Is Temp Control Dead?
Why Did Temperature Control Vaping Fail to Take Off?
When you shop online for box mods, any device that you find with power regulation features is going to have a temperature control mode available. Around 2015-2016, temperature control appeared as though it was fast becoming a must-have feature. If a mod didn’t have temperature control mode on its feature list, no one would buy it. In the end, though, a funny thing happened: The trend reversed itself. Widespread adoption of temperature control vaping never actually took place as the manufacturers in the vaping industry predicted.
As 2018 draws to a close, there are no temperature control coils in production for any modern vaping tank aside from stainless steel coils. Most of the people who buy advanced mods today put their devices into wattage mode and never take them out of it. What happened? Temperature control vaping was supposed to end dry hits forever, but the vaping community as a whole breathed a collective sigh and moved on.
So, is temperature control vaping dead? Not quite, as you’re about to find out. Among cloud chasers, though, the technology seems to have become completely irrelevant. Let’s look at why temperature control vaping never quite reached critical mass.
Temperature Control Coils Couldn’t Keep Up With Cloud Chasing Trends
It’s amazing how much sub-ohm tanks have changed in just a few years. Today’s pre-built tank coils have seemingly doubled in size compared to the coils that were considered powerful just a few years ago. People who use sub-ohm tanks typically use coil heads with anywhere from 4-12 heating wires, and those who don’t use that type of coil have moved on to the newer mesh coils. In that world, there is simply no room for nickel or titanium coils. The big multiple-wire kanthal coil heads already push the limits of what vaping devices can handle in terms of low-resistance atomizers. The resistance of a big nickel or titanium coil for cloud chasing would be far too low for safe use. You simply can’t build a nickel or titanium coil of the type that modern vapers expect.
You can use stainless steel, but there’s a problem with that.
Temperature Control Is Inaccurate With Stainless Steel Coils
Temperature control vaping works on a principle called temperature coefficient of resistance (TCR). Some vaping coil materials change predictably in resistance when they become hotter. If we know the TCR of a metal or alloy – and we measure the resistance change when the metal heats up – we can estimate how much the metal’s temperature has increased over room temperature. The greater the metal’s TCR, the more accurate the temperature reading will become.
The three most common coil materials for temperature control vaping are nickel, titanium and stainless steel. Let’s examine the TCR of those materials.
- Nickel: 0.006
- Titanium: 0.0035
- Stainless Steel (316L): 0.00094
As you can see, stainless steel has a much lower TCR than the other common temperature control coil materials. Its resistance change during heating is smaller and more difficult to measure. Temperature control with a stainless steel coil, therefore, isn’t particularly accurate. You need a high-end mod to use stainless steel in temperature control mode with any level of accuracy – and if you buy a high-end mod, it’s not likely that you’re using it for temperature control. Stainless steel coils work in wattage mode. They also work better than they do in temperature control mode. No temperature control device will allow you to set the temperature higher than 600 degrees F. In wattage mode, though, your coils most likely exceed that temperature. If you switch a stainless steel coil from temperature control mode to wattage mode, you instantly get more vapor – so you can imagine which mode most stainless steel coil users choose.
Temperature Control Coils Are Hard to Build
Another vaping trend conspired to keep temperature control out of the mainstream: sweetened e-liquid. In 2015-16, heavily sweetened e-liquids were growing in popularity, but they weren’t quite as common as they are today. These days, almost every e-liquid that you’re likely to find in any vape shop will be as sweet as candy – and as you likely already know, sucralose causes coil gunk to form. The more e-liquid you use, the faster the gunk forms. You’re lucky to get a full day out of a powerful vaping coil if you use heavily sweetened e-liquids, so many vapers have moved on from pre-built coils and now build their own coils. The problem is that, for most people, nickel and titanium aren’t viable materials for coil building at all.
- As we described above, nickel and titanium aren’t appropriate materials for true cloud chasing builds.
- Nickel and titanium wires are very thin. It’s hard to get them to hold their shape.
- You can’t dry fire a nickel or titanium coil to check for hot spots. You can’t fire the coils in wattage mode, and temperature control mode won’t allow the coils to become hot enough to glow. You simply have to build coils with spaced wraps and hope that there aren’t any hot spots.
- You also can’t dry fire a nickel or titanium coil for cleaning as you can with a kanthal or stainless steel coil. When the coil gets gunky, the only real option is to discard the coil and build another.
Building a coil with kanthal wire is already monotonous and time consuming. Would you like to switch to a coil material that makes the building process even harder? Probably not.
Temperature Control Lives On Invisibly in Pod Vaping Systems
At this point, you’ve probably concluded that temperature control vaping is completely dead. The truth, though, is that temperature control is only dead in the advanced segment of the vaping industry. Temperature control vaping lives on in the beginners’ segment of the industry in the form of modern pod vaping systems. Vape shops such as Friske Drag sell a steady stream of pod vaping devices with built-in temperature control to beginning vapers because the technology is invisible to the user and simply works. Temperature control may not be the ideal technology for cloud chasers, but it’s perfect for small devices in which lower vapor production is expected. Modern pod vaping systems by companies such as Vaporesso and Suorin – and even the popular JUUL e-cigarette – all have built-in temperature control to prevent dry hits.