I purchased an AMNS, and after testing it on a rack of ribs last week, filled 1.5 rows to try for 6 hours of smoke. My math was off as I only got 4.5 hours of smoke. To be clear, I love the product and when you follow the many tips on this site, it produces great smoke. Here's what it looked like when everything was over:
When the smoke stopped early, I decided to use some wood chips to continue the smoke. For a reason I don't know, the wood chips didn't produce smoke. Is it because the chip tray was pulled out 1.5 inches?
I had the stall that was expected around 160 degrees, but once the temp started climbing, it rose slower that I anticipated based on my first pork shoulder. In total, it took almost 16.5 hours to reach 205 degrees. I've since read on this site that that length of time is normal, it's just 5 hours longer than my first go around so I was caught off guard.
I put the meat in the smoker in the dark at 5am and was surprised when I took it out at 9:15pm, once again in the dark. If I had guests over, it would've been a mess and I would've called for pizza or Chinese food, but luckily it was just me and the wife so it wasn't a big deal.
The variables that changed from the first shoulder to this one; AMNS instead of wood chips (not an impact), and in lieu of using a water pan with hot water, I added a foil covered brick to the water pan. I'm not sure if this affected the cooking time, but I didn't think it would.
In the future, I will plan on 16 hours for all shoulders and start the smoke before bed if it will be served in the afternoon or evening, rather than getting up early and hoping for a quicker cooking time. I will also use more pellets in the AMNS.
I know there are steps I could take to speed things up; higher temp (maybe I'll try that) or foil the meat at the stall. I bought the electric smoker and the AMNS because I don't want to open the door or have to be near the smoker until the meat is done.
As far as the finished product, my wife and I nibbled on the bark a little at 9:30pm (it was great but a little light on smoke). Here's a pic:
We didn't want a full meal at that time, so I put the pork in a foil pan covered with foil and put it in the fridge for tonight's dinner. I heated the pork in a 300 degree over for 2 hours and then pulled the meat. I can't say it was as good as fresh out of the smoker, but pretty good. The bark was a little soft and the meat just slightly dry. Here's the pic:
All in all, it was a learning experience, and I have a fridge full of meat for lunches this week, so I guess it worked out overall.