Pellet grills are at the peak of convenience, provide real wood flavor, and give you complete ease of use. Although they burn through wood pellets to produce heat and smoke for the cook, they do require electricity in order to operate.
For all those whose spouses are asking “how much is it costing to run that thing?”, or those that are just curious, here is a detailed account of how much electricity pellet grills use and how much it costs you to run.
Pellet grills, or pellet smokers, use real wood as fuel to produce amazing, clean, and flavorful smoke that envelops the meat during the smoking process.
Although the wood pellets are the sole source of heat, smoke, and flavor, pellet smokers do require electricity in order to operate. However, it’s very minimal as it’s only required to power the digital display panels, rotate the auger to move the wood pellets, and to control the flame with the stoker fans.
So, if you run out of wood pellets while smoking, or lose access to electricity, your pellet grill will stop operating entirely.
How Much Electricity Does A Pellet Grill Use?
Although pellet grills do rely on electricity for their basic functions, in the grand scheme of things, it’s actually very little power usage.
I averaged the watt usage of three of the most popular pellet grill brands (sources: Pit Boss Pellet Grills, Traeger Grills, Camp Chef Pellet Grills) which came out to an average of:
- 300-500 watts for the first few minutes to power the ignitor.
- 50 watts for the remainder of the cook to continue power to the auger, fans, and digital display.
Thanks to this electricity cost calculator I was able to estimate the total power usage cost based on an 8 hour smoke session, at the average US electricity rate of 13.19 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh).
So, How Much Does It Cost To Run A Pellet Grill?
Well, it’s actually under 1 cent an hour, based on the average US electricity rate of 13.19 cents per kWh, and the wattage of a standard pellet grill.
For those that are curious, the calculations are below.
50 Watts x 8 (Number of Hours) / 1000 = 0.4 kWh
0.4 kWh x 13.19c kWh Rate = 5.276 cents for 8 hours of usage, or less than 1 cent an hour (0.66 cents).
So, although wood pellets are on the dearer side, it’s good to know it’s not costing you a lot on electricity. All the more reason to fire it up on every occasion you can!
How Many Watts Does A Pellet Grill Use?
Pellet grills typically use between 300-500 watts upon start-up. For the first few minutes this powers the ignitor, starts the auger and fans, and switches on the digital display.
Once the wood pellets have caught properly, after around 2-4 minutes, the ignitor switches off. From here only 50 watts are needed, as the power is only drawn enough to operate the auger, the fans, and the digital display.
What Uses More Power: Electric Smoker Vs. Pellet Smoker
The difference in power usage between an electric smoker and a pellet smoker comes from the source of the heat.
Pellet smokers use wood pellets in order to fuel the fire, creating your desired temperature with the help of the auger and the fans.
Electric smokers on the other hand rely on electricity to power the heating element that provides the heat. The heat in an electric smoker works more like a conventional oven, with the addition of smoking wood chips to create the smoke.
Electric smokers, because they rely on this electricity to produce heat, use approximately 16x more power. This is, for the electric smoker around 800 Watts vs. around 50 Watts for the pellet smoker.
Can You Use A Pellet Grill Without Power?
Although the source of heat comes from the burning of the wood pellets, power is required to turn the auger and operate the fan to stoke the fire to the desired temperature.
You might think that once the grill is running, power might not be needed. However, without the auger turning to fuel the fire, the flame would quickly become hungry and slowly die out.
All pellet grills come with a power cable meant to plug into a power outlet. Always check your serving the pellet grill with adequate power according to the manual, but I would say 99% of the pellet grills will operate on the standard 120 VAC power socket across America and world wide.
Although you need power to operate your pellet grill, you don’t actually need a wall socket. You can alternatively use a power inverter to use your portable pellet grill from the back of your vehicle. Or, you can also use a portable battery, power station, or generator to smoke wherever you please.
Using A Power Inverter For Your Pellet Grill
If you love the idea of taking your portable pellet grills with you camping, on the road, or out tailgating, then you could look into getting a power inverter.
Amazingly, Traeger Grills know exactly how you feel and have even released their Traeger Grills power inverter which converts 12 Volt power from a car battery into standard 120 volt power with multiple outlets.
Although this is made by Traeger, it can be used with any pellet grill which plugs into a standard 120 volt power supply, which is 99% of the available pellet grills.
Using A Battery To Power Your Pellet Grill
If you don’t want to hook up the inverter to the car to power your pellet grill, you can always use a trusty battery, with most low cost options in the market being able to grill comfortably for 8-16 hours.
For example, one of the best available options that will last you a lifetime would be the MAXOAK portable power station.
So easy to use, boasting a 500Wh rating will last you between 8-12 hours of power for your pellet grill. It can also be recharged in 5-6 hours from it’s solar panel, wall outlet, car outlet, or hooked up to a generator. If you’re taking this with you camping, on an RV, or anywhere you’ll be using it outside, make sure to also use an outdoor extension cord for your pellet grill.
Using A Generator To Power Your Pellet Grill
Instead of using stored power in a battery, you can use a generator to create the power for you. Although you won’t be limited to how long you can grill for, so long as you have adequate gasoline as fuel, honestly I think this is a bit overkill.
Generators are usually much more expensive, loud, and heavy and if you’re only looking to generator power enough for your pellet grill then a portable power station or heavy duty battery will normally be the better option.
Although pellet grills look like they would be sucking through a lot of power, you can run them for less than one cent an hour.
Of course, this depends on where you live, what pellet grill you are using, and the temperature you’re trying to keep it at.
Still, because pellet grills don’t actually use electricity to generate heat, they require much less electricity than electric smokers.
But in terms of the cost to run them — you have to factor in the costs of wood pellets too!