We are proud to share this blog from our friends at www.eCigsLeicester.co.uk which tries to dispel some of the confusion surrounding sub-ohm vaping. eCigsLeicester is a vaping site that offers articles, discussion and reviews in Leicester, the Midlands and beyond. You can also find them on twitter at @ecigsleicester & of course us at @CloudzVapourUK
What is Sub-Ohm Vaping?
One of the phrases you may have heard bounding around recently with increased frequency is sub-ohm vaping or sub-ohming.
In an effort to help diffuse some of the confusion around the subject, we’ve decided to try and explain the advantages and disadvantages of this new technology that everybody in the vaping world is talking about.
The phrase has got some traction recently as two of the biggest companies in vaping, Kangertech (commonly known as Kanger) and Aspire, have released two affordable and great-performing sub-ohm clearomizer tanks in the Kanger Sub-tank (with mini/nano variations) and the Aspire Atlantis. “Great”, many people thought and instantly went on to buy these new tanks, however, many were ultimately disappointed when they either didn’t perform how they expected or in some cases refused to fire on their devices at all. “Why?” you may ask. Well then, allow us to explain.
Sub-ohm vaping uses atomisers where the coil has an ohm resistance of less than 1.0, hence the “sub” prefix. Now, sub-ohming has been around for a while in the modding community where people have been constructing their own coils, but recently with the advent of the consumer-friendly tanks these devices are now available to everybody without them having to build their own (which can be quite tricky).
The ohm resistance of traditional atomisers has been naturally dropping due to the advances of technology, with most standard atomisers sitting between 1.5 and 1.8 ohms, but the resistance had not commonly dipped below 1.0 until now.
The resistance of the coil in an atomiser greatly effects the amount of vapour produced and so by having a lower resistance, and therefore a lower ohm-reading, you get a better vape with faster and more intense vapour production due to less energy being lost between the battery and the atomiser when you’re heating its coil.
However in order to achieve this you need to have a device that is capable of transferring enough power to that sub-ohm coil. These coils need more power in order to work and so you will have to have a suitable device attached to them in order for them to work.
I’ll now try to give you an example (This may get a bit technical, but keep reading!):
When powering, say, a 0.8 ohm resistance coil with a standard 4V (volts) battery, the current that flows through the resistor will be 5A (amps) and the power dissipated on it will be 20W (watts), so in this case, you need to use a battery that is able to supply 20W.
Batteries are characterized by both their discharge rate capability and energy capacity. The C rating of a battery is an indication of the maximum safe continuous discharge rate. If you see 10C on your battery, it means that the battery can be discharged at 10 times its capacity. Capacity refers to the milliamp-hour rating of the battery, which is listed as a number followed by mAh (2000mAh, for example).
For example, most red AW IMR 18650 batteries have a 15C rating and a nominal capacity of 1600mAh. This means that its max continuous discharge rate is 15 * 1600 = 24000mA = 24A. Similarly, we can find that the limits for the AW IMR 18490 (15C), AW IMR 18350 and AW IMR 16340 batteries are: 16.5A, 6A and 4A.
Based on the above, this means that the lowest resistances that can be safely powered by these batteries are around 0.15 Ohm (18650), 0.23 Ohm (18490), 0.65 Ohm (18350) and 1.0 Ohm (16340).
The capacity also becomes a limiting factor when batteries are used to power resistances close to these minimum values. For example, the AW IMR 18350 battery cannot be realistically used to power a 0.7 Ohm resistance, since the battery will need to be recharged so frequently that it will be practically unusable. For the same reason, a 16340 battery will not last long when powering a 1.0 Ohm resistance. This fact applies even more to the higher C-rated 18490 and 18650 batteries.
In practice, a discharge rate usable for real-world vaping is around 5-6C. Roughly, this corresponds to a minimum resistance of around 0.4-0.5 Ohm for the 18650, 0.6-0.7 Ohm for the 18490, 0.9-1.0 Ohm for the 18350 and 1.2-1.4 Ohm for the 16340 (AW IMR).
Now, even if you don’t understand a word of all of that, you can see that it’s a complicated situation and it’s one where you have be sure your vaping gear will work with sub-ohm clearomizers.
The most important thing to consider is battery choice, you have to have the right battery in your device or have a powerful enough closed-battery mod in order for sub-ohm vaping to work. This doesn’t need to be as technical a decision as it sounds however and batteries are now openly advertised as supporting sub-ohming (if you’re in any doubt google it!) and Kanger/Aspire/VaporShark produce sealed-battery box-mods that are both cheap and easy to use and will make the perfect accompaniment to their sub-ohm tanks.
Sub-ohm IS great and when properly set up will provide you with a great vaping experience. However, vaping experiences ae different with sub-ohming devices and a lot of people like to combine the two with some deciding they not too fussed with the sub ohm experience. There’s no need to rush with vaping and just because a technology is new doesn’t mean it’s the best for you.
There are some amazing devices that aren’t sub-ohm. The Aspire Nautilus Mini tank and its variants were widely thought of as the best commercial clearomisers as little as three months ago and provide an exceptional vape using hardware that a lot of vapers already have around.
The same technology used in the Nautilus Mini tank also dripped-down (excuse the pun!) to the BDC devices (bottom dual coil) and BVC (bottom vertical coil) such as the Aspire CE-5 which are also fantastic. Indeed, most starter kits have now transferred to these kind of devices due to their ease of filling and better all-round vaping experience.
Vaping and vape-technology is moving at such a rapid rate that often it feels difficult to stay up-to-date. However, as the technology gets better we end up with better, cheaper and different devices. Sub-ohming is just one of these experiences and is one route that vaping has taken, but it is important to note that there are many such routes offering different experiences for different kinds of user.
If you take one thing from this blog today, it should be to take vaping at your own pace and to move forward when you feel confident. If you want to try sub-ohm vaping, that’s great, but do so at your own convenience and only when you’re confident with what you’re doing and hopefully you’ll have a great vaping experience.
Most importantly though, keep on vaping!