What is “temperature control” vaping?
Temperature control (TC) in vape mods is a technological solution for dry and burnt hits. It also creates a consistent vape while taking longer drags because the temp stays the same – instead of getting hotter. The user chooses the temperature limit, typically from a range of 300°F to 600°F (100°C to 315°C). The power sent to the coil then automatically adjusts to keep the coil – and your vape – at the chosen temperature.
It all began with a company called Evolv in 2014 with their DNA chip. Even now, many still consider mods with DNA chips to be the best temperature control mods on the market. When Evolv first introduced temperature control for vaping, it was revolutionary! The word “innovative” gets thrown a lot, but it’s surely warranted here. Prior to TC, most top vape mods could only adjust watts (another innovation from Evolv a few years prior.) Now in 2018, like wattage control, temperature control is a feature found in most vape mods.
How does temperature control work?
You can use TC without ever knowing why or how it works. But if you’re curious, TC works because the metal of certain coils 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 atomizer that has a resistance, which – if you use any regulated mod – is shown on the screen generally with a “Ω” sign.
When you vape with Kanthal (the most popular vape wire), that resistance value doesn’t change. That’s a particular property of Kanthal: its resistance is static regardless of its temperature.
For TC vaping you’ll use wires that have a known resistance-increase as its temperature rises. The mod checks the resistance of the coil at room temperature, then it continues to monitor it as you vape. The resistance change is converted into a temperature increase and the mod adjusts its power to maintain the selected temperature. Think of it like a car traveling in cruise control. To maintain a speed, more power is needed to go up a hill than down a hill… but the speed would stay the same.
What you need to have to vape in TC
First and foremost, a vape mod that supports TC. Most mods that do temperature will have “TC” in their name. There can be a number of differences between devices as well, and some have special and advanced features. More importantly, some do a much better job in temp control than others. Remember, not all mods are created equally.
Some companies have a solid reputation for this technology. Evolv DNA and Yihi’s chipsets have been the holy grail of temp control for quite some time, but they tend to be on the more expensive side. The good news is that several budget mod companies have done excellent in their own right at a fraction of the price. Products from companies like Aspire, Vaporesso, Modefined, and Smoant have proven to make reliable temperature control mods.
Next, you must vape with the right wire type.
TC vaping in 2018 generally uses one of these four types of vape wires:
- Nickel 200: commonly known as Ni200, it was the first temperature control coil but it’s less common now due to some vapers having sensitivities to nickel coils.
- Titanium Grade 1: otherwise known as Ti. It works well in TC but user has to make sure it does not get overheated.
- Stainless steel: this wire is very popular and readily available. It comes in various grades such as 304, 316, 316L, 317, and 430 but the most common is SS316L. SS can be used in wattage or temperature control mode.
- Nickel ferrous: also known as NiFe, comes in various grades such as 48, 30, 52, 70 and can be used in either mode, but is not widely available.
Each of these wires has its own temperature coefficient of resistance (TCR). “A temperature coefficient describes the relative change of a physical property that is associated with a given change in temperature.” Your mod needs to know the specific TCR of your wire to send the correct power to the coil to limit its temperature. And the resistance for TC coils can be very low. TCR is not something to ballpark! Different wires will have different TCRs, and even within one metal type. Luckily, most TC mods have presets for TCR values for Ni200, Ti and SS (316L), which are the most popular TC wires.
Having said that, due to the different grades of metals having different TCR values, and preset TCRs sometimes being questionable, a very useful feature for a TC mod is customizable TCR. That allows any TC-capable coil to be used most accurately. Check the specs of your mod and see that it has customizable TCR. If it does, you can dial in the TCR value for your chosen metal type and grade.
How to vape in TC
Put your mod into TC mode and select the corresponding wire type for the coils you have. If the mod has a TCR you can enter in the exact TCR value. After that, ensure that your mod and tank are both at room temperature so the temperature readings will be more accurate. The easiest way to achieve this is to not use the tank or the mod for at least 15 minutes before starting.
Install the coil as normal but take care to ensure it is screwed down tightly, as far as it can be. In the case of rebuildables, make sure the leads are trapped firmly. Then put the atomizer or tank on the mod, and again make sure that it’s tightened down as far as possible (but don’t go crazy with over-tightening). Check that the resistance is reading accurately and lock the resistance (typically by pressing the +/- buttons).
If you are using a rebuildable, stainless steel is the only TC coil material that can be dry-burned if needed, but use lower wattages than what you would for Kanthal or Ni80. Skipping the dry burning process is recommended though. If you slightly space your coils, you will generally not have hot spots. Plus, the resistance will be more consistent and easier for the mod to identify.
Some TC mods will allow you to change the wattage as well as the temp, but some automatically set your watts. If you can adjust the watts and you’re using stock coils for a tank, set your wattage and temp to the lowest recommendation printed on the coil head. You can change up from there to suit your own preferences.
Best temperature to vape e-juice
Common vaping temperatures are in the range 392°F to 480°F (200°C to 250°C ), with the temperature usually adjusted quickly in increments of 10°F (5°C).
Set your target temperature. Hopefully, you’ll get a good vape and, because it’s TC, you should be able to take really long hits without fear of overheating the coil and wick. It should be just like normal – except when you run out of juice you’ll notice the vapor dropping off significantly.
Adjust the temperature up or down if necessary. Like most things in vaping, your sweet spot will be subjective. How you want to vape your e-juice is always a personal. Do you like it hot or cool? It’s up to you!
When vaping in TC, if you do notice any dryness when you’re low on juice, adjust the temperature down. 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.
The pros of temperature control
- Avoiding dry hits / burnt hits: There’s a number of ways to prevent dry and burnt hits, but a key advantage to TC is that it does it for you. In TC mode, 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! I just got a nasty hit!”
- Coil and wick life: Avoiding bad hits means not over-heating the coil and not singeing your cotton; it’s the singeing that tastes so bad. TC coils can last longer than normal power-mode coils, and wicks last a lot longer too because they’re not exceeding the designated temperature necessary for a good vape.
- 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.
- Vape consistency: By having control over the temperature your coils can rise to, the vape will be consistent from puff to puff, and even within one puff. In regular wattage mode, the hits are more inconsistent because the heat of the coil changes based on the length of the hit. That’s fine for short and fast hits, but the longer you draw on a non-TC coil the hotter it will get – and heat changes everything!
The cons of temperature control
- May get complicated: Generally speaking, power (watts) mode is usually more straightforward and intuitive to work with. Just set your wattage and vape. Temperature control might require some trial and error and a bit of tweaking here and there.
- Mod limitations: Not all mods are good TC mods. In fact, many of the cheaper massively produced mods are not designed with TC in mind and will come with various limitations and shortcomings. You have to shop around if you are after value in the TC department.
- Limited to certain materials: Kanthal is the most common coil metal in vaping and Ni80 is making a push lately. While stainless steel is still popular, the majority of tanks don’t come with TC-ready coils. If you want to vape in TC and are not interested in building your own coils, truth is that your choices are limited.
Final word on TC
Temperature control vaping can be an amazing experience. It provides the security of consistency that normal vaping lacks. No one likes dry or burnt hits, or vapes that get too hot with long hits. TC vaping solves that. Although it’s still not as popular to use as regular wattage mode, there are new devices that are making TC much more user-friendly. Now there’s even pod vapes that make TC vaping automatic. Who knows, in the future temperature control may be the main feature of all vape devices.