In the first installment of the E-Cig 101 series, I talked about the differences between cartomizer and atomizer technologies for eclectronic cigarettes. If you haven’t yet, you may wish to check out E-Cig 101: Atomizers and Cartomizers which explains a lot of the terms being used in this installment.
As a quick refresher, electronic cigarettes weather using an atomizer or cartomizer produce vapor through the same method: heating ejuice into a vapor which is then inhaled by the user. The heating is done by a coil which is charged when current from a battery is applied. Cartomizers deliver the ejuice to the coil either through some form of heat proof filler surrounding the heating coil, or via silicone wicks which absorb and transfer the liquid via a reservoir.
|Just a small sample of different models|
One of the hallmarks of cartomizers is the huge number of variations on the technology. Fillered cartomizers can feature the heating coil either at the bottom (area closest to the battery connection) or situated in the middle of the tube oriented horizontally. Many vendors have put their own unique spin on these cartomizers by offering variations in capacity or performance.
The latest innovation in this type of cartomizer is the dual coil varieties put out by SmokeTech. These units feature two heating coils wired in parallel. The theory is the two coils produce a more even output and higher vapor production than their single coil brethren. The tradeoff is that these models are inefficient and quickly drain batteries.
|Dual coils, multiple sizes|
Some vendors do not recommend using dual coil cartomizers at all on eGo and 510 style batteries for fear of shortened battery life or damage to the sensitive switches. Many users report the best performance is coaxed out of dual coils by using more specialized high voltage or variable voltage electronic cigarettes.
Some variations of the dual coil cartomizers have hit the market recently to address both low and high voltage electronic cigarettes. One model is a single coil that runs at a very low resistance (around 1.7 ohm) and is designed to provide a similar experience on lower voltage devices like the eGo as higher voltages with the dual coil cartomizer. A triple coil device was also recently released designed specifically for use at 5 volts and above for an even higher level of performance at the cost of an even shorter battery life due to wattage out put and a bunch of other engineering terms I don’t really understand either.
Though not currently available in dual coil versions, tank or tube style cartomizers boast an even wider variety of offerings. These cartomizers do not use a filler material and rather rely on a wick of some type to transfer the liquid where it is stored in the cartomizer to the coil. The reason a wick must be used is because the coil itself will not work if submerged in liquid, so the coil must in some way be physically separated from the liquid supply.
One of the most popular varieties of fillerless cartomizers is the E2 or CE2 models put out by Royal Smoker. These models house the heating coil on the top of the cartomizer (furthest from the battery connector end) which is accomplished by suspending the coil assembly in a ceramic cup on a hollow tube which allows airflow to the battery section.
|Competitor to the CE2 line|
Within the CE2 family are a lot of variants from the original model which houses .8ml of eliquid, the XL varieties holding about twice that and the massive Giantomizer and variants like the Vision which can carry a day’s worth of juice wherever you go. Most of this line is available with steel exterior tubes or clear and tinted plastic tubes. The clear variety may be referred to by the term “clearomizer.” Modified versions of this family of cartomizers called tube or syringe mods are also built and sold by enthusiasts and resellers.
Besides variations on the CE2 style models, manufacturers are experimenting with bottom coil designs for their fillerless cartomizers. The bottom design is appealing because the long wicks found in top-coil models are not necessary in a bottom-coil design. Long wicks can be an inefficient delivery method for the liquid resulting in poor performance and “dry hits” which leave a burning taste in the user’s mouth.
|G4 and Vortex bottom coil cartos|
The G4 was the first attempt at this design which uses a hollow tube in the center of the cartomizer to isolate the heating coil and provide a channel for vapor to flow to the user. Several companies have announced bottom coil designs including the successor to the CE2, the CE3. I will attempt to review as many of these units as possible as they hit the market.
The bottom-coil yet another take on what is surely to be a rapidly developing category of electronic cigarette accessories. Cartomizer design has really taken off in the last year with the launch of the CE2 (and at least 5 enhancements to the design). As competition heats up with companies attempting to get a piece of the growing electronic cigarette industry, things are bound to get more interesting from here.
Cartomizers probably boast the widest array of options out there. From basic fillered cartos to multi-coils and fillerless designs, the choices are plentiful. Innovations will make sure more and more choices are available to consumers in the upcoming months and years.
Much like everything else in the electronic cigarette world, cartomizer design is a matter of taste and user preference. Finding the right style of cartomizer (or even if cartomizers are a good choice for you) will take some amount of trial and error. Just because I, or anybody else may state a preference for a certain style doesn’t mean everyone else is wrong.
|Syringe filling a dual coil model|
Before you run out and buy a big box of cartomizers, it is worth noting that cartomizers can be more difficult to fill than traditional e-cigaratte cartridges. Many work best if filled with a syringe. Using a syringe (with a blunt tip needle) can be a little bit off-putting for some users. I know I resisted using a syringe out of an unfounded and irrational fear of looking like some kind of junkie. Once I got over that initial hump, I find myself filling everything with syringes, even cartomizers that don’t require it like the G4 models. I plan on having a future E-Cig 101 installment covering some of the techniques used to fill cartomizers.
In future articles in this series I’ll dive deeper into atomizers as well as some of the other concepts behind each like resistance and connector styles. Once those posts are up they’ll automagically show up below (welcome, time travelers!) While you wait, I’ve also posted a couple of links to resources to help you dig deeper into the subject.
Part 1: E-Cig 101: Atomizers and Cartomizers
E-Cigarette Resources for New Vapers
Ecig Wiki: Atomizers
Ecig Wiki: Cartomizers
Shameless commerce (hey, you gotta buy this stuff somewhere, right?): Affiliated vendor list