When you first start out vaping, most simple devices have a default wattage output or allow for simple user control. As you move into more advanced pieces of kit, you get more options. Back in the beginning of vaping, variable wattage (VW) was the standard vaping mode. It’s a fairly simple principle. A lower wattage will give a cooler, less dense vapour and higher wattage will give a warmer more voluminous cloud.
When you think of VW mode, it's best to imagine a car that can only be moved forward by pressing the pedal all the way to the floor. You have two choices, accelerate full speed ahead or take your foot off the gas completely.
Over the last few years however, mods with advanced chipsets capable of utilising temperature control mode have been making a splash in the vaping world. So what exactly is temperature control mode and how does it differ from variable wattage? TC mode is like a car that allows you to put the pedal right down, but you can also gently tap it to move the vehicle ahead slowly. With some mods you can set a custom curve, allowing you to control the speed and rate at which a coil is ramped up. This is a huge leap forward for the vaping industry. TC mode brings with it a number positives with only a scant few negatives.
The seemingly huge benefits brought by temperature control mode beg one inevitable question: which is better, TC or VW? There isn’t a clear cut answer to this. It really depends on your vaping style and personal preferences. We’ll break down the pros and cons of TC mode over VW to make it a little easier you to figure out which is best for you.
The positives associated with TC vaping are numerous. The basic idea with TC is you set the temperature you want and the mod does the rest. Rather than hitting the firing button to add more fuel to the flame like in VW mode, TC mode adjusts everything internally on the fly. This prevents the wick and coil from ever getting hotter than the temperature you've set. In turn, this helps prevent burnt cotton, caramelised gunk on your coil and dry hits. Even dry firing on an unsaturated coil won't burn the cotton. This is thanks to the fact that in TC mode, the mod will recognise the desired temperature has been reached and reduce its energy output to below a burn point.
Another positive associated with TC mode is that it generally uses less battery power and less juice. Firing continuously in wattage mode results in a coil that gets progressively hotter. The result of this is the optimal temperature for vaping can be exceeded and end up overheating your coil. You’re more likely to get a dry hit and it also burns through your coils faster, especially if you’re chain vaping or using a high wattage. New vapers with less experience are especially prone to this issue. Unless you've got dozens of hours of experience with a rig and know precisely how long to fire it at what specific wattage, dry and burnt hits are an almost foregone conclusion. TC mode does away with this by only using the amount of energy necessary to keep the vape coil at a specific, consistent temperature. In turn, you save on juice and get a smoother, more consistent hit.
Another huge benefit of TC mode is overall vaping safety. When vaping on a VW mod, pressing the fire button puts a set amount of energy through the atomiser, whether it's already too hot or not! If set on a high enough wattage setting, misfiring a VW mod in your pocket or bag can easily cause the coil to get dangerously hot. This is where you’ll get issues with overheated tanks and safety hazards. In the very least, you might just end up with a burnt out coil that then needs replacing. TC mode on the other hand, protects against this by bringing the atomiser to the desired temperature and then ramping down the energy output to simply sustain optimal output temperature.
The most obvious negative when it comes to TC mode is TC mode's incompatibility with numerous coiling materials including the extremely popular kanthal. Simply put, there are no easy to work with coil materials that can be fired under TC mode. Supporting only nickel, titanium and stainless steel, building and wicking can be significantly more difficult. So while the overall vaping experience might be superior in many ways, there is a higher degree of inconvenience for anyone interested in building their own coils.
Another major downfall of TC mode is that it won't just work with any old tank you happen to have laying around. Tanks must be specifically designed to accommodate TC compatible coils. Many pre-made coils use kanthal or wattage only metals in their construction. While this certainly isn't as much of a setback as the coiling material negatives, it does somewhat limit your options when putting together a rig for everyday use.
Which One is Right for You?
For the vast majority of vapers, TC mode is the future of vaping. With the exception of the coil builders out there who have a serious love affair with kanthal, there are plenty of benefits to warrant giving TC a go. While the whole coil building and wicking process on an RDA can be more difficult or limiting, there’s a distinct overall increase in vape quality. It helps eliminate those unpleasant dry hits, making the extra bit of trouble worthwhile.
Some vapers will probably never make the switch from VW to TC, especially advanced long-term hobbyists. VW mode works best in the hands of those with plenty of experience who have the muscle memory to know precisely how long to fire and at what wattage. To use another car analogy, VW is akin to a manual transmission and TC is an automatic. Automatics are certainly easier to operate and eliminate a lot of trouble for people without a lot of experience. However, serious gearheads will almost universally take a manual transmission every time. The TC and VW mode divide will likely be seen somewhere along this line, with the most serious and dedicated vapers sticking with the tried and true original.