Heads, Coils & Cartridges Info
Heads / Coils
Since the electronic cigarette industry has grown so quickly, there was never any universally adopted naming system established. Therefore, many reatailers and manufacturers just made up the names as they saw fit. Unfortunately this has resulted in many discrepancies and lots of confusion for everyone involved as some may call a product one name and others call the same product a different name entirely. Therefore, it is not uncommon for somene to give us a call and say that they need a new "wick for their atomizer" when really what they are looking for is a new "replacement head for their clearomizer" according to the nomenclature that we use. This doesn't mean what they said is wrong, but it creates confusion and frustration for many customers especially as they browse different retailers. Here we will attempt to explain the logic behind our thinking when we established the names that we use on a daily basis so that maybe it could help to clear up some of this confusion and avoid some frustration.
Most common devices on the market nowadays generally have replaceable "heads" that consist of a wicking system that feeds the e-liquid to the coil heating element that heats up to vaporize the liquid. These are normally located inside of something called an atomizer, cartomizer, clearomizer, or tank. I won't attempt to explain the differences between these products as this category is focused striclty on the replaceable head portion of the device. While they come in many different shapes and sizes, they all essentially fall into one of the categories listed below based on their location within the tank and the number of coils (heating elements) they include
Bottom Single Coil
When the tank is standing up so that the mouthpiece is towards the sky these types of replacement heads would be located at the base or bottom of the tank. They often require the user to remove the tank from the battery, turn it upside down, and unscrew the base portion of the tank in order to access the replacement head. To fill with liquid, the user often has to use this same process, filling the tank from the bottom. Single coil means that they have only one heating element, which is usually not visible from the outside. They also tend to have wicks that are either not visible, enclosed, or are very, very short.
Bottom coil or bottom feed tanks have become popular because of the consistent experience they provide. By locating the coil at the bottom of the tank gravity aids in constantly feeding the liquid to the coil so that dry or burnt hits are avoided as much as possible.
Bottom Dual Coil
Similar to the bottom single coil, these types of replacement heads are also located at the base or bottom of the tank. This allows for the same advantage of having gravity constantly feeding liquid to the coils to avoid dry or burnt hits. However, instead of only having one coil heating element, these have two. This means that with each hit both coils heat up to vaporize the liquid so that more liquid can be vaporized in a shorter amount of time. For the user this means that they can take a shorter draw to receive the same amount of vapor.
Top Single Coil
As the name suggests these types of replacement heads are located at the top of the tank when the tank is standing straight up. The top coil design was one of the first replaceable head designs to hit the market and they are still popular today due to their easy to use nature. Many customers prefer them because they can be quickly filled from the top of the tank without having to remove it from the battery. However, with top coil designs, the method to replace coil can vary from product to product. Some require the user to empty the tank of liquid so that the mouthpiece and outer tube can be removed to access the replacement heads, but others allow the user to change the replacement head by simply removing the top cap without the need to empty the liquid.
So while the upside is their easy to use nature, the downside with that the liquid inside the tank has to work against gravity in order to reach the coil heating element. This can result in burnt tasting draws if the wick near the coil is dry when fired. When this occurs, not only does it taste horrible, but it can also cause damage by burning the wick to an extent that the burnt taste lingers even after the liquid wets it again. Many top coil devices try to reduce the chance of this occurring by using longer wicks that hang down to the very bottom of the tank.
Top Dual Coil
Just like the ones above, these are located at the top of the tank, but simply have two heating elements instead of one. The dual coils both heat up with each draw to vaporize more liquid in a shorter amount of time. This means the user can take shorter draws to receive the same amount of vapor. However, due to their design, they are still quite prone to dry / burnt hits, especially when the tank is less than half full.
Products in this category are designed for 3-piece electronic cigarettes that are comprised of a battery, atomizer, and cartridge. While this design is a bit older and may be considered outdated by some, it is still widely used and very reliable. Instead of having a tank that both holds the e-liquid and the coil heating element, these portions are separated so that a removeable cartridge holds the eliquid and feeds it to the atomizer. This allows the user to simply remove the cartridge, refill it, and insert it back into the atomizer without much effort involved. Because they are so easy to use, they are often preferred by those that simply wants something that works but doesn't require much maintenance.
DCT stands for Dual Coil Tank, but it has been widely adopted as the name for a specific style of tank in which a standard cartomizer is surrounded by a larger tank. If you are unsure of what a cartomizer is, it is a cylinder shaped atomizing device with a heating element that usually runs vertically through the center and is surrounded by polyfill material that holds the liquid and feeds it to the coil. In the DCT design, the large outer tank usually holds extra liquid and feeds liquid into the cartomizer via a whole or wholes drilled into the cartomizer casing. This was invented due to the limited capacity of most cartomizers and their tendency to provide an inconsistent experience based on how much liquid was left in the cartomizer. Adding the outer tank fixed both issues by increasing the capacity so they did not have to be refilled as often and providing a method of keeping the cartomizer consistently filled with liquid.
DCTs no longer always have dual coils and some may call them SCT if they include a single coil cartomizer, but we have chosen to stick with DCT to describe this style of tank regardless of the number of coils simply because it is a widely recognized abbreviation. Products in this category include replacement cartomizers for these style of tanks as well as a few accessories that were designed only for use with this style of tank.
Wicks / Wire / Mesh
While these products may not exactly be replacement heads, coils, or cartridges, they are used by advanced or experienced users who build their own coils. They are most often used with rebuildable dripper atomizers (RDA) and rebuildable atomizer tanks (RBA).