Why Do Pellet Grills Explode? Shutdown & Safety Tips

Since pellet grills have earned a reputation for being versatile and easy to use, many new people buy them. However, most of these people are not aware that pellet grills can explode.

Why do pellet grills explode?

When a pellet grill is not shut down correctly, often during a power outage or user mistakes that cause flameouts, there is a good chance that the grill will explode, as it tends to get overloaded with fuel. Due to this, shutting down your pellet grill properly is always important. 

Please keep reading to learn more about why pellet grills explode, as well as how to prevent it.

Incorrect Shut Downs and Pellet Grill Explosions

Most pellet grills will automatically go through a shutdown procedure once you turn the power off, but you should consult the grill’s manual to ensure that you will not do anything to disrupt this cycle.

If your pellet grill cannot follow its normal shut down process, there will be unburnt wood pellets left in the firepot, especially during a power outage. When a pellet grill gets shut off suddenly in a power outage, the fire goes out, and pellets cannot burn,

Basically, the same thing happens during a flameout. The pellet grill cannot burn the wood pellets because there are too many, which smothers the flames and adds too much fuel. Flame outs can also happen if there are not enough pellets in the firepot.

If there are leftover wood pellets in your grill the next time you start it, the firepot will be fed too many more wood pellets. Too much fuel always triggers an explosion.

Further Reading: How Do Pellet Grills Work

How to Prevent a Pellet Grill Explosion

Since pellet grill explosions tend to be caused by either user error or a power outage, you should follow these steps to prevent an explosion from happening:

Keep Enough Pellets in the Grill

One of the most important things you can do to prevent explosions while grilling is to make sure that your pellet grill has enough wood pellets for whatever you are trying to cook. Too little or too many pellets lead to flameouts, but a few extra are usually okay. Half a cup of wood pellets generally lasts for about forty minutes.

Further Reading: Camp Chef Pellets Review

Use a Generator for Backup

While it is best to avoid using your pellet grill on days with dreary weather, if you have a backup generator, you will be able to use your grill on these days without it shutting down suddenly, even if you do lose power.

Backup generators can be expensive, but they will keep most of your appliances running in addition to stopping a potentially dangerous grill explosion.

Check the Firepot

You should always check the firepot if you notice or suspect that your pellet grill has shut down incorrectly, as this is where the extra, unburnt wood pellets will be. Be sure to remove these pellets before making any attempts to restart your pellet grill. This will keep your grill from feeding the firepot too many wood pellets.

Open the Lid to Start the Grill

Start your pellet grill with the lid open. Once the smoke has cleared after the wood pellets ignite, you can close the lid and set the grill to the temperature you wish to cook at. Starting the grill with this lid open allows for better airflow, making an explosion far less likely. It often takes the wood pellets a couple of minutes to ignite, so do not worry about that.

Have a Fire Extinguisher Close By

One of the safest things you can do while your grill is to keep a fire extinguisher close. This may not prevent an explosion, but it will, at the very least, stop any grease fires from getting out of hand. Grease fires can also be a result of not shutting down your pellet grill properly, so as long as you do shut it down correctly, you hopefully will never actually need the extinguisher.

Video: Traeger Explosion Explained

Final Thoughts

Although pellet grills can explode, this rarely happens unless users do not take the time to shut them down properly. A pellet grill explosion may also result from a loss of power, but this can be prevented by using a backup generator.

As long as you take the time to ensure that you are always using your pellet grill correctly, it would be best if you never had to worry about the grill exploding.


Jack Dempsey