Variable Voltage vs. Variable Wattage: Which is better and why?
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    Default Variable Voltage vs. Variable Wattage: Which is better and why?

    With the introduction of the Darwin and, more recently, the Kick, Evolv has changed the face of the APV market by introducing variable wattage APV's. This has led to much confusion about whether variable voltage or variable wattage is the better technology and why.

    A long technical discussion regarding variable voltage versus variable wattage got me thinking about this subject in depth today. I feel it's time to offer an informed opinion on this matter, and explain why I believe variable wattage is the superior technology.

    Some of you may have read my post on high powered vaping. For those who haven't, or for those who aren't quite sure how a PV works, give it a read.

    So what IS high voltage vaping all about? (Everything you've wanted to know plus a bit of electronic theory)

    For the lazy, here's a quick recap of that post and the knowledge we need to take from it to understand why variable wattage is indeed the superior technology.

    Our vaping experience consists of a number of variables including the temperature of the vapor, the flavor of our juice when vaped at a particular temperature, and the amount of vapor produced. The amount of heat at the coil in our attys or cartos is what determines this vaping experience.

    In electronic terms, wattage determines the amount of heat produced at the coil of our PVs. We control the wattage produced by our PVs by changing either the resistance or voltage in the electronic circuit.

    To explain why variable wattage is better, we also need to consider what's commonly termed as user experience. Everyone is familiar with user experience whether they realize it or not. We're surrounded by it all day long. Our computers, cell phones, TV's, and gaming consoles all provide a user experience. Even something as mundane as a refrigerator provides a user experience. User experience is quite simply the overall experience you have using some sort of device.

    Evaluating a device's user experience often boils down to one question. How easy is it for a user to interact with the device and achieve the desired results? Let's take a look at VV versus VW and examine their user experiences.

    To make this examination, we'll compare two users. One who uses VV and one who uses VW. Both users prefer the same atty that is rated by the manufacturer at 3.0 ohms. For purposes of comparison, we'll also assume they use the same liquid and prefer identical vaping experiences.

    Our variable wattage user sets their device to 10.1 watts. Our variable voltage user dials their PV to 5.5v which produces the same 10.1 watts when using a 3.0 ohm atty. (The VV device actually produces 10.08 watts, but it's close enough for this comparison.) Before our little experiment begins, we measure the resistance of their attys and find them to be an exact 3.0 ohms each.

    Both of our users happily vape away on these same attys for a week and have identical experiences. The next week, we give them two new attys. They swap the old for the new, and leave their devices set to 5.5v and 10.1 watts respectively.

    Our variable wattage user continues to vape at their desired level of heat, experiencing the same vape with the new atty as they did with the old. The variable voltage user notices something different about their vape though. It seems hotter and the juice tastes "burnt".

    The VV user wonders what happened? He knows that 5.5v is his preferred setting from being in vaping bliss for the past week. What's changed this time around?

    Astute readers may have noticed that we forgot to measure the resistance of the new attys. We take measurements of both attys, and find that the VW user's atty is coming in at 3.1 ohms. When we measure the resistance of our VV user's new atty, we find it to only be 2.7 ohms.

    We do the math and find that the VV user has been vaping at 11.2 watts. A 1.1 watt difference might not seem like much, but it in actuality there is a tangible performance difference. We do some more math and find that to get back to our 10.1 watts, we need to adjust our voltage down to 5.2v. Once this adjustment is made, our VV user is back in vaping heaven getting their preferred amount of heat at the coil.

    In the end, both users were able to achieve the same vaping experience, but the path to get there was much easier for the VW user. They only needed to set the wattage once and forget about it. The VV user needed to measure the resistance of each atty, do some math, and adjust the voltage to achieve the same experience.

    If that doesn't convince you, here's a real world example of why VW provides a better user experience. I've been vaping my Darwin with the same Cisco 306 3.0 ohm atty for several weeks now. I always vape at 12.7 watts. The Darwin displays the resistance of the atty or carto on its LCD screen. Today, I happened to look at the resistance on the screen for the first time since I started using this atty. It's not a 3.0 ohm atty. It's actually a mislabeled 1.5 ohm atty.

    However, my vaping experience didn't change. I would never have known it was a mislabeled atty if I didn't look at it today. If I had a VV device set to 6.1v, which would approximately produce my desired 12.7 watts with a 3.0 ohm atty, I would have put out 24.8 watts at the coil and popped that sucker on the first button press.

    So there you have it, folks. Hope this helps those on the fence to make a decision between VV and VW.
    Last edited by BiffRocko; 06-23-2012 at 06:50 AM.
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    I agree with about 95% of what you stated. The only factor in which I differ is that variable wattage works fine if all your preferred liquids vape well at a certain setting with certain cartos/attys. I like to use some of my fruity flavored liquids at 8~ ish watts. My tobaccos, I prefer 11 watts. Mentholated liquids I like at 10. I have a root beer flavor that only tastes right at 10.5 watts, .5 watts difference in either direction makes it taste bizarre. I also use cartos/attys in three different resistances and 6 different styles, each one has it's own preferred liquid and wattage setting.

    With the Darwin, I'd be changing settings just as often as I do with any of the VV devices I own. If I used one flavor all day then it wouldn't be much of an issue. I use zero nic mostly and occasionally an 8 or 16/18mg nic liquid on occasion when my blood pressure is tanking on me. Flavors get boring after a few hours so I rotate, quite often if I'm not doing anything. If I'm out and about, I'll have two or three spare carto tanks loaded with different flavors, each has it's own preferred voltage level. Sometimes I bump up the voltage just for a little extra kick. With a Darwin, that's not too difficult to do. With a Kick, it's a tad more complicated.

    In the end, it's not the tech. It's the effect. Each person is different, so experience becomes completely subjective.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tinstar15 View Post
    I agree with about 95% of what you stated. The only factor in which I differ is that variable wattage works fine if all your preferred liquids vape well at a certain setting with certain cartos/attys. I like to use some of my fruity flavored liquids at 8~ ish watts. My tobaccos, I prefer 11 watts. Mentholated liquids I like at 10. I have a root beer flavor that only tastes right at 10.5 watts, .5 watts difference in either direction makes it taste bizarre. I also use cartos/attys in three different resistances and 6 different styles, each one has it's own preferred liquid and wattage setting.

    With the Darwin, I'd be changing settings just as often as I do with any of the VV devices I own. If I used one flavor all day then it wouldn't be much of an issue. I use zero nic mostly and occasionally an 8 or 16/18mg nic liquid on occasion when my blood pressure is tanking on me. Flavors get boring after a few hours so I rotate, quite often if I'm not doing anything. If I'm out and about, I'll have two or three spare carto tanks loaded with different flavors, each has it's own preferred voltage level. Sometimes I bump up the voltage just for a little extra kick. With a Darwin, that's not too difficult to do. With a Kick, it's a tad more complicated.

    In the end, it's not the tech. It's the effect. Each person is different, so experience becomes completely subjective.
    I was going to say something similar, but tinstar15 beat me to the punch. I too find that different watts, as with volts, perform differently for the variety of tanks & cartos I use. So it really comes down to (a) which juice, and (b) which delivery device (for me). That combination determines which voltage (and/or wattage) I prefer at the time.

    The bottom line is whatever gets you where you want to go is probably doing its job. And you do, of course, need to know where you're going. Or, at the very least, the neighborhood you wish to visit.
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    I live in the "good enough" zone. I'm a numbers person by profession, but frankly vape to replace smoking cigarettes, a low tech activity.

    I'm entirely content with vv that just has a dial to adjust voltage up or down. I'll nudge the voltage either way a couple times a day, depending on if I want a bit more or less oomph throughput the day; this is using precisely the same atty and eliquid. My devices don't display voltage, resistance, power, or the latest winning mega millions number.

    Equally I own an 18650 bottom feeder that I like at work, am quite happy with it. It looks really nice, fits the environment, and while I can't tweak the voltage the large feed bottle and high mAh battery give me a totally simple functional system, appropriate for the use. Sure it runs warmer early on, but that is a time when I tend to want more power, and the great majority of the day is spent at about 8.5 - 9.5w, a fine zone for my eliquid. No electronics to break, other than that I use a protected battery.

    I also have one tiny key ring pv. Relatively short run time, no user control, but perfect as a stealth unit.

    Net, whatever fits a situation, works for a user, is what matters. Personally, in my variable gear I like to tweak it a couple times a day, on the fly, and a kick would drive me nuts; that doesn't make it bad, just not for me.
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    I had long suspected that VW was the superior technology due to the variable being discussed.
    Don't get me wrong, the Darwin is a fine device - but I think I'll wait until the control electronics are packed into a tube mod that has user-changeable batteries...can't be long now!
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    Quote Originally Posted by tinstar15 View Post
    With the Darwin, I'd be changing settings just as often as I do with any of the VV devices I own. If I used one flavor all day then it wouldn't be much of an issue.
    This misses the point I'm making. Obviously if you prefer to vape different liquids at different temperature levels (wattages), you're going to have to make adjustments on your device. With VV, you're also going to have to measure each atty/carto that you use, do the math to find the right voltage for your desired temperature, then adjust your voltage up or down to achieve it. A VW user will not. In fact, I think you made my point even stronger. Since you vape at 4 different wattages, you have to do that math 4 times and remember new preferred voltages for each of the flavors you vape.

    In regards to the Kick though, I agree with you. For someone who uses multiple juices, it would provide a diminished user experience over any device that has external controls for adjusting wattage or voltage. That's not exactly an apples to apples comparison though. If a drop in VV device existed and we compared it to the Kick, I'd rate the Kick as the better user experience for it's ability to regulate the same output power without user adjustment and regardless of the atty/carto's resistance.

    Quote Originally Posted by Eddie.Willers View Post
    Don't get me wrong, the Darwin is a fine device - but I think I'll wait until the control electronics are packed into a tube mod that has user-changeable batteries...can't be long now!
    With the introduction of the DNA from Evolv, they are coming.
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    Quote Originally Posted by BiffRocko View Post
    This misses the point I'm making. Obviously if you prefer to vape different liquids at different temperature levels (wattages), you're going to have to make adjustments on your device. With VV, you're also going to have to measure each atty/carto that you use, do the math to find the right voltage for your desired temperature, then adjust your voltage up or down to achieve it. A VW user will not. In fact, I think you made my point even stronger. Since you vape at 4 different wattages, you have to do that math 4 times and remember new preferred voltages for each of the flavors you vape.
    Well. No. Specifically for VV devices using trim pots, I find no need at all to meter my attys or cartos before use. I do no math. I doubt anyone would feel such a need.

    It goes like this:
    Start low - vape - turn the wheel - vape - bump the wheel a tiny bit one way or the other- vape - ahhh! perfect! --- No meter and no math necessary.

    While Evolv's implementation of VW is a more complex technology than VV with a trim pot, I'm unconvinced that 'more advanced' automatically equals 'superior'. I'm certain that it is indeed excellent, but I'm also certain that I enjoy physical control and the ability to adjust without even looking at the device.
    Last edited by six; 06-24-2012 at 09:52 PM.
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    It's really the wattage that we care about, and VW lets us set that directly across hardware, where with VV you are just controlling one of the variables, the voltage, without taking into account the other variable that determines the heat, which is the resistance. So there's really no argument that fumbling around with voltages can possibly be better or even as good. You would have to continually monitor the resistance of your atties and keep a freakin calculator and notebook handy to get the same result. Moreover, resistances can even change intra-vape especially if you chain vape and that is beyond the means of VV.

    For me, by the way, it's a matter of being able to turn down the watts, not turn them up, but I want a consistant 5 watts or whatever, not just a certain amount of volts that I have to keep checking.

    Having said all that though it's not a real big deal to use VV although all other things being equal, I've no idea why people would want to use this. However things aren't equal as we know
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    The main problem with VV vs VW is that people seem to get hung up on the math. The math isn't really all that much of an issue. Technically speaking, every device is variable wattage. You have amps, watts, ohms, and volts in the equation. Changing one of the variables changes the others. If I take a fixed voltage regulated mod and add a LR atty, I changed the watts. The main thing is the FEATURES of the VW devices, not the ability to change the wattage.

    Since the Darwin is able to detect and auto adjust the voltage to maintain the same watt output, it has a neat feature that some will find desirable. Change attys or cartos and it gives you the same wattage. It's really great for people who have a stockpile of various attys or cartos in various resistances using one flavor. Using different liquids and knowing the watt range they work well at is easier to keep track of.

    IMO, as long as you have adjustment control over one or more of the variables, it's fine. Incorporating a feature like auto-adjusting voltages to maintain wattage is a great feature but it's not the be-all/end-all of features. Some people like to fiddle with stuff, some don't.

    I know what settings each of my juices like depending on what they're in. I don't need to whip out a calculator to figure out what voltage to set. If I've been using one all day and it just doesn't kick as well as it did earlier, I just notch up the volts a bit.

    At the end of all these VW/VV discussions, it still ends up not dealing with the one most inconsistent variable in anything vaping related....the human being on the vaping end of the device. Some people like one thing, some don't. Some have inexhaustible sources of funding, some are rolling pennies for ramen noodles. I like dripping on some devices, I also like tanks, dual coils, single coils, fixed voltage, variable voltage, big batteries, small batteries, wood box mods, tube mods, and even the ubiquitous eGo. I switch devices to suit my mood and situation. Same with juices. There is no one APV in my collection that I believe is the ultimate device. I also have about 8 or so different heating element/feed setups (carto tanks, attys, LR, SR etc.). No one of them is "the best", but each one has it's own charm.

    One other point. Having it change your voltages automatically is nice but, historically speaking, it will always cost more to have something done for you when compared to doing it yourself.
    Last edited by tinstar15; 06-23-2012 at 09:30 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kingcobra View Post
    So there's really no argument that fumbling around with voltages can possibly be better or even as good. You would have to continually monitor the resistance of your atties and keep a freakin calculator and notebook handy to get the same result. Moreover, resistances can even change intra-vape especially if you chain vape and that is beyond the means of VV.
    There are factors that neither method can account for. For instance, the time it takes for the coil to get to temperature - the time it takes for the coil to cool down - the thermal mass surrounding the coil (juice mostly, but also the ceramic cup and steel wool type wicking materials) and how long it takes to overcome that thermal state - the design of the atty or carto in regards to how quickly and accurately juice is fed to the coil etc etc etc. So, it's a hard sell to say the minute changes in resistance that occur while the coil heats and cools make much difference to the user experience.

    As an easy example of just one item I mentioned: Most of my 306's are still audibly hissing (still vaporizing juice) for a noticeable period of time after I release the button. It takes them just a little bit of time to cool to the point they are no longer vaporizing. That's the same with a VV mod, a mechanical mod, or my kicked rough stack.
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