Originally Posted by Jesse T
I'm actually having trouble with the AMNPS getting too hot and burning way too quickly with the smoker @ 225, even with a water tray filled right beside it. Prior to getting it I was concerned about getting proper air flow after reading about others having problems with it. Todd mentioned that one possibility would be to use an aquarium pump to add some air flow. I believe he fed it through the drain in the bottom while another person drilled a hole in the side. I actually preemptively purchased a cheap aquarium pump and a brass pipe to feed the air in from the side but it has not been necessary. It's interesting that some people with the same MES model have completely opposite difficulties when it comes to the AMNPS.
First I don't have a AMNPS I have a AMNS, 2nd Todd is the expert, so if I give a suggestion that isn't in line with anything Todd advises ignore what I say.
Lets make some basic assumptions: Fire = heat + air + fuel , the same applies for smoldering wood chips.
Next Does the stock MES have enough air for smoldering (and either the AMNPS or AMNS or electric elements will provide the heat and wood chips or dust or pellets is the fuel.
Before the glass door on the MES the wood chip tray was wide and rested almost on the heat elements, and there was no extra piece of metal between the bottom of the chip tray and elements. The glass door MES also brought the narrow chip tray and an extra piece of metal between the tray and elements, and with that also complaints about wood chips not burning/smoking. MB came out with a mod tray so that extra piece of metal was gone and that fixed anyone's issue with not enough heat. WHY the heck am I saying this history of the MES, because there NEVER was an issue with air. So all the people adding holes to the MES are doing just that, they are adding holes. The MES was designed to have just enough air so the wood chips with proper heat would smolder, not catch fire and burn up.
Ok now add the AMNS, the only difference here is dust instead of chips and the source of heat is the hot cherry bits like a cigar when lit before adding the AMNS to the MES, is there enough air to smolder? YES! I have been using the AMNS since it came out and was an original beta tester for Todd. Does this mean that the AMNS works perfectly, NO! I had to play with it a bit, I had issues getting it too close to the elements and all the dust igniting, (I have a MES 40", an MES 30 may have even more issues because it is tighter). Thus the need for a possible heat shield, in my case I just moved the AMNS to the far left side of cabinet. I still had issues with the burn in the AMNS jumping tracks, solved by using alum foil on the rails of the track so the cherry couldn't burn through the holes, and being careful how high I packed the dust. As for air that has NEVER been an issue, the critical thing is to get a hot cherry lighted without igniting more than the end. There are a number of tricks to do this, just experiment and you will figure it out.
What about the AMNPS, pellets may be different, and have different heat and air requirements. To test how the pellets work in the MES put a hand full of pellets in the wood chip tray and see if they start and smolder properly, you might want to start with some wood chips about 12 first 15 minutes, then another 12, and you should have a nice bed of hot ash (similar to cherry) and then add half cup of pellets and see how they work. Note if they light and just smolder. Remember these will are dumped loosely into the tray, so they may act differently than tight packed in AMNPS.
If the pellets burn / smolder properly then you know the issue is NOT air. If they won't burn, then the need for either greater heat or more air. But first you really need to know how they work with the existing air before you start drilling holes.