So what IS high voltage vaping all about? (Everything you've wanted to know plus a bit of electronic theory)
You’ve heard about it. You’ve read about it. You wonder why people talk so much about high voltage vaping, low resistance atomizers, and other seemingly nonsensical terms. Until now it’s all been a confusing mishmash of new terminology and you don’t really know what all the fuss is about. In this post, I am going to clear up the confusion about high voltage vaping.
Before we get started talking about high voltage vaping though, let’s get one thing out of the way. High voltage vaping is a giant misnomer. We should be calling it high powered vaping. A bit of electronics theory, which we’ll get to in a moment, helps explain why this is the case. For now though, the important thing to know about vaping at higher power are the tangible performance differences.
High powered vaping provides several differences over low powered vaping. Chiefly, higher power produces a hotter vapor and requires less draw to produce an equivalent volume of vapor. It’s similar to the difference between sucking soda through a thin, narrow straw and a fat, wide one. The other major difference is in taste. Some juices have a stronger flavor at a higher power, while others have a stronger flavor at lower power.
A fundamental of electronics, called Watt’s law, is essential in understanding what high power vaping is all about. The best way to explain Watt’s law is by using an analogy.
Let’s imagine a boxer with big strong arms that is capable of packing a powerful punch. Now let’s imagine that boxer punching a heavy bag in the gym. The only thing slowing down the potential power the boxer can deliver is the resistance of the air in the gym. Air being relatively thin means he’s going to hit that bag with a lot of power.
Now let’s imagine the same boxer hitting the same heavy bag, but this time he’s under water. The water offers much more resistance than air does, so even though the boxer’s strength is the same, his punches is going to be much less powerful.
Electronics work in a similar manner. Voltage is potential, similar to the boxer’s strength, and resistance works the same as it does in the analogy. The more resistance there is, the less electrical power that’s delivered given the same voltage.
As usual when dealing with scientific topics, there is a mathematical formula which defines this behavior. This formula is Watt’s law.
Power = (Voltage * Voltage) / Resistance
Knowing this formula is vital to understanding what high power vaping is all about, and helps us gain a better understanding of how the different combinations of vaping equipment perform relative to each other. This is where the term high power vaping comes from. Let’s look at some concrete examples to see what I mean.
Most standard 510 atomizers have a resistance of 2.5 ohms. Mass produced PV’s such as the 510 and the eGo run around 3.2v. Using Watt’s law, we can calculate the power output for this configuration.
(3.2 * 3.2) / 2.5 = 4.096 watts
If we use a standard 510 atomizer, but instead step up to a 3.7v device our power output increases.
(3.7 * 3.7) / 2.5 = 5.476 watts
Let’s see what happens when we step up to a 5v device with the same standard 510 atty.
(5.0 * 5.0) / 2.5 = 10 watts
Now that’s a huge difference. 5v is considered by many to be a vaping “sweet spot.” Having seen these examples, you might think that 5v, with all that power, is the bee’s knees. But hold on a second! What happens when we change the resistance of the atomizer?
Most low resistance 510 atomizers are rated at 1.5 ohms. Let’s see what happens when we use a low resistance 510 atty on a 3.7v PV.
(3.7 * 3.7) / 1.5 = 9.127 watts
Holy high power, Batman! Our 3.7v device with an LR atty is now putting out almost the same amount of power as a 5v device. This is why you’ll see people saying that a 3.7v device with an LR atty simulates 5v vaping. It’s not a simulation at all. It’s just putting out slightly less power than a 5v device with a standard atty. It’s still high power vaping.
You might be asking if high voltage vaping is an incorrect term though. It’s clear that 5v with a standard atty is putting out more power than 3.7v with a LR atty. Let’s look at one more example to see why high voltage vaping is indeed a misnomer.
Some vendors these days are selling what they term high voltage atomizers. These atomizers typically have a resistance of 3.5 ohms. Let’s see what happens if we put a 3.5 ohm atty on a 5v device.
(5.0 * 5.0) / 3.5 = 7.14 watts
Whoops! Now our 5v device is putting out less power than a 3.7v device with an LR atty. The voltage is higher, for sure, but as we’ve learned here, voltage is only part of the equation - resistance being the other. Power output is what’s really determining the performance of the PV.
And that’s about it. Equipped with this knowledge, you should be much more prepared to make a decision about which configuration of PV and atomizer - or cartomizer, they have resistance too - works best for you.