E-Cigarette Battery Options: Automatic vs. Manual

By Dave S. Posted February 16, 2013

Not all e-cig batteries are the same. Although automatic batteries have become the industry standard, purists stand by the greater level of control offered by a manually-operated e-cigarette. If you’re struggling to make the decision between an automatic and manual battery, there are a few important differences that can help make the decision easier. Generally speaking, the decision depends on whether you prefer a more cigarette-like experience or would prefer to absolutely maximize the amount of vapor you get from your e-cig.


What’s the Difference?

Automatic Vs Manual E-Cigarette Batteries

The battery of an e-cig is the long portion which would be filled with tobacco in a traditional cigarette. It’s designed to power the atomizer – which is essentially a small heater inside the cartridge (cigarette butt-like) attachment – and produce the vapor. An automatic battery is activated when you inhale from the mouthpiece of the e-cig. They’re usually about the thickness of a pen and are completely uniform and smooth in design. Manual batteries are actually operated by a small button on the side, which you hold down to set the atomizer going.


Vapor Production


The major difference is the amount of vapor you get using each type of battery. With an automatic battery, to get the most vapor you need to do a couple of introductory puffs to prime the atomizer. This is a little like smoking a pipe, where you can’t ordinarily get very much out of it with your first puff. Although you’re heating the atomizer, it’s still ultimately controlled by your inhalation pattern.


Comparatively, manual batteries simply require you to start pressing the button a couple of seconds before you start inhaling to pre-heat the atomizer. This is virtually effortless, and more effective than the pipe-like method because there are no short pauses as you prepare to inhale again. Good e-cigs will produce a more than adequate amount of vapor either way, but if you really want to maximize it manual batteries are the way to go.


Cigarette-Like Experience


Although the vapor production is a huge advantage with manual e-cigs, it does somewhat taint the cigarette-like experience of using an e-cig. With an automatic battery, you pretty much use it in the same way as you would a real cigarette. It’s ultimately much more user-friendly. That isn’t to say that manual batteries are in any way difficult to use, but if the familiar experience is important the automatic battery is definitely the best option.


Refilling Problems


Refillable cartridges are a great way to save money when you’re vaping, but it does present some potential issues for automatic batteries. If you over-fill the cartridge, some of the liquid could leak through and get into the battery. Automatic batteries are more susceptible to this issue, but there are still precautions you can take to avoid it.




Automatic batteries generally have more restrictions on how much or how often you can vape. Some limit by the maximum drag length, and others by how many puffs you can take in a minute. Manual batteries don’t usually place this many restrictions on users, again allowing more user control over the vaping experience.




The best way to make the decision between the two types of batteries is to start with automatics and then switch to manual batteries if you really want more control. This is the best move because automatic batteries are more common and also easier to use for anybody new to vaping. However, the manual batteries are ultimately superior from a technical stand-point, and it’s very easy to get accustomed to pressing a button. If you’re still shopping around for a starter pack, you should ideally choose a manufacturer which offers both manual and automatic batteries.


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