Above Ohm vs Sub Ohm Vaping: What’s the Difference?

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Sub ohm vaping involves the use of a coil that has a resistance of less than an ohm. Just a few years ago, the lowest resistance you could find for standard cartomizers and clearomizers was 1.2 ohms. Back then, vaping below one ohm (or “sub-ohming”) was the province of advanced Vapers who wanted more power from their fixed-voltage devices. More power makes coils hotter and reduces the time it takes for them to get hot. These days, sub ohm vaping has become much more accessible and most major manufacturers are offering tanks and coils designed for vaping at low resistances. If you are interested in the difference between above ohm vs sub ohm, here are some important facts to keep in mind:

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Sub-ohm vaping creates the most clouds. But thats not always a good thing.

1. Choosing the Right e-Liquid

The two main factors to consider are the e-liquid’s nicotine content and the propylene glycol (PG)/vegetable glycerin (VG) ratio. Both play a role in the throat hit when you vape. Consider the following:

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For both of these reasons, you should lower your nicotine level significantly when you start vaping DL. If you vaped before and were accustomed to 12 or 18mg nicotine strength e-liquid, you should stock up on e-liquids with 6mg of nicotine or less.

The amount of vegetable glycerin in the eLiquid is also important. You will want a VG heavy eJuice as VG produces less of a throat-hit than propylene glycol, in addition to increasing vapor production. Look for “Max VG” e-liquids or 60% and higher VG e-liquids.

2. Using Sub Ohm Devices Discreetly

Be forewarned that discreet vaping (or stealth vaping) is difficult with sub ohm devices using VG heavy eJuice. One of the reasons that sub ohm vaping is popular is its ability to produce an abundance of dense clouds. Dense, billowy clouds are difficult to hide. One trick that some Vapers use is to hold the vapor in for a few seconds before exhaling; this reduces the amount of vapor produced but does not completely eliminate it.

3. Bigger, Better Clouds

As mentioned before, sub ohm vaping does produce more vapor. The vapor clouds tend to be thicker, more intensely flavorful and warmer than those produced when vaping above ohm.

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Many Vapers enjoy building their own coils, but that is no longer necessary to sub ohm vape.

4. Sub Ohm Tanks

The devices used for sub ohm vaping fall into three categories:

Re-buildable Dripping Atomizers (RDAs)
These are small devices that attach to mods either via a hybrid connection or a standard 510 connection. They are known for stellar flavor production. They use a heating coil that the user builds to meet their desired resistance. E-liquid is dripped directly onto the coil and into a reservoir around it.

Re-Buildable Tank Atomizers (RDTA/RTAs)
These are similar to RDAs in that the user builds a coil to a certain resistance. Instead of a small reservoir, they have a tank for the e-liquid.

• Pre-built Coil Tanks
With both of the previous devices, some amount of skill is necessary to build and install coils correctly. Factors like wicking and coil-position can greatly influence the vaping experience. With sub ohm tanks, these issues have been solved. Sub ohm tanks use pre-built coils, just like a standard clearomizer. Coils can be changed quickly and provide a degree of consistency that does not depend on your skill at coil-building.  You can find the latest sub ohm tanks which are reasonably priced here.

5. Vaping Safety

Vaping below one ohm was once a controversial and divisive issue in the vaping community due to safety concerns. Many were afraid of the potential for harm to Vapers using low-resistance coils on unregulated devices. There is the risk that under certain circumstances, batteries in these devices could fail and cause serious harm to the user. Fortunately, numerous regulated devices have come along in the last year or so that make sub-ohm vaping far safer. Still, it is a good idea to research Ohm’s law and to make sure that you are using a device (and battery) that can fire low-resistance coils safely. Do this before you attempt to sub-ohm.

6. Vaping Chart

I have transcribed Ohm’s Law for sub ohm resistance levels in this Vaping Chart.  Please use a variety of sources to ensure you are vaping at safe levels – especially if you are using unregulated devices.

7. Where to Look For Your First Sub Ohm Device

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Some of the many sub ohm devices available at Direct Vapor.

Purchasing your first sub ohm device can be done in a brick and mortar vaping shop or simply bought online.  I suggest you visit the Direct Vapor website.  They have a lowest price guarantee on vaping products and will match the price if you happen to find it cheaper elsewhere.  They also have some great warranties, customer service and is a clone free store.

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Jim H

I started vaping in January 2011 and haven't had the desire to smoke a traditional cigarette since. It inspired me so much that I created this website to help others like me who want to quit smoking. I hope you enjoy the site and please leave a comment.

  1. This is a great introduction to sub-ohm vaping, but it doesn’t really accentuate the difference between above-ohm and sub-ohm. It’s very biased toward sub-ohm, and as a decidedly above-ohm MTL flavour chaser, I found it lacking in a balanced review of both styles.
    There really isn’t much info out there on above-homing now, since the industry has followed the trend.
    Personally, I prefer the lighter clouds that above-ohm vaping produces; it dissipates quickly, meaning that even in public areas, no one else has to be subjected to my habit. It also offers a greater flavour experience, and as I’ve recently learned, using higher PG mixes serves to add to that, since high VG juices don’t carry flavour quite as well; it’s all about the clouds, and that’s just not my style.
    This is a great intro to sub-ohm, but I’d suggest making a secondary post talking a little more about above-ohm, since this one really wasn’t the comparison advertised.

    • Hi Julie and thank you for your comment. You are absolutely correct and I plan on including more information on above ohm vaping. Thank you for commenting.