In the current world of wood pellet grills, Traeger is positioned as a ‘Premium’ brand. There is a growing selection of Premium/Luxury pellet grills brands, with some only coming onto the market within the last couple of years (Coyote being an example). However, Yoder has been producing high-end/heavy-duty pellet grills since 2007. Now, the pellet grill market place has changed a lot since 2007. So how does Traeger vs Yoder compare today? Well, in terms of price, there are a couple of wood pellet grills/smokers from both Traeger and Yoder at the same price point. Therefore, those are the pellet grills I’ll discuss/compare in this post.
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I’m my previous comparison articles such as Traeger vs Pit Boss and Traeger vs Oklahoma Joe’s I discuss how Traeger’s products are generally priced above those brands. However, in this comparison of Traeger vs Yoder, the roles are reversed. For instance, Yoder produces a large pellet grill (YS1500s) which retails for around $4K. As all Traeger pellet grills are currently under $2,000, I’ll just compare Traeger grills to Yoder grills in the same price bracket.
Introduction To Traeger vs Yoder Pellet Grills
Now many people are still getting grips with the concept/idea of pellet grills and how they work. However, anyone who is aware of pellet grills is also aware of Traeger. Traeger started this whole pellet grill revolution in the 1980s. However, its been a bit of a ‘slow burner’, and pellet grills have only really started to compete with charcoal and gas grills on a serious level in the last decade. Yoder on the other hand as stated above have only been producing pellet grills since 2007. However, they are focused on producing high-quality/durable products. Notably, Yoder pellet grills are also made in the USA, which modern Traeger pellet grills are not.
The pellet grills I’m going to focus on are the Traeger Ironwood 885 vs Yoder YS480s and the Traeger Timberline 850 vs Yoder YS640s. These grills compete at the same price points, under $1,600 and under $1,800 respectively. Hence, we are talking about pretty expensive pellet grills. Please check out my articles on the best pellet grills under $500 and under $1,000 if those budgets are more applicable to you.
Traeger Ironwood 885 vs Yoder YS480s
So first let’s discuss the Traeger Ironwood 885 and its best features. I have an in-depth article on the Traeger Ironwood range, please check that out for a ‘deep dive’. The Ironwood range sits above the Pro Series and below the Timberline range. Traeger has moved away from the classic round barrel design to an oval cooking barrel. The advantages of an oval cooking barrel are that it makes the grill taller, hence easier for anyone above 6ft such as my self to use. Furthermore, a taller cooking barrel simply gives more space in the cooking chamber. Making it easier to fit in and move around larger cuts of meat. For instance, cooking beer can chicken is a lot easier on a grill with a taller cooking chamber. What it also means is the upper cooking racks are much more useable.
The Traeger Ironwood range, like the Timberline range discussed below benefits from Traeger’s D2 Direct Drive platform. What this means is the grill now uses DC instead of AC motors, which provide more power (to avoid auger blockages) and they are also variable speed. The D2 control panel is now a PID controller, which you should now expect/demand on every pellet grill north of $1,000. A PID controller provides much more accurate temperature control within 5 degrees, compared the 25-degree temperature float found on the previous generation Traeger Pro Controller. The D2 controller also comes with WiFire, which is Traeger’s branded WiFi/App solution. The Ironwood 885 also benefits from ‘Super Smoke’ and ‘Keep Warm’ modes not found on the lower spec Traeger Pro Series grills. Though I should note the Ironwood 885 is limited to a maximum temperature of 500 degrees (I’ll reference this below).
In terms of cooking area, the Traeger Ironwood 885 provides a total of 885 square inches of cooking area. However, its important to note that’s divided up between the main cooking grate and an upper cooking rack. The main grate provides 570 square inches and the upper cooking rack providing 315 square inches. The pellet hopper capacity on the Ironwood 885 is 20lb, so it can take a whole back of BBQ wood pellets in one go. Other than that, the other most important feature for this Traeger vs Yoder comparison is the weight of the Ironwood 885 at 175lbs (again, I’ll reference this below).
So, how does the Yoder YS480s compare to the Traeger Ironwood YS480s? Well, first let’s discuss the cooking area provided. The total cooking area provided is 800 square inches, so slightly less than the Traeger at 885 square inches. The main cooking grate on the Yoder is 480 square inches, which is quite a bit less than the Ironwood 885 at 570 square inches. However, as I often state, never compare pellet grills/smokers purely on their cooking area. The reason being, while the Yoder provided less cooking area compared to Traeger it has various features which the Traeger does not.
Let’s discuss the weight of the Yoder, get ready for this, it weighs 263lbs! Now, this is a good thing and potentially a bad thing depending on how you intend to use and position your pellet grill. The reasons for that weight is the while the hopper and cart on the Yoder YS480s is made from pretty standard 14 gauge steel, the cooking chamber is made from very heavy-duty 10 gauge steel. Hence, it will take corrosion/rust an extremely long time to penetrate the cooking body on a Yoder pellet grill.
While that 10 gauge steel cooking body is great for durability, it obviously adds a lot of weight. The Yoder YS480s is 88lbs heavier than the Traeger. If you don’t intend to move your grill around in your yard that’s not really a problem. However, if you do, to put it into storage over winter, for instance, you may want to consider the Traeger. Though Yoder does offer the YS480s with an excellent quality competition cart to make the grill much easier to move around, that version of the YS480s is around $2,200.
There are a couple of other notable features the Yoder pellet grill offers which the Traeger does not. For instance, the Yoder features a ceramic firelighter which will help the pellet fire get going much more quickly, roughly twice as fast as a standard hot rod igniter. Ceramic igniters also last much longer before they need to be replaced.
More pellet grills are now using ceramic igniters, such as MAK GRILLS. Yoder pellet grills also offer direct flame grilling where Traeger pellet grills do not. Yoder provides searing kits which include GrillGrates. I should note though, Traeger grills can also benefit immensely by fitting GrillGrates to provide superior grilling/searing performance.
So let’s discuss cooking temperature differences. The Traeger Ironwood 885 will max out at 500 degrees and does not offer direct flame grilling. The Yoder YS480s, on the other hand, can be set to 600 degrees on the control panel, however, that’s for indirect/convection heat. As the Yoder pellet grill can also offer direct heat from the flames the grate surface temperature can exceed 700 degrees. Hence, the Yoder has the potential for much better grilling/searing/broiling performance over the Traeger.
In terms of the Yoder control panel itself, it is a PID/WiFi controller. Hence, like the Traeger, it can offer temperature accuracy to within 5 degrees. Where I think Traeger’s WiFire excels in its user-friendly interface/video recipes whereas the Yoder app provides more precise data on what the temperature has been over the duration of the cook.
Final Thoughts On The Traeger Ironwood 885 vs Yoder YS480s Pellet Grill
It should be noted the Traeger is roughly $100 cheaper than the Yoder, and it does provide a larger cooking area over the main grate. Furthermore, for pellet grill beginners I think the Traeger WiFire app is a lot more user friendly with its video recipes etc. However, the Yoder’s materials/build quality is a considerable step up over the Traeger.
The Yoder benefits from features such as the ceramic igniter/direct-flame grilling which the Traeger does not. The weight of the Yoder could be a potential problem depending on your capabilities and how often you would intend to move the grill. I think for a beginner the large Traeger community and Wifire feature definitely have their benefits. However, for a more experienced BBQ user, I think the Yoder is probably a better option.
Traeger Timberline 850 vs Yoder YS640s
Are these two pellet grills simply larger versions of their siblings discussed above? Not quite, first off, the Timberline 850 actually provides less cooking area than the Ironwood 885 discussed above. For instance, the main cooking grate on the Timberline 850 is just 363 square inches compared to the 570 square inches found on the Ironwood 885. So why is the Timberline 850 more expensive than the Ironwood 885? Well, I have a separate detailed post on the Traeger Timberline range, but the main difference is the Timberline range benefits from a full stainless steel lined twin-wall insulated cooking chamber.
The cooking chamber in the Timberline 850 is divided up over 3 racks, opposed to two in the Ironwood. In terms of the control panel/WiFire features the Traeger Ironwood/Timberline pellet grills are identical. However, the Timberline range benefits from an included pellet level sensor and the Timberline grills benefit from a slightly larger 24lb pellet hopper, but that’s not a significant increase over the Ironwoods 20lb hopper. What the Traeger Timberline does feature (which the Yoder doesn’t) is a downdraft exhaust. I do really think that the downdraft exhaust design on the Traeger Timberline (and Ironwood) is superior to standard single chimney designs.
With a downdraft exhaust design, the heat/smoke rises from the pellet firepot up and over the racks before being pulled down again by the exhaust ports located below the firepot. This creates a vortex of smoke within the cooking chamber, helping to expose the food to the smoke for a longer period of time and creating a more even cooking temperature across all of the cooking racks. I do think Traeger’s downdraft exhaust design is one of the best pellet grill chimney designs currently on the market. Along with the insulated cooking body, the Timberline has the potential to produce a more efficient burn, reducing pellet consumption.
So now let’s discuss the Yoder YS640s, is it simply a larger version of the YS480s? Again, not quite, but generally yes. The YS640s has all the features of the smaller YS480s, however, it also benefits from a Variable Displacement Damper (VDD). ‘What the heck is a VDD?‘ I imagine you’re asking right now. Well, you can move the damper to the left or right. To the left (closer to the firepot) it will increase the temperature on the left side of the grill. The further to the right the damper is moved the more even the cooking temperatures will be across the cooking grate.
The best position really depends on what you’re cooking. For example, if you wanted to grill at the highest temps possible you would move the VDD all the way to the left. Therefore, the left side of the cooking grate/GrillGrates would get as hot (700 degrees plus) as possible. A similar feature is found on GMG pellet grills in Prime specification.
In terms of cooking area, the Yoder YS640s provides 640 square inches on the main cooking grate and 430 square inches on the upper cooking rack for a total of 1,070 square inches. As the main cooking grate is the most flexible area on a pellet grill (can be used for both grilling and ‘low and slow’) I generally focus on that feature.
Therefore, the Yoder YS640s at 640 square inches is offering quite a lot more than the Timberline 885 with just 363 square inches on the main cooking grate. Finally, let’s talk weights, the Traeger Timberline comes in at 213lbs while the Yoder YS640s comes in at a massive 313lbs! Again, this is due to the heavy-duty 10 gauge steel used on the cooking chamber of the Yoder.
Final Thoughts On The Traeger Timberline 885 vs Yoder YS640s
In terms of price, there is currently no disparity between these two pellet grills, they both retail for just under $2K. Therefore, as there is no difference in price they are directly comparable. While I do like the downdraft exhaust and the insulated/stainless steel cooking chamber on the Traeger Timberline 885, it has a significantly smaller main cooking grate compared to the Yoder YS640s. Furthermore, while the stainless steel internals of the Traeger will be very durable/easy to clean the outside is still just powder-coated steel. Therefore, in terms of standing up to the elements, the 10 gauge steel of the Yoder is going to fare much better.
Conclusions On Traeger vs Yoder Pellet Grills
After reading the above some key points should be very clear. Yoder pellet smokers are made from a much thicker gauge of steel compared to the Traeger grills which is evident in the significant differences in weight. The use of thicker gauge steel has its benefits and drawbacks. The benefits being the durability and lifespan of a Yoder pellet smoker is likely to be much longer, with other factors (potential control panel failure etc) being equal.
The drawbacks of such heavy pellet grills are they are not as easy to move around. However, that may be irrelevant if you just want to position the grill and leave it. The Yoder pellet smokers can also achieve higher temps, for both indirect (convection) and direct (grilling) cooking. On the controller side of things, Traeger and Yoder are fairly even, both with a temperature accuracy of 5 degrees through PID control.
I feel the Traeger WiFire app is more suited to beginners, whereas the Yoder app is more suited to experienced BBQ users or those who want more granular/precise data on how their pellet grill is performing. In terms of value for money, I do believe Yoder is currently producing a better value product. Then again, some people appear to get a lot of value/enjoyment from being a part of the large Traeger community. So really, as always, its each to their own, and your focus should be on the features which matter to you most.
That’s it! Thanks for reading, I hope you found this comparison article on Traeger vs Yoder pellet grills useful/interesting. You may also want to check out my Traeger vs Camp Chef or Traeger vs Weber articles. Or you can review all of your current pellet grill options with my Wood Pellet Grill/Smoker Guide. Enjoy 🙂
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.