Guide to Desktop Vaporizers
What is a Desktop Vaporizer?
Desktop vaporizers are designed for home use and plugin to any wall outlet. Since they first appeared on the market over fifteen years ago, desktops have evolved from simple, no-frills box-style devices that utilize whips to draw vapor, to versatile digital units that can include powerful internal fans and allow users to choose between standard whip draw and advanced balloon bag inhalation methods.
Most people would agree that desktop units provide the greatest amount of vapor production, as well as the most efficient vaporization experience. Desktop units are perfect for those who will mainly be vaporizing at home. While portable vapes may be more versatile than desktops, they can't compare when it comes to performance and efficiency.
How Do Desktop Vaporizers Work?
All desktop vaporizers heat material though convection, making them the preferred units of people who use vaporizers primarily for the health benefits. Depending on the type of desktop, heated air is either drawn manually or propelled automatically from the heating element through the material being vaporized.
Different Types of Desktop Vaporizers
Desktop vaporizers come in two different styles: whip-style or forced-air. Whip-style vaporizers utilize a piece of medical grade tubing called a "whip" to inhale vapor as it's drawn from the heating element. Forced air vaporizers are a bit more advanced, and utilize a fan that propels the heat over your herbs and fills a balloon bag or whip attachment with vapor. Some desktop vaporizers are referred to as "dual-function," and are capable of both a forced air and whip-style delivery.
Whip-style vaporizers utilize a "whip" attachment as their means of drawing vapor. A whip is comprised of three main parts - the wand (glass piece where herb is packed), the tubing (typically medical-grade silicon) and the mouthpiece (which is usually glass). When using a whip-style unit, the user is able to pull hot air over the herbs and create a steady stream of vapor as they inhale. Whip-style devices are very popular, as they're extremely easy to use and one of the most affordable types of vaporizers.
Most of these vaporizers utilize a hands free connection, which allows for seamless vapor consumption without having to hold the whip attachment in place. These vapes use a ground glass wand to achieve the hands free connection, and provide a more enjoyable vaporizing experience. In addition to being hands free, ground glass wands also provide airtight seals, which increases overall vapor production and efficiency. Although all units come with their own whip attachment, they can be swapped out for others that are compatible. All whips function in pretty much the same way, but tend to vary in things like size, glass thickness, design and color.
While whip-style units are sometimes viewed as an "old-school" means of vaporization, newer models boast features such as precise temperature control, LCD displays as well as cutting-edge designs. These vapes are ideal for those looking for a simple, less technical way to vaporize.
Forced Air / Balloon Bag
Forced-air vaporizers represent the newest and most effective wave of vaporizers. These advanced devices utilize a forced-air system, meaning an internal fan propels hot air over your herbs, heating them by way of convection heating. This process creates a perfect vapor stream that can be drawn through a whip attachment, or filled into a balloon bag - depending on the type of vaporizer. Many of these units also feature varying fan settings, allowing the user to control the speed of the hot air flow.
Desktops that utilize forced-air technology are viewed as the most effective and healthy means of vaporization. Forced-air units are able to pump out vapor on their own, whereas standard whip-style vaporizers require the user to inhale (draw) for vapor to be produced. Once herbs are warmed through convection, the units' internal fan continues to propel the vapor either into a balloon bag or through a whip attachment, allowing for the most seamless vaporization experience possible.
While all forced-air vaporizers function somewhat similarly, things like size, heat-up time, temperature range, vapor delivery system and overall quality vary from unit to unit. Vapes that use forced-air technology tend to perform better than standard whip-style vaporizers, and are typically considered to be higher quality. While standard whip-style units offer a quick and simple means of dry herb vaporization, they can't compete with the type of vapor production associated with forced-air units.
Desktop vaporizers that feature both whip-draw and forced-air/balloon bag inhalation methods are referred to as Multifunction units, and are the most versatile types of vaporizers. In addition to offering both whip and balloon bag functionality, many multifunction desktops are equipped with multiple fan speed options, and allow users to use the unit in whip-draw mode with or without the use of the internal fan.
There are a small number of desktop vaporizers that are a little more difficult to classify. These units can essentially be classified as whip-style units, as they do not have internal fans, they do not utilize traditional silicone whips. Instead, these units come equipped with extended glass draw-stems or stainless steel heating coils which act as whips, since they draw vapor from the heating chamber to the mouthpiece.
Desktop vaporizers feature one of two temperature control methods: Digital or Analog.
Regardless of the type of temperature control a desktop vaporizer employs, monitoring the temperature throughout the process of vaporization is important, as it will help prevent the material from being overheated, which leads to combustion and smoke. The remaining herb should be crispy and a brownish color, NOT ash. If the leftover product is black, burnt or charred, a lower temperature should be used.
Desktop units that utilize digital temperature control feature a digital display and +/- buttons which allow you to easily adjust the temperature. Digital desktops are typically more expensive than analog units, and also tend to be more popular among consumers.
Because digital units are able to be precisely adjusted in single degree increments, they offer more accurate temperature control. Another nice feature of units with digital displays is they usually display two temperatures: the current temp and the set temp. This gives you a better idea of how close the unit is to reaching the set heat level, and when it will be ready to use.
Units with analog temperature control either utilize a dial which can be rotated to the preferred heat setting, or a simple on/off switch. Desktop units equipped with analog temperature control typically cost less than those that are digital, as they don't offer as precise control.
Some units, like the Volcano Classic, have temperature markings around the dial, which make it easy to find and set to the optimal setting.
However, most analog desktops, like Da Buddha, Silver Surfer and Vapor Brothers, do not bear any markings, which make it more difficult to control. It's common for people to refer to settings on a unit that utilizes a dial with no markings like they would to time on a lock. For example, if the maximum temperature is 400°F, and you turn the dial 375°F, you would refer to that setting as 9 O'clock.