Yoder YS 480, Mak 1 Star, Rec Tec or CookShack PG 500 or Memphis Select? Please help! Thanks!!

Discussion in 'Pellet Smokers' started by valpochooch, Mar 28, 2014.

  1. Hi there,  I'm new to this forum and excited to hear your responses!  I'm in the market for a new pellet grill and here's what I know about the ones above:

    All of these grills have rave reviews.  I'm going to be doing grilling and smoking, but the main reason I'm getting a new pellet grill is for the smoking! 

    I know the Yoder YS 480 is built like a tank.  It is said to be a more smoky pellet grill which I like, but it has also been said to be higher on pellet consumption because it doesn't retain heat as well as some of the others.  Not sure I understand this because the parts are the thickest and heaviest of the grills I mentioned, and I figured that would cause it to retain heat.  Nonetheless, the owners of these smokers seem to be very happy with them.

    People seem to have great things to say about the Mak1 as well, and it seems to be the one grill where all of the owners say, if they did it again, they'd buy the same grill.  It's built like a tank and most say it's the best overall grill out of the ones I mentioned.  It has some great features and it seems to have the most options of the 5 grills I'm researching.  I also saw it has a release to dump pellets not used during a particular grilling or smoking session.  Is this true?  On the down side, I saw a comment on craigslist about the POWER COAT wearing off.  Has anyone else experienced this?  I was also surprised to see it only had a 3 year warranty too, when the Yoder has a 10 year for parts and a 3 year for electronics.  The Rec-Tec also has a 6 year warranty and Memphis select a 5 year.

    The Rec-Tec is the most affordable, and although the parts are made in China, everyone who owns one of these seems to be extremely happy with their cooking ability and with their durability as well.  On Amazon.com, they have 91 user reviews with 88 of them being a 5 out of  5 stars.  The one concerning review was that their Rec-Tec didn't provide a smoky flavor to their meat at all.  Can anyone attest or disprove this.

    I know the PG 500 is also well liked by many, but I'm not sure about the different quadrants of the grill for different types of cooking.  I think I would rather use sear grates instead of having a build in section for searing.  This makes me weary about the evenness of grill's cooking temperature.  Does the fact that different parts of the grill are built for different types of cooking have any affect on temperature evenness, especially when slow cooking? 

    The Memphis select also has great reviews and seems to be a well built smoker as well as very economic with fuel consumption.  Everyone seems to be happy with theirs, but some of the owners from various postings I've come across say they might have gone with the Mak 1 instead, but they're still happy with their Memphis!  

    Bottom line is, I could use your help and would be very appreciative for any advise you can offer.  Is it really worth paying $1500.00 for the Mak 1, when there's a great pellet grill out there in the Yoder for $1100.00?  Thanks so much!!
  2. chef willie

    chef willie Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I've been doing mega research on pellet units for a while now & all the ones you mention are top notch. My issue is price...LOL....being just about fully retired and with that pesky fixed limited income I can't in good conscience just pop for that kinda dough like I used to....sighhhhh. Regardless, I've seen up close and personal the Traeger line (at Costco) and the Green Mountain line (feed & ranch store) and for the price decided I didn't want either. I did run across a newer Char Griller pellet smoker in another local store here in the PNW and was impressed by the build as opposed to the others mentioned & it was only $400. These are also being sold at Lowes for $449. So, another option to consider if you desire. IMHO, Yoder would be my choice if I could just order one. All reports and reviews I've seen have been xlnt. My other choice would be the Rec Tec for about 1000 but payable over time...a nice touch......Willie
  3. seenred

    seenred Smoking Guru Group Lead OTBS Member


    First off, welcome to the group! It's great to have you as a part of the SMF family.

    Disclaimer: These are only my opinions based on owning one of these pits (Rec Tec) and having done some research when I was comparison shopping...my opinion shouldn't be viewed as fact. I chose to buy the RT because I decided it was the best value. Other opinions will certainly vary.

    As you've already learned, all of the rigs you mentioned are great, and owner satisfaction is very high with each. IMO, given the the things you say you want your pit to do, the best value for the price is Rec Tec. If direct-flame grilling is not a priority, the RT performs very favorably to the other more expensive units. The YS480 is probably most comparable in price and value, but is a smaller pit than the RT (the RT is actually more comparable in size to the larger and more expensive Yoder YS640).

    As far as smoky flavor, I think the RT performs with any of them. Any pellet grill owner will tell you that pellet pits don't make as heavy a smoke flavor as other types of smokers. I do supplement most of my smokes with a tube smoker for extra smoke flavor. So...for the best bang for your buck, my recommendation would be Rec Tec.

    All that being said, there are very cool features of some of the more expensive units - namely the ability to high heat sear over a direct flame, and a higher temperature range. (the RT's temp range is 180*-500*). The bottom line is: you are looking at 5 excellent products, and I am sure you'd be satisfied with any of them...as Willie already said, they're all top notch.

    I hope any of this helps. Good luck in your search! Let us know what you choose. I'll be looking forward to seeing some of your Qview!

    Last edited: Mar 28, 2014
  4. phrett

    phrett Smoke Blower

    I've seen and cooked on all the units you mentioned and they are all nice units. I have a GMG Daniel Boone, about 3.5 years now, and have never desired one of the other units in its place.
    Now give me a Memphis Pro, or the Elite, and I may have to give up the DB! lol
    Your thoughts on the PG00 are similar to mine, but if you do alot of grilling as well as BBQ, it may be a good selection.
  5. bolopwr

    bolopwr Fire Starter

    +1 on the REC TEC for the price. If you like your meat really smoky, then it helps to have a tube smoker to throw in there, but I only use one on larger cuts of meat. 

  6. I've owned my YS640 since October 2013. I love it. I did buy the AMTS and the AMPS. I live in northern Illinois and figured that the solid construction of the Yoder would be beneficial in the cold weather, and it preformed well this past winter. If you can spare the extra coin consider the YS640 with the second shelf. Excellent customer service also.

    Last edited: May 28, 2014
  7. The PG500 cooks evenly on a particular zone.  The multiple zones gives you flexibility to cook different things at the same time once you get use to them.  That being said, the main smoking area is going to be zone 4, and 90% of my cooking is done there, or in zone 1 on the direct flame.

    I will through beans or mac and cheese on the zone 3 grate while something is smoking, and have done a few things on zone 2 but not much.   The PG500 is going to have a little less usable space than the REC-TEC, but it is still enough to do 4 racks of ribs, a couple of briskets, or 2-3 butts.

    The direct flame zone is a little bigger than it seems.  You can fit ~10 chicken thighs on at one time once they have shrank down some from cooking on the other side.  3-4 ribeyes can be done at a time as well.

    The ability to smoke a steak and then flip it onto the direct flame without changing things around is great.

    The PG500 also has a pellet dump.  The PG500 does decent on pellet usage, but won't hang with the insulated Memphis and Mak.  The PG1000 is insulated, but you lose the pellet dump.

    Any of the grills you are looking at will be great choices.  I mainly use my PG500 for grilling with only occasional smoking as time allows, and I couldn't be happier.  It easily replaces a grill and a smoker in one unit.
  8. tim in az

    tim in az Newbie

    I own the pg500 as we'll and must say I've turned out the best steaks I've ever eaten of that pit. I love the 4 zone cooking and use it quite often. The only downside for me is zone four is a little tight and that seems to be what I use the most. I can get 4 - 8 to 10 pound butts in there for a party but it's tight. If you don't plan on a lot of grilling or already own a great grill then maybe one of the other pits is a better choice. If you want a pit that can do it all and cook multiple things at different temps the Pg500.

    By the way I want one of every pit you listed:biggrin: great choices to pick from
  9. marquetteg

    marquetteg Newbie

    I bought the PG500 in March and have been very pleased with it.  Most of what I've done is smoking, so I haven't found a lot of utility for the direct grill side.  My only complaint is that adjusting the LHT  & HHT settings is a pain.  The control panel is very sensitive and I have to dink around with it for awhile to get it where I want it.  However, the ability to adjust the flow of pellets and really dial-in the unit is nice.

    I looked at all of the same units as you.  I ended up with the PG500 because I liked the direct cook option, however if I were doing it again, I'm not sure that I wouldn't go Yoder.  I really like the competition cart and more importantly the abundant cook space.  However, if you are going to do direct grilling, the PG 500 has the ability to get over 900 degrees on that side if you so desire (which is way hotter than my gas grill can get).

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