If you're considering buying a vaporizer for the first time, or perhaps have only used one or two devices in the past but didn't put a lot of thought into exactly what type they were, in either case, you may find yourself feeling confused and perhaps a little overwhelmed when shopping for vaporizers. However, the differences aren't challenging to understand and finding out how each works will help you make the best choice when deciding on your next vape purchase.
How do Convection Vaporizers Work?
Vaporizers that leverage convection heating vaporize your material by passing heated air through the material. Convection vaporizers are growing increasingly popular as more efficient designs are developed. Typically convection vaporizers hold a more moderate amount of material to ensure that it can all be evenly heated. This is often one of the most apparent giveaways that you are looking at a convection vape. However, this isn't a hard and fast rule as some devices merely have smaller chambers by design.
As hot air is passed through the material in a convection vaporizer, it begins to warm, and the volatile oils begin to boil off and be expressed as vapor which is then inhaled. Most popular desktop vaporizers like the Volcano Classic from Storz & Bickel or the Extreme Q from Arizer are convection vaporizers. While there is a shift towards hybrid heating, if you're looking for a desktop vaporizer, you'll likely want to pick up a convection device.
Convection vapes typically require longer inhales to work effectively. However, the longer inhales start softly as it takes a little time for the material to reach an effective vaporization temperature, so don't assume that convection means you have to be taking big hits for it to work; it's just that you'll need to inhale a little longer compared to a similar conduction device as the material isn't already up to temp.
Convection Vaporizer Pros & Benefits
- Minimal combustion risk in most devices
- Excellent potential for flavor
- Some devices can be used on-demand
- Modern devices can reach temp fast
- Can be more efficient as the material isn't left cooking
- Material can be heated more evenly, removing the need to mix
- Typically smaller chamber size can be good for microdosing
Convection Vaporizer Cons & Downsides
- Typically smaller chamber capacity (~0.1-0.2g)
- Often more expensive than comparable conduction options
- Longer inhales can be challenging for some users
- Portable convection vapes can be bulkier than conduction devices
How do Conduction Vaporizers Work?
Conduction vaporizers take a different approach to vaporizing your material, but not one that is any harder to understand. In conduction devices, the chamber where the material is placed is heated. Instead of passing hot air over the material, the chamber the material is held in gets hot. Imagine a pot of water boiling on the stove, basically the same principle; there's not much more to it except that when you're inhaling, the device allows the air to travel through the material being heated in the chamber.
Some conduction vaporizers can be extremely small and sleek. A prime example of this is the well-known Pax 3, just to name one. If you're looking for a budget vape, you may find you can get more for your money by looking at convection options. However, as convection devices are starting to reduce in price, it's becoming less about budget and far more about preference.
When using a conduction vaporizer, you have the ability to take small warm inhales from the device in a way that is more like sipping the vapor than the long inhales usually required by convection vapes. So if you have trouble taking deep breaths, a conduction vaporizer will likely be an obvious choice for you.
Conduction Vaporizer Pros & Benefits
- Typically large chamber sizes (~0.5g)
- More budget-friendly options
- Can be extremely small and pocket-friendly
- Great for vapers that like to take smaller inhales
- Heat time is typically good
Conduction Vaporizer Cons & Downsides
- Less even heating often requires mixing the material to vaporize it fully
- You may scorch the material touching the walls of the chamber at high temps
- Doesn't work well with a partially filled chamber, so less useful for microdosing
- Your material is left sitting in a hot chamber as it cools if you stop mid-session
- Requires more frequent cleaning and maintenance as residue build-up is more intense
What is a Hybrid Vaporizer?
You may have noticed a growing number of hybrid vaporizers or devices that appear to use convection heating, claiming to be hybrid devices. Yet, while some companies use the term a little more flexibly than others, the meaning is still essentially the same. In a vaporizer that uses hybrid heating, the chamber is heated while hot air is passed through; this can combine the benefits of both types of devices. However, often hybrid devices are still designed mainly to resemble convection devices, just with a chamber that gets a little warm as well, so if you are looking to purchase a hybrid vaporizer, it's worth understanding that the experience will typically be more like a classic convection vaporizer than a conduction experience if anything the result is usually just a more efficient convection experience, which for many users won't be a bad thing at all. With even some classics like the Volcano starting to get hybrid refreshes or replacement models, you'll likely be seeing many more hybrid devices over the next few years as they seem to be increasing in popularity and availability.
Should you get a Conduction or Convection Vaporizer?
When deciding between convection, conduction, or even a hybrid device, the best place to start is by thinking about precisely what type of vape user you are. For example, do you like using small amounts and don't mind regular reloads? Perhaps a convection vape will be a great choice. On the other hand, do you prefer to be able to load up your device with a lot of material and sip away at it? In that case, you might find a conduction device that would suit you best. Simply have a think about how each type of device works, explore the pros and cons and how they align with your preferences, then go with what sounds like the best fit for you.
If you're worried about making the wrong choice, just get started by exploring budget options. At least if you find that your chosen style of device doesn't really suit you, at least you don't end up too much out of pocket.
At the end of the day, there's no perfect answer; it all comes down to your preferences and what meets your needs the best so if you want to start exploring some of the options available, head over to our device picker and start looking around.