The urban life gives people a huge number of conveniences and comforts, while also imposing certain unpleasant restrictions. One of such restrictions applies to picnics and cookouts in the out-of-doors. Many urban dwellers don’t have summer cottages, which is why for them communication with the nature comes down to a walk through the park or public garden. But these places do not allow the favorite activity of many outdoor goers: barbecue. This gives rise to the idea of using the balcony of your urban apartment as the small outdoor venue where you can place a grill and enjoy BBQ parties with friends.
Who may be opposed to your balcony grill ideas?
- Firefighters are unequivocal in their opinion: barbecue parties and grills involving open fire do not belong on balconies. They insists that such activities should only take place outdoors, at a reasonable distance from residential buildings. To prove their statement, they provide the following rationales: The use of open fire sources in a residential building (with the exception of the kitchen) is strictly forbidden by USA legislation’s:
- The combustion products of wood and charcoal are likely to ascend and penetrate the apartments located above.
- The fire hazard: if your neighbors above use their balcony as a place for drying racks, or if they keep some flammable materials in there, chances are high that the sparks and other high-temperature combustion products of your grill might result in a fire.
- The pungent smoke that emerges when oil from the food contacts the burning embers gets accumulated on the ceiling of the balcony in the form of soot, which is a poor decoration, as well as a violation of fire safety rules.
Warning: To avoid sooting the ceiling of their balcony, some urban dwellers decide to use the roof of their apartment buildings. However, exploiting it as the venue for an open fire grill is illegal in the USA, because the roof covering is often not inflammable.
- Health care professionals are against the use of barbecue devices within glazed balconies, because the combustion products may have a negative effect on your respiratory passages. When such products are accumulated in an enclosed balcony space, the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning rockets high. The important aspects pointed out by health care workers in regard to home balcony grills are:
- When you cook using open fire, the combustion products need to be carried away with the air flows. If you’re determined to cook on your glazed balcony, be sure to open all the windows.
- In an enclosed balcony space, the air circulation is less intense, which may result in an increased concentration of harmful substances in the ready meals.
- If you consume such meals too often, it may contribute to emergence of diseases and illnesses in your body.
- Your neighbors may strongly dislike your idea of using your balcony as the place for a barbecue party, because:
- The smell of your food being cooked may get into their residential areas that are not fitted with proper extract ventilation (not only the neighbors’ balcony, but also their bedroom, living room, etc.)
- The soot and smoke of your open-fire grill will inevitably accumulate on the walls and windows of their balcony, as well as on the items they store in there.
- Their emotional state will be uneasy, because your activities are likely to increase the fire risk substantially.
Possible design variants of the balcony grill.
Speaking of home balcony grills, the following saying comes pat, “Burning desire is worse than fire.” If you’ve considered all the negative factors and legal restrictions, but it hasn‘t eliminated your desire to use the balcony as the barbecue spot, our only piece of advice is: don’t use a grill fired with charcoal or wood! Leave this option for the real outdoor cookouts. Instead, have a closer look at the variants that do not produce great amounts of combustion products, namely:
- An electric grill or an electric barbecue appliance.
- A small gas-fueled grill that attaches to the balcony railing.
Characteristics of both options are more than satisfactory in terms of fire safety. Modern electric grills feature many safety functions, such as automatic power turn-off in cases where the appliance falls on the side or an extraneous matter (including food) contacts the heating elements. The gas-fired variant is capable of cooking meat quicker; however, an electric appliance is easier to handle.
The grill as a permanent part of the balcony design: is it practical?
It is unwise to arrange a stationary grill on the balcony, in the opinion of professional designers. With a decent amount of efforts, you can fit the appliance in the design concept without disturbing the decorative composition of the balcony. But unless you throw BBQ parties weekly, it is really unreasonable to permanently occupy a lot of precious space in such a way (it’s going to be a lot, as safety requirements do not allow to place the grill in a corner). If the total area of your balcony is 85 sq. ft or less, opt for a grill model that can be disassembled. After you’ve enjoyed the cooking session, you can pack it in a box and hide it in a corner.
If you tend to enjoy grilled meals alone or in a small company, without throwing a BBQ party, then consider using a small table model. It occupies very little space and offers the advantage of portability: today you can use it on the balcony, tomorrow you can exploit it at a real outdoor cookout.