What is a mechanical mod?
A mechanical mod is the most basic, but simultaneously the most misunderstood and complex type of vaporizer out there.
At the most basic level, a mech mod is a nothing more than a metal tube that holds at least one rechargeable battery. At the bottom of the tube is a button that, when pressed, completes a circuit, delivering an unregulated current to the attached atomizer, thus producing vapor. This is why mechanical mods are also known as unregulated mods. Mechanical mods contain no electronics or wiring at all.
Different types of mech mods
Tube-style mechanical mods, such as the Lone Wulf, are the most common and simplest type of mech mod out there. As the name implies, they are tube-shaped and generally hold only a single 18650 battery (although there are some models that hold different battery sizes, or even multiple batteries). The firing button will be located on the bottom of the tube, which will complete a circuit and deliver the unregulated current to the atomizer, which is screwed into the top cap of the mod. This current heats up the coils and creates the vapor.
Box-style mech mods are, as the name implies, box-shaped. Beyond the aesthetic considerations, the box shape adds another layer of complexity to the buying process. While it may seem extremely confusing, once you have a basic understanding of the different types of mechanical box mods it all starts to make sense.
Series Mechanical Box Mods
When vaping with a dual-18650 series box mod, such as the Hell Hound, you're essentially doubling the voltage of your batteries. Other than the doubling of the voltage, you're still getting the same ratings that you would receive from a single battery.
This means that it's really important to build your coils at a higher ohm level when using a series mech mod, because the super-low ohm builds that are more common with a mechanical tube mod are more dangerous due to the increased power coming out the the two batteries.
For example, if you are using a Samsung 25R on a dual series 18650 box mod, you now have only 20A and are still dealing with 2500 mAh (similar to a tube). You get the same ratings as are on a single battery – but the power coming out of the battery is not at the 4.2V, it’s at 8.4V.
Parallel Mechanical Box Mods
Parallel box mods are just like the series mods, but opposite.
Instead of doubling the voltage, you'll now be doubling the battery life and the amperage.
Using the same Samsung 25R on a dual parallel 18650 box that we mentioned when discussing the series mods, you now have 40A to use, and are dealing with 5000 mAh. You can safely build down to super low resistances of 0.11 ohms. At 4.2V that’s a 38A draw (at approximately 160W).
Your voltage will be exactly the same as if you were running the same battery on a tube mod. With that Samsung battery, you'll always be getting 4.2V out of your setup, no matter how many batteries you have running parallel.
If you're really obsessed with running builds in the low 0.1 ohm range, then you'll definitely want a parallel box mod instead of a series. Although the series will give you better performance comparable to a low ohm build a higher ohm level (0.4ish).
When deciding whether to choose a series or parallel box mod, there is no right or wrong answer. As always it's a matter of personal preference.
Hybrid Mechanical Mods
A hybrid mod is a type of mech mod that features no 510 connector pin. This means that the atomizer is connected directly to the battery. When you press the firing button on a hybrid mech mod, the circuit is completed directly on the bottom of your atomizer, bypassing the pin that is common on the overwhelming majority of mechanicals.
The advantage of using a hybrid mod is that you'll experience no voltage drop when vaping. When using a normal mechanical mod, you'll tend to lose a small amount of the voltage due to things such as the threading, the material used to make the mod, spring in the firing mechanism, problem with the 510 pin, etc. The use of a hybrid mod completely bypasses those problems due to the direct connection between the atomizer and the battery, ensuring 100% efficiency.
While hybrids do have many advantages, they are also the most dangerous type of mechanical mod in the hands of beginners. The direct connection to the battery means that it's way easier to short the battery, especially when using a tank without a protruding 510 pin. Make sure that you are already extremely experience using other types of mechanical mods before you even consider purchasing a hybrid.
Mechanical mod safety considerations
If you've never vaped before, or if you still consider yourself to be anything less than an expert on vaping, it's important that you gain more experience using a regulated box mod, such as the SMOK Alien, instead BEFORE you start vaping with a mech. Once you gain the requisite experience with the much safer regulated devices you'll be ready to dive into the world of mechanical mods. Mechanical mods can be extremely rewarding in the hands of experienced vapers, but can be extremely dangerous when used by beginners.
It's extremely important that you use a multimeter (also known as an ohm reader) when vaping with a mechanical mod. This is because mechanical mods are unregulated, meaning that they contain no wiring or other electronics to help regulate the current coming from the battery.
Here is how you ensure that you stay under the max discharge rate for your battery, and therefore stay safe when vaping with a mechanical mod. This excerpt is taken from my blog post "Vape Battery Safety". Be sure to read that article if you have any doubts about how to be safe with lithium-ion batteries.
Determining max discharge rate
Most newer batteries will list the maximum discharge rate in terms of amps (e.g. 15 amps, 20 amps, etc.) You need to make sure that your actual discharge rate is under the max discharge rate to ensure proper safety.
How to determine actual discharge rate
Here is a simple way to determine your actual discharge rate:
BATTERY VOLTAGE DIVIDED BY THE OHMS RESISTANCE OF YOUR COIL = ACTUAL DISCHARGE RATE
Use a multimeter to determine your voltage rate, and then divide that by the amount of Ohms of your coil. For example, your multimeter says that your voltage is at 4 volts. You’re using a coil that is at 0.4 Ohms. That means that you’re at 10 amps. If you’re battery is rated at 10 amps or above, you’re in the clear. If not, you need to build another coil (Inconvenient, but necessary.)
Now you know the most important basic safety precautions when vaping with lithium-ion batteries. It’s very important for all mod vapers to fully understand this material BEFORE you start vaping, especially if you’re planning on sub-ohming or using a mechanical mod.
Benefits of using mechanical mods
You can't break 'em.
Well ok, maybe if you try really hard you might be able to break one, but it's tough to do. The lack of internal wiring and electronics ensures that there are very few components that can fail, and if something does go wrong it's generally easy to fix even if you don't have any advanced electrical knowledge.
Mechs generally have a simple, streamlined minimalist design to them that appeals to a lot of people. Regulated box mods tend to be more futuristic looking with all of their buttons, touch screens, and voltage/wattage controls. With mechs all you have is a firing button and nothing else that will interfere with the minimalistic appearance.
The hobbyist factor
We all know that using a regulated mod is way easier. But some people just love to tinker with things, and for those people mechanical mods are the only way to go. While regulated mods can deliver a consistent vaping experience across the life of the battery, it can also be a consistently average experience. There's nothing quite like the feeling of that first vape on a mech mod after tinkering with your coils and creating the perfect build at just the right ohm resistance level.