Vaporizers & Vaping

Vaping Devices: How to Choose the Right One for You

Gabi Antunes

Jul 17, 2019

So, you want to buy a vaporizer. There are many reasons to get a vape: maybe you’ve heard about the technological capabilities, maybe you want a discreet consumption experience, or maybe you just want to try something different. Whatever your reasons, buying a vape device is an exciting journey.

Where do you start? There are so many vaping devices on the market it can be hard to know which one is right for you. Understanding your options and the variety of vaping devices that are out there is the first step. Remember, purchasing a vape is a personal experience that depends on your preferences. As you research, consider what you’d like to get out of each session and which type of vaping device would best suit your needs.

What is a Vaporizer?

A vaporizer is an electronic device that heats dry herb or concentrated cannabis to release vapor. Vaporizing does not combust the plant material, reducing odors. Vaporizing herbs has its roots in ancient history. The Greek historian Herodotus wrote about the use of hot stones to create steam vapor baths as early as 440 BC. We’ve certainly come a long way from using rocks, with many electronic options of varying sizes and capabilities on the market today.

What Types of Vaporizers Are There?

Choosing a vaporizer requires an understanding of what types of vaporizers are available. There are two major types of vaping devices, each of which includes a wide variety of products with different features and settings.

  • Desktop vaporizers are designed for at-home use. These vaping devices are significantly larger than their portable counterparts, and with their larger size comes impressive power. Using efficient heating systems, desktop vaporizers also offer a wide degree of control over temperature settings and vapor production.
  • Portable vaporizers are mobile products that are simple to use and offer unprecedented discretion. Portable vaporizers have grown in popularity in recent years as new devices have hit the market. The more innovative models feature similar temperature controls to desktop vaporizers.

While desktop and portable vaporizers vary quite a bit, there are a few common elements across all vaping devices. For instance, most vaporizers include a chamber or oven, into which material is loaded. (Vape pens often allow for a cartridge to be attached to a battery.) Vaporizers also include heating elements, which are used to heat the material to the designated temperature. Of course, all vaporizers have a mouthpiece from which to inhale.

Now that you understand the differences and similarities across these broad categories of vaporizers, let’s take a closer look at desktop vapes and portable vapes.

Desktop Vaporizers: Vaping at Home

Desktop vaporizers come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some look like small microphones, while others have a conical shape. Some desktop vaporizers are somewhat portable in nature in that they can be easily moved from room to room, while others are bulky and must remain in one place.
There are four main types of desktop vaporizers to choose from: whip, forced air, e-nail, and multifunctional.

  • Whip style vapes utilize a rubber tubing, known as the “whip,” to deliver the vapor to the consumer. Hot air vaporizes the dry herb material as the consumer inhales. Whip style vapes use what is known as convection heating to vaporize the material.
  • Forced air vapes don’t rely on inhalation to pull the heated air over the material, but instead, utilize fans to propel hot air into the chamber. These types of vapes typically fill a bag with vapor. The bag, which often attaches to a mouthpiece, can then be shared or carried around once filled.
  • Multifunctional vaporizers offer the best of both worlds, supporting whip-style functionality as well as the forced air balloon bag methods, enabling them to accommodate all consumers regardless of their preferences. These units tend to be larger since they support multiple uses.
  • E-nail vaporizers are designed specifically for concentrates. These devices eliminate the need for a torch to heat the nail of a concentrate rig, utilizing electrical heating instead. While e-nail vapes generally fall under the desktop category, there are some portable versions available on the market.

Portable Vaporizers: Vaping Flexibility

Portable vaporizers are newer iterations of vaping devices, which allow for vape session flexibility. These devices are typically compact and discreet, allowing for the vaporizing of dry herb or concentrate material without drawing attention.

  • Vape pens are named for their long and slender appearance. These vaping devices typically come in two pieces: a cartridge portion and a battery. Pen style vaporizers heat up very quickly and typically offer one-button control.
  • Portable vape devices are more powerful than pen style vapes, but their compact size still makes them highly mobile and easily stored in a pocket or bag. Portable vaporizers are designed to provide a great balance between functionality and mobility. There’s a wide range of portable vaping devices on the market, but many include both dry herb and concentrate functionality, as well as precision temperature control. For a top-notch experience regardless of the material you choose, consider the PAX 3. Or if simplicity is your preference, the PAX Era makes vaporizing concentrates a clean and easy process.

What to Consider When Buying a Vaporizer

Once you have an understanding of which type of vaping device you’d like to buy, it’s time to research the functionality of different models. Understanding the ins and outs of how a specific vaporizer works will help you differentiate between the good and the great. Here are some major things to look for when shopping around.

1. Ease of Use

A major consideration in choosing a vaporizer is its ease of use. Most vaping devices differ slightly in aspects such as temperature control, material loading, and cleaning. Many portable vaporizers have few or a single button control. LED lighting indicators are also common to signal to users which setting is currently selected. Some vaporizers can also connect to mobile devices, which allows consumers to further customize sessions and personalize the device. While any device comes with a learning curve, some vaporizers are inherently simpler than others. Determining how easy a vaporizer is to learn and use can help you decide which vape is right for you.

2. Heating Methods

A key element of any vaporizer is which heating method it uses. This can tell you a lot about the type of experience you can expect. There are three main types of heating methods you’ll encounter when shopping for a vaping device: conduction heating, convection heating, and induction heating.

  1. Conduction heating occurs when the dry herb material makes direct contact with the heating element. Conduction heating is common among portable vaporizers. Conduction heating results in one of the quickest heat-up times, but the material can combust rather easily at higher temperatures.
  2. Convection heating involves the vaporization of material when hot air passes over it, rather than the material making direct contact with a heating element. Typically, a consumer’s inhalation draws the hot air over the material, vaporizing the material as it passes by. The vapor then enters the vapor path of the device, traveling through the mouthpiece to be inhaled by the consumer. Convection heating offers smooth and flavorful sessions and is suitable for both dry herb and concentrates.
  3. Induction heating involves the heating of a conductive object that serves to indirectly vaporize dry herb or concentrate material inside the vaporizer. It combines the easy-to-use, non-combustible method of convection heating with the rapid heat-up times of conduction heating.

3. Vape Performance

At the end of the day, you want a vaporizer that is going to perform well and deliver a high-quality experience. There are several factors that contribute to the overall performance of a vaporizer, so you’ll want to understand each and how they contribute to functionality.

Temperature control is a critical factor. Lower temperatures can produce more flavorful vapor, while higher temperatures increase vapor production and create big clouds. Changing the temperature can influence the experience of your sessions. The degree of control a vaporizer grants you over temperature matters a great deal, so be sure to take it into consideration when buying a vaping device.

Changing temperature settings can impact vapor quality. For example, higher temperatures create more vapor, increasing the size of clouds. Lower temperatures reduce vapor production and vaporize material more slowly. The degree to which your device allows you to influence vapor quality is a key consideration when selecting a new vape.

The quality of a device’s battery is also a key consideration. How long does the battery take to charge, and how long does it last? What’s the overall life of the battery, and is it replaceable if it stops working? If it does stop working, what is covered in the warranty offered by the manufacturer?

Finally, cleaning and maintenance must be kept in mind. You’ll likely need to clean your vaporizer frequently, so you don’t want to invest in a vape that is difficult or time-consuming to clean. Likewise, a vaporizer that requires detailed, frequent maintenance is going to demand a higher knowledge threshold than one with a more simplified process. How involved you want to get in learning how to clean and maintain your vaporizer should influence your ultimate decision.

4. Pricing

Finally, pricing is always important. Vaping devices generally range in price from about $20 to hundreds of dollars. To select a vape that is affordable and dependable, consider which features you prioritize and how much you want to spend. Then identify several devices that meet your budget and compare their prices, customer reviews, and warranty information. In the end, you’ll end up with a reliable device that suits you without spending a great deal of money.

Finding Your Vape is About Understanding Your Preferences

Vaping is all about preference and customization, so naturally selecting the vaping device that is right for you is a largely personal decision. Before buying, consider the features that are most important to you, your ideal session, and your budget. Once you have a list of your preferences ranked in order of importance, your decision will be that much clearer.