e-Cigarette Hardware Review: 3.5ml CE2 Style Dual Coil clearomizers
You know this was bound to happen. Dual coil cartomizers are one of the hottest things to hit the electronic cigarette hardware world in a while. In fact, they take up at least two places on the recent top 5 cartomizer article I published. Top coil filler-less cartomizers (better know as CE2) have always been a mainstay in the e-cig aftermerket. Now, the two technologies have finally come together in the dual coil CE2 cartomizers. Do these devices provide the best of both cartomizer approaches?
The 3.5ml dual coil CE2 cartomizers are an interesting blend of old and new CE2 designs beyond just sporting an extra coil. Starting with the outside of the clearomizer, the tube is made of the older clear plastic. The newest versions of the regular CE2s switched to a different plastic (similar to that used in syringes) to minimize cracking due to stress and acidic liquids.
|Lots of stuffing|
The newer plastic found in standard clearomizers is smoked as opposed to the crystal clear older tubes. I almost have to wonder if this was done for aesthetic reasons to allow consumers to see the updated insides of the dual coil CE2. There’s good reason to want to show off the dew dual CE2 engine as there’s quite a bit going on there.
My attention was first grabbed not by the 2nd heating coil assembly, but by the wicks inside the tube. The new wicks are fat. The wicks are noticeably thicker than the current generation of single coil CE2 devices. Not only are the wicks much bigger, but there are twice as many.
This leads to considerably less room inside the cabin. It’s no real wonder why the new dual coil CE2s came in 3.5ml, they need the room. There’s more wick than empty space inside the tube. In fact, I could barely get 2.5ml of liquid inside the thing without waiting for the wicks to absorb more liquid.
|One is good, two must be better!|
The real star of the show is of course, the 2nd ceramic heating element. Like the originals, the dual coil CE2 still features horizontal heating elements positioned in a ceramic cup. The bottom element is still attached to the battery connector via a hollow tube to allow airflow.
The top coil is where things begin to get interesting. It’s basically a free-standing coil assembly that sits atop a steel sleeve and a black gasket. Wires from the battery connector run inside the silicon gasket topping the first coil and the sleeve and up to the second coil.
In case you’re wondering, the inner silicone gaskets are still the same as previous models. The gasket for the bottom coil which is totally covered by the metal sleeve still has the tiny pinholes intended for syringe filling.
Putting e-liquid into the dual coil CE2 is familiar territory to fans of the original CE2s. A (large) outer gasket sits between the rubber tip and the heating coils. This gasket first has to be removed before filling. This is the same as the original models, except the gasket is in the tube fairly firmly and is a little trickier to remove.
|Gasket, bottom right|
Once the gasket is removed, filling is done via syringe as well. There’s one difference here, however. Rather than using the filling holes located on the inner silicone coil covers (which are still present), simply place the needle between the side of the tube and the heating coil and fill.
I found filling was a little bit tricky because of those enormous wicks. I had to move the needle around to a few different spots to fill the air pockets that tended to form around the wicks. Waiting a few seconds in between moving the needle around also helped to give the wicks time to absorb the liquid.
Unlike standard CE2s, replacing the outer gasket after filling is crucial. Because there is space between the sidewall and the coils, the gasket keeps liquid from running out. I think if the factory simply shortened the tube a little, the rubber drip tip could have served the same purpose.
One of the hallmarks of the CE2s design is the ability to clean and re-use the cartomizer countless times. Fans of the device will be delighted to hear the dual coil version is also cleanable. The bad news is that it’s more difficult to clean than the CE2 (though much less difficult than CE3 Smokymizers).
Cleaning works along the same lines of the CE2 clearomizers. First, remove the drip tip and the outer silicone gasket. Attach the cartomizer to an electronic cigarette and wiggle the tube while gently pulling the tube. Once the tube is free from the battery connector, carefully pull the tube the rest of the way off to avoid pulling the second heating element off with the tube.
Take the inner silicone cover off the top coil and remove the top coil. To remove the top coil assembly, grab it and gently move it to the side. Be sure to move it with the wires so they are not stretching on the bottom coil. Carefully move the top coil to the side to expose the bottom coil.
From this point cleaning is the same as a CE2, clean and dry the wicks. If necessary, dry burn the build up on the coils. This part is particularly tricky. One coil will likely heat up faster than the other. Great care has to be taken to not overheat one coil while trying to get the other coil to burn. It doesn’t take long to pop one of the heating coils waiting for the other to light up.
Reverse the process to reassemble. Take care to ensure the wick slots in the inner gaskets are aligned properly. Also make sure the top coil assembly is straight when the tube is replaced. If the assembly is crooked it could affect wicking or airflow.
The real question is does the performance justify the added hassle and expense? I ran the cartomizer through its paces on my vari-volt box mod. Compared to standard CE2s, the dual coil CE2s have some advantages. The performance is respectable even at 3.7 volts and gets better with higher voltages.
|Ready for testing|
At the lower end of the spectrum, the dual coil CE2s produce a healthy amount of vapor. The vapor is warm as a result of the CE2 top coil design. Flavor reproduction seems to fare well too. I’d say there is a bit of an edge over CE2s, particularly with the volume and density of the vapor.
Where things get different is at higher voltages. I’ve never really had good luck with CE2s running above 3.7 volts. Even higher resistance models had issues wicking fast enough to keep up with the increased wattage even running at a modest 4 volts.
The Dual coil update not only works well at higher voltages, it thrives. At 4.5 and even a little bit beyond 5 volt, these cartomizers are fog machines. At the higher end of the spectrum, the vapor is downright hot (as is the entire cartomizer). Some people prefer cooler vapor so might want to steer clear of these cartomizers.
Much like the regular dual coil cartomizers, vapor intensity increases with voltage. To a point. Closer to the 6v range, things start to break down and the vapor begins to get harsh. This indicates that while the fat wicks do a much better job at wicking, they still can’t quite keep up with very high voltage.
The other factor that points to wicking giving out before the coils is that the vapor also begins to get harsh when the cartomizer runs low on liquid. It doesn’t keep up quite as well when it’s down to around 1/5th of a tank.
Getting down to that 1/5th doesn’t take very long. As is often the case with cartomizers that produce large amount of vapor, this is one thirsty cartomizer.
Too Long; Didn’t Read
The 3.5ml dual coil clearomizer is an interesting update on the CE2 clearomizers. The new design still has many of the hallmarks of the CE2 including warm vapor and the ability to clean the devices. The tube is the standard old-style clear plastic which means that part will likely give out before the heating elements. The additional coil and updated wick provides a huge bump in performance over a standard single-coil CE2 clearomizer.
Vapor Production: Good (3.7v) to Excellent (5v)
Vapor Warmth: Warm (3.7v) to hot (5v)
Flavor Reproduction: Good
Draw: Moderate to light
- Good performance at lower voltages
- Very good performance up to 5v
- Difficult to dry burn
- Wicks reduce capacity
- A little more effort to fill
- Tubes susceptible to cracking