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How to design an outdoor kitchen

When designing an outdoor kitchen or eating area, it’s important to ensure that the area to be used is appropriately designed to allow for a range of factors: providing cover from the weather; having easy access into and out of the house; having a level flooring and circulation space to avoid slips and trips; and making sure there is sufficient natural airflow where gas appliances are being used.

In this article

  • What is an outdoor kitchen?
  • What is required in an enclosed area?
  • Use of gas barbecues
  • Other requirements for gas appliances

What is an outdoor kitchen?

An outdoor kitchen is one that is not obstructed by other buildings or structures, that facilitates correct combustion and allows the products of gas combustion, or similar, to be readily dispersed into the atmosphere.

An alfresco area, verandah or balcony is considered outdoors when it is open-air and has natural ventilation. This ensures stagnant areas do not form as these prevent the products of combustion from being rapidly dispersed by wind and natural convection.

In the unlikely event of a gas leak occurring, a well-ventilated area will allow escaping gases to disperse rapidly.

The following situations are considered to provide the natural ventilation required for an outdoor domestic barbecue:

  • Four open sides with a roof or overhead cover
  • Four enclosed sides (walls) without a roof or overhead cover
  • Two parallel walls or two walls at right angles to each other with a roof or overhead cover
  • Three walls, with the one open side being at least 25% of the total perimeter and the remaining three walls having an area of 30% or more of unrestricted opening, with a roof or overhead cover.
Figure 1 - Outdoor kitchen walls

For these installations, the barbecue may be connected by a flexible hose to a natural gas bayonet point or similar fitting, through fixed connections to gas piping or by connection to an LP gas cylinder.

What is required in an enclosed area?

If the area to be used does not meet the standards above, then it should be treated as an indoor area. This may also occur where the client indicates that they intend to install plastic blinds or solid panels, creating a ‘quasi-indoor’ situation.

In these cases a minimum opening of not less than 10% is required to the perimeter, and if outdoor barbecues are to be used then mechanical extraction should be installed.

Combustion products must be exhausted to the atmosphere via an exhaust canopy interlocked to the gas supply, which has been designed and installed by an appropriately licensed person.

The extraction fan requires grease filters and a 1200mm clearance above the barbecue. The extraction air rate should typically be 60L/s and the fan/electrics appropriately heat rated. 

An air pressure switch to monitor the exhaust fan airflow is required to be interlocked back to a Class 1 solenoid valve where the barbecue has flame supervision on all burners. Alternatively, a gas proving system and Class 1 solenoid valve for barbecues without flame supervision on all burners should be installed. A manual ¼ turn gas ball valve on the gas supply line to the barbecues is also necessary.

Figure 2 – Exhaust arrangements for gas BBQ
Figure 3 – Exhaust system arrangements for gas BBQ

Use of gas barbecues

Gas barbecues need adequate ventilation to ensure there is sufficient air for combustion (for gas to burn safely) and to dilute the products of combustion to safe levels. Where barbecues are used in an outdoor area, there is usually adequate natural ventilation. However there may be some ‘semi-outdoor’ situations where there is inadequate ventilation and the use of barbecues in these areas is therefore not recommended.

Outdoor gas barbecues and other appliances are generally not designed or certified for use in enclosed areas. They are not required to be tested to the same Australian Standards for combustion emissions and temperature hazards as indoor gas appliances. 

It is important to consider how much air can enter your outdoor kitchen area before you decide to install any gas appliances. If ventilation is not good, then electric appliances should be considered as an alternative.

Other requirements for gas appliances

Other requirements for gas barbecues installed indoors or outdoors include the following:

  • Ensuring the clearance between the gas barbecue and the building meets:
    • the barbecue manufacturer’s installation instructions
    • the regulatory requirements of any gas regulations applicable in your state or territory
  • Ensuring a minimum clearance of 1200mm for domestic barbecues is maintained between the barbecue cooking surface and the ceiling, roof or overhead cover to avoid the risk of combustion occurring on surfaces laden with grease deposits.

Gas appliances should be checked regularly by a qualified person. This ensures that they continue to operate safely and efficiently. Always use a licensed gasfitter to install, repair, service or remove gas appliances.

When buying a gas appliance, look for safety features such as flame failure devices, which cut off the gas if the flame is accidentally extinguished and automatic re-ignition, which allows the appliance to relight itself if the flame is accidentally extinguished.

References

  • Safe locations for using gas barbecues - Department of Commerce, Western Australia
  • Energy Safety, Safe locations for using gas barbecues - Department of Consumer and Employment Protection, Western Australia

To find out more, contact HIA’s Building Services team.

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