Vaping Devices: An Introduction For Beginners
Vaping Devices: An Introduction For Beginners
The number of choices when it comes to selecting your first vaping devices can be daunting – eGos, box mods, variable wattage – what does all of this mean? Let's take a quick look at the most popular vaping devices on the market today.
Cigalike – These are the smallest class of personal vaporizers, generally about the size of a traditional 100 mm cigarette or just slightly larger. You've probably seen them for sale at your local gas station or convenience store. As they are easily available they tend to be an initial device for many new vapers. Drawbacks include a limited number of available flavors, frequent complaints about weak vapor production and short battery life - many of the batteries are even intended to be disposable and only last as long as the pre-installed liquid cartridge.
eGo style – Moving up in class, an eGo is actually the brand name of an early pen-style upgrade from cigalikes. This vaping device has become synonymous with batteries and tanks about the size of a felt-tipped marker in much the way we say Kleenex when we're asking for a tissue. These larger batteries offer an extended lifespan and, in many cases, the ability to adjust the power used while vaping. This allows for different liquid flavors to be used at a power level that accentuates their unique notes.
With an eGo you'll also have the ability to add different clearomizers, or liquid tanks, to the top of the device. These usually contain replaceable atomizers (or "coils," the part of the device that actually heats your liquid and turns it into vapor) and open up a whole new horizon of flavor choices. Many vapers like to purchase a handful of their favorite tanks so they can swap out flavors at will. Upsides include increased longevity and greater flexibility in vaping style as compared to cigalikes. The downsides are that vapor production is still limited and power delivery is still insufficient to produce the huge vapor clouds some users find most satisfying.
Regulated mods – Often called "box mods" because of a larger, boxy appearance (a limited number are still available resembling large tubes), these vaping devices usually deliver much more power than either cigalikes or eGos. As well, the “box mods” offer a digital display to adjust power delivery and monitor features like battery life and coil resistance. The term "mod" originates from the "modified" or custom devices early vapers would create when commercially-available devices weren't providing the power they needed to replace their cigarette cravings.
One of the big draws of regulated mods is the ability to "sub-ohm," or use coils with a resistance lower than 1.0 ohm (we'll visit power delivery and Ohm's Law later). This allows a user to create thick, dense, flavorful clouds and provides maximum control to open up complex e-liquid flavors that often take on a completely different character at higher temperatures.
Some regulated mods require the purchase of a separate battery and charger, while others have an integrated power supply. Each choice carries its benefits and downfalls, as the ability to keep spare batteries for changing on the fly in the middle of a workday or trip outside the home extends the useful range of the device. When batteries die on a replaceable battery unit, there's also no need to replace an expensive mod when new cells can be purchased for a fraction of the price. There is, however, a higher up-front cost to purchase the additional equipment, and battery safety isn't a place to pinch pennies. Both styles of device are available in models that offer Micro-USB charging through the same type of charger that powers most mobile electronics on the market today.
A host of higher-end clearomizers, as well as re-buildable dripping atomizers (RDAs), are more at home on a regulated mod than an eGo. Many require the power output of a more advanced device to even function at all. Most committed users end up with a mod at some point, and newer vaping devices like the iStick 100 have brought the cost of entry down significantly.
Mechanical mods – Mechanical mods, or "mechs," are a simpler, and potentially more dangerous device for advanced users. Lacking the progressive circuitry and safety checks of regulated vaping devices, mech mods consist of a metal tube or box that houses batteries, a connection point for a tank or RDA, and a switch that has two functions: on and off.
When engaged, a mech delivers as much power as the battery is capable of producing to the atomizer. Some mechs have a pin between the atomizer and battery, in other "hybrid" versions the bottom of the liquid delivery device directly contacts the battery. The benefit of this is reduced "voltage drop," or loss of power the battery is capable of delivering via the transfer of that power through other metal pieces.
The downside is that power will be delivered whenever the button is engaged, regardless of whether there's an electrical short somewhere along the line or whether the atomizer is set up to demand more power than the battery can safely supply. If there's an equipment malfunction or user error, a mech mod can quickly become a pipe bomb.
While as late as mid-2014 the only reliable way to access high-power vaping was through the use of a mechanical device, regulated mods have quickly overtaken mechs in both popularity and power delivery. Mechanical users are still an active part of the vape community, but newcomers are most often advised to begin the advanced stages of their vape journey with a regulated mod and transition into mech use at a later point, should they choose to become hobbyists.