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How To Choose The Right Vaporizer: A Buyer’s Guide

When buying a marijuana vaporizer, a number of factors need to be considered.

So you’ve decided you want a vaporizer, but now comes the harder decision. Which one is best for me? In some ways, comparing vaporizers is a bit like comparing other electronics, i.e. price and warranty are always important. However, there are a few things to consider that require more specific knowledge.

In this guide, we’ll brief you on the most important features of a marijuana vaporizer, what questions to ask, and how to find the vaporizer that’s right for you.

1. Portable or Desktop

A Pax portable vaporizer (left) and a Volcano Classic desktop model (right).

The first major decision to make is whether you need a portable or desktop vaporizer. If you only require a vaporizer while on the go, the decision is easy. On the other hand, if vaporizing at home is just as important, then the decision gets harder.

Although portable vaporizers work for both outside and home use, most will not provide the same level of functionality as their stay-at-home counterparts.

Portable vaporizers often have smaller chambers and shorter battery lives compared to desktop vaporizers, so using one at home will require more frequent refills and recharges. This makes desktop vaporizers a better option for those who enjoy longer sessions or sharing with friends.

Another advantage of desktop vaporizers is their versatility when it comes to intake methods. Most portable devices only allow users to directly inhale from the mouthpiece. On the other hand, desktop vaporizers offer a variety of ways to inhale, including balloons, whips and even water-pipe extensions.

2. Heating Method

Conduction vs Convection

There are two types of heating methods for vaporizers: conduction and convection. Conduction involves the transfer of heat through direct contact while convection involves heat transfer via air particles.

Naturally, convection is considered a superior method since the heating element and the material never touch. But convection is also more difficult – and more expensive – to achieve.

Conduction heating is more common in portable vaporizers than desktop units. The biggest drawback to conduction-style vaporizers is that they risk combusting the material instead of vaporizing it. Conduction may also result in uneven heating, requiring you to periodically stir/shake the material.

3. Temperature Control

The VapirRise is one desktop vaporizer that provides digital temperature control.

Vaporizing marijuana usually happens at a temperature of around 180-200°C, or 356-392°F. Some vaporizers allow you to set the temperature, while others control the temperature on their own.

Vaporizers that offer temperature control tend to come with one of three options: a range of presets, an adjustable dial/knob, or digital display. Digital is the most sought after, since it allows you to set the operating temperature with the most precision. Still, all three options provide the advantage of vaporizing at a consistent temperature each time.

Vaporizers that set the temperature on their own tend to adjust the heat based on your inhalation speed. Eventually, users learn how to inhale to achieve a consistent temperature.

Besides consistency, temperature control allows you to target the release of specific ingredients in marijuana, or cannabinoids. However, most vaporizer users and manufacturers tend to only be concerned about THC. So while nice to have, the ability to control temperature is arguably not a necessary feature.

4. Power Source

AA battery charger for the Magic-Flight Launch Box vaporizer.
AA battery charger for the Magic-Flight Launch Box vaporizer.

Another factor in choosing a vaporizer is the power source. This is more relevant to portable vaporizers, since desktop vaporizers usually rely on wall adapters which are generally consistent across brands.

Although a few portable vaporizers run on butane, the vast majority rely on some type of rechargeable battery. Certain types may be more durable and last longer than others. Unfortunately, it’s hard to compare battery quality between vaporizers without owning them first. Still, if the batteries are internal, you should make sure the vaporizer is backed by a warranty that covers battery replacement.

5. Accessories

An optional travel case for the VapeXhale Cloud vaporizer.

One last thing to think about before making a purchase is what accessories your vaporizer might need. Almost all vaporizers require some form of upkeep, whether it be cleaning, recharging or replacing certain parts. Although most vaporizers come with enough accessories to get you started, these extras can be expensive to buy later on.

The best way to avoid any hidden costs is to find out what accessories are necessary and how often they will need to be purchased.

For a breakdown of the pros and cons of the best dry herb vaporizers available at the moment, check out this vaporizer guide!