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The Structure of a Vaping Device
Vaping devices all have the same basic elements.
The more advanced vaporisers have additional elements which give you more control over your vaping experience but these tend to be alterations to the same basic structure as the others.
The basic structure
The mouthpiece is the bit you draw the vapour through.
Cartridge or tank
These are what contain the e-liquid.
A cartridge is a pre-filled pod that can be clicked into place, used and then thrown away.
A tank can be screwed into the device and filled (or re-filled) with whatever e-liquid you like.
For more information to help you decide whether you want to consider a cartridge or a tank device, go to Choosing e-liquid compatible with your device.
This can be known as the atomiser head and is what actually vaporises the e-liquid.
It is made up of a metal coil (which can come in different shapes and sizes - see Choosing coils compatible with your device) and wicking material (usually cotton) that draws the e-liquid into it.
When the coil is heated, it vaporises the e-liquid in the wicking material.
This is what powers the whole device.
Without the battery, the coil would not heat and no vapour would be produced.
Batteries are either built-in and charged via USB port or they are replaceable batteries.
To make sure you know how to look after your battery, go back to How to use your device safely.
The battery casing is sometimes called a mod, especially when it is used with an all-in-one or a tank system.
This is because you can 'modify' your settings using the microprocessor.
These modifications options are covered in Different devices and how they vary.
How it fits together
All vaporisers have the same basic structure but there may be variations in the fittings (like, for example, whether the cartridge clicks in or screws in).
The battery casing is the bottom of the vaping device.
Attached to that is the electronic element that switches the device on or off, whether that's a fire button or a flow sensor that automatically detects when you inhale.
Connected to the battery is the cartridge or the tank.
These will contain both the e-liquid and the coil that heats the e-liquid.
At the top of the device is the mouthpiece, which is attached to the cartridge or tank so it can draw the vapour up and into your mouth.
What they look like
There is quite a variation in the size and shape of vaping devices.
The smaller pod or pen systems can be as small as a cigarette or USB sticks.
They then go up in size to longer pen or cigar-sized devices.
Larger devices like all-in-ones or tank systems are more box-like (and don't worry if you don't yet know what these are - we cover the range of e-cigarettes in Different devices and how they vary).
They tend to have a square base (the mod, where the battery is) and the tank and mouthpiece are screwed into the top of that.
They can still be very compact, though. Some are larger and sturdier but you can still grip them in one hand.
How they vary
Each device can vary from the others in small ways but there are certain elements that tend to change.
This is because some devices are made to be as simple and easy-to-use as possible, whereas others are designed to allow you more control over each aspect of your vape.
That makes them more complicated but much more versatile.
This is covered in much more detail in Features of different devices.
Most devices are manually operated by a fire button which activates the batteries and causes the coil to heat the e-liquid, but some - especially the smaller e-cigarettes - are automatic and activate when you inhale.
Now you know the basic structure of the device, go on to E-cigarette parts and how they work to find out what all of the elements of an e-cigarette do, or - if you want to dive straight in to choosing your device - go to Different devices and how they vary to find out what the five main types of vaporisers are and what they'll mean for your vaping experience.
E-Cigarette Parts and How they Work
Coil or atomiser head
Different Devices and How they Vary
Categories of Vaping Device
- Cigalikes (or cig-a-likes) are called this because they are roughly the size and shape of a conventional cigarette.
- Pod systems are a more modern version of cigalikes and are just as easy to use but are more efficient and have a longer battery life.
- Pen systems are pen-sized, making them portable and discreet; you can tailor your vaping experience with these.
- All-In-One Starter Kits are a great choice if you want some flexibility as they have detachable atomiser heads and coils.
- Tank systems are larger devices with box mods. They have a lot of additional features for more experienced vapers.
2: Pod systems
4: All-In-One Starter Kits
5: Tank and mod systems
- display screens to keep track of how you're vaping and how often
- the ability to adjust the wattage and change the volume of vapour you're creating
- the ability to set a temperature range which will make your vapour production more consistent and will mean you're less likely to burn your coils
- adjustible airflow to change the amount of vapour you produce.
Cost of Vaping Using Different Devices
Features of different devices
Ease of operation
Flexibility of use
Overall usability score
Experienced Vapers: choosing a better e-cigarette for you
More battery life
Choosing E-Liquid Compatible with Your Device
Choosing Coils Compatible with Your Device
Getting a coil that is compatible with your device
Getting the right ohm-rating on your coil
Getting the right coil design
The best vaping pod system to buy
The best vape pen to buy
The best tank system (or box mod) to buy
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