Advanced Variable Voltage/Wattage
This article addresses the differences between variable voltage and variable wattage, and how to finesse your way through the maze. Think Resistance.
Any vaping experience entails of a number of variables, including the temperature of the clouds of vapor, the flavor of the e-liquid when vaped at a specific temperature, and the amount of vapor production. The amount of heat in the coils inside our tanks and RDA’s is what regulates the vaping experience.
When using electronic cigarette terminology, the wattage determines the amount of heat produced at the coil level in our RDA/Coil Head. Control of the wattage produced by our mods is our job, and we do that by changing either the resistance of coil or the voltage in our electronic circuit.
Which is better: Wattage or Voltage?
I believe that controlling the wattage is a better method for achieving the best vape possible. To clarify why “variable wattage” is better suited, we need to consider what we normally call the “user experience”.
Each of us is different, and each vape experience is different.
We are all familiar with the term “user experience”. Our computers, cell phones, and gaming consoles, all provide a user experience. I began using the term in the 80’s when I began coding for games. It was all about the user experience.
The User Experience
We are all familiar with the term “user experience”. The User experience is simply the experience we all have while interacting with any number of devices. Anything from an electronic cigarette, to an Apple iPhone, and Xbox One, Playstation 4, your car, your electric razor, and even this experience, right now, as you read this page, through millions of computers inter-connected with each other, and guided to your display from our server.
The user experience is all.
Weighing a device’s user experience is often explained by asking a single question:
“How easy is it for the user to interact with the device in question, and to achieve the preferred results?”
Variable Voltage versus Variable Wattage… and the User Experience
Let’s compare two different Users, two people. One will use Variable Voltage and one uses Variable Wattage. Both Users will use the same RTA. Let’s also assume the Users will use the same e-liquid and they both want identical vaping experiences.
User One will have a variable wattage device and will set the device to 10.1 watts. User Two uses variable voltage and sets the mod to 5.5v, which will produce the same 10.1 watts when using a 3.0-ohm coil in the RDA. Before the experiment begins, we measure the resistance of their coils and find them to be an exact match of 3.0 ohms each. So far so good.
Both Users begin vaping on their devices for a few days and enjoy equal experiences. Over the next few days, we give the Users two new coils to use. They change out the old for the new, and leave the devices set to 5.5v and 10.1 watts.
The User using variable wattage continues to vape at the desired level of heat, which gives the user the same experience with the new coil as he did with the old.
The User that chose variable voltage notices something different about his vape experience though. It runs hotter now and the eliquid seems to taste “scorched”.
The Variable Voltage User is confounded by this change. He knows that 5.5v is his desired setting, so what’s changed?
What changed was the fact that we did not measure the resistance of the new coils this time! We took measurements of both coils, and we find that the VW User coil is coming in at 3.1 ohms. When we measure the resistance of our VV user’s new coil we find it to only be 2.7 ohms. This happens more often than you might think.
So, we run the math and find that the Variable Voltage User was actually vaping at 11.2 watts, a 1.1 watt difference. That might not seem like a lot, but there is a noticeable performance difference.
In order to get our User back to the desired vape experience we need to adjust the voltage down to 5.2v, not the 5.5v.
At the end of the day both Users were able to attain the same vape experience, but the path getting there was easier for the Variable Wattage User. That User only needed to set the wattage once and forget about it. The Variable Voltage user needed to measure the resistance of each coil, then do some math, and then make an adjustment to the voltage in order to achieve the same vape experience.
Wattage is Better
This is a real world example of why Variable Wattage provides a better User Experience. It’s also the easiest way to explain the difference to new vapers, or to any vaper that hasn’t been able to fully grasp the differences between the two.
In my example I used RDA’s and coils to illustrate the differences, but I could have easily used today’s sub-ohm tanks.
I use my Vapor Flask DNA40 most of the time, and with it I use a Kanger Subtank. The Kanthal sub-ohm OCC’s available for the Subtank are the 0.3-ohm VDC and the 0.5-ohm OCC. By using variable wattage mode instead of variable voltage, it doesn’t matter which OCC I decide to use at any given time.
Looking at the display on the Vapor Flask I set my wattage to 31.1 watts with my Subtank equipped with the 0.5-ohm OCC, which happens to convert to voltage as 4.28v. Now, with the wattage set I could easily switch out the OCC to the 0.3-ohm and my Wattage would still be 31.1w, but the voltage reading would indicated a different voltage, because it will change according to the resistance of the coil.
Had I used Variable Voltage with the 0.5-ohm and 0.3-ohm OCC, the voltage would have needed to be adjusted to make up for the change in resistance, or my vape experiences would have been very different.
Using Variable Wattage instead of Variable Voltage allow you to change coil resistance without blowing out the coil. No matter what the resistance, the mod was set to output 31.1w when using VW mode. This is why variable wattage is by far the better way to vape.