Got your PM and thought I'd share in more detail out here. Maybe some others could get something out of it, thinking most things might have been already covered in the thread, but here are my thoughts on using the MES
. Again, just my way of using the unit.
This time of year the MES should recover within an hour to 230. If you have really loaded it down with cool meat it might take a little longer to get to 250. I had trouble with mine during the winter recovering temps when loaded, but it was really cold outside (I added a heater, another thread).
Start with boiling hot water in the water pan instead of cold water. I also only fill the pan half way. Top vent always full open.
Warm up the unit to 270 for an hour with all the racks, water in the pan and drip pans in place. This will help to bring everything to temp before adding your meat, the recovery will be better.
As already mentioned above, added a couple door latches (top and bottom) to keep it sealed tightly. If you have any gaps in the seal, it will suck in cold air as the hot air exhausts. You want all the air flow in the unit to come in through the wood box inlet holes (three small holes in the load tube). This way it kind of gets pre heated. If the unit gets too much air from leaks, the wood might also start flaring up. If everything is tight the wood doesn't get enough air to maintain the flame, so it just goes out with a poof and smokes. You might notice the poofing around the load tube area after adding wood or opening the door.
Also make sure the load tube is in the dump position where it is locked. Some times the poof could push the load tube partially out if not locked.
Another thing I do is add a broken up charcoal briquette in with the wood. This helps getting a smoke ring and adds a few more BTU's for heat. I start off every smoke by adding two briquettes worth and 1/2 to 3/4 of a briquette each time I add wood.
I use mini chunks instead of chips, maybe 1"x1"x2" (chop them down from larger chunks), lasts longer and the charcoal helps to make them burn more consistant since the element shuts down after reaching setpoint. I put one in every 30~40 min with more charcoal.
I'm not sure I buy into the extention cord or groung fault theory from MES. The unit draws like 6.5 A max. You would need a really long extention or small gauge wire to get enough resistance to limit the current that much. I'm also not sure how a ground fault limits the current or voltage, unless it senses current to ground then trips. Other than that I would think it should react like a normal outlet. I use mine on a 50' 14ga extention, plugged into a GFCI outlet and get the rated current to the unit (did actually measure it).
Hope some of this helps