Vaporizer Comparison: A Look at the Various Types of Vapes

Welcome to an introductory guide to vaporization! Because you are reading this, I assume you are probably new to vaporizing, or just want to learn more about vaporizers in general. Being new to the ever growing world of vaporizers, there are some things you should know before you get started.

To start, there are many different styles of vaporizers, but with two main types: Desktop vapes which are plug-in units and are best used at home, and portable units that have internal (and in a few cases, external) batteries, or are powered by butane. These are good if you like to bring your vaporizer out with you since they don’t have to be plugged in and are easy to carry.

They both come in all shapes and sizes, with lots of various attachments, temperature ranges, and levels of discreteness. The ideal range for vaporization is from 360⁰F to 390⁰F (if there are temperature settings, the unit will usually not exceed 420⁰F).

Depending on what type of material you plan on vaporizing, this will determine which style of vaporizer is best for you. For example, if you mainly vaporize flowers, you will probably want to get a portable or desktop unit because at this time, there aren’t many pens that will vape herbs (except for the V2 Pro Series 3 and Series 7) . Instead, they combust the herbs similar to if you smoked them regularly with a lighter.

If you prefer waxes or concentrates though, you will most likely want to go with a pen unit.

So let’s get into the different types…

Desktop Vaporizers

We start into the powerhouses of the vaporizer world, the desktop units. These are the units for at home use only, because they have to be plugged in. If you are the kind of person who smokes mostly at home, one of these units is the vape for you.

These will “pack the biggest punch,” so to speak, and will deliver the biggest hits.

The units themselves are made of everything from plastic to wood to metal, with either a glass or metal chamber where you put your herbs, and they will either attach to a whip with a mouth piece attached, similar to a hookah but without water, or will fill up balloons with an internal fan or by forcing air through the unit with an external pump (only a few units).

Many of these vapes can be attached to a water pipe, filtering the vapor through water to cool and condense it. Keep in mind that these machines are a bit larger than hand held units, and often cost more as well. But, if you often smoke in groups, a desktop unit will suit you better than most portables, as their larger size makes them more group friendly and fairly efficient with your material.

Because these units are convection-style vaping, the air flowing past the material is heated to vaporizing temperature, and it is this hot air that vaporizes the material. Most desktops tend to use less than half a gram per session, but it really depends on the size of the group and the tolerance of the user how much material you use.

Now, I’m not saying desktops are only good for groups, and that if you smoke alone you shouldn’t get one. The fact of the matter is, desktop units are just better than portable units, because they deliver better flavor and really are very good at what they do. Essentially, if you are at home when you consume your herb of choice, and like the idea of group vaping, a desktop is the way to go.

Click Here to read our Desktop Vaporizer Buyer’s Guide and figure out which model is best for you.

Portable Vaporizers

Next, we move to the realm of portable vaporizers. These are smaller, hand-held, battery powered devices that are perfect if you’re an on the go user or if you don’t want to have to be tied down to a cord when you vape.

In portable vapes, some are conduction powered vaping, meaning they heat the chamber that your material is heated instead of the air passing through it. This can lead to a more uneven vaping of the material. Other portables are convection powered, much like the desktop units.

Now, there are two main sections to portable vaporizers: battery powered and butane fuel powered. Battery powered portables range from the size of your palm to about the size of a Red Bull can. They can have some learning curve depending on the unit, and they aren’t going to pack as much of punch as a desktop would, but they are perfect for on the go vaping with no cords necessary. These also offer more of a stealth factor, because while they may not produce as much vape, they also produce less smell.

The lighter powered butane vapes do not have this stealth factor, minus a few that use butane to create an internal flame, because they require a lighter to be used while vaping. Essentially, a lighter powered vape uses the lighter to provide heat instead of a battery and a heating element. These have less temperature control, and require some trial and error to get to the optimal vaporization range.

Many of these units are able to be put in your pocket or in a small bag or purse, making them ideal for bringing with you to concerts, in the car, even in the movies if you felt like it. However, do so at your own risk, as these units do still smell as they produce vapor.

If you need to hide what you are doing from the people you live with or who are around, invest in a carbon filter to blow your vapor through to eliminate all smell. Obviously you couldn’t be blowing huge clouds if you are in, say, a movie theater, but if you held it in long enough, the air you breathe out would be odor free.

Check out our Portable Vaporizer Buyer’s Guide here and learn which portable unit suits you best.

Pen Vaporizers

The biggest lie in the vaporizer market is pen “vaporizers”. These are dry herb cartridges that attach to a 510 or similarly threaded battery. These claim to be a small, hand held vape but are really just an exposed coil at the bottom of a small chamber. These vapes go onto batteries of various voltages, but they all work the same: they combust! *This is a warning to all new vapers, do research about the vapes you are going to buy, and to not trust these pen vaporizers just yet for your dry herbs.*

**There is one exception to this rule, and that is the new V2 Pro Series 3 and Series 7 pen vapes. These are the first, and at this time only pen vaporizers that can truly vape dry herb. All of the other pens on the market cannot, even if they claim to (Atmos is one brand that is notorious for saying their units can vape dry herb, but can’t – it just combusts them).**

Pen vapes are great for one thing: vaporizing concentrates. These pen-style attachments that attach to either a 510 or 610 threaded battery (normally it’s 510, but some companies use 610 and even 710 threading sometimes) just like the dry herb attachments, but they are specifically for concentrates and sold as such. Many of these vapes are similar, either having a wick to collect oilier concentrates or a coil that you can deposit the more solid concentrates on. Once loaded, it’s as simple as push a button and draw. Oil vapes are usually pretty simple machines, but the prices can vary drastically based on brand names.

Interested in a pen unit? Click Here to read our Pen Vaporizer Buyer’s Guide and find out which pen models are the best.

Another thing about vaping is that you actually should hold it in, unlike with smoking. After you take a hit, you should continue inhaling slowly for about five seconds to move the vapor around in your lungs, then. This ensures all the active ingredients in your herbs will be fully absorbed by your body. Remember, exhaled vapor is wasted vapor, so be sure to inhale correctly to get the most out of your material.

I hope this guide is helpful to you, and please check out the links to see vaporizers in each category with reviews of each.

Posted in Buyer's Guides | Tagged | 14 Comments

Want to Win a FREE Vaporizer?

Enter your email below to qualify for one of our giveaways


  1. Grace says:

    I’ve been using a Pax II hoping to have a less painful experience. It’s a little bit better than my pipe or a rolled smoke. What is the best style vaporizer to cause the least throat pain and painful cough that I can’t seem to avoid?

    • admin says:

      Hi Grace,

      A lot of the throat irritation you’re experiencing may come from the temperature you’re vaping at. The higher the temp, the more it will hurt your throat.

      I’m not sure how long you have been smoking, but it’s also possible that your throat is just highly irritated in general from combusting for so long (assuming you were for a while). And if that’s the case, I hate to say it, but you may have to take a break for a little while to let it heal. Everyone’s body is different, and some people are just more sensitive than others with certain things.

      With that being said, as far as the vaporizer that will cause the least irritation overall, we think the Firefly 2 will suit you perfectly. Due to the convection heating and the way the vapor path is designed, it provides one of the smoothest experiences overall. Amazing taste and very gentle on the throat. I’d still recommend starting at the lower temps though to get a feel for it and see if it bothers you before you jump up to the higher ones.

      I hope that helps!

      • Grace says:

        Thanks so much!. Would a desk top cape unit be even better as far as less lung and throat pain? I’m considering investing in one of those.

        • Grace says:

          Vape unit even, mis-type.

        • admin says:

          I think if you’re looking for a desktop, the Cloud Evo would be perfect for you. With the hydratubes you can vape through water, which makes the vapor even smoother than it already is.

          It’s a really great unit and one of our favorite desktops by far.

  2. Steve Tombolini says:

    I like how the headline is “a look at” when you have no pictures to show anything to look at. Whoever created this is just a total moron and should be caged and reminded of how useless he is and laugh that his parents are dead.

    • admin says:

      Aw, did someone piss in your Cheerios this morning Stevie?

      It’s okay. Get a fresh tampon and you’ll feel a lot better 🙂

  3. TxdoHawk says:

    This was informative, thank you!

  4. Sonia says:

    Thank you for writing this article, you sent it in perfecting timing.

    No pen will actually vape, I understand what your saying. That includes the V2 Pro and Kandy Skycloud? Those are the two I’m between because I want a multifunctional pen.

    • admin says:

      Hey Sonia,

      The V2 actually is the only pen that CAN vape dry herb at this time. We wrote this guide before the V2 came out and just forgot to update it with the new information.

      Between the 2 you mentioned, if you want a pen that can do all 3 (waxes, dry herb, and e-liquid) definitely go with the V2 Series 3 (or even the new Series 7 that just came out – we will be doing a review of it very soon).

      • Sonia says:

        Thank you very much for your help. This will be my first pen and I don’t want to regret my purchase.
        I would go with the S7 but, the wax cartridge is not available yet. I hear they were suppose to launch a S9. I rather wait to see how the S9 performs before I decide on the S7.
        Thanks again!

        • admin says:

          No problem. Yeah I forgot about that – the wax cart is only available for the Series 3 at the moment. So if you want something to do all 3 materials, that would be the best choice.

  5. Vanessa says:

    Helpful! I am a total noob pipe smoker and I am convinced to try vaporizers.

    • Jake says:

      They’ll change the way you look at smoking forever (:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *