How to Choose a Rebuildable Atomizer

December 07, 2020

How to Choose a Rebuildable Atomizer

With such a wide variety of rebuildable atomizers on the market, how does a person choose the right one for them? While the selection may seem overwhelming, if you look at a few key attributes you should be able to narrow down your best fit. 

First: what’s drawing you to rebuildables? Is it a dissatisfaction with flavour, or mouth-feel (vapour)? Is it a desire to tinker more, or learn more about the mechanics of vaping? Is it to save money? Determining those reasons will help to determine which attributes will be the most important to you in a rebuildable atomizer. 

There’s no perfect atomizer: they all have pros and cons in individual categories, and suit some people more or less, but there are a lot of great atomizers and it is possible to find the perfect one for you. Indeed there are likely many rebuildable atomizers that check all of your boxes. So let’s look at what some of those boxes may be:

    • Airflow: different types of airflow on RDAs, on tanks (side, over, under; MTL or DTL)
    • Build space and/or coil type (coil heads or coils, big or small coils, comfortable with your install experience or newer to building)
    • What kind of device do you want to pair it with?
    • E-liquid capacity
    • Convenience
    • Flavour and/or vapour production
    • Cost, what kind of budget are you working with?

Airflow is arguably one of the most important factors affecting the performance of your atomizer. A tighter or more restricted airflow means you have to suck a little harder to get vapor. Looser or more open airflow makes it easier to take a pull and generally produces more vapor. Mouth to lung (MTL) style atomizers have quite tight airflows, and you can feel a bit of suction as you are drawing on them. Direct to lung (DTL) style atomizers have much more open airflow, often described as ‘whooshy’. Both the DTL and MTL types usually have an option to adjust the airflow. Some atomizers claim to be good at both DTL and MTL by having airflow adjustments that go from wide open to very restricted. However, in my experience they don’t really work well as both. You’re usually better to get the atomizer that is best suited for one or the other.

As you are pulling air through the atomizer, it’s important that this airflow hits the coils. When the coils are inline with the airflow, it causes turbulence as the vapor is coming off the heated coil. This (among other things) helps to maximize the flavour of your e-liquid. Check or ask about the airflow on any new (to you) atomizer.

Deck size and configuration determines how many different types and sizes of coils you can use. All rebuildables have some sort of way for you to affix the coils. These can be posts or clamps that rise from the deck, slots that sink into the deck, or inserting factory made coil heads that include the wicking. Regardless of style or post configuration, all coils are resistors and part of the flow of electricity. This is why they get hot enough to vaporize your e-liquid. A good design is one where you can choose between several coils and still have plenty of room for your cotton coming out of the coils into the juice well. When the wick is too tight against the cap, it chokes the flow of liquid as well as getting nasty. If you’re brand new to rebuildables, get something with sufficient deck space and an easy install system while you familiarize yourself with the use and maintenance of your new atomizer.

You will want to consider what kind of device(s) that you plan to pair with the RBA. Do you prefer larger, dual or triple battery devices or is your preference a smaller, lighter weight mod? Bearing in mind that it is the resistance of the coils that matters most for both safety and energy consumption, the overall aesthetic is something that you might want to factor in.

E-liquid capacity is something to bear in mind. If you are travelling or using your device at work or on the go, a tank that doesn’t leak and doesn’t need to be refilled is ideal (the Kriemhild Sub Ohm Tank and Reload MTL are particularly good). If a dripping atomizer is more your style, it’s still important to look at the depth and space. An over-dripper (like myself) is going to prefer a good seal and deep deck to avoid accidental messes. Take into account the space that your wick will occupy. 

Convenience is another factor to consider. While tanks might seem like the obvious choice for ease of use, some can be particularly finicky to wick. A bad experience with a tank might be a result of improper wicking, and not an issue with the tank itself. Ask your retailer about the product(s) that you are interested in and whether there are any known issues and/or tips. There are some fantastic tanks on the market. Alternatively, rebuildable dripping atomizers (RDAs) do require more attention but allow the user complete flexibility. They’re easy to clean and wick and they usually feature a more spacious build deck than most tanks. While a little more hands-on than tanks, RDAs can be a good choice for picky vapers with the plethora of options. 

Fortunately there are rebuildables available at prices that suit everyone. If you are just starting out with your first RBA, you can find decent ones for around $30. Most high quality well known brand rebuildables can be purchased for under $100. You can expect many of these to last several years of daily use. However there is still a bunch of junk out there. Do a little research to see if what you are interested in is liked by others. If you buy quality items, regardless of price, you will spend less in the long run. 

Comparing costs is one place where rebuildables shine very bright for the consumer. Refilling your atomizer with e-liquid and simply changing out your wicks and coils as needed is a huge savings over replacing pods. Basic round wire builds can cost as little as pennies a month. Same with cotton. However if you want the best flavour and denser vapour, consider using more advanced coil types like Aliens, Staggered Framed, etc. Make these yourself or purchase a handcrafted set and save yourself the grief. A good set of handcrafted coils from a master builder runs about $20-$25 and will provide great performance for months. Overall, you can expect to save a considerable amount of money getting into rebuildables. 

The other great news is that your rebuildable atomizer should last you a very long time with just a bit of basic maintenance. Choose a schedule that works for you (once a week or so, more frequently if you are using a sugary e-liquid that gunks up coils) to clean your atomizer well with soap and water. Check to make sure your O-rings are in good shape (extras are usually included with your atomizer), your screws and posts all look good and everything is tight. Try not to overtighten anything because that can create its own problems. A good rebuildable atomizer, properly cared for, can be counted on to provide years of use. 

As always, don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions. And best of luck finding the perfect RBA for you!

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