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Choosing an E Cig can be a daunting task, especially if you've never used one before. There are so many different makes, models and brands available both on the internet and in electronic cigarette UK stores that it can all be a little bit overwhelming but when you arm yourself with just a little information on the fundamentals of how they work, you'll find it's really quite easy. We have made this list to explain the different features of different models, from the chamber that holds the nicotine liquid to the battery that activates it.
As you read you'll notice words like 'variable voltage', 'clearomizer', 'ohms' and 'mAh' (milliampere-hour) and it's perfectly understandable that you won't know what more than half of these terms mean, but by the end of this article you'll have learned them all and have gained enough knowledge to choose a model that bests suits you and your needs.
E Cigs are a relatively new alternative to smoking. If you haven't been living in a cave for the past eight years or so, you'll have heard about them and how popular they have become but for those of you who haven't, lets just say that there are over 2 million ex-smokers using them in the UK alone (for a more detailed history of Electronic Cigarettes in the UK, visit our History page). They are made to mimic the sensation of smoking tobacco by 'vaporizing' a nicotine solution called E-Liquid which the user inhales to deliver nicotine to the lungs and bloodstream. Since this nicotine solution is mainly water-based it is far less harmful than tobacco and more environmentally friendly.
There are many different models available but they always come in three parts; the battery, the atomizer and the E-Liquid chamber. As you may have guessed, the E-liquid chamber is where the nicotine solution is stored. The battery is used to activate the atomizer and as the atomizer gets hotter, it heats the liquid, generating vapour which the user can then inhale into their lungs like a normal tobacco cigarette. Some devices are activated automatically when the user takes a pull on the mouthpiece while some have a button to activate the atomizer.
There are three main types that exist today. We have listed these and given a short description of each one including a key indicator of how you can expect each one to perform.
Disposable ecigs are called this just for that reason; once you've used up the battery you simply throw it away. The parts are all attached to one another and cannot be taken apart or replaced.
Battery Life: Low
Vapour Production: Low
Cost: If you stick to using these then you can expect to use one every day or two. They can cost around £6 each which makes them similarly as expensive to smoking ten tobacco cigarettes a day.
Ideal For: If you prefer weak tobacco or lite cigarettes, or you only smoke less than five a day, these are likely to please you but the price won't.
First generation starter kits look similar to normal cigarettes but are slightly larger and are available in various colours. They have a rechargeable battery and are used with cartomizers. Cartomizers are liquid chambers which can store less than 1ml and have the atomizer built in. They are disposable parts but some can be refilled until the atomizers life comes to an end. Once they do stop working you'll have to buy more cartomizers from the same vendor, making these the tobacco companies choice for their customers. Cartomizers usually last around the same as a disposable ecig but are cheaper.
These generally have weak battery life (180-200mAh*) but some models come with a portable charging case included (or PCC). This case serves to keep your battery charged while you aren't using it, however you can expect to pay a lot more for this feature.
*mAh is an abbreviation of milliampere-hour, which is a measurement of the capacity of a battery. Generally the higher the mAh of a battery, the longer it will last depending on the voltage. As far as first generation devices go, you don't need to worry about the voltage of your battery.
Battery Life: Low
Vapour Production: Low/Medium
Cost: First generation E Cigarettes can be expensive if you buy the PCC versions and if you smoke more than ten a day, you're gonna need it! A PCC starter kit can cost around £40-£80 whereas a single battery/cartomizer kit can cost from £10 each. The replacement cartomizers can cost around £6-£12 for a pack of five.
Ideal For: Light smokers who want a more permanent and cost effective solution.
These are the most common type because they are both reliable and more cost effective than the first generation models. The most popular ecig model is the EGo which is available in two different types; a three part system of a battery, atomizer and 1ml E-liquid chamber, or a two part system of a battery and a clearomizer.
Clearomizers are similar to cartomizers but are different in many ways. One of the ways they are different is that they are all refillable. Another way is that they can be disposable or rebuildable. With a rebuildable clearomizer you can simply keep the chamber to use over and over again and just replace the atomizer inside.
The battery life is typically more than three times that of a first generation device, with EGo models ranging between 650mAh and 1100mAh. They don't look anything like a normal cigarette and they also have a button located on the battery which you press to activate the atomizer. They come in many different colours but the most popular are black and silver. Clearomizers also come in varying colours such as red, blue, green or just plain transparent. This makes it more customizable for users which has boosted their popularity.
The vapour production is far better than cig-a-likes and can satisfy most users. Those who aren't satisfied and need a stronger throat hit can simply counter this by increasing the nicotine content in their liquid.
Battery Life: Medium/High
Vapour Production: Medium/High
Cost: A typical EGo starter kit consisting of a single 650mAh battery, one clearomizer and a USB charger with carry case can cost upwards of £15 each and a double kit can cost £30+, making them slightly more expensive than first generation devices but far more superior. Replaceable clearomizers typically cost upwards of £6 and the replaceable atomizers can cost around £2 each.
Ideal For: All but the most enthusiastic smokers will certainly be comfortable with a second generation E Cig. Light smokers can use weaker liquid and stronger smokers can use stronger liquid so it's made to suit everyone.
The newest and most advanced forms of E-Cigarette are known as mods or VV/VW kits. VV means variable voltage and VW means variable wattage. This means you can change how your battery performs based on how you like your vaping experience to be.
Generally, higher settings means higher vapour production and lower settings means lower vapour production (for an in depth explanation of how VV and VW works, see our FAQ page). These models have larger and more powerful batteries and while most are still as portable as second generation devices, some are very large with batteries as powerful as 3000mAh.
Unless you are really enthusiastic about vaping or are a very heavy smoker (30+ a day) you won't really feel the benefit of the advanced features these devices offer.
They can be used with most clearomizers but you can also find specialized clearomizers and parts from most mod stores.
Battery Life: High/Very High
Vapour Production: Customizable from Low to Very High
Cost: I'm not going to lie to you, mods are very expensive. They typically range between £40 and £100 but some can cost as much as £300 a piece. The parts are replaceable in most cases and can be expensive for the higher priced models but in general, for a basic mod kit you can expect the maintenance cost to be that of a standard second generation kit.
Ideal For: Very heavy smokers and enthusiasts who really want to delve into the world of Electronic Cigarettes.
So there you have it, that should be everything you need to know about buying an Electronic Cigarette in the UK either from ecig zone or another vendor. Just be sure that whomever you buy your E Cig from have the correct markings on the batteries (CE, Rubbish Bin sign) and can provide quality goods that won't fail or malfunction. If you have any other questions please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or post a comment to one of our social pages located at the bottom right corner of this page.
All content, unless stated otherwise, is contributed by Stephen Parkinson