For those of you who complain you can't keep the AMNPS lit, well, this is how I solved the problem in my MES digital 30 Gen I.
I'm smoking two racks of baby back ribs today. Although I don't normally use the water pan, I decided to experiment with it today to see if, like many smoker articles have stated, it would keep the meat more meat in an electric smoker.
For the AMNPS I filled three rows with a combination of apple wood and Todd Johnson's Pitmaster's Choice pellet. I fired it up with a propane torch for a minute or so putting the torch through the Hole and underneath the pellets just behind the hole until I got flame going. I then set the AMNPS down on the ground and left it alone for about 30 minutes. When it was time to put it in the smoker I blew out the flame but then continued to blow on the pellets to get a good cherry. The flame came up again and I blew it out just before placing it in the smoker. I also pulled out the chip loader about an inch or so.
I checked about 30 minutes later and the AMNPS was out. It must have stopped burning within 10 minutes of being placed in the MES. So, I went back to my tried-and-true methods. I dumped the water out of the water pan and foiled over the top. I re-lit the AMNPS following the same procedure I described above except I only let it burn for about 5 minutes. This time after getting that good cherry I inserted the AMNPS so that the lit end was facing the rear wall. I figured that with the top vent and the wood chip loader both on the right side the air draft should be greater there. When you insert the AMNPS with the lit side facing the rear, the outside smoking row is on the right as well. Yes, the pellets will still burn toward the front and turn back again but the key seems to be to giving the AMNPS a good, hot jump start and then it keeps burning until all the pellets are ash.
So, after foiling over the water pan and inserting the end with the smoking pellets to the rear, after an hour the AMNPS is putting out great smoke and is almost at the point where it's about to turn the corner to light the next row of pellets.
I strongly advise against putting water in the water pan. You might have noticed that when you open the smoker door you get hit with a wave of smoke AND of steam. It's that steam from the water pan which is putting out the fire; the interior of the smoker is too humid and so the smoldering fire in the AMNPS in effect gets smothered. I've done a lot of smoking in my MES 30--even a turkey breast--and everything comes out tender and moist without water in the water pan. I keep the pan in the smoker because as someone else told me, the MES was designed to have the water pan in place and the heat disbursement might be altered if it wasn't. Other guys may differ but this is the suggestion I've followed with great success.