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Volts, Watts and Ohms – how do they affect the e-cigarette experience?

Observant e-cigarette smokers have certainly taken note of the constantly expanding selection of e-cigarettes – the shops offer e-cigarettes from simple disposable sticks to models featuring colourful buttons, discs and displays. These gadgets are continuously developed to make our life easier, more convenient and amusing. In the following part, we'll take a closer look at the newer e-cigarette models which enable the user to adjust the amount of vapour and the intensity of "throat hit" and taste.

As the tastes and habits of people vary greatly, such e-cigarettes have been developed which enable the user to adjust the strength of the puff, the amount of vapour and the intensity of the taste. Some people look for a soft and mild "caress" while others are going for a sudden "throat hit" because otherwise the e-cigarette wouldn't satisfy their appetite for smoke whereas yet another group expects to experience something in between.

This blog article addresses the interaction and combined effect of resistance (Ohms), voltage (Volts) and wattage (Watts). We learn that the lower the resistance and higher the voltage, the greater the resulting amount of vapour, the stronger the throat hit and more intense the taste.

But before we delve into physics, it should be noted that actually e-cigarette users can easily handle the adjustment of voltage and resistance without specific knowledge of physics or an understanding of the deep science behind it.

Resistance (Ohm, Ω)

What are Ohms?
Ohms are units of resistance. The lower the resistance of your atomizer, the larger the amount of current flowing through it. If you increase resistance, the atomizer receives less current.

Which resistance level should be used?
This depends on you - the intensity of the taste and throat hit according to your personal preference. Also, the relationship between voltage (Volts) and resistance (Ohms) is important. Further, various e-liquids act differently and the use of different resistance affects taste meaning that you need to experiment. Below, we outline the features of vaping for various atomizer resistance levels.

If you use a low-resistance atomizer which allows more current to pass through:

  • the coil generates more heat
  • more vapour is generated
  • you may experience vapour with a less intense taste
  • the vapour is warmer
  • the battery is discharged faster
  • the life of the battery is shorter
  • the e-liquid runs out faster
  • the life of the atomizer is shorter (an atomizer with extremely low resistance might last 2-3 days)
  • you are likely to experience a dry hit

If you use a high-resistance atomizer, the opposite happens:

  • the coil receives less current
  • the atomizer heats less
  • the amount of vapour is smaller
  • the vapour is cooler
  • the vapour has a more intense taste
  • the life of the battery is longer
  • less e-liquid is consumed (lasts longer)
  • you are less likely to experience a dry hit

Adjustable voltage (V) and wattage (W)

The atomizer's resistance is not the only factor affecting the amount of vapour or the intensity of taste and throat hit. All this depends on the power (W) which originates from the battery and goes to the atomizer.

There are two main types of e-cigarette batteries which allow adjusting the intensity of current to which the atomizer is subjected - variable voltage (VV) and variable wattage (VW) batteries. For instance, Nicorex offers the Ola 2200mAh battery. http://www.nicorex.eu/ola-2200-vvvw-battery/

As mentioned above, the intensity of the vapour can be increased by lowering the atomizer's resistance. The same effect is achieved by increasing the amount of current passing through your e-cigarette. It may seem complicated but usually there is nothing more to it than pressing a button up/down or adjusting a rotating disc.

But what if you want to increase the amount of vapour again? In that case, you can combine a low-resistance atomizer with a higher voltage (V) battery to generate more vapour. However, this could cause problems - if you adjust excessively, the atomizer might overheat and you could experience a dry hit. In any event, the life of the atomizer is shortened dramatically.

Variable voltage (V) devices vs. variable wattage (W) devices

The difference between variable voltage (VV) and variable wattage (VW) can be compared to the difference between vehicles with automatic and manual gearbox.

On a VV device you can manually adjust the voltage passing through your device. In this case, the final output depends on the resistance of the specific atomizer. On a VW device you only need to adjust the desired wattage level and the battery automatically increases voltage in accordance with the atomizer's resistance. The battery automatically recognises the atomizer's resistance and adjusts the voltage accordingly. In this case, the same power output is always guaranteed regardless of the atomizer's resistance. So, when increasing wattage (W) the voltage (V) is increased too, and the other way round.

For example, if the atomizer uses a coil with a resistance of 1.8 Ohms and operates at 3.7 Volts, the output is approximately 7.3 Watts which is a proper puff.

However, if you adjust the coil to a resistance higher than 2.8 Ohms, you will notice a considerable reduction in the amount of vapour and heat, because the wattage (W) is lower (approx. 4.4 Watts). This means that you should increase voltage (v) to increase wattage (W) and get a better puff. Low-resistance coils use more power (W), tend to generate more heat and are hence prone to overheat faster than coils with a higher resistance.

What does "mAh" on the e-cigarette battery mean?

You probably have notice the abbreviation "mAh" used to describe various e-cigarette batteries. The importance of this unit is that it defines the length of battery life. Referring back to the vehicle example: if the voltage (V) is the fuel, then the mAh is the fuel tank capacity – the larger the tank the longer you can drive without refilling. mAh indicates milliamperes per hour. It designates capacity, i.e. the larger the value the longer the battery lasts.