Vaping Hardware: A Beginner’s Guide (Part One)

Vaping can be intimidating for beginners. Vaping has been innovative since its genesis, and with that innovation comes almost unlimited hardware combinations. This three-part beginner’s guide is designed to help vapers get started. In part one, we will examine the anatomy of electronic cigarettes, and how they operate. We will define different atomizers types, and explain their functional styles. Finally, we will wrap up with a comparison between regulated and unregulated mods. Let us help you take the intimidation out of your vaping experience!


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There is an incredible variety of electronic cigarettes. Vape hardware varies in structure, function, and style, but the vast majority follow the same basic structure. Power is drawn from the battery, through the threading, to a heating element, which brings the e-liquid to atomization. The fine mist of vapor is inhaled through the drip tip.


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Disposable atomizers are complete units, where the coil, tank, and drip tip are included. The unit can be thrown away when the coils burn out and replaced with a new disposable atomizer. The main advantages of using a disposable atomizer are the ease of use, and the ability to change flavors on the fly without lingering tastes or “flavor ghosting.”

Replaceable atomizers have pre-built coils, which can be inserted once a coil burns out. The rest of the atomizer remains intact, but the coil is replaceable. These atomizers are typically better quality than disposable and eliminate the need to carry additional tanks. Pre-built coils make maintenance a breeze leaving more time to enjoy your vape!

Rebuildable dripping atomizers (RDA) or rebuildable atomizers (RBA) are heating elements assembled by the user using “built” or pre-wrapped coils. RDAs require the user to carry a bottle of e-liquid for re-saturation of the wick after about 5-10 drags from their vape.  The advantage of using a RDA/RBA lies in taste optimization, and a more convenient method of switching flavors, without needing to empty out your tank.


Regulated and Unregulated

In the early days of vaping and electronic cigarettes, it was rare to find a device that went above 30 watts of output. Innovators started modifying their equipment to yield higher power, which coined the term, “mod”. As demand for high-powered vape hardware rose, manufacturers began to release simple metal tubes for housing batteries.

These straight-from-the-battery modifications (also known as “mech mods”) allowed vapers to vape at drastically higher wattage, but put the safety of the vaping experience entirely in the hands of the user. Vapers unfamiliar with Ohm’s law and battery discharge rates found themselves in dangerous situations. To provide high-powered vape hardware with improved safety, manufacturers began installing regulator chips and high-tech safety features.

regulated and unregulated

Like any new hobby, you will need to experiment with different hardware before you find your ideal vape hardware setup. Do not be afraid to experiment, but always err on the side of caution. Stay safe, research as much as you can, and be sure to have fun. Your vaping journey has only begun!

Join us next week for the Part 2 Beginner’s Guide where we will be going over ohms and resistance, sub-ohm vaping, and battery safety. For additional guidance, troubleshooting, and vaping expertise, consult our customer service department at 1(877) 565-8273 or Support@mtbakervapor.com

Please note, the information expressed in this tutorial represents industry knowledge gleaned by Mt Baker Vapor from years of working in the vapor industry. The information provided here is only to be used for educational purposes, and not as a definitive scientific guide. Vapor products should be used as intended by the manufacturer. Modifying any product outside of the manufacturer’s guidelines can result in bodily harm, and voids any warranty.

Tim Mechling

Tim is Mt Baker Vapor's resident creative weirdo. He writes, composes music, draws, designs, produces podcasts, investigates, and blows the trumpet for the Common Man.

  • Sakda detsouvanh says:

    interesting read

  • J Holland says:

    Good info, thanks for thanx Mt baker!

  • zach says:

    Good basic info

  • Ken C says:

    Good info for those just getting into vaping.

  • Justin says:

    Good article

  • Kate says:

    Wow! Thank you! I never knew what “mod” actually meant – and now I know. Very helpful article and I cannot wait until the next installation.

    • Corey Gefroh says:

      We are very happy to hear that you acquired some needed information from this post! Thank you for your feedback and Vape On!

    • Ken C says:

      Yeah, some vapers will get a flashlight and MODify it so they can use it as a vaporizer. It wasn’t uncommon in the early days of vaping when it was hard to find good quality devices for a reasonable price.

  • Dolores Choiniere says:

    Thank you so very much for the education!

  • Michelle says:

    That’s exactly what I needed since I’m a beginner! Thank you!

  • Paul says:

    Very good info for newbies and experienced vapers alike

  • John says:

    After reading this you need to read part 2 and part 3, book marked them all! Thank you MBV!

  • Bryan Miller says:

    great guide for a beginner helps them understand that if they want to go unregulated like I did when I started that you need to do your homework first.

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