(10) Advancing Up the Vaping Ladder with Egos and Mods
Agreed, the kiosk vendors in the mall are notorious for misrepresenting how their products compare to an analog (cigarette). Accept it as part of the learning process...at least you got your foot in the door by learning about vaping. There's a whole other world to discover once you start vaping.
E-Cigarettes or "Cig-alikes"
"cigalike" and tobacco cigarette
Many novices start out with the cig-alikes (cigarette-size batteries) and those may well get them off of the smokes. But people soon learn that the cigalike experience can be frustrating with poor battery time (only 2 - 3 hours; 200 - 350 mah), limited juice attachment options, and lacking performance in general. Pretty expensive to use for the long run. Disatisfied or otherwise frustrated, they either go back to smoking or start advancing up the vaping ladder with bigger and better gear to gain more control and more satisfaction from their vape.
Probably a good reason why Big Tobacco has only dabbled with cigalikes such as Vuse and Blu. They know that they suck and most smokers will go back to smoking again. Smart folks will do more research and discover there are much better products available, even though they don't look anything like a cigarette.
Also in this category is the relatively new Vape Pod devices. They have a battery life similar to the above cigalikes, maybe a little better. They are auto-draw like the cigalikes (you don't have to press a button to vape). 1 - 2 ml e-liquid capacity, they use a stronger nic salt concentration which decreases the frequency to vape. 200 - 400 mah battery life. Charged by a USB cord. Some use proprietary e-liquid refill cartridges which makes them pretty expensive in the long run; a few allow you to refill liquids using your own e-liquid.
I have a relative who uses one of these to stealth vape at work.
Ego Battery Devices
The intermediate step up are the eGo battery setups like above. Also called a "pen style" e-cigarette. A bigger battery = better performance. These batteries are slim and lightweight, about the size of a cigar or magic marker pen, yet still are pocket/purse friendly. These allow 6 - 12 hours use per battery charge (depending upon the length of the battery), a wider variety of juice delivery devices, a larger e-liquid capacity, and a much more satisfying vaping experience compared to a cigalike or pod. Expect 6 - 12 months battery life expectancy depending upon how heavy you use a eGo battery.
Note that Ego is a class of vaping battery (LiPo chemistry) and will require a tank (clearomizer) to vape e-liquid.
The eGo batteries are somewhat vulnerable to physical misuse. They will break apart if you put one in your back pocket and sit down. They are more likely break should they fall a few feet to the sidewalk. Most "mods" are made from aluminum or stainless steel and are bettter able to stand up to some physical misuse.
Some eGo models, like the Spinner or Twist, have variable voltage (adjustable power). Variable voltage models have definite advantages over "fixed" (single) voltage models. Variable power allows you to adjust the amount of vapor and the heat of the vapor to your preferences.
"Mods" or Advanced Personal Vaporizors (APV)
"Mods", or APV's (advanced personal vaporizers), are battery devices with even more powerful batteries and larger juice attachments than eGo's. They are available in two form factors: Tube or Box shaped. Both tube and box mods can be either regulated (electronics or microchip) or unregulated ("mechanical" with no electronics). The term "mod" originally came from modifying the common flashlight to become a battery holder to create a larger e-cigarette. This allowed vapers to use larger batteries and larger juice attachments. Now "mods" are created from scratch without using a flashlight, but the nick name has continued.
There is a larger variety of choices in this class than any other. They are the most popular class among experienced vapers. Everyone is different in what they are looking for in a vaping setup. The widest variety and potential options certainly are available in this class. There are single, double, triple, and even four battery models available. Wattages of up to 250 watts are available in four battery mods; even if you will never vape at those power levels, having 3 - 4 batteries allow you to vape up to 3 - 4 days before needing to change batteries.
Regulated mods also have built-in battery voltage/atomizer readers so that you can know the battery's voltage level and the resistance of the heating coil in the atomizer. Regulated mods have "protection circuitry", which protect against short circuits which could destroy the chip or battery, and protect against putting the battery in backwards (reverse polarity protection).
(In order left to right) Kangertech KBox, Innokin Cool Fire IV, Kangertech Nano, iPV Mini II, Joyetech eVic-VTC Mini, and eLeaf Pico regulated mods. These are other popular regulated box mods currently available on the market. Some of these use external replaceable batteries which are charged in a separate box battery charger.
APVs (advanced personal vaporizers), or mods offer more options from eGo setups by using either:
- External removeable rechargeable batteries like the below Provari.
- built-in internal rechargeable batteries like the above Innokin iTaste MVP and iSmoka iStick, which use non-removeable batteries.
An advantage to using an mod that uses removeable external batteries is the fact that when the original batteries eventually die, instead of having to replace the entire device like you would with an eGo or a regulated mod that uses a non-replaceable internal battery (iStick/MVP), you just replace the old battery with a new one. External replaceable batteries are only $6 - $12 and can have a life expectancy of 1 - 2 years. This can end up being a big money saver over the long term. A possible downside might be a one-time additional expense ($20 - $40) of buying a box battery charger to charge these external batteries. An upside is external batteries (IMR chemistry) are a safer chemistry than internal batteries (LiPo chemistry).
Above is a tube-form mod that uses replaceable rechargeable (external) batteries, called a Provari from Provape (discontinued). It was a high end regulated mod which had variable voltage, built-in battery voltage and coil resistance meters, LED display to provide information feedback (ie atomizer short), and was known for its reliability and ability to precisely sustain the set voltage from the beginning of a new battery until it needed to be replaced.
Today's modern regulated mods also all have variable wattage in addition to variable voltage or only use variable wattage. Wattage and voltage regulation are essentially the same as far as vapers are concerned.
Types of Power Output Explained:
Fixed voltage: Fixed voltage devices were the very first ecigs. They were often the first choice for beginners since they required no tinkering and little if any instructions. These devices typically use a single button or a vacuum switch that senses changes in air pressure as you draw. Cigalikes (both rechargeable and disposable), standard eGo, AIOs, and pod mod devices are all fixed voltage.
Variable Voltage (VV): Introduced in 2010 (BuzzPro and Provari), these devices were revolutionary. Using microprocessors like buck/boost converters, these mods allowed vaper to exceed or go below a battery’s output voltage, thus intensifying or mellowing the vape "on the fly". VV devices like eGo Spinners and the Provari are still widely used, but most variable wattage devices do the same, and more.
Variable Wattage (VW): First on the scene in January of 2011 with the Darwin by Evolv (and a year later with the SvoeMesto Semovar). These devices really propelled modern vaping to what it is now. In basic terms, your desired power setting can be constant if you like, even after changing the tank with a different coil resistance, something that variable voltage mods can’t do.
Temperature Control (TC): Released in 2014 by (Evolv), the originator of the variable wattage device, temperature control (TC) mods allow the user to set heat limitations to their to specific types of coils, something VV or VW can’t do. But TC mods are not their own kind of device per se, but a further development for many VW mods. TC mods are also VW mods. TC coils are made from either nickle or stainless steel.
Squonkers, or Bottom Feeder Mods
Bottom feeding box mods
Above is another class called bottom feeder mods. These have both the battery and the juice container inside the mod body. There is a window in the mod's body where you press the juice container to feed the liquid up tubing to a specialized atomizer attachment, which has a feed hole to accept the e-liquid. Surplus e-liquid delivered to the atomizer finds its way back into the feed bottle. This is like "dripping" upside down; you get the convenience of a tank with the benefits of dripping.
Tube mechanical mod
Box mechanical mod
Mechanical mods are bare-bones tube or box battery holders with no power regulation or variable power adjustments, and no built-in safety features. Current available to the atomizer is strictly what voltage the battery has available. These have recently enjoyed a resurgence in popularity because of RBAs (rebuildable atomizers). Because there is no computer to regulate voltage, mechanical mods depend solely on the battery's charge status and the resistance of the heating coil. Vape quality will gradually and progressively decline as the battery is drained during use.
- They can be very dangerous if the user is inexperienced
- They will accept any resistance atomizer even if it’s in the battery’s “red zone”
- Not ideal for the beginner
- The vape diminishes as the battery power decreases
- Zero restriction on the resistance of the coil used (no matter how unsafe the resistance)
- No electronics to break or bug out
- Can (most of the time) be fixed easily with a simple trip to the hardware storeNo instruction manual or complicated menu system to navigate
- Simplicity of design
Regulated mods use micro computer chipsets to regulate the electrical current from the battery to the atomizer so the vapor stays consistant to what is dialed in by the user. They allow for "fine tuning" the vapor to the user's personal preferences with variable voltage/variable wattage, as some vapers prefer a warmer vape while others prefer a cooler vape. In addition, some flavors are better at a lower power setting while others are better at a higher power setting. Regulated mods give you additional options to improve your vaping experience.
The voltage output from a regulated mod is not the battery voltage (like in a mechanical mod). It is converted using a combination of buck/boost and/or PWM (pulse width modulation), or pulsed DC circuitry to achieve the desired wattage to fire the atomize on top.
These processors also have built-in safety circuitry which make them a better choice for novice or intermediate vapors because of their safety features. These safety features include battery short circuit protection, timed auto-cutoff of the fire button, the ability to put the mod in standby mode for safer transporting in a pocket or purse, reversed battery protection, atomiser short circuit protection, etc.
At wattages requiring less than the battery voltage, the mod will either buck the voltage down or more often pulse the DC voltage on and off to get the desired wattage.
At wattages requiring a higher voltage than the battery voltage, the boost circuitry will boost the battery voltage up to get the desired wattage. This boost circuitry has some energy loss so it will use more watts from the battery than at a lower voltage output from the mod.
Regulated mods can be tube or box mods. The newer models are called "high wattage" regulated mods which have all the benefits of a regular regulated mod in addition to higher power capability to fire super low-resistance sub-ohm coils.
- Various protections and safeguards to protect the user
- Does most of the math for you
- Detailed instruction manuals are standard with these devices
- Ideal for beginners all the way to veterans
- Countless options (mods) to choose from
- Electronic protections can make the beginner too lax about battery safety
- Every regulated mod has restrictions on the load/resistance of coils they will accept (not every coil will work)
- Sometimes quite complicated to learn (for the advanced regulated mods)
The Pro's & Cons of Regulated vs Mechanical Mods:Regulated Pro's:
The battery power to the atomizer is controlled (regulated) to stay the same throughout the battery charge, from a fully charged battery until fully discharged.
The power can be adjusted to increase or decrease the voltage by the user, allowing the user to change their vaping experience.
Has built-in protective circuitry against atomizer short circuits, shorts in the 510 connection or fire button; accidentally putting battery in backwards; over-discharging the battery; and over-heating.
Has built-in battery voltage and atomizer resistance meters to check battery status and the ohm of the coil.
Generally speaking, may not be as well made or as durable over time; electrical components may fail over time or from physical abuse.
Unless it is a "high wattage" regulated mod, will not be able to fire sub-ohm coils.
Generally speaking, made to be more durable and withstand some physical abuse. No electronics to fail.
Able to fire sub-ohm coils because there is no protection circuitry or processor amp limits to prohibit it.
Many are machined to be quite beautiful, nearly art pieces.
No protection circuitry. This is a big one for beginners. The user must always be aware of the signs of a short circuit which could cause the battery to vent into thermal runaway. Must have ventilation holes and a hot spring in case you experience a venting battery and which may prevent your mod from becoming an exploding pipe bomb.
No voltage regulation of the battery. As the battery drains from use, the vape quality will diminish.
Some mechanical mods allow the use of a drop-in processor module often known as a "Kick". A Kick converts a mechanical mod into a regulated mod allowing for power regulation and some protection features.
If the mod that you choose uses external (replaceable rechargeable) batteries, you must choose the correct chemistry battery (IMR or INR 18650) and a Li-Ion box battery charger.
Efest LUC and Xtar VP4 Li-ion battery chargers
Battery Basics for Mods
Guide to Choosing a Li-ion Battery Charger
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