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The ground work has been covered. We now know about batteries and their mAH and volt ratings. We also know about atomizers and cartomizers as well as their ohms and e-liquid delivery system. This is what I believe led to the development of what we now refer to as “Mods”. The first e-cigs were made to look like analog cigarettes: small form factor and design to make it easier for smokers to switch. But, as time went on, this form showed it’s weaknesses; batteries small enough to meet this design were only 180 mAH to 230 mAH. They only lasted about 2 hours or so. The voltage is fixed and when it drains, the last 30 minutes to an hour looses it’s… umph because the voltage lowers. Also, the cartridge system back them was limited to the small form factor as well; the small size held enough puffs for about 3 to 4 hours at best. The atomizer was also set and usually you had no control over it. The atomizers for one brand were made for their own battery, but when used with a different battery, the atomizer did not perform as it normally does because of the ohms were lower and need a stronger battery.

We didn’t even go over the threads back then.  If the threads used on one company was different from another, the old batteries and cartomizers were useless.  Of course this was done primarily to persuade users from switching brands, but they covered that with “This is for better delivery systems” and such.  The average user would find a great battery from one provider they fell in love with, but great flavors from another and couldn’t mix them.  Most providers at that time did not release their flavors in e-liquid form, so you could only use them through their cartomizers.  So, the e-liquid market began to boom as users were tired of being locked to one cartomizer and found ways to “refill” heir favorites.

That worked great until the real movement began:  “I want my e-cig to last all day and I want a great vape along with it.”  This is where very smart people began to wonder… how does this all work?  They took this knowledge and began modding.  This began through forums and small websites.  Bigger batteries… More mAH… more voltage… bigger cartomizers to hold more liquid… lower ohms to take advantage of the standard 3.7v batteries.  This was the frontier.  DIY landed in the e-cig world and took off.  So much so that the bigger companies were forced to follow suit.  The Joy Techs of the world made bigger personal vaporizers (PV’s) to meet this demand as the modders were flooded with requests.

Now we have three big players on the scene: Mechanical PV’s, Variable Voltage PV’s and Variable Wattage PV’s.

Mechanical PV’s:

Mechanical PV’s, or Personal Vaporizers, have a very simple setup.  They have a housing for a battery or batteries that are inserted into the device.  This allows you to only need replacement batteries on hand instead of swapping out one entire piece of the PV.  Also, these batteries have high mAH’s which allow them to last longer.  Some of them allow you to stack batteries, which I personally do not do, but others really enjoy because the volt increases also.  This is kinda risky as battery malfunctions have warned there are risks that come from stacking… to be fair, I’ve not heard of stacking batteries going bad, but I’d rather not take that risk, call me chicken if you must.  To be fair, this is old news for sure, but last year in February  there was one incident that sent waves around the e-cig community (http://ecig-critic.com/electronic-cigarette-explosion-leaves-florida-man-severely-injured/).  Luckily, in the 7 years of e-cigs history, this is the only reported issue and some believe it was a device the user may have built himself (highly not recommended for the regular users).

They usually have only one threading option, 510, which makes it easier to use different cartomizers or rebuildable atomizers.  As you will see later, most of the mod tanks are all 510 threaded.  The next popular thread is Eco style threading.  Luckily there are several adapters that can be purchased to convert the ego threading to a 510 connector.

The one limitation of Mechanical mods are they do not come with built in protection (besides vent holes).  They do not have reverse battery protection, overcharge or undercharge protection, Short Circuit/Atomizer Protection, Amperage Limiting, Thermal Monitoring or Auto-shutoff timers.  This is one reason why these mods are really for advanced users.  Any one of these could cause the battery to discharge (Which is why the vent holes are important, if one does go bad, the vent holes will let the gas escape instead of building up and forcing it’s way out; IE exploding).  Also, since there is no regulating the battery, as the battery loses its charge, the vaping experience will suffer as well.  Lower volts, lower throat hit and flavor loss.  But the mechanical mods are very appealing in their simplicity and will last longer on average than the next two up for discussion simply because they have no electrical parts which will give out over time.  These Mechanical PV’s will last as long as the material they are made of does is the general thought.  The second real big reason is aesthetics.  There are some mods that will just appeal to certain people better than the other two categories.

As a side note, you will learn that there are a few add-ons that work with some or all of these Mechanical Mods that will allow them to be Variable Wattage as well as provide some form to Over-voltage protection.  The Kick and 2 cent fuse can turn a Mechanical mod into… almost one of the next two categories.

Variable Voltage PV’s:

Variable Voltage PV’s are just like Mechanical mods but with two differences   They allow you to adjust the voltage the battery puts out and most provide all of the protections the Mechanical Mods do not (always check before you buy).  They have reverse battery protection, overcharge or undercharge protection, Short Circuit/Atomizer Protection, Amperage Limiting, Thermal Monitoring and/or Auto-shutoff timers.  Adjusting the voltage was the real winner for me.  While I do enjoy protection, who doesn’t right, the ability to increase my vaping experience was the icing on the cake.  Some cartomizers have low ohm ratings, so I can use 4.2 volts or so until it tastes right for me.  Some have 3.0 ohms, so I can increase the voltage to 4.8 volts and have a great vape as well.  The devices usually can go from 3 volts to 6 volts in .1 increments.  They also have an amperage limit; this will limit how high you can take certain ohm cartomizers or weather they will work on them at all.  Typically if the amperage limit is at or over 3.5 volts, you can use your 1.5 ohm cartomizers according to several vendor pages.

One other huge advantage of VV Mods is that most will work hard to keep the voltage the same, regardless of how low the battery is.  So, when the battery is running low, the VV Mod will keep adjusting the output to make sure your getting what you set… most of the time.  Some are better than others.

As with the Mechanical Mods, VV (Variable Voltage) mods have replaceable batteries (long life), 510 connections (some also have ego threading) and better craftsmanship than the analog look-a likes.

Variable Wattage PV’s:

Variable Wattage Mods have all of the benefits of Mechanical Mods and VV Mods with just one minor difference.  VM (Variable Wattage) Mods lets you adjust the Wattage of the device, usually from 3 watts to 15 watts.  No, to keep it simple, Variable Wattage does adjust the voltage, but it does it for you.  So, remember how we spoke about different ohms needs different voltage to give the same performance?  Well Variable Wattage does that for you.  So, I like 9.o watts on my devices.  For me that means if I put a 2.0 ohm cartomizer on my VM Mod that is set to 9 watts, the unit will switch the volts to about 4.24 volts.  But, if I put a 3 ohm cartomizer on my VM Mod, I’ll get 5.19 volts. For those that like to know, there is a formula:  It’s Wattage = (Volt * Volt)/ohms or in reverse, Volts = sqrt(Wattage * ohms). So, just as a brief, brief example;  in my example, the volts = square root of (Wattage times ohms) or Volts = sqrt(9 * 2.0).  Volts = sqrt(18) which means Volts = 4.24264… or just 4.24.  I know it’s a lot, but there are charts and tables out there and I’ll link sites where you can get all of the scientific goodies on this.

Just know that Variable Wattage lets lets you use different ohm cartomizers but does the adjustments to make sure you get the same experience from them.

Final Thoughts

So there you have it.  The long journey and experience of the Intermediate and Advanced Ecig world.  There are a ton of advantages they offer… but only you can decide if they mean anything to your vape world.  If analog look-a likes work for you, have at it.  There are more than enough of them out there to suit your need.  But, if you are fed up with them and are ready to try something… more complicated, then these devices are for you.  I have a few now,but not a Mechanical Mod.  I have one coming in soon and once I’ve tested it, I’ll begin posting my reviews on all of the devices I’ve been using.

Till then, may your Vape Experience be the best it can be!

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