Here are my thoughts..as an MES 40 and AMNS user
1. I read somewhere (Amazon review I think) that manufacturers recommend not using extension cords with electric smokers. I do have a power outlet in my yard, and I'm planning to put down patio blocks under the smoker. I'm just wondering how long the power cords on these smokers are. Some appliance cords are way too short.
Answer: I use a 25' heavey duty (12/3) extension cord with no problems. A 50' heavy duty cord would probably be fine too. The thing to avoid is a light weight cord, a cord much longer than is needed, or one that is wound around a spool when in use. Some have reported cords that get too hot in these situations. There are several threads in this forum on this subject..
2. I notice that a lot of you guys use the AMNS. Being all newbish and stuff, I had no idea what that was, so I dug around here and on Google, and it seems like it's more used for cold smoking, and the hot smoking technique hasn't really been written in stone yet?
Answer: The AMNS is a great for cold smoking in the MES but it also works great for hot smoking. You just have to use it a bit differently, such as shielding it from the heating element and perhaps leaving the center channel empty. There are several threads in this forum on this subject..
3. Why is the AMNS needed at all? Do the heating elements not get hot enough to produce a good smoke on their own?
Answer: The MES wood tray and side loader are a GREAT feature and work well on my MES40. It lets you add wood chips quickly and easily without opening the door. The only thing is that you should put in only a handfull of chips at a time and the smoke lasts for only 30-45 minutes before a reload is needed. If one does not mind tending to the chips so frequenty, then the AMNS may have marginal benefit for hot smoking. Myself, I have found that loading and starting the AMNS once at the start of the smoke and having it last the whole time is an even GREATER feature than the side loader. Once you experience the AMNS you don't want to go back to feeding the chips every 30-45 minutes. Just too convenient to use the AMNS. Kind of like using a remote control for the TV or power windows in the car. Can't live without them once you experience the convenience.
Regarding the window, I find it a GREAT feature too. It is nice to be able to see the food during the smoke without opening the door. The windows stays clean enough for a few smokes and it is not hard to clean when it does get a bit hard to see through. I use a razor blade to scrape off the build up and it takes a minute or two at most.
Edited by hkeiner - 3/11/11 at 9:34pm