As all pellet grills/smokers are electrical devices with a control panel and an on/off button, it can be easy to just see them as any other electrical appliance. However, its important to remember with a pellet grill/smoker, you are still dealing with a real fire. Hence, when it comes to shutting down a pellet grill/smoker correctly, you should never just press the power button or pull the plug. But why? What could possibly happen, surely the fire will just go out on its own? True, the issue comes when starting the pellet grill up again…
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Introduction To Properly Shutting Down A Pellet Grill/Smoker
The proper shutdown procedure/dial setting for each pellet grill/smoker is slightly different depending on the make and model. On a previous generation Traeger for instance, the proper shutdown procedure involves turning the dial all the way to the left to the ‘Shut Down Cycle’.
The shutdown procedure goes by different names depending on the specific pellet grill/smoker manufacturer. However, the general principle is always the same. First, the auger will stop feeding pellets (fuel) into the burn pot.
Then the combustion fan will continue to run for up to 20 minutes after the auger has stopped feeding in new pellets. This means the fuel remaining in the burn pot is still getting sufficient air/oxygen for complete combustion. Eventually, all of the pellets remaining in the burn pot will be burnt up to ash.
After this point, the shutdown procedure is complete, the power to the pellet grill/smoker can then be turned off, and the unit can be unplugged if required. This is the proper means to shut down a pellet grill/smoker for safe use.
Proper Shut Down To Avoid The Boom
Ok, so in the title of this article, I state you need to correctly shut down your pellet grill to ‘avoid the boom‘, so what is the point I’m making here?
Well, incorrectly shutting down a pellet grill/smoker by simply pressing the off button/cutting the power once you’re done cooking can literally lead to an explosion the next time you start up your pellet grill/smoker.
When Traeger grills started to gain real traction in the wider BBQ market, there were news reports showing Traegers exploding! Now, this is not obviously ideal, but as the video below discusses, and its an opinion I also share, its really down to user error and not properly understanding how a pellet grill works.
There are two scenarios which can lead to the pellet grill explosion as seen in the video above. One is as we are discussing in the article, not going through the proper shutdown procedure, the second is a flameout situation.
Either way, the cause of the explosion is the same. There is a burn pot full of unburnt pellets, the next time you start the grill and the hot rod igniter comes on there is going to be a lot of smoke produced.
That smoke contains a lot of carbon monoxide, which is not only a poisonous gas its also highly flammable. Eventually, the hot rod igniter will get hot enough to ignite the pellets, which in turn will ignite the huge cloud of smoke containing the carbon monoxide, and the result is a big boom.
Now, if you experience a power outage due to no fault of your own, once the grill has cooled before you start it up again, you need to remove the unburnt pellets from the burn pot before you start up the grill again.
If you experience frequent power cuts, you may want to consider running your pellet grill/smoker from a source of portable power such as a battery bank, instead of directly from the grid.
My Final Thoughts On Properly Shutting Down Pellet Grills…
While all pellet grills/smokers are electric, you cannot simply view them as other electrical devices, you are still dealing with a real fire and all the risks that come with it.
Hence, I know reading manuals its not ‘fun’, but please make sure you know the proper shutdown procedure for your specific pellet grill/smoker to avoid the scenario of a boom/explosion the next time you come to use it.
That’s it! If you would like to learn more about the latest and greatest pellet grills/smokers on the market today, please check out my Wood Pellet Grill/Smoker Guide. 🙂
Back in 2007 when I first become aware of pellet grills and smokers the only brand I was really aware of was Traeger. Traeger is really where this whole concept of cooking with pellets started in the 1980s. It was a ‘slow burner’ (pardon the pun) but since the 2010s is really when pellet grills and smokers started to get mainstream awareness, discussed alongside gas and charcoal grills. There are now over 30 pellet grill/smoker brands that I’m aware of, and the link above goes to my A to Z list of brands article.
Now, you may already be aware of a few of the other brands such as Pit Boss, Camp Chef, Z Grills and I’m sure you are aware of Weber, though you may not have known they have entered the pellet grill game. However, they are now many, many more brands to look into. Some may be what are commonly referred to as ‘Traeger clones’, but many others are offering their own unique designs and features.
A pellet grill/smoker is only as good as the BBQ pellets you put into it. The type/quality of the BBQ wood pellets you use will impact temperature performance and smoke flavour. There are many pellet flavours including Apple, Hickory, Mapel, Oak and Walnut to name but a few. However, some brands are hardwood blended pellets whereas others are 100% single wood species.
In this article, I provide details on over 20 brands of BBQ wood pellets, their range of flavours, whether they are 100% single wood species or hardwood blended pellets, their typical price and where they are available. I also provide tips on how to get the best deal when buying BBQ wood pellets and how to test pellet quality. Finally, I discuss the new kid on the block, charcoal pellets and their special attributes compared to all other hardwood BBQ pellets.