Pellet smokers are bomb! Especially when you’re camped out or tailgating. But, of course, there’s the question of where you’re getting power from…
Pellet smokers not only run for a long time, they require a different amount of power in the startup and running cycles. And, every model is different. So, finding a suitable portable power solution isn’t always easy.
We’ve done the work for you and put together a list of 3 simple setups you can use to run almost any pellet smoker in the wild.
Note: This article was written in conjunction with a qualified electrician to make sure you’re getting the right advice when it comes to the best power options for portable pellet grills.
As always, check the particular power requirements of your pellet grill before buying and/or seek professional advice if you’re not sure what you’re doing with electrical equipment.
Prices vary. But, we’ve got everything from more affordable options to the ultimate.
Let’s jump in, here’s our top portable power options for pellet grills…
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Table of Contents
How Much Power Does a Pellet Grill Need?
Before we get into the actual recommendations, we will say, your exact power requirements for a portable wood pellet grill or smoker will depend on what model you’re running.
To find out exactly how much power your pellet grill needs, grab the owners manual that came with it. It should be detailed there.
All pellet smokers will have two different figures, a higher power draw while it’s running the more intensive start-up phase and a lower draw that it uses to maintain the temperature once it’s running.
In general, most pellet smokers don’t use more than about 500 watts of power during the start-up cycle and 30 watts of power per hour after that. Some pellet smokers let you manually start them to save on that initial high draw as well.
The solutions we’ve suggested in this article are appropriate for pellet smokers that draw an average amount or less.
If the smoker you’re trying to run draws more, the setups detailed below can still be used. You’ll just need to up the system size accordingly.
If you want to run other things off of your portable power solution as well like charging your phone, you’ll need to up size as well.
But, you can work out roughly how many watt hours your smoker uses using this formula:
How Long Can You Run a Portable Pellet Grill For?
As long as you want.
The different portable power solutions for pellet smokers suggested in this article are all available in a range of sizes.
More power costs more. So, size your system accordingly.
But, you can go big, link systems, or even go solar panels so you can recharge off the grid for the next night’s barbecue…
The only thing that’s really going to limit how long you run your portable pellet grill for will be the cost of a portable power setup. Bigger will cost you more.
If you’re on a budget, work out how many watt hours you need and buy just enough (or a little bit more) to run your pellet grill for however long you normally grill or smoke for.
Having a little bit of extra power in your back pocket will save you if you’re distracted and take longer to get the food on or the cook isn’t going quite how you thought it would. It happens, we’ve all been there!
Portable Battery Power Station
This solution isn’t the cheapest and it’s not the most expensive either. But, it is the most simple and most convenient.
A portable battery power station will set you back a few hundred dollars.
And, if you haven’t heard of these before, they’re pretty much a large battery in a durable, easy to carry case that’s already got all of your standard outlets built into it.
Simply charge it up at home, take it with your smoker, plug it in and you’re good to go.
They’re available in all sorts of sizes. How large you need to go will depend on how long you want to smoke for. Plus, having some spare battery in there to charge phones, run a laptop or plug in some lights while you’re camping is a nice side benefit.
There’s a lot of different brands that make portable battery stations at different sizes, qualities and prices. These are our top choices for powering a portable pellet smoker.
Our Favorite Portable Battery Power Stations
Jackery Explorer 500
Goal Zero Yeti 500X Portable Power Station
Grilla Grills 300W Power Station
Inverter + Deep Cycle Battery
Not so pretty but, a lot more affordable, you can use an inverter/deep cycle battery/battery charger combo to power your portable pellet grill.
Yes, you can use the battery on your car. But, car batteries aren’t made to be discharged and recharged regularly. So, running your pellet smoker off your car battery will increase the wear and tear on it dramatically.
Instead, grab yourself a dedicated battery to run it off.
Deep cycle will work best because they’re made to provide a steady stream of power for hours and be recharged when done.
If your pellet grill has a regular 110v power cord (everything except Green Mountains typically do), you’ll need an inverter to hook it up to the battery pack.
You can’t just grab any inverter! You need one that can handle the higher discharge of the start-up cycle. Traeger recommend 400W as a minimum and this recommendation is good to stick with even if you’re using another brand of pellet smoker like the awesome Z Grills.
And, if you haven’t bought a portable pellet smoker already, check out the Green Mountain Trek. It runs off 12V and comes with the alligator clips to connect straight to a battery so will save you some money. You DO NOT need an inverter to run a Green Mountain Pellet Grill.
But for everything else, inverter to deep cycle battery. Plus, you’ll need a battery charger to recharge the battery once you get it home.
Our Favorite Inverter, Battery and Charger Solution
BESTEK 500W Power Inverter
Mighty Max 12V 35 AH Deep Cycle Battery
- Good enough to handle the large initial draw of a pellet grill
- 35 AH should be plenty to run an average pellet smoker for up to about 12 hours (for long smokes you might want to size up to 55 AH because the inverter will make it slightly less efficient)
- Maintenance free
NOCO GENIUS1 1-Amp Fully-Automatic Smart Charger
A generator is the last option on this list because it’s not one of the best power sources for portable pellet smokers alone.
Generators are more expensive than the other portable pellet grill power solutions on this list. They’re also heavier and bulkier than the alternatives, you’ll have to take fuel with you too, and, a pellet grill doesn’t generally draw enough power which can damage the generator over time.
Generators typically like to be run with a 80-85% load. And, while your pellet smoker will use a reasonable amount of power in the inital startup, once that’s done it’ll be drawing almost nothing.
So, although we don’t recommend a generator for a pellet grill alone, if you are running other electrics off it like for an RV, it might be a good solution for you.
Keep in mind you’ll need an inverter generator so you can save on buying a separate inverter too.
Our Favorite Inverter Generators
Champion Power 2000 Watt Portable Inverter Generator
WEN Super Quiet 2000-W Portable Inverter Generator
Summing up the Best Portable Power Supply Options for Pellet Grills
Finding a way to power your pellet smoker so that you can use it off-grid can seem daunting.
But, choose from one of these 3 portable power setups and you’re ready for your favorite barbecue whenever and wherever you want it:
- Portable Battery Power Station: These are convenient, large batteries that come in durable cases with built-in outlets. They can be charged at home and used to power anything including pellet smokers.
- Inverter + Deep Cycle Battery: An alternative, more affordable option involves using a deep cycle battery with an inverter to power the pellet grill. You’ll need a deep cycle battery (around 35 AH for most scenarios). And, if your grill has a regular 110V wall plug you’ll also need an inverter capable of handling at least 400W. Don’t forget a battery charger to recharge the battery when needed.
- Generator: While not the most efficient option for running a pellet grill alone, a generator can be used and might be perfect for you if you’re running other electrical appliances as well. Buy an inverter generator so you can plug your pellet grill straight in without having to get a separate inverter as well.
The best way to power your portable pellet grill will depend on how much power your particular pellet smoker draws, if you want to power other things as well, your budget, and how long you plan to cook for.
As a rough guide, your typical portable pellet grill uses around 500 watts during startup and 30 watts per hour thereafter. But, you will need to grab your smoker manual out to check it’s particular power requirements to make sure what you’re buying will run it well.
FAQs About How to Power a Portable Pellet Grill or Smoker
How are portable pellet grills powered?
Most portable pellet grills have a regular, AC 110V power cord that needs to be plugged in. Some have a DC power cord. But, either way, you’ll need access to electricity.
The most common ways to run a portable pellet grill off-grid are using a portable battery power station, an inverter with a deep cycle battery, or a generator.
Can you use a pellet grill without electricity?
No. All pellet grills require electricity to power the auger and run the fan that helps to regulate the temperature inside your grill.
Can you run a Traeger off a battery?
Yes, you can run a Traeger pellet grill off a battery.
Traeger pellet grills are designed to be powered by standard 110V electrical outlets. So, if you buy a portable battery station like our favorite, the Jackery Explorer 500, that has a regular 110V outlet, all you need to do is plug your Traeger cord in and away you go.
But, if you want to power your Traeger pellet grill off a car battery that has DC power, you’ll need an inverter to convert the battery’s DC power to the AC power that the Traeger grill requires.
This means you’ll need to buy a deep cycle battery, inverter and a battery charger to recharge the battery after use. Even with all these components, this setup is the cheapest way to power a pellet smoker off-grid.
How do you run a pellet grill off the battery?
Running a pellet grill off a portable battery power station is as simple as charging the power station then plugging in your pellet grill.
Because portable power stations like the Jackery Explorer 500 have regular AC 110V power outlets and a DC outlet, they will work with any pellet smoker including Traegers, Z Grills, Grilla Grills and Green Mountain Grills without needing any more than the regular cord your grill came with.
If you want to run your pellet grill with a car battery setup, you’ll use the alligator clips to connect an inverter to your deep cycle battery. You can then plug your pellet grill into the inverter safely.
Or, if you have a Green Mountain Pellet Grill, use the alligator clips it came with to connect the grill directly to a deep cycle battery.
Can you run a pellet grill off a generator?
Yes, you can run a pellet grill off a generator. But, it’s not always the most efficient or cost-effective option, particularly if you’re only using the generator for the grill. This is why:
- Load requirements: Generators typically perform best when they’re running at about 80-85% of their rated capacity. Pellet grills, once they’ve started, usually draw much less power. So, if you’re only running the grill, it’s not be the most efficient use and will reduce the life of the generator.
- Noise level: Even a ‘quiet’ generator can be pretty loud which isn’t ideal if you’re at a campground or another quiet outdoor setting.
- Fuel required: You’ll need fuel, which is another thing to carry with you. With rising fuel prices, the cost of running a generator to power your pellet grill is significant as well.
For these reasons, we do recommend using a electric, portable power station to run your portable pellet grill over using a generator. Jackery is our favorite brand for this.
But, if you do want to use a generator to power your portable pellet grill, make sure that it’s an inverter generator that produces stable and clean electricity that is safe for sensitive electronic devices, like the control systems in pellet grills.
And, make sure the generator’s capacity matches the power requirements of your pellet grill. Our top choice of a generator to run a portable pellet grill is the Champion 2000W Portable Inverter Generator that can run most pellet smokes for up to 11.5 hours.
What size generator do I need to run a pellet grill?
The size of the generator you need to run a pellet grill depends on the specific power requirements of your pellet grill model.
Generally, pellet grills use more power during startup and then use less power to maintain the temperature.
The Champion Power 2000 watt portable inverter generator should run for up to 11.5 hours on one tank of gas. That’s long enough to do a decent long smoke on most portable pellet smokers. And, you should have enough power to charge your phone or run other small devices while you’re at it.
Always check the specific power requirements for your pellet grill model in the user manual or on the manufacturer’s website. Then, choose a generator that can comfortably meet the startup power requirements while providing a little overhead for other devices.
Jared Brown, an avid lover of all things meat has a fearless enthusiasm for experimenting with anything that's grilling, smoking or outdoor cooking. With a wealth of experience across a range different barbecue types, Jared's got a real knack for helping others make a decision they're happy with, ensuring they find the perfect fit regardless of conventional notions of the 'right' choice. This unique approach has made Jared a trusted guide in the world of barbecue.