Vapers can often be classified based on their level of experience. Novice vapers may be unfamiliar with vaping gear and tend to use simple, entry-level devices such as cig-a-likes or pod vapes, which can be purchased at local retail outlets. (It’s worth noting that some high-quality cig-a-likes are available for vapers who prefer the portability and feel of these types of e-cigarettes.)
As vapers gain more experience, they may become more knowledgeable about the functions and features of their devices, as well as cost-effective options for e-liquid.
Intermediate vapers may also be familiar with common devices such as vape pens and vape mods and the basic care required to optimize their performance. As vapers continue to advance in their knowledge and skills, they may decide whether to upgrade to more advanced personal vaporizers or stick with their current gear.
If the decision is to upgrade, vapers may need to consider whether to choose a device with variable voltage/wattage capabilities or a fully mechanical mod.
Full mechanical mods
You might wonder why APVs are sometimes referred to as “mods”.
Years ago, when vaping was still in its infancy, electronic cigarettes were tiny devices that could power atomisers for only a few hours max.
A few ingenious individuals decided to “modify” flashlights, which had a considerably larger capacity, and thus, the first semi-mechanical mods were born.
They consisted of the flashlight tube with a larger battery with wires connecting the momentary switch and a 510 connector (usually from old e-cigs).
Fast forward a few years, and the full mechanical mod became one of the most popular designs.
What Is a Mech Mod?
These are metal tubes with a 510 connection and a simple switch. These mods contain no electrical components, wires or solder.
They are very simple devices, making them extremely rugged and versatile.
Additionally, they do not have any protection, which is why they are often used with rebuildable atomisers.
With mechanical mods, you can build low-resistance coils, which translates into vision-obscuring clouds. But this has to be done safely with proper knowledge of battery safety and quality batteries.
For this reason, mechanical mods should only be used by beginners with guidance from more advanced vapers.
Mechanical mod Design
Mechanical mods are made with different metals, the most common being stainless steel, brass and copper.
Stainless steel is extremely durable and requires virtually no maintenance at all. The downside is that it is less conductive compared to copper and brass.
Copper mods are the most conductive and can pack a serious punch with the right builds. However, the copper is extremely soft, so extra precautions must be taken to prevent damage to the 510 threading and the tubes.
Dropping a copper mod will cause your atomiser to rip out the 510 threading, leaving it smoother than glass.
Copper also oxidises very quickly; you will need to polish the threads daily to maintain conductivity. Brass is less conductive compared to copper but better than stainless steel. It is also harder than copper and oxidises more slowly.
Personally, I prefer stainless steel when going out, and keep my copper/brass mods at home where there is less chance of dropping it.
Why Vape With A Mech Mod?
Many people also consider mechanical mods more aesthetically pleasing than VV devices. They are elegant in their simplicity. You can’t really appreciate them unless you have both types of APVs.
Another advantage to full mechanical mods is that you can have some of the smallest setups possible using 18350 batteries; with a small atomiser, it is no larger than a person’s hand!
However, there are a few disadvantages to full mechanical mods. The fact that they are unregulated means these mods inherently come with a degree of danger.
Improperly built coils and auto-firing are common causes of battery damage that can lead to disastrous results.
Another disadvantage to these mods is that as the battery gets drained, the voltage supplied to the atomiser diminishes, resulting in decreased vapour production. A half-drained battery will not give the same quality of vapour as a battery that is freshly charged.
And finally, users must be knowledgeable in ohm’s law in order to build coils that perform well.
Advantages of Mech Mods
- These mods are heavy-duty – completely rugged and can take serious abuse from daily use. (I have accidentally dropped my Launcher V2 from the second floor – aside from a large dent, it still works; it actually damaged the concrete where it landed on)
- Little maintenance is required – keep threads and battery contacts clean, and it will work like new.
- Simple operation – screw on your atomiser, place your battery inside and press the fire button.
- It will last a long time. No electronic components to wear out means that a well-designed full mechanical mod will probably outlive the owner as long as it isn’t used as a hammer
- Good performance with the right build
- Variable Voltage mods
Variable Voltage Mods
VV mods allow vapers precise control of the power output. These mods are commonly found as tubes and box mods.
Earlier variants of VV devices allowed a limited capacity to control power levels when vaping. You are able to alter the voltage, but it is usually limited to under 15 watts.
While this performs decently, full mechanical mods can often push 100 watts with the proper batteries and the right build. For this reason, full mechanical mods have always been associated with cloud chasing.
However, the newer generation of VV devices has significantly greater capabilities and can push over 50 watts of cloud-producing power (with 100-watt developments close to completion) – making them serious contenders in the cloud-chasing department.
Related: Learn about the different types of vape available
Why Vape With A Variable Voltage Mod?
Considering that they can pump out this power using higher resistance coils (meaning longer coils with a higher surface area), they can potentially have even better vapour production than mechanical mods.
Another advantage of VV devices is that the voltage stays the same even as the battery drains.
The first hit you take when the battery is fresh off the charger is the same as when the battery is nearly drained. This consistency in vape quality is a huge selling point for me.
And finally, VV devices are inherently safer compared to mechanical mods.
They incorporate protection circuits so that they will not fire if your battery cannot handle the resistance of your atomisers. It is always nice to know you won’t have facial reconstruction every time you vape.
While they are excellent devices, VV mods do have disadvantages.
One of them is the price. They generally tend to be more expensive than mechanical mods.
Naturally, the price depends on the mod’s electrical hardware, but cheaper devices tend to wear out much more quicker than higher-end ones.
Building one yourself is a great way to experience VV mods if you aren’t too keen on spending a lot of money. For example, a DNA 30 chip costs a fraction of the price of a pre-built device using the same chip. However, you would need patience, time and skill with a soldering iron.
Another disadvantage to VV mods is that they don’t last as long as mechanical mods.
Electronic components and buttons wear out, and you will need to replace them. Some companies making VV devices have long warranties, but their products are expensive.
VV mods are also more fragile than full mechanical mods. A drop of e-liquid in the wrong place or a fall will render an expensive mod completely useless.
Advantages of Variable Voltage
- Excellent and consistent performance
- Safer than mech mods
- Fun & potentially profitable if you build your own
- Generally better for novice vapers wanting to transition to APVs
Mech vs Variable Mods: what’s the conclusion?
Before spending cash on either one, try out a friend’s devices to see if you like them, or try a cheap clone.
Whether you choose a full mechanical or VV mod will most likely depend on what suits you best.
Do you need a rugged no-nonsense mod that can run extremely low ohms? Or would you prefer a powerful device that can change the power output depending on your need? Or you can do what I did and get both.