Updated August 2021
When I first tried vaping in 2012, everything was much simpler.
I started on a basic cigalike device. All you had to do to use it was screw the cartomizer into the battery section and inhale to vape. It couldn’t have been easier.
As things progressed, I got used to refilling and pressing a fire button on pen-style devices, and I soon progressed to mods. At the time, that felt like a huge step – changing the voltage manually and having an actual screen on my device – but it’s nothing compared to what’s out there today.
These days, temperature control is commonplace, and new features like custom power curves, pulse mode and many others make it hard to keep up. There are probably thousands of vapers out there with high-end mods who don’t even know what these modes do.
You don’t need to use them, though. With something like the Voopoo Argus GTII you can just choose your wattage and start vaping, forgetting all about the extra bells and whistles on the device. But if you want to get the most out of your mod, it’s worth learning what these advanced vaping modes do and why you might want to try them out.
- Bypass mode
- Custom power curves
- Preset wattages
- Pulse mode
- Super player mode
- Temperature control
- Material selection
- Intelligent temperature control
- DC noise cancellation
- FO mode
- Refresh mode
- Ultra fast firing
- DIY mode
- Wrap up
Bypass mode is one of the simplest “advanced” vape modes because it actually removes the key feature of variable wattage. You literally “bypass” the features of the mod and it instead performs more like a mechanical mod, essentially delivering power based on your remaining battery life and the resistance of the coil you’re using. This means that your effective wattage will be higher when the battery or batteries are fully charged and lower as you continue vaping throughout the day.
However, crucially, it doesn’t bypass the safety features on the mod, and really it still imposes the same wattage limits on your vaping as the mod itself does (you can read a little more about that here). This might make it sound like there aren’t many benefits to bypass mode – and I’m personally inclined to agree – but some vapers prefer the performance from the mode, so it’s definitely worth giving it a try if it’s an option on your device. Examples of mods with Bypass Mode include the Innokin Kroma-R.
Custom power curves
Custom power curves allow you to vary the wattage you’re vaping at during your puff. For example, you can have your device set at 40W, but with a custom power curve, it might start out at say 50W, then drop down to 45W after a second, to 40W after two, and then for any puff longer than four seconds, drop to 35W.
Of course, the whole point of these modes is that you get to choose exactly how the output of your device varies, so you can set it up any way you like. You can often do this on the device itself, but some mods have paired computer programs or apps that allow you to make the changes on a better user interface. It can take a little while to set these up the way you like, but if you find you want a little boost at the start of your draw or a gradual increase throughout, it’s definitely worth taking the time.
Preset wattages are basically like storing your most common settings for easy recall later on. For example, you might have a sub-ohm tank you like to use at 60W, a Mouth-to-Lung device you run at 25W and a rebuildable you vape at 50W. Of course you can manually make the adjustments every time you switch atomizer, but if you have three preset wattages you can cycle through to the appropriate one in just a few clicks.
This mode might have different names depending on the device. For example, on many devices, this is called “memory mode” or something similar. Ordinarily, there will be at least three spots to save your settings, but some devices offer five. Setting these up is really easy – all you have to do is dial the setting you’re looking for in and it’s good to go.
Pulse mode isn’t the most common vape mode, but devices such as Vaporesso's Gen 200 and Target 100 do offer this feature. Essentially, the mode switches the relatively consistent output of most devices by a regular pulsing of output, which occurs every 0.2 seconds as long as you hold down the fire button.
The aim of this is to keep the device’s performance more consistent throughout your puff, with the pulsing output producing a harder-hitting vape throughout your draw. Whether this offers benefits in comparison to just having a consistent output on the device is debatable, but the pulsing is so quick that you’re unlikely to notice a drop off, and generally speaking this mode has gotten a positive response from vapers.
Super player mode
Super Player mode (available with the Swag II) is another Vaporesso speciality, which essentially allows you to use coils with a wider range of resistances than the device usually supports, down to 0.03Ω (and up to 5Ω) for the Omni Board 4.0 (and up to the more recent V 4.2). This is a really great feature if you build your own coils, because while you’re unlikely to find a pre-made coil with such a low resistance, you may build one of your own that you struggle to use with the hard-coded restrictions on regulated devices.
There is a reason for these restrictions, though, and so if you’re using it towards the lower end of the resistance range, it’s better to double-check you’re within the safe operating limits of your battery. You can do that using many tools, but Steam Engine is easy to use and effective.
Temperature control (TC) vaping is really “temperature limiting,” in that you effectively set a maximum temperature you want your coil to reach and your device ensures it stays within this limit. This means that mods can avoid “dry hits,” and even if you fire your device with almost nothing in the tank it won’t “overcook” your juice or burn the coil’s cotton. In normal use, it gives you more consistent performance because it levels out the usual spikes and drops in temperature.
Temperature control works based on the changes in resistance that occur when a conductor (i.e. your coil) gets hotter, and so it calculates the temperature of the coil based on this. The aim is to consistently keep your coil at this temperature, so the wattage changes as needed to make this happen.
Ideally, this won’t be noticeable, but it depends how quickly the chip in the mod responds to the changes. It’s also affected by things like your “ramp up” wattage, which is the initial power your mod applies to bring it up to your chosen temperature.
TC mode is available in devices such as the Voopoo Drag S Pro but is generally a widely available feature, to the extent that you’d be unlikely to find a variable wattage mod without it. You should check that all the usual TC coil types are covered (nickel, titanium and stainless steel), and ideally you’ll be able to adjust your ramp-up wattage too. But TC is common enough that most modern devices do everything you’ll need.
Vaping coils aren’t all kanthal, and having a material selection option on your mod is crucial if you’re going to be vaping in TC mode. The most common coil materials for TC vaping are nickel (Ni200), titanium (Ti) and stainless steel (SS), and to work well in TC mode, your mod needs to know which one you are using. So a material selection mode allows you to tell the mod exactly what you’re vaping with, and this is usually built into the TC mode, so you either select your material before going into the main mode or there are three separate TC modes with one for each material.
This is pretty much essential for a TC mod though, and you’d be hard pressed to find one that doesn’t allow you to select your material.
Intelligent temperature control
Intelligent temperature control is featured on devices like the Target Mini II from Vaporesso and essentially aims to take some of the work out of TC vaping. It detects when you connect a temperature control coil and automatically works out the best settings for you – all you have to do is set the temperature.
Doing this yourself with ordinary temperature control isn’t exactly difficult, but if you’re looking for something really easy to use, it’s a great feature to have on a mod.
The “temperature coefficient of resistance” (TCR) determines how much a mod in TC mode responds to the changes in resistance of your coil. Different materials have different responses to changes in temperature. Kanthal, for example, barely changes resistance as it gets hotter (and so you can’t use it for TC vaping), but other materials like nickel have a more noticeable response and are much more suitable for TC vaping.
The TCR values tell you the strength of this response. In most cases, you won’t need to change the TCR because the values for different materials are well known and all mods have an automatic setting. However, sometimes it might need adjustment.
For example, you might have a different grade of stainless steel than the one your mod is programmed for, but if you can adjust the TCR this isn’t a problem. It can also be useful if you’re trying a unique style of TC coil (e.g. a twisted coil with TC wire) and you find the response a little off.
You probably won’t need to use it, but it’s a good option to have on a device.
DC noise cancellation
When you fire most mods, you’ll notice a slight electrical buzzing sound as the components kick into action and the current starts flowing. Of course, this doesn’t really cause you any problems; it can just be annoying on some devices depending on how loud the buzzing is. DC noise cancellation, like the ClearWave technology on the Coolfire IV from Innokin and the DC cancellation on the Coolfire Ultra 150, essentially exists to remove this noise and it’s claimed to improve the accuracy of the power output too.
While this is good it must be said that it’s more of a “nice to have but not essential” feature, because buzzing is rarely that severe on modern devices.
FO mode is hard to define precisely, because vape giant Innokin is keeping the technology under wraps to an extent.
What we do know is that it uses thermodynamic heating to adjust the flavour and the vapour that you get. You can hear a slight humming when you use it.
When using FO mode with the Innokin Coolfire Z80 (full review), you can adjust the frequency (measured in Hertz) from anything from 1 to 100. It’s well worth having a play with it, as the different frequencies have a major impact on the vape. A higher frequency (above 50) works best for MTL vaping while a lower frequency works best for DL vaping.
Auto-priming is a feature available with the Innokin Sensis and Coolfire Z80. With the Innokin Sensis (full review), you can simply set the device to automatically prime the coil between puffs. With the Coolfire Z80, you can enter the menu and get the device to prime the coil for you. The device then heats the e-liquid up at 50% of normal power to draw e-liquid into the coil, helping with both flavour and coil life.
Neither are advanced, though both are a major step forward in technology. But advanced users can also manually prime the coil by holding down the power button in refresh mode. That’s very much an option for the advanced vaper (or super taster) who can discern the difference between different lengths of time refreshing the coil.
Ultra-fast firing is just what it sounds like: the time between you pressing the fire button and the device starting to respond is very fast. For the Voopoo Argus X this is classed as within 0.001 seconds, and it’s safe to say that, for all intents and purposes, this essentially means instant firing.
It should be stressed that most mods – even without this feature – fire pretty quickly, but it’s a cool feature to have nonetheless. Sometimes you notice a little delay between hitting fire and your mod responding, but unless it’s a big issue for you, this isn’t a feature you’re likely to notice unless you’re looking out for it.
“DIY” Mode is one of the many options on the Vaporesso Target 100 and similar Vaporesso devices. This is a little confusing because “DIY” in context essentially means the standard operating modes for most mods – pretty much a testament to how hard it can be to understand mods these days!
So under the heading of DIY mode, you have the standard variable wattage and variable voltage modes, with options to adjust hit strength in VW mode, temperature control (called “VT” – variable temperature) mode, custom wattage curves, bypass mode and “Super Player” mode.
Under DIY Mode in the VW option, the device also automatically chooses an appropriate wattage for your coil. Of course, you can adjust this manually to suit your preferences, but this is really useful if you’re new to vaping or have a new tank you aren’t sure how to work with.
The confusion about the intuitive meaning of this mode (for experienced vapers, at least) comes from the fact that the standard modes on the Target 100 are designed to be more user friendly than on standard devices. Think about DIY mode more as a grouping for other modes than a mode in its own right.
Advanced vape modes (usually) aren’t so complicated
The good news is that for all the fancy names companies give to these modes, most of the time they’re quite straightforward in terms of what they do and how they work. You never really need to understand too much to get them working, and most of them just do their thing in the background without you having to do anything.
Of course, innovation is always happening in the vaping industry, and so there will be more new features to learn about before you know it. Usually you can find out about these from the manufacturer’s website, but we’ll update this post as needed with any major developments.
But as long as you understand the basics, you’ll be able to get up to speed with any new advanced vape modes pretty easily.