The world of pellet grills/smokers continues to expand and develop with more and more people being attracted to their benefits. While Traeger still dominates in terms of brand awareness, there are lots of brands to choose from. For example, two such alternatives are Pit Boss and Yoder. Now, there is always going to be lots of talk about ‘this brand is better than that brand‘ etc, but the reality is it depends on individual preferences and importantly budgets. Pit Boss and Yoder are not really direct competitors due to their different price points, and we’ll discuss what their differences are below.
Disclaimer: Hey! By the way… any links on this page that lead to products on Amazon or other sites are affiliate links and I earn a commission if you make a purchase.
So I stated above that Pit Boss and Yoder are not really direct competitors but why would I say that, they both produce pellet grills/smoker right!? Well yes, but they are aimed at two very different markets with very different disposable incomes. Pit Boss is focused on the budget end of the market whereas Yoder is focused on the premium end of the market. The pellet grills/smokers I’m discussing in this article are the most expensive pellet smoker from Pit Boss the Platinum Lockhart (typically around $750) and the YS480s from Yoder their cheapest model (typically around $1,800).
Therefore, the price difference is significant and we’ll discuss why that’s the case below. The high price of Yoder products is a topic I’ve discussed previously in my Traeger vs Yoder and Camp Chef vs Yoder articles. Though there is a reason for their higher price point due to how and where Yoder products are made. Whether you can actually afford a Yoder product is another question.
Pit Boss Platinum Lockhart vs Yoder YS480s
To put the best foot forward from Pit Boss I picked the Lockhart which is part of the Pit Boss Platinum Series. I have a dedicated article on the Pit Boss Platinum Series if you’re interested which also covers two other models the KC Combo and the Larado. The YS480s is currently the cheapest Yoder you can get, yes, with a Yoder, $1,800 is cheap, so what are you paying for? Well, there are two key attributes to Yoder products which is the reason for their high price.
First, Yoder is a made in the USA brand which is not the case with Pit Boss you should not be surprised to hear due to their value-oriented products. Secondly, Yoder pellet grills/smokers are made from some of the thickness/heavy-duty steel you will find on a pellet grill/smoker today. The use of such thick steel no only means a Yoder is going to last much longer than your typical Pit Boss pellet grill, it has benefits for cooking performance as well.
Cooking Area & Cooking Functionality
So as you should be able to tell from the image above of the Pit Boss Lockhart, it’s a bit of a beast. It also doesn’t fit neatly into the horizontal or vertical pellet smoker category, it’s really in a category of its own currency, a horizontal grill with a vertical smoking cabinet on top. In terms of total cooking area the Lockhart comes in at 2,136 sq.in and for $750 that’s nuts, and easily stands out from other pellet grills/smokers on the market at that price point.
But there is a difference between the total cooking area which can be used for smoking and the grilling area. Pit Boss doesn’t state what the area of the main cooking grate (capable of grilling/searing) is, but in reality, it likely to be very similar in area to that provided on the Yoder YS480s which is 480 sq.in. Now, the Yoder provides a total cooking area of 800 sq.in when factoring in the upper racks. So in summary, these two pellet grill/smokers are similar in terms of the main cooking grate surface area but in terms of total cooking area, the Pit Boss Lockhart is significantly larger.
If my comments on the main cooking grate vs total cooking area and their significance are not clear, please check out my article on indirect vs direct heat cooking. Essentially the main cooking grate can be used for both indirect or direct heat depending on the temperature setting of the appliance, but the upper cooking racks are purely for indirect heat cooking/smoking.
With regards to temperature ranges, the Pit Boss Lockhart can go as low as 180 degrees and as high as 500 degrees, though over the direct-flame section on the grate temperatures will be closer to 650 degrees, maybe more. The Yoder YS480s also provides direct-flame access for proficient grilling/searing, however, it also provides a wider temperature range going lower to 150 degrees and higher to 600 degrees. Hence, while the YS480s is a significantly more expensive product it does feature more functionality with regards to temperature control.
Materials/Build Quality & Warranty
So as discussed above, part of the reason the Yoder is significantly more expensive than a Pit Boss pellet grill/smoker is because it’s made in the US, therefore, due to higher labour costs, it means a higher price point. The second reason is the thickness of the steel used on a Yoder, for instance, the cooking chamber is made from ⅛ inch steel, but to many people that actually means very little. So I’ve got another way to demonstrate this point.
As I’m sure you will agree the Pit Boss Lockhart as seen in the image below is a large pellet grill/smoker, much larger than the Yoder. Well, you will probably not be surprised to hear that the Pit Boss weighs 275 lbs, so what do you think the smaller Yoder YS480s weighs? Well, the YS480s comes in at an even beefer 277 lbs even though it’s significantly smaller due to the thicker gauge steel used in its construction. But what does that really mean? Well, first off, neither of these grills are going to be referred to as portable, that’s pretty obvious, but it also means the Yoder has more thermal mass.
One of the benefits of that thicker steel chamber on the Yoder is the increased thermal mass. I recently wrote an article about pellet grill hot spots and while that was referring to the cooking grate, creating a more consistent ambient temperature within the cooking chamber can produce better results. That’s what thicker steel/more thermal mass can help to provide, more evenly distributed temperatures around the cooking chamber.
Now, the problem with more thermal mass, especially when it’s not insulated is more fuel/pellets is needed to get the cooking chamber up to temperature, as the steel will absorb the heat. Twin-wall insulated pellet grills/smokers will have lower pellet consumption than just a thicker steel grill such as the Yoder, but for this specific comparison, neither the Pit Boss nor the Yoder is twin-wall insulated. The other alternative is a ceramic pellet cooker such as the Kamado Joe Pellet Joe which provides both large amounts of thermal mass along with insulated properties.
Anyway, getting back to this Pit Boss vs Yoder comparison, the Yoder is made from thicker steel which can provide more consistent internal cooking chamber temperatures, and it will last longer before the cooking chamber corrodes. Therefore, when it comes to pellet grill warranties, it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that you get 5-years on the Pit Boss but 10 years on the Yoder.
Temperature Control & PID/WiFi Functionality
If I was writing this comparison article a few years back I would be stating the Yoder had significant advantages over the Pit Boss with both PID temperature control and WiFi functionality. However, Pit Boss, particularly on their Platinum Series products such as the Lockhart is providing control panels with PID and WiFi functionality. Is the Pit Boss control panel as advanced as the FireBoard control panel fitted to the Yoder? No, and no one should expect that for the significant price difference between these two products.
The point to note here is that while precise temperature control with PID algorithms and WiFi/App functionality used to be the reserve of high-end premium products such as the Yoder it has quickly filtered down to the budget pellet grills/smokers. A typical example being, Walmart launching their own line of pellet grills/smokers below the $500 mark called ‘Expert Grills‘ which feature PID and WiFi functionality. Therefore, today Pit Boss and Yoder are more closely matched when it comes to temperature control and WiFi functionality than they ever have been in the past.
Conclusions On Pit Boss vs Yoder
So what are my final thought’s? Well, it should be pretty clear from the price difference between the best/most expensive Pit Boss pellet grill and the cheapest Yoder these are very different products aimed at very different markets. The Pit Boss is aimed at those new to pellet cooking on a reasonably limited budget and the Yoder is targeting a market that is looking for a ‘lifetime’ grill, with proper maintenance of course. Both are easily capable of producing great tasting BBQ and provide a lot of convenience/utility with their PID/WiFi control panels. The question is, even if you want to go for made in the USA build quality, can you afford it?
That’s it! I hope you found this Pit Boss vs Yoder comparison interesting/useful. To learn more about the Pit Boss range I have a Pit Boss FAQ and my Wood Pellet Grill/Smoker Guide provides more details on all your budget/premium options on the market today. 🙂
Back in 2007 when I first become aware of pellet grills and smokers the only brand I was really aware of was Traeger. Traeger is really where this whole concept of cooking with pellets started in the 1980s. It was a ‘slow burner’ (pardon the pun) but since the 2010s is really when pellet grills and smokers started to get mainstream awareness, discussed alongside gas and charcoal grills. There are now over 30 pellet grill/smoker brands that I’m aware of, and the link above goes to my A to Z list of brands article.
Now, you may already be aware of a few of the other brands such as Pit Boss, Camp Chef, Z Grills and I’m sure you are aware of Weber, though you may not have known they have entered the pellet grill game. However, they are now many, many more brands to look into. Some may be what are commonly referred to as ‘Traeger clones’, but many others are offering their own unique designs and features.
A pellet grill/smoker is only as good as the BBQ pellets you put into it. The type/quality of the BBQ wood pellets you use will impact temperature performance and smoke flavour. There are many pellet flavours including Apple, Hickory, Mapel, Oak and Walnut to name but a few. However, some brands are hardwood blended pellets whereas others are 100% single wood species.
In this article, I provide details on over 20 brands of BBQ wood pellets, their range of flavours, whether they are 100% single wood species or hardwood blended pellets, their typical price and where they are available. I also provide tips on how to get the best deal when buying BBQ wood pellets and how to test pellet quality. Finally, I discuss the new kid on the block, charcoal pellets and their special attributes compared to all other hardwood BBQ pellets.