first of all what i do will probably void your warranty. but here goes. got mind from amazon for 175, i think, freight free about a month or so ago. i have been very successful with my ribs, boston butts and chicken. very good and very close to what i am use to down here in bar-b-q land. i personally like a lot of smoke although most say it is not needed. on the initial start up i will pull the chip tray from inside and put one chunk of hickory, two chunks of charcoal and sprinkle hickory chips over them and slide it back in. from that time on every time i add chips i will bust up a a chunk of charcoal and add to it. my kids were brought up on bar-b-q and now call me wanting to know when the next smoke is gonna be. as a disclaimer i don't recommend this method and if i cause any damage with my unit i will be up front with MES and not make any warranty claim on the failed part.