Unlike a BBQ on startup that runs clean, Traeger grills tend to give off a lot of smoke at the beginning of a startup. That can be a problem, especially if an owner is using one in an apartment where the neighbors’ windows are close by. The initial burning of the wood pellets gives off a lot of byproduct smoke that will generally pervade the immediate area unless it’s a very windy day.
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Traeger Too Smoky for Apartment
Unlike backyards and homes where there’s a lot more space for things to be spread out, apartment balconies or backyards are pretty compact and tightly spaced next to each other.
One apartment’s balcony could very well be just a few feet from the window of a neighbor.
If open, that window is going to pull in the smoke given off by a Traeger grill unless it’s a fairly windy day blowing the smoke away quickly.
When that intake happens, it’s almost a sure thing the neighbor is going to complain. Nobody wants their home to smell like grill smoke.
How to make Traegers Less Smokey while Using in an Apartment
As noted earlier, the best bet if a Traeger is going to be used is to do it on a day with some wind that blows things away quickly.
Dead still days are pretty much the worst conditions for apartment cooking and grilling as the smoke will slowly rise and spread around the immediate area.
Second, the user should try to make sure that Traeger is getting to the optimum heat temperature quickly.
A low temperature will cause the wood pellets to burn slowly instead of consuming quickly, and that will give off far more smoke than before. When hitting the right temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit, the Traeger’s smoke will be minimized considerably.
But that takes time.
The quality of wood pellet used can be a culprit as well. Wet pellets or poor quality will give off a lot of smoke before they reach high temperature and burn cleanly.
Water is a big smoke producer, so wet pellets are pretty much off the list for an apartment Traeger. The pellets should be completely dry. Another sign of poor quality is that the pellets are crumbly, cracked, fall apart easily, and there’s a lot of sawdust in the bag.
Should You be Using Smoke Setting While Cooking in an Apartment
First off, you shouldn’t use a Traeger grill inside an apartment at all. Any kind of burning of a fuel, wood or otherwise, produces carbon monoxide and smoke by-product.
All of those fumes are going to concentrate inside, not only making the inside of the apartment smokey, but it will also stink everything up inside for weeks afterwards.
Additionally, your neighbors will eventually smell it through the door and walls.
Secondly, using a grill inside runs the risk of starting a far. Hot elements could drop on the carpet or someone could bump the grill, and it falls on the flooring.
Most apartments involve carpet which can easily catch fire and create a structure disaster.
The idea of a grill inside is just plain dumb. Don’t do it. This is a very preventable disaster in the making. Do your cooking outside on the balcony or patio only.
Can you Still get Smoke Flavor if You Don’t Use the Smoke Setting?
There are lots of ways to get a smokey flavor without having everything smoked.
You could use an additive, either as a rub or a sauce, that provides the same taste but without the smoke production.
Given the assortment of spices, products and condiments possible, there are probably about 500 different flavors one could add to grilled food without directly smoking it per se.
Diverting the Smoke Away from Neighbors
Proactively, one could put a fan near the Traeger exhaust so that the smoke produced is pushed away.
It would also probably help not to place the Traeger on the side of the balcony or patio closest to the neighbor’s window. However, this is a limited option as the neighbors above will probably get the rising smoke if not pushed outward with a fan.
Grilling in an apartment setting is not an easy task. You’re literally sharing a building with at least four to six units around your cooking location outside if in a typical high-density structure.
It might be a better idea to simply move the Traeger to a common open area in the complex, usually a small recreational setting, and park yourself there for the day, a bit of a BBQ picnic, so to speak.
That way, you can smoke and cook in peace and the neighbors next door are not being affected.
This article was written by Robert McCall, the founder of bbqdropout.com. Robert also owns and operates the BBQ dropout YouTube channel where he demonstrates his first-hand experience cooking all kinds of meats and strives to provide helpful, authoritative content for people looking how to barbecue.
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