Electronic cigarette variable voltage and resistance – A beginners guide

Understanding Variable Voltage and Accessory Resistance (Ohm ratings) – A beginners guide

As if choosing an electronic cigarette were not confusing enough, new customers now have to deal with options like ‘low resistance’ and ‘variable voltage’ devices.  In addition to choosing atomizers, clearomizers, bottom or top feeding accessories, single use vs. rebuildable, and choosing e-liquid strengths and flavours, these extra options can make even regular electronic cigarette users confused.  I will do my best in this article to explain and simply the resistance and voltage options for you.

Before I begin, I must first say that using a variable voltage battery is NOT required to fully enjoy an electronic cigarette.  Electronic cigarettes are designed by default with optimal voltage and optimal resistances from the factory.  For most people, having variable voltage and variable resistance is simply not necessary.  It is more of a fun advanced option for those of you that enjoy experimentation.

Now let’s get into the technical aspects of this discussion.

But first, a few definitions:

  • V – VOLTS
  • Accessory = anything you attach to a battery.  A clearomizer, atomizer, glassomizer, etc.


Variable Voltage:

Variable voltage is referring to the amount of power (or voltage) that a battery emits.  For all standard batteries we sell (for example, our EGO batteries and our 510 batteries) they are set at the factory at 3.7v.  This is the voltage of 90% of the electronic cigarette batteries on the market.

When you have an electronic cigarette battery that is variable voltage, it simply means that the amount of CURRENT, or POWER that the battery sends to your accessory is adjustable.  You can make it more powerful, or less powerful, typically with the spin of the dial, like our spinner batteries, or with a click of a button, like with our EVic batteries.  The range at which can adjust an e-cigarette battery is typically between 3v and 6v.  When you increase the voltage of a battery, you increase the power going to your accessory, and therefore increase the amount the heating element in the device heats up.  Hotter heating = more vapor and a warmer vapor.

While adjusting the voltage to devices can cause an improvement in their performance, most devices are designed to be run at the standard 3.7v, and increasing the voltage too high can cause negative effects.  First, it can cause your accessory to ‘dry burn’ or to have a burnt taste to it.  This is because the heating element is vaporizing the e-liquid faster than the accessory can provide more e-liquid, so not enough e-liquid gets to the heating element.

The other potentially negative effect is simply that batteries running on higher voltages won’t last as long, and will need to be more charged more frequently.  Also, using an accessory that is designed to be used at a certain voltage battery, and pushing it higher can cause the accessory to burn out, or at the very least will decrease its lifespan.

On the flip side, some people find reducing the voltage will improve their experience.  If you find the vapor to be too warm or too harsh, sometimes reducing the voltage just a few percentages down to 3.5v or 3.3v can improve your experience.

There are also some other good points to variable voltage.  Some devices simply work better at slightly different voltages.  Personally, I find that our CE5 Clearomizers do best at around 3.9-41.v, and our Davide Glassomizers actually work better at slightly lower voltages.  This is where personal preference comes in, and many people tinker with their settings to find the voltage that works for them.

The most important thing to remember with variable voltage is to START LOW, and work up SLOWLY.  Do not simply flip your battery to the highest setting and go.  Not only can this destroy your accessory, it can also cause issues with overheating, making your accessory very hot and even causing e-liquid to sizzle and pop, which is not a good thing. A good idea is to start your battery on the very lowest setting, and work higher by 0.2v until you find the sweet spot for that accessory.

 Variable Resistance (Ohm):

Variable resistance has to do with the accessories rather than the batteries.  Variable resistance in an accessory is the amount of electricity, or power that is needed to go through your accessories heating element.  The lower the resistance, they thinner the wire, and the more easily electricity from your battery will pass through it, making it heat up faster and with more ease.  The higher the resistance, the thicker the wire, and the more power will be required to heat up the heating element.   So in a nutshell, low resistance = more heat, vapor, etc. and high resistance = less heat, resistance, etc.

Typically, accessories that are sold with variable resistances will be sold in 3 categories:  Low resistance, standard resistance, and high resistance.   Low resistance will require LESS electricity to pass through them, and will therefore heat up HOTTER.  High resistance will require MORE electricity to pass through them, and will therefore heat up LESS.  So, it’s actually backwards of what many people think.

Combining the two:

Now that you have a basic understanding of both variable voltage and variable resistance, the real fun begins.  The mixing and matching of different resistance accessories with different voltages in the battery can make some very unique experiences.  For example, if you use an accessory that has high resistance, you can increase the voltage of your battery quite high and will have a completely different vaping experience.  Alternately, you can lower your voltage of your battery and use a low resistance accessory for a different vaping experience.   You can also use a low resistance or high resistance accessory with a standard battery for another unique vaping experience.

Have fun, don’t be scared, and just remember the golden rule:  Start with low voltage and work your way up.  If you get any dry taste with your accessory, turn down the battery to a lower voltage.  And most importantly, enjoy!


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