Portable Power/Backup For Pellet Grills

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While the automated nature of pellet grills/smokers is a key feature of their appeal, the downside to this high level of automation is a source of power is constantly required. While this article on portable/off-grid power is mainly going to appeal to existing and future portable pellet grill owners, anyone with an inconsistent supply of power at home may also be interested. If the power cuts out when a pellet grill/smoker is in operation for more than just a few minutes there are potentially significant consequences. But first, we need to discuss how much power a typical pellet grill/smoker requires.

Portable Power Options For Pellet Grills/Smokers
The three portable power options to run a pellet grill/smoker include either a battery bank/power station (left), a gas generator (center), or an inverter connected to a 12V battery (right)

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UPDATE: You may want to check out my article on battery pellet grills/smokers to learn why I don’t think they offer great value currently.

How Much Power Does A Pellet Grill/Smoker Need?

Ok, so this is question is as general as ‘how long is a piece of string‘, the answer of how much power a pellet grill/smoker is going to consume depends on the specific model.

However, as a general rule, typically a pellet grill/smoker is going to be pulling around 300 Watts of power for around 4 minutes while the hot rod igniter is getting the fire going.

Once the fire is established and the hot rod igniter is turned off, the control panel, auger and induction fan together are going to be pulling around 50 Watts of power continuously.

Again, the above 300 Watt then 50 Watt power consumption figures are very general, and I would encourage you to do a deep dive into the manual of your respective pellet grill/smoker to find the exact figures before purchasing a portable power station etc.

For instance, 300 Watts is nowhere near enough to power an appliance such as the Ninja Woodfire.

Obviously, the auger motor doesn’t run continuously, there will be spikes in power consumption when the auger motor turns on. Different pellet grills have different powered auger motors.

For instance, I would expect the older auger motor fitted to Traeger grills to pull less power than a grill fitted with the latest D2 Direct Drive motors.

Peak Power vs Continuous Power

So as discussed above, the biggest power draw on a pellet grill/smoker is going to come from the hot rod to get the fire going, but it’s only going to run for a short period of time.

When looking for a portable power station etc to run a pellet grill/smoker while you will obviously want to work out which option can provide the longest run time for the money but peak power output is equally important.

First, obviously check the specs in the manual for the pellet grill/smoker or email the relevant pellet grill/smoker manufacturer to find out what the peak power draw is.

You then need to compare that against the peak output figure of the portable power pack etc you are considering.

As an example, the Traeger Power Inverter to run a Traeger Tailgater from a vehicle’s battery has a peak output of 800 Watts and a continuous output of 400 Watts.

Jackery Portable Battery Power Stations Examples & Run Time

There are lots of different brands of portable power stations now on the market. One of the most popular brands is Jackery, which produces a range of different-sized portable power banks which we will use for this example of calculating run times.

To make this a relatively simple calculation and as a general guide, let’s presume an average of 60 Watts of power consumption for the pellet grill/smoker.

Higher than the 50 Watts stated above, which is more likely for continuous use, but 60 Watts should also help to factor in the high power draw of around 300 Watts for the hot rod at the start.

Portable Battery Power Stations
Jackery portable battery power stations are by no means the only such products currently on the market, though they do appear to be one of the most popular brands

For portable power stations, their energy capacity is often stated as Watt-hours (Wh). A Watt-hour is simply the number of Watts multiplied by the number of hours of operation.

So for this example, to run a typical pellet grill/smoker, it will consume 60 Wh. We then divide the Wh energy capacity of the Jackery portable power station by the 60 Wh requirement of the pellet grill/smoker to get an indication of run time.

  • Jackery Explorer 240: 240 Wh / 60 Wh = 4 Hour Run Time
  • Jackery Explorer 300: 293 Wh / 60 Wh = 4.8 Hour Run Time
  • Jackery Explorer 500: 518 Wh / 60 Wh = 8.6 Hour Run Time
  • Jackery Explorer 1000: 1002 Wh / 60 Wh = 16.7 Hour Run Time
  • Jackery Explorer 1500: 1488 Wh / 60 Wh = 24.8 Hour Run Time

So the first thing to note from the above is other than with the Explorer 1000 and 1500, you’re not going to be doing really long ‘low and slow’ smoking sessions on one of these portable power stations.

Granted, Jackery sells its own range of Solar Saga panels, which can provide up to 60W or 100W outputs to help feed power back into an Explorer portable power station, but then there’s the cost.

The cheapest option, the Explorer 240, is just under $200, the price then steps up gradually up to the beast that is the Explorer 1500 and its beastly $1,500 price tag.

Grilla Grills Power Station

If you are not aware of Grilla Grills, they have a range of mid-spec pellet grills/smokers that are well worth considering. They also offer an excellent stainless steel outdoor kitchen.

Anyway, Grilla Grills have now released a battery ‘power station’ to power their pellet grills, including their portable pellet grill, the Chimp.

The Grilla Power Station can power pretty much any make/model of pellet grill/smoker for around 8 to 10 hours

With a peak output of 300W, the Grilla Power Station can provide enough power to get the hot rod igniter in a pellet grill/smoker going and enough overall power for about 8 to 10 hours of use.

There is a full information digital screen on the front of the unit, and its weight of only 10 lbs means it is reasonably easy to move around and lift in and out of vehicles.

Small/Portable Gas Generators

So the other and more conventional means to power electrical equipment remotely/as a backup is to use a small gas generator.

There are many of these small/portable gas generators available from the likes of Honda, Yamaha, Westinghouse and a number of other smaller brands.

You will be hard-pressed to find a portable gas generator with a maximum peak output of below 1000W, hence, any small gas generator can easily cope with the peak power demands of a pellet grill/smoker during start-up when the hot rod igniter is on.

Small/Portable Gas Generators
Any small/portable gas generator can cope with the peak power demands of a pellet grill/smoker. The problem is noise and running costs

The two problems with small/portable gas generators to run a pellet grill/smoker is noise and running costs.

While many small generators are marketed as ‘silent running’ there is obviously going to be some noise, and depending on your surroundings, that may become an annoyance.

Then there are running costs, when a pellet grill/smoker is in continuous operation, hence typically pulling around 50 Watts, that’s significantly below the capabilities of even the smallest gas generators.

So while run time is not going to be a problem, a gas generator is not a cost-effective means to power a pellet grill/smoker.

12V to 110V Inverters & 12V Leisure Batteries

The third option is to take power from a 12V battery in a car/truck when tailgating, for instance, and use a 12V to 110V inverter to provide power for the pellet grill/smoker.

As referenced above, Traeger sells their own 12V to 110V inverter with a 400W continuous output and 800W peak output to provide enough power for those initial minutes during start-up when the hot rod igniter is running.

Though really, there is nothing special about it, it’s just a standard 400W inverter with a Traeger badge on it.

Before purchasing an inverter though, as stated above, check the manual of the pellet grill/smoker to find out what its peak power draw is and purchase a suitably rated inverter.

Traeger Power Inverter
While the Traeger branded 12V DV to 110V AC power inverter is one option you could consider, it’s by no means the only inverter that can do the job

So what about run time? Well, first, the scenario of running from the 12V battery in your car/truck. So let’s say you have a large car/pick-up with a starter battery that holds 100 Ah (Amp-hours) of energy.

We need to know how many Watt-hours of energy that is which is simply 100 Ah multiplied by the voltage, which is 12V with a result of 1200 Watt-hours, hence a similar amount of energy to the large Jackery Explorer portable power stations above.

The problem is you then need to use an inverter to take that 12V DC power and convert it into 110V AC power for most pellet grills/smokers to use.

I say ‘most’ as you do have some portable pellet grills such as the GMG Davy Crocket, which I discuss in my portable pellet grill article, which can run directly on 12V DC power.

For this example though, let’s say you have to use a 12V DC to 110V AC inverter, well, inverters are not 100% efficient, the efficiency of inverters range from 75% on the low end to 95% on the high end.

So the vehicle’s battery will not provide you with 1200 Watt-hours of energy, it will end up being more like 900 Watt-hours to 1140 Watt-hours of energy after the inverter.

There are lots of 12V to 110V inverters available with a continuous/peak-rated power output sufficient for pellet grills/smokers. Getting an inverter with crocodile clip connectors (left) is preferable so you can do a direct-to-battery connection

Between 900 Watt-hours and 1140 Watt-hours of energy could theoretically run a pellet grill/smoker for around 15 to 19 hours, but you wouldn’t want to do that.

If you did your vehicle’s battery will be flat and you’ll be stranded. Also, starter batteries in vehicles do not like going below 50% charge, it can cause damage.

Therefore, if you want to run a pellet grill/smoker for a long period of time, a leisure/deep cycle battery such as those found in RVs is what you want.

If you want to run a pellet grill/smoker from an RV you’re likely already set up, though if you were going to be running a pellet grill/smoker frequently off-grid an additional leisure/deep cycle battery wouldn’t be a bad idea.

Deep cycle batteries come in all different sizes of capacity and with different battery chemistries which will influence their cost & weight.

With simple maths as I’ve used above, you will be able to work out how long a specific deep-cycle battery would be able to power a specific pellet grill/smoker.

Deep Cycle 12V Battery
A typical example of 12V deep cycle battery with a 110 Ah / 1,320 Wh of energy capacity

Conclusions on Portable Power/Backup For Pellet Grills/Smokers

While a portable gas generator is a common means to power electrical appliances remotely, they are not really an efficient/cost-effective means to power a pellet grill/smoker.

The simplest, most convenient means to power a pellet grill/smoker is definitely a portable battery power station, as mentioned above, the downside being, their are expensive.

Therefore, the most cost-effective means to power a pellet grill/smoker remotely or independently off-grid if you are concerned about blackouts ruining your cook is a 12V deep-cycle battery and a 12V to 110V inverter.

You will also need to look into a mains battery charger to put energy back into the 12V deep-cycle battery or how to make it a part of your vehicles/RV’s existing electrical system.

Either way, seek professional advice if you are not sure what you’re doing, all electrical equipment, even 12V DC power, requires extreme care and attention to be safe.

That’s it! Thanks for reading, I hope this article on your available options/solutions to power a pellet grill/smoker remotely/off-grid has been useful/interesting.

If you have more questions, my Wood Pellet Grill/Smoker Guide can provide even more information. 🙂

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