Smoke coming out of the hopper is not normal behavior; however, it is not usually dangerous. That said, if you feel any sense of alarm that your pellets in the hopper are at risk of catching fire, please go directly to Billowing Smoke and follow the steps listed there.
If you do not feel alarmed, let's proceed in taking a look at your symptoms to see if we can keep the smoke in your food and out of your hopper.
This may seem alarming, but seeing smoke coming from the hopper during a cook is indicative of an airflow issue--not the pellets in the hopper ready to ignite, Typically the fan is not blowing enough to create the pressure to vacuum out the exhaust, which allows smoke to escape out of the hopper. Let's go through a checklist to try and get the air flowing correctly.
Typically, you will see this on an AC (non-WiFIRE-enabled) grill. If you notice smoke coming from your hopper during Shutdown Mode, this is caused by what we call backburn. Backburn means that the pellets within the auger are heating to a smoke point.
To resolve backburn, turn your grill to SMOKE. This will begin feeding the pellets within the auger into the firepot. Allow your grill to run until the grill's temperature decreases to below 225F. Proceeding to Shutdown from this point should prevent any additional smoke.
For preventative measures, try the following:
If there is an excessive amount of smoke coming out of the hopper, this is due to active backburn (pellets burning in the auger causing excessive smoke). Customers actively experience this should be advised to do the following: