Vape Device Guide For Beginners (May 2016) – altavape

Vape Buying Guide For Beginners (May 2016)

vaping in profile


What Is Vaping?

Vaping refers to using handheld devices to vaporize flavored eliquid (aka "e-juice") and inhaling the resulting vapor. 

While vaping looks very similar to smoking, the two activities are significantly different, particularly in terms of health effects. Extensive research demonstrates that eliquid vapor is just as safe as room air (versus smoke which is highly toxic). For more, read the UK government's comprehensive review.

Who Vapes? Why?

Vaping is a relatively new activity. Initially, nearly all vapers were individuals attempting to quit smoking (millions of people have successfully quit tobacco with the help of vaping).

In recent years vaping has found a wider audience of recreational users who primarily vape for pleasure.

Vaping Devices: The Basics

All vaping devices consist of two parts: the battery and the tank (usually called a cartridge in e-cigarettes and clearomizer in vape pens). The battery provides the electric current that powers the atomizer coil in the tank which holds the eliquid.

Vaping performance for ALL DEVICES depends on the properties and limitations of both battery and tank.


electronic cigarette

The first vaping devices to market were e-cigarettes (sometimes called cigalikes) which look and feel like traditional tobacco cigarettes. 

  • Disposables: Designed for one-time use. Convenient but expensive with most users spending $150/month or more. 
  • Rechargeables: Less expensive than disposables (typically $60-80/month) but inconvenient due to frequent need to recharge batteries and replace cartridges.

E-cigarettes are sometimes seen in popular culture and often in national advertising. Nearly all e-cigarette brands are subsidiaries of tobacco companies.

Many e-cigarette users quickly "graduate" to vape pens or mods due to their better performance and/or lower total cost of use. E-cigarettes are rapidly losing market share to the newer devices.

Advantages: convenient (disposables), "feel" like cigarettes (for ex-smokers), very compact/lightweight

Disadvantages: expensive, limited flavors, low wattage/vapor, "supports" Big Tobacco

Vape Pens

vape pen

Vape pens--aka vaporizor pens, vapor pens, ego devices, EVODs--are usually comparable to a Sharpie marker in size and shape (hence the name) and were developed in response to frustration with the limitations of e-cigarettes.

Compared to e-cigarettes, vape pens offer greater power/wattage, battery capacity, and eliquid capacity but suffer in these areas when compared to mods. 

Advantages: inexpensive, easy to use, compact/lightweight

Disadvantages: limited wattage and control (compared to mods)

For more, see our Vape Pen Buying Guide 

Mods/Personal Vaporizers (PVs)

vape mod in hand

Vape mods are the latest generation of vaping battery technology. Mods vary substantially, but they are typically larger and better performing than vape pen/ego batteries. 

Advantages: highest performance, customizable, battery capacity*

Disadvantages: high upfront cost, potential battery safety issues, eliquid seepage, variable quality

* while mods typically have larger batteries than vape pens, they also draw more power when paired with low resistance coils. The net effect of fewer "puffs" between charges.

For more, see our Vape Mod/PV & Tank Buying Guide

What Vaping Gear Is Best For You?

vape gear options

The best device for most users will be either a vape pen or a mod. Below are recommendations between the two based on common priorities:

  • Limited budget: vape pen
  • Easy to carry/hide: vape pen
  • Simple to use: vape pen
  • Technology enthusiast: mod
  • Maximum vapor: mod (with <0.5 ohm atomizer)
  • Long battery life: mod (with >1.0 ohm atomizer)
  • Control/customization: mod

For more information, see our Vape Pen Buying Guide and/or Vape Mod/PV & Tank Buying Guide.

E-cigarettes will be the best choice for ex-smokers who crave the same physical motion as smoking (and close up magicians.)


Vaping Is Personal

There is no universal "best" vaping gear. The best gear for you is the gear that best meets your unique preferences. 

We hope the information and advice presented here helps you understand the available vaping options and which are most likely to work for you.

Buying eliquid: Experiment!

Of course, getting the right gear is just the starting point. There are many factors at play and we haven't even touched on the most important one: the eliquid! 

In terms of eliquid, don't expect to find the ideal vape right off the bat. There are many flavors to choose from and the only way to find "your" eliquid is to experiment.

Most vapers enjoy their favorite flavors (once they find them) much, much more than other flavors so your initial "investment" in trying different flavors will pay off handsomely when you find your favorites. 

Vapers have often told us that their favorite flavor was a complete surprise so don't be afraid to try the unexpected.


This guide was updated on May 1, 2016


Learn More

Check out our other guides and tutorials and vaping glossary.

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