I checked the forum and while there is plenty of information about temperature control (TC) posted, it’s scattered around the forum and nothing really aimed at helping people understand it who may be new to the concept. So let’s take a look at what it is, how it works, and some basic information to help the newbie to understand TC and decide if it’s something they want to get involved with.
First, what is temperature control?
This term is actually not accurate. In order for temperature control to be an accurate description, the mod would need to be able to read actual temperature of the coil and make any adjustment needed to maintain the desired user temperature. It doesn’t work that way…at least not yet…but technology is always advancing so as of January 10, 2016, here’s what we have.
TC mods rely on programming that says with certain changes in resistance of the coil, the temperature will be x. Kanthal wire is not a good material for this as it’s resistance doesn’t change noticeably with temperature. However, Nickel (Ni), Titanium (Ti) and Stainless Steel (SS) - the currently used TC materials - do have this quality. They change resistance on a scale in correlation to their changing temperature. The graph below shows the resistance curve along the temperature band for Titanium, Grade 1 -
Because of this, the TC mod’s board is programmed with this information so that when these materials are used for heating coils, the mod can read these changes in resistance and make on-the-fly adjustments to the power being delivered to the coil in order to limit the temperature to what the user sets.
So, while TC is an inaccurate description, it’s the one being used in the e-cig industry. More accurately, it’s temperature limiting.
How does it work?
With a TC mod, when using a coil made of Ni, Ti or SS, the user will set the temperature limit and, in most cases, the wattage desired. For example the user may set a temperature limit of 450F and 50 watts. Unlike simple regulated mods which will deliver the watts set no matter what, the TC mod may or may not deliver the 50 watts set. That will depend on whether the coil gets hot enough so that it reaches the 450F set by the user. For argument’s sake, let’s say the 450F is reached using only 40 watts. That means the 40 watts is probably all the mod will ever use while the current coil is attached and the 450F limit is set. However, if the 50 watts is fully utilized yet the coil temperature only reaches 425F, then the desired 450F will not be reached unless the user raises the wattage set.
This is where technology may eventually change with TC mods, allowing the user to set a desired temperature and the mod would choose the wattage needed to reach that temperature. We’re not there yet. There are, however, some mods that only allow the user to set the temperature but not watts, as is the case with the SMOK xCube II which instead of having a user adjustment for watts, has 5 levels of power.
IMPORTANT In order for a TC mod to work properly, both atomizer and TC mod should be at room temperature when connecting the atomizer to the mod. This allows the mod to read the coil’s base resistance in order to accurately read changes in resistance.
Coils and Wire
In 2015, TC became all the rage. And rightfully so. With a properly functioning TC mod, gone are the days of dry hits, burnt cotton, and inconsistent vapes. And due to the proliferation of TC usage, many manufacturers of tanks jumped on the bandwagon and started putting out coils for their tanks using Ni, Ti, and or SS.
What may be more popular in the long run for TC enthusiasts is RDA and RTA coils. Users can purchase their wire of choice and build their own coils to be used in TC applications, This has been a game changer for many TC users. See the end of this article for good wire resources. Also, if you’re inclined to build your own coils here’s a good thread about prep and use of wire. It’s specifically talking about Ti wire but I believe it should apply to all wires.
As for building coils, there should be some attention given to resistance. Ni, Ti and SS offer far less resistance than Kanthal. this is especially true with Nickel which is so low-resistance it is nearly impossible to build dual Ni coils that will have resistance high enough for the TC mod to fire them. It may be wise to check out wires at Steam Engine and learn what your resistance will be before building your coils. That way you will know if your mod will fire it. Most mods have a maximum low ohm for coils between 0.06 and 1.0 ohms.
The saying “you get what you pay for” isn’t necessarily the case. There are many, many TC mods available on the market. Some expensive ones that are awesome, and some that are failures, some cheap ones that are junk and some that are great. The smart shopper will do his or her homework to make an informed decision before purchasing. Simply calling a mod a TC mod does NOT mean a favorable experience. Due to the fact that the technology is still relatively young, TC has plenty of room for improvement. Urgently feeling a need to compete, many mod manufacturers sort of haphazardly slapped some TC mods together quickly and rolled them out to the market. That said, as of today I can say that any DNA 200 device would rank at the top. Most Joyetech TC mods are good quality along with most Pioneer4You mods. Just do your homework.
As for what to look for - that’s another story. Early TC mods only had TC function for Ni wire. Then Ti came on board, then SS. As for which is better, well that’s for sure a personal opinion. Many people think Nickel is great, but I don’t like it. I’ve detected an undesirable taste from it. SS has a very narrow resistance change band and therefor is the most finicky wire and hardest to deal with. I prefer Ti wire, but again its a personal thing. Just make sure the mod you’re looking at supports the wire you want to use. Otherwise maybe just get one that supports them all. You may want to read this thread about TC mods.
Where to buy wire
My preferred place to buy Ti and SS is Unkamen Supply
Titanium I strongly recommnd Grade 1
Stainless Steel There are several grades of stainless. Do your homework and choose what’s right for you. I use 316L and 317L.
Lightning Vapes Sells Nickel wire as well as most others, so if you want a one-stop wire shop this may be fore you.
If you’re new to TC please don’t hesitate to ask questions. There are some very knowledgeable people here who can help guide you on anything from mods, to wire, to building coils, to wicking and everything in between.