A few months ago, Brent and I tried a couple experiments for smoking. We both have MES (http://www.amazon.com/Masterbuilt-20...moker+electric) as well as A-Maz-N (http://www.amazenproducts.com/Produc...tCode=AMNPS5X8) smokers.
First, the temp in mine was having a hard time making anything over 250* and that was a stretch! What we found was that any foil, be it a drip pan or a rack covered in foil, would reflect the temp back down toward the coil. Regardless of the side of the foil used (aluminum foil has different finishes per side)...it's a big deterrent to heating the top rack! As small a pan as needed or a foil sheet works well.
Next there were a few problems getting my Amazn fired up. Did several tests over the holidays and found that if I load it...lately 1-1/2 slots, and fire it, it would die shortly. A nice solution is to load and tamp and directed. Then while the MES is heating up, The Amazn stays in the smoker to evaporate any moisture...and the pellets do absorb it, that may have collected. Pull it out with tongs, MAPP gas for 30 sec and let it burn. After a good flame for about 1 minute, I blow it out and put it back in the MES with tongs. Add the beef/pork/chicken stuff and water pan if you use it. TBS maintains very very well! Did marinated chicken breasts with bacon on top for 2 hours last night...perfection!
Hope this helps someone...sure helped me!!