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If you’re new to electronic cigarettes, or you’re looking for a new model, you may have seen the terms ‘variable voltage’ and ‘variable wattage’ (or ‘VV/VW’) plastered around.
It can be a little confusing to know what these terms mean, but hopefully we can help out.
We’ve added brief descriptions for each right here so you can get a general idea of what you’re looking at.
Variable Voltage devices like the Cyclone Twist let the user adjust the voltage of your e-cig.
A higher voltage means a warmer vapour with a bit more throat-hit, for people who want a bit more of a kick. Lower voltages mean a slightly cooler vapour with a little less throat-hit for people who want a smooth vape.
Variable Wattage devices like the Smok ZMax Telescope are clever little things.
They are basically ‘set and forget’ units. Once you’ve found the wattage you like (I like to vape at 10 watts, for example) the device will set itself to deliver the correct voltage for each and every atomizer you choose to use, without you having to adjust it every time.
Again, a higher wattage tends to give a warmer vapour with more kick and a lower wattage tends to give a cooler, smoother vapour.
Without getting too complicated; atomizers all have a resistance and a ‘sweet spot’ where the vapour will have the best flavour and throat hit.
A higher resistance atomizer like the iClear30S will work better at a higher voltage; its ‘sweet spot’ will be higher.
A high resistance atomizer will not work as well at lower voltages.
Variable voltage devices allow you to use any atomizer you like and find the ‘sweet spot’ by making adjustments.
Variable wattage is more about how you like your vapour to be, as it will find the ‘sweet spot’ of the atomizer at that particular wattage and correct the voltage for you.
It’s all to do with resistance and wattage.
Most standard electronic cigarettes operate at around 3.7 volts, which is absolutely perfect for a low to mid resistance atomizer like a CE4 or an iClear16 as the power (wattage) produced isn’t going to burn the e-liquid and produce a terrible flavour. As soon as you move to a higher resistance though, like the 2.1 ohm iClear30, the 3.7v put out by a standard battery isn’t quite enough to run it at the temperature required, so it’s going to be very weak and not produce much vapour.
Putting that same iClear30 onto a Twist variable voltage battery and turning the voltage up to 4.8v is going to produce enough power to run the atomizer properly, so you’ll get a fantastic vape from it with lots of throat-hit.
Making small adjustments to find the right combination of warmth, volume and throat-hit for you is the beauty of a variable voltage device.
If you want to, you can work out the wattage that your device is putting out by using the voltage squared divided by resistance (or “V^2 ÷ R”). This gives you the power output of your device.
For example, if you prefer a standard Cyclone eGo battery (3.7 volts) with an iClear16 (1.5 ohms), you will know that you prefer to vape at 9 watts because 3.7^2 ÷ 1.5 = 9 (or thereabouts).
Variable wattage devices essentially cut out the middle man and do the above equation for you. Once you’ve experimented and found the wattage you like, no matter what resistance atomizer you put on it the device will regulate the voltage up or down so you will always get that wattage. While they are a little more complicated to explain, they’re actually slightly easier to use.
Hopefully that helps clear any confusion,
James (vaping a 2.1 ohm iClear30S in his Innokin VTR set at 10 watts),