great way to be near your smoker during the smoking process without having to leave your guests.

Designated Block 

If you are without a covered porch, find a spot in your yard that you can reach a surge-proof extension cord and place a flat block – or a few – in a spot where your smoker can rest. This can get your smoker away from the house but still allows plenty of room for ventilation as well as space to gather if you have a crew with you. 

Smoking Canopy

If you would like something a bit more permanent without having to build and deck and a roof over the top of it, a smoking canopy is a great option. You can assemble these structures on your own, there are plenty of models that will fit all different budgets, and they keep your smoker covered while also giving it plenty of room to breathe. 

William Johnson

Will has loved smoking food in his free time for the last few years. Each major holiday or off-weekend, Will spends days testing and prepping new recipes for perfection.

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