Vaporizer Buying Guide
With so many choices of vaporizers it can be a tough task to find the perfect one. The goal of this guide is to help you fully understand the options you have so you can vape in peace knowing you made the right choice. If you're looking to buy a vaporizer you should read this entire guide, it's only about a 5 minute read that may save you time and money in the long run! You can also check out our top 50 vaporizer list to get a better idea of what's on the market.
The guide is broken down in to two parts:
1. The vaporizing options you have:
2. Notes on:
Desktop vaporizers are generally “stay at home” vaporizers, meaning they’re not meant for a lot of transportation as they’re bulkier and usually require to be plugged in. Although they aren’t portable, desktop vapes generally deliver higher quality vapor and offer many more features, for instance, you can only get balloon attachments for stationary vaporizers. With bigger bowls and more stopping power desktop vapes are preferred for group use and are perfect for vegging out at home – if you consider yourself a connoisseur opt for a desktop vaporizer.
If you want to vape in many different locations or travel a lot, perhaps a portable vaporizer is for you. Convenience is key with these vaporizers and they can easily pack up and go with you wherever you want to go. The majority of portable vapes are rechargeable but there are also butane and flame options. See our list of the top portable vaporizers in 2014.
Whip vaporizers use a silicone tube called a “whip” to deliver the vapor. This tube is connected to the vaporizer and you inhale from the mouthpiece. Whips are used on the majority of desktop vaporizers and are really easy to use. The main benefit of whip vaporizers is that you can control how much vapor you take in by your rate of inhalation.
Although this isn’t a delivery method on its own, it’s an option that comes with some whip/tubing vaporizers. Essentially what it does is push the vapor with a gentle fan which makes inhalation a breeze (literally). Forced air can also works with many different herbs and oils and allows for aromatherapy select vaporizers.
Example: Arizer Extreme Q
Balloon vaporizers use a forced air system to fill bags with vapor. They’re great for group use, a bunch of people can easily share a bag or two by passing it around, making them the preferred vapes for “vapor lounges” commonly found in Canada. Balloon vaporizers are commonly considered the most efficient method of vaporization.
Direct draw is most commonly found with portable vaporizers. These vaporizers offer mouthpieces which are found attached directly to the unit and allow the vapor to flow directly from the heating element to the user. Some direct draw vaporizers offer a removable stem, while others have the mouthpiece permanently attached (like pen vaporizers).
There are select vaporizers which are powered by butane which is burned and then heats up the element. The best part about butane is that is delivers an instant recharge, unlike batteries where you have to wait if they’re dead. Butane vaporizers are perfect for somebody going off the grid for a while because you don’t need an electricity source to keep it running.
Example: Iolite WISPR 2
Plug in vaporizers are pretty self-explanatory; they run on electricity and plug in to the wall. Most plug in units are also desktop/stationary vapes so they’re not too portable and can’t be used on the run. That being said, you don’t have to worry about recharging the battery which is a bonus.
Battery powered vaporizers are the most common type of portable vape. Some have easily replaceable batteries so you can carry around extras, while others have the battery built in like an iPhone. The vaporizers with built in batteries generally require the owner to send the vaporizer back to the manufacturer when the battery starts to fail.
Some vaporizers work like pipes and can be heated with a flame. The vaporizer is manufactured to vaporize the herb instead of combusting it when you light the unit. They generally tend to be cheaper but can work quite well in a pinch.
Example: Vapor Genie
Digital displays offer the most precise temperature control and they generally offer the most consistent temperature – pricier units generally offer digital displays. Many vaporizers with digital displays also offer other features like a timed turn off.
Analog dials are a simple system where the temperature is controlled by a knob. Some have graduated steps where you can choose a variety of temperatures, where others have a range like an old-school stovetop.
Example (graduated): Arizer Solo
Example (knob): Volcano Classic
Some of the cheaper vaporizers offer no temperature control at all. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, you just have to get used to the vape and use the correct draw technique. Each one is different but easy enough to get used to.
Convection vaporizers have hot air as a wedge between the herb and the heating element, the hot air releases the essential oils from the herb without direct contact with the element. This provides more even vaporization because the hot air flows through the bowl and isn’t limited to what’s touching the element. Convection vaporizers are found in the more expensive units and usually provide better vapor quality.
Conduction vaporizers transfer heat through direct contact with the herb, much like a frying pan, the vapor is released as a result of the direct heat from the heating element. This is generally the less expensive option and is prevalent in most portable vaporizers. One upside to conduction vaporizers is that they’re generally easier to clean.
If you’re anticipating to use your vaporizer in large groups (3+ people) your best bet is definitely a desktop vaporizer, they have a constant power source and usually have bigger bowls which means less refilling. Bag vaporizers are perfect for group use because it’s easy to fill a bag and pass it around which is why they’re used in many vapor lounges. The Vapir Rise has a nifty multi-person hose add on which turns it in to a sort of hookah where a few people can have their own hose so it’s definitely worth a look.
If you just want a vaporizer for personal you have a few less expensive options. You can probably opt for a portable vaporizer because you don’t need huge bowls or lots of power. The perfect personal vaporizer is the Arizer Solo, it’s called the Solo for a reason and it has arguably the best vapor quality of all the portable vaporizers.
Pen vaporizers can be great for oils, shatters and waxes but there aren't many that do a good job on herb. The only ones that will actually vaporize herb (like the G Pro) are larger than your regular pen and don't have the best flavour. Regardless of what stores try to tell you, there isn't currently a thin pen vaporizer on the market that vaporizes herb; they burn it. If you're looking to vaporize concentrates check out the Cloud Pen 2.0 - it kicks butt.
There are select vaporizers that have aromatherapy attachments like the Arizer Extreme Q. It’s a nice attachment to have, inhaling some fragrances can reduce stress, help get a better sleep, and more. Medical News Today is a good read if you want to know more about aromatherapy.
Some vaporizers have the option to vaporize oils and waxes, and the G Pen vaporizer is one of them. Keep that in mind when you’re looking to purchase a vape!
Generally speaking price is related to vapor quality when it comes to vaporizers. While there are low cost vaporizers that'll do a good job, spending a little bit upfront may be worth it in the end. The Volcano, for example, is a bit of an investment but the vapor quality is unmatched - because of this you can save herb and pay it off in the long run!
That being said, it's not necessary to jump to the most expensive option. If you're new to vaporizing try something more affordable to start and see if vaporizing is right for you.
A great thing about vaporizers is that they don't burn anything so they product a far less potent smell, making them a bit more stealthy in general. Each vaporizer is different though so just be aware that they aren't completely odorless!
If you're looking for a more stealthy looking option, maybe give the Puffit vaporizer a look. It's shaped like an inhaler.. Nobody will look twice at you using it.
The End :)
Phew you made it to the end! Now that you're a vaporizer pro go and find the perfect one for you. May I suggest our complete list of vaporizers?