Taking The Mystery Out Of Variable Wattage

Variable Wattage Is A Major Leap For Vapers

“Variable Wattage isn’t a mysterious tech, it’s really quite simple”

First Big Lesson: If you went and got yourself a brand spanking new mod that offers both variable voltage and variable wattage the first thing you need to know is that it is a “either/or” situation. You do NOT set the wattage first and voltage second, or vice versa. You either decide to use variable voltage or variable wattage for your current vaping, not both.

The above statement is going to clear up a lot of misunderstanding about variable wattage. The e-Cigarette manufactures don’t seem to want to make it easy either, they assume you already know this little factoid or they somehow allude to it. So, once again, it is an ‘either/or’ situation.

Moving Beyond Cig-alikes…

If you are reading this and have recently come from the world of cig-alikes, all these variables, and choices must make it seem like ‘advanced vaping’ is too difficult to grasp. Compared to using a standard 3.7v mini batteries and prefilled cartomizers it can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. Using more advanced mods gives you many more options to choose from, options you didn’t have in the cig-alike ‘verse. As I discuss voltage and wattage keep in mind that these are options, not particularly things you must know. (though it is good to know about them at some point, so why not now?)

Variable Voltage – With variable voltage you will have the opportunity to use all kinds of e-Liquid delivery devices; cartomizers, clearomizers, tanks, etc., and adjust the amount of volts getting to the e-Liquid by sending higher voltages to the coils in the atomizer. Send too much and you burn out the atomizer and scorch the e-Liquid so that it tastes like crap. Send too little and the vapor is thin, cool, and the e-liquid is less flavorful. Getting it just right means maximizing all the variables in your favor.

There is a mathematical equation that you can use if you know the exact ‘ohms’ of the cartomizer/atomizer you have on your clearomizer or tank. The equation is easy enough to understand and use, and it goes like this:

Volts2 / Resistance (in ohms) = Watts

Example:  3.3v x 3.3v / 2.2ohm = ? Watts  (go ahead, solve the problem now)

Let me ask you something point blank: Do you really want to run a math equation in your head every time you put on a new clearomizer/tank on your mod? Or, better yet, do you want whip out your multi-meter and attach your battery and cartomizer to make sure that your math will come out right? Just because that box of Boge Cartomizers has 3.0-ohm printed on the box, or that spiffy new tank has a 2.1-ohm coil head in it, that doesn’t mean that those ohms level are 100% accurate. They won’t be 100%,  they will be a little off, plus or minus, all the time. If you don’t know that your math will lead you astray. But, there are ways to get to a good vape the easy way.

The “Fiddle Factor”

It has been my experience that most vapers don’t invest in a variable voltage mod in order to do the math. They like to fiddle with the settings. “Start low and work your way up” is what most vapers will tell you, and that’s a good thing to remember and practice. Fiddling with the voltage is almost half the fun of vaping a VV mod. (not really, but it sounded cool didn’t it?)

Adjusting the voltage allows you to zero in on the amount of flavor, vapor, and throat hit you want to experience. By using the same e-Liquid, and the same e-Liquid delivery device (clearomizer, tank, et al) you can, for the most part, fiddle with your Variable Voltage mod to find the sweet spot suited to your tastes and then use those same setting over and over again, as long as the parameters stay the same. Change your e-Liquid flavor, or PG/VG ratios, or even brand and you’ll need to fiddle again. Change from a Boge cartomizer to a Vivi Nova clearomizer and you’ll need to fiddle yet again.

Lastly, even if you test your cartomizer/clearomizer/tank with a multi-meter and find the correct ohms, do the math, and set your VV mod, you may not even like what should be the ideal setting. Perhaps you want to trade off vapor for more flavor, or flavor for more vapor, or max out the throat hit without regard for the other two factors. So, you see, Variable Voltage Mods are great tools, but you have to want to play around with them, a lot, to get a great vape consistently.

There is an easier way…

Variable Wattage

I’ve been using a Variable Voltage Mod for a long time, and I enjoy the fiddling around that comes with variable voltage settings. But, after reviewing the VAMO, (review) I decided that Variable Wattage was something I wanted to start using exclusively. The VAMO has both variable voltage and variable wattage. If I want to fiddle around I have the VV part to fiddle with, but if I don’t want to fiddle around I have the Variable Wattage to make use of.

Advanced Vaping Made Easy

Basically, the idea behind variable wattage is that you can set your wattage setting to suit your preferences and when you change up your e-Liquid delivery device you don’t have to fiddle with the voltage. The advanced Mod will read the resistance of your atomizer in your clearomizer or tank, and, as long as you have your mod set to Variable Wattage, it will adjust the amount of power going into the device, either up or down, to best reflect your personal vaping preferences.

Example: I’m vaping my favorite eLiquid using my advanced mod and a Vision Vivi Nova (MyVaporStore), equipped with a very nicely wrapped and very accurate atty head inside the Vivi. If I manually set my wattage to 8w the VAMO will adjust the volts to make sure I vape at what it discerns is my ideal vape. I can take it up to 9w or down to 5.2w and the VAMO will readjust its setting for the voltage. Nice, right?

But, it get’s better. Let’s switch up and this time use a Joyetech eVic, a very advanced VV/VW mod.

The nice thing about a device like the eVic is that it will make recommendations for me when I attach a new cartomizer, clearomizer, Vivi Nova, etc., based on the readings it takes. Let’s say I’m using a 2.4-ohm atomizer on the eVic. Within a short moment the eVic decides that the best wattage to use is 5.2w. If I want the vaping experience that the eVic wants me to have I simply dial in 5.2w on the device and start vaping. For me, this works about 90% of the time.

Disregarding the Recommendations: Fiddling around with the voltage setting is almost mandatory. While the math can give you a supposed ideal value to use in voltage it doesn’t take into consideration the particular eLiquids viscosity, or a host of other possibilities, including coils that are ‘off’. So, you tweak and tweak, fiddle and fiddle, and discover on your own. But, for Wattage, it’s harder to do.

Yes, when you attach a device to the VW mod it suggests a wattage setting that will usually give you a great vape. Ignoring that setting and increasing the wattage only tells your VW mod to make further adjustments to the voltage.

Wattage Fiddling?

You’ll notice that most, if not all, of the variable voltage mods on the market now advertise that they can go up or down the VV line at .1 increments, usually between 3-6v, (the eVic can go 3v to5v). That’s some pretty wicked fine-tuning going on there. But, wattage is different, for now, because you can only adjust the wattage by .5w per click. You can move the wattage scale like this: 5.0w, 5.5w, 6.0w, 6.5w, and so on, from 2w to 15w with the eVic.

If your mod tells you that the ideal wattage setting is 6w and you decide to take it up to 7w then, if the mod and the atomizer can handle it, the mod makes an adjustment to the voltage setting, keeping you within the same vicinity to where you were vaping before you upped the wattage.  So, why bother right?

Well, to a point, yea, why bother? But if the user wants to increase the wattage beyond what the device can adjust for then he or she changes the vaping experience, usually for the worse, but who knows, maybe the eLiquid is particularly thick or something. But for most cases, changing the wattage keeps the voltage changing so the vaping experience stays the same.

Why is this a good thing?

As I mentioned above, not all 3.0ohm attys are the same. Ohm varies widely depending on the coils, among other things. Here’s a pretty good analogy to explain why using wattage instead of voltage is often the way to go.

Julia and Jason are both using the same VV/VW mod and the same STV Vivi Nova, as well as the same eLiquid. Both of them test the atty out and find that the 3.0-ohm attys are spot on. (Hey, it can happen).

Julia decides to use Variable Voltage and Jason uses Variable Wattage…

Julia does the math and comes up with 5.5v for the ideal setting. (Remember the equation from above?) This setting puts out right about 10 watts of power. Jason, using wattage, lets the mod make the suggestion and it chooses 10w for the setting. So far so good, both Julia and Jason are experiencing the same amount of flavor, vapor, and throat hit.

As long as Julia and Jason continue using the atty and eLiquid their experience will remain identical. And because they are both using advanced mods with nice booster circuitry they needn’t worry about the amount of power left in the batteries. Both mods will output at the same power level throughout the battery charge. (This is not possible with the less expensive mini-battery cig-a-likes)

But a couple of weeks later their attys die out and they have to change them. This time, leaving the setting where they were, Jason is still enjoying a great vape but Julia’s vape is terrible. The eLiquid tastes like burnt plastic, and the vapor is way too hot. Yet, all things remained the same, same mods, same atty type, and same eLiquid. So why was Jason able to vape “well” and Julia couldn’t?

The answer lies in the Variable Voltage choice. Since neither one bothered to test the resistance of the attys with their multi-meters they didn’t realize that Julia’s atty wasn’t living up to the 3.0-ohm claim, and it was putting out only 2.6-ohms, a very likely scenario with cheaper attys.

Because Julia used the same setting with an atty that was using a lower resistance, more power (wattage) was reaching the atty, somewhere around 11.3 watts. Way more than needed, hence the burning eLiquid. In order for Julia to have the same experience as before she would have had to adjust the voltage down to 5.1 or 5.2v instead of 5.5v. The atty was doing less resisting of the power (wattage) coming out of the battery so by lowering the voltage to 5.2v Julia is actually holding back some of that power, reducing the heat at the coil.

Because Jason was telling his mod to deliver 10w of power to the atty it did the math itself. When a newer atty was attached and found to be delivering the same 2.7v of resistance Jason’s mod regulated the wattage making sure to continue to deliver “just” 10 watts, no more.

So, for this particular situation, Variable Wattage wins the day. And as you can see, using VW is obviously easier than using VV. Less work, less math, less screw-ups.


I don’t want to add more confusion here, but as you can also see, hopefully, that all the advanced electronics help a great deal. Since both mods were equipped with circuit protection, battery protection, and so forth, none of the settings, no matter what they might have been, would have produced an unsafe vaping experience. But we’ll get to that at another time.

In conclusion

Many people find that using Variable Wattage is easier and more consistent than using Variable Voltage. To get an ideal vape going from the first drag onward Variable Voltage requires you to do a little math, or a lot of fiddling. Using Variable Wattage tells your mod to output at THAT wattage no matter what, so if your atty falls short of ideal ohms it will make the adjustment it needs to make in order to continue to put out that same wattage.

There are plenty of times when you might want to override the voltage setting on your VV device, and to be perfectly honest, most of us love to fiddle with the mods anyway, discovering our own sweet spots without doing a lick of math.

The choice between VV and VW is yours, providing you have a mod that offers both. John Manzione, the editor, currently uses a ProVari, a mod that offers Variable Voltage only. For him, the math is the fun part. For me, not so much. Not to mention that the man loves to fiddle with that button!

Oh, and remember, its an EITHER/OR situation. Don’t go set your wattage and then switch and set your voltage. It doesn’t work. All you are doing is going from “voltage” TO “wattage”.  But don’t worry, unless someone tells you that, it’s pretty normal to think that you can set both.

Tom McBride