Temp control has been around for a few years now, and for 2018 mods are only getting better and better at it. This 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!
What started out as a high-end technology is rapidly becoming mainstream. Temperature Control (TC) vape mods are available now for as little as $30 — which is the price of some drip tips! There’s never been a better time to start using TC.
But what is TC, and how does it work? Well, thousands of words could be written on the finer points. For now, let’s take a tour around the world of TC and look at key things you need to know. This article will cover the basics of TC and using TC for prebuilt coil heads.
How does Temperature Control work?
In a nutshell, TC works because certain metals predictably increase their resistance 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 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 to a calculable amount as the coil heats.
Once such a material is used it becomes straightforward for the mod to determine 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 0.20 ohms and increased to 0.40 ohms the temperature must have risen by, let’s say, 200°C or 392°F.
Every TC mod provides a temperature setting: rather than setting the power (watts) of the vape, you 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 starting wattage and 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.
The advantages of temperature control
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 done right: 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 vapor, making you think “ah, I need more juice!” Not “ugh! My throat!”
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 safer we will be. Key to doing that is only heating our coils to the temperature we need to vaporize our juice, and not more.
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 not exceeding the designated temperature necessary for a good vape.
- 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 you need or TC vaping
First and foremost, a mod (vaporizer) that supports TC. There’s a huge range to choose from, at prices ranging from $30 to hundreds of dollars. There can be a number of differences between devices, and some have special features. Please note not all mods are created equal. Some do a much better performance in temp control and should be taken on a case by case basis.
Some companies have better track records of it. DNA mods and SX Mini mods have been the holy grail of temp control for quite some time, but several budget mod companies have done excellent in their own right at a fraction of the price. Latest offerings from companies like Aspire, Vaporesso, Modefined, Smoant have proven to be good, but I’d suggest asking around vape forums for advice before buying one for the latest updated mods that can do a good temp control…and not break the bank.
Coils / wire
Secondly, we must vape with the right coil material.
TC vaping today generally uses one of 4 wire types:
- Nickel 200, commonly known as Ni200
- Titanium Grade 1 or Ti
- SS (various grades such as 304, 316, 316L, 317, and 430) but the most common is SS316L
- NiFe (various grades such as 48, 30, 52, 70) This wire is hard to find, however.
Most TC mods these days support Ni200, Ti, and SS and most have custom TCR to support more metal types.
TC coil-head availability
For pre-made coils for a sub-ohm tank, there isn’t a huge list of options. Some older tanks might still have Ni200 coil available, but for today’s vaper the way to go is SS coils which I’ll discuss in a little bit.
Most newer tanks however have not caught up to people using temp control. Most use Kanthal coils. Some are starting to use Ni80 coils like the Asvape Cobra and Battlestar tank. But who uses SS coils? Well not many choices. The popular Crown 3 tank does, however due to using leads made of a different metal, they don’t work well in temp control.
Eleaf makes their HW1 coil which uses SS316L and has a watt range of 40-80 watts for the Ello tank. Thanks to compatibility it can be used in many tanks besides the Ello it was made for including the Wismec Gnome, SMOK Baby Beast, Big Baby Beast, Frogman, Wotofo Flow, Vapefly Fantasy Mini, Exo S, Vaporesso NRG, Joyetech Procore, and likely a few others. Aspire also makes a SS316 coil at 0.4 ohms for their Cleito and Cleito Exo tank. There may be more out there but options are limited for newer tanks considering how many tanks on the market come with a TC-capable mod. p>
Which coil wire to choose?
Generally speaking, for SS316 is the best wire to use for temp control in 2018. It’s safe in power mode as well and safe to dry burn (when using a rebuildable) to clean unlike Ni200 and Ti wire. It’s also much more readily available the NiFe wire and every mod that comes out has a SS mode on it, while none have a NiFe mode and would rely on TCR. You can also buy a variety of premade SS coils as well from places like Advanced Vape Supply or on vape sites as companies like Vandy Vape and Geekvape make their own pre-spooled wire. Or you can buy simple round SS316L wire from a plethora of suppliers. ho have sensitivities to nickel.
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.
Temperature control with vape tanks
Put your mod into TC mode, and the right TC mode for the coils you have. If the mod has a TCR you can use that as well and enter in the right TCR value.
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. Then put the tank on the mod, and again make sure the tank is tightened down as far as possible (but don’t go crazy with over-tightening).
Set your wattage, if available in TC mode, to the lowest recommended amount printed on the coil head. You can change this later for a slower or faster ramp up if you please.
Set your target temperature. For your first TC vape, it’s recommended to start at 400 °F / 205 °C. This may be a little low, but you can easily adjust upwards if you find the vape anemic.
Hopefully, you’ll get a good vape. it should be just like normal – except when you run out of juice you’ll notice the vapor dropping off significantly. And, because it’s TC, you should be able to take really long hits without fear of overheating the coil and wick.
Adjust the temperature up or down if necessary. Especially adjust it down if you do notice any dryness when you’re low on juice. 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.
Final word (for now)
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! Especially when using coil heads. Another article will follow that will go over finer points of using TC on rebuildables if there is enough interest.