Atomizers, Coils and Resistances

E-Cig Vaping Basics: Atomizers, Coils and Resistances Explained

Now that we have a better grasp of Ohm’s and Watt’s laws, as well as how they relate to vaping and battery safety, let’s take a closer look the different types of atomizers, coils and the difference between above-ohm and sub-ohm vaping.

With new devices being introduced that are now offering temperature control mode as an option, it is important to differentiate between the different type of wire used in the coils themselves as well, particularly if temperature control is something you are interested in trying/using.

So, let’s get right into it, shall we?

What is an Atomizer, How Does it Work and What Does it Do?

E-Cig Vaping Basics: Atomizers, Coils and Resistances ExplainedAn atomizer is what actually vaporizes your e-liquid by heating it to the point of vaporizing the juice but never hot enough to actually combust it.

Atomizers are made with metal wire in varying thicknesses and wrapped into a coil, one end of which is attached to the positive end of the battery, the other end is attached to the negative. Most atomizers use a wicking material (usually cotton) that is threaded through the coil which is how the e-liquid is actually brought into the coil itself.

When the circuit is closed, in other words, when you are engaging the firing button, the coil will heat up to a glowing orange and will then vaporize the liquid that is soaked in the wick. Many atomizers make a slight crackling sound as the juice boils and pops while the coil is activated.

Some companies have recently started introducing “wickless” atomizers but for the time being and the purpose of this introduction, we will leave those aside, although they work very much the same way, only use another method to deliver the liquid to the coil usually gravity as most wickless coils are vertically aligned in their casing.

As mentioned earlier, atomizers are made with different metals and in varying thicknesses or “gauges”, depending on their intended usage and personal taste.

E-Cig Vaping Basics: Atomizers, Coils and Resistances ExplainedFactory made atomizers display their resistances in ohms. Anything above 1 ohm would be considered above-ohm vaping while anything under 1 would be considered sub-ohming or sub-ohm vaping.

The resistance in each coil is dependent on two factors: the thickness or gauge of the wire used as well as the number of times the wire was wound, or how many “wraps” there are in the coil.

For any new vapers or sub-ohmers, I would recommend sticking with the pre-made atomizers, at least in the beginning, as you’ll have less to consider right away.

There are those of us who actually wrap our own coils and use our own wicking material and the results can be fantastic and the performance is very often better than you can get in a factory made coil. I will admit though, atomizers have come along way recently and the differences with some of the newer factory made models on the market is really quite negligible.

Atomizer Types

There are three main types of atomizers that vapers use. They are: the pre-assembled factory made ones, RTAs, or Rebuildable Tank Atomizers and RDAs, which are Rebuildable Dripping Atomizers. The main difference between them are the fact that with both the RTA and the RDA, you would be “wrapping” your own coil.

E-Cig Vaping Basics: Atomizers, Coils and Resistances Explained

I will cover more on how to create your own coils in another post, but for now let’s keep it simple and just focus on the different options you will have in terms of wire regardless of whether you are buying pre-made or building your own.

Most coils use either Kanthal or Nichrome, Kanthal is certainly the most common. Both of these work very will in most atomizers, and are used for most applications. If you are planning to vape on a temperature control mod, and you want to vape using that feature, it is highly recommended to use only Nickel or Titanium coils.

Vaping Basics: Atomizers, Coils and Resistances Explained We could get very technical here in regards to why these metals are better suited to temperature control, but suffice it to say that both Nickel and Titanium naturally offer much less resistance than Kanthal or Nichrome and require far more “wraps” to achieve the same resistances. The temperature control coils tend to heat up very quickly and they need those extra wraps to essentially slow it down.

For your average mod or box mod, Kanthal wire is probably the most appropriate and as mentioned, is certainly the most common. As long as you aren’t planning on using temperature control, the actual metal used in the coil is much less of a concern. What you’ll really want to focus on and get to know your preference in, is the resistance, and therefore overall output you prefer.

More on Resistances…

When I first started vaping on a cigalike, coil resistance wasn’t even really on my mind and it wasn’t until I started using egos and buying atomizers that I really even knew there were options or what it all meant. My main concern was buying the one that lasted longest, which of course were always the higher resistances.

For the most part I was using resistances anywhere between 1.6 and 2 ohms. As sub-ohm vaping started to catch on, I too caught the bug, and I must say I’m loving it. I wish simple sub-ohm vapes were available when I first started vaping, it would have made quitting smoking so much easier!

As mentioned above, any coil with a resistance of less that one ohm is considered sub-ohm. If you are planning to sub-ohm vape, it is important to keep a few things in mind.

First and foremost is: Don’t use sub-ohm coils on regular “spinner” or “twist” (ego) type batteries because they weren’t designed to be used that way and could very easily overheat or worse.

Second: If you are sub-ohm vaping, make sure the battery you are using is designed for coils under 1 ohm. If you are using a regulated mod, especially one with a built in battery, make sure you only use resistances recommended by the manufacturer. Refer to your owner’s manual if you are unsure, or the company’s website.

Lastly, whether you are using a mod with built in batteries or buying your own, be familiar with Ohm’s law and the output your are achieving with your setup and ensure you are always within the recommended limits of your batteries/device.

If you haven’t already and you aren’t sure what I’m referring to in terms of Ohm’s law, or how to ascertain what the actual limits of your batteries are, please go back and read Ohm’s/Watt’s Law and Battery Safety before you purchase your next device.

Happy and safe vaping!