Types of E-Cig Mods: How to Choose the Right Device
When websites list the different types of e-cigarettes, mods are generally grouped together as if they’re one homogenous bunch. But if you’ve been vaping for a while or even shopping around for different devices, you’ll know that it’s not quite so simple. It’s hard to look at a mechanical tube mod, a VV/VW box mod, a squonker and an all-in-one system and genuinely think they all belong in the same category. Unfortunately, this makes choosing the right device for your needs even more difficult. If you’re in the market for a mod, what type is best for your needs?
This post takes a look at the different types of e-cig mods and lists the pros and cons of each to help you choose the right one for your purposes.
What is a Mod?
Before getting onto the types of vape mods, you might be wondering what a mod is at all. The basic definition is a bigger, chunkier e-cigarette that often allows you to adjust the wattage you’re sending to your coil. While basic vape pens are slim, have a single button and “fire” at the same voltage/wattage every time, mods are generally much bigger, have multiple buttons and often a screen to show your settings, more features and the ability to adjust your experience at will. Mods may have an in-built battery but some also require you to buy one separately to use with the device.
Mods give you a lot more control over your vaping experience than simpler devices. As well as being able to choose what power you vape at – and so produce more vapor than a standard vape pen – many also include other features such as temperature control, which limits the maximum temperature your coil can reach. You can freely interchange tanks and atomizers on mods too, and any modern option will support sub ohm vaping.
In short, mods are big e-cigarettes that have tons of features and are generally preferred by long-term users.
Types of Vape Mods
VV/VW mods means “variable voltage/variable wattage mods,” and describe devices that let you choose how much power is going to your coil. Most have the industry-standard 510 threading, which means they’re compatible with the vast majority of tanks and atomizers on the market. You control the variable wattage function on most VV/VW mods using two adjustment buttons, one to increase the setting and one to decrease it. Once you have chosen your setting, they have a “fire” button that you press to vape. They tend to have screens so you can see your setting and access menus and/or additional features, such as temperature control vaping.
These devices are often called “regulated” mods because they have internal circuitry to control this variable power function, as well as to set safety limits so you can vape with confidence. For example, regulated mods limit the minimum resistance of the coils you use so you can’t try to draw too much current from your battery.
In fact, this is a very broad category of e-cig mods, including both box mods and some tube mods, but they are listed separately to differentiate them from unregulated or “mechanical” mods.
- Control over power setting.
- Additional features including TC vaping.
- Safety features.
- Generally affordable.
- Compatible with most tanks.
- Low minimum resistances.
- Lots of styles: VV/VW mods are a broad category that include both tube and box mods.
- A little more complicated for new vapers than some types of mod.
- Some don’t offer a lot of features while others have loads.
- Require separate tanks: Other types of mod like all-in-one systems or pod mods come with tank systems or equivalent parts built-in.
Mechanical mods are “unregulated” devices and work completely differently to VV/VW devices. They don’t have internal circuitry, don’t come with in-built batteries and don’t allow you to choose your setting freely. The simplest mechanical mods are basically tubes that have space for a battery and somewhere to connect your tank. The button is usually found on the bottom of these devices, and you use it to push the battery up to the tank connection, complete the circuit and start vaping. When you vape, the power you get depends on the charge left in your battery: as the battery life reduces, you’ll get less vapor and a less powerful hit.
There are no screens, extra buttons or additional features on a mechanical mod, including safety features. This means if you use an unsuitable battery or a low-resistance coil, there is nothing to check that you’re going to be vaping safely: you need to know Ohm’s law and work it out for yourself. Mechanical mods will fire any coil – no matter how low in resistance – and don’t have safety features to prevent you from firing the coil accidentally. Some mech mods – with a “hybrid” connection – can only safely fire specific types of atomizer, and this doesn’t include most sub ohm tanks.
The good news is that mechanical mods are often works of art. With intricate engraving and unique, limited-edition designs being very common, they really are beautiful pieces of design. This often raises the price, but makes a mech mod collection much more impressive than a VV/VW mod collection. They also come as tube mods and box mods, although tubes are more common with mechs because of their design.
- Beautiful designs.
- Don’t impose any limits on how you vape.
- Really easy to use.
- Some options are affordable.
- Durable and simple in design.
- Most have locking rings to prevent accidental firing.
- Both tube mod and box mod types available, although tubes are more common.
- No safety features: You need to know what you’re doing if you use a mechanical mod.
- They can get very expensive.
- “Hybrid” connection mech mods only fire some atomizers.
- Your power depends on how much charge is left in your battery, and is generally less than that offered by modern VV/VW devices.
- No useful extra features like temperature control.
A box mod is a type of vape mod defined by its shape rather than how it functions. As the name suggests, these are boxy in design, and they range from being quite compact to very chunky and large. Most box mods can also be classed as VV/VW mods, but you can find mechanical box mods too. Similarly, many box mods come with in-built batteries but others require one, two or more batteries that you purchase separately.
VV/VW box mods are the most commonly-found type of e-cig mod on the market, and for good reason. They often have substantial battery life, can put out a lot of power, are durable, generally portable and come with loads of useful features for both safety and general operation. If you like the design but want something simpler to use, you can choose a mechanical box mod, but most VV/VW versions aren’t too complicated and offer everything a vaper could realistically need.
- Usually affordable: Some devices are more expensive but most don’t cost much at all.
- Generally great battery life.
- VV/VW box mods tend to have tons of features.
- High power output.
- The best big mods for portability.
- Some can be a little uncomfortable to hold.
- Some have a bit of a learning curve to use all of their features.
Tube mods are the main alternative to box mods, and as the name suggests, they’re tube-shaped. This means they’re often long rather than fat, and while this makes them less convenient to transport, they are generally comfortable to hold and use. Like box mods, a tube mod is a type of vape mod defined by its shape more so than it’s function. You can have VV/VW tube mods and mechanical tube mods, although most mechanical mods are tube mods.
The big benefit of tube mods is that most are really easy to use. Mechanical tube mods are as simple as any mechanical mod – since they have a fire button and nothing else – but these days, even regulated tube mods are quite stripped-down and easy to use. Most put out a consistent wattage, although others may have a fixed set of options (e.g. a low, medium and high setting) to strike a balance between flexibility and simplicity, and they usually only have one button. They generally have a shorter battery life than box mods, and are less likely to have features like temperature control vaping, but they can often be used with most tanks on the market, including sub ohm tanks.
- Generally simpler than box mods, with one-button operation.
- Work with most tanks on the market.
- Both VV/VW and mech versions available, although one-voltage regulated options are common.
- Most regulated options have in-built batteries.
- Comfortable to use.
- Generally affordable.
- Usually shorter battery life than box mods.
- Most don’t have many features.
- Not as convenient to carry around.
- Less common than box mods.
All-in-one mods (AIO mods) are devices that incorporate both the battery and the atomizer into a single unit. This makes things a lot easier for new vapers, because you don’t have to buy multiple components to start vaping: you pick up one device and some e-liquid and you’re good to go. AIO devices do overlap with other types of e-cig mods – for example, they can come as box or tube mods – but they all incorporate a tank and atomizer into the body of the device. AIO box mods often have a tank inside the boxy body, whereas AIO tube mods usually have an open cavity at the top, so they look like a normal mod except you can’t remove the tank.
In any case, AIO mods are really easy to use. Tube mod types are very simple, because like most tube mods they just have one button for operation and a limited set of features. Box mod varieties are a bit more complicated, but realistically they’re still about as simple as box mods get: you may have to choose a setting or use a menu, but the main thing to do is fill the tank and start vaping. The benefit of AIO box mods are that they also include many of the features you’ll find on ordinary box mods, just in a wholly-enclosed package. AIO mods are almost always regulated devices.
- AIO mods have a tank incorporated into the body: You get everything you need to vape apart from e-juice.
- Really easy to use: No need to connect a tank or choose a suitable one, just fill up and vape.
- Can come with a huge range of features.
- Always regulated, so include plenty of safety features.
- Most support sub ohm vaping.
- Battery life varies, but can be excellent.
- Don’t give you a choice of tank: On other devices, you can upgrade, but not with AIOs.
- AIO box mods don’t have as much room for batteries, because the tank is inside the body too.
- Not as many options on the market as other types of mod.
Squonkers are a little similar to AIO mods, but with some crucial differences. Squonk mods are always box mods, and incorporate a bottle of juice into the body of the mod rather than a whole tank. Instead, the bottle of e-liquid feeds directly up to a specially-designed rebuildable atomizer, which allows vapers to push juice up onto the deck through the center pin. The squonk mod itself has a hole in the side of the body, so you can squeeze the bottle from the side and push juice up onto the deck of the atomizer.
Squonk mods are becoming more popular, but they do have some limitations. They work with a very specific type of rebuildable atomizer, so not only do you have to have one, you also have to be comfortable building your own coils. The bottles often hold a lot of e-juice (up to 10 ml) and they work like an automatic dripping system. Many squonk mods are regulated, but there are also quite a few unregulated squonkers on the market.
- Unique design makes “dripping” much easier.
- Hold a lot of juice.
- Available in both regulated and unregulated styles.
- Generally have good battery life.
- Box mod design.
- Many are really easy to use.
- Squonking setup usually offers great performance.
- Require a specific type of atomizer to use the main feature.
- Less common than ordinary box mods.
- You need to build your own coils to get the most out of them.
Pod systems are one of the next big things in the world of vaping, and they’re often called “pod mods.” However, they don’t look or work like many mods on the market and are one of the most unique types of vape mods. Instead of having a refillable tank, they have little pre-filled pods. You simply these push into an opening in the main device to vape. You usually just inhale from the tip to vape – a lot like you do with a cigarette – which makes them about as easy to use as it gets. Some also have refillable pods, but pod mods are a lot like an updated version of the early “cigalike” e-cigarettes.
The big downsides to pod mods are the limited battery life and the expense of buying new pods. You can’t use any tank with a pod mod. In fact, you usually have to buy pods from the same manufacturer who makes the battery section. In addition, the mods themselves are generally quite small. This means they’re very portable, but it also means that they don’t have fantastic battery life. They also tend to put out less vapor with each puff, and you might need higher-strength e-liquid to get a satisfying vape.
- Very easy to use – just inhale from the tip like you do with a cigarette.
- Very portable and compact.
- Pods are simple to connect.
- Stylish designs are common.
- Quite affordable.
- Short battery life.
- Less vapor production than other types of mod.
- You’ll need higher-nicotine e-juice to get a satisfying vape.
- Buying new pods can get expensive.
Choosing the Right Type of Mod for Your Needs
There are a lot of options on the market when it comes to e-cig mods, but the good news is that this means you can tailor your decision to your preferences. If you want something really simple, a regulated tube mod, all-in-one system or a pod mod are the best options. However, the only downside of this is that they generally don’t offer as many features. If something more capable and feature-packed is important to you, it’s hard to beat a VV/VW box mod. Other types of mods like squonkers or mechanical devices have more niche markets, but the basic tips in this post should have given you a good idea of the right type of device for you.
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