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The Total Noob Guide to Choosing a Vaping Device

It’s been years since you lit up your first butt. From a silly hobby to addiction, to be fed with it you feel that it’s time to try vaping for a change. Throw your cigs down the toilet and get the basic facts on vaping devices straight.


How to Choose a Vaping Device

The most important thing to consider at the moment of choosing a setup is where you are going to be vaping. Factors of portability, convenience and comfort have to be considered.

A box mod is more difficult to handle if on the move. A vape pen or clearomizer may feel limited for a sedentary person. An RDA would be very cumbersome to use while walking or hiking.

This guide will help you narrow down choices to your personal preference. Ultimately, once you try, you aren’t going to want to light up a single phallus of the devil anymore.


Give it a Try

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To give vaping your first try, go for a cheap disposable e-cigarette like the blu. They retail for around five dollars apiece. One of these lasts 400 puffs or around thirty cigarettes. There’s no recharging or liquid involved.



There aren’t big batteries, wires or chargers involved with this type. The grade of safety of these devices is high compared to dedicated setups.

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Disposables are the new cigalikes. They are an evolution of the cartomizer-based cigalikes of the past. While using cartomizers was similarly inexpensive, they had non-disposable parts. You can get this kind of electronic cigarettes easily since they’re everywhere.


They come with liquid from the factory. The blu disposables, for example, come in many different grades of nicotine content. From 0% to 16%.


Transition To Vaping

You are a smoker. You are sure that you want to transition to vaping definitively. In this case, it makes more sense to go for a durable setup. If you never smoked, but want to try vaping do it with 0mg nicotine liquid. The choice of vaping equipment doesn’t relate to the nicotine.



These devices require careful handling. They require batteries bought from reputable sellers and made by qualified manufacturers. On the user side, they need care too.

The best things to look for at the moment of buying a mod is to check the manufacturer’s reputation. Their certifications and social proof. Also, find out if their products are safe. Find a model you’d like to buy. When you find it, check for safety measures built into the material and logical designs. Like vents in the battery case, digital short-circuit protection and the like.


Pens and Clearomizers

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A vaping pen is a cylindrical and easily portable vaping device. They are capable of delivering vaporization in the three to five volts range. They support up to around 1000 mAh of charge. Two of these batteries are enough for a day, even if you want to vape constantly. Most batteries are charged with a USB cable or adapter that comes with the kits.

Some vape pen batteries have the by-pass function. The USB charger in by-pass capable batteries connects to the battery by micro-USB. In this way, you can vape while the battery is charging. One example of these batteries is the iTaste CLK!

A popular vape pen was the eGo C, by Joyetech. Probably the safest model of the eGo line. They had a re-fillable tank to plug in the atomizer unit. The tanks weren’t disposable but inexpensive if broken or lost.

Vape pens were superseded by clearomizers. Clearomizers are still pens, but with a tank system that is like a miniature RTA (see below). Some clearomizers use a kind of coil called BCC, for bottom changeable coil. Other types of clearomizer coils are dual coil and vertical coil.


Must Purchase

  • Atomizer head replacements: think two per month, but you can be lucky and make them last more than one month
  • Tanks and Clearomizers: in case you break or lose them
  • New set of batteries after x years


Liquids For Pens and Clearos

You can get anything from 0mg to around 30mg nicotine percentage. If you want to replace smoking you shouldn’t get any percentage below 18mg. If you feel that you don't get the cigarette experience, then get higher percentage liquid. Once you can exist without cigarettes, nicotine can be tapered out. You can buy liquid with less nicotine content to appreciate the flavors more.

You must also consider how are you going to vape. If it’s going to be once every forty-five minutes and a few drags in rapid succession, like a cigarette, get 18% or higher. If you plan to use your pen or clearomizer to vape constantly during the day, then get 16% or lower.


Regulated Mods

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When buying as a beginner, remember it has to be a regulated mod. The other kind of vaping mods are mechanical mods and squonks. They aren’t recommended for beginners.

The modality for vaping with mods is sub-ohming. This practice is geared towards enhanced flavor and cloud production.

There is a wide range of models and prices. It may seem difficult to decide which one to get. An arbitrary standard to classify them could be how many batteries they require. Once you decide you want to have a mod with, say, just two batteries the choice narrows down considerably.



Rebuildable tank atomizers are either fully rebuildable or not, but all have a tank. Fully rebuildable are tank-atomizer combos that allow changing resistance coils. The other kind comes with some kind of replaceable atomizer. This latter category is just a modest improvement. You’ll still be buying something pre-made, like atomizer heads for a vape pen.

There are replaceable, pre-made atomizers. One example is the CCELL-GD used by the Guardian tank by Vaporesso. They last for around a month. These atomizers make for a very unpleasant experience by the end of their life-cycle.



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The RDTA is more of a hybrid. It pairs the rebuildable atomizer deck of an RDA with the tank technology of RTAs. These devices are more like an RDA with the convenience of a tank. This type of RBA is not for all novices. There is a learning curve. You’ll notice it when you buy the materials. Also when you assemble the rebuildable resistances.

Basic electrical knowledge, like Ohm’s law and a few tools, are a must too.

You can buy the wire coils pre-made. Others make them themselves. What you must do is place them in the vaporizer, screw them and then wick them with cotton. That’s why I’m saying these aren’t for entry-level vapers who can buy a wholly pre-made solution like the eGo AIO Box.

If you start with an RDTA configuration, you can go RDA later using the box mod and an RDA. This isn’t possible with pre-made solutions were all the components are proprietary.

The choice of coil material depends on what kind of vaping style you want to achieve. Each has a different temperature mode and must be used only in that mode. It’s possible to get coils of materials such as kanthal that will only work on wattage (power) mode.


Must Purchase

  • Battery, if the mod doesn’t come with batteries
  • A second set of batteries and charger, if it’s not enough for a day vaping
  • Replacement plug-in atomizers for replaceable RBA
  • Atomizer ohm meter (optional), these are neat devices where you screw the atomizer and get a reading

RBA/RDA hybrid type:

  • Pliers with a cutting section: To manipulate and clip the wire coils
  • Screwdriver to fix the coils in the atomizer. The tank/atomizer kit may include one
  • Prebuilt wire coils and cotton, for the wicks.



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Once you put an RDA as vaporizer in your mod, it becomes something different. It can’t be denied that the flavor is different when you are using one of these. If you are fastidious about flavor, you must try an RDA.

You can buy a complete kit also and go straight the RDA way, without having used pens and RBAs before. All the pains of maintenance explained in the RBA/RDA hybrid apply. RDAs are for those that want to vape different flavors every day.

Dripping you can switch flavors on an hourly basis. Some flavor fanatics re-wick their atomizers daily. They do it to vape multiple flavors without tasting admixtures.


Must Purchase

  • The same things that RTA owners must buy
  • Rubber gaskets that keep the cap on the deck by pressure (replacements)


Liquids for RTA and RDA

From 0% to around 6% is standard. It’s pretty much a trial and error and relative to the setup. A consensus would be anything above 10% is overkill.


Not Recommended Devices: Squonk and Mech Mod

Unregulated Mechanical Mod

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Most of the news about vaping accidents are because of fake products. Also, negligent use or abuse of genuine products, faulty batteries and user modding. Mechanical mods are the ones to blame the most. They are a very basic device. Mech mods evolved from tinkerers who created vaporizers out of flashlights.


Unregulated Squonk

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Squonks are unregulated like mechanical mods and not recommended for beginners. Similar to box mods, they are bulkier than pens and clearomizers. They have a reservoir of liquid (squonk bottle) inside and feed the coil from below. Each time the coil runs out of liquid, a squeeze of the bottle replenishes the coil.

Not much different from the RTA/RDA hybrid type. The difference is that these dripping atomizers don’t have a tank. The drops of liquid are applied directly on the coil and the wick. The disadvantage of this kind of vaporizer is that you have to replenish the wick with liquid often.


Helpful Extras

These two extras prolong the lifetime of vaping devices

Heat Sinks

Heat sinks are a nice layer of protection for your device's 510 connector. They are similar to the heat sinks used in electronic devices like CPUs. If you plan on dry-burning your coils, a heat sink is a must.

Battery Chargers

Battery chargers will guarantee you two things. First, minimal use to non-use of the USB port of the mod, bypassing the risk of connecting it directly to the electric plug. And second, they have features to check your device's batteries, and to marry them if they have different charges.



The market for vaping devices has grown so much that choice became overwhelming. I didn’t recommend any device in particular because that would be very objective. Once you learned the basics you can get down to specifics. Do this by getting in touch with online vaping communities.

© Martin Wensley 2019