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Vaporizer Buying Guide

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The vaporizer world is constantly expanding in terms of technology and types of products offered for dry herb and concentrate consumers. While there isn’t a universal “best” vaporizer, there are devices that you can find that will perfectly suit your needs. Understanding your needs is a big part of choosing the right vaporizer.


Beginner vaporizer users might want a portable unit that has just one preset temperature to limit the learning curve. Intermediate users could be looking for a device with more temperature control options, and those who considered themselves advanced will need something with full temperature control and multiple material options for the atomizer or heating element.


Let’s dive into what you should be taking into account when purchasing a vaporizer.


Budget

budget vaporizer buying guide

Understanding how much you’re willing to spend will help you narrow down what you need in a vaporizer. Make sure to read each product description to ensure you’re buying a vaporizer that not only fits your budget, but allows you to consume your preferred material and is covered by a warranty, should you desire one.


In terms of the price spectrum, vape pens and portable vapes will be the cheapest complete devices you can buy, going as low as $19.99. These units are designed for on-the-go vaping and will most likely be heated via conduction.


The “middle range” of vaporizers has a wide range, products will be from around $75-$200. This is where you’ll start to see temperature control and convection style heating. Elite vape pens and portable units will be in this price range and you will start to see desktop units available as well.


Anything above $200 should be considered an “elite” vaporizer. High-quality builds, advanced functionality, and comprehensive warranties will be available at this price range. It should be noted that vaporizers over $200 are geared for more experienced users, as they can offer more in-depth ways to experience materials. 


Know Your Needs

know your needs vaporizer buying guide

If you’re an on-the-go concentrate or dry herb user, a portable unit should be your first and only choice for the type of vaporizer you need and homebodies should opt for e-nails or a desktop unit. Taking into account your lifestyle and consumption needs will go a long way to helping you find the right vape to buy.


Beginner vape users should aim for cheaper, less complicated models so as not to overwhelm themselves with their first purchase. Being able to use a device right out of the box is a great way to get comfortable with the world of vaping and determine just exactly what you need should you want to upgrade your purchase.


Efficiency


Vaporizers have a well-deserved reputation for efficiency, but keep in mind that this efficiency can be offset by an increase in consumption.


Some vaporizers are considered more efficient than others, but this is typically achieved by keeping the vaporization temperature low and the load small. This improves taste and yields smoother, tastier vapor. Users who are converting from combustion often want the thicker vapor that comes only at higher temperatures, but the disadvantage of this is harsher vapor and faster consumption


Discretion


Because vaporizing can be easily misinterpreted, some users need to be concerned about discretion. Small portable vaporizers are readily concealed, and some are designed to resemble other items so as not to attract attention. Other vaporizers are designed to blend into the décor, and can even be attractive pieces of art. If discretion is important to you, consider how easily and quickly the device can be put away.


Style of Vaporizer


There are two types of vaporizer: desktop units and portable units. Understanding your needs will help you discern which type of device to get. There is no “best” style of vaporizer to choose, just the best one that fits your needs.


Desktop Vaporizers

desktop vaporizer buying guide

Desktop units have the ability to filter out irritants and give full temperature control, making them popular among users who needed them for medicinal purposes. This style of vaporizer will be the most expensive when you’re shopping around, as it offers more advanced heating styles and more power. Convection heating dominates the desktop vaporizer market. Convection heating is when your material is housed away from the heating element, and hot air is pulled over your material. This heating allows for the flavor of your dry herb or concentrate to be fully experienced.  If you’re a “homebody” and want something that lends itself well to the entire ritual of consuming dry herb or concentrate, a desktop device should be your go to.


Vaporizer Pens

vaporizer pen section vaporizer buying guide

Vaporizer pens are the most discreet and easy-to-use devices, usually being controlled by one button with a fast heat up time. These devices can be dual use, but mostly come equipped to handle concentrate consumption. A majority of vape pens feature conduction heating, which is the process of heating your material by putting it in direct contact with the heating element. This style of heating is what gives vape pens their fast heat up time, but does sacrifice a little bit of your material’s flavor.


Vape pens consist of a mouthpiece, atomizer, and battery. Variable voltage vape pens have multiple voltage outputs to bring you different temperatures, while some will have just a single calibrate temperature. Assembling and customizing these units is very simple thanks to the universal 510 threading most devices feature. Beginner vape users will appreciate the simplicity of these devices.


Portable Vaporizers

portable vaporizer section buying guide

Portable vaporizers themselves are more powerful than pen-style units and give more control over temperature and how you might experience your materials. The larger batteries of portable vaporizers allow them to have advanced heating systems and precision temperature control, all while still being portable. While a portable vaporizer might be larger than its vape pen little brother these units are still “on-the-go” friendly. Some portable vaporizers feature conduction heating, but most will harness the power of convection to give you a ton of flavor no matter where you’re vaping. A few units utilize a combination heating system, where a conduction chamber gets the device to temperature quickly, but hot air is still pulled through to ensure even vaporization.


Temperature control is fantastic with portable vaporizers. You’ll be able to zero in on your preferred temperature, and if you feel like it, switch to another to experience your material differently in the same session. If your device does not have precision control, it will be equipped with easy to read pre set temperatures.


E-Nails

e nail section vaporizer buying guide

E-nail vaporizers straddle both categories. These devices offer much thicker vapor production than pen style or portable vaporizers. When used with concentrates, e-nail vaporizers have the power of a rig, but don’t require a torch to heat the nail instead relying on electronic heating systems. Some e-nails are portable, and some require a plug in. E-nails will be on the mid-to-high tier of vaporizers, sometimes coming in the form of usable devices and sometimes as accessories.


Most of the time e-nails are attachments for rigs. They will heat your banger or nail by way of being plugged into a power source. This means you don’t have to use a torch to get your nail to temperature, and you can hold temperatures consistently.


Learning Curve

learning curve section vaporizer buying guide

Getting the best from most vaporizers requires learning correct technique. For example, many whip or tube delivery systems depend on proper draw speed. (“Whip” is the term used for small diameter tubing, usually silicone or PVC) Vaporizers that fill balloons, on the other hand, have no such limitations. While the learning process can be frustrating at first, you are usually rewarded with excellent results; however, if you are the impatient sort, look for a device that you can use effectively right out of the box.


Materials and Vapor Path

materials and vapor path section vaporizer buying guide

Vaporizer users should be concerned about the materials used in construction, and particularly what is in the vapor pathway. Reputable manufacturers usually state which materials are used, but many cheap vaporizers (usually sold through eBay and not by dealers such as vapor.com) do not specify what materials are used. Look for terms like “medical grade” when searching for vaporizers that feature ceramic heating elements or chambers, or “aerospace aluminum” when trying to find a grinder or metal pipe.


Transfer System

vapor transfer section vaporizer buying guide

Vapor can be transferred directly through a whip, tube or stem, or by drawing right from the device itself. These methods are sometimes called direct draw. opposed to forced air, which involves filling a bag or balloon using a fan or pump.


The method of transfer greatly affects the taste of material from desktop units: drawing right from the vaporizer provides the best taste, followed by tubes or stems, then whips, and lastly balloons or bags. The latter suffers from a high vapor to air ratio, and vapor held in a bag starts to condense and deteriorate. Additionally, accumulated vapor on the surface of anything used to deliver vapor will eventually affect the taste.


Portable and pen style vaporizers will each have the same transfer system, a mouthpiece. When used with convection heating portable and vaporizer pens can deliver fantastic flavor due to your proximity to the material and heating unit. Vapor can sometimes feel “hot” to users if their portable or pen vape is turned to a high voltage and a short mouthpiece is featured.


Power Source

power source section vaporizer buying guide

You vaporizer will be powered via either a plug-in or battery.


Desktop vaporizers will be the only units that utilize a wall plug, but you will charge your vape pen or portable via a cord of some kind. Certain vaporizers will feature “pass-through” charging, which allows the device to remain in use during charging.


Pen style or portable vaporizers will be powered by a battery. When you start to enter the “elite” tier of portable vaporizers and vape pens you will notice some units feature swappable batteries. This is an attractive feature for those who find themselves vaping during camping trips, or some activity that removes them from a power source. Most battery powered vaporizers will have internal batteries inside of the unit. A few use external batteries, which means you need to ensure the battery is touching the connection to initiate heating.


Warranty

warranty section vaporizer buying guide

Vaporizer warranties can vary quite a bit. When determining your purchase make sure you’re comfortable with whatever warranty option is provided. Generally, desktop vaporizers will have the longest warranty due to their “stay in one spot” nature. Some portable units offer longer warranties, but be clear on what is actually covered. Not every component to your device (especially glass items) will be protected.


Reliability is important if you depend on your vaporizer for activity. In general, simple designs are more reliable because there is less to go wrong. More complex devices require high-quality construction and materials to ensure reliable performance. Check online reviews and forums to learn more about the reliability of the vaporizers you are considering. A good track record indicates a well-built device.