The debate between regulated mods vs mech mods is on! What is the difference between a mech mod and a regulated mod? We get this question a lot. Although mech mods, or sometimes called unregulated mods, are not as popular as they used to be there are still quite a few vapers who like to do things old school! We are going to get into what mechs are, how they started and compare them to the new advanced regulated mods of today.
First off, let me be clear that regulated vs unregulated has nothing to do with any government regulation or local ordinance. It has nothing to do with any legal question. You won’t get arrested for vaping with an unregulated mech mod! When talking about vape mods, the term unregulated refers to how the mod works. It refers to the “regulation” of electric current that is drawn from the battery or batteries.
We are going to keep this simple. In a nutshell, a mech mod is a vapor device that heats your atomizer coil with current drawn directly from your batteries without any “regulation” imposed by any type of circuitry. No set wattage. No limits. No safety protections.
What Is a Mech Mod?
At the end of the day, a mech mod is basically a housing for batteries that connects to an atomizer for vaping. There’s not much more to a mech than that. There is no circuitry involved in the transaction between the atomizer and the batteries. The fire button will complete the contact between the atomizer and the batteries and that’s it. Whatever happens from the point is between your battery, atomizer and the forces of nature!
What is a mech mod:
- A vape device that houses one or more batteries
- The batteries deliver raw current to your atomizer
- The only control is a fire button
- Fire button completes the circuit between the batteries and atomizer
- There is no wattage or voltage adjustment
- No reverse polarity protection
- There is no limitation of control of the current
A mech mod will allow the atomizer to draw all the power it can get from your batteries. If you hold the button down, the current will keep coming. If your coils overheat, the power keeps coming. If your cotton wick is dry and starts to burn, the power keeps coming. It is very important that you have a strong understanding of how a mech mod works and how electric current works to safely use an unregulated mod.
Dangers of Vaping With A Mech Mod
There are some dangers of vaping with a mech mod that are relatively minor. For example, it is very easy to fry your coils and burn your cotton wick with a mech mod. It is very easy to burn your e-juice and end up with an unpleasant vaping experience with that awful burnt taste we all want to avoid.
The coils that you make probably will not last as long in comparison to using them on a regulated mod. The risk of burning e-juice and frying coils are the least concern. There are other risks of using unregulated mods that are far more serious.
For example, with an unregulated mod there is no ability to read your atomizer resistance. If your atomizer resistance is such that it will draw enormous, unsafe current from your battery that it can possibly vaporize the metal coil. That’s not good. You don’t want to be inhaling vaporized metallic particles. Not to mention how unpleasant the vaping will be. Using a mech mod requires great care and attention to detail in order to vape safely.
Most regulated mods have a 10-second cut-off. The cut-off feature will end the current after 10 seconds even if you are still pressing the fire button. This is a safety feature to prevent a thermal runaway. A thermal runaway is the greatest danger when using an unregulated vape device.
Dangers of vaping with mech mods:
- No 10 second cut off
- Easy to fry your coils and burn your e-liquid
- Vaping overheated e-juice is gross
- A mech will not read or sense your atomizer resistance
- No safety protections for reverse polarity
- No safety protections for overheating
- Risk of thermal runaway
A thermal runaway is when a battery gets too hot. When it gets too hot, the battery releases even more energy that generates more and more heat. This reaction of ever increasing heat can get out of control and become violent and unpredictable. Like a boulder rolling down a hill once it starts you can’t stop it. The results can be disastrous. A battery can explode or catch fire.
Many of the exploding ecig stories that the media loves so much are really battery thermal runaways. Sometimes it involves batteries in a mech mod being used by a vaper. More often it is the case of a battery in a pocket or purse coming in contact with other metals like coins and keys. If both ends of a battery come in contact with metal it will discharge power as long as those contacts remain in place. Never store loose batteries in a pocket or purse. Keep them in a battery case.
Why Vape With A Mech Mod?
With all of the dangers, why vape with a mech mod? If you are not a devout hobbyist why would you ever use an unregulated mod? That is a good question. Mech mods were popular some years ago when the available technology was unable to meet the demands in the endless pursuit of more vapor. A mech allowed a vaper to draw more power from the batteries and make more vapor.
There were no 200-watt mods a few years ago. Now there are. Now there are 350-watt mods! Cloud chasers do not need mech mods anymore. You don’t need a mech to get more power. Vapers can enjoy precision control of huge power output and make bigger clouds than ever before. In essence, mechs are virtually obsolete. Yet there remains a subset of hearty vapers not ready turn their vaping over to technology. Perhaps like the purists who prefer their music on vinyl as opposed to digital.
There are some advantages of using a mech mod that we should mention as well. The first and most obvious example is that the lack of circuitry means that there is nothing that will break down. The simplicity of a mech mod equals longevity. That simplicity extends to bypassing having to navigate any menu system. And, some people just like dripping on a mech!
Advantages of a Mech Mod
- No delicate firmware or software
- No circuitry to break down
- The simplicity means there is not a lot that can break down
- No menu system to navigate
- No restriction of power output to your atomizer
Types of Mech Mods
Mech mods have been made in a range of shapes and sizes. In fact, the first mech mods were actually modified flashlights! Once upon a time, the only types of electronic cigarettes available were cigalikes or cigarette style e-cigs. While cigalikes were an amazing revelation, the quest for more vapor began long before the e-cig companies caught up.
In the early days, people would remove the atomizer from a cigalike and connect it to a more powerful battery. Often a flashlight served the purpose. Connecting to more powerful batteries on a modified vaping device enabled the early vapers to get more vapor. Get it, modified vaping device? Mod? Yes, that’s how it started.
In 2008, the electronic cigarette manufacturers got in on the action and started offering mech mods. The first mech mods were tube style.
Tube Style Mech Mods
Tube style mech mods are just that. They are tubes that hold a battery or batteries. The advent of professionally designed mech mods for vaping brought innovations that have since become industry standards. For example, the connection between a vape device and an atomizer base was the 510 connection. Today, a 510 connection is the industry standard.
The types of batteries that are used in vaping were established. The classic 18650 batteries are still a mainstay. There were also 18350 batteries, which are shorter than 18650s. Quite often, a mech mod would use “stacked” batteries. If you ever come across the term “stacked batteries” know that it is likely referring to is a pair of 18350 batteries with one stacked on top of another inside a tube mod.
Box Style Mech Mods
Box style mech mods are just that, mods shaped like a little box! And inside that box, you will install your batteries. With a box style mech mod, you can use two batteries next to each other. This opens some new possibilities. For example, with a box you can run the battery either in series or in parallel.
A mech mod that uses batteries in series will have the batteries installed side by side in the same configuration. If the positive is oriented at the top with one battery, it will be the same with the second. The end result is two batteries operating as one. This can have the effect of doubling your potential power output.
Series Vs Parallel
Two batteries in series with a top end output of 3.7 volts lined up in a mech box mod in series will increase potential output to 7.4 volts. The downside of vaping in series is that though you double the power, you do not get a longer battery life.
A mech mod that operates with a parallel battery configuration means that one battery is installed with the positive end up and the other with the positive end down. This is the battery configuration that you are probably most familiar with. In parallel, two 3.7-volt batteries will not deliver any more than 3.7 volts but they will increase the overall battery capacity.
What Are Regulated Mods?
A regulated mod is a vaping device where the electric current from the battery is controlled by a processor or chip. The chip, also sometimes called a board, typically offers an array of user options. To sum it up in one sentence, a regulated mod is a vape device that uses technology to customize your vaping experience.
More than the advantages of a vaping experience that you can precisely control, a regulated vape device will have built in safety features. These safety features include a cut off to prevent a battery from discharging current for too long. There are also battery protections like reverse battery protection which protects the sensitive circuitry. Atomizer sensor technology will read your atomizer resistance. In temperature control vaping, a regulated mod will measure and control the actual temperature of your coils.
What is a regulated mod:
- A regulated mod uses circuitry and a processor to control current drawn from a battery
- Controls the power output and/or temperature of your atomizer coils
- Allows for user inputs to control power settings
- Monitors power settings, atomizer resistance, and battery life
- A regulated mod will have safety features for safer vaping
- Many regulated mods will accept software upgrades
Most of the mods on the market today are regulated mods. Advanced processors allow the user to select a style of vaping. Be it sub ohm vaping in variable wattage, temperature control or vaping in variable voltage. A regulated mod will read your atomizer resistance so you can determine which power output you want to use. Furthermore, many of the regulated mods will accept future software upgrades. For example, should a new technology for temp control become available you can download it into your existing mod and not have to buy a new one.
A regulated mod will most often have an OLED screen that provides you with several readings. At any time, you will be able to see how much juice is left in your batteries. You will be able to see what wattage or temperature that you have set. Plus, you will be able to do things like track your puffs, control the screen brightness, and a lot more.
Easy to Use Regulated Mods
Some people do not want to adjust power settings or mess around with menus. They want the vapor but not the bother. In those cases, companies offer mods that will automatically read the atomizer resistance and then the technology will determine a regulated power output that matches your atomizer resistance. And although you do not see the wattages displayed on a screen, behind the scenes regulation is occurring.
There are also regulated mods that operate on a fixed voltage or fixed wattage. As an example, a regulated sub ohm mod might operate on a fixed wattage of 30 watts. That just means that every time you hit the fire button it is going to output 30 watts. A fixed voltage mod will do the same. Most often a fixed voltage mod will be set to deliver in the range of 3.7 volts every puff.
These types of easy to use regulated mods are ideal for people who want to enjoy sub ohm vaping but don’t want to bother with making the power adjustment settings.
Main Difference Between Mech Mods And Regulated Mods
Some people have said that the difference between a regulated and unregulated mod is like the difference between a manual and automatic transmission. That analogy is not bad except that with a mech mod there are no gears to shift. There is only one gear! My preferred analogy is that mechs vs regulated mods is more like comparing cooking over a campfire vs cooking on a stove.
With a campfire, there is not a lot that you control. With a stove, you control everything. Likewise, the discussion of mech mods vs regulated mods comes down to a discussion of nature vs technology. With a mech mod, the laws of the physical universe dictate the action between your batteries and atomizer. With a regulated mod, technology steps in and manages the action.
Do They Still Make Mech Mods?
Yes, they do still make mech mods but certainly not as many as they used to. As an alternative, you will see many modern, advanced mods offer a “bypass” mode as one of your vaping options. The bypass mode simple bypasses any regulation of battery current. In other words, bypass mode will make your regulated mod into a mech mod.
Which Type of Mod Should I Choose?
Here’s the thing, unless you have a strong understanding of how a mech mod works and how current and resistance work, I would not recommend using an unregulated device. You need to know about battery safety, current, resistance, Ohm’s law. If you do have that background and understanding, then a mech is a viable option.
As far as I am concerned, regulated mods are the way to go. Many of them have a bypass mode so if you want to vape mech style you can. The bottom line though is that vaping technology has come so far so fast. A regulated mod can meet the demands of any style of vaping and you enjoy the benefit of all the safety mechanisms.
If you are new to vaping go with a regulated mod. Take advantage of the technology! Let the technology do the work while you enjoy the vapor.