Advanced Personal Vaporizers have come a long way in the past couple of years, offering better performance and more features than ever before. While this is true, the devices themselves, can be a little bit intimidating to new users. The purpose of this guide is to give you a better idea of the basic concepts involved with vaping, and a simple guide to the equipment needed to get started on your road to a cleaner, healthier, tobacco-free lifestyle.
1) Batteries, eGo’s, and Mods… Oh my!: Like most portable consumer electronic devices, Personal Vaporizers and Electronic Cigarettes receive their power from batteries. However, these are not your run of the mill alkaline cells, they are high powered Lithium-Ion and Lithium-Polymer cells much like the ones used in cell phones and high powered flashlights.
Back a couple of years ago, the most popular devices were called eGo styled batteries. Ego styled devices have an integrated battery and charge via a USB cable. These devices are very simple, and were predominantly used with cartomizers and clearomizers such as the CE4 tank system.
As vaping progressed, and users were looking to get more battery life and more power out of their devices, some folks started modifying old flashlights to work with a standard 510 connection(the industry standard in the vape world) and hence the world of “Mods” was born. The first vapor mods were what has come to be known as “Mechanical Mods”, and they are still quite popular today. Vapor Mechanical Mods have no built in protection circuit to keep the user safe, and require at least a basic knowledge of Ohms law and battery safety to use properly. Most users of Mechanical Mods favor either RDAs(Rebuildable Dripping Atomizers) or Sub-Ohm tank systems. Because one is not fettered by the constraints of a microchip, Mechanical Mods are capable of producing as much power as the batteries and coils can push. One of the major inconveniences for even the most seasoned Mech Mod user is battery life. With a Mech, as the battery decreases in charge, the quality of the vapor produced diminishes substantially. Most “old school” Mech Mod users will remember the days of carrying around four or five batteries just to make it through the day!
Enter the Box Mod. As vapers became increasingly frustrated with the poor battery life and complete lack of basic safety features available with Mechanical Mods, a new solution appeared! Box Mods started as basic devices that housed two 18650 Li-On cells in either a series or a parallel configuration. They offered more battery life, and much more power than the traditional Mechanical devices. They also had MOSFETs and some even had basic Variable Voltage OKR chips. As manufacturers caught on to the High Power, Sub-Ohm bandwagon, more advanced microprocessors were added to the mix. These chips include advanced features such as Variable Voltage, Variable Wattage, Temperature Regulation, the ability to use coils made from different materials, and updatable firmware.
This brings us up to where we are today. The new generation of mods are more powerful, safer, and easier to use than ever before! No matter what style of vaper that you fancy yourself to be, there is an affordable device to fit your lifestyle. There will always be a slight learning curve, but now more than ever, it is easy to find a device that will satisfy your craving for cigarettes without the danger or mess that previous generations of devices have necessitated.
2) Atomizer Education: Whatever style of mod or battery-integrated device that you choose, you’re going to need an Atomizer to vaporize your e-liquid. These days, there are three main divisions in the world of atomization: Clearomizers, RDAs, and RTAs. There are many older and less popular technologies on the market such as Cartomizers and Bridgeless Dripping Atomizers, but since they are rarely used these days, we will not be covering them within the context of this article.
Clearomizers are the most commonly used Tank Systems is the vapor world. These range from Mouth to Lung style tanks like the CE4, the K1, and the Nautilus tank systems, to Direct Lung and SubOhm systems such as the Subtanks, Atlantis, Herakles, and Crown. Modern Clearo systems are tanks systems that usually utilize a bottom-feed, replaceable, heating element commonly referred to as a “coil”. These types of tanks are perfect for new vapers, and vaping on the go. The require very little skill to get great results in both flavor and vapor production and generally hold enough e-liquid to get you thru the day. Mouth to Lung(MTL) versus Direct Lung(DL) refers to the method of inhalation applied by the user. Most ex-smokers are most accustomed to MTL draws. Simply put, it’s just how you smoke a cigarette, drawing the vapor into your mouth before inhaling it into your lungs. The amount of vapor produced by using MTL Clearos is generally similar to that of traditional cigarette smoking. DL inhalation is a more advanced method of draw more like using hookah; the user inhales the vapor deeply and directly into their lungs without holding it in their mouths. In the past, this style of vaping was generally reserved for the small sector of vapers that used RDAs with very open airflow. It produces a much greater volume of vapor, and generally runs thru e-liquid at a much higher rate.
RDAs, short for Rebuildable Dripping Atomizers and commonly referred to as Drippers, are advanced atomizer systems where the user actually builds and installs a coil(or multiple coils) built of resistant wire that heats up when a voltage is applied. The coil is then wicked with cotton, rayon, silica, mesh, or any one of the many wicking materials on available. There are MANY different types of RDAs on the market, and each design has different qualities that may, or may not, suit your needs. These systems are for advanced users, and a basic knowledge of electricity is highly suggested to safely use an RDA. Since this style of atomizer does not have an integrated tank system, it is left to the user to manually drip or apply their e-liquid, every few draws, to their atomizer to prevent a dry hit. RDAs are, by far, the most customizable atomizer systems on the market. Many vapors end up dripping after trying all of the other atomizer systems due to this very fact; when you can choose almost every facet of your experience, from coil material to wicking, to airflow, it’s hard to argue that there is a more robust style of atomizer than the ever popular RDA.
RTAs, or Rebuildable Tank Systems, represent the next evolution of advanced atomizer systems. They are basically RDAs with integrated tanks systems so that you don’t have to re-drip every several draws! The two main types of RTAs are the Genesis Style, and the Bottom-Feed Style. With the Genesis style RTA, the coil is placed above the e-liquid reservoir, and either stainless steel mesh, cable, or cotton wicking is fed down into the juice. Most Genesis atomizers can be identified by the “Genny Tilt” that is required when using them, to keep the wick saturated during vaping. The Genesis style RTA’s are famous for their purity and crispness of flavor but do tend to leak when laid on their side, making them less popular with vapers on the go who often keep their devices in their pockets. The Bottom-Feed style of RTA was first made famous by Smoevesto with their excellent Kayfun tank system. With the modern Bottom-Feed RTA, the user builds on a “deck” similar in nature to a conventional RDA, and the juice flows as a vacuum forms when the user takes a draw from the atomizer. Many modern Bottom-Feed RTAs such as the popular Griffin and Erebus even incorporate Velocity styled build platforms and adjustable juiceflow controls so that you can dial in the perfect vape for your personal palate. The modern RTA offerings are changing the game, and many vapers find themselves gravitating towards their use as their performance increases.