(4) Good Starter Setups for a Beginning Vapor
My intention is to help those readers seeking advice on purchasing their first "e-cigarette" or vaporizer. I have been vaping for over five years, one of those years I worked in a vape shop. I will attempt to use my knowledge and experiences to help you get started right.
First off, avoid the cigarette-size battery devices, which we call "cigalikes". They have poor battery life, give the poorest vaping performance, and are extremely expensive for the long term.
I will give you two options to look into. Either an eGo battery setup, or a more advanced "mod" setup. Ego battery setups are probably the most used worldwide, however they have their limitations compared to the advanced personal vaporizers (mods). The prices for mods have come down to where you can get a great mod setup for the price of an eGo setup.
Novices sometimes balk at the price it costs to start vaping. I say determine how much you spent 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 setup. 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 $60 - $70 a month). You'll be saving money when you are vaping.
1. Power Source -- Ego battery or Mod/APV. (APV = Advanced Personal Vaporizer)
2. Juice Delivery Device -- often a "clearomizer" (a tank that uses factory-made heating coils).
3. Coils. A heating element that is located inside the tank. Needs to be replaced when flavors become muted or vapor production falls off. May last 1-4 weeks depending on how much you vape and the e-juice you choose.
4. E-liquid. Often called "juice". Contains nicotine of various concentrations. Often flavored to taste like tobacco, menthol, fruits, candies, deserts.
WHAT YOU WILL NEED TO PURCHASE:
- 2 ego Batteries or one APV (mod) (*mods that use removeable batteries will need at least 2 IMR or INR batteries) 18650 Battery Ratings -- Picking a Safe Battery to Vape With
- 1 ego usb Charger or a Li-Ion box battery charger for a mod that uses removeable external batteries
- USB/Wall Adaptor (ego or mod with non-removeable battery)
- Juice Delivery Device (tank)
- bottled E-LiquidEgo Battery Devices
Vision eGo Spinner, Joyetech eGo Twist, or Kanger Evod variable voltage batteries. Need two.
Ego batteries are LiPo batteries with a fire button and a connector on top to attach juice delivery devices. They are charged using an eGo USB charger.
A battery's expected time of use between charges is rated in "mAh". 100 mAh = 1 hour. 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 all day.
The number one 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 stops.
eGo battery charger and USB wall adaptor if you choose an eGo battery setup
The following Tutorial applies to either the Spinner or Twist eGo batteries:
Li-Ion box battery charger for mods that use removeable external batteries.
Mods which use removable/rechargable batteries (also called external batteries) will be a cost-saver in the long run. All batteries have an expected life expectancy of 250 - 300 charge cycles. If you choose a mod with a non-replacable internal battery, when the battery dies you will have to replace the entire device. With a mod which uses replaceable batteries and the battery dies, you simply replace a $5 - $8 battery and not the entire mod. You do have to purchase a box battery charger like in the above pic for $10 - $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
Mods or Advanced Personal Vaporizers
Or, you can start out with a more advanced, intermediate-level "mod" like the iStick that is only slightly larger than a BIC lighter.
Mods can have non-removable batteries that are charged with a USB cable, or they can use removable 18650 rechargable batteries. Some people like the convenience of using USB charging. However, if your battery dies while vaping you can't vape again until you get the chance to recharge the internal battery. If you use a mod that uses replacable batteries, you simply replace the spent battery with a charged replacement that you carry in a plastic battery case and 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.
I'll speak more on battery mods shortly...
Juice Delivery Attachments:
I recommend getting at least a couple of clearomizers. These will be screwed onto the battery device. These are easy tanks for beginners to fill and use. Some are considered disposable (used for about a week), while non-disposable clearos have a replacement wick/coil head assembly which can be replaced every 10 - 20 days to extend the life of the tank. These replacement coil heads are not intercompatible between different models or brands, so be sure to order the right replacement heads for your tank. The heating coils of the coil heads are rated in ohms (resistance) and should be available in different ohms to suit your personal preferences.
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
Kanger Evod clearomizers
The Innokin iClear 16; Aspire CE5; Kanger Evod, T3S or Protank; or a Mini Vivi Nova made by Aspire or Vision are commonly recommended clearomizers for beginners. 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 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
*All the above can be found at most online e-cigarette retailers (for example: AltSmoke, Discount Vapers, My Vapor Store, et al). You can buy these parts individually or in a starter kit. The e-liquid will need to be purchased separately from online manufacturers or vape shops.
"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.
Beginner/Intermediate Advanced Starter Setups (Mods or Advanced Personal Vaporizers)
ABOVE: iStick 30 watt battery mod with MELO clearomizer. Innokin Cool Fire 4 100 watt battery mod with iSub clearomizer. JAC Vapour Series B DNA 75 watt battery mod.
Perhaps a more advanced/intermediate battery setup, like the above iStick 20/30 watt would better suit your needs. This uses an internal non-removeable battery which can be recharged with a USB charger cord. They will offer:
- Longer battery time between charges (2 - 3 days) than an eGo battery
- Ability to vape while charging the battery (called "pass through ability")
- More powerful battery than an eGo to use attachments requiring more power (RBA's)
- May delay the desire to upgrade to a more advanced setup at a later time.
- Allows the use of super low resistance atomizers (sub-ohm)
- Built-in voltage (battery meter) and resistance (ohm reader) meters
- Variable power settings (variable voltage & wattage).
- More durable than an eGo battery, but this comes at the expense of being bulkier in size and weight, and being less pocket friendly than an eGo pen
The above iStick Pico is a popular beginner's mod which uses a single removable 18650 battery. A separate box charger will be required to charge the 18650. Removable batteries are advantageous: Should the battery drain while out of the house, you could replace it with a charged battery you keep in a battery case in your pocket or purse and therefore be able to continue vaping. If you had been using a mod with an internal nonreplacable battery, you wouldn't be able to continue vaping until recharging the battery you just drained.
Guide to Choosing a Li-ion Battery Charger
18650 Battery Safety Grades -- Picking a Safe Cell to Vape With
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
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.
Tips for Novices Seeking Tobacco/Cigarette Flavors________________________________
A Word on Vaping Technique
Smoking vs Vaping Differences
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
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'
Funny video but so true.
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