Even though vaping has only become popular worldwide over the past decade, there are already thousands of device models available on the market today. These come in different shapes and sizes, and they cater to a wide range of experience levels, from beginners who want something simple and user-friendly to advanced vapers who can tinker directly with the device’s wiring. Let’s put some order into the chaos by looking at the four general types of mods out there:
Vape pens are the most accessible for beginners. Cylindrical in shape, they were among the first vaping devices to ever be produced. They first came in the form of cig-a-likes, which—you can tell from the name—are meant to resemble cigarettes physically. Many vapers who opt for these are transitioning smokers, but in the light of more advanced models, we recommend skipping these because they tend to be low-powered and inefficient.
Pen mods are the next step of evolution for cig-a-likes, and they’re the most popular type of mod. The main benefits are ease of use and affordability. A pen mod doesn’t have a lot of settings to get confused about, so you can jump straight into vaping even with zero experience. It’s also discreet and portable, fitting easily inside your closed hand or your pocket. As you’d expect for beginners, the downside is minimal customisation and less power and vapour production.
Pod systems are the latest innovation among vaping devices. They may be new, but they’re already garnering a lot of loyalty because of their elegant design. Think of them as one notch higher than vape pens because they remain small and affordable while offering greater power. Most vape pens churn out 180 mAH in terms of wattage, while pod systems go higher at 300 mAH. Even though they’re still not as powerful as box and mechanical mods, they compensate for lower vapour production with high nicotine strength, making for a potent vape.
What sets a pod system apart is its simplicity and compactness. It’s utterly self-contained, with a battery, e-liquid, and coil already installed inside a cartridge. You can say goodbye to carrying bulky bottles of e-liquid around and struggling with leaky tanks. One downside is that these require very specific cartridges, so you’re limited to e-liquids from pod manufacturers.
Conveniently, many pod systems can even be activated with just your breath. These are mostly geared for beginner vapers, as the experience is consistent but not really customisable.
If you’re a more slightly more experienced vaper who’s clamouring for a more customisable and powerful vape, then you’ll probably want to get a box mod. Heavier and bulkier than vape pens, they contain anywhere from one to four batteries, which allows for more battery power and a longer time in between charges. Their wattages range from 10w to over 300w, producing far more vapour than vape and pod mods. As a bonus, you won’t have to refill these as much with e-liquid because of their larger tanks.
For all their added intensity to the vaping experience, box mods may be pricier, but they aren’t that complicated to use. They have an internal circuit board installed with safety features, ensuring that the device doesn’t get overpowered. They may have advanced settings like variable voltage/wattage and temperature control, but you can view and adjust these through a digital screen, and they usually only have three buttons at most. Since beginners might still feel overwhelmed with customisation, these are best suited for intermediate and advanced vapers.
Definitely, for advanced vapers only, mechanical mods trump all in terms of power but be warned some come without built-in safety features, meaning that you could potentially injure yourself if you don’t know what you’re doing. Mecha mods have no internal components, creating heat simply by connecting an electrical circuit.
The design is straightforward, consisting only of one or more batteries inside a metallic tube or box. To customise the mod, you have to tinker directly with its parts. Mechanical mod users have to install and rebuild coils and perform maintenance regularly. This requires knowledge of battery capabilities and Ohm’s law in order to operate safely.
The flipside of this is that you can push the limits of your vaping experience. Mechanical mods are second to none when it comes to power output and strong flavour. However, you have to be very careful to avoid mod malfunctions and accidents, and these can run out of battery quickly because of strong power consumption. Many advanced vapers are up for the challenge of creating the most satisfying vape ever. Mechanical mods are also great for hardcore sub-ohm vaping since they can work even with extremely low coil resistance.
Regulated vs. Unregulated
One distinction that you’ll often see is between regulated and unregulated mods. Most mods are regulated, in the sense that they have a circuit board and smart chip. These allow for smooth customisation of the settings through buttons and an LED screen as well as a safety feature that keeps everything working properly. On the other hand, unregulated mods don’t have fancy features or safety controls, but the tradeoff is you can maximise power and play around with the wiring.
Sub-ohm vaping is characterised by huge vapour production, and mods should have specific physical characteristics to do that. Mods meant for sub-ohm vaping use coils with a low resistance of less than one or even 0.5 ohm. This way, more energy can flow through the coil without having to upgrade the battery. Mechanical mods are great for sub-ohm vaping, and many vape pens and box mods handle it well.
Variable Voltage / Wattage
The earliest vaping devices only had one consistent voltage output, but the variable voltage/wattage feature was eventually developed. With this feature, you can adjust the voltage or wattage through an LCD screen or dial. By upping the voltage you’re essentially increasing the temperature of the coil, which gives you more freedom to customise throat hit, cloud production, and flavour.
You can choose a temperature, and the mod will never go past this, no matter how long you hold the button down. This solves the problem of dry and burnt hits, increasing the consistency of your vape.
Given the sheer variety of models out there, choosing a mod isn’t a simple decision, since you have to consider your vaping experience, goals, budget, and more. Our advice for beginners is to stick with vape pens or pod systems to start with. Once you’ve got used to how things work and found your feet, you might want to start exploring the world of mechanical mods.
Choosing the right mod is generally a trial-and-error process, but as you become more familiar with vaping, you can increasingly figure out what your preferences are and step up the complexity.