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**Pellet cookers** - YS480, YS640
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August 20th, 2014, 8:08 pm
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  • Joined: April 18th, 2014, 3:12 pm
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This is my procedure for starting up a Yoder pellet cooker:

1. Clean all ash from the burn grate and firepot
2. Verify that the burn grate fitment in the firepot is correct
3. Open the pellet hopper and verify there are no foreign objects, blockages or water damaged pellets
4. Fill the pellet hopper with pellets and close the hopper lid
5. Plug the power cord into the cooker (never leave your cooker plugged in after use)
6. Open the cooker’s lid
7. Flip the power switch to the “ON” position
8. Verify the firmware version flashes on the display immediately after flipping the power switch
9. Verify that I hear the fans are running and that they have come up to speed
10. Hit the “START” button
11. Verify that I hear pellets dropping into the burn grate
12. I wait until I see and hear an active fire in the burn grate. You can see the fire by looking down past the hopper end of the heat diffuser or HMS plates.
13. Close the lid and walk away for 30 minutes

As you can see, this is pretty straight forward, and easy to do. Notice I did not change the set temperature away from the default of 350 degrees. I leave the default, because I want to quickly heat up the metal mass of the cooker. I also want any residual oil and grease to burn off prior to putting on anything to cook. I also use this temperature to kill any cooties that may be lurking.

After 30 minutes, I come back to the cooker for the final steps:

14. I open the lid and use a grill brush to give the grates a once over (both top and bottom sides on the upper grate)
15. I use a clean rag or paper towels to wipe the latent “gunk” off the grate surfaces. I find that this can add a bitter taste if left on the grate.
16. I set the temperature I want to cook at on the controller
17. I load everything I am cooking into the cooker
18. I close the lid and let the cooker do the work

Here I will give you some advice; If you are cooking pork butt or brisket, you do not have to, and should not, open the cooker lid again for at least 5 or 6 hours…For ribs, 2 or 3 hours…for chicken, 1 ½ to 2 hours, of course, all depending on your selected cooking temperature. The idea here is to only open the lid when absolutely necessary, to preserve the cooking environment, shorten the cooking time, and use less fuel for cooker temperature and cooking environment recovery, to get the best results possible in your cooking endeavors.

Now I will confess that I do check the cooker periodically, without opening the lid. I make sure that the cooker is still working, that the display shows the temperature, and I always stick my hand in the pellet hopper and play with the pellets, well, actually I even out the pellets so they are able to flow into the auger. For safety, you should never leave your cooker unattended while it is in use.

August 20th, 2014, 9:30 pm
* Abilene ** Abilene *
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  • Joined: August 16th, 2014, 7:27 am
  • Posts: 6
  • Location: Maize, KS

This is a great post. It should be a sticky in the Best Practices section.

Maize, KS
YS640 Orange Competition Cart
August 20th, 2014, 9:41 pm
* Abilene ** Abilene *
  • Joined: August 15th, 2014, 4:11 pm
  • Posts: 1

Great info. I wasn't aware I needed to leave the lid open until ignition. Thanks.

August 20th, 2014, 11:27 pm
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  • Joined: May 10th, 2014, 12:33 pm
  • Posts: 576
  • Location: Sitting Near a Yoder Smoker, Smelling Sweet Blue

One big thing to take away from all of this is let the cooker do it's thing. Don't try to mess with it, don't worry what the controller reads the temp as, just set your temp and trust the cooker, AND leave the lid shut! If you need a project or something to do while you are doing a long cook to distract you, do it. Just trust the Yoder and all will turn out great. The less fiddling, the better.


August 25th, 2014, 6:27 am
* Abilene ** Abilene *
  • Joined: August 24th, 2014, 7:46 am
  • Posts: 7

Having the lid open is a verification issue not a necessary step. I always start mine with the lid down.

August 25th, 2014, 10:34 am
* Abilene ** Abilene *
  • Joined: August 15th, 2014, 11:40 am
  • Posts: 2

Cleaning the ash out after every cook is a PITA. However, I learned if I don't do it, my YS640 usually won't start.

September 12th, 2015, 9:18 am
* Abilene ** Abilene *
  • Joined: August 10th, 2015, 3:08 pm
  • Posts: 8

So during shutdown do you leave the door open or closed? thanks

September 12th, 2015, 9:26 am
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  • Joined: April 18th, 2014, 3:12 pm
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YoderJase wrote:So during shutdown do you leave the door open or closed? thanks

Per the manuals: viewtopic.php?f=49&t=153

"The cooking chamber door must remain closed during the cool-down cycle. Failure to do so can cause burn back in the hopper."

Lots of good information in the manual(s)...

June 19th, 2018, 4:37 pm
* Abilene ** Abilene *
  • Joined: June 19th, 2018, 4:26 pm
  • Posts: 1

This is a great post. Thanks for sharing !

September 1st, 2018, 5:16 pm
* Abilene ** Abilene *
  • Joined: September 1st, 2018, 3:56 pm
  • Posts: 3

I just joined today and already I've seen that I need to tweak the way I start my Comp 640. I do leave the door down when I start up, I can usually hear the pellets ignite and I do leave the door down when I hit the shut-down, now if I can just master a few other techniques I'll be off to the races.

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