Regulated VS. Unregulated Mods – The Battle of the Vaping Devices
By Ivan Srsen Posted December 5, 2017
When you step into the vaping world for the first time, you will probably be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of terms that get casually thrown around; vape pens, regulated mods, unregulated mods, mech mods, sub-ohming, and so on. Stop and catch your breath – the important thing to remember is that none of it matters. You can generally just walk into a vape shop where an employee will explain things in simple terms and you’ll walk out with a device and sufficient knowledge on how to use it.
However, when you’re ready to scratch the surface and learn more, the most basic of concepts you will need to understand is the difference between regulated and unregulated vape mods.
The Lowdown On the Differences Between Regulated and Unregulated Vape Mods
If you’re pressed for time, here are some key features of both regulated and unregulated vape mods and the main differences between the two:
Unregulated vape mods:
- The simplest type of mods on the market (in terms of moving parts)
- Generally use a 18650 external battery (or batteries)
- No options to adjust the power, no circuitry, and no safety features
- The circuit is completed by pressing the fire button
- Voltage depends on the battery charge (less voltage delivered as the battery drains)
- They are easy to use and hard to break
- Unregulated (or a mechanical) mods are intended for advanced users
- Battery safety knowledge is required when handling them
Regulated vape mods:
- Consistent voltage output, not dependent on battery charge
- Built-in features – from electronic circuitry to safety features
- Ability to adjust voltage or wattage in increments (temp control mode available)
- Use a built-in battery that’s charged via USB and support vaping while charging
- Suitable for beginner and advanced vapers
This is by no means an exhaustive overview of the differences between regulated and unregulated vape mods. To get the exclusive details, read on!
What Is an Unregulated Vape Mod?
Unregulated vape mods are divided into several categories: mechanical, series, parallel, or hybrid mods. What they all have in common is that they are pretty simple to use – you press the fire button, the battery delivers the current to the atomizer, and you’re good to go.
This, of course, means you’re trading safety and convenience for ease of use and the ability to fire super low coil resistances. The appeal with unregulated mods is that they allow you to really tweak your vaping experience, which is something that veteran vapers truly appreciate. The ability to fire 0.08 ohm coils (theoretically) and create massive clouds is a bit of a temptation and something that regulated mods wouldn’t be able to deliver because of their built-in safeties. Unregulated mods deliver current ‘on the wild’, without relying on an electronic circuit board to regulate it. This means that the current is delivered as long as the battery holds a charge and that voltage drops as the battery drains.
However, some safety issues need to be pointed out. Using unregulated mods without knowing how low you can go with coil resistance can end badly since there’s a risk that you’re squeezing the battery for more than it can handle. If that happens, the battery will vent (in layman’s terms: boom!). That’s why they are recommended only for users who are familiar with the Ohm’s Law, coil rebuilding, and battery safety.
Mechanical tube mods are a type of unregulated mods which derive their name from their simple, tubular design. The tube is designed to house a single battery (18650, 18350, or 26650) and is made from metal; usually copper, brass, or stainless steel.
Hybrid mods are a type of mech mods. Their distinguishing feature is that they don’t have a 510 connection – the tank is one with the battery, which facilitates power transfer and reduces overall current loss. Zenesis Twenty-Four is a good example of a hybrid mech mod.
Parallel and Series unregulated box mods use more than one battery. In parallel mods, this means that batteries share the load of coil resistance, which essentially means that they can support very low resistances without too much strain (amperage doubles, as well as battery life). Batteries connected in a series result in twice the voltage (3.7V + 3.7V=7.4V) which means they will ‘hit harder’ and be able to power up bigger wire mass (only voltage doubles; amperage and battery life remain the same).
- No coil resistance limitations
- Fewer parts to break and malfunction
- Easy to fix
- Ease of use
- Generally smaller in size
- Working knowledge of battery safety and Ohm’s Law required
- Not intended for beginner vapers
- Current drops as battery is drained
What Is a Regulated Vape Mod?
Regulated vape mods have an electronic circuit board that regulates the current – regardless of how much juice is left in the battery, you will be supplied with a constant voltage that you set up, at least until the battery is ripe for charging. The battery itself is usually built into the device and is charged via USB cable.
Old (and current) cigalikes are all regulated, as are most vape pens and box mods. Between them, we make distinctions based on whether they are fixed voltage, variable voltage (VV), or variable wattage (VW). For the most part, cigalikes and vape pens are fixed voltage, which means that they have a single factory voltage setting that can’t be changed. A good example here would be KangerTech’s SubVod vape pen.
Regulated box mods, on the other hand, allow you to change both voltage and wattage in increments. With some, you’re even able to set temperature limitations, depending on the type of wire your coil is made from. The device can sense the temperature and will make micro adjustments to ensure an optimal vaping experience. These are called Temperature Control vape mods. Temp control is slowly becoming a standard feature in all regulated box mods, such as the Limitless LMC 200W and the Innokin Cortex TC.
Regulated mods are perfect for beginner vapers because they have built in safeties. Things like low resistance safety, short circuit protection, battery overcharge (or over-drain) safety are great for newbies who are still learning the ropes (and also practical for veteran vapers who are bad at math).
- Will deliver consistent output, regardless of battery life
- A great number of safety features
- Made with beginner vapers in mind
- A variety of sizes and shapes
- Not every coil will fire (low resistance protection)
- Plenty of opportunities for things to go belly up (el. circuitry)
- Sometimes packed with too many confusing features
Which One Is Better for You – A Regulated or Unregulated Mod?
Now that you know more about the ongoing regulated vs. unregulated battle (and it’s a cut-throat battle amongst vapers, trust me) you’re probably wondering which mod would best serve your purpose.
My advice to beginner vapers is to start with a regulated mod. You know, safety first. In any case, chances are that you’ll be perfectly satisfied with its performance. Down the line, if you feel that you would prefer something that gives you a bit more leeway, you can always upgrade to an unregulated mod. Make sure that you fully understand the implications, however – you wouldn’t be the first vapers to lose a couple of teeth due to a complete lack of respect toward battery safety and the Ohm’s law.
What are your favorite setups? Do you prefer regulated or unregulated mods and why? Let me know in the comments below – I would love to hear from you!