What Are the Different Types of Balcony Grills?

Dan Cavallari

Balcony grills are generally much smaller than patio grills used for outdoor cooking, though some patio grills can be used on certain types of balconies. In general, grills that allow for large open flames should not be used on balconies, especially balconies with other structures above them, as this can be an extreme fire hazard. Larger balconies may be able to accommodate larger grills provided the balcony is large enough for the grill to be placed far away from the house itself as well as any overhanging balconies or roofs above, though specific balcony grills that are much smaller recommended instead.

If the balcony is on an apartment building, hotel or time share, a grill may not be permitted on it.
If the balcony is on an apartment building, hotel or time share, a grill may not be permitted on it.

Some balcony grills hang like a planter box from the railing of the balcony. These are very small units that are either charcoal or gas powered, and a few burgers or steaks at a time can be grilled on them. They are convenient and small enough to work well on even the smallest balconies, and the flames will not be able to grow high enough to pose a fire risk to balconies or roofs above. These are often quite inexpensive models that are lightweight and easy to store when not in use during the winter months.

Grills should not be used on balconies that have structures above them.
Grills should not be used on balconies that have structures above them.

Tabletop balcony grills are basically smaller versions of full sized grills. These are most often powered by charcoal, and they are often half the size of full size grills or smaller. They are usually placed on tabletops or other elevated platforms, which means it is important to clear the table or platform of any flammable materials that may catch fire when placed near the hot grill. The table itself should also be made from fire-retardant materials that will not catch fire should a stray spark strike it. These tabletop balcony grills can also be gas powered with small gas canisters, which eliminates the need for charcoal and lighter fluid. Some of these tabletop units are sometimes called hibachi grills, after the traditional Japanese cooking units.

Electric models are also available as balcony grills, and these are perhaps the safest option for enclosed spaces or balconies that are partially enclosed. These grills have heating elements inside the metal bowl that are heated via an electrical connection. The plug can run into the home to the nearest outlet, and the heating element can be regulated with on-grill controls. There are no open flames involved with this type of grill, which will affect the way some foods are cooked.

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Discussion Comments


It is a good practice to check with your landlord before using a balcony cooking grill. Some leasing agencies write conditions into the lease that prevent tenants from using grills on balconies. If you are caught using one in violation of the lease you could face fines or even eviction.

These kinds of conditions are rare but not unheard of. Better safe than sorry


I think it is better to use a gas grill on a balcony than a charcoal grill. The heat and flames are easier to control on a gas grill if you ever have a problem. Also, there is less mess to clean up. Gas grills don't produce any waste so you don't have to worry about throwing out charcoal and ash.


I have lived in several different apartment complexes and I have always had success with using a hibachi on my balcony. I have never has issues with fire or burning or the smoke being a nuisance to my neighbors.

For anyone that doesn't know, a hibachi is basically a short grill. The legs are only a few inches long. The grilling surface can be very small, only big enough for two or three burgers, or as big as any normally sized charcoal grill. They are cheap to buy and easy to find and a great way for apartment dwellers to enjoy the flavors of a backyard BBQ.

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