(4) Good Starter Setups for a Beginning Vapor
My intention in writing this blog is to help those readers seeking advice on purchasing their first "e-cigarette" or vaporizer. I have been vaping for seven years. One of those years I worked in a vape shop and helped hundreds of people transition from smoking to vaping. I will attempt to use my knowledge and experience to help you get started right without wasting your time and money on ineffective setups.
After reading this guide, I suggest also reading Advancing Up the Vaping Ladder to gain more knowledge of what is available on the market. Also, at any point in your reading should you come across a word or term that you don't understand, this thread will probably have the word and its explanation: Vaping Terminology.
Novices sometimes balk at the price it costs to start vaping. I counter that you need to determine how much you spend per month on cigarettes. At $5 - $10 a pack, a pack-a-day smoker spends $150 to $300 a month to smoke. With that budget in mind, you should be able to find a reasonably priced, quality vape setup for under $70. Then consider that once you have your gear or hardware, your subsequent costs per month will be only for replacement coils for your tanks and e-liquid (about $70 - $90 a month). You'll be saving money once you are vaping exclusively and no longer smoking.
Novices also balk at the size of an eGo or mod setup compared to a cigarette. The truth is, in order to match the performance of a cigarette, larger batteries (and battery devices) are necessary. Trust me, if you are serious about quitting smoking, you will have much better success with a battery larger than a cigarette. There's a good reason why Big Tobacco is only involved with the smaller cigalikes such as Blu and Vuse: they suck in performance and they are betting that unsatisfied users will go back to smoking.
Look at it from this perspective: If you do quit smoking, you will no longer be a smoker, but will be a vaper. Vaping is different than smoking, and requires a larger battery device to compete with the performance of a cigarette to be successful. Isn't it more important to be using a larger device and not be smoking, than to continue to smoke?
Vaping not only provides a less harmful way (no combustion or smoke) to satisfy your physical need for nicotine , but also replicates the "hand-to-mouth" behavior of smoking. It also satisfies the behavoral "need" to inhale and exhale a physical substance (vapor instead of smoke). This is why nicotine gum, lozenges, patches often fail because they don't address both physical and behavior needs like vaping can.
How did you start? -- Testamonials on how current vapers quit smoking with vaping.
First off, I recommend that you avoid the cigarette-size battery devices, which we call "cigalikes" in the vaping community. Most successful vapers probably started on these simply because they looked similar to a cigarette. However, they have very poor battery life, give the poorest vaping performance, and are extremely expensive to use in the long term. The vast majority of vapers who were able to stop smoking using cigalikes quickly "moved on" to an eGo or a mod. Save your time and money on a system that works much better right from the start.
Also in this category are the "pod mods" which began to show up around 2016. This category of e-cig has been gaining growing support among more advanced vapors as well as beginners. Most being a "closed system" setup, they are still quite expensive over the long term when compared to the more advanced "open systems" described below. But they are a better option than a cigalike for a beginner in my opinion.
What Are Open and Closed System E-Cigarettes?
The most simple definition is a closed system uses propietary disposable prefilled e-liquid cartridges (likely with a limited choice of flavors), while an open system allows easy access to add your favorite bottled e-liquid of your own choice.
In all honesty, some beginners desire the more "plug & play" easy and convenient closed systems, but you will pay dearly for that convenience by having to use proprietary parts and e-liquids only available from the original manufacturer. Many of these companies that sell proprietary gear can't keep their gear in stock so that its available to you when you need it. Open systems are not all that difficult to learn how to use, and are much cheaper in the long run. And if you can't find the gear you need at one place, another vendor will most certainly have it.
"cigalike" setup ("closed" system)
"pod mod" setup (mostly "closed" systems, a few are "open")
Recommended Starter Setups
I will suggest two "better" e-cig options to research and investigate. Both are "open systems".
- eGo battery setup
- more advanced "mod" setup
Ego battery setups are probably the most used worldwide, however they have their obvious limitations compared to the advanced personal vaporizers (mods). The prices for mods and their tanks have come down to where you can get an absolutely great mod setup for the price of an eGo, pod mod, or cigalike starter setup. I'll go into greater detail as this article progresses.
Ego battery setup
1. Power Source -- an eGo battery, or a Mod / APV. (APV = Advanced Personal Vaporizer) A mod will use either a non-removable internal battery or a removable external battery. I'll explain these soon.WHAT YOU WILL NEED TO PURCHASE:
2. Charger -- rechargable batteries will need to be recharged once they are spent.
3. Juice Delivery Device/Attachment -- often a "clearomizer" (a tank that uses factory-made heating coils to vaporize e-liquid).
4. Coils. Also known as "atomizers". They are the heating element that is located inside the tank that converts the liquid into vapor when power is applied from the battery. Coils do wear out and need to be replaced when flavor becomes muted or vapor production falls off. Coils should last 1-4 weeks depending on how much you vape and the type of e-juice you choose to use.
5. E-liquid. Often called "juice". Contains nicotine of various concentrations. Often flavored to taste like tobacco, menthol, fruits, candies, and deserts. Generally comes in bottles of 10, 30, 60, or 100 ml capacity.
- 2 (two) eGo Batteries
- or 1 (one) APV (mod) battery device
- (*mods that use removeable external batteries will need at least 2 IMR 18650 batteries)
- eGo Charger, or
- Li-Ion battery charger for a mod that uses removeable external batteries
- USB/Wall Adaptor or Wall Wort -- for eGo battery or mod with non-removeable internal battery. Internal battery mods have the charger built inside of them and come with a mico USB charging cord included.
- Juice Delivery Attachment/Device (tank)
- bottled E-Liquid
What is Variable Voltage/Variable Wattage?
If your oven or stove top burner had only one fixed heat or temperature setting, you'd probably become frustrated pretty quickly preparing your food. Thankfully, your oven and stove top burners have variable power knobs to allow you to adjust the power or temperature to the burners according to what and how you want to cook your food.
Most mods and many of the eGo battery devices have either variable voltage or variable wattage control buttons. (Basically they do the same thing.) This is a feature that allows you to adjust the battery current to the heating coils in your juice delivery device. In a nutshell, it allows you to adjust your vaping experience "on the fly".
For example, early in the day I may want a "cooler" or weaker vaping experience so I use a lower power setting. Later in the day I may want a "warmer" or stronger vaping experience. By pressing the "+" or "Up" button I can increase the power, or by pressing the "-" or "Down" button I can decrease the power. This is a highly desirable feature.
Also, some e-liquid flavors taste better at either a higher or lower temperature. An unsatisfactory flavor can often be improved by adjusting the wattage setting.
You won't be able to change your vape with a "fixed voltage" battery device. It has only one setting for temperature and will limit your overall satisfaction.
Some mods have a "Mode" button to switch from Wattage Mode (power) to Temperature Control (TC) Mode. I won't go into what the difference in mode means. I'll just say that beginners should start out in Wattage Mode. Once you have mastered that mode, you can learn how to use the more advanced Temp Control Mode later on should you wish to. Temp Control can only be used with specific wire coil types, so if unsure about your coils use wattage mode.
The USB port is used for up loading optional firmware updates from your computer. It is also used to charge the battery in internal battery mods.
The Fire Button is used to turn the device on or off (usually 5 rapid clicks). It is also used to fire the coil when you wish to vape. You must press and hold this button while taking a draw from your tank to inhale the vapor. Usually a typical draw is 1 - 4 seconds long.
The Display Screen will show your current power setting (watts or voltage). It may also tell you the resistance of your tank's coil in "ohms". It may indicate your battery's voltage level either in volts or a diagram of a battery with the charge level displayed. It may also warn you of any errors the electronics detect, such as "ohms too low' or "atomizer short".
The 510 Connector is where you attach your tank, or juice delivery device.
Ego Battery Devices
Vision eGo Spinner, Joyetech eGo Twist, or Kanger Evod variable voltage batteries. You will likely need two to be able to vape the entire day. While your first battery recharges, you can continue to vape with the second battery. The second battery can also act as a "backup" should the first battery bite the dust. Experienced vapers always have a backup.
Ego batteries are LiPo stick batteries with a fire button and a threaded connector on top to attach juice delivery attachments. They are charged using an eGo USB charger.
A common rule in vaping is to have "Backups for Your Backups". You can't vape if your only battery stops working, your only tank breaks, your only coil dies, or you run out of juice. Don't give yourself the excuse to buy a pack of cigarettes when your vape suddenly stops. Hence, always have a backup.
- A battery's expected time of use between charges is rated in "mAh" (MiliAmpHours).
- 100 mAh = approximately 1 hour usage.
- A 650 mAh battery can be expected to work for 6.5 hours, a 1000 mAh battery expected to last 10 hours between charges. Thus you'll need more than a single battery to be able to vape the entire waking day.
A USB wall adaptor (wall wort) and eGo battery charger are needed if you choose an eGo battery setup. This charger screws onto the top of the eGo battery where the tank normally attaches. Don't plug the charger into a computer port to charge your battery; use a dedicated eGo USB wall adaptor like the one above.
The following Tutorial applies to either the Spinner or Twist eGo batteries:Beginner/Intermediate/Advanced Starter Setups: MODS
Perhaps a more advanced/intermediate battery setup would better suit your needs than an Ego battery setup. Most will offer:
- Longer battery time between charges than an eGo battery
- More powerful battery than the eGo to be able to use juice attachments requiring more power
- May delay the desire to upgrade to a more advanced setup at a later date.
- Allows the use of super low resistance atomizers (also known as "sub-ohm").
- Built-in voltage (battery meter) and resistance (ohm reader) meters
- Variable power settings (variable voltage & wattage).
- More durable than a relatively fragile eGo battery, but this comes at the expense of being bulkier in size and weight, and possibly being a little less pocket friendly than an eGo pen.
*********Internal Battery vs External Battery Mods
Mods that have built-in internal non-removable batteries have a tiny charger inside the battery device and are charged with a micro USB cable. Some people like the convenience of using micro USB charging. It also cuts down the initial outlay of cash when getting a vaping setup. However, if your battery dies while vaping you can't vape again until you get the chance to use a wall outlet to recharge the battery, a process which can take 3 - 4 hours. That's not really "convenient".
If you use a mod that uses replaceable external batteries, you simply replace the spent battery with a charged replacement that you carry in a plastic battery case and then can continue vaping. (The plastic case prevents the batteries from shorting out should they come into contact with keys or coins that may be in your pocket or purse. That can be quite dangerous.)
Mods which use removeable external batteries will be a cost-saver for you in the long run. All batteries have an life expectancy of 250 - 300 charge cycles. If you choose a mod that uses a non-removable internal battery, when that battery ages and dies you will have to replace the entire device.
If you use a mod which uses removeable external batteries and the battery dies, you simply replace a $5 - $6 battery and not the entire mod. You do have to purchase a box battery charger like in the below pic for $20 - $50 (depending upon features), but the charger should last years. Make sure the charger you choose will charge Li-Ion batteries.
Guide to Choosing a Li-ion Battery Charger
Efest LUC V2 Li-Ion Battery Charger (~$20)
Xtar VP4 Li-Ion Battery Charger (~$40)
Mods (advanced personal vaporizors)
A quick note about AIO or "all in one" vape setups. These so-called starter setups come with a tank that is permanently attached to the battery device. In my opinion, these setups represent a disservice to beginners. What if you like the battery device, but hate the tank? Or, what if you like the tank but hate the battery device. In either scenario, the entire setup becomes unsatisfactory if you don't like both the tank and battery device. It's a wiser choice to use a tank/battery combo that can be separated to be able to use whatever tank or battery device you want.
Additionally, the battery devices with these AIO's are often not "variable power", which I've already discussed earlier.
Internal Battery (Lipo) or External Batteries (18650)? Which type is right for you?
Internal Battery Mods - the charger is built into the mod; a micro-USB charging cord is included with the mod. The internal battery can not be removed or replaced. The charging cord needs to be plugged into a USB wall adaptor (not a computer USB).
Innokin JEM/Goby (internal battery starter kit ~ $25. Sort of a glorified eGo battery in a different form factor and a few extra features. 5 variable wattage settings (10 - 13.5 watts). Rudimentary battery life indicator. May need two of these to be able to vape all day as it is only a 1000mah battery.) Lightweight and easy to carry in a pocket or purse.
Innokin Kroma mod with Zenith tank starter kit (2200 mAh internal battery; 75 watts; ~ $50) This is an extremely popular and recommended starter kit for beginners.
Aspire Zelos starter kit with Nautilus 2 tank (2500 mah internal battery; 50 watts; ~ $60)
Innnokin MVP-4 Scion (4500 mah internal battery starter kit ~ $60). Could possibly go 2 - 3 days on a single charge due to the large mAh battery. 100 watts. Wattage and Temp Control. Can vape while USB charging (known as pass through ability). Can be used as a power bank to charge your phone or i-pod.
External Battery Mods - It is recommended to have two sets of batteries available so that you can continue to vape while the other set is being charged.
Batteries for multiple battery mods should be "married", meaning they should be purchased and paired together from the beginning when they are brand new. They should be the same brand and model with identical specifications. The idea being this will allow them to remain equal in performance for their entire life.
The recommended starter kits shown below require external "high drain" IMR batteries (~ $5 - $8 each) and a Li-ion battery charger (~ $20 - $40).
Eleaf iStick Pico 75W starter kit ~$40 (single 18650 battery mod) Supports wattage and TC.
Eleaf Invoke starter kit ~$50 (dual 18650 battery mod). 220 watts. Supports wattage and Temp Control.
Vaporesso Swag starter kit ~$45 (single 18650 battery). 80 watts. Supports wattage and TC.
Geekvape Aegis starter kit ~$60 (single battery; supports multiple battery sizes with included battery adapter sled). Water, shock and dust resistant resulting in one of the more rugged and durable mods on the market. 100 watts. Wattage and TC. Supports 18650/2660/2077/21700 battery sizes.
Geekvape Aegis Legend 200 watt mod available (uses two 18650 batteries to double the time you can vape between charges) (~ $65) Waterproof and shockproof. Wattage and TC.
Geekvape Aegis Mini 80 watt mod (uses a non-removeable internal battery; takes half an hour to charge. Waterproof and shockproof. Wattage and TC.
External batteries are chosen based on the wattage setting you will be using on your mod, and the amp rating of the batteries to be able to vape at that setting for a satisfactory period of time. Use the below chart to find the best battery for the way you will be vaping:
WATTAGE PER SINGLE BATTERY on REGULATED MOD:
(Total wattage doubles using 2 batteries; Triples using 3 batteries.)
Up to 45W:
Samsung 18650 30Q, 3000 mah 15 amp CDR
Sony 18650VTC6 3000mAh 15 amp CDR
Up to 60W:
LG 18650HG2 3000mah 20 amp CDR
LG 18650HE4 2500 mah 20 amp CDR
Samsung 18650-25R, 2500 mah 20 amp CDR
Sanyo UR18650NSX, 2500 mah 20 amp CDR
Sony 18650VTC5, 2600 mah 20 amp CDR
Sony 18650VTC4, 2100 mah 23 amp CDR
Up to 75W:
LG 18650 HD4 2100 mah 25 amp CDR
LG 18650 HD2 2000 mah 25 amp CDR
Samsung 18650-24S, 2500 mah 25 amp CDR
Sony 18650VTC5A, 2500 mah 25 amp CDR
Up to 90W:
LG18650HB6 1500mah 30 amp CDR
LG18650HB2 1500mAh 30 amp CDR
LG18650HB4 1500mAh 30 amp CDR
Samsung 18650-20S 2000mah 30 amp CDR
It is highly suggested to purchase 2 batteries for a single battery mod, or 4 batteries for a dual battery mod. That way you can continue to vape while the spent battery(s) are charging. Which battery will be best for you? Please read:
18650 Battery Safety Grades -- Picking a Safe Cell to Vape With
Battery Basics for Mods: The Definative Battery Guide for Vaping
Don't forget to get a charger. Guide to Choosing a Li-ion Battery Charger
*********************************************Juice Delivery Attachments:
The juice attachment, in many ways, is more important than the battery device. The battery device simply houses the battery and powers the coils in the tank. The tank actually makes the vapor, not the battery device.
I recommend getting at least a couple of clearomizers. These will be screwed onto the top of the battery device via a standardized 510 connection. These are easy tanks for beginners to fill and use.
Having a very slim diameter, eGo batteries look best when using the more narrow clearomizers, otherwise your setup will look "top heavy". Mods can use the larger diameter clearomizers (22mm - 25mm) to take advantage of their larger fluid capacities.
Some clearomizers for eGo batteries are considered disposable (used for about a week), while the more favorable non-disposable clearos have a wick/coil head assembly which can be replaced every 10 - 20 days to extend the use of the tank. These replacement coil heads are usually not intercompatible between different models or brands, so be sure to order/purchase the correct replacement coils for your tank. The heating coils are rated in ohms (resistance) and should be available in different ohms to suit your personal preferences. The coils will have recommended wattage ranges for best performance.
Lower Ohm Coils Will:
Higher Ohm Coils Will:
- Heat The Coil Faster
- Produce More Vapor
- Drain The Battery Faster
- Use E-Juice Faster
- Produce A "Warmer" Tasting Vape
- Heat The Coil Slower
- Produce Less Vapor
- Provide A “Cooler” Tasting Vape
- Use Less E-Juice
- Prolong Battery Life
Ego Size Clearomizers
(above) Kanger Evod clearomizers for eGo battery setups
- Innokin iClear 16
- Aspire CE5
- Kanger Evod, T3S or Protank
- Mini Vivi Nova made by Aspire or Vision
- The above clearomizers are commonly recommended for eGo batteries.
- You may wish to upgrade to the better (and more expensive) Aspire Mini Nautilus or Kanger Mini Aerotank clearomizers, which feature air intake control to be able to adjust the draw and amount of vapor.
Whichever tank you choose, get two; use the second one for a backup or to use with a second flavor. You should also consider getting some replacement coil heads at this time of the particular clearomizer model that you choose (replacement coil heads are usually proprietary for the particular tank you choose).
Evod, Mini Protank, and T3S by Kanger
Iclear 16 by Aspire
CE5 and Mini Nova by Aspire
Nautilus and Mini Nautilus by Aspire
*****************************Mod Size Clearomizers
The larger clearomizers (22--25mm diameter) are designed for mods. The Nautilus, Mini Nautilus, Nautilus 2, and Zenith tanks (among others) adapt well for mods, and are commonly recommended tanks for beginners. They provide a more restrictive, "cigarette-like" mouth-to-lung (MTL) draw. The so-called sub-ohm tanks are considered to be direct-to-lung (DTL) with a looser airier draw and produce more vapor.
These larger tanks will fall into either a MTL (mouth-to-lung) or DTL (direct-to-lung) category. Take care when choosing between MTL or DTL tanks.
Original Aspire Nautilus and Mini Nautilus (MTL, bottom fill)
Aspire Nautilus 2 (MTL, top fill)
Aspire Nautilus X (MTL, top fill)
Joytech Ego One Mega V2 (MTL, top fill)
Innokin Zenith clearomizer (MTL, top fill)
Eleaf Melo (DTL, top fill, subohm coils)
Original Uwell Crown (MTL or DTL, top fill, standard and subohm coils)
My favorite tank.
My favorite tank is the Uwell Crown (original) Authentic Uwell Crown Sub Ohm Tank Clearomizer . It is a sub-ohm tank, but you don't have to sub-ohm with it. It has 1.2 ohm coils available for it . It is an easy top fill (4ml capacity). It has a ratcheted air control ring which allows wide open direct lung draws down to a tight mouth-to-lung draw. It has a wide bore mouthpiece, but you can always replace it with any inexpensive small bore mouthpiece if you desire. Great flavor, a lot of vapor.
*All the above can be found at most online e-cigarette retailers (for example: Discount Vapers, My Vapor Store, et al). You can buy the mod and tank individually or in a starter kit. The e-liquid will need to be purchased separately from online manufacturers or vape shops.
Clearomizer Troubleshooting and Tips:
"Flooding" is a common occurrence in e-cigarettes. The definition of flooding is getting juice into the air passage of the tank. This can include any point between the mouth piece and the very bottom part that connects to the battery. Each tank has holes in that air passage, where the wicks passthrough. This is required for the device to work properly. Unfortunately, this opens up the possibility for flooding. The trick with flooding, is knowing how to avoid it. I’ll explain a little more, but a few common causes for flooding a tank include: improper filling, over filling, pulling too hard when hitting the device, and the temperature can even play a role and/or damage.
"Dry" or "burnt" hits are also a common occurrence in e-cigarettes. This happens when an inadequate quantity of e-liquid reaches the coil. This can occur from using an e-liquid which is too thick for a tank, intake holes for the e-liquid being inadequate, or using a bad wick or coil. Doing "primer puffs", which is taking a puff or two without power on, may eliminate this phenomenon.
Before I get into the explanation, let me explain how an e-cig works a little more in depth. Nearly every tank has a wick that is used to absorb the juice in the tank. This wick cuts through the air passage. Typically, the wicks look like strings hanging in the tank, but some have smaller wicks located at the bottom of the tank and the ‘strings’ are not visible unless the tank is disassembled. Each wick has a piece of wire that wraps around it in a coil. When you activate the button on the battery, you send electricity through the wire. As the wire heats up, it vaporizes the juice that is in the wick.
Improper Filling: When filling your tank, you have to be careful not to get juice into the center tube of the tank. This center tube is the air passage. When you take a draw, air comes from the bottom of the tank, through the air passage and into your mouth. If you get juice into this passage way, your tank is flooded.
Over Filling: If you over fill a tank (specifically a top coil like the ones that come with the starter kits and gift boxes), the wicks can become over saturated and just like a rain cloud, they will leak into the air passage. Once this happens, you have a flooded tank.
Pulling Too Hard: As I mentioned the wicks absorb the juice in the tank. As you pull on the device, you cause a vacuum effect that pulls juice into the wicks. If you pull too hard, you can pull in more juice then the coil can vaporize. If this happens, the juice leaks into the air passage and you have a flooded tank.
Temperature: E-Juice is a viscous liquid. Which means that as it warms up, it will thin out. And in the opposite form, it will thicken when it gets cold. When it thins, it is more difficult for the wicks to hold back the thin juice. This usually causes the wicks to over saturate and, you guessed it, it will leak into the air passage and you have a flooded tank.
Damage: There are o-rings and gaskets used that can wear out with usage. If certain ones fail or get lost, leaking will occur, in turn flooding the air passage and causing you to have a flooded tank. Other than accidentally losing something, damage can occur when its carried in a purse or a pocket or by over tightening the tank to the battery. Over tightening is a very common cause of leaking due to the damage it creates.
Why does my Tank Leak and what can I do about it? | E-Cigarette Forum
Juice, or e-liquid:
For e-liquid, the typical nicotine recommendations are generally determined by how much you smoked, and are as follows:
1/2 pack per day or less = 6 mg nicotine
1 ppd = 12 mg
1 1/2 ppd = 18 mg
2 ppd = 24 mg
Should you choose to use a sub-ohm juice attachment (coil less than 1.0 ohm); drop the above recommendations by half.
Figure on consuming at least 3 - 5 ml of liquid daily. Bottles are usually 10 or 30 ml volume.
E-liquid generally has concentrated liquid nicotine, propylene glycol (Pg), vegetable glycerin (Vg) and flavoring extracts.
PG and VG are usually used together in different ratios in e-liquid. For example, a 50/50 PG/VG ratio is common. Some juice vendors offer a range of different ratios depending upon customer preference.
PG = Propylene Glycol - the "flavor carrier" of e-liquid. A secondary source of "throat hit", but not as strong as the nicotine concentration. Some people have a sensitivity or even an allergy to PG. It's very thin in consistancy.
VG = Vegetable Glycerin - the "vapor maker" of e-liquid. Used as a sweeter in many food sources, and also as a skin emollient. It's very thick in consistancy.
Sweeter (sugary) or darker flavors tend to clog coils and wicks faster. E-liquids heavy with Vg are thicker in viscosity and may not wick as well as thinner e-liquids in some tanks.
Why You Don't Need an E-Liquid that Tastes Like Cigarettes________________________________
A Word on Vaping Technique
Smoking vs Vaping Differences
Vaping Isn’t About Big Business—It’s About Us, the Vapers
Vaper's Tongue: What is it and what can be done?
The Dreaded Vaper’s Tongue: What is it, what causes it and how to cure it
Diacetyl Vape and Its Effects on Your Body. No More Confusion!
I created a picture dictionary of the more common juice delivery attachments. To gain knowledge of how these devices look and differ from one another click on the links below:
Proper Terminology: Is It a Carto? A Tank? Or What? A Primer on Common Juice Delivery Attachments
Beginner Guide to Vaping
How E-cigarettes Work
Why It's Called An 'E-Cigarette' And 'E-Smoking'
10 Research Studies to Silence the Vape Skeptics
Myths vs Facts on Vaping
208 Smok Reviews and Complaints @ Pissed Consumer
Funny video but so true.
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