“Mech” mods, or mechanical mods are in their own class in terms of how e-cigarettes work. Going against the flow of the omnipresent tech trend, they represent getting back to basics, and especially a different vaping approach.
Mods or mechanical tubes are based on a very simple operating process, and it is precisely that which differentiates them from electronic models. It is quite simply a box, or a tube, with a battery, a trigger button, and a connector. In a nutshell, a battery-powered tube with a push-button.
Therefore, in principle, no electronics, everything is mechanical, hence their name. When activated, the battery powers the resistance coil and the atomizer directly.
Reliability is a primary advantage of mech mods. As there are no electronics, there is no risk of its breaking down and a mech mod can keep going for decades. At worst, the push-button spring may eventually lose its elasticity, but it will be easy to replace. This is a major argument, as reliability is key in vaping: if your device breaks down, you will have less trouble finding a tobacconist than an e-cigarette store…
Simplicity is also a huge argument in favour of mech mods. No instructions to learn, no tiny indecipherable digits and complex instructions on a screen, no buttons all over the place, and, above all, no need to worry about settings. You simply press the button to vape and away you go. Simple and effective in equal measure.
In fact, mech mods are unrivalled in terms of efficiency. No electronics to use up the battery, which is therefore bound to last longer. All the battery power and life will go straight to the resistance coil, and only when it is in use. No standby mode, and therefore no battery consumption when you’re not vaping. Electronic box regulation causes losses of between 5% and 15% of the energy used. Their “efficiency” is said to be 85 to 95%. With mech mods, the efficiency is 100%.
Finally, mech mods offer another way to vape. More rough and ready, and often popular with aficionados. There is an undeniable charm to mechanical vaping. This also stems from the wide diversity of mech boxes and tubes. This is where mod creators come into play, offering more original and often high-quality models. The lack of electronics simplifies the creation process, and frees from the constraints of buttons and other screens. Some mod creators obviously create electronic mods, but mech mods, and the tubes in particular, remain their favourite playing ground for the most innovative among them.
With a mech mod, you know precisely what is happening, what you are doing, to get precisely the vaping experience that you are looking for. It is kind of like the charm of classic cars on which you can do all the repairs yourself provided that you are a bit handy, unlike modern cars on which you can do nothing without inaccessible tools and measuring instruments. However, just like car mechanics, you need to be committed to learn and spend some time perfecting your skills.
Mech mods have been mostly replaced by electronic models due to a few flaws, or more precisely a few major shortcomings.
The first, by far, is safety. In a mech mod, the resistance coil is in direct contact with the battery. In the event of a short circuit, the battery will overheat, and, depending on the models, is liable to explode. Therefore, the use of a suitable battery, which will at worst degas but not explode, in a mech mod is key. Some batteries also include short-circuit protection; obviously, they are a preferable choice. With electronic boxes, the circuit is protected, and the battery is not in direct contact with the atomizer.
Nevertheless, this does not mean that mech mods are dangerous. This is only the case when an installation or operating error occurs. With a mech mod, it is therefore essential to know what you are doing, in which case, they are extremely safe. Problems tend to arise for those who think they know, despite having considerable gaps in their knowledge or their experience.
Some mech mods also feature fuse systems, some of which are electronic. They simply break the circuit when the current gets too high, or the temperature rises excessively. This safety feature does not make them electronic mods: the set-up is still electrically in direct contact with the battery, and there is no regulation. The only electronic parts would be the fuses.
The second disadvantage lies in the lack of regulation. With an electronic box, if you want 20 Watts, that’s what you’ll get until the battery runs out. With a mech mod, there is no such regulation. The vaping power you use is directly dependent on the resistance of your set-up and the battery voltage, which decreases as the battery is discharged. You will therefore get more powerful vaping with a full battery than with an empty battery, and also more powerful vaping at 0.5 Ohm than at 1 Ohm.
To determine your vaping power, you need to get to grips with Ohm’s law. This formula will help you calculate the vaping power based on the resistance of your set-up (in Ohms) and the voltage of your battery (in Volts). Some very simple maths that with prove to be indispensable.
You will find Ohm’s law particularly essential for calculating the current, in Amps, drawn from your battery, which will also depend on the resistance of your set-up. The lower this resistance, the higher your vaping power, and the higher the level of current (“Amps”) drawn from your battery. You must never go beyond the maximum current capacity of your battery, otherwise, it will heat and degas.
You will have guessed, the third disadvantage of mech mods is that they are not quite as straightforward as they seem. Certainly, there is only one button and no settings, but these settings are determined by the atomizer resistance, the set-up style, the battery discharge rate. Electronic box settings suddenly seem less complicated, and rightly so.
In order to vape with a mech mod, you need to be perfectly informed on its use and the safety rules applicable to the battery in particular. Only use suitable batteries, at a power not exceeding the max MDC of the battery and with a set-up that prevents short circuits!
You would have thought that electronic mods would have spelt the end of mech mods. Nothing could be further from the truth. Mech vaping offers genuine advantages, and incomparable charm. It also means that you need be perfectly aware of the safety and operating rules – otherwise, the battery may punish you severely. As straightforward as it might seem, mech vaping is not advisable for beginners. However, if you take the time to master it, you will be richly rewarded.
Frequently asked questions on mechanical mods
Below is the list of frequently asked questions about mechanical mods. If you can’t find an answer to your question, feel free to leave your question in the comment box below.
- How should you choose your mechanical mod?
Choosing a mechanical mod is much more straightforward than choosing an electronic box. Indeed,
between different mechanical mods, the only possible variations are the size and the design. There is no difference in power from one mech mod to another, as the mod will supply the power requested by your resistance coil. The choice of a mechanical mod will therefore be determined by its design, and its price, as in this sector, the differences can be huge (expect to pay around €30 for the bottom of the range, and over €2000 for some one-off pieces).
- Which battery should you choose for a mechanical mod?
The battery that you choose to insert in your mechanical mod is CRITICAL. The entire safety of your mod will depend on it. Therefore, start by forgetting about any batteries from an unknown Chinese brand costing half the price of the others, your safety is at stake. Go for batteries from major brands such as Samsung or LG, for example. The second decisive point will the continuous and maximum discharge capacity of your battery, which should be selected based on the resistance coil included in your set-up. Remember, a mechanical mod will supply a certain power based on the value of your resistance coil.
For example, a battery with an MDC (maximum discharge current) of 25 Amps, will allow you to create a resistance coil in which the lowest value can be 0.17 Ohm (4.2 / 2.5 = 0.168 i.e. 0.17). Don’t worry, charts are available on the Internet showing the lowest resistance value to which you can go, based on the power of your battery.
- How can you vape safely with a mech mod?
Mechanical mods have a bad reputation, as the rare explosions that occur with e-cigarettes have primarily occurred on mechanical mods whose owners did not know how to use them properly. It is actually quite easy to vape safely with a mechanical mod. You simply need to ensure that your resistance value is not too low for the power of your battery, that the pin on your atomizer / dripper sticks out enough to make contact with your battery so as not to create a short circuit and… there you have it!