What are vape mods?
The word mod came about because vape enthusiasts built or modified their own electronic cigarette.
Manufacturers saw the growing popularity of these, and started bringing out mass manufactured devices.
These made the power of modified electronic cigarettes far more widely available.
Mods now come in a wide range of shapes and, for some, with a huge range of features.
Pros and Cons
Why use a vape mod?
1. They look good!
I’ve met vapers who have no idea how to use the advanced features of their mods but love the look, size and vibe of a mod.
2. More power, more vapour!
Mods typically have a much higher power range than a standard e-cig, and can be used with low resistance atomisers, meaning more vapour can be produced.
3. More Control
Advanced features offer much more control over the vaping experience. For example, some mods allow you to adjust the speed at which the coil heats up.
4. Battery life is important to you.
Mods often come with much bigger battery capacities, and typically last much longer between charges, although the exact life depends on the power level you are using it at.
Reasons to NOT use a vape mod…
1. Massive power is not important to you.
With the introduction of devices like the Halo Tank 02 and the Aspire PockeX, you can now get a decent sub ohm experience (i.e. lots of vapour) without needing a mod, and you don’t need to push your vaping experience to extremes.
2. You don’t need advanced features
Many vapers, especially those not involved in the sub-culture of vaping don’t understand or use the advanced features included with many mods.
3. You want something simple to use.
Some mods are difficult to use. If you prefer something simple, either choose one of the easier mods or stick to a simpler device such as the Aspire PockeX.
4. The Power vs Size Tradeoff
With all e-cig mods and batteries, there’s a tradeoff between power and size, and most mods are not as light and compact as simpler e-cig models. There are small mods available like the Innokin Pebble, but the battery will not last as long or offer the performance of a larger mod.
Features and Benefits
Almost every e-cig mod is loaded with tons of features, ranging from the essentials like variable wattage through to useful extras like pass-through charging right down to things not everyone will need like stealth mode. So when you’re choosing an e-cig mod, it’s helpful to learn a bit about each feature to give you an idea of what’s most important to you.
Power Range / Variable Wattage
Most mods allow you to adjust the wattage going to your atomizer, and can be classed as “variable wattage” (or VW) mods.
The range of power settings available is one of the simplest things to think about when you’re choosing a mod. Generally speaking, a wider range is better, but most vapers don’t need anything especially high in power.
For example, the Aspire NX75-Z has a maximum power setting of 75 W compared to 220 W on the Smok Alien, but most vapers won’t go beyond 75 W in most circumstances. The best advice is to think about what you’re likely to need.
If you’ve found that lower-wattage devices don’t work well for you or you want to produce big clouds, higher-power devices are better. If you just want a satisfying vape, you’re unlikely to need anything over 80 Watts or so.
Temperature control (TC) vaping allows you to set a specific temperature to vape at, rather than a specific wattage.
This helps you avoid “dry puffs” and can help you get the best flavour out of your e-liquids.
The range of temperatures available on a TC mod can vary, but the Coolfire IV TC100 from Innokin is a good example, offering a temperature range of 150 to 315 °C (300 to 600 °F).
TC vaping requires either nickel, titanium or stainless steel coils. Most modern TC mods support all of these coil materials, but this is definitely worth checking before you buy.
Ramp Up Wattage Control for TC Mode
When you use TC mode, your mod still fires at a specific wattage when you first start to vape.
On some devices, this wattage is fixed, often at the maximum wattage allowed by the mod. However, the best-performing TC mods allow you to adjust the “ramp up” (i.e. starting) wattage to suit your preferences. You can increase it for a harder hit and decrease it for a softer hit.
This is a common feature for modern TC mods, but it’s worth checking if you want finer control over your experience. For more info, see this tutorial on ramp up mode.
Most mods don’t have too many output options beyond wattage mode, temperature control mode and sometimes “bypass” mode. Some mods do offer additional options, though, with devices like the Smok Alien 220 offering different “Strength” modes for your output.
Setting the output strength to “soft” gives you a gentler start to your puff, and choosing “hard” gives you boosted power at first to offer a harder-hitting vape. While many vapers will stick to “norm” (i.e. normal) output mode, the extra options are great if you’re looking for some extra control over your experience. (And yes, it’s essentially the same as Ramp Up mode but with a different name.)
Coil Resistance Compatibility
Mods are designed to support a wide range of different tanks and atomizers. This means that a good mod should be set up to work with both lower and higher-resistance coils.
These days, support for lower resistances (particularly resistances below 1 ohm) is more important than support for higher resistances. Sub ohm tanks (and other types of atomizer like rebuildables) often use coils with 0.5 ohms of resistance or lower. The Wismec Reuleaux RX Mini is an example of a very capable mod when it comes to supporting a wide range of coils.
You can use the mod in VW mode for coils between 0.1 and 3.5 ohms, and in TC mode it works with coils between 0.05 and 1.5 ohms of resistance*.
The important thing is that regardless of mode, very low resistances are supported. Most advanced modern atomizer coils take sub ohm coils (less than 1 ohm in resistance – see our Beginner’s Guide to Sub Ohming for more info), so this mod is suitable for most vapers.
*Note: Differences like this between TC and VW mode are common, because TC coils often have lower resistances and you don’t vape at the same wattage continuously in TC mode.
When you change your tank or atomizer, chances are the resistance of the coil you’re using will change too.
Your mod needs to recognise this so that the wattage setting you have active is accurate for your current coil.
Some devices don’t do this automatically – instead, you have to press a button or choose a menu option to update the resistance. However, the best mods will detect the change in resistance and display a message onscreen asking if you’ve attached a new coil.
For these devices, all you have to do is choose “Yes” (often just “Y”) and the device will automatically detect the new coil’s resistance and make any adjustments needed.
The Smok Alien 220 works in exactly this way, for example, which makes it really easy to change your coil mid-session.
Pass Through Charging
“Pass through” charging means that you can use your mod while you’re charging the battery.
This is a really useful feature on any mod, but particularly if you only have one device. It means that you never have to go without something to vape while you’re waiting for your battery to recharge.
Using the pass through feature will mean your device takes longer to charge, though. The more you vape, the longer it will take to recharge entirely. However, in most circumstances (unless you’re vaping very heavily) the impact on charging time will be limited.
Most modern devices include this feature, with the Innokin Coolfire Pebble being one notable example.
The Battery: All About Capacity
The battery is one of the most important parts of any e-cigarette, from cigalikes to mods. And one of the most important things to think about when looking at different batteries is their “capacity.”
This basically tells you how much battery life you’ll get out of each charge, and is represented by a number followed by mAh. If you’re interested in what this all means, it’s explained in more detail in this post.
For the purpose of buying an e-cigarette – especially a mod – the main thing to remember is that bigger numbers are better.
A mod with a 3,000 mAh battery will last twice as long as one with a 1,500 mAh battery, as long as you’re vaping at the same wattage. The Coolfire IV TC100, for example, has a 3,300 mAh battery, compared to 1,300 mAh on the smaller Coolfire Pebble.
In general, you can vape for longer between charges with a bigger device.
The Battery: Removable or In-Built?
There isn’t really a “better” choice here; it’s all down to your preference.
In-built battery mods are generally simpler and many newer vapers prefer them for this reason. You just need to buy the mod, plug in the USB cable when it needs to be charged and vape as usual the rest of the time.
The battery included will be suitable for the power output of the mod, and you can compare battery capacities between mods directly.
Removable battery mods are a little more complicated to deal with, but have their own advantages too.
The biggest benefit is that you can bring a spare battery with you when you’re out of the house, and so you don’t have to worry about finding somewhere to recharge if the one you’re using runs out.
With age, batteries start to perform worse or may even stop working, and if this happens it’s much cheaper to replace the battery rather than having to get a whole new mod.
The downside to removable batteries is that you have to find a suitable option for the mod. This means making sure the battery can safely provide enough current for the mod.
For instance, the Aspire Archon needs two batteries capable of providing 20 A of current continuously to operate safely. This isn’t too hard to find, but it’s undoubtedly more work than just using a mod with an in-built battery.
Safety Features and Protections
Most e-cigarette mods are “regulated” mods. This means that they have chips that control the power output and support the other features they offer, unlike “mechanical” mods which have no such features.
One huge benefit of regulated mods is that they tend to come with a lot of in-built safety features. This makes it much easier to stay safe when you’re vaping.
For example, mods often have a low battery cutoff, so you can’t keep vaping when your battery is too low on charge. Most will prevent you from firing for more than 10 seconds continuously, to protect against accidental firing when the mod is in your pocket.
Other common safety features include short circuit protection (to protect against sudden drops in resistance) and protections against overcharging your battery.
The Aspire NX75-Z, for instance, offers an automatic cut-off for long puffs, short circuit protection, low resistance protection, overheating protection, low battery protection and overcharging protection.
Stealth Vaping Mode
This is a simple feature which essentially shuts off the screen of the mod and any other lights when you’re vaping to make it easier to “stealth vape.”
If you’re hoping to vape discreetly, this is a very useful feature to have. If you won’t need to stealth vape, this feature isn’t particularly important, but since many mods include it you may end up with it anyway!
Child Lock/Password Functionality
If you’re concerned about your kid getting his or her hands on your mod, some devices have features designed with you in mind.
Many devices can be locked, which is a handy feature on its own, but mods like the Aspire Archon take it further: offering a purpose-designed child lock feature with password protection.
This means that only you can get your mod to work again when it’s locked, and can provide some peace of mind for vapers with kids.
It’s still important to keep an eye on your device and especially your liquids when you have children, though, ideally keeping them out of reach.
Some people are put off mods because they’re often quite big and bulky. But that isn’t always the case. With devices like the Coolfire Pebble, you can find mods that are both impressively portable and still quite powerful.
There is a bit of a trade-off when it comes to size, though.
In general, bigger batteries will last longer between charges and bigger mods will be able to put out more power.
Mods like the Smok Alien 220 W are substantially bigger than options like the Pebble. But for the extra size you get much more power (220 W vs. 50 W) and space for two 18650 batteries to keep you vaping through the day.
Overall, compact size is a useful feature for a mod, but bigger devices tend to have more to offer you as a vaper. It’s usually a trade-off between portability and power, and only you can really decide which is more important for your vaping needs.
Ease of Use
Alongside the size, the apparent complexity of mods can be a bit off-putting to newer vapers.
It’s true that most mods are more complicated than basic pen-style devices. They usually have a display screen to show your settings and a couple of buttons to adjust your settings in addition to the main “fire” button.
However, beyond this there is quite a bit of variation in how easy mods are to use. For example, many devices with a temperature control mode require you to enter a menu system, select “Mode” and then choose “Temperature Control” (or a similar combination of choices) in order to switch modes.
However, something like the Ferobox 45 W TC reduces this procedure into a single button-press, thanks to the dedicated power/mode button included on the device.
With some mods, you have to enter a clunky menu system and delve into sub-menus, but with the Ferobox it’s all accomplished with a single button-press.
If you’re interested in trying a mod but have been put off by the complexity of them, it’s worth looking for devices like the Ferobox. These make ease of use a priority rather than an afterthought.
As you may expect, a mod’s brand can give you a pretty good idea of quality
Despite their apparent complexity, mods – and e-cigs overall – aren’t too complicated to make and there are a lot of companies trying to cash in with lower-quality offerings.
A lot could be said on this topic, but the simple advice is to stick with more well-known brands with a solid reputation.
Innokin is a great example. The Coolfire IV TC100 is an excellent mod, but coming from a company like Innokin with a long history of making high-quality devices, it’s hardly a surprise that it outperforms similar devices made by less well-known companies.
Other than this, your choice of brand does come down to personal preference and experience.
You may have tried a Smok mod before, for example, but not liked the menu system. Since many modern Smok mods have similar menus, in a case like this you may prefer Aspire or Innokin mods.
Factors like this are hard to account for without first-hand experience, but it can be helpful to read reviews of mods you’re considering.