Yoder vs Traeger: Best Pellet Grills Comparison [2020]

There have been great strides in the pellet grilling industry since Joe Traeger patented the first model back in 1986.

One major difference? Traeger is no longer the only name in the game.

There are several other companies vying for the industry crown.

To see how the two brands compare, we’ve put together this Yoder vs Traeger matchup.

In a rush? Here is the winner:

Traeger Grills TFB38TOD Renegade Pro Pellet Grill and Smoke 380 Sq. in. Cooking Capacity, Black/Orange
  • Never use gas or charcoal again: cooking with wood just tastes better....
  • Versatile barbecue cooking: hot and fast, or low and slow, the Traeger...
  • Precision temperature control: The Digital Pro Controller rocks...
  • Sturdy and Durable: Powerful steel construction and durable powder...
  • Perfect size for the at-home cook: 380 sq. in. cooking capacity that...

In this article, we’re going to review the following pellet grills:

Important Features to Look For

While every pellet grill has its own distinctive style, there are certain features that every quality model should have. Here’s a primer to help you tell the difference between a high-end pellet grill and an inferior product.

Value

A good rule of thumb is to invest in the priciest model you can afford. That might not be what you were expecting to hear, but when it comes to pellet grills, a high price tag and high quality often go hand-in-hand.

Construction

Pellet grills are usually composed of durable, heavy-gauge stainless steel. If you’re unsure of what that means, look for 10-gauge steel or higher for the main cooking chamber, and 304-grade stainless steel for the cooking grates. Cast iron grill grates are also a sturdy and effective choice.

Cooking Space

Most standard-sized grills offer 450 to 650 square inches of cooking space. This is sufficient for families of two to six people, but you should consider a bigger unit if you often host large gatherings.

Hopper Capacity

18 pounds is the industry standard for most grills. Portable units would benefit from a smaller hopper, while oversized models might have a higher capacity.

Temperature Control System

The best pellet grills offer digital control panels that allow you to set the unit to a preselected temperature. Dual meat temperature probes are a huge plus, since one can display the interior temp of the grill while the other tests the doneness of the meat. Also, look for an LED display with illuminated numbers to make it easier to read the temperature in the dark.

Special Features

Grills that are outfitted with WiFi capability make it possible to adjust your temperature from a distance. Additional shelving and heatproof handles always come in handy as well. If the company advertises a hopper cleanout system, it means that the hopper is equipped with a door that allows you to change the pellets during cooking.

Warranty

A reputable manufacturer will back up its product with a warranty, often for one to three years. Make sure you know what is and isn’t covered before making a purchase.

Yoder vs Traeger: The Basics

Yoder Smokers

For this review, we’ve gathered information on the Yoder YS480 and YS640 to see how they stack up against their competition over at Traeger. Since they’re from the same grill series, they’re virtually identical in every way except size.

#1 Yoder YS480

The YS480 is Traeger’s smaller offering in the series. The main cooking chamber and cooking grates are composed of 10-gauge steel, with the hopper featuring a 14-gauge steel construction and a 20-pound capacity. This unit offers a cart-style design with casters, two integrated food probes, and a grease management system. An optional slide-out shelf enlarges the cooking area. Yoder’s grills offer WiFi capability through their Adaptive Control System (ACS).

#2 Yoder YS640

This unit is similar to the YS480 in nearly every way except size. The design and construction are identical, and both offer a removable shelf and dual meat probes, along with an effective grease management system.

There is one other key difference between the two. In addition to being much larger than the 480, the YS640 also offers a Virtual Displacement Damper (VDD) to allow the griller more control over the unit’s temperature. For more information on both the ACS and the VDD, see the Features & Benefits section below.

Pros of the Yoder YS Series:

  • Ten-year warranty on main components
  • Sophisticated technology
  • Generous hopper capacity
  • Both provide enough grilling space to accommodate large groups

Cons of the Yoder YS Series:

  • High price point
  • Grills are exceptionally heavy
  • Advanced technology might confuse first-timers

Traeger Grills

#1 Traeger Lil Tex Elite 22

Traeger Grills TFB42LZBO Lil Tex Elite Smoker-Grill, Smok, Bronze

The Traeger Lil Tex Elite offers a main cooking chamber composed of heavy-gauge steel, complete with a powder finish. The cooking grates are made of porcelain-coated steel, and the hopper can hold up to 18 pounds of pellets. A Digital Elite controller helps keep the temperature stable. The design features straight legs with two wheels for maneuverability. A grease management system with attached drip bucket rounds out the package.

Pros:

  • Durable construction
  • Easy to assemble
  • Easy to clean
  • Effective grease management system

Cons:

  • Digital controller is only accurate to within about 25 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Attached smokestack allows moisture to seep in
  • Only 418 square inches of cooking space

Check Price on Amazon

#2 Traeger Pro Series 22

Traeger Grills TFB57PZBO Pro Series 22 Pellet Grill and Smoker, 572 Sq. In. Cooking Capacity, Bronze

This unit offers the same construction and hopper capacity as the Lil Tex Elite 22. The design is slightly different, with a sawhorse chassis and all-terrain wheels instead of straight legs. The Digital Pro Controller features Advanced Grilling Logic (AGL), Traeger’s own temperature control system.

Pros:

  • Convenient size
  • User-friendly
  • Versatile unit
  • Attractive design

Cons:

  • Temperature control can be finicky
  • Some shipping issues reported
  • Auger is prone to jam-ups

Check Price on Amazon

#3 Traeger Renegade Pro

Traeger Grills TFB38TOD Renegade Pro Pellet Grill and Smoke 380 Sq. in. Cooking Capacity, Black/Orange

This travel unit has the same heavy-duty powder-coated steel construction as the rest of the Traeger units. Though it’s technically a travel unit, its hopper can hold up to 18 pounds of fuel at once. The Renegade Pro also features a Digital Pro Controller with AGL, as well as an effective grease management system with drip bucket. A sawhorse chassis with two all-terrain wheels helps keep the unit stable without sacrificing maneuverability. The bright orange heatproof handle is an especially nice touch.

Pros:

  • Maintains an accurate temperature
  • Sturdy sawhorse chassis design
  • Easy to assemble
  • Durable construction

Cons:

  • Hopper is slightly too big for a travel-sized grill
  • Small cooking surface
  • Some loose hardware around temperature gauge

Check Price on Amazon

#4 Traeger Renegade Elite

Traeger Grills TFB38TCA Renegade Elite Wood Pellet Grill

The Renegade Elite has a 10-pound hopper and a straight-legged design with all-terrain wheels. There’s also additional space for storage, with a removable wire rack and built-in shelf with utensil hooks. This unit features the Digital Elite Controller instead of the Digital Pro. Aside from that, it shares most of its features with the Renegade Pro.

Pros:

  • Attractive design
  • Ample storage space
  • Maintains an accurate temperature
  • Portable enough for travel

Cons:

  • High price point
  • Small hopper means close monitoring could be necessary
  • Prone to tipping on unstable ground

Check Price on Amazon

#5 Traeger Texas Elite 34

Traeger Grills TFB65LZBC Texas Elite 34 Wood Pellet Grill & Smoker, 646 Sq. In. Cooking Capacity, Bronze

This model offers a large, heavy-duty steel cooking chamber, steel grilling grates coated with porcelain for longevity, and an 18-pound hopper. Two of the straight legs are capped off with sturdy wheels. Being part of the Elite series, the Digital Elite Controller features AGL for precise temperature control. The efficient grease management system includes a steel bucket to help catch drips.

Pros:

Cons:

  • Doesn’t do well for baking or other high-heat applications
  • Won’t get hot enough to sear meat
  • Erratic results with any pellets that aren’t Traeger brand

Check Price on Amazon

#6 Traeger Pro Series 34

Traeger Grills TFB88PZBO Pro Series 34 Pellet Grill and Smoker, 884 Sq. In. Cooking Capacity, Bronze

The Pro Series 34 features an oversized cooking chamber constructed of durable powder-coated steel, along with porcelain-coated steel grilling grates. The 18-pound hopper is slightly small for a unit of this size, but it should help keep the pellets moving along nicely. It’s also outfitted with a door to make it easier to swap out pellets during cooking. Like the other Pro Series models, it offers a sawhorse chassis design, this one with four attached wheels. The grease management system includes a drip bucket, and the Digital Pro Controller helps keep temperatures in check.

Pros:

  • User-friendly
  • Enormous amount of grilling space
  • Easy to maneuver, despite its size
  • Hopper cleanout system

Cons:

  • Takes up a lot of yard space
  • Not effective at high temperatures
  • Relatively small hopper

Check Price on Amazon

Yoder vs Traeger: Features & Benefits

#1 Yoder Smokers

Value

If you’re planning on shopping for a Yoder product, prepare yourself for some serious sticker shock. These American-made smokers are priced significantly higher than most of the competition. However, their durability—coupled with a generous warranty—helps to offset the initial cost.

Construction

Yoder smokers are built to last, with 10-gauge steel for the grates and main cooking chamber and 14-gauge steel for the hopper and cart. Both the YS640 and YS480 models have enough shelving for all of your tools and ingredients.

These grills are exceptionally heavy, with the 480 weighing in at 277 pounds and the 640 topping the scales at 335. Fortunately, that’s because they’re made of quality materials that will withstand years of use.

Cooking Space

These models are enormous, with plenty of space to satisfy even the most die-hard griller. The 480 offers a cooking surface of 800 square inches, and the 640 offers a grand total of 1070.

Hopper Capacity

Both of these grills feature a hopper with a 20-pound capacity. They do tend to burn through pellets more quickly than some of the competition—roughly one-and-a-half to four pounds per hour, depending on the temperature.

Temperature Control System

Yoder smokers feature a range of 150 to 600 degrees. This is better than the industry standard, and far broader than what most of the Traeger units have to offer.

Special Features

The Adaptive Control System is Yoder’s version of WiFi capability. The ACS allows you to remotely control the temperature of your grill through an app, downloaded to your smartphone or tablet. The YS640 also offers the Virtual Displacement Damper, which provides grillers with unique access to the fire box for greater control over the temperature. Both YS models are equipped with dual integrated food probes, heatproof handles, and front and side shelving.

Warranty

Yoder offers a one-year warranty on the ceramic igniter, a three-year warranty on the control system, and a ten-year warranty on the cooking body itself. This generous guarantee proves that Yoder is a stickler for quality, and is willing to stand behind their products.

Check Prices on YoderSmokers.com

#2 Traeger Grills

Value

Traeger doesn’t make cheap grills, but compared to Yoder’s, all of these models could be considered a real bargain. The trade-off? They’re smaller, and the temperature control systems aren’t as sophisticated.

Construction

These models are constructed of heavy-gauge steel with a powder finish for durability. The cooking grates are made of porcelain-enameled steel, which helps with longevity in addition to making cleanup easier. All of the Traeger grills listed here offer a barrel design, with wheels added to the base for ease of transport. Larger units, like the Pro Series 34 and the Texas Elite 34, include wheels on all four of the legs. The grills in the Pro series are a bit more stable due to their sawhorse chassis design.

Cooking Space

The Traeger grills offer more variety in this department. The Renegade series features 380 square inches of cooking space, while the Pro Series 34 boasts a whopping 884 inches. No matter what your cooking requirements might be, there’s a good chance that Traeger has a grill to suit your needs.

Hopper Capacity

The hopper capacities of the Traeger models vary, usually depending on the size of the grill. However, the numbers don’t always line up. While the Renegade Elite has a size-appropriate hopper capacity of just eight pounds, the hopper on the gigantic Pro Series 34 holds just 18 pounds of pellets. However, this isn’t a deal-breaker, especially since the auger components are more efficient than Yoder’s. You can expect to burn through roughly one pound of pellets per hour with a Traeger grill.

Temperature Control System

Traeger’s grills offer a temperature range of about 180 to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. That means that they’re better suited for smoking and barbecuing than for high-heat applications. They can handle simple grilling tasks, but searing and flame-broiling are beyond their capabilities.

As far as temperature accuracy is concerned, the 22 and 34 models have some difficulties. The Renegade series is more reliable in that regard, remaining accurate within about 15 degrees Fahrenheit in either direction. However, remember that these units offer only 380 square inches of grilling space. If you’re looking for a full-sized grill with true “set it and forget it” capabilities, the Yoder models might be a better choice.

Special Features

The hopper cleanout system on the Pro series is a nice feature. Apart from that, these particular Traeger grills don’t have any bells and whistles to speak of.

Warranty

Traeger offers consumers a three-year warranty on defective parts. While this is in line with the industry standard, it’s nowhere near as generous as what Yoder offers.

Check Traeger on Amazon

On The Road With The Yoder Grills

What do customers have to say about the Yoder grills? A Web search turned up several positive reviews. One consumer used the YS640 to make a smoked turkey for Thanksgiving, with excellent results. Others praised the durable construction and overall efficiency of both models. Yoder’s customer service department received high marks as well, especially since they’re consistently working to improve their existing models.

On The Road With The Traeger Grills

Traeger’s grills come with a long line of satisfied customers behind them. These particular models are widely regarded as user-friendly, with the easy assembly cited as a major plus. A few others had issues with the temperature control on the 22 series in particular, but the problems were mitigated somewhat when Traeger pellets were swapped in for a generic brand. Overall, users were happy with their investment when they purchased a Traeger grill.

The Verdict

Taking everything into consideration, is there a clear winner in this matchup? The answer is somewhat complicated. While many of these grills perform well in certain areas, there’s just one that delivers consistently on every level: The Traeger Renegade Pro.

This Traeger model is sturdy and reliable, suitable for couples and small families alike. It’s compact enough to fit easily on your deck or patio. As a bonus, it can be packed up and taken along on family road trips.

As an alternative, you might try the Yoder YS480. It offers a generous amount of grilling space, a hardy steel construction, and superb features that allow for precise temperature control throughout the cooking process. While some shoppers might be turned off by its immense size, sometimes it’s better to have too much room than too little.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our Yoder vs. Traeger roundup, and that you’ve found all the answers you were looking for. Best of luck as you enter the next stage of your grilling adventures!

You can also read our full review of Traeger grills here.

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