e-Cig user levels - 6 stages of vaping

Please use this information to decide on the most appropriate e-cig product for your level of experience and knowledge.

It's extremely important that you take time to understand what you're doing and using in order to keep yourself and others safe.

In addition to the safety side of things, if you buy the right product first time round it will save you time and money, and avoid the frustration and disappointment of a mistaken purchase.

Level 1 – entry level (suitable for all users)

This level relates to e-cigarettes in their most basic form. There's generally very little required of the user in terms of filling or maintenance as these devices tend to be ready-to-use straight out of the packet. Depending on the product, at most all you will have to do is recharge the battery, if indeed it is rechargeable, and change (unscrew) the cartomizer attachment from the battery when it runs out of e-liquid.

Level 2 – beginner level (suitable for all users)

At this stage you will benefit from larger, longer-lasting batteries along with a larger tank to hold the e-liquid, although from 20 May 2017, 2ml will be the maximum size allowed due to the TPD regulations.

Because you will be buying the liquid separately you have the option to experiment with different e-liquid flavours and you are likely to notice more flavour and possible greater vapour production, depending on the liquid you use.

Often you’ll have a choice of different coil heads (the small heating element part which is inside the tank) which means you can begin to personalise your device to your preferences, by that we mean a hotter or cooler vape, or more or less vapour.

You will be able to recharge and reuse the battery time and time again, you will also use the clearomizer many times. The coil heads inside the clearomizer can also be used for several refills and on average these small disposable parts will last 1 to 2 weeks each.

At this level you will learn how to correctly fill the tank with liquid, and how to ensure you have sufficient liquid in the coil head before you use it (this is called “priming”).

You will learn how to turn your battery on and off (usually 5 clicks within 2 seconds) and you’ll be aware to turn the battery off to prevent accidental activation when it’s not in use. Don't leave it on when it's in your trouser pocket for example.

Understanding and carrying out some basic e-cig maintenance such as cleaning the battery connection area of excess moisture or e-liquid will ensure you maximise your e-cig's life expectancy and performance.

Level 3 – variable devices (suitable for those with some experience)

At this level you need to understand how to safely use a device which allows you to adjust the power output, as well as the temperature in some cases.

These devices (often referred to as an APV, Advanced Personal Vapourizer) are a little more complicated but provided the user takes the time to understand what they’re doing they are still fairly straight forward to use.

A variable device (whether it displays voltage or wattage settings) offers user features which provide a vaper with a whole new world of customisation. The battery is often more powerful, longer-lasting, and various different shapes, and because you can alter the power output (ie more or less watts), you have greater control over the temperature and the amount of vapour produced.

Be aware that some tanks at this level come with the option of standard resistance coils (ie 1.8 ohm) as well as sub-Ohm coils.

Standard coils fall within User Level 3, sub-Ohm coils (with a resistance of less than 1.0 Ohm) will, usually, come under User Level 5 as additional user knowledge is required in order to use the device safely.

Variable devices with high power outputs (which are very likely to be sub-Ohm anyway) will also come under User Level 5.

When using 1.0 Ohm coils, the recommended e-liquid ratios are anything between 30-50%VG. When using sub-Ohm coils, the recommended e-liquid ratios are anything between 50-80% VG. Use our internal link for more information about best e-liquid for e-cigarette coils.

Level 4 – mechanical mods (advanced)

A mechanical mod is effectively a durable battery casing, and whilst they come in many shapes and sizes and they're simple in their design, you must understand how to stay safe with regard to the lithium-ion batteries used and your coil resistance.

For many, a mechanical mod is part of the ultimate vape, however, these devices do not contain any circuitry (intelligent safety circuitry) so when you press the fire button, a physical connection is made between the battery and the atomizer and the device has no option but to respond to your command, regardless of whether or not it is safe to do so.

Best practice concerns no stacking of batteries, only using the correct batteries, for paired batteries only using the same battery plus ensuring they're the same age and still performing equally, ie both doing 50% of the work.

Mechanical mods will often be used with a rebuildable atomizer, which is like a standard sub-Ohm tank but the user makes and tests his own coils for safety before use.

DO NOT PURCHASE a mechanical mod if you don’t know your limitations and you don't truly understand how to stay safe.

Level 5 – sub-Ohm (advanced)

Finally we come to sub-Ohm vaping, the most extreme level of e-cig vaping.

Generally speaking only experienced vapers should consider opting for a device at sub-Ohm level, however, increasingly there are sub-Ohm devices coming onto the market which have been designed for less experienced users, and new vapers in some instances. They tend to have restricted features such as a one button operation and limited set power output, and you'll see them described or marketed as an 'all-in-one' e-cig or vaping device. You still need to be aware that sub-Ohm coils are best suited to thicker liquid, lower nicotine levels and the vape is often a lot warmer and hitting hardner than a device with standard resistance coils. From a safety and satisfaction point-of-view, it's still important to read and be aware of the information below.

Sub-Ohm essentially means using a coil with an electrical resistance of less than 1.0 Ohm. There are some tanks that take standard resistance coils (ie 1.8 Ohm) as well as sub-Ohm coils. If you're using a standard coil you're not sub-Ohm vaping, but as soon as you're using a coil with less than 1.0 Ohm you are sub ohm vaping.

Even if you're using coils with a resistance of anything from, say 1.0 Ohm to 1.2 Ohm, do not use these on standard eGo batteries. Some batteries/brands can cope with lower resistances but others can't and you're unlikely to know the exact specification for your battery as the information isn't generally available. DON'T RISK IT.

The attraction of sub-Ohming is massive clouds of vapour and superbly clear flavour. However, this level of vaping carries the highest risk with regard to staying safe.

Sub-Ohm tanks and coils must be used by experienced knowledgeable users as additional safety precautions should be practiced when using these items.

Sub-Ohm coils need to work on a mechanical mod or a regulated mod capable of firing at sub-Ohm resistances. This means if you have a 0.5 Ohm coil, your device (the battery/power supply) must be capable of firing at 0.5 Ohm resistance, or lower.

It is absolutely essential that the user understands how to stay safe when using these items because an awful lot of power is being pulled from very powerful (high amp) batteries.

A low powered battery on the wrong coil can very easily overheat, catch fire and/or explode!

If you're using a regulated mod, you must ensure it can cope with the amps.

Ensure you avoid cheap multi-meters for measuring your resistances.

At this level you will also understand that you must use temperature control coils with a temperature control device, and you will need to ensure you're in the correct 'mode' in order for the coils to work correctly.

You will know or have a very good idea which nicotine strength to use in the different devices (maximum 6mg in most cases) and you will also know the VG ratio likely to be most suited to the device in question. This is particularly relevant to sub-Ohm devices coils. Sub-Ohm coils need a high, or higher, VG ratio to avoid leaking, gurgling and other issues.

In addition, sub-Ohm vaping usually involves a different smoking technique, direct lung inhale, as opposed to mouth to lung inhale.

DO NOT PURCHASE a sub-Ohm device if you don’t know your limitations and you don't truly understand how to stay safe.

Level 6 – RBAs, RDAs, RTAs - building your own coils (advanced)

Rebuildable atomizers and their coils and wicks have known risks and therefore such devices and their sundries are for expert users only and should not be purchased by users with insufficient knowledge on how to stay safe.

  • A rebuildable coil/wick must be tested carefully with a meter to ensure it is safe to use
  • Tests must be carried out to ensure there are no shorts and the resistance isn't too low
  • New coils and wick units must be tested and then used first on a strong basic electrical APV that has short circuit protection
  • No new coil/wick assembly should be used on an electronic device until known to be safe
  • Faulty wicks and coils can and will blow electronic devices, and they can cause personal injury

Which One is Right for You?

Ultimately it’s your choice, but if you’re new or fairly new to e-cigs, we recommend to start with something from level 2.

For those willing to read their instruction manual, watch a Youtube video and take the time to fully understand what they're doing and how their device works, then level 3 can be considered.