There are many great small sized BBQs that are well suited to having a BBQ on a balcony. But before you invest in a new BBQ, or use an existing BBQ on your unit balcony, there are a few things to consider:
- Compliance with by-Laws of the complex or body corporate
- Lease restrictions for renters
- Adequate ventilation
- Limits on the amount of gas
- Safe distance from combustible materials
- Safe distance from ignition sources
- Accessible fire extinguisher
- Minimising cooking smoke
- Controlled clean-up
You need to check the By-Laws for your complex and/or check with your Body Corporate to see if there are any restrictions on using a gas BBQ on your balcony. Many apartment complexes do have restrictions on having a BBQ in the balcony and some provide gas BBQs in common areas, as an alternative.
If you are a renter, you also need to check your lease to see if it includes any restrictions regarding the use of a BBQ on the balcony.
Open and Ventilated
The balcony must be open and well ventilated. It cannot be enclosed by louvres, plastic curtains or similar weather or privacy barriers. If your balcony is enclosed, you cannot use a BBQ under any circumstances.
Only One Cylinder
you are limited to no more than one 8.5kg gas cylinder on the balcony. So, you cannot store a spare gas cylinder on the balcony along with the gas cylinder attached to the BBQ. Also, NEVER store gas cylinders indoors.
You should make sure that there are no flammable materials near the BBQ. This would include timber walls, railings, furniture, privacy screens or anything else that can burn. It should also be placed well away from windows or doors, as carpeting, curtains and wood blinds are also flammable. Gas cylinders and BBQs should be kept a minimum of 1M away from any wall opening.
Your BBQ and gas cylinder should be at least 1.5M away from any electrical ignition source like electrical switches, power points, air conditioners, lights, bug zappers, etc. The same distance should be maintained from any open flame, like decorative or citronella candles. This always applies, whether the BBQ is in use or not.
Check for Gas Leaks
Watch video for soap water test.
While not common, BBQ fires do happen. In contrast to a backyard BBQ, it is unlikely that a garden hose is available on your balcony for fire emergencies. So, your only option is to have a fire extinguisher ready for use. Something a bit larger than the small ones sold for kitchens would be prudent.
Be aware that your cooking smoke may not just go straight up and away. While you may enjoy the smell of the meal you are about to eat, it is unlikely that your neighbours will feel the same way about your smoke coming into their units.
You can minimise your smoke in a few ways:
1) Don’t cook on HIGH, as cooking with higher heat generates more smoke.
2) Make sure your grease tray is clean before you start, to avoid the smoke generated from heating old grease.
3) Finally, make sure you keep an eye on your BBQ, so nothing burns while cooking. Be a good neighbour!
Remember that you cannot use water to clean your BBQ if it is going to spill over the edge of your balcony. Having greasy, dirty water dripping onto their balconies and blowing into their windows will do nothing for your popularity with your neighbours. It may even get you presented with expensive cleaning bills!