Introduction to Sub-Ohm Vaping

Post provided by Liberty Flights Australia.

Whether you’re new to vaping or have used e-cigarettes for a while, it’s likely that the term “sub-ohm” is something that you’ve seen more than once online. If you’re still using a small “cigalike” or an all-in-one vape pen, though, you probably ignored the term because it wasn’t relevant to you.

If you’re reading this article, it’s because you’d like to get more out of the vaping experience. Maybe you’d like to blow some bigger vapor clouds, or perhaps you’d like to experience the full range of flavors that your favorite e-liquids have to offer. Maybe you’d even like to start reducing your daily nicotine intake. Sub-ohm vaping is the fastest way to accomplish all of those goals — and the best part is that sub-ohm compatibility is one of the most common features among vaping devices and tanks today. Getting started with sub-ohm vaping has never been easier than it is right now.

So, what is sub-ohm vaping, and why should you care? We’ll explain it all in this guide.

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What Is Sub-Ohm Vaping?

The heating coils in vaping devices are made from resistance wire. The wire resists — or restricts — a portion of the electrical current that flows through it. Slowing down the electrical current generates a sort of microscopic friction that causes the resistance wire to heat up. That’s how your e-cigarette produces vapor. The resistance of an item in an electrical circuit is expressed in ohms. Usually, the heating coil in an e-cigarette designed for beginners has a resistance higher than 1 ohm. A sub-ohm coil has a resistance of less than 1 ohm. While the term might seem a bit intimidating at first, sub-ohm vaping is nothing more than using an e-cigarette with a heating coil that has a resistance below 1 ohm.

What Are the Benefits of Sub-Ohm Vaping?

An above-ohm coil generally works only within a very limited wattage range. If you use an above-ohm coil with a device that allows for variable power settings, you’ll find that you don’t really have a lot of room for increasing the power supplied to the coil. Increasing the power a bit, you’ll find that the vapor becomes hot and possibly even harsh tasting — but your device doesn’t actually produce noticeably more vapor.

The magic of sub-ohm vaping isn’t just the fact that a sub-ohm coil gives you a wider potential range of vaping wattages. Using low-resistance wire allows e-cigarette companies to build atomizer coils with greater mass and surface area than would be possible with higher-resistance wire. If everything else is equal, a coil with greater surface area produces more vapor and richer flavor. If you’ve ever wondered how some e-cigarette users manage to blow such huge clouds, the short answer is that they’re using sub-ohm coils.

What Do I Need for Sub-Ohm Vaping?

You need two things to get started with sub-ohm vaping:

  • A tank with sub-ohm coils or a rebuildable atomizer that allows you to construct your own sub-ohm coils
  • A vaping mod that supports the increased power demands of sub-ohm coils

Sub-Ohm Vaping Devices

How can you tell whether your vaping device supports sub-ohm coils? Your best bet is to check the device’s specifications for a term such as “minimum resistance.” If you see a number lower than 1.0 ohms, your device supports sub-ohm vaping. Today, it’s common to see devices that can support coil resistances down to .15 ohms and lower.

Sub-ohm vaping makes great demands on the battery in a vaping device. That’s why you can’t simply attach a sub-ohm tank to a vape pen that you purchased from a local convenience store; the battery in the vape pen can’t handle the increased load. If you aren’t certain that your current vaping device can handle sub-ohm attachments, it probably can’t; you’ll need to buy a new device.

If you buy a new vaping device with a built-in battery, you’re all set. The device’s manufacturer will have selected a battery cell capable of handling the load generated by any atomizer coil in the device’s resistance range. If your device has a removable battery, though, you’ll need to select a battery that supports a high continuous current. Although the 18650 battery has always been the most popular removable battery in the vaping community, today’s 18650 batteries are not the same as those that were common several years ago. If you happen to have an old 18650 battery lying around, you should not attempt to use that battery in a modern sub-ohm mod. Buy a battery rated for a continuous load of at least 30 amps. Are you considering buying a vaping device that supports more than one battery? Each battery in the mod should be the same brand and type.

Sub-Ohm Vaping Attachments

Sub-Ohm Tanks

When the phenomenon began, most of the people who dabbled in sub-ohm vaping were hobbyists who weren’t satisfied with the vaping experience that the off-the-shelf e-cigarette components of that time could produce. Those people wanted more, and the only way to get more was by building one’s own atomizer coils. Sub-ohm vaping eventually became so popular that the manufacturers of vaping products began to take notice. Today, there’s no need to build your own sub-ohm coils if you don’t want to. Every company that manufactures vaping equipment offers a selection of sub-ohm tanks with atomizer coils that you can replace simply by screwing and unscrewing. Sub-ohm tanks produce great flavor and generate huge vapor clouds — and they’re simple enough that anyone can use them.

Are you considering buying a sub-ohm tank? Selecting the right tank will be your biggest challenge. Although evaluating the pros and cons of every manufacturer’s sub-ohm tank designs is outside the scope of this article, we can provide some general guidelines to help you select a tank that’s compatible with your device.

The most important thing that you can do when selecting a sub-ohm tank is examine the resistances and suggested wattage ranges of the coils available for that tank. A typical first-generation sub-ohm tank includes a coil with a resistance of about 0.5 ohms and has a recommended power range of about 30-50 watts. First-generation sub-ohm tanks are still widely available today because they’re ideal for use with single-battery devices. It’s unusual for any single-battery device to produce more than about 75 watts, so you need a sub-ohm tank with a recommended wattage range that falls within your device’s capabilities.

Many newer sub-ohm tanks have very large — and very low-resistance — coil heads. If you see a sub-ohm tank with a coil head that appears to take up most of the bottom part of the tank’s glass enclosure, it’s probably a newer tank. It’s common for a newer sub-ohm tank to use a coil with a resistance as low as about .15 ohms. With a resistance that low, the coil will have a recommended power range exceeding 100 watts. You’ll need a two-battery device to have the best possible experience with the new breed of sub-ohm tanks. If your device can’t put out more than 100 watts of power, it’ll have trouble producing adequate vapor with an extremely low-resistance atomizer coil.

There’s a reason why sub-ohm tanks are the most popular vaping attachments available today. If you choose the right tank for your device, you’ll have a wonderful experience with it. If you don’t want to go through the effort of mixing and matching a device and tank, though, you don’t have to. Every popular manufacturer of vaping devices sells at least one bundle including both a mod and a sub-ohm tank. With a sub-ohm vaping bundle, the most that you’ll need to provide is a pair of batteries and some e-liquid.

Rebuildable Atomizers

A rebuildable atomizer is a platform that allows you to build your own atomizer coils from resistance wire. Although sub-ohm tanks with pre-built coils have since overtaken rebuildable atomizers in popularity, there was once a time in which using an RBA was the only way to enjoy the benefits of sub-ohm vaping. Rebuildable atomizers are still popular with many e-cigarette users, though, because building your own coils costs almost nothing compared to using a tank with pre-made coils. RBAs are also popular because many of them provide room for building very large coils – and surface area is one of the most important factors influencing the vapor production of an atomizer coil.

Exactly how much money can you save if you decide to experience sub-ohm vaping with a rebuildable atomizer rather than a sub-ohm tank? To do a price comparison, look no further than your favorite online vape shop. A pack of five coils typically costs around $20. If you prefer unsweetened e-liquid, a pack of coils may last several weeks. If you’re one of the many e-cigarette users who loves sweet e-liquids, though, you may find that a sub-ohm coil lasts only a few days at the most. Using a sub-ohm tank with sweet e-liquids can quickly become very expensive. In comparison, $20 is enough money to buy a spool of kanthal wire and a large supply of cotton. For a small investment, you’ll have the supplies necessary to build hundreds of coils at a cost of a few cents each.

Compared to sub-ohm tanks, rebuildable atomizers have a disadvantage in that they’re inconvenient. If you use a sub-ohm tank, you can install a new coil in seconds. For even the most experienced coil builders, building a new coil for a rebuildable atomizer takes several minutes. If you rebuild your atomizer every day, the amount of time that you spend building coils will add up quickly.

Building an atomizer coil can also be a bit of a challenge for those who have never done so before. Most rebuildable atomizers are designed to accept two individual atomizer coils, so you’ll begin by cutting two lengths of wire. You’ll use a drill bit or coil jig to twist the wire lengths into two tight coils. After connecting the coils to your RBA and checking the resistance of the atomizer, you’ll trim the wires, fire the coils, check for hot spots and make adjustments as necessary. Lastly, you’ll thread cotton through the coils and wet the atomizer with e-liquid. After all of that work, you can finally vape. Coil building does become second nature after a while, but there’s no getting around the fact that it takes a significant amount of time.

Using a rebuildable atomizer also has a second potential drawback in that it’s nearly impossible to match the perfection of mass-produced coils when you build coils by hand – and an imperfect coil can potentially cause a short circuit. If you’re using a regulated mod with built-in safety features, your device should automatically stop working and display an error message in the event of a short circuit. If you’re using a mechanical mod, though, a short circuit can potentially lead to critical battery failure. If you use a mechanical mod with a rebuildable atomizer, you’ll need to be very diligent about safety.

Is Sub-Ohm Vaping Dangerous?

Sub-ohm vaping isn’t inherently dangerous. As the resistance of a coil decreases, though, the current it draws from a battery increases. The vast majority of the batteries that companies in the vaping industry sell today can handle the load of sub-ohm coils. If you know the maximum safe discharge rate of your battery – and build or buy coils that work well below that discharge rate – you should never experience a problem.

When people do experience catastrophic battery failures during sub-ohm vaping, it’s usually because those people fail to exercise proper safety precautions with their batteries – using damaged batteries or carrying loose batteries in one’s pocket are both potentially dangerous, for example – or because they build extremely low-resistance coils that push the limits of what any battery can deliver. With a 4.2 volt battery, a coil with a resistance of 0.5 ohms draws a current of 8.4 amps. That’s well within the capabilities of virtually every vaping battery on the market. If you search for vaping videos on YouTube, though, you’ll find videos of cloud chasers building coils with resistances as low as 0.09 ohms. With a 4.2 volt battery, a coil with a resistance of 0.09 ohms draws a current of over 46.6 amps. No 18650 battery on the market can handle a continuous current of 46.6 amps. While sub-ohm vaping isn’t dangerous if you follow the proper safety precautions, cloud chasing while ignoring the limitations of one’s battery can be extremely risky.

Final Thoughts

Sub-ohm vaping is not a fad. Sub-ohm capability has become so ubiquitous in modern vaping devices, in fact, that people may one day stop using the term “sub-ohm” at all and simply call it “vaping.” We haven’t yet reached the point, though, at which our vaping devices can tell us which tanks and atomizers we should use for the best vaping experience. Until we reach that point, it’s wise to understand what sub-ohm vaping is and how coil resistance affects the safety and quality of the vaping experience. Now that you have that understanding, go out and find the vaping setup that’s right for you.

About the Author

Andrew Dent is the Director of Liberty Flights Australia. With more than three decades of experience as a business executive, Andrew’s passion for disruptive technologies led him to enter the vaping industry in 2012. Andrew believes that there is no limit to the life-changing potential of e-cigarettes.

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