Temperature control (TC) is one of the most common features that you’ll see when you shop for advanced vaping devices online. In fact, you might even say that it’s just about the most common box mod feature that almost no one ever talks about. You might call TC vaping the second great innovation in the world of box mods. The first innovation was variable power delivery. Variable voltage and variable wattage gave vapers the ability to customize heat level and flavor intensity to their exact specifications, and it also helped to spawn the entire world of vape tanks. Without variable power delivery, it wouldn’t be possible for such a wide variety of tanks to exist.
TC vape mods first appeared in the mid-2010s, and the temperature control feature is still available in virtually every box mod on the market today. When temperature control vaping was first introduced, many people thought that it would eventually become the standard way in which everyone vaped. That didn’t happen, but many people do prefer temperature control over wattage-based vaping even today. Because temperature control is a feature that’s implemented in firmware, it’s become a feature that’s been carried over from one generation of vape mods to the next. That’s why virtually every vape mod has temperature control today – and that’s why it’s probably available on the vape mod that you’re using right now.
So, what is temperature control vaping, and is it something that you should consider trying? We’ll explain everything there is to know about TC vaping in this overview.
How Does Temperature Control Vaping Work?
The purpose of TC vaping is to limit the temperature of the coil in your vape tank, thus minimizing the chance of a burnt wick or dry hit. When you use temperature control mode, you define the maximum temperature that your coil should be allowed to reach. Your mod then monitors the coil temperature as you vape.
Temperature control vaping works because of an engineering principle called the temperature coefficient of resistance (TCR). As a metal or alloy increases in temperature, its electrical resistance also changes. The resistance change is always predictable, and the TCR expresses the degree to which the resistance changes in response to temperature changes. If you know the TCR of a given metal – and the change in resistance is large enough that you can measure it with inexpensive equipment – then you can estimate the current temperature of a vape coil as long as you know its starting resistance and its current resistance.
What Happens When You Put Your Mod in Temperature Control Mode?
When you put your mod in TC mode, you’ll need to configure two things: the maximum temperature that the coil will be allowed to reach and the “preheating wattage,” which basically determines how quickly the coil will reach that temperature.
In TC mode, the preheating wattage isn’t a constant factor like the wattage you select in wattage-based vaping. Instead, it’s more like a starting point because your mod will cut its power output immediately if the coil reaches the maximum temperature that you set. In that sense, temperature “control” isn’t really a matter of controlling the temperature of your atomizer coil. Instead, it’s more a matter of limiting the temperature. When the coil reaches the temperature limit, it essentially stops producing vapor.
What Equipment Do You Need for TC Vaping?
To vape in TC mode, you need two things. The first item – as you probably already guessed – is a vape mod that supports temperature control vaping. As we mentioned above, temperature control is a feature that’s implemented in firmware. Since the work necessary to program TC mode has already done, it’s easy for manufacturers to simply carry the feature forward from one generation of vape mods to the next. If you own just about any box mod that was manufactured in the past five years or so, it’s highly likely that the mod supports TC mode.
The second thing that you need is a vape tank or rebuildable atomizer with a coil made from a material that has a suitably high TCR. A coil isn’t appropriate for TC vaping if it has a low TCR because the change in resistance as the coil heats up is so small that measuring it would require very sensitive equipment.
The three most common coil materials used for TC vaping are stainless steel, titanium and nickel. Titanium and nickel coils were the first two types of coils that worked in temperature control mode, but they’re no longer common. Stainless steel is the preferred coil material for TC vaping today because it works for both wattage-based and temperature control vaping. Titanium and nickel, on the other hand, are suitable for temperature control mode only.
The other two common coil materials – kanthal and nichrome – don’t change in resistance enough to work for TC vaping. They work in wattage mode only.
Once you’ve connected a tank with a stainless-steel coil to your device, switching to temperature control mode is usually as simple as selecting that vaping mode in your mod’s menu. Next, you’ll need to enter the coil’s TCR in your mod’s configuration options, either by selecting “stainless steel” or “SS316L” as the coil type or by entering the TCR manually. There are a few types of stainless steel used for vape coils, so it’s important to get the TCR right to ensure that your mod’s temperature estimates will be accurate.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Temperature Control Vaping?
Let’s talk now about the experience of using a TC vape mod in temperature control mode. TC vaping definitely has its benefits, and there are definitely plenty of people who prefer temperature control over wattage-based vaping. If you’ve only ever vaped in wattage mode, though, you’re going to find that switching over to temperature control mode changes your experience significantly.
Here are the things you need to know about the benefits and drawbacks of temperature control vaping.
- Temperature control mode does virtually eliminate all dry hits. If you’ve ever experienced a dry hit because you tend to chain vape or because you sometimes forget to refill your tank, you know how unpleasant it can be. A dry hit happens because your vape coil needs to be completely saturated with e-liquid at all times. If it’s dry, it’ll begin to glow red and release awful fumes. If you’re using temperature control mode, though, your device will cut power before that happens. In a situation that would have resulted in a dry hit, your device will simply produce no vapor.
- If you vape at your normal wattage after enabling temperature control mode, you’ll probably find that your coil hits the temperature limit almost instantly. That’s because, if you use any modern vape tank designed for serious cloud production, it’s likely that your coil regularly reaches temperatures higher than the maximum temperature that your device will allow in temperature control mode. You will probably need to set the preheating wattage on your device to a level significantly lower than the wattage at which you usually vape.
- Given the fact that switching to temperature control will probably require you to vape at a lower wattage than you normally do, you’ll probably find that you get a significantly cooler and smoother vapor cloud when you use TC mode.
What’s the Bottom Line on Temperature Control Vaping?
Temperature control vaping was introduced during a time in which the average sub-ohm tank used a much smaller coil and produced significantly smaller vapor clouds than the coils that people use today. These days, even a very basic sub-ohm tank will come with a mesh coil that can fill a room with clouds. Just as the first temperature control devices became available, sub-ohm tanks were rapidly becoming more powerful – and the coils that produced the biggest clouds didn’t work in temperature control mode. Switching to temperature control vaping will almost invariably mean that you’ll need to reduce your expectations for flavor intensity and cloud production.
The other reason why temperature control vaping never became extremely popular is because it coincided with an increase in the use of sucralose as an e-liquid sweetener. Sucralose causes coil gunk, the dark residue that causes a coil to produce a burnt flavor. Sucralose is the most common reason why coils “burn out” quickly, but that wasn’t common knowledge when the first TC mods appeared on the market. Many people tried temperature control vaping, only to find that the TC function didn’t do anything to reduce coil gunk. They concluded that temperature control “didn’t work” and quickly abandoned it.
With all of the above being said, temperature control does still have its uses. Although it does result in reduced vapor production – and it doesn’t eliminate coil gunk – some people actually prefer a cooler and smoother vaping experience and aren’t terribly concerned about cloud production. If you sometimes experience dry hits when vaping, temperature control will help to eliminate those. TC mode is also great if you’d like your device to remind you when you’re vaping a bit too aggressively. If you’d like your vaping experience to be a bit smoother, you should definitely give temperature control a try. If you’re already using a vape tank with a stainless-steel coil, trying temperature control is as simple as enabling your mod’s TC mode.