The Yoder Smokers ACS control system is the most intelligent grill controller on the market. After thousands of hours cooking on Yoder Smokers pellet grills, All Things Barbecue knows what to expect after the start button is pushed.
Our goal is to give you the tools you need to understand and trust your pellet grill during every part of the cooking session. In this article, we’ll explain what happens during the startup process as well as share some pointers for making sure your grill starts well every time.
Note: This article will be discussing grills produced after mid-2019 that are supplied with the Adaptive Control System (ACS) controller or grills that have been upgraded using the ACS Conversion Kit.
This controller will have a rotary selector knob on the front and three rubber coated buttons along the left side of the LCD screen. If you have a Legacy controller produced prior to 2019, your controller will have four white buttons along the left of the screen and no rotary dial.
Initiating The Startup Program
The Yoder Smokers control system is intelligent and easy to use. You simply press the power button, then press the start button when prompted, and then set your desired temperature. Your grill will do the rest of the work from there.
Myth: The default temperature is set to 350 degrees, so you must wait for your grill to get to 350 before setting your desired temperature.
Fact: You can and should immediately set the grill to your desired temperature to get to operating temperature quickly and efficiently.
How does the Startup Program work?
Preparing to Ignite
Pro Tip: To ensure proper ignition, it is important to remove ash buildup that can prevent pellets from contacting the metal tip of the igniter in the burn grate. If you have the two-piece heat diffuser, just open the access door and remove the grate and dump it. This will help improve your startup time.
After you push Start, the grill will run the auger and the igniter will wait 45 seconds before it lights so that the bottom of the burn grate can fill up with pellets. This allows pellets to fall onto the igniter tip.
If you are starting from a completely empty pellet box and no pellets in the auger, you can use the Prime button to fill the auger prior to pushing the start button to make sure pellets to begin dropping immediately. Only use this function to get pellets to begin to drop. If you overfill the fire box, the grill can overshoot and take longer to come back down to setpoint.
After the 45-second auger prime cycle, the controls will power the igniter for 1 minute and 45 seconds to ignite the pellets that are touching the metal tip of the igniter. It is important to know that the igniter tip does not produce a flame. It simply heats the pellets to the point of combustion through conduction. Do not touch the metal tip if you see the ceramic glowing red.
Troubleshooting tip: If your grill fails to ignite within the first few minutes, verify that your burn grate is clear of ash and then try the Reignite button in the menu.
After 60 seconds, the grill should be in the middle of the igniting program so you can look through the burn grate and you should see the white ceramic portion of the igniter glowing red. If you do not see a red glow, then your igniter has failed. An igniter failure doesn’t have to ruin your day.
You can light your grill manually by dropping a small handful of pellets into the burn grate and using a torch to light them. This will work until you can order new parts here. If you need more information on manually lighting your grill, you can find instructions in your manual. You can download a copy and find other resources at YoderSmokers.com
How Does The Grill Warm Up?
Once pellets are ignited, the controller will simply allow the grill to build fire for the next four minutes. After the four-minute “free burn” the controller will then use the initial temperature taken prior to startup and it will compare that to the time it took to get to the temperature the grill is seeing now. It will then determine a pellet feed rate that will get the entire grill to the desired setpoint.
At this point you should see a little arrow pointing up next to the grill setpoint shown on the LCD display. This is the Operating Mode Indicator, and it tells you that the grill is heating up.
Reading The Grill Operating Mode Indicators
Once the grill has reached its setpoint, it will then go into Maintenance Mode which is indicated by a small diamond indicator next to the setpoint on the LCD screen. Yoder Smokers pellet grills have three modes that indicate whether the grill is heating up, maintaining temperature, or cooling down.
My Grill Overshot the Set Temperature, Is Something Wrong?
As previously stated, the controller is trying to heat the ENTIRE GRILL. It does this by using the start temperature and the time it took to get to its current temperature to calculate the pellet feed rate needed to store enough heat to compensate for temperature loss when room temperature or colder meat is placed on the center of the grate.
This usually means it will get close to the setpoint and then slowly move up to operating temperature, but sometimes it may mean that it goes over a bit and then comes back. It all depends on the variables the grill is working with as it starts up. This can be affected by anything from the brand of pellets used to the way you have your grill set up for your cook.
If your grill heats up and does not come back down to operating temperature, you may have a bad thermocouple. Please call the All Things Barbecue Customer Service Team or the team at Yoder Smokers to help troubleshoot any issues.
What are best practices regarding startup?
Set Your Desired Temperature as Soon as You Push Start
As explained above, the grill uses the operating setpoint to calculate pellet feed rates to heat the grill up and maintain temperature. Setting the temperature immediately results in a quicker startup time and better efficiency in the beginning of the cook.
Trust Your Grill
It’s okay to watch to make sure the fire ignites and then close the door, but after that you should leave the door closed and trust the programming. The grill is designed to know what it is supposed to do. After ten minutes in maintenance mode, it evens knows how to calculate when a temperature change is natural or just a quick door opening. When you second-guess the grill or hold the door open, you throw off the balance it is trying to maintain. Trust the programming.
Use High Quality Pellets
Pellets don’t just make a difference in the quality of the food. Pellets that take longer to light will affect the time it takes the grill to properly heat up as well as the temperature consistency throughout the entire cook. This can impact pellet consumption as well.
If your grill is set up for cooking directly over the flame, it is okay to allow 10-15 minutes for warming up before placing food on the grate. For indirect grilling or smoking, you should allow 20-30 minutes for the entire grill body to warm up and normalize prior to placing your food on the grate. This gives the grill enough time to accommodate for heat loss when you place food on the grate.
As you can see, a lot happens when you press the start button on a Yoder Smokers pellet grill. Allowing the grill to follow its programming is the fastest and easiest way to get to great results. Being able to trust your grill allows you to focus more on your food and less on the grill. This results is more compliments and more smiling faces at every meal. And don’t we all want that!