Vaping Equipment Explained – A Beginners’ Guide to Vape Hardware
If you’re considering trying vaping for the first time or are looking to upgrade after successfully testing out a basic starter kit, this guide to vape equipment and hardware should help to explain what’s on offer and what might work best for you. It will hopefully also demystify some of the complex jargon that seems to accompany all things vape-related.
Are you feeling confused? If so, then little wonder such is the mind-boggling array of vaping devices available. You certainly have plenty of choices, but that is of little use if you don’t understand what you are looking at!
Perhaps you think that vaping could be for you, or maybe you have already dipped your toe into the water and would like to get more adventurous. Here is our beginner’s guide to vaping equipment which should help you to make your choices with confidence.
Basics of Vaping Equipment – What are Electronic Cigarettes?
E-cigarettes are hand-held devices that first became available in 2006. The majority of the early e-cigarettes were designed to resemble traditional cigarettes and were very simple affairs that allowed smokers a smooth transition from smoking to vaping. But the potential of this equipment was obvious. Many of the early adopters began to modify their own devices, and then the manufacturers started to create a more diverse offering to cater to vapers’ expectations.
These days, there is a staggering variety of different vaping devices on the market with something to suit every vaper. But the world of vaping hardware is not as complex as it might first appear, so don’t panic if you wouldn’t know a clearomizer from an atomiser. The various vape devices work in a very similar way.
There is no great mystery to electronic cigarettes in all of their forms. Vaping devices each feature a lithium battery that heats a wire coil. A wick draws e-liquid to the coil, which is then heated and vaporised, and the resulting vapour can then be inhaled.
Each device incorporates a battery that may be replaceable or integrated. There will be a portion of the complete device, which is an atomiser and this houses the heating coils, wicking material and a reservoir for the e-juice. But then things get a bit more complicated! There are several different types of vape devices, and it is important to understand how these differ in order to choose the vaping gear which best suits your needs and experience.
Most vapers start their adventure with cig-a-likes because they are easy to understand and simple to use. As the name suggests, these devices look like cigarettes and are of a similar size. There are no controls to tackle or adjustments to make. You won’t stick out like a sore thumb in a crowd of smokers with one of these, and they are so small you can tuck them away easily in your pocket.
Disposable or Rechargeable?
Cig-a-likes are available in both disposable and rechargeable forms. Disposable devices are ready to use straight out of the packet, and you vape with them until the e-liquid runs dry or the battery gives up the ghost. You then throw the e-cigarette away and start again with a new one. Disposable e-cigs are convenient, but they are an expensive way to go.
With a rechargeable e-cig, you purchase rechargeable batteries. These are small tubes with lights on the end which illuminate when you vape. You also need a charger, and you will have to choose cartridges that are compatible with the batteries. The cartridges are simple atomisers containing the coils, wick and juice. They screw onto the batteries, and you vape with them until the juice runs dry. When that happens, you simply replace the cartridge. A variety of e-liquid flavours are available.
The rechargeable batteries can be used many times, but after a few weeks or months, depending on your usage, they will need replacing. Cig-a-likes are not the cheapest way to go, and they don’t offer much scope for personalising your vaping, but they are simple, compact and convenient. They can be a great choice when you’ve only just decided to make the switch to vaping.
Moving On to Bigger Equipment
You might like to start simple, but there will come a time when you will probably wish to broaden your vaping horizons and join the ranks of advanced vapers. This will mean moving on to more complex devices. The principles are the same, but you have more scope to tailor your vaping experience. You will still need a battery and an atomiser to partner it with, but with more complex vaping equipment, you fill the tank or reservoir with juice yourself, and you have buttons and controls to tackle!
Batteries and Mods
All e-cigarettes require a battery to power them, and these are available in a variety of forms. When you move up from cig-a-likes or when you first start vaping, a simple vape pen type battery is the obvious choice. More advanced equipment is available in the shape of mods. This term is derived from modification, and so, as you can imagine, mods tend to offer you the ability to customise your vaping. Whether you use a pen type battery or a mod, you can then choose an appropriate cartomiser or clearomizer to complete your device. But more on those later.
Vape pen type batteries are complete systems that are a little larger than an e-cig battery unit, and that will feature either a replaceable or an integrated rechargeable battery. Replaceable batteries are often an additional purchase. These devices can be teamed up with a clearomizer or cartomiser of your choice. For simplicity, you can opt for a starter kit that will feature both the battery and a compatible clearomizer. Some vape pen type batteries feature variable (adjustable) voltage. The higher the voltage you use, the more heat is generated, and so the greater the vapour production and flavour, getting the most out of the e-liquid you use.
Box mods are generally rectangular in shape and are bulkier than pen-shaped batteries as they must accommodate more complex features. The mods can be powered by replaceable or integrated batteries and can be partnered with a variety of cartomisers and clearomizers. Vaping technology has advanced significantly, and these days most mods feature variable voltage (VV) and variable wattage (VW) operating modes. The maximum output varies between devices, and the mods incorporate microprocessors to maximise functionality and safety.
A VV/VW mod enables you to customise your output by setting your voltage or wattage. This gives you the flexibility to use a wide variety of clearomizers with different resistances and coils. You can control the amount of heat generated by the coils to suit your juice and vaping preference. The mods have simple controls and small LED or OLED screens that display the settings and safety warnings.
Temperature Control Mods
You might also wish to consider a temperature control device. These are the newest kids on the vaping block and basically enable you to employ what amounts to cruise control. With these devices, you set the maximum temperature that you wish your coil to reach, and the mod does the rest.
High Power Mods Box mods vary in power. If you are considering using a rebuildable atomiser or dabbling in sub-ohm vaping (see below), then a high power device is the most suitable choice. However, bear in mind that these are more appropriate for experienced vapers and are something to work towards rather than to test the water with.
Simple and somewhat rugged, mechanical mods are robust but lack the electronic circuitry required to incorporate safety features. As such, there are risks involved with using them. They are not a wise choice for beginners and must be operated with caution.
Cartomisers and Clearomizers
As briefly mentioned, your chosen mod will have to be teamed up with a compatible cartomiser or clearomizer. These are things that screw onto your mod and which contain the heating coils, wicking material and a reservoir (tank) for the e-liquid.
Cartomisers are atomisers that feature a polyfill wrapped around a heating coil together with a reservoir. The polyfill soaks up the e-liquid. Some cartomisers are housed inside a larger cylindrical tank to increase the e-liquid capacity. Cartomisers can be of the disposable or refillable variety, but the reservoirs or tanks are often difficult to clean. When you change e-liquids, you can find that the polyfill retains the flavour of the previous juice. With many cartomisers, it is difficult to monitor your e-liquid levels.
Most vapers now use clearomizers. These are cylindrical in shape and have clear plastic or glass tanks. The clear tank makes it easy to see the level of your e-liquid, which is delivered to the heating coil via a wick. Some styles have a top heating coil with a long wick, and others have a heating coil at the bottom with a short wick. The tanks vary in capacity, but most will hold a generous amount of juice. Clearomizers tend to stand the test of time and can offer excellent flavour delivery. They are available with both replaceable and rebuildable coils.
Replaceable v Rebuildable Coil
Regardless of what equipment you are using, your heating coils will eventually need replacing. How long they last will depend on your vaping style and the type of e-cigarette juice you prefer. Many clearomizers feature replaceable coil heads. These screw in and out of the device for easy replacement. This means that when your coil heads have given up the ghost, you won’t have to kiss goodbye to your tank.
Replaceable coil heads may incorporate adjustable airflow. This gives you even more control over flavour and vapour production. As you can remove the coils from the clearomizer, you can easily clean out the tank before you change flavours. Clearomizers are available with coil heads that boast a variety of resistances, including those suitable for sub-ohm vaping. You should check the details of any clearomizers that you are interested in to discover the resistance range supported by the device.
Clearomizers with replaceable coil heads are extremely versatile pieces of kit and provide the majority of vapers with the options they need. However, when you feel it’s time to dabble in customising your vaping gear, rebuildable coils will be what you need.
Rebuildable coils offer the greatest scope for customising your vaping experience and will maximise your flavour and vapour production. But you need to learn how to build the coils and must understand the properties of the different types of wire at your disposal. Building the coils requires an investment in tools and will take some time and effort.
If you are the sort of person who enjoys a little DIY, then rebuildable coils could be for you. But if convenience is king, then perhaps not. Rebuildable coils enable you to explore a variety of resistance wires and wicking materials to create a vaping device that is absolutely tailored to your requirements. However, there are dangers associated with this equipment, and so you must ensure that you know how to use it safely.
Sub-ohm vaping evolved as a way for vapers to increase power to their coils when using an unregulated device. This would have been a mechanical mod or a device that did not benefit from a variable voltage or variable wattage. Sub-ohm vaping improves vapour production and can even improve flavour. In simple terms, it is the practice of vaping using coils with a resistance of less than 1 ohm.
These days, with the advanced mods available, it is possible to achieve similar results without the need for sub-ohm coils. The latest high powered mods enable you to deliver the power you need without the risk of challenging the capacity of your equipment and coils. However, you can still indulge in sub-ohm vaping whilst using a VV/VW device.
What Vaping Device Should You Choose?
There is certainly a bewildering array of choices, and every vaper has its own taste and preferences. Your decision may be dictated by budget, convenience or how much experience you have. The vaping device that is right for you now may only be a starting point, and you can always get more adventurous as your vaping journey continues.
If you have little or no experience of vaping, then it can be better to start out with a simple device. This is certainly advisable if you are unfamiliar with the more scientific aspects of vaping, such as ohms law and joules. Anyone can get to grips with cig-a-likes in seconds, but these do lack flexibility and can be expensive. A low output, regulated mod with integrated internal batteries would be a great choice. Team this up with a clearomizer that has replaceable coils and resistance over 1.0 ohm, and you have a safe, easy to use and versatile vaporiser.
When you have acquired a little vaping experience together with some understanding of how the vaping gear works, you can progress to a more complex kit. You could try a mid-powered device, say up to 80W, and test the water by using replacement coils with resistances as low as 0.5ohm. These devices will produce enhanced flavour and more impressive vapour whilst still being relatively straightforward to use.
As you learn more about vaping equipment, you will gain a greater understanding of ohms and Joules. You will also appreciate the risks associated with rebuildable devices. If meddling with gadgets and getting to grips with the complexities of vaping is an appealing prospect, then you could explore the world of rebuildable atomisers or try using a mechanical mod. You can always move on, even if DIY isn’t for you, by investing in a higher-powered mod and a sub-ohm clearomizer.
The Choice of Hardware Is Yours
It would be possible to write a lengthy book on vaping gear, but you are probably already suffering from information overload! We cover each aspect of vaping in more detail elsewhere. Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of the available options and can make a more informed choice.
In general, the choice you make is entirely yours. Make sure to consider all the variables, such as your budget and experience, and then make a shortlist of vaping hardware that should suit you best. Once you do that, do your research on every device and decide which one is the best choice.
Although it may not seem like it, finding the best vaping hardware possible can make a massive difference, especially if you’re a beginner. If you don’t start well, you may think that vaping isn’t for you, whereas it’s the device you use that isn’t appropriate. You should also bear in mind how much nicotine you use (we’ve covered it here).
If you have any further questions after reading this guide to vaping hardware, VapeKit has all the answers you need. Navigate through our site and let us help you discover the wonderful world of vaping!