Re: "You've lost that smoookey flaaavor"I currently have a Mustang electric smoker and I have a vent on top...to answer the one question my wook chips/chunks definitely burns down to just ash, not just charring. I would say that maybe the element wasn't burning hot enough?? In an attempt to increase the heat in my box I've closed teh vent completely. I've found that this caused "condensation" in the vent which dripped a distinctive ring of "drip" in my beans on the top shelf. I'm not sure what that would do inside a smoker without a vent...One question I didn't see asked was what kind of wood were you using? When you're smoking without a vent does smoke escape anywhere? This may explain why your wood doesn't burn down, no oxygen is in there to let it burn...I would think you need some kind of air exchange.