In the ever evolving world of vaporizers there are a lot of options to choose from, based the material you want to vaporize and where you plan on using it most. There are portables, desktop units, vape pens, eRigs and new vaporizers being released frequently. While there may not be one vaporizer that is universally "the best" for everyone, with a bit of knowledge you should be able to find a vape that fits your needs.
So instead of sitting there thinking, "Which vaporizer should I buy?" Start with this Vape Buyers Guide and shop with confidence when buying a vaporizer in 2021.
Types of Vapes
There are two types of vaporizers, desktop and portable. From those main categories, it can be broken down further into subcategories based on the material that will be vaporized. This includes eRigs or vape pens that can be used to dab concentrates or dry herb portable vaporizers that are slightly large than the slim wax pens and often feature rechargeable batteries for longer sessions while on the go. When you know exactly what you're looking for in a vaporizer, it's easier to make a decision.
- Biggest build with the largest material capacity
- Directly plugs into a power outlet for largest output of any vaporizer type
- Available in forced air (balloon bag) or direct draw (whip style)
Desktop or tabletop vaporizers are perfect for those who only intend to use their vape at home. Powered by direct plug-in to a wall outlet, these vaporizers are the most powerful on the market and high-end units feature full temperature control to the specific degree. Being able to precisely dial in the temp means highly efficient vaporization no matter the consistency of your herbal material.
- Most models offer multiple temp settings (some with precise control)
- Can be used on the go with some portables utilizing removeable/rechargeable batteries
- Generally compatible with dry herb, while some units can also vape concentrates
Generally designed for dry herb use, portable vaporizers are a great option if you prefer to consume flower while not being restricted to home use only. Some units do vaporize concentrates, just usually not as efficiently as a vape pen does. Portable vaporizers can feature removeable and rechargeable batteries (such as 18650) to ensure you've always got a charge ready to go.
- Incredibly compact, some as thin as a #2 pencil
- Very efficient at vaporizing concentrates while most dry herb units under perform or char
- Great vaporizer option for those frequently on the go
Due to their compact size, vape pens are often intended for dabbing or concentrate vaping and don't produce enough heat to vaporize dry herb efficiently. Early dry herb vape pens frequently charred or burned the herb instead of vaporizing, essentially making them electronic hand pipes, NOT actually vaporizers.
- Often include variable temperature options
- Powered by rechargeable batteries or plugged directly into an outlet
- Some models offer a smartphone app for additional control
Some of the newer vape technology on the market, eRigs (electronic dab rigs) are made for efficiently dabbing wax without requiring a torch lighter to heat the nail before applying your concentrate. Battery powered and in some cases, removeable, electronic dab rigs are easily portable while produce massive clouds with just a little dab of wax.
How Much Do Vapes Cost?
Depending on your budget, there is a pretty wide range of vaporizer prices, but remember that you do get what you pay for. That being said, there are so many vapes on the market that you're bound to find something that matches your needs and price range. Over the past 10 years, we've seen a lot of change in pricing and technology. In 2021, you're able to get a reliable vaporizer at a decent or invest a bit more to get a vape with a lot of unique features.
These are the low cost units, we're talking vaporizers under $100. Now, shopping on a budget doesn't mean you have to settle for a vape that lacks features or under performs. In fact, more than ever there are a lot of affordable vaporizers that still efficient and work effectively.
The most budget friendly vaporizers fall under the vape pen or portable categories.
This price level would be units in the $100 to $200 range. You'll start to see more features included on units around this price point, such as temp control, removeable batteries, haptic feedback (vibrates when ready) and other upgrades.
These units tend to offer true convection heating, which means the heat source and your herb never come into direct contact. Instead, hot air is forced or pulled through the dry herb via a built-in fan or as you inhale.
We're talking about $200+ in this group, units like the Volcano vaporizer, some of the most expensive products on the market. At this level, you get cutting-edge technology, from the leading vaporizer brands. This includes progressive functionality, high-quality materials, comprehensive warranties and even more depending on the specific manufacturer. If you've got the budget, take a look at some of our favorite expensive vaporizers and why we like them.
As noted with the budget, you generally get more technology with the higher priced vaporizers. But what exactly are you paying for?
There are three main types of heating methods used in dry herb vaporizers; conduction, convection and induction. Pen and cartridge vaporizers rely on atomizers for heating wax or oil.
The ability to adjust the temperature is important in order to vaporize a variety of herbs at their specific vaporizing points. There are three common temp controls available:
- Fixed - Single setting that is determined by the manufacturer
- Preset - Varying temperature levels, usually ranging around 200° to 450°
- Precise - Full control to the specific degree, often via a digital display screen
The ideal temp can vary based on the moisture content in your herb, however we recommend a range of 350° to 375°. It's also advised to start on the lower side of the spectrum and increase to find the best vaping temperature for your material. In fact, DaVinci's IQ and IQ2 each feature their patented Smart Path technology that automatically raises the temperature over time based on your desired setting. This completely takes the guess work out of achieving the most efficient performance possible.
A vaporizer can only be as strong as the energy source that powers it. The more functionality that a vape has generally relates to the power source that it is working with.
So, what are the most common sources of power for vaporizers?
- Plug - Electricity is constantly driven to the heat source by plugging directly into a wall outlet. This style is exclusively found on desktop vaporizers and often provides the thickest vapor, though you'll lose out on portability.
- Battery - The most popular power option for portable units. Earlier models mostly featured built-in batteries while more recent vaporizers offer removeable ones so you don't have to wait for a charge.
- Flame - Not as common as it used to be, flame was a popular choice for early, more simple vaporizers such as the Vapor Genie. Their basic nature didn't necessarily make them easier to use and often produces inconsistent results.
Knowing how and where you intend to use the vaporizer most will help you determine what power source will best meet your needs.