During my time on the counter at Vapourium, many vapers, new and experienced, have asked me the questions; What is a mech mod? Why would you use one instead of a regulated mod? What would you put on top of it?
‘Mech’ mods, or mechanical mods, are a type of battery module built following the most basic principles of electronics, and are actually a relic of the original vapes, which were modified torch tubes.
First, I’ll explain what a regulated module is, so we have a point of reference for why mechanical mods are so different.
A regulated module is a device which generally contains a built-in battery, or a battery compartment or sled, some circuit boards containing the components to protect against various errors (heat, low voltage, low resistance and short circuits), and a 510 connection, for screwing in various atomisers. Most these days will also include a screen to monitor various aspects of your device.
In contrast, a mechanical module is extremely bare bones. They will generally comprise a battery compartment (this is usually 90% of the module), a mechanical button and a 510 connection.
What are the important things to take away from this?
Firstly, the cells that we use in vaping are powerful. This is why regulated mods carry low resistance protection and short protection. A short circuit and low resistance can have similar outcomes, being that you can over-discharge your battery and ‘vent’ it. This can be potentially dangerous, as it can cause burns or even fires. If the discharge is fast enough, the cell has potential to explode violently, known as ‘thermal runaway’. Users of mechanical mods need to take good care of their cells, constantly checking the insulatory wraps for tears, and ensuring the cell isn’t dented or otherwise deformed.
Mechs are potentially more dangerous than regulated mods. If you don’t know how to build coils at the appropriate resistance, check how this relates to current, and know the maximum discharge ratings of your batteries, as well as proper maintenance and upkeep of your mod and cells, then learn these things when you’re thinking about moving to a mech mod, because the move is well worth it.
So what does this mean for the performance of the mod?
In general terms, a regulated mod is drawing electricity from the battery, then doing some magic to produce the correct wattage, even when the batteries don’t have enough charge to actually push that power.
For mechanical mods, they are more at the mercy of physics. When you press the mechanical button on a mech mod, completing the circuit, the battery will be discharged at the highest rate possible for the rest of the circuit. This rate is determined by the overall resistance of the circuit (more resistance will mean less power, less resistance will mean more power). In vapes, the part that determines this is the coil. Additionally, as the battery is discharged, the performance will reflect the lost power, producing less and less vapour. Mechs tend to have much shorter battery life because of this, prompting everyday users of mechs to generally carry two to four batteries at once.
Most mechanical mod users will pair them with a rebuildable atomiser, such as an RDA, RTA or RDTA, this is because you can easily create coils with the appropriate resistance, making your device safe to use.
By adding more resistance, or taking some away (achieved by building coils from different materials, in different styles and configurations), we can tailor the vaping experience we get from our mech mod.
So, really, what’s the draw?
On the face of it, it looks a bit like a posturing thing; ‘my vape goes so hard, its got no safety measures’. But in reality, it’s a lot more than that.
For starters, because there is no circuit wizardry happening, the ‘firing speed’ of mechs is much faster, meaning it takes less time for your coil to begin vapourising your e-juice.
Mechanical mods also allow for extremely low resistance builds, which to some vapers is the holy grail of vaping.
I tend to find the vapour produced by an RDA firing on a mech mod somehow just feels better. I find I get better temperature, better cloud density and flavour.
Really though, the best part of mechs, for me at least, is the fact that they require constant care, upkeep and maintenance.
Now, this might seem strange, but hear me out. How many of you used to roll your own cigarettes? For some of you, something missing from vapes will be that there’s no craft to it, at least in comparison to rolling your own.
With mechs, I’m building coils once or twice a month, I’m making new wicks almost weekly, and I clean all the contacting surfaces of my mod daily. Keeping on top of all of these things will not only give you the best vaping experience you’ll find, but also makes the actual act of vaping with your device so much more enjoyable.
Caring for the device that cares for you is a great feeling, and something that I think a lot of you would really enjoy. The bump in performance you notice from just wiping your threads off with a paper towel is awesome, and gives you a nice little endorphin boost from the act.
If you haven’t thought about making the switch, now’s as good a time as any. If you are Dunedin-based, keep an ear to the ground, we’ll be offering mech kits at discounted prices, along with setup workshops, so you’ll all safe as houses! Just make sure you’re prepared to be a little more responsible with these devices.