In recent months Temperature Control has swept across the vaping world, and for good reason. This new technology has taken vaping to a new level of convenience and safety. Not to mention new heights of technical sophistication – we’re a long way from just batteries and switches now!
And what started out as a premium, high-end technology is rapidly becoming mainstream. Temperature Control (TC) vape mods are today available for as little as $30. So there’s never been a better time to start using TC, and now no obstacles to doing so.
But what is TC, and how does it work? Well, thousands of words could be written on the finer points – and in further articles we will expand on the subject greatly. For now, let’s take a whirlwind tour around the world of TC and look at the minimum you need to know.
How does Temperature Control work?
In a nutshell, TC works because certain metals increase their resistance predictably as they heat up.
As a vaper, you’re probably already familiar with resistance. You know there’s a coil inside your tank or dripper and that it has a resistance, which – if you use any regulated mod – is shown on the screen.
When you vape Kanthal, that resistance value doesn’t change. That’s a particular property of Kanthal: its resistance is static regardless of its temperature.
For TC vaping we use different coil materials, ones specifically chosen because their resistance will rise a significant, known amount as the coil heats.
Once such a material is used it becomes straightforward for the mod to calculate the temperature of your vape: it checks the resistance of the coil before you’ve vaped, then it continues to monitor it as you vape. The resistance rises and the mod converts that into a temperature increase. It knows that if the coil started out as 0.20Ω and is now 0.40Ω, the temperature must have risen by, let’s say, 200°C or 392°F.
Every TC mod provides a temperature setting: rather than only setting the power (watts) of the vape, you also set a target temperature. The mod then automatically adjusts the power as you vape. Keeping your coil – and therefore your vape – at or very near your chosen temperature. The wattage you set is therefore only a maximum wattage, and some new TC mods don’t even have a power setting; the mod will always use as much of its full range of power as is needed to reach and maintain temperature.
Common vaping temperatures are in the range 200°C- 250°C / 392°F – 480°F, with the temperature usually set in increments of 5°C or 10°F.
What are the advantages of Temperature Controlled vaping?
1. Avoiding dry hits / burnt hits
- It’s happened to all of us: we’ve not noticed our tank has run dry; we’ve failed to add enough juice to our dripper; we didn’t do our wicking quite right.
- The resulting dry, burnt, scratchy hit can be extremely unpleasant, not to mention potentially hazardous to health.
- A key advantage of TC is that these bad hits simply won’t happen: if the wick runs dry the temperature will start to rise, and therefore the temperature protection will immediately cut power to compensate.
- The result: instead of a nasty dry hit, you simply get less vapour, making you think “ah, I need more juice!” Not “ugh! My throat!”
2. Vaping safety
- Vaping is still a relatively new science. We know for sure it is vastly safer than smoking. But not enough studies have yet been done to understand all the risks of vaping from heated coils.
- The more we can limit our exposure, the (even more) safer we will be.
- Key to doing that is only heating our coils to the temperature we need to vaporise our juice, and not more.
3. Coil and wick life
- Avoiding dry hits means not over-heating the coil and not singeing your cotton; it’s the singeing that tastes so bad.
- Coils last longer, and wicks last a lot longer, because they’re being heated by the precise amount necessary for a good vape.
- Think about it: what would happen to your car if you always drove it at redline?
4. Battery life
Because TC vapes use only the power needed to keep your coil at the right temperature, it is estimated that a TC vape uses 1.5 times less power than the equivalent Variable Wattage vape.
What do we need for Temperature Controlled vaping?
First and foremost, a mod (vaporizer) that supports TC. There’s a huge range to choose from, at prices ranging from $30 to $300. There can be a number of differences between devices, and some have special features. But all of them work on the basic principle outlined above.
Coils / wire
Secondly, we must vape with the right coil material. Kanthal, unfortunately, is out for now – we’ll discuss this further in a future article.
TC vaping today generally uses one of two wire types:
- Nickel 200, commonly known as Ni200
- Titanium Grade 1
All TC mods support Ni200, as this was the first TC coil material used. Titanium is newer, with support starting around June 2015. Pretty much all new mods coming to market now support both Titanium and Ni200.
TC coil availability
If you currently buy pre-made coils, for a sub-ohm tank such as those made by Aspire, Kanger, Smok, and many others, you will almost certainly find that your tank manufacturer has TC coils available. Every major tank manufacturer has already released Ni200 coils, and most are now producing Titanium coils as well.
Alternatively, if you’re a vaper who likes to build his or her own coils on a rebuildable deck, you can simply buy spools of the above wire – now available at most vaping vendors – and make your own as usual. There are a few special considerations you’ll need to be aware of compared to standard Kanthal which we’ll cover in the next article. But the basic principle is identical: make a coil and vape on it, just now with TC!
Which coil wire to choose?
Generally speaking, Titanium is a better TC wire than Ni200.
Titanium will be a little more accurate in its temperature controlling, it will consume less battery power, and it’s considered by some to be the safer material. It also has a higher resistance, making building your own coils easier. And it’s the best choice for those who have sensitivities to nickel.
If you’re buying a new TC mod today, get one that has a Titanium mode so that you can try either or both wire types.
Already have an Ni200-only TC mod? No problem! Ni200 is still a great TC vape. And in fact you can even TC vape Titanium on that Ni200 mod by using a different temperature range, a more advanced aspect we’ll look at in a future article.
Your first Temperature Controlled vape
You’ve bought your TC mod. You’ve bought some TC coils or wire. What’s next?
We won’t cover rebuildable coils just yet – that’s slightly more complex, and we’ll address it in the next article. For now, let’s assume you’ve bought some pre-made Ni200 or Titanium coils for your sub-ohm tank.
How to vape in temperature control mode
1. Put your mod into TC mode, and the right TC mode for the coils you have
a. Mods that support both Ni200 and Titanium will either have two separate TC modes, or one mode with a selector for Ni200 vs Titanium.
b. If your mod only has one TC mode then it only supports Ni200, so make sure you have Ni200 coils.
2. Install your coil in the tank as normal, but take care to ensure the coil is screwed down tightly, as far as it can be.
3. Put the tank on the mod, and again make sure the tank is tightened down as far as possible.
4. Set your wattage, if available in TC mode, to 30W
a. Many new TC mods don’t have a wattage setting in TC mode, so don’t worry if yours doesn’t let you change the wattage.
5. Set your target temperature
a. For your first TC vape, it’s recommended to start at 420 °F / 215 °C.
b. This may be a little low, but you can easily adjust upwards if you find the vape anaemic.
6. Vape as usual
a. Hopefully you’ll get a good vape, just like normal – except when you run out of juice you’ll notice the vapour dropping off significantly. No more dry hits!
7. Don’t be afraid to experiment
a. Adjust the temperature up or down if necessary. Especially adjust it down if you do notice any dryness when you’re low on juice.
b. If your mod has a wattage control, you can adjust that too – higher is usually fine, but don’t go too low: remember that TC coils are often very low resistance, and reasonable power is needed to heat them effectively.
Temperature Control Vaping - Next Steps
That was a brief primer on TC. For many vapers, it could be all you need to know. TC doesn’t have to be complicated!
But for those who want to build their own coils, and/or get more into the technology of TC and understand its parameters and permutations, look out for our next article which will go into a lot more detail. In that article we’ll also help you choose the best TC mod for you, and discuss potential problems and how to fix them.