A Barbecue Grill That Fits on a Balcony
No yardwork! No snow shoveling! No pool maintenance! ... There’s a lot to love about condo and apartment living. But, one thing that’s not’s so great: no grilling.
In many areas, municipal fire codes prohibit using or storing open-flame charcoal and propane gas grills at multifamily apartment buildings, high-rises, condos, and co-ops. That means no barbecuing on your balcony (or terrace, roof deck, patio, or anywhere else within ten feet of the building). And that’s a bummer, because the perk of not having to clean the gutters cannot always compensate for an unfulfilled burger craving.
Whether your condo or apartment is your primary residence or a vacation home, its balcony is your little backyard in the sky. You undoubtedly appreciate your outdoor space as much as – maybe more than – someone with a sprawling suburban patio, and you want to use it the same way, albeit on a smaller scale.
So how can you turn this valuable square footage into a haven for relaxing, entertaining and cooking outdoors?
Fortunately, a growing number of outdoor living products on the market today are designed with the scale, functionality, durability, quality, and esthetics appropriate for balconies and other small spaces. And that includes grills.
Some Things You Need to Know
Code regulations vary in every city, and resident by-laws differ in every building. So, get familiar with the rules in your community and specific residence before shopping for any grill or outdoor living product for your condo or apartment.
While grills fueled by charcoal and standard, 20-pound propane tanks are prohibited at most multifamily dwellings, other types of grills may be allowed. For instance, natural gas grills that are permanently and professionally piped into the building’s gas utility lines, are often permitted. Some properties allow the use of propane grills fueled by disposable, one-pound, LP gas cylinders; the kind commonly used in small portable grills and camp stoves. Electric grills and cooking appliances are also approved options in some places, because they don’t generate a traditional open flame.
Keep in mind that any type of grill, along with all outdoor furnishings, must be secured to the balcony or be heavy enough that the wind won’t send them careening to the ground below. At the same time, they’ll need to be lightweight enough that the balcony, roof or terrace can safely support them. (For example, a high-rise balcony is no place for a heavy, masonry outdoor kitchen finished in rock, but lighter-weight, modular, outdoor kitchen cabinetry might be a good option.)
Another consideration: the winds, unfiltered sun, and weather-related conditions are harsher on upper floors, so materials and finishes need to be durable, UV resistant, and weatherproof.
Outdoor grills and furnishings collect soot and dust – particularly if they’re in an urban environment – and hoses are rare on high-rise balconies, so you’ll want to be sure they’re easy to clean and maintain. (As we’ve already established, condo and apartment dwellers love low-maintenance!) A smooth-surfaced outdoor dining table or sofa, for instance, will be easier to clean than an all-weather-wicker set with lots of nooks and crannies for dust to gather.
Delivery logistics factor into choosing grills and outdoor living products for condos and apartments. Getting items to your balcony or terrace may require a trip up the building’s elevator, so it’s important to determine if the grill, outdoor kitchen components and/or furniture will fit inside and meet weight limits.
A (Multi)Family Friendly Option
Le Griddle flattop grills are versatile outdoor cooking appliances that satisfy the code requirements in many condo and apartment buildings. Made in France, and available in natural gas, LP gas and electric models, these versatile, multipurpose appliances function like a grill, griddle and side burner rolled into one.
Unlike traditional grills with slatted cooking grids, Le Griddle grills have solid, 304-stainless-steel cooktops bonded to a cast-iron plate that distributes heat evenly and efficiently across the cooking surface. Temperatures range from low to high-heat searing, so they can put a good crust on steaks and burgers; make pancakes and eggs; sauté peppers and onions for fajitas; and cook most anything in-between. Le Griddles are also great for grilling small and delicate foods like shrimp, fish filets and veggies – nothing falls through the cracks.
Gas units are offered in one-, two- and three-burner models, each independently controlled so you can cook foods at different temperatures simultaneously. The Electric Wee Griddle is outfitted with a single electric burner and can be plugged into a standard, 120-volt wall outlet. The larger dual element model also works on 110 volts, but with two plugs.
Lightweight and space-saving, Le Griddle outdoor grills start at 74 pounds with a 16-sq.-inch cooking surface, making them an ideal size for a balcony or terrace. Optional stainless steel cart bases are available for all models. The carts have folding side shelves, built-in storage, and come on wheels, so they offer the flexibility to tuck the grill out of the way when not in use. If you have room for an outdoor kitchen, the griddles can also be built into a noncombustible outdoor kitchen island using an insulated liner, or placed on any non-combustible counter.
The griddles clean up in a snap. A removeable drip tray catches grease runoff, and a handful of ice cubes makes quick work of the cooking surface, sizzling, steaming and loosening residue before scraping it away with a nylon scrub pad. (See how easy the griddles are to clean, here.) Optional stainless steel lids and vinyl covers are also available to keep out dust and debris.
Of course, it bears repeating that you should check the fire codes in your area, as well as the terms of your lease, homeowner’s association guidelines, and/or building policies before buying any grill or outdoor living furnishings. But if permitted, a condo cookout could soon be in your future!