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This time, let's take a look at the basic setups and some battery choices.
Basic Setups and Screw Types
Typical for any industry, there are multiple standards (think Betamax and VHS). Just like Betamax, I do expect that one will dominate, but that hasn't quite happened just yet.
Your battery will have a screw-on end where you place your liquid delivery device, whatever that is. It's critically important to match the screw ends correctly or the two items won't fit together.
Vendors will tell you which screw types they use, and it's mostly just a matter of matching the two.
This was the original screw type, and it's still in use today. The vast majority of my items are 808 threaded, although at this point there are fewer styles available in the 808 than in other screw types.
The 808 has the advantage of a wider base and larger screw threads, making cross-threading and stripping less likely. All else being equal, the 808 threaded item will tend to hold a bit more of your nicotine solution as well.
The Volt X2
This is more of a curiosity than a true screw type. Any 808-threaded item will fit on a Volt X2, but there are items that specifically made to the X2 standard and will only fit a Smokeless Image Volt X2.
The X2 has an outer skirt of threads around the battery, separate from the 808 threads, used to attach items specifically made for this device.
The 510 is a newer screw type in use by companies like eGo. Since eGo and other 510-threaded items tended to dominate the market, the 510 is really today's standard.
You can use any 510-threaded item on any electronic cigarette with a 510 or eGo thread.
While a curiosity like the Volt X2 thread, this is becoming so common that it bears mentioning. Again, eGo threaded items have an outer skirt of separate threads that attach to the base of the battery. This is useful for attaching and stabilizing larger tanks that might stress the central battery post and snap.
You can use any 510-threaded item on an eGo battery style cigarette, but only eGo battery styles will accept eGo threads.
Naturally, some companies use proprietary connections, such as the Ovale eLips. I generally recommend avoiding these as your product choices are restricted to just those that will fit your unusual connection. Those also tend to be more expensive.
So you bought the wrong thread, or want to use your 510-threaded item on an 808? No problem! Most companies sell converters. Screw that onto your battery, then screw the item onto the converter. Converters can be 510 to eGo, 510 to 808, or 808 to 510. Other converters are available.
Which One Should I Choose?
For most people, I recommend either the 510 or 808, and more recently I'm leaning toward the 510 in most cases. Consequently, eGo batteries (remember, the eGo's inside thread is a 510) tend to receive a lot of love from me.
Many, but not all, cigarette-style batteries use the 808 thread, however. So if you're upgrading, you'll need a converter.
There are only two different basic types of batteries, all else is incidental, and which one you choose is completely up to you. The battery in question should tell you what thread it uses so you can match the correct liquid holder with your battery.
Almost all batteries have a safety lockout. If activated for more than a certain number of seconds (usually 7 to 10), the battery automatically turns itself off and won't restart until after activation ceases. Devices called "mechanical mods" are an exception to this rule, but aren't sold as basic electronic cigarettes.
When you draw on the tip, the battery activates and delivers vapor to you. Most people feel more comfortable with this type of battery as it most closely emulates the old smoking experience.
While simple to use, the automatic battery is somewhat more given to failure. Very advanced users also find the automatic gives too little control over the vapor delivery and tend to prefer manuals.
However, I personally use automatic batteries at least 95% of the time.
To activate the battery, you press a button that's generally located on the side of the device. Most of these devices have a lock-out function activated by tapping the button five times (and tap it five times again to turn it back on). This keeps the button from being pressed in your pants or purse and producing a condition known as "hot pocket."
Batteries are available in many sizes, ranging from a dwarf smaller-than-cigarette size that lasts approximately 50 minutes of moderately heavy use to enormous ones that last 2 to 3 days of moderately heavy use.
Battery size is measured in mAh--milliamp hours. Roughly, every 100 mAh is equivalent to 1 hour of moderate to moderately heavy use, so a 550 mAh battery should last the typical user around 5.5 hours.
No user is typical, and no day is completely typical, so your mileage will most assuredly vary!
In most cases for the smaller batteries, small cases (called a PCC or Personal Charging Case) that keep your battery charged are available. The case is, itself, a battery and you recharge it at night. One example is Smokeless Image's: http://smokelessimage.com/...
Smaller Than A Cigarette
There are one or two batteries that are smaller than a cigarette available. Regrettably, I have no personal experience with them, nor have I read terribly much about them.
Most strongly recommend a PCC (Personal Charging Case) to make certain you don't run out of power. Batteries range from 90 mAh to 200 mAh, or 50 minutes to 2 hours of use time before the battery is drained.
Everybody's seen Stephen Dorff rising from the ashes. The Blu electronic cigarette is an example of the cigarette-sized battery. I regret that I am not a fan of Blu due to the expense and small number of advantages the system has.
These are probably the most commonly used battery size on the market. Regrettably, they also have the shortest lifespans and tend to be the worst-regulated batteries, with the experience varying widely between the first puff and the last.
There are exceptions. Both the Bloog electronic cigarette (highlighted in my last diary) and the Smokeless Image Volt (ditto) receive excellent ratings for longer lifespan and good consistency.
Still, no cigarette look-alike will have the lifespan of a larger battery. Lifespans do vary, but most of these batteries are in the 200 to 300 mAh range, giving you 2 to 3 hours of use before requiring a recharge.
Most hobbyists actually do describe their batteries this way. While not as thick as a Sharpie marker, and some are longer, it's not a bad description.
Most companies list their larger batteries under a subtitle such as "Advanced."
Lifespans vary, but generally range from as low as 300 mAh (three hours of use) to 1,300 mAh (13 hours of use).
My personal pick is the Volt X2, which is 808 threaded (or, the less often available one) with a lifespan of 1,300 mAh or 13 hours (their largest model). However, I own and am perfectly happy with the Vision Spinner, a vGo, and several others (all 510 threaded).
For the hobbyist or person who needs to occasionally use a club on barbarian hordes, larger models are available. Most of these have replaceable batteries, so they're designed for very long periods of use. Battery lifespans tend to be very high, in the 1,100 to 4,000 mAh (11 to 40 hour) range.
I won't say a great deal about these as matching battery types becomes an issue.
Perhaps there'll be a diary on Mods, as these are called, if people express interest.
If you were paying VERY close attention to that Smokeless Image Volt X2 link, you noticed that it said "passthrough." It's technically a battery passthrough, not a true passthrough.
A passthrough electronic cigarette attaches to a power source and uses that instead of a battery. The e-cig won't work if detached from the power source, which is generally a USB device of some sort.
A battery passthrough uses the passthrough to charge the battery. The battery then runs the e-cig, and it works away from the connection. You can leave your e-cig plugged in while you use it, keeping the battery charged. I tend to do this, and then break the link to my charger when I stand up and walk away from my computer.
So long as you have the cable and a powered USB, you don't run out of power. I even have a powered USB port in my car.
It's not recommended to use your computer's USB. An accidental short can do damage, although the computer is supposed to automatically cut power. Nobody trusts that will occur properly and hence we recommend small, inexpensive external plug-in chargers. These cost about $10-$20 on Amazon. My personal favorite is the following: http://www.amazon.com/...
And this concludes...
Wait a Sec, Don't Go Yet--That Spinner Thing?
This part is more for the advanced user. Some batteries output one given voltage (usually 3.2 volts or 3.6 volts). These are called moderated batteries, their output is always adjusted to give you a perfectly consistent experience. eGo batteries tend to moderate to 3.2, while the Volt X2 moderates to 3.6.
Other batteries follow the internal battery voltage and are called unmoderated batteries. Lithium batteries start at around 4.2 volts, rapidly drop to around 3.7 volts, and slowly drop to 3.3 volts or so before the electronics determine the battery is getting low and stop powering the device. Many users find unmoderated batteries annoying as the e-cigarette experience changes through the battery charge. And many cigarette-style batteries are unmoderated.
There's a third style, called Variable Voltage (VV for short). These batteries allow the user to set the voltage they wish to use. To most, that sounds useless.
Do you remember that first thing in the morning cigarette? It's one of the hardest to give up no matter how you quit. I finally managed to do so using a Vision Spinner. In the morning, I set the voltage to 4.2, which is a fairly heavy hit. A little later I adjusted down to 3.7 volts and remained there throughout the day.
If I got an intense craving, the voltage went back up for a bit until it went away.
The Vision Spinner will allow you to select any voltage from 3.3 to 4.8 on its easy to use dial. Then press the button to activate it (it's a manual).
The eGo threaded Spinner isn't your only option, you can also opt for the eGo Twist. It's a nearly identical product, but I find the dial to be harder to read.
Many of those advanced mods also allow variable voltage.
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