Take the Hard Work Out of Grilling! Automated Fire Grill

Bring Your Food Closer to the Flames Than Ever Before - Automated Fire Grill!

Loureal Agustin
Loureal Agustin
PA Engineer

Progressive Automations is pleased to share another sponsorship project! One of our innovative customers, John McGurk, has built a mechanism to raise and lower a grill rack above a charcoal or wooden-fired grill pit. The goal was to design a stylish cantilever-like apparatus so that it is easier to cook and manage, while socializing at the same time. This project was inspired by the traditional way of cooking paella over open-wood fire in Valencia, Spain.

Burger grill automated with the help of linear actuator


Picking the Perfect Linear Actuator

John was on the lookout for a linear actuator with a suitable stroke, force, and speed rating. While looking for the appropriate unit, he needed to find a way to protect the linear actuator from high temperatures being emitted from the fire and other environmental elements. Therefore, his search for a linear actuator was extremely specific to achieve this automated grill.

He also had the following requirements for this project:

  • A vertical telescopic column that is able to withstand the sideways shear from the cantilever.
  • A horizontal grill arm to be attached to the lift column.
  • An attachable grill rack, and include a mechanism to level the grill rack.
  • An easy way to raise and lower the automated burger grill rack while holding a spatula (or beer!) in one hand.

Constructing the Automated Grill Pit

The vertical telescopic column mentioned above was created using 6061 grade aluminum tubes. This type of aluminum was chosen due to its high melting point, as well as high rigidity. Since John required an actuator that is very compact due the aluminum tubes constructed, he selected to connect Progressive Automations’ PA-15 High Speed Linear Actuator to these tubes.

With a 14-inch stroke, and a force rating of 33lbs, the PA-15 can run at a speed of up to 3.20 inches per second without load. Another reason why this electric linear actuator was perfect for this application was for its protection rating of IP54, which is sufficient to what John required in his fire pit.

To complete this set-up, John connected the actuator to a 12 VDC power source using a waterproof aviation connector and socket. This power source is controlled by a radio frequency signal from a push-button remote control that is set to momentary mode – meaning you would need to push the button of the remote to either raise or lower the grill, and release the button to stop. As the fire pit is designed to be in the outside environment, John attached his created power source inside a NEMA enclosure.

Automated fire grill

Final Result: An Automated Fire Grill!

Once he completed a thorough market analysis of linear actuators, liaised with our engineers, and carefully constructed his automated grill, the final result was amazing! See below the fire grill in action.

Automated grill project


Congratulations on the patent, John! We hope you enjoyed using your fire pit grill this summer and hope to speak with you again for any future projects.

If you want to find out more about how John completed this innovative design or want free expert advice on how you can achieve your invention, contact us! Our in-house engineers will be delighted to help.