Yoder Pellet Grills Review

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Competitive BBQ chefs revere the Yoder brand for its superb quality wood pellet smokers that are made in the United States. The YS480s and YS640 are two of the most popular Yoder pellet grills with the YS640 being the bigger of the two. The numbers indicate the primary cooking area in inches. You can also load a secondary shelf that will add about 65% extra space to make the most of the interior.

What sets the grills apart from other models is the sophisticated controller among other factors. Yoder does not employ PID controllers. The controllers are not off-the-shelf generic solutions. Instead, Yoder has developed these controllers itself including the software for higher accuracy, efficiency and versatility. Leading grill chefs and BBQ pros are in almost unanimous that Yoder pellet smokers are at the very top of their game.

Yoder pellet grills have built a strong reputation on the basis of construction quality and design. All offset smoker models are constructed from quarter inch thick steel plates with tenacious powder coating to withstand corrosion. With such high quality craftsmanship, Yoder pellet smokers can last you a lifetime. Parts won’t fail from burnout or rust.  

Yoder YS480s Pellet Grill

The YS480s is a revolution in the realm of pellet smoking. The award winning grill has won the highest accolades from reviewers and competitive barbecue chefs alike. With the YS480s, you too can take your culinary expertise to the next level. The heavy duty construction will allow the grill to last for several years to come.     

This versatile grilling appliance can cook food at low temperatures for extended time periods. It can also sear food at high temperatures over short time period. In other words, the model is built to do your bidding and let you cook with the method that suits you best.

The YS480s is the confluence of craftsmanship, quality and design. It is not surprising therefore, that this grill is a hot favorite of BBQ professionals for grilling competitions.  The grill boasts futuristic technologies that work together to produce delicious and succulent meals.

The grill boasts a number of integrated high-tech features for superior and consistent results. Here they are.

  • Smart digital controller lets you set the right temperature and maintains heat levels around this point once the grill temperature is stabilized.
  • Ceramic ignition mechanism allows quick and reliable lighting of pellet wood
  • Pellet auger system has a sturdy mechanism that is designed to be jam-proof
  • Thanks to the grease tray and heat diffuser, cleanup is a cinch

The YS480s is powered by the sophisticated FireBoard which directs the adaptive control system as well as Wi-Fi connectivity. The FireBoard app integrates the next generation control system with the Wi-Fi network to open up new possibilities for grill owners. Once the grill is connected with your home Wi-Fi network, you can change cooking programs, monitor temperatures of the 2 built-in food probes and even change temperature without working the interface manually. You will have the luxury to relax or do something important while the grill does its job. You won’t be chained to the grill for hours at end. After setting up the grill for the grilling session, all you have to do is check the app periodically to see that all is well.

The grill is equipped with ACS control system along with 2 food probes. The grill also features ceramic ignition system for quick and reliable startup.

The grill design is innovative rather than generic. Most brands content themselves with circular barrels for the cooking region. This is the classic pellet grill design. Yoder has improved on this considerably. It has done away with the hemispherical contour and instead employed flat panels to create a much taller smoking barrel. The result is more volume for the same cooking area. In fact, the grill has 12 inches of headroom so that you can pack turkeys, beer can chickens and other larger items without any problems.

The controller is the standout feature of the grill besides the unmatched construction quality. The controller has been developed with one key point in mind: to make the grill as hands-free as possible.

The smart controller together with Wi-Fi connectivity and the smart app work seamlessly for a highly automated grilling experience. This is the closed you can get to fully automated hands-free grilling. It is also meant to as user friendly and intuitive as possible. The app is self explanatory so that you can start using it right away even without prior training.

The intelligent controller enables the grill to operate in one of 3 different modes: maintenance, heat up and cool down. The controller has been meticulously programmed so that it gives the best results under all kinds of conditions. This has been made possible after extensive testing that has lasted thousands of hours.

In the maintenance mode, the grill keeps the temperature constant after it has reached a stable temperature. The controller works behind the scenes to micromanage the grill for consistent temperature settings. The controller also takes into account minute details during other modes. For instance, during heat up mode the controller tries to take the grill to the target temperature as quickly as possible.

If the controller notices that the grill is not heating up quickly enough (due to the cold outside temperature for example) it will accelerate pellet feed rate for more heat. It behaves similarly during the cool down mode. After the cooking session is over, the grill initiates shutdown automatically. If the temperature does not fall quickly enough, the controller runs the fan more aggressively so that more cool air circulates the interior for faster cooling.

While a temperature drop of 15 degrees and even more is considered normal in other grills, this is not the case for the YS480s since its temperature control is very precise. It the temperature drop touches 15 degrees, then the controller interprets this as a door opening. As you would expect, door openings are accompanied by large temperature drops. The controller heats up the grill at an aggressive rate to normalize the heat levels as quickly as possible.

If you want to take the temperature to jump to a much higher level, you can press the prime button. This will operate the auger while overriding the controller. Due to fast pellet feeding, the temperature will rise quickly to the new required temperature.

Cleaning the grill after cooking is over and maintaining it is easy. The primary cooking surface is made up of two level but separate grills that are easier to take out compared to a single big grilling grate. You can easily clean the grates and firebox without too much exertion.   

The auger mechanism and fan system coordinate in tandem thanks to the controller for uniform heat distribution. The auger mechanism feeds the right amount of pellets at the right time to generate heat and smoke as required. The fan drives convection currents to distribute heat and smoke evenly throughout the food.

Yoder YS640 Pellet Grill

The YS640 boasts 800 square inches and 12 inches of headroom. Such an immense volume packed into 800 square inches can hardly be found in other models.

One great thing about this pellet grill is the fact that you operate it low temperatures. This is good for delicate items like smoked cheese, seafood and vegetables which cannot be cooked at very high temperatures. The YS640 can go down as low as 160 degrees Fahrenheit. You can smoke food at these low temperatures for some of the best smoked meats you have ever tasted. There is also enough hopper capacity so that you can leave your YS640 to smoke food overnight.

The hopper has 18 pound wood pellet capacity so that you won’t have to wake up in the middle of the night to replenish wood pellet stock in the hopper. The extended cold smoking process permeates the food with rich smokey flavor that will elicit admiration from everyone. Feeding the fire to burn steadily used to be a big hassle for pellet grills of yore. All of that has now changed for the better with efficient electronic control, fan and auger mechanism.   

The YS640 is designed to maintain consistent temperatures throughout the grilling session as well as across the cooking surface. Uniform temperature distribution is necessary to eliminate the creation of ‘hot spots’ that will cook the food much more quickly compared to the remaining grill area. Not only will this temperature uniformity yield consistent flavor, it will also allow you to withdraw food at the same time from the grill.

There is no need for any intervention on your part to manage the cooking process. You won’t have to turn the food over or shift it around to prevent the hot spots from burning it. Consequently you can produce high quality barbecue every time with this grill. All kinds of recipes including pizzas, sausages, burgers and steaks can be cooked to perfection.

Cleaning the pellet ashes in a pellet grill is much easier compared to clearing away charcoal ashes from a charcoal grill. The YS640 in particular is designed to facilitate easy cleanup. In fact, the pellets burn so efficiently that relatively little ash is left behind. The cleanup process is therefore quite quick and pain-free.

Since you are not using direct heating, the flames don’t sear leftover matter on the grilling grates which can be difficult to remove.

Operating costs of pellet grills will be more than charcoal grill since they use a more expensive fuel. This is why it is important for the grill to retain heat and smoke so that it can reduce pellet consumption and thus drive down costs. The YS640 leverages temperature control as well as efficient design to lower pellet fuel consumption.

The body is made from thick gauge metal which is better at retaining heat than grills made from thinner sheets. The cooker weight runs over 300 pounds due to thick gauge steel sheets. The pellet hopper is also made from even thicker 14 gauge metal sheet for greater durability.

The primary cooking area comprises of two cooking grates. These are much easier to remove and clean as compared to a single large cooking grate. The cooking area extends to YS640 square inches, which is the right size for a small family of 4 members or less. There is plenty of height to cook larger items like whole chickens and turkeys.

The controller board is fine tuned so that you can set the temperature between 150 and 600 degrees Fahrenheit in 5 degree increments. Since the increments are so small, the controller enables you to set a temperature that coincides or is almost equal to the required temperature. In fact a variation of 5 degrees is of almost no consequence to the grilling. Therefore, you have a very high level of temperature control with the advanced controller of the YS640.

Using indirect heating you will be able to achieve a temperature of 500 degrees Fahrenheit. This is the maximum temperature you will need for pellet grilling. The good news is that you can also employ direct heating by removing the heat management plate and deploying the direct grilling grates instead. Direct flames can lick the food and take the temperature up to 600 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature is more than enough because any temperature in excess of 500 degrees can easily char and burn the food if you are not careful enough.

With this arrangement, you can char and sear the meat easily over an open flame. An optional griddle is also provided for higher versatility. In case you run out of pellets, you can press the prime button so that you can open the door and add in some more pellets without stopping the grill.

The controller works as advertised. It is capable of keeping heat levels within a few degrees of the set temperature. Once you start up the grill, you will have to wait a few minutes before the unit reaches the required temperature. Once it reaches this level, you won’t have to intervene to stabilize the temperature. The controller operates the fan and the auger mechanism so that the heat levels show very little variation. Thus, you will be able to cook competition grade meals with such consistency.

The fan blows air at a rate of 110 CFM so that convection currents are set up that will carry heat from the firebox and distribute it uniformly throughout the grilling space. The flow of air also helps to kindle the flame in the firebox so that there is steady combustion and the right level of smoke. The fan is electronically controlled and it has a key role to play in temperature control.

The auger mechanism is powered by a ½ horsepower motor which can run at 2 rpm. The design revolves around short throw systems, meaning that the auger mechanism transfer less pellets compared to other types. This allows not just a higher level of precision, but also less fuel consumption.

The thermocouple is installed on the rear of the unit. It is positioned below the grilling grates and over the drip pan. The thermocouple wire is enclosed in a conduit so that it does not get pinched or damaged in any way.

The firebox is made up of stainless steel for increased resistance even at elevated temperatures. It has the optimal number of vent holes at just the right size so that forced convection can force air into the combustion region. The incoming air can thus carry the heat and smoke from the firebox throughout the cooking region.

The main body itself has a 10 year warranty which speaks volumes about the confidence level of the manufacturer in their products. Even leading pellet grill brands offer just a 3 year warranty which is the industry but not this sturdy model. The YS640 is far ahead of the competition in terms of construction quality and reliability.

The firebox, controller, auger motor and thermocouple on the other hand have a 3 year warranty.

When it comes to food taste and quality, the YS640 proves itself to be one of the very best pellet smokers. The smoker is designed to produce abundant levels of thin blue smoke. This is in contrast to thick white smoke. Barbecue pros do their level best to maintain high levels of thin blue smoke. They avoid white smoke at all costs during smoking. The reason for this is that white smoke is the byproduct of incomplete combustion and it thus has high levels of creosote which can ruin the flavor. Blue smoke on the other permeates a rich flavor in your meals which is why it is favored by all grill chefs.

You don’t have to be a skilled grillmaster to maintain to produce high levels of rich blue smoke. The YS640 will do it all for you so that you can relax and enjoy the party while grilling is in progress. You won’t be chained to the grill and forced to miss out on the good times while a tailgate party or backyard picnic is underway. The YS640 takes the guesswork out of grilling and burns the wood pellets for plentiful amounts of blue smoke.   

If you are serious about grilling top quality mouth watering food, then you cannot go wrong with the award winning Yoder pellet grills.

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