POTV’s Vape Tank and Atomiser Guide

Posted 3rd June 2021 by Mawsley
Little confuses a new vaper or a smoker looking to switch more than what atomiser/tank to buy. Websites mix language and you will see “dripper”, “RDA”, “squonk ready” and more – and then there is the range of wire, coils and prebuilt atomiser heads to choose from. Let Planet of the Vapes take you through this minefield by the hand and explain the differences.

Why are there so many different vape tanks?

Vaping began with ex-smokers coming up with new ways for simple tanks to deliver a better experience. Aside from one or two exceptions, there is almost no bad product on the market and with so much money to be made, lots of companies produce their own versions of essentially the same thing.

What is a pod system?

Pod systems were mainly basic devices aimed at the new vaper, offering convenient size and ease of use. Usually, they were geared towards the mouth to lung vaper and ideally suited for a nicotine salt e-liquid (see our e-liquid guide).

The pod device works with a replaceable tank, you pop on a new one when the old one runs out of e-liquid, or a replaceable coil head and wick for when the flavour you taste reduces.

There are now many different types of pod systems which appeal to experienced and new vapers alike, with long term vapers appreciating their convenience, and some deliver excellent flavour.

The downside to pod systems is that most manufacturers lock you in to their proprietary replacement pod tanks or heads and they are not interchangeable with other devices.

What is an e-cig starter kit?

Most starter kits are based around the old second-generation devices. The biggest selling point tends to be that they offer a relatively cheap entry point into electronic cigarettes, and they are easier to use than tanks aimed at experienced users.

Some starter kits have tanks that are easier to fill than others, most use a coil head you replace when it begins to stop working as well as it used to. Some starter kits are pod systems (as above).

Replacement coil heads are typically bought in multiple packs. Some starter kits offer a range of heads you can use that have different resistances. If you are unsure, seek advice on the best one to buy to match how you want to vape.

Is it easy to replace a pod or coil head?

Yes, very easy.

You must remember that if you are adding e-liquid to the pod or starter kit head that you leave it to sit for a while so the wick gets thoroughly soaked before use.

What is a dripper/RDA?

Drippers are also called rebuildable dripping atomisers (RDA).

The dripper is a very basic form of atomiser/tank but should only be used by those who are experienced as you will need to build your own coil and add your own wick.

The dripper is so named because vapers drip e-liquid onto the coil. In some, there is a well on the build deck that holds excess e-liquid. Some come with a tank below the build deck and are called rebuildable dripping tank atomisers (RDTA). The RDTA means that there is a bigger reservoir of e-liquid so more vapes can be taken before adding further juice.

Building your own coil will mean you have to decide what type of wire to use, how many wraps of wire to make the coil from, and what wicking material you are going to use.

Some RDAs have small airholes for mouth-to-lung (MTL) vaping, some have large ones for direct-to-lung (DTL) vaping. People use them because they say they deliver the best flavour out of any atomiser/tank.

What does “squonk ready” mean?

Certain e-cig mods have a bottle that stores between 5 to 12ml of e-liquid. These mods are called “Squonkers” and are used with a dripper/RDA that allows e-liquid to be pushed up from the mod to the coil.

Squonk ready RDAs have a hole in the 510 pin, part of the atomiser than connects to the mod. This means they are not suitable for use on normal mods unless they come with a solid 510 pin too that you can add.

What is an RTA/rebuildable Tank?

Rebuildable tank atomisers (RTA) are aimed at advanced users who build their own coils and prefer the convenience of having a large reservoir of juice for all day vaping.

Although current legislation restricts tank volume to 2ml, you may see large ones that clearly hold more e-liquid that have been imported from abroad. Some are bought legally as 2ml tanks but the user then removes the bunk or replaces the glass to offer more capacity.

These tanks can offer MTL or DTL vaping, depending on the manufacturer. The user will build their own coil and add their wick of choice. Like with RDAs, it is essential the user understands how Ohm’s Law works (see our guide on batteries).

What is a Genesis/Genisys/Genisis tank?

Almost no new ‘gennys’ are produced nowadays. These are like RTAs but use a stainless steel or steel mesh wick. Why do people use them? A genny is really for an experienced vaper who enjoys getting annoyed at hotspots in their coils and spending an afternoon throwing small tools around their kitchen. Those who successfully navigate the building issues say they deliver the best flavour any tank is able to produce.

Should I buy a tank that uses replaceable atomiser heads?

Some work better than others, but all offer the convenience of not having to build your own. They are simple to fit.

Some heads work better than others, some leak more than others. It is important that you buy the head that will work with the tank you own.

If you need advice on which heads work best then scroll down to see where to get the best suggestions.

Can I use prebuild coils in my RTA/RDA?

Yes. If you are moving in to building your own coils and wicks, premade coils (bought in packs) simplify the process.

Prebuilt coils also allow you to experiment with complex coil types. While simple roundwire coils are easy to build for most vapers, constructing a ‘superdooper double fused nickel core flat fused Clapton’ can present problems.

Some contend that the fancy kind of coils that you can now buy offer no discernible benefit over simple spaced DIY coils – others swear they are immeasurably better.

If you want coil building advice, you can find help on the Planet of the Vapes forum.

What type of wire should I use in my tank?

Kanthal, nichrome, nickel and more, the range can be bewildering.

If you are using a replaceable head or pod, almost all the choice is removed to facilitate ease of use.

Kanthal is the traditional metal to build coils from and remains the number one choice for MTL vapers who build simple coils in their tanks and drippers. The alloy doesn’t need any special setting on your mod but can be limited when trying to build a low ohm coil for DTL vaping.

Nichrome comes as a thinner wire that heats more quickly than Kanthal and lends itself to DTL vaping, but some people complain it has a taste to it.

Stainless steel is easy to build with and heats up quickly, again lending itself to DTL use. If your mod is able, stainless can be used with a temperature control setting.

Titanium can’t be used in normal power mode on a mod. Some prebuilt heads are made with this wire for temperature-controlled use.

Nickel, like titanium, is only used with temperature-controlled settings on a mod. Some people find building coils out of nickel to be difficult.

Premade complex coils can use one of more of these metals.

Where is the best place to get advice about tanks, coils, pods and heads?

It’s possible you are lucky enough to live near a vape shop where they are informed and helpful, guiding your purchase. Many of these stores are set up and run by ex-smokers/vapers so they really know their stuff.

Alternatively, Planet of the Vapes has its own thriving forum where our 60,000 members are all ex-smokers and someone will have experienced the product you are thinking about buying.

 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, physicist, karateka, motorbikes, and dog walker