Vaping devices have evolved at an incredible rate since the invention of the first modern e-cigarette in 2003.
With the different types of vape devices and eliquid flavors out there, it can be a headache on knowing where to start. Especially if you are just starting to learn to vape. This guide will help you get one step closer to choosing the right vape.
Before we begin your vaping journey, let’s get acquainted with the vaping lingo because it can get confusing.
WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW ABOUT VAPES?
What you need to know before we get started is that there are 3 main components in a vaping device:
- The battery serves as a source of energy to power the atomizer.
- The atomizer is a part of the device that heats and turns the e-liquid vapor.
All vaping devices no matter how advanced will have these major components.
Now that we know the basics let’s get into the different devices out there. Vaping devices can be broken down into 4 categories:
- Cig-A-Likes (First Generation)
- Vape Pens (Second Generation)
- Mods (Third Generation)
- Pod Mods
Due to technological advancements in vaping, each device is characterized by innovative features that were not present in prior devices before. Hence, the numbered generation classification.
Currently, the newest devices have third generation features. Don’t get it twisted though. The devices you choose do not have to be the latest and greatest. It all depends on what works best for you. You will also notice that the older generation type devices will have features that are up to today’s standards. So, keep this in mind when you go shopping!
If you’re curious about learning how these devices evolved, take a quick break and read our evolution of vaping devices article.
There are different kinds of devices in each category. We’ll go through each category and talk about how they are different as well as discussing if it will be a good fit for you!
Let’s start off with vape mods since they are the newest and most common type of vapes out on the market.
Vape mods are the latest edition of devices in the vaping community known for its firepower and advanced personalization features. The term mod originates from a time when vapers would modify their flashlights into a vaping device. The reason vapers macgyvered flashlights into vapes was for one simple reason – more clouds baby!
Back in the day, vape enthusiasts experimented in making the existing devices better and the macgyver in them wanted to know how far they can push their vapes. Although they got their fat plumy clouds, it didn’t come without some sketchy moments and some explosions.
Nowadays, the mods you see in your vape shop look anything but sketchy. Due to the mainstream adoption and commercial availability of these mod devices, you can find a wide range of stylish designs that safely delivers powerful clouds of vape.
The innovative feature that allowed for greater firepower was the adoption of the sub-ohm coil. Instead of using a larger battery with more volts, using a less resistant coil allows for more energy to flow through the coils without having to increase the battery. A sub-ohm coil has a resistance less than 1, and because of this, the electrical current flows at a higher rate. With more current flowing through the coil, bigger clouds are produced meaning more nicotine delivered. Unless you are vaping at 0 mg 😉
Depending on the wattage of your device, the manufacturer will recommend the optimal coil resistance to use. To get a better understanding of how to choose the resistance, it takes a working knowledge of Ohm’s law and meter.
Let’s take a look at the different kinds of vape mod devices.
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF VAPE MOD?
Vape mods are separated into two categories.
Regulated Mods are mods with a circuit board inside them. A circuit board allows for a safety feature to be incorporated as well as having different customizable features such as variable voltage, wattage, and temperature control. Don’t worry my friends, none of these things are complicated as it sounds. Let’s take a look below and what this all means to you!
Safety Features (Battery Protection Circuit):
- Short circuit protection – prevents your device from firing when there is a short circuit. It exists to prevent any damage to your battery;
- Overcharge / Discharge protection – prevents your device from firing when the battery is overcharged and when the device is overused;
- Thermal Protection – prevents the device from hitting when the battery overheats;
- Min/Max Resistance Protection – device will not fire using improper coil resistance.
Personalization Features (Circuit board):
- Fixed Voltage – a set voltage output in vaping device which makes for a consistent vaping experience. Even if your battery is low, it will still use the same amount of volts for a consistent vape;
- Variable Voltage/Wattage – the ability to increase or decrease voltage/wattage to maximize or minimize power flowing through your atomizer and the power output of your device. Allows you to play with the flavor intensity, cloud production, and throat hit to find your sweet spot;
- Temperature Control (TC)- You can set up a temperature you would like to vape at, and the device automatically adjusts the power output to avoid dry hits and to preserve coil life. TC can only be used with certain types of coil materials (nickel, titanium, stainless steel).
Let’s talk about the 2 kinds of regulated mods:
Tube mods are essentially vape pens updated with sub-ohm tanks. When vape pens originally came out in the mid-2000’s, the devices were equipped with a less powerful clearomizer tank. Essentially, tube mods have become the new go-to device for beginners since it is equipped with the latest vaping technology for better performance. Most vape pens on the market currently are tube mods and have one button to press. We will cover more of this in detail in the vape pen section!
Box mods are the most sophisticated and powerful devices out on the market currently. You have probably seen vapers with a box-shaped device blowing out huge clouds. Besides the shape of the device, box mods have more battery power than previous vapes and also come with advanced features to personalize your vaping experience.
Box mods, in general, have these features:
- Sub-ohm tank;
- External batteries;
- Variable Voltage/Wattage;
- Temperature Control (some have this feature);
- LED Screen to display information such as battery life, ohmmeter, puff counter, voltage/wattage setting, and temperature setting;
- Airflow control on Atomizer.
Unregulated Mods are mods that have none of the built-in features found in regulated mods. What this means is that there is no electrical circuitry implemented to protect the users from device malfunctions. All it includes is a battery, an atomizer, and a case to hold it all in. This presents a risk to the users since it has no safety features implemented. Only vapers with advanced knowledge of Ohm’s law and electrical systems should handle these devices.
There are several kinds of unregulated devices on the market, and it should be noted that these devices are not for beginners.
Mechanical Mod is a simple device with pure battery power that is housed in either a metallic tube or in a box. Mechanical mods are used by vape enthusiasts who build their own atomizers to create an ideal vaping experience.
Vapers build their own coils instead of buying them and this allows vapers to customize their experience to their liking. These self-constructed atomizers are called Rebuildable Drip Atomizers (RDA) where e-liquid is dripped on top of custom built coils. Vapers also use Rebuildable Tank Atomizers (RTA) where it functions as a tank.
Vape tricksters and cloud chasers who compete in cloud chasing contests will build mech mods to produce ginormous clouds.
These devices are not for beginners so let’s go through the commonalities of the different box mods found in the market.
ARE VAPE BOX MODS A GOOD CHOICE FOR YOU?
Box mods may sound super high tech with the advanced features, but it’s not as difficult to use as it sounds since it usually has at most three buttons to press. If you’re the kind of person who likes playing with technology and wants to tinker with different settings, box mods are a perfect fit for you. Not recommended for smokers coming into vaping due to the steep learning curve but many have successfully started with vape box mods.
- High performance when it comes to flavor intensity and cloud production;
- Ability to personalize vaping experience with different settings to find your sweet spot;
- Longer battery life;
- More options to use different kinds of coils;
- Option to choose a Mouth to lung (MTL) or Direct to Lung (DTL) hit.
- Need to buy separate batteries;
- It takes longer to charge batteries;
- Not the ideal device for beginners since it can take some time to learn the device.
Vape pens are cylindrical and come in various styles. Vape pens are larger than their predecessor (cig-a-likes) to increase battery power and cloud production. When vape pens came out in the mid-2000’s, the larger battery size, microchip inside the battery, and the use of a different atomizer (clearomizer) was considered innovative at the time. With the advancements in vaping technology, today’s vape pens have some of the latest features incorporated into vape pens. Vape pens have also risen in popularity due to the cannabis industry as it is used to vape flower, concentrates, and oils.
And while some vape pens and e cigarettes have been popular in the media lately for catching on fire or sometimes exploding. With proper vape battery care and also buying a a high quality device, vape pens are a great choice to vape.
Let’s go through the anatomy of vape pens that are on the market today!
Features of today’s vape pens:
- Firing Button;
- Safety feature (microchip) – 10-second auto-shutoff;
- Coil (Sub-ohm or not);
- Battery indicator;
- Airflow control on some;
- USB Port for charging.
The atomizer consists of several parts:
- Drip tip or mouthpiece;
- Tank (you can see the level of e-liquid in your tank);
- Coil (either sub-ohm coils or coils with higher resistance);
- Airflow control;
- Threading to connect to the battery.
Note: Not all vape pens on the market currently are sub-ohm. When vape pens were made initially, it did not use sub-ohm coils since it was not commercially available at the time.
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF VAPE PENS?
Vape pens today are vastly different than the vape pens in the mid-2000’s. As we have stated above, the vape pens today have features found in third generation mods to equip the older style devices with the power of today’s vaping technology.
Let’s cover the different variations of vape pens found today:
Four distinct features make up the different kind of vape pens today:
- Fixed Voltage;
- Sub-ohm tanks;
- Variable Voltage;
- Variable Temperature.
1. Fixed Voltage: When vape pens came out originally, all vape pens were what we call fixed voltage. Fixed voltage means that the device has a consistent voltage output. This means that there is no need to tinker with the settings since it comes with only one option which is firing the button.
2. Tube Mods: The most common vape pen setup you find today do not have added features such as variable voltage and variable temperature. It also makes it simpler to use since it only has one button to press and the sheer power of the battery size and the use of sub-ohm tanks make it sufficient to address nicotine cravings. We will cover this in more detail in the next mod sections.
3. Variable Voltage: this is an innovative feature used to personalize the vaping experience. Older models of the vape pens use variable voltage but on less powerful batteries. The ability to increase or decrease the voltage can be a great feature to play around with the flavor intensity, cloud production, and throat hit.
4. Variable Temperature is a feature found in third generation devices and have been implemented into the older style vape pens. Not all vape pens carry this feature but what it does is it automatically adjusts the power output depending on the temperature defined by the user by automatically adapting to the coils resistance in the vaping device to avoid dry hits.
WHAT ARE THE COMMON CHARACTERISTICS OF A VAPE PEN?
Vape pens can be adjusted to be an MTL or Direct to Lung hit device due to the ability to change the airflow intake. Direct to lung (DTL) hit are a common characteristic in sub-ohm devices and mod devices. DTL devices allow for massive cloud production since the vape directly travels to your lung. The more the airflow is open, this will provide a direct to lung hit. On the market today, vape pens have a combination of second and third generation features.
Let’s go through some commonalities that you will find in vape pens among the market.
- Perfect Beginner’s device – often recommended by vapers as a great starter kit due to strong performance and simple to use features;
- Tank Capacity: 1.8 ml ~ 5 ml;
- Coils: resistance ranges anywhere from 0.15 ohm to 2.5 ohm depending on the device;
- Nicotine Strength: 0 mg, 3 mg, 6 mg, and 12 mg;
- Safety Feature – a microchip inside the device will prevent you from taking a hit longer than 10 seconds. This is a safety feature that will prevent you from overheating your battery;
- Battery Power: anywhere from 650 mAh to 3000 mAh;
- Wattage Output: less than 80 W.
ARE VAPE PENS A GOOD FIT FOR YOU?
- Portable but not as portable as cig-a-likes;
- Variety of sizes and colors to choose from;
- Excellent cloud production;
- Flavor is more pronounced compared to cig-a-likes;
- Option to select a MTL or DTL hit by adjusting airflow intake.
- Short battery life compared to box mods but longer than cig-a-likes;
- More e-juice consumption = refill more often;
- Device issues can be present such as minor leaking or battery issues.
Vape pens are affordable and are much better than cig-a-likes when it comes to the vaping experience. If you’re looking into getting your first vape, vape pens will deliver a lot of value when it comes down to flavor intensity, cloud production, and efficient nicotine delivery.
Before we start hating on cig-a-likes, let’s take a look at what makes these devices different from Mods and Vape pens.
You may not know what a Cig-A-Like is, but you most likely have seen one before. Cig-A-Likes are devices often seen in gas stations and used as an entry level vaping device. The devices are called cig-a-likes because of the similar appearance and size to a real cigarette. This is also where the term electronic cigarettes originated from. The idea behind it was to mimic the smoking experience as close as possible to make a smoother transition from smoking to vaping.
Cig-A-Likes are known for its simplicity and are characterized by these features:
- Draw activated (No button to press);
- LED light to mimic the ash-like appearance of dragging a cigarette.
What makes a cig-a-like unique besides the appearance of the device is the cartomizer, and the draw activated feature.
A cartomizer combines the atomizer and flavor cartridge into one piece.
At the time, a cartomizer was an innovative feature since it simplified vaping from a three-piece setup (flavor cartridge, atomizer, and battery) to a two-piece setup (cartomizer and battery).
With no buttons to press, the cig-a-like is a simple device with a short learning curve.
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF CIG-A-LIKE?
There are two different kinds of Cig-a-likes:
- Disposable: Pre-filled e-liquid;
- Refillable: Manually fill cartomizer with e-liquid.
For the disposable cig-a-likes, you would buy pre-filled e-liquid cartridges that usually come in packs of 5. After the cartridges are spent, you would replace and vape on!
Refillable cig-a-likes give you the option to refill with your preferred e-liquid manually. Cartridges will still need to be replaced when the wicking material gets used up. You can buy blank cartridges in packs of 5 or more.
WHAT ARE THE TYPICAL CHARACTERISTICS OF A CIG-A-LIKE?
A cig-a-like is a mouth to lung hit (MTL) device to mimic the smoking experience. What this means is that you hold the vape in your mouth before inhaling it into your lungs. Much like smoking a cigarette or how you would fill cigar smoke in your mouth to retain the flavor.
Mouth to lung devices have these common characteristics:
- Low wattage (less than 16 W and cooler vape);
- Less vapor production (less e-juice consumption);
- Tighter draw;
- Entry-level devices.
Cig-a-likes, in general, have these features:
- Holds about 1 ml of e-juice (20 drops);
- 0, 6, 12, 24 mg nicotine options;
- Polyfill material in the cartomizer;
- Rechargeable with wall charger or one piece disposable.
IS A CIG-A-LIKE A GOOD FIT FOR YOU?
- Use less e-juice;
- Fuss-free vaping device;
- Short battery life;
- Low e-juice capacity;
- Low vapor production;
- Tight airflow.
Cig-a-likes are known for its simplicity and can be a great introductory device. Most vapers have started off with a cig-a-like and transitioned into vapes with stronger performance.
For smokers, we do not recommend cig-a-likes as your first investment since there are other devices such as the vape pen and pod mods that are comparable in price and have greater value. Let’s take a look at a similar device called pod mods next.
Pod mods are the latest devices that are gaining popularity in the vaping community. Pod Mods are low wattage devices that are similar to a cig-a-like and are used with nicotine salt e-juices. Pod systems are a new and improved version of the cig-a-like, and they are the closest device on the market right now to smoking a cigarette.
The pod is referred to the cartridge and are similar to the cartomizer as we have explained above in the cig-a-like section.
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF POD MODS?
Similar to the cig-a-like, there are two different kinds of pod systems:
- Closed Pod Systems are disposable devices with pods that are pre-filled with e-liquid. Similar to coffee pods, once the pods are finished, pods are replaced and you are ready to go.
- Open Pod Systems are filled manually by buying your choice of nicotine salt e-liquid bottle. The cartridges are then replaced after an average refill of 4-5 times.
Both devices are low wattage and are extremely simple to use with no buttons to press since it is draw activated.
WHAT ARE THE COMMON CHARACTERISTICS OF A POD MOD?
- Low wattage devices (Below 16 W);
- Use Nicotine Salt E-liquid (20-50 mg);
- Perfect for smokers new to vaping;
- Mouth to Lung device;
- Ultra-portable – approximately the height of a lighter.
ARE POD MODS A GOOD FIT FOR YOU?
Pod Mods are good for smokers who are new to vaping. The high nicotine strength from the nicotine salt and the user-friendliness of these devices make a smooth transition from smoking to vaping. Another benefit of these devices is that they are ultra-portable and slide into your pocket with ease.
- High nicotine strength to give smokers a similar experience to smoking;
- Ultra-portable and pocket-friendly unlike a box mod;
- Short battery life;
- Less cloud production but not necessary due to high nicotine strength.
WHAT DEVICE WORKS BEST FOR YOU?
We recommend these devices in this order:
1. Pod Mods are simple to use and are much more efficient than the cig-a-likes that were popular in the past. With a similar price investment to cig-a-likes, we would recommend vape pod mods over cig-a-likes any day.
2. Vape pens are the second best device that we recommend to new vapers. Vape pens or tube mods are simple to use, and the devices are effective in delivering nicotine satisfaction as well as flavorful clouds. A great way to get into the sub-ohming world and the overall vaping experience.
3. Vape Box Mods are not the greatest device for smokers who are new to vaping unless one is willing to learn the different settings. Either way, the device can deliver powerful clouds and flavor.