Buying a TC Mod? Here Are 7 Things to Consider
It seems like just about every mod these days offers temperature controlled (TC) vaping. From the basic offerings like the DNA 40 that kicked off the trend to the feature-packed modern incarnations, TC vaping offers a way to avoid dry hits and maintain consistent performance throughout your tank. But with so many TC mods to choose from these days, how can you tell a good option from a bad one? The answer to this question could get really long, but focusing on some key features is a good way to make sure you get a capable TC mod.
The Basics: What is Temperature Controlled (TC) Vaping?
Temperature controlled (TC) vaping is just what it sounds like: you vape at a specified temperature instead of at a specified wattage. You dial in a temperature (for example, 430 °F) and then start vaping. When the temperature of your coil reaches 430 °F but you’re still holding down the fire button, the mod automatically adjusts the wattage to maintain the temperature without exceeding it.
This might not seem like anything to get excited about, but one of the key factors in getting a “dry hit” is the higher temperatures your coil reaches when there isn’t enough e-liquid in the wick. A standard variable wattage (VW) mod will just continue to fire if this happens, then as a result the coil gets hotter and you get a burnt taste. A TC mod won’t do this. With a capped temperature, your coil always stays close to the optimum temperature for vaping and you never get dry hits.
There are some downsides to TC vaping – for example, vapor production isn’t usually as good with TC devices – but its popularity is justified. Whether you’re looking for more consistent flavor or just want to be able to vape without worrying about dry hits, there are tons of advantages.
7 Things to Consider When Buying a TC Mod
1 – Which Coil Materials Can You Use?
You can’t just toss any old coil onto a TC mod and have it work perfectly. Only certain materials can be used with TC mods, so learning which ones the device you’re considering supports is essential.
TC mods don’t actually measure the temperature of your coil directly. Instead, they detect the changes in resistance when materials heat up and use that to work out the temperature, but the size of the change is different for each material. For Kanthal – the most commonly used wire for e-cigarette coils – the changes in resistance are so small it can’t be practically used for TC vaping. However, other materials like nickel (Ni200), titanium and stainless steel can be used for TC coils.
Most TC mods can support all of these materials, but it’s something worth checking carefully. If the mod only supports Ni200 coils, for example, it’s worth looking for an alternative that works with all available TC coils.
2 – What is the Temperature Range?
The simplest thing to look at when you’re buying a TC mod is the range of temperatures it offers. Most mods have a range from 300 to 600 °F (150 to 315 °C) or something similar, and this is more than enough range for most vapers. Really, you’re unlikely to need the lower or upper settings, with most vapers using settings between 400 and 500 °F (204 to 260 °C). However, if a mod only offers a limited temperature range, it’s better to consider other options.
3– Does it Have Adjustable TCR?
The “TCR” is the “temperature coefficient of resistance,” or, in other words “how much a change in temperature affects resistance.” This is the key piece of information your mod uses to turn its resistance readings into temperature readings, and there is a different TCR set for each material.
The preset TCR values will probably work well with your coil, whatever it’s made from. However, this isn’t always the case, and sometimes the performance from a TC mod can be inconsistent as a result. Some mods are also set up for one grade of stainless steel (for example SS316) but you have a coil that uses a different grade.
In both of these cases, adjusting the TCR manually can help, and many mods let you do this. You can alter how responsive TC is for yourself, so if the performance seems a little off, you may be able to correct it. You can also use one of the TCR settings to set the mod up to work with other grades of stainless steel or even tailor it to work with one of your coil builds. Most vapers won’t really need this feature, but if you’re serious about TC it’s worth considering.
4 – Can You Change the Ramp-Up Wattage?
TC devices really just fire at a specified number of watts in the same way ordinary VW mods do. The big difference is that for TC devices, the wattage takes a back seat to the temperature, and it will be adjusted as needed by your device to keep the temperature consistent. However, for the first part of your puff (the “ramp up”) the wattage you’re vaping at is just a matter of personal preference. Using a high ramp-up wattage will mean you reach your temperature more quickly and you’ll notice a dip in power as the protections kick in. A low ramp-up gives more consistent power for longer, but takes longer to reach your set temperature.
Any good TC mod will allow you to choose the ramp up wattage to suit your preferences. This is standard practice for TC mods these days, but it hasn’t always been and it’s something to check before you make a purchase. Most mods that don’t let you choose your ramp-up wattage fix you at the highest wattage the mod has to offer, and this isn’t ideal if you like a slower ramp up.
5 – Can You Lock Your Starting Resistance?
Temperature control works because resistance depends on temperature. But really the mod only detects changes in temperature based on changes in resistance. This means that knowing the resistance of the coil at room temperature is essential, because this is the baseline that the whole TC experience is based on. For this reason, good TC mods allow you to “lock” your resistance at room temperature. If your device doesn’t do this, you can end up with inconsistent or otherwise erratic behavior in TC mode.
6 – How Does the TC Perform in Practice?
Although it’s impossible to find this out on the basis of marketing materials, looking through reviews of TC mods is a good idea to get an idea of how accurate the TC is and how well it works. Some devices just seem to be a little off, and you need to use higher settings than you ordinary would to get the same sort of performance. For others, the TC is apparently accurate most of the time, but it’s inconsistent, the resistance readings fluctuate as you vape or it suffers from a whole host of other issues.
You can use some specs to get a sense of whether the TC is likely to perform well. For example, anything with a YiHi or DNA chipset will probably perform excellently, so if the mod you’re considering uses one of these chips you’re unlikely to have issues. Some devices also check the resistance tens or hundreds of times every second to ensure more accurate, responsive TC vaping. However, the most reliable thing to do to get an idea of how well the TC works is to read reviews.
7 – What Else Can the Mod Do?
TC vaping is an important feature, but you shouldn’t base your whole mod purchase on it. If you have several devices with full-featured TC modes that get good reviews, other factors can help you decide. Does one of the mods have better battery life? What’s the maximum supported wattage? Is the display clear? How easy is it to use? How portable is it? Is it sturdy enough to withstand a knock or a drop? Tons of mods support TC vaping, but not many have great batteries, consistent performance, full-featured TC, portability and a user-friendly design.
Not All Mods Are Created Equal
Sticking the word “TC” on the end of the name of your mod is a good way to generate some extra interest, but with so many TC mods on sale, you need to do more than just the basics to stand out. Even if you’re not sure if you’d ever need to do something like adjust the TCR, for example, the competition in the field makes it worth looking carefully at what you can get for your money. Full-featured TC mods don’t often cost too much more than less capable ones (and may even be cheaper), so being a little picky about what you buy could have tons of benefits for you later down the road, when you’ve realized that the adjustable TCR might be a handy little extra after all…