Just Got Your First Vape Mod? Here Are 7 Things You Need to Know
If you’re just making the switch to vaping, feeling overwhelmed with the range of devices available and the settings on your existing device is normal. Whether you’ve been vaping for a while with a simpler device or you’re switching directly to a more complex device, at first sight, VW vape mods can be a little daunting. Which mode should you use? How do you navigate the menus? What are ohms? What is the right setting to use? What’s the best nicotine strength to use with higher-power devices? Here are 7 things you need to know to get to grips with your new vape mod.
1 – Understanding the Parts of Your Mod
The first thing you’ll notice about your mod is that it has many more parts than simpler vape pens, which usually just have a spot to connect your tank, a USB charging port and one button to operate it. Vape mods vary a lot in their exact design, but the most important design features are generally consistent across devices.
First, you should be able to spot the place to connect your tank quite easily. It’s a small circular section with threading around the side leading to a contact point. This is always on the top edge of the mod. Most mods also feature a display screen on the front of the mod or on one of the edges. This just gives you the key information about your coil, the remaining battery life, your setting and your current mode.
Then there are the buttons. The “fire” button (which you press multiple times to switch the device on and hold down to vape) is usually the biggest, and the two smaller buttons are for changing your setting. There may be an extra button solely used for switching modes, but this isn’t too common.
Finally, if you have a mod which takes batteries you buy separately, there will be a slot or panel somewhere which you remove to get access to the battery slot.
2 – What are Watts, Volts, Ohms and Amps?
Unlike vape pens, if you’re vaping with a mod, you’ll have to have a basic grasp of a few different electronics terms. This is pretty easy, though:
- Watts are a unit of power. If you vape at 30 W, you’ll be sending twice as much energy to your coil as you would vaping at 15 W. If you increase the wattage, your device will produce more vapor.
- Volts are a unit of electrical “potential.” This is a little tricky to understand, but the short version is that the more volts you send to your atomizer, the more current and power will flow. Most devices these days only let you change the voltage indirectly by adjusting the wattage.
- Ohms are a unit of electrical resistance. A higher-ohm coil has more resistance to electrical current than a lower-ohm one. So if you’re sending the same voltage to the coil, a lower resistance coil will have more current and more power going through it.
- Amps are a unit of electrical current. By ohm’s law, the current is the voltage being sent to the coil divided by the resistance of the coil. This is sometimes displayed on mod screens, but is more useful for checking you’re working within the limits of your battery than anything else.
3 – Understanding the Different Modes
Most mods these days have two or more operation modes, and you might not be sure which is right for you if you’re new to them. The standard mode is variable wattage (VW) mode, but there also may be temperature control (TC) mode and bypass mode. Here’s a quick run-down of what they are and what they’re used for:
- VW Mode: This is the most commonly-used mode for most vapers. Because of this, it’s included on pretty much any mod you’ll come across. You choose a wattage and the device adjusts the voltage going to your coil so it sends a consistent amount of power to your coil. This mode is intended to be used with kanthal, nichrome or stainless steel coils. The type of coils you have will be indicated either on the coil itself or with the instructions you get with your tank.
- TC Mode: This mode focuses on the temperature of your coil, and adjusts the wattage so the coil remains at that temperature as much as possible. The benefit of TC vaping is that you don’t get “dry hits” or a burnt taste when you’re vaping, because it prevents the high coil temperatures that cause them. This is designed to be used with nickel (Ni200), titanium (Ti) and stainless steel coils, but the support for different coils depends on the device.
- Bypass Mode: This is basically a “mechanical mod” mode, where the voltage sent to your coil depends on the remaining battery life of your device. This means you’ll be vaping at a higher power when your battery is fully-charged compared to when it’s empty. This is designed for the same coil types as VW mode.
4 – Getting Around the Menu System
Many modern vape mods have menu systems which you use to switch to a different mode or make other fine changes to your settings. How to enter the menu depends on your specific device. Usually you do this by pressing the “fire” button three times in quick succession. Then the adjustment buttons are used to navigate and the fire button is used to advance to the next sub-menu. On some devices (for example, on most Smok mods) you press the fire button to change to the next option and hold it down to make your selection.
The most common thing you’ll have to do using the menu is change the mode you’re vaping in. This is ordinarily easy to do for that reason, and will usually be indicated by a “mode” option on the menu. Then you choose either VW, TC or Bypass mode. If you select TC mode, you’ll usually have to select your coil material next, from the options supported by your mod.
In some cases, there will be a button combination you can use as a shortcut for changing modes. There may even a dedicated button for the purpose, but to find out more you’ll need to check the manual for your specific device.
5 – Making Sure You Get the Right Battery
If your mod doesn’t have a battery built-in and doesn’t come with one, you’ll need to make sure you get the right type. This means two things: getting the right size battery and getting one that you can safely use at the power you’ll be vaping at.
Battery size is thankfully quite simple. Most mods use 18650 batteries, and you can buy these at pretty much any online or brick-and-mortar vaping store. However, it’s becoming more common for other battery sizes (like 20700 or 26650) to be used in mods. These are still widely-available, but if your mod takes one of these battery sizes, you’ll need to make sure you get the right one. The battery size you need will be indicated in the manual and on the site where you bought the mod.
Battery safety is a bigger topic – and we have a post addressing it specifically here – but the short version is that batteries with a higher “maximum continuous current” rating are safer to use. If you can get a battery with a 20 to 30 A maximum continuous current, you’ll be able to run any setup your mod supports safely.
These aren’t common anymore – for just this reason – but the only time you need to be more careful is if you have an unregulated “mechanical” mod. Otherwise your mod will have a minimum allowed resistance so you won’t be able to vape with any potentially dangerous coils.
6 – What Wattage or Setting Should You Vape At?
When you’ve got everything set up and you know your way around your mod, it’s time to choose a setting and start vaping. This is a challenge for new vapers, though. What is the right wattage to vape at?
The answer depends a lot on the type of tank you’re using and the specific coil. Sub ohm tanks are the most common companion to a mod, and these use coils with less than 1 ohm of resistance. The coil will be housed in a metallic container, and there is usually a suggested wattage range printed on it. For example, a coil may say “30 W – 60 W” on the body, and this means it’s recommended to be used at between 30 and 60 W.
The best advice is to start at the low end of this recommendation and try it out. If you don’t get much vapor or flavor, try increasing the wattage in increments of 5 W. Keep doing this until the performance starts to improve. If you go too high, you might get a burnt taste. This is unpleasant and can actually damage your coil if you keep vaping at this level. This is why it’s better to start low and work your way up.
For higher-resistance coils (for example, 1.5 ohm options), the recommended wattage is usually much lower. Again, this should be indicated on the coil itself or on your tank. If it isn’t, start at around 8 W and work upwards in small increments (2 to 3 W). Continue doing this until you hit the “sweet spot” in terms of flavor and vapor. Conversely, some coils (like Clapton coils) work better with higher wattages, but these will almost always be indicated on the coil itself.
For TC settings, the temperature you vape at is really up to you. However, above 400 °F is recommended if you want to get a consistent vape. Usually you’ll get good performance at around 450 °F, but this is really up to you. Again, start low and work up until the flavor and vapor production start to work well for you. It’s easier to get the right settings in TC mode, because the performance is more consistent due to the stable temperature. Sometimes you can also adjust the wattage (called “ramp up”) in TC mode, and for that you can generally follow the advice above.
7 – Getting the Right E-Liquid
Mods generally support higher-power vaping, so the e-liquids you’ll need are a bit different to the ones you use in a vape pen. This is pretty easy, but it’s worth mentioning in case you’re brand new to vaping.
Usually, if you’re vaping at a higher power, you won’t need to vape e-liquid with as much nicotine as you would in a basic vape pen. For use in a sub ohm tank, you’re unlikely to need a nicotine level higher than 12 mg/ml. In many cases, vapers switch down to 6 mg/ml when they start vaping sub ohm. Try different options out and see what works for you. However, if you’re vaping in a mod you’re unlikely to need 18 mg/ml e-liquid.
The PG/VG ratio of your e-juice is a little more flexible when you’re using a mod. With a basic vape pen and clearomizer setup, higher-PG e-liquid is strongly recommended. With a sub ohm tank and mod, you can use pretty much any PG/VG ratio and still get great performance. From Black Note’s 50/50 PG/VG blends right up to higher-VG options, you won’t run into issues with a high-performance tank and mod.
Mods Are Simpler Than They Look
For all the apparently-complicated screens and buttons you’ll be faced with when you pick up your first mod, it’s really quite straightforward to start vaping with one of them. Provided you’re comfortable with the basics, your vaping experience will step up substantially and the learning curve is much gentler than you might imagine. If you’ve got these key points under your belt, all that’s left to do is start vaping.
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