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RBA Vape Guide: RDA, RTA, RDTA, and More

Jeremy Mann
November 28, 2018

What is an RBA vape?

RBA stands for Re-Buildable Atomizer. It’s a sort of DIY type of vape. An RBA is an advanced vape with a deck for user-installed coils and wicks, called “builds.” The term RBA can specifically refer to removable decks for vape tanks, or for any atomizer with a build deck, like an RDA, RDTA, RTA, or genesis. Over the years, the term “rebuildable atomizer” has become more common for the category term, but it’s simply what RBA means.

What is an RDA?

rebuildables explained

An RDA stands for Rebuildable Dripping Atomizer. An RDA is a type of RBA that requires the user to manually add juice on the coils and wicks, instead of being fed from a tank. RDAs have a juice well at the bottom of the build deck to hold e-liquid, and the wick tails are placed into the well. Generally, the juice well does not have as much capacity as a tank, so the vaper must continuously add e-juice ever so often, to prevent the wicks from getting dry.

The manual nature of wetting the wicks and coils makes RDAs less convenient than a tank, unless they’re set up for and used with a squonk mod. A squonkable RDA can be fed e-juice from a small squeezable bottle located in the mod, accessed through a small window. Squonking is still manual and it’s like dripping, except that it’s much more convenient than having to carry an e-juice bottle separately.

Different RBA tanks explained

RBA tanks are simply vape tanks with rebuildable decks. There are several names (most being acronyms) that you’ll encounter.


rebuildables explained

An RTA stands for Rebuildable Tank Atomizer. Of course, all rebuildable tanks are technically RTAs, but the acronym stuck with a particular system as more variations emerged. There are many ways RTAs are designed, but the most universal characteristics of an RTA are:

  1. An RBA deck for one or two coils (but sometimes more)
  2. A deck that sits under or in the middle of the tank
  3. A chimney and bell system that covers the deck and extends up to the drip tip

The chimney and bell system are a key feature of an RTA that distinguishes it from other RBA tanks. It was first introduced to vaping by the Golden Greek (GG) in 2011 with the iAtty, and now most vape tanks have a similar design. The bell provides a small chamber around the deck, which is sealed off from juice by wicks, making a vacuum pressure in the tank. This vacuum pressure feeds the wicks with e-juice, evident by the release of bubbles after an inhale. The wick still uses capillary action to absorb the juice, but the vacuum pressure pushes it along quicker which can make the wicking more efficient, especially in higher power applications. The vapor travels up through the chimney making a concentrated stream, which some argue is better for flavor.

RBA heads

rebuildables explained

RBA heads are enclosed decks that work with sub ohm tanks and clearomizers. The RBA deck can take the place of a factory-made coil head, and the user can control their own builds. The characteristics of an RBA head:

  1. Removable and replaceable like a normal coil head
  2. For use with specific tanks (most vape tanks do not have an RBA head)
  3. For use with up to two coils (rarely more)

Those vape tanks that come with an RBA head provide the user with an entry-level device and one that can be grown into as experience increases. There are some SMOK tanks that still come with RBA heads, but not a lot of companies continue to make them available.


rebuildables explained

An RDTA stands for Rebuildable Dripping Tank Atomizer. A bit of a misnomer, the RDTA is not actually used for dripping like an RDA. However, the deck is designed like that of an RDA and the performance is similar, but without the need for dripping. The main characteristics of an RDTA are:

  1. A deck commonly for one or two coils (but sometimes more)
  2. A deck that typically sits above the tank
  3. No bell and chimney system like typical RTAs

The original RDTA was the Big Dripper from Subohm Innovations, and it was simply an RDA that had a spring-loaded tank section sitting on top of the deck. It fed the coils and wicks from a manual pumping action. While it was the first official RDTA, its design didn’t carry over with the others that came out after. Now an RDTA is just an RDA with a tank section, acting as a deep well.


A genesis atomizer is one of the first rebuildable tanks ever made and one of the most difficult to work with. They’re extremely rare nowadays though, so you’ll likely never come across one in a shop. The characteristics of a genesis atomizer:

  1. An RBA deck commonly for one or two coils (rarely more)
  2. A deck that sits above the tank
  3. Rolled mesh wicks instead of cotton

The original style of the genesis atomizer has largely disappeared from the marketplace, though some tanks are now called GTA, which stands for Genesis Tank Atomizer. The GTA designation is less defined and not a real category of tanks. Most tanks considered to be a GTA (or “genesis style”) are just RTAs.


rebuildables explained

When trying to understand the differences in these types of devices, the thing to remember is that they’re all rebuildable and require the user to know how to build and wrap vape coils, as well as having a firm grasp on ohms law and battery safety.

RBA vs RDA: An RDA is a type of RBA that doesn’t come with a tank section.

RDA vs RTA: The RDA requires manually wetting the wicks and coils with e-juice instead of coming from the tank section, like in an RTA. Most RTAs hold at least a couple milliliters of e-juice, and most RDAs may only hold a small portion of that.

RDTA vs RDA: An RDTA is like an RDA that has a tank. Instead of dripping manually on the coils and wicks like in an RDA, the RDTA has a tank section for storing extra juice.

RTA vs RDTA: An RTA and RDTA are both rebuildable tanks, but RTAs typically have a deck on the bottom of the atomizer and use a chimney and bell system. On the other hand, under the top cap, RDTAs typically have an open deck above the tank where the wicks hang.

I'm the chief editor here at Vaping360 and I reside in southeast Michigan. I've been vaping since my first ecig purchase in 2010. For more reasons than I can list, vaping has been a lifesaver for me. Now, my goal is to help other smokers make the switch.
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4 years ago

My favourite is the genny style tank. My first was a avocado 24 and now a ijoy rdta plus and love them. Easy to build and great flavour. Bought spares from both. Great article.

1 year ago
Reply to  Milo1on1

I still love my old Mad Dog Desire GTA tank (mesh or wire works) and my old tf-rdta (not an rdta by this description, just rta really) but neither are as good as my vgod tricktank pro RDTA. It’s as good as my fireluke, my uforce t2, in fact only my vapefly mesh pro RDTA is any better. RDTA FTW!!!!

1 year ago
Reply to  James

Extreme vapenerding

1 year ago

Thank you nice review
Do you know any of RDA coil heads compatible with Skrr tank from vaporesso

Dave Kriegel
Dave Kriegel
1 year ago
Reply to  Munir

The Vaporesso GT-Core series of coil heads are compatible with the SKRR tank. Unfortunately there are no rebuildable ones available, but it’s cross compatible with the SMOK TFV8 Baby Beast rebuildable coil head, so that’s your only option.

1 year ago

I broke my top piece and am looking for a new one i have the vaporesso revenger x i buy gt core cotton coils and need a smooth large cloud tank. I need help tank

1 year ago

Hi im can anyone let me know can i use rta just on watts or do i have to adjust ohm-s and type of steel

1 year ago

I have a gboxmod and a tricktank vgod pro
But it shows no coil on the mod

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