Watt? Variable Wattage/Variable Voltage/Regulated – What’s That?

Understanding Variable Wattage, Variable Voltage, Regulated, and Non-Regulated PV’s

VapersVoice Power TriangeYou don’t have to be an electrical engineer to understand the basic differences between variable wattage, variable voltage, regulated, and non-regulated electronic cigarettes. Sure there are a bunch of equations like the one on the left that describes how to calculate wattage, and there are others, but do you need to know all that to understand different types of electronic cigarettes? My opinion is no.

I am going to try to use a straightforward example to help clarify the difference. Something we do regularly (usually everyday); turning on a light in your room. Most people have a preference when it comes to lighting. Some like a nice soft glow, while others want bright vibrant light. This is a lot like vaping preferences. Some may like a nicely charged battery and a standard resistance atomizer or cartomizer. On the other hand others may like a higher voltage option with lower resistant coils to really cook the juice.

But, how is this similar to light bulbs? Well, think about the last time you shopped for a light bulb. Did you get the soft white 60 watt bulb, or the bright 100 watt bulb? Much like before the invention of the dimmer switch, you had to choose how bright of a bulb you wanted. Early vaping was similar. Up until the advent of variable voltage mods, vapers basically made adjustments to their electronic cigarettes based on the atomizers resistance. Like a calmer cooler vape? You generally purchased higher ohm atomizers. Like it warmer and a bit more active? You generally purchased lower ohm atomizers. Don’t let the watts and ohms confuse you it’s the results: warm active vs. cooler calmer that matters. Try and keep that in mind as we talk about various types electronic cigarettes.

The Basic Electronic Cigarette

“Unregulated” Electronic Cigarettes

Think of the basic electronic cigarette like replacing your living room light with a battery powered flashlight or lantern. When you flip the light switch its a nice amount of light to start. Depending on what light bulb you put in the flashlight (high wattage/low wattage/etc) you may get a brighter hotter light (much like using a low ohm atomizer), or a dimmer cooler light (much like using a higher ohm atomizer).

Ultimately however, you are at the mercy of the the battery powering your flashlight. As time goes on, the battery will drain and your light will become dimmer and dimmer over time. There is no option other than to swap out, or charge your battery to get back to that nice starting point. This, in the electronic cigarette world, is generally called “unregulated” vaping. Electronic Cigarettes that run directly off the battery are just like flashlights. The longer you use them, the weaker they become. Every time you use it the vape gets weaker, until eventually you swap for a new battery.

“Regulated” Electronic Cigarettes

While I would still consider regulated electronic cigarettes basic by today’s standards these electronic cigarettes are a bit more like a standard living room light that many people have today (well kinda). When you flip the light switch in your living room today, again, you again get a nice amount of light. Also again, depending on what light bulb your using you may get a brighter light (like using a low ohm atomizer), or a dimmer light (like using a high ohm atomizer). And again, you are at the mercy of a single on/off switch. However, your power company ensures that you always have the same voltage when you flip that light switch.

Regulated electronic cigarettes are the same concept. As time goes on, the battery will drain, however, the internal circuity continues to boost the voltage to a set voltage level, all the way to the end of the battery life. Much like your living room light doesn’t get dimmer and dimmer over time, neither does a regulated electronic cigarette (however unlike your living room it just stops when it senses the battery has gotten too low). 

Advanced Electronic Cigarettes

Variable Voltage Electronic Cigarettes

Taking from what we learned above, variable voltage cigarettes are generally “regulated” meaning they will output the same voltage until the battery needs charging. However, going back to our example, variable voltage electronic cigarettes are very similar to a living room light with an added dimmer switch. Unlike basic electronic cigarettes these devices allow the user to adjust the voltage to their liking much like you can dim or brighten the lights using a dimmer switch. Not bright enough? Crank it up! Too bright? Bring it down. It’s all up to you to determine the voltage. You are telling the electronic cigarette “no matter what” always deliver X amount of voltage. In my opinion it was a pretty cool step forward for vaping, allowing the user to tailor their vape experience. However…

One drawback is that no matter what you put on there, it will (within safety limits) fire at that voltage. Let’s go back to the living room light on a dimmer as an example. Let’s say that you adjust your dimmer all the way up to get the perfect bright light level for reading your book. Then, after a bit you stop reading and decide to meditate. So, you decide to swap the light for the little flashlight bulb you like so much on a nice dim setting, but you forget to adjust the dimmer. If you flip the light switch… POP! (Okay, its a bit of an outlandish example but work with me!). The same can happen with a variable voltage device. If you adjust the voltage very high to accommodate a high resistance atomizer, and then place a low resistance atomizer on the device, it will still fire at that high voltage, and you will likely have a burnt mess.

Variable Wattage Electronic Cigarettes

So we have come to the end of the road. Variable Wattage electronic cigarettes are arguably the newest technology available at the time this was written.

In the end, through everything we discussed so far, what we are really talking about is work (definition 2). No, not the kind you get paid for, but the output of energy. Lets say you have a standard on/off light switch. When you flip the switch on, you send electricity to the light bulb in your room. As you may know light bulbs are rated in watts. A 60 watt light bulb does less work (creates less energy, i.e. light and heat) than a 100 watt light bulb.

Okay, I am going to throw up a chart here, BUT, don’t get scared. As I mentioned I want to make this simple, but this chart will really help, trust me!


Just like light bulbs, vaping can be measured in wattage. You can determine your wattage simply by knowing the resistance of your favorite atomizer/cartomizer/clearomizer and what voltage you like to vape that favorite at. For example, I know that when I use a 3 ohm cartomizer I like my device at 5 volts. Using the chart above I would be vaping at 8.2 watts. DON’T WORRY. You DO NOT need to look things up like this every time you want to vape, because here is the magical part…

Once you know your wattage number, you can use your wattage number on any variable wattage device with any type of atomizer/cartomizer/clearomizer out there. It’s like knowing your “sleep number” on a sleep number bed, you can use it anywhere there is a sleep number bed! How does this work? Let’s go back to the example one last time.

Imagine you have an automated light system in your living room. You spend a little time adjusting the lights to where they are absolutely perfect. Just right, not to bright, not too dark, the perfect setting for you, and you tell the system to save it, and it provides you with a number, say 8.2 watts (see where I am going here?) Now, lets say you borrow a friends variable wattage electronic cig… I mean go to a friends house that has the same system installed, perhaps even by a different company. You should be able to enter your number (8.2) and get the exact same lighting as your home, regardless of what type of light bulbs they use or even if they live in Europe and you live in the U.S. Since that number is an output, and the system adjusts all the inputs, all you need to do is set the device to your number.

Variable Wattage is the same concept. Unlike variable voltage you are setting the output not the inputs. Unlike a dimmer switch where you have to control the input, the system takes into account everything and sets the inputs up for you.

If you set your variable wattage mod to 8.2 watts two things will happen. First the mod will automatically detect the ohms of what you put on, such as a 3.0 ohm cartomizer. Second when you fire your electronic cigarette it will look to see the ohm rating of what your using, and then adjust the voltage, in this case to 5 volts, then fire. Likewise, without changing anything, should you swap that 3.0 ohm cartomizer, for a 2.0 ohm atomizer, the mod will automatically detect the change in the ohms of your atomizer then fire at around 4 volts. Once you know your “Vape Number” then really, nothing else matters. I will mention however, this assumes that you don’t have different preferences for other items such as the juice, or that you vape higher on carto’s than say, atomizers.

Wrap Up

So to wrap this all up, I think that variable wattage and variable voltage is all about how much convenience you want along with  the amount of control you want to have over your vape. Variable wattage will provide you with a more convenient manner to ensure your vape is how you like it. It is the proverbial “set it and forget it” based on your “Vape Number”.

However, if your the type of person who varies their vaping depending on your device, juice, etc, you may just like variable voltage a bit better. It will provide you with more control to “refine” your vape.

So… Whats YOUR “Vape Number”. Mine is 8.2.

I hope this was useful. Vape Loud, Vape Proud!


12 thoughts on “Watt? Variable Wattage/Variable Voltage/Regulated – What’s That?”

  1. Lesa Brooks says:

    Thank you for making this understandable. FINALLY, I get it.

  2. John Hallal says:

    Excellent post, Bogey- especially loved the comparison to lights! And great chart!

  3. Izhan Zubir says:

    lve this.. explains in detail. thank u very much

  4. Pingback: Mechanical Mods - Should I Get One? VapersVoice
  5. Trackback: Mechanical Mods - Should I Get One? VapersVoice
  6. Pingback: Wataje variable. Y tu, ¿eres de Manual o de Automático? | Vap-up.es
  7. Trackback: Wataje variable. Y tu, ¿eres de Manual o de Automático? | Vap-up.es
  8. Chellie says:

    Great explanation – just what I was looking for.

  9. Vape wizard says:

    Awesome info I love this blog! I also think everyone has a sweetspot you just have to find it

  10. Robyn says:

    I have a question. I have a Tesla Two Sub Mod w/o temp control. I have a Herakles Hydra tank. That comes with 2 coils, a 1.8 and a Ni200. I love the 200 but being it’s Nickle, it burns right out when my sub mod is fully charged. Why, and are there coils that are 2.00 ohms to fit the Herakles HYDRA that are NOT made of Nickle??

    1. Bogey says:

      The 1.8 ohm coil is not a nickel coil. The nickel coil that came with the tank should only be used in a temperature control device, never in a non temperature control device. The properties of nickel are ideal for a device to control the temperature. However without that control the coil could fire too hot, and possibly give off toxic fumes.

      I am not aware of 2.0 ohm coils but 1.8 coils shouldn’t be that much different.

      1. Robyn says:

        Thank you for clearing that up for me Bogey. The place where I bought the sub mod and tank should’ve told me that before they sold me them together! I only wish the vape shops in my area knew more about what they’re selling and had more knowledge about the whole thing in general. I’ll get it right one of these days AFTER spending too much money!! I enjoy reading ur blog, it’s very helpful to me and the next time I buy something, I’ll ask YOU first!! thanks again!!

  11. John says:

    Good real life example of ohms law. I just need to find out how you get the voltage and wattage at which the coil resistance will burn?

  12. John says:

    Great information Bogey. Man that really makes all this vv & vw completely understandable. Man it makes me feel dumb because I am an engineer. Thanks Man!!

Voice Your Opinion