We’ve admired Yoder for many years, so when Smoked BBQ Source reader Ted sent us his experience with the YS640S pellet smoker we asked if we could share his review with our readers.
Ted bought the YS640S with his own money, and the following review has been lightly edited by our team.
Overview & first impressions
Yoder specializes in high-end, American-made, offset and pellet smokers. Designed with BBQ competition teams in mind, they have built a loyal following among professional and amateur pitmasters alike.
The YS640 is the middle child of the pellet grill range. There is also a smaller 480S and larger 1500S that share a similar design.
You get a lot of cooking real estate for a middle-sized grill though. There are 1070 square inches of cooking space from two cooking grates.
The build quality of the Yoder is the first thing that stands out. All edges are machined smooth and you can’t help but admire the quality fit and finish on all components.
Yoder YS640s Specs:
|Cooking space||1,070 square inches of cooking space from two 16″ x 20″ cooking grates in the main chamber and a 15.5″ x 28″ slide-out shelf on the second level.|
|Hopper size||20lb capacity side-mounted pellet hopper|
|Grill rack material||Cooking shelves made from 7/16″ hardened chrome-plated round bar steel|
|Construction||Constructed of 10 gauge steel for the hopper and 14 gauge steel for the cart|
|Control||Uses Yoder’s new Adaptive Control System for temperature control|
|WiFi||WiFi and YS Drive App-enabled|
|Temperature range||150°F to 600°F in 5º increments|
|Dimensions||L61″ x H54” x D36.24″|
|Warranty||10-year warranty vs. burn-through|
The Fireboard system is integrated into the Yoder, which means you can also use the Fireboard app.
The Yoder YS640S comes with a lot of options including different grate options, temperature gauges, and shelves. I’ll get into what I included on mine further on in the review.
What I liked:
- The lid comes with a Nomex gasket installed on all four edges which provides a tight seal to contain the smoke.
- The pellet chute is stainless steel which allows the pellets to slide into the auger easily. I have not had a flameout due to a misfeed or pellet jamb. Even the lid of the pellet hopper is rolled to keep rain out.
- The heat diffuser plate is very heavy. It has gussets welded on the bottom and has not warped. The removable firebox cover is very handy to get direct grilling heat without removing the entire heat diffuser. The Grill Grates® drop in place right above the firebox after removing two of the regular grates.
- Easy clean up
- Top shelf slides out and is held level with steel brackets. This makes getting things off the shelf a little easier.
- The front and side wire shelves are very sturdy. The wires are close enough together that I have not found a need for the accessory shelves. Spice/rub bottles stand up on the wire shelves just fine as do beer bottles.
- Solidly built in the U.S.A.
What I didn’t like:
- No door to dump the unused pellets – I have not found this to be a problem because I run the pellet level down at the end of the cook and I can remove the few remaining pellets by hand.
The YS640S was selected as the best high-end pellet grill in our guide to the best pellet grills.
Arrival and initial setup
I waited to write my thoughts on the YS640S Smoker until I had used it for a while. That said, the initial impression was like most others, it is very solidly built.
The smokebox is heavy and the welds are very uniform. All of the parts are heavy-duty. Even the smokestack is very solid. The finish on mine had no flaws.
The YS640S arrived boxed on a pallet. After cutting the bands and removing the smaller boxes containing the accessories you are ready to unpack.
Follow the directions step-by-step and it will go very smoothly.
The first step is to tip the main box up on end and slide it off the edge of the pallet. The directions say it requires two people. It requires TWO people!
Heavy is the keyword here. I got the basic model with the regular base. The base pieces fit together very well. All holes and welded nuts fit perfectly.
The images below show the dimensions of the two cooking grates.
The YS640S and base were assembled on the driveway and rolled over the grass to the backyard to the deck.
By slightly lifting the end with the smaller pivoting casters it was very easy to move across the lawn. Getting it up on the deck (three steps) was more of a challenge but two of us did it. Again, heavy!
Cooking on the YS640S
I did the first three cooks during the day using cuts of meat that cooked fairly quickly — a whole chicken, a pork loin, salmon, and some wings.
I did this because I was not sure the Fireboard would control the temperature properly based on my experience with a different brand smoker I previously owned.
YS640S came through! So I felt confident doing overnight cooks.
For the next cook, I jumped to the high dollar stuff, two packer briskets.
I used the Fireboard app set to alarm at 153° so I could wrap the briskets in pink paper. The two Fireboard temperature probes were inserted one in each brisket point.
Every subsequent cook has been predictable regardless of the weather.
Like any good tool, you can count on the YS640S to perform as expected.
The temperature across the smokebox seems fairly uniform with the damper handle pulled out about 7” despite the offset firebox. That is based on the cooking rate of multiple pieces of meat situated around the smokebox on both racks.
When using the Grill Grates® push the damper handle all the way in. That will put max heat above the firebox and leave a cooler area on the right side for cooking/holding other foods.
Firing up the YS640S is simple.
Open the lid, slide the left grate over and take out the diffuser access over the firebox.
Put some pellets in the hopper, plug the unit in and press the start button. Turn the temperature from the preset 350° to your desired temperature. The pellets immediately begin to feed and within about 45 seconds you will see smoke.
In another 30 seconds or so there will be fire. Put the cover back in place and slide the grill grate back, shut the lid and wait. It will be at temperature in 15 minutes or so.
One tip I have is to apply a coat of wax to the inside of the pellet hopper to help the pellets slide down to the auger more easily.
Like I mentioned above, the YS640S uses technology from Fireboard to achieve and maintain the set temperature.
It is stable within +/-1½° based on the installed lid thermometer (optional but worth it) and ThermoPro remote reading temperature probes that I already owned.
When the lid is opened then closed the smoker returns to temperature very quickly. This is due to the heat retention of the heavy gauge steel smokebox and the ability of the Fireboard to anticipate the need and control the supply of pellets.
The Fireboard keeps nice thin blue smoke coming from the stack when set to smoking temperatures (<300°). When running hotter for grilling there is almost no smoke.
The Fireboard app offers a graph of temperature vs. time if that interests you.
You can program it to change the set temperature at a given time or temperature. You can read the meat temperature remotely – like from the grocery store while you are picking up stuff you forgot.
Cleaning the YS640S
All smokers require the chore of cleaning. Fortunately, the YS640S is relatively easy to clean.
After it is cool, brush the grates with a wire brush then remove all grates. If desired, they can be washed in the sink. Wipe the ‘crumbles’ off the heat diffuser and lift it out.
The ashes can be easily vacuumed with a shop vac. I have had no problem getting grease down in the lower level where the firebox is.
There is a drip lip all along the inside of the front part of the lid. The drip lip is very effective in directing the grease on the inside of the lid to the heat diffuser and keeping the grease from oozing out of the joint at the front and running down the outside. There are also baffles at each edge of the lid that keep the drippings inside the smoke chamber rather than leaking out at the joints on either end.
Finally, clean the grease channels at the front and back and the right side where it drips to the grease bucket. Any spray grease cutter will make the job simple. All parts of the grill are accessible and there is no place that is hard to reach. I could not say that about my previous smoker.
I purchased the Backyard Grilling Bundle with the YS640S from All Things BBQ.
It included 100lb of pellets, GrillGrates®, a special GrillGrates® spatula, a cover, and a grease mat. I have not used the grease mat yet nor have I needed it.
After the first smoke, I ordered the external Tel-Tru thermometer and installed it on the right-hand side near the smokestack per the included instructions.
I am considering getting a second Tel-Tru thermometer for the left side. It would be nice to have another thermometer to monitor the temperatures when different heat is required for different foods. Just adjust the damper and check in a few minutes.
I also bought an aftermarket magnetic base LED gooseneck light and attached it to the lid of the pellet hopper for nighttime use.
Should you buy the YS640S?
If you have read this far you know I think this is a top-quality piece of equipment. It is versatile, well-built, and will last for very many years.
The build quality is higher than the top of the range Traeger Timberline.
I recommend you get one. I wish I had bought this one in the first place.