The YS640s is a competition grill that has been downsized for backyard use. As a result, it offers up excellent temperature range and control, a superb grilling and smoking experience, and unbeatable durability.
I have been grilling and smoking practically my whole life but always on mass produced grills. So, when my pitmaster buddy gave me the chance to test out the competition grade YS640s, I jumped at the chance! Side by side, we put this grill through its paces.
In this Yoder YS640s review, I explain the features of the grill to you, mention the advantages and disadvantages, and so much more!
Before I take a closer look at the YS640s, I want to mention that there is another model in this lineup - the YS640s Competition. As the name suggests, this is the competition version of the pellet grill - the regular YS640s is meant to be used as a backyard grill.
As far as performance goes, both these pellet grills boast the same features and capabilities. The main difference here is that the competition model has an attached cart, complete with wire racks and 8-inch casters with flat-free tires. This model is also more expensive than the original.
|Cooking Surface Area
|Yoder YS640s Pellet Grill
|1070 sq. inches
|10 Gauge Steel
|150 - 700 F
|Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
|Buy on Yoder Smokers
Here is an in-depth look at the features of this pellet grill and smoker:
Let's start by discussing the design of the TS640s. Now, as you may have noticed, this pellet grill has a rather old fashioned design, complete with a smokestack or chimney element.
This is quite different from most pellet grills within this price range that rely on vents instead. The main advantage of a smoke stack is that the grill functions better in cooler climates. And, this is something that I have noticed with this pellet smoker and grill.
Even when the ambient temperature gets pretty low, I was able to maintain a consistent grilling and smoking temperature throughout the entire cook.
The other design element that you can observe with this pellet grill is that the cooking chamber lid is rectangular shaped instead of curved.
On the upside, the design feature means that you have more overhead space. As a result, you will be able to easily fit in larger cuts of meat - everything from pork butts and shoulders for pulled pork to full packer briskets.
The downside of this design, though, means that the chamber takes longer to heat up. Due to this, you will need to preheat the YS640s earlier than with other pellet smokers.
The final design element that I really like about this pellet grill is that it is a stable grill that has still been designed for movement. This is pretty impressive considering that this is a large and hefty pellet grill.
One of the reasons that the Yoder YS640s has such a large price tag attached to it is because of the construction quality. In fact, it is also one of the main reasons that I would recommend this pellet smoker and grill to anyone who is looking for a good quality, long lasting grill.
The biggest cause of the high quality design has to do with the fact that the grill is made from 10 gauge steel.
It isn't just about the quality of the materials, though. If you take a closer look at this pellet grill, you will notice that you have quality weld joints throughout the design. Due to this, you don't have to worry about the grill falling apart on you, even as you move it around.
The only thing that I can really take issue with the quality of this grill would be the grill grates. These aren't as well made so it is a good idea to remove them and store them indoors in a cool, dry place. Otherwise, they may begin to rust.
About a year into using the YS640s, I did notice some rust forming on the grill grates. This was pretty disappointing because I do make a habit of thoroughly cleaning the grates after every cook.
Also, considering how much the YS640s was, I was pretty paranoid about keeping it carefully cloaked in a weatherproof cover. Despite all of this, the grates still couldn't hold up as long as the rest of the grill elements.
Now, a well constructed grill is certainly useful but what I like about Yoder is that they put their money where their mouth is. Their warranty on the YS640s is pretty impressive.
For instance, you get 10 years guarantee on the chamber, 3 years warranty on the ACS controller, and 3 years for the ceramic igniter.
When you take this guarantee into consideration, the price that you pay for this grill becomes an easier pill to swallow.
Now, it is easy enough to produce a strong, bulky exterior. I was more interested in taking a closer look at the internal components of the YS640s. After all, this is what really makes the grill tick.
In particular, I was impressed by the ceramic igniter on this grill. These days a ceramic ignition system isn't exactly newsworthy but I have to say that Yoder did a really good job on their one.
As a result, you get a really reliable start up with this pellet grill. So, if you are tired of false starts, this grill is the one for you.
At the end of the day, even a great functioning pellet grill can be taken down by a poor control system. The good news is that the Yoder pellet grills have a high quality controller along with an easy to use display panel.
Compared to other pellet grills, I do have to say that the Yoder isn't the most advanced or sophisticated control system on the market. However, it is easy to maneuver and it works just fine. It is also a good option for anyone who prefers their grills a little old school.
I have already talked about the rectangular shape of the chamber but there is a lot more to discuss here. One of my favorite things about the YS640s is how much attention to detail there is for the chamber.
The result is a well-built, high quality, well-functioning chamber.
To begin with, let's discuss the cooking space on this grill.
Yoder is known for large grills and pellets and the YS640s doesn't disappoint! It boasts 1070 square inches of cooking space along with 12 inches of headroom.
This means that everything from brisket and pork butt to turkeys and beer can chickens are fair game here! This grill is also an excellent choice if you have a large family or host cookouts on a regular basis.
Probably what impresses me most about this grill is that the chamber is constructed by 1/8 inch thick steel all around! This means that this is a chamber that is built for heat retention.
In fact, I noticed something interesting when I opened the lid of the chamber during a cook. The temperature briefly dropped but sooner after I closed the lid again, the temperature was right back up where I needed it to be.
As far as the design of the pellet hopper goes, I like what it has to offer. For one thing, the pellet hopper lid has stay cool handles that allow you to open the hopper at any time at all during the cook. This seems like a small feature but really comes in handy.
The general construction and quality of the hopper is also pretty impressive and everything from the door to the bolts holds up well even with continuous use.
The only thing that I am a little bit disappointed in is the hopper capacity. At 20lbs, it is quite sizable but you can't judge the hopper by its capacity along. You also have to think of the cooking area that it is servicing.
And, compared to how cooking space is offered by the YS640s, the hopper capacity falls a little short. I would prefer that the hopper would be a bit larger to accommodate longer cooks.
With a full hopper, you can run the grill for up to 12 hours at a time. While this works well for grilling purposes, when you are smoking something large like a brisket, the cooking time may be longer than this.
One of the things that I am really excited about this grill is just how hot it can get! You can experience temperatures of up to 700 degrees F. There are very few other grills that can meet this standard.
So, if you are looking to sear foods, you would be hard pressed to find a grill that does it better than the YS640s.
In case you were wondering:
What is the temp range on a Yoder YS640?
It goes from 150 F to 600 F. However, if you use the direct grilling method, you can get up to 700 F.
One of the things that I really like is that the temperature can be increased in five degree increments. This allows you to get the exact temperature that you need to smoke or grill a particular cut of meat or food.
Interestingly enough, you don't always get this degree of choice with other makes and models of other grills.
Of course, it isn't just about temperature range - temperature consistency and maintenance is just as important. And, this is where the adaptive control system or the ACS controller comes into play.
This piece of technology is constantly taking changing variables into consideration. This includes opening the lid, placing meat on the grill grates, etc. And, it is learning and altering the heat accordingly to ensure that the desired temperature is maintained within the chamber.
As a result, your meat is able to cook at a consistent rate. Not only does this provide better taste and texture, but it also means that you will be able to predict the rate at which your food is cooking more readily.
In general, there is always some fluctuations inside the chamber - it is the nature of grills. To discover just how much variation was there, though, I used a third party thermometer inside the cooking area.
I was pleasantly surprised to see that the temperature didn't go any higher or lower than 10 degrees away from the set temperature. And, the grill corrected itself fairly quickly too.
Of course, what you are probably interested in is what you get when you put all the features and elements together. What is the grilling performance like with the YS640s?
I do have to admit that I was blown away by what this grill can do. Even though it is a backyard grill, it handles like a competitive grill - and a champion at that!
For the most, this grill is pretty easy to use. You fill up the hopper, turn on the grill, set it to your desired temperature, and you are good to go.
Now, as I stated, the chamber can take a while to heat up but once it does, the temperature is perfectly maintained throughout.
As I mentioned, this grill can get up to some really high temperatures but this isn't the highlight of what this grill could do.
Rather, what impressed me most was the direct flame grilling feature on the YS640s. See, unlike with most other grills, you can set up the grill so that you can grill your meat directly over the flames.
Now, for this feature, you will need to invest in the Grill Grates cooking grates available with the grill. Then, remove the heat diffuser access door and place the grates over the fire pot. Then, it is just a matter of direct grilling the food until it is done.
This may not be a feature that anyone just starting out can appreciate. However, if you know your way around a grill and want to cook steak and other cuts of meat just right, you are going to love this feature.
Now, Yoder has their fire pot on the left hand side. This is unlike many other grills that have it in the center. The benefit of this design is that you can create two zones - one with direct heat and the other with indirect heat.
If you find this feature more tiresome than useful, there is no need to worry. Just adjust the variable displacement damper. In doing so, you can ensure that the meat is exposed to more direct heat.
Of course, the YS640s is so much more than just a grill - it is an excellent smoker too. Due to this, I tested out the smoking capabilities of this grill as well.
I smoked brisket, pork butt, chicken, and turkey. I discovered that no matter what I put to the test that the meat always turned out tender, juicy, and with a great amount of smoke flavor.
The dual zone cooking setup is also excellent for when you want to cook food at a lower pace, for longer periods of time. And, once again, the variable displacement damper comes to the rescue. Adjust it and you can provide even heat distribution throughout the chamber.
Also, you get to see that nice thin blue smoke rising from the smoke stack and the flavor and texture are pretty on point as well.
It is only once you start grilling and smoking on a large scale that you realize how important the grease management system is. And, the Yoder has a pretty great and unusual system. For one thing, the grease drain is positioned underneath, as is the grease bucket.
What I like about this is that there is a more direct pathway from the grill to the grease bucket and so the drainage system is a lot more effective. In turn, it is easier to clean up after your cookout.
The other thing that I like about this feature is that it is a lot more aesthetically appealing. Having the bucket tucked away under the grill makes for a more streamlined design.
Considering that Yoder does like to get a little old school with their grills, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the YS640s was equipped with its own connectivity features.
This connects the grill to an app on your smartphone.
One of the perks of this system is that you get both Wi-Fi as well as Bluetooth connectivity. So, why is this important?
Well, Wi-Fi connectivity depends on the strength of the Wi-Fi connection as well as the signal throughout the house.
If your grill is really close to your home or you have an extender that allows you to boost the signal, you should be fine. If not, you may find that the connection breaks off intermittently. Considering that you need to keep a close watch on the rate at which your food is cooking, this isn't such a great thing.
With Bluetooth, it is all about the signal between the two devices. As a result, you are free to take your grill and set it up anywhere that you want! This makes this feature excellent for cookouts in parks, competitions, and a whole lot more!
I have tried pellet grills from practically every brand and manufacturer that you can think. And, while some of them have side tables or trays, they don't have the kind of space that you really need when grilling or smoking food.
As the YS640s is based on a competition design, though, the manufacturers have taken care of this. Not only do you have a side shelf, but there is also a large one at the front of the grill.
This makes it a lot easier to move hot food out of the grill. At the same time, it ensures that you have all the food that you need in one place to begin placing them on the grill one piece at a time.
This reduces how long the lid has to remain open, making it a lot easier to maintain a stable temperature inside the chamber and throughout the cook.
To add to this, the shelves are made from chrome plated round bar steel. Not only are they equipped to carry a heavier load, but these racks are also going to be able to withstand wear and tear.
One of the top additional features that I want to discuss here is the meat probes. So, you get two meat probes when you purchase this grill.
This, on its own, isn't too impressive as this is quite common with grills in the price range. What I was pleasantly surprised by, though, was how accurate the meat probe temperature was!
For most brands, the meat probes tend to miss the mark quite a bit and you usually have to buy a third party probe to make up for it. However, this wasn't the case with the YS640s at all!
One of the things that I like about Yoder is that they give you many different options for adding features to your grill. Now, these all come with a separate price tag but I do like the idea that you can outfit your grill however you want.
The additions that you can make include a storage drawer system, a stainless steel grease shield, a door temperature gauge, a wire smoking rack, and more.
There is no getting around the fact that the YS640s is a pricy piece of grilling and smoking equipment. This grill costs over $2000 and is the second most expensive model for Yoder.
By comparison, this is how much grills in premium lines for Traeger and Pit Boss cost.
So, why does it cost so much and is it worth the investment?
Well, there are a few different reasons that the YS640s - and other Yoder grills - cost quite so much.
This largely has to do with the fact that the grills are so incredibly well made. Yoder has spared no cost when it comes to the materials to put together this grill. This is true for the frame as well as the internal components.
This is why this grill is one of the heaviest and most durable grills on the market. It is also why the warranty on this grill is quite so impressive.
The other reason is that Yoder Grills is one of the last companies that produce grills that are made in the USA.
This is an incredibly expensive process which is why there are so many companies like Traeger and Pit Boss that moved their operations to China.
On the upside, Yoder is able to uphold much higher standards for their grills and it shows in how well the grills perform. Not to mention, these grills tend to last longer than other brands too.
There is also the fact that Yoder has adapted their competitive grills to fit a backyard design. Despite this, the YS640s boasts the same features as an advanced grill. To add to this, the grill has a larger surface area than similarly priced grills.
Now, considering all of this: is the price worth it?
Personally, I do believe that the cost of the YS640s is worth it. You just can't beat this kind of quality or performance. I love that there are so many little things and details that are taken care of. These aren't elements that you would find with mass produced grills.
That being said, I will admit that the YS640s aren't for everyone. If you are just starting out with grilling, if you don't use the grill that often, or if you aren't interested in perfecting your grilling or smoking methods, then this grill may not be worth the investment.
On the other hand, if you are focused on being a pitmaster or taking your grilling talents to the next level, then I would say that this is a grill that is going to keep you happy for many years to come!
Here is a breakdown of the advantages and disadvantages of the YS640s:
So, what are my final thoughts on the Yoder YS640s? Overall, I am very pleased with this grill - it offers up a superb grilling and smoking performance - one that is on par with competition grade grills.
I cannot get over the accuracy of the temperature, the consistency of the temps, and how hot the grill can get.
I also love the fact that this grill is so well-built. It holds up well to frequent use and is going to last you for a long period of time.
The large cooking space means that it is ideal for cooking for a large crowd of people although it will work just as well for a smaller family.
This grill isn't meant for everybody, though. You should only invest in it if you are serious about grilling.