Vaping technology has come a long way since the beginning – and when you shop for a vape starter kit today, you’re going to end up with a device that has a surprising array of impressive features. Some of those features, in fact, might be a little confusing at first glance if you don’t have a lot of vaping experience. In particular, it’s likely that your new device will offer at least a few different vaping modes.
When you first turn a vape mod on, it’ll probably start in variable wattage mode. You’ll see a number on the device’s screen. When you use your mod’s adjustment buttons, the number goes up or down – and you get more or less vapor. What do those numbers actually mean, though, and why should you need to adjust your device’s wattage in the first place? Why can’t a vape mod just configure itself for the ideal power delivery right out of the box?
Reading this article, you’re going to learn why a vape mod offers so many different configuration options. More importantly, you’re going to learn what the various vaping modes are and why you might want to use them. Let’s dig in!
Variable Wattage and Variable Voltage Mode
When you turn a vape mod on for the first time, it’ll probably start in variable wattage mode. You’ll see a number such as “50.0” on the device’s screen, which indicates that the device is automatically configuring the power delivery of the battery or batteries to reach that output wattage. Some devices also offer variable voltage mode, which is less popular because variable wattage mode gives you finer control over your vape mod’s power delivery.
So, why would a vape mod give you full control over its wattage – even if that means you could potentially select the wrong wattage and burn your coil out? The answer is that vape mods being sold in the form of full starter kits with tanks included is actually a fairly new phenomenon. In the past, vape mods were almost always sold as bare devices. People purchased their vape tanks or atomizers separately, and they expected their vape mods to work with those tanks. Since every tank has a specific wattage range in which it works best, it’s important for vape mods to offer as much flexibility as possible.
Even today, if you buy a vape mod that includes a tank, you might still like the freedom to experiment with other tanks. The variable wattage vaping mode makes it easy.
When you use your mod’s variable wattage mode, your device may also offer selectable preheating strengths such as “Soft,” “Normal” and “Hard.” The preheating strength controls how quickly the device reaches the target wattage. When you use the “Hard” setting, the coil will reach its maximum temperature almost instantly when you press your mod’s fire button. When you use the “Soft” setting, the coil temperature will ramp up slowly.
So, how can you tell what the right vaping wattage is for your vape tank? When you buy a box of coils, check the box to see the recommended operational range for those coils. The recommended wattage range is also usually etched into the side of the coil. You’ll enjoy the best possible coil life if you keep your device within that range.
Temperature Control Mode
As we mentioned above, the fact that your vape mod allows you to choose your own operational wattage means you also have the freedom to choose a power level that’s too high. If that’s the case, you may experience a situation in which your coil’s cotton wick dries out and burns. That’s one of the reasons why you might experience a burnt flavor when vaping – and trust us when we say that “dry hits” are extremely unpleasant. That’s why the temperature control vaping mode exists.
What is temperature control vaping? The short answer is that it’s a way to automatically limit the temperature of the coil in your vape tank. When you experience a dry hit while vaping, it happens because your atomizer coil’s wick is dry. If you forget to refill your tank – or if you vape at such a high wattage that all of the e-liquid in your coil’s wick immediately vaporizes – you’ll have a situation in which the heating element in your vape coil glows red and emits horrible fumes. The cotton wick will almost certainly burn, and the coil will never produce a good flavor again.
When you use the temperature control vaping mode, your vape mod automatically detects the coil’s temperature while you vape. If the temperature exceeds the level you set, the mod cuts its power to prevent a dry hit and to prevent the coil from burning out. Instead of producing a harsh dry hit, the mod will stop producing vapor at all. Temperature control mode requires an atomizer coil made from a material that’s compatible with temperature sensing. A stainless-steel coil will work in temperature control mode, but a kanthal coil will not. You can find out what type of coil you’re using by looking at the box. Many vape tanks have stainless-steel coils available.
Temperature control mode also works with nickel and titanium vape coils, but those coil materials aren’t popular because they don’t work in wattage mode. Stainless steel is the most popular coil material for temperature control vaping because it also works in wattage mode.
Wattage Curve Mode
If you have an advanced vape mod, your device may include a vaping mode with a name like “Wattage Curve” or “Power Curve.” The wattage curve mode allows you to construct a pre-set program in which your vape mod changes its power output gradually as you hold the fire button. When you enable this vaping mode, you’ll see a configuration screen that looks a bit like a graph. The x-axis of the graph represents time, and the y-axis represents your vape mod’s power level. By adjusting the graph, you can control your vape mod’s exact power output and repeat that same puff every time you vape.
So, why might you want to use your device’s wattage curve mode? The most common use for this vaping mode is to design a curve that gives the device a bit of extra power at first – triggering instant vapor production – before reducing the power gradually to prevent the coil from overheating. Having this vaping mode available makes it possible for you to make your vape mod do absolutely anything, though, and you’ll find your ideal configuration with a bit of experimentation.
As you look at the history of vape mods, one type of vaping device that used to be very popular but has since faded into obscurity is the mechanical mod. A mechanical mod is a vaping device that has no internal electronics to manage battery safety and simply sends the full available power of the battery to the atomizer coil every time you press the button. Mechanical mods were very popular during the early days of vaping because they offered significantly more power and battery life than the other types of e-cigarettes available at the time.
However, mechanical mods were also created during a time in which sub-ohm vaping didn’t exist, and vape coils drew nowhere near the amperage that they do today. If you’re going to use a vape coil that draws a current of well over 10 amps, you’d better use a vaping device with some form of safety protection – and that’s why mechanical mods are rare today.
If your vape mod has the bypass vaping mode available, what you’ll get when you use that mode is essentially the same experience as using a mechanical mod – but your device’s safety circuitry will still be active. Bypass mode skips the power regulation features of your device and outputs the battery’s full available voltage. For that reason, it’s typically only available with single-battery mods and dual-battery mods that use parallel rather than series wiring. Bypass mode doesn’t skip your mod’s safety features, though, so you still enjoy things like short circuit protection and temperature monitoring.
Smart Vaping Mode
The last vaping mode that might be available on your device is a smart mode that automatically configures the device to provide a good experience with the attached tank or atomizer. The smart vaping mode is a proprietary feature that varies from device to device, so the implementation of this mode will vary.
In some cases, a vape mod’s smart mode will cause the device to check the resistance of the attached tank and automatically suggest an appropriate wattage. From there, you can adjust the wattage until the vaping experience is exactly what you want it to be. If you remove and reconnect the tank, your device may recognize the tank and return to your previous wattage automatically.
In other cases, a vape mod’s smart mode may be even more intelligent. Some manufacturers program their vape mods with the characteristics of certain tanks. In this case, you can pair your mod with a tank made by the same manufacturer, and the mod will detect the tank automatically. From there, you can select whether you’d like the mod to configure itself for maximum flavor, battery life or vapor production.