One of the most common questions about Traeger grills, or any pellet grill for that matter, is whether or not you can cook on them while it is raining. Back when I was using a Weber gas and charcoal grills for most of my outdoor cooking bad weather was inconvenient but I never worried about it damaging my equipment.
However, now that I am using pellet grills almost exclusively the issue of rain has become important.
The short answer is that technically you can use a Traeger in the rain but you probably shouldn’t for several different reasons.
Four Reasons Not To Use A Pellet Grill In The Rain
When I first started researching whether or not you could cook on a Traeger while it was raining I checked the Owner’s Manual The manual is full of safety warnings about carbon monoxide, grease fires and avoiding burns but I could not find a single mention of grilling during wet weather conditions.
The only mention of rain that I could find in the Owner’s Manual was in the maintenance section and is as follows.
CAUTION! If the grill is stored outside during the rainy
season, care should be taken to ensure that water
does not get into the pellet hopper. Wood pellets
expand greatly when wet and will jam your auger.
Always cover your grill when not in use with the
Traeger grill cover. This custom-fit cover can be
purchased at traegergrills.com.”
A Google search led me to a FAQ article on the Canadian Traeger website that says you can use the grills in a light rain. But no two people have the same definition of “light rain” and there is no explanation of why use during a “light rain” is okay but a “heavy rain” is not.
I called Traeger’s Customer Service department and asked them the question directly but they did not give me a yes or no answer. Instead they asked me if we could agree that electricity and water should not be mixed. They further elaborated that it would be best if their grills were used in a covered location or that at least a cover should be placed over them when not is use.
Given the statement on Traeger’s Canadian site that grill use is okay during a light rain and the absence of any warnings in the current Owner’s Manual it looks like you can grill in the rain without voiding the warranty.
But even though you can use a pellet grill in the rain doesn’t mean that you should. Here are the four things to consider before you start burning pellets in wet conditions.
Primary Power Connection
The most obvious concern with pellet grills and water is that they require electricity to operate and are plugged into a 120V outlet. And, even though you are not supposed to, many people (me included) use an extension cord. The thing you worry about is water getting into a connection and you end up getting zapped.
Honestly getting zapped is the least of the things I worry about. Al outdoor power outlets are supposed to be GFIC protected to prevent this exact scenario.
My biggest concern is about protecting the electronic control panel. The panels are supposed to be waterproof but that is not always the case. Even if the panels start out as weatherproof the plastic can develop cracks after a year or two of UV exposure.
If your control panel is not waterproof and rain gets in there they your electronics are going to get fried and your grill is not going to work.
As Traeger mentions in their Owner’s Manual, you really want to keep your pellets dry. When pellets get wet they swell up and jam your auger. The swelling eventually causes the pellet to lose its structural integrity and will cause them to turn to wet sawdust.
Even if you never open the lid on the hopper rain can still find ways in, especially if the wind is blowing.
One of the biggest complaints I have seen about inexpensive pellet grills like Pit Boss is that the paint burns off and the grill rapidly rusts. While rust is a less common issue on Traeger grills it does still happen. Several owners of Traeger Ironwoods are reporting blistered and peeling paint occurring right after the initial seasoning of the grill.
What Should You Do If It Starts To Rain While Using A Traeger
Even if you don’t plan on grilling in the rain it sometime still happens. Rainstorms can pop up unexpectedly and leave you standing there getting soaked.
If you find yourself unexpectedly grilling in the rain then my best advice is to just keep on going.
Some things not to do:
- Do not try to move the grill to a covered location while it is hot and running.
- Do not unplug the grill. Pellet grills need to go through a shutdown cycle to clean out the burn pot.
- Do not put a cover on it while it is still hot.
I have been stuck in this situation before and the next time I tried to fire up my grill I was getting error codes on the control panel. The problem turned out to be a simple fix. The connection between the thermometer inside the grill and the control panel had gotten wet and the signal was bad. It took about 20 minutes of work to try it out with slivers of paper towels and then it worked like new!
FYI…I just found a video of a guy grilling on a Traeger during a light rain. Looks like everything turned out just fine 🙂