What’s a Vape Mod?
What’s a Vape Mod?
In this section we're going to cover the main piece of hardware used in vaping: the vape mod.
Before we dive into the types here, it's important to know that this term is used rather loosely in the vape world, and its meaning is not always as clear cut as we’d like it to be. The first type of vapor device to hit the market in the late 2000s was the cigalike, a portmanteau of "cigarette" and "alike" because it was roughly the same size and shape as a combustible cigarette.
Early versions of cigalikes honestly weren't that great, so vapers began modifying other devices like flashlights so that they could be used for vaping. The resulting homemade contraptions were referred to as "mods" (short for modified) and eventually the name came to broadly mean anything that supplies power to a vaporizer.
For our purposes here, a mod is going to refer to an advanced personal vaporizer (APV). There are other, simpler devices that some people might refer to as mods, and we're giving each a detailed treatment in other sections: cigalikes (which are much better today than the early versions), pod mods (not quite a cigalike, not quite a mod), and vape pens/eGo-style devices.
And now, on to the mods…
Tube vs. Box
The first differentiation in mod style is the form factor. Tube mods are cylindrical in shape, about an inch in diameter, and four or five inches tall. They're shaped like a vape pen, but much bigger. Some have built-in rechargeable batteries, others are simply a tube to hold a replaceable 18650 high-discharge lithium ion battery.
Box mods, when they first came out, were rectangular metal shells for holding one or two replaceable batteries or a built-in lithium polymer cell. Newer models have added some curves to their design and can sometimes hold even three or four cells at a time, increasing their power output and battery life at the expense of weight and ease of portability.
Mechanical vs. Regulated
Mechanical and regulated mods can come in either box or tube form, but that's where the similarities end because they operate so differently.
Mechanical mods offer the simplest form of vaping but they can be the riskiest, especially if you’re not an experienced vaper. These devices contain no computer chip to regulate safety. You simply press a button and the mod delivers power from the battery. If there's a short in your coil, the resistance of the coil is too low, the battery is inserted incorrectly, or there's damage to your cell's protective wrapping, you could inadvertently force the battery into thermal runaway (read: smoke, fire, explosions). If you've ever seen a news report about an exploding e-cigarette and it's not actually about a mishandled battery that wasn't installed in an e-cig, a mechanical mod in the wrong hands was probably involved. Mechanical mods are considered advanced user devices only appropriate for vapers experienced with coil-building and basic electrical principles.
Regulated mods are, conversely, the most advanced pieces of vaping technology. Controlled by a computer chip, regulated mods offer a variety of settings that allow the user to control the mod's power output in volts (power sent to the coil) or watts (power delivered from the coil). It also allows the user to limit the maximum temperature of the coil (temperature control) or do a handful of other things like count the number of puffs taken or the amount of time a device is in use. Advanced safety features prevent a regulated mod from firing if the batteries are installed wrong, aren't properly charged, or if a problem is detected in your tank's coil.
While all of this tech can sound confusing, today's mods are designed to be intuitive and allow a user to experiment with settings to find the perfect vape without much hassle. If you can tinker with the ringtone settings on your mobile phone, chances are you'll be able to figure out how to set up a mod within a few minutes.
A newer, in-between form of mod that's gained popularity in recent years is the stick mod, a tube mod that doesn't have the adjustability of a more advanced regulated device but retains some of the safety protections. These frequently come with a vape tank as part of an all-in-one (AIO) starter kit and fixed rechargeable battery. Consider them the bigger, more powerful cousins of pod mods.
Finally, there are bottom feeder, or "squonk" mods. These look like box mods, but with one notable difference. Instead of using a clearomizer tank or traditional rebuildable dripping atomizer (RDA), these models have a bottle of e-liquid housed in the same body that holds the battery and (if applicable) chipset. When the user squeezes or "squonks" on the bottle, liquid is forced up into the atomizer through a hole in the firing pin, wetting the wicks from below in a simpler and less messy fashion than one would drip onto the top of them from a loose bottle.
There are a few good reasons to choose a mod. First, do you like big clouds? A compact beginner's device is never going to compete with the power of an advanced mod. How about a smooth, airy draw? Even the best airflow on a cigalike or pod mod is going to feel constricted compared to a clearomizer tank.
Want to try out liquids with little to no nicotine, either because you're tapering your use or just because you want access to more choice in flavors? Most non-salt e-liquids were designed to work best in a mod.
Do you wish you could choose to make your vapor a little warmer or cooler? Want a battery that will truly last all day, or the ability to pop a new one in rather than waiting for your device to charge? Do you want to experience the very best in flavor by adjusting the power setting to perfectly capture the notes your liquid's mixer had in mind? Mods have got you covered.
Entry-level devices will always have their place, and even advanced vapers will often keep one on hand for portability and discreet use when out in public. But to get the most out of your vaping experience, you're going to want to do it with a mod.
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