Mechanical Mods Explained: What You Need To Know
If you’re a fan of clouds, cloud chasing or vape tricks, you’ve probably come across the term “mechanical mods” or “mech mods” several times. For someone unfamiliar with what mechanical vape mods are and how they work, mechanical vapes can seem extremely complex and difficult to understand. Those who watch vaping videos on YouTube are often curious about why the mods they see on the videos aren’t the same as the vape mods they see at their local vape shop. In this post, we’re going to explore the world of mechanical mods, and give you some insight into using one safely.
Mechanical Mods Explained
Mechanical mods (also known as mech mods) aren’t as sophisticated as they seem. Basically, a mech mod is a device that supplies pure battery power to an atomizer. While mech mods seem like complex contraptions that can only be understood by electrical engineers, it turns out mech mods are actually the most simple of all vape mods.
The Anatomy of a Mech Mod
Mech mods contain very few parts. Specifically, a mechanical mod is constructed of the following:
- Housing - A wide variety of housings are available (both in tube and box form) for mechanical vape mods, and can be made of several types of materials including metal and wood. Some mech mod builders use extremely unique casings such as custom coffin boxes and artist-level wooden housings.
- Battery - These mods can contain one or several batteries. The type and quantity of batteries are generally based upon the user’s needs and requirements. While commercial mech mod kids typically include housing options that offer space for only one or two batteries, some DIY go extreme by using as many batteries as possible. This guy stuffed in 24 batteries into his DIY mechanical mod!
- Atomizer - Mech mods are generally considered more flexible since they will power any atomizer or coil with no consideration of the coil’s resistance.
RDAs are the popular choice of atomizers among mechanical mod enthusiasts. These Rebuildable Dripping Atomizers allow users to drip vape juice directly onto the coil. Self-constructed coils give users a variety of options, vape experiences, and output levels.
How Do Mechanical Mods Work?
Mechanical mods are extremely minimal in functionality. As basic as possible, the mod’s casing houses a battery. The battery is positioned to connect with both the top (positive) and bottom (negative) caps of the mod. When the mod is fired through the push of a button, the bottom cap makes contact with the battery and allows current to flow into the coil. There are no circuit boards or advanced technical aspects - just a simple circuit powered by a battery source.
Who Are Mechanical Mods For?
Generally, mechanical mods are said to be best for more advanced vapers. They are especially meant for individuals who want a completely customized vaping experience and don’t mind spending the extra time to do so. For people interested in blowing ridiculously large clouds or going beyond the power of the PV models found at their local vape store, mech mods may be the best option.
However, mech mods may not be for the general vaper who wants a smooth and non-overbearing vaping experience. Some vapers want a grab-and-go option that does not take much effort. For these vapers, regulated mods are the answer.
Unregulated vs. Regulated Mods
The biggest difference between mech mods and the typical mods you see in the store is that mech mods are “unregulated”. Commercial PVs (personal vaporizers) are built with chips between the battery and the coil that protects the user from over-discharge and short circuits. Regulated mods are built to detect issues before they happen and shut down the device to prevent any issues. Unregulated mechanical mods however, are not constructed with these same safety features, making them much more dangerous than regulated devices.
Regulated mods are what they are - what you get out the box is typically what you can expect. The only real customizable elements are replacing the battery with another, or changing to a different coil; if your device accepts multiple coils. Unregulated mods however can be built with a variety of options from small one-battery units to large multi-battery units with custom RDAs.
Are Mechanical Mods Safe?
Mechanical mods are generally safe if used correctly. However, many of the faults that do happen are as a result of the battery. As mentioned, mechanical mods do not have any circuit boards, so there is nothing to keep the device from fully defecting if there is a malfunction. Batteries can become defective in a number of ways, causing them to overdischarge, misfire, overheat, and potentially, burst.
Mechanical Mod Safety Tips
Since mechanical mods are unregulated, safety measures must always be taken during usage, and even when the device is not in use. Since there is no on-board system to ensure that you are notified before an issue becomes a nightmare, extra attention must be given to ensure that every vape experience is safe. Keep the following steps in mind when using a mechanical vape:
- Prevent Battery Issues - Many mechanical mod issues begin in the battery. Avoid battery problems by:
- Using the right batteries: While many types of batteries exist for mechanical mods, the most popular types used are ICR (LiCo02) and IMR(LiMn). These batteries can power any device that requires a 3.7-volt power source. There are some differences in each though; especially in the how each battery is chemically comprised. In general, ICRs are more prone to combustion and are more likely to stress more easily than IMRs. “Protected” ICR batteries are much safer than unprotected choices, as they do have some basic level of protection to prevent against the battery shorting or over-discharging. Since IMRs are more stable and less prone to safety issues, they are generally seen as a better choice for mechanical mods.
- Keeping Batteries Charged, But Not Overcharged: There can be danger in both using batteries that have been discharged passed their threshold, as well as those that have been over charged. Typically, you want your batteries to charge up to 4.2 volts and use it until the voltage has dropped to around 3.3 volts. Invest in a quality multimeter so that you can ensure that your batteries are within a safe range at all times.
- Frequently Check for Short Circuits - Regulated mods are built to avoid firing when the atomizer experiences a short. In fact, a regulated mod typically won’t allow the device to fire at anything lower than 1.5 ohms. Mechanical mods do not have these precautions and will attempt to fire even at 0 ohms, so it is important to know that you are not experiencing any shorts while vaping. When buying an atomizer, always make sure that you check the resistance to ensure it’s compatibility with your mod. If using RDAs, make sure you build them to a standard resistance of 2.4-3.0 ohms to prevent issues. Sometimes, experienced users of a mechanical mod vape at a lower resistance, but for safety purposes, remain in the above range unless you are sure what you are doing.
- Ensure Decent Airflow - Always make sure that your mech mod has enough vent holes to provide decent air flow. Without vent holes, pressure can build up within the device and the mod can become extremely dangerous. With proper airflow, the pressure is able to be released before reaching a dangerous or combustible level.
- Prevent Misfires - Accidental misfires can be another cause of battery stress. If your mod accidentally misfires in your pocket or in your bag for an extended amount of time, this can become very dangerous. Regulated mods typically have a set period (say 10 seconds, for example) where the device will stop firing after a certain period of time. Some mechanical mods include lockable firing mechanisms that allow you to lock the device so it cannot fire at all, but not all models include this feature. Make sure that your device is in a safe place at all times, or remove the atomizer when not in use so that it cannot fire until you want it to.
Mechanical Mod Clones and Knockoffs
Understanding the difference between original mech mods, clones and knockoffs is extremely important to buying safe equipment. Since mechanical mods are so simple in construction, they are the most cloned and knocked-off pieces of hardware in the industry.
While clones and knockoffs are both attempt to recreate original pieces, they are not quite the same thing.
Mechanical Mod Clones typically refer to point-by-point third-party exact duplications of a device. These devices are built to completely replicate the original piece in every way, from its performance to its material composition. The idea is that without looking in with a fine-tuned eye, one would not be able to tell the difference from the other by appearance or operation.
Knockoffs on the other hand, are made to replicate the look of an authentic mech mod, to deceive an individual into thinking that they are buying the real thing. Cloned mods often attract people that looking for cheap mech mods and who fall into believing that they are buying a quality-brand device at a discount.
Many clones are built with solid construction, but knockoffs cannot be trusted. Scammers who sell knockoffs are usually not worried about the safety of a device, or whether the device is constructed in the proper manner. Always buy your device from a reputable source and inspect it immediately to make sure you have received the exact device that you paid for!
If Mechanical Mods Aren’t Right For You
Some users love mechanical mods, but mech mods aren’t right for everybody. Every vaper wants to vape from a safe device, but some prefer to have a mod that regulates itself, so that they don’t have to worry about it. While some enjoy the process of rebuilding atomizers, others prefer to walk in a store, purchase an atomizer, and begin vaping immediately.
Fortunately, for those who prefer a regulated mod to a mechanical mod, there are many options available. Check out our articles on the cheapest vape mods, the smallest vape mods, or head over to our vape mod store and find the device that’s right for you!
Do you have any tips for first-time mech mod vapers? Leave them in the comments below!