Buying a vaporizer is like shopping for fine formalwear. You can’t expect to grab any old thing off the rack and have it fit you perfectly. You need to get that suit or shiny dress tailored to your needs.
One of the best things about vaporization is that one size doesn’t fit all. In the veritable landscape of portables, tabletops and battery-operated devices lies your perfect vape waiting to be discovered. Trial and error can be fun, but with so many options available, buying your first vaporizer can feel overwhelming.
Don’t panic, we’re a helpful bunch at Australian Vaporizers, and we’ve put together the following buyer’s guide to help you find the best vaporizer for YOU.
There are, of course, a few considerations you should take into account before you spend your hard-earned cash. Here are the most important ones.
Your lifestyle plays a big part in choosing what kind of vaporizer you’d like to buy. Do you want to use it at home, with friends or in public? Do you stay indoors or go camping a lot? When and where are you most likely to use your vaporizer?
This is perhaps the most important factor when considering where to start your search for the perfect unit. It’s no use buying a top quality, expensive full-sized unit if what you need is something portable that you can use at parties or take with you when you’re out and about. Likewise, if you use herbs daily or need a vaporizer for medicinal reasons, a cheap portable unit may not deliver the potency and vapour thickness that you really need.
For some, vapour quality and durability is the most important factor when buying a vaporizer. For others, factors such as portability and discretion may rank higher on their list of needs. Before you can even begin to look for a specific unit, you need to decide whether a portable or home unit is going to be best suited to your needs.
Should I get a Portable or a Home Unit?
If you’re likely to use your vaporizer in the home, a top quality desktop vaporizer is the best choice. You can have it permanently set up in the living room, bedroom, or wherever you like to enjoy your herbs, and just turn it on and go whenever you need to use it.
A tabletop unit is a good choice if:
- You vaporize your herbs daily
- You vaporize alone or in small groups
- Vapour quality is very important to you
- You are most likely to use your vaporizer at home
- You need a durable unit that will last for years
A tabletop unit can also be good for vaping with friends, particularly with a balloon vaporizer like the Volcano. Balloons are also a great method for medicinal vapers or people who’s dexterity has been affected, as balloons deliver the gentlest vapour hit and are light and easy to hold and inhale from. Those looking for big clouds may prefer a whip style vaporizer, such as a 7th Floor unit, which produces thicker vapour.
Pros of a tabletop unit:
- The best quality vaporizers available
- Long lasting and usually have a good warranty period
- Will deliver the best vapour and strongest hits
- Best for every-day vapers
- Can be the easiest units to use
- The most economical with your herbs
- Customizable with aftermarket add-ons and attachments
- Not portable
- Slower warm up times
- Less discrete than a small portable unit
But say you’re a free soul, not willing to be tied down to any one spot. You’ll vape wherever you want, whenever you want. You can’t take the responsibility of coming home to a tabletop unit every day. You need something portable that’s willing to move with you.
There are some top quality portable vaporizers available that can deliver a nice vapour hit and have the added benefit of being discreet.
A portable unit is a good choice if:
- You want to vape on the go
- You don’t want to be tethered to the same spot while you vape
- You need a vaporizer that’s stealthy and easy to store
- You’re outdoorsy and want to take your vaporizer camping, fishing or hiking
- You want to use your vaporizer at parties, events or at a friend’s house
Portables are the most diverse range on the market, from the most high-tech to the simplest and cheapest units. Whether you’re a social butterfly, have a hectic work life, love the great outdoors, or just enjoy the freedom of a portable unit, there’s guaranteed to be a portable model to fit your lifestyle.
Pros of a portable unit:
- Perfect for use at partiesas
- Often small and discreet enough to be carried in your pocket
- Very stealthy
- Easy to store
- Butane or flame vaporizers can be taken on extended camping trips where charging a battery is not an option
- Fast warm-up times
- There are lots of cheap and poorly designed units out there that won’t perform well
- Portables generally have weaker vapour quality than full-sized units, but top end portables can deliver a hit that’s pretty close
- Can be unreliable and break easily
- Dead batteries are inconvenient for every day vapers
- Battery-operated vaporizers will need regular charging and can take hours to reach a full charge
Vaporizers can be expensive, but a good quality one will last you for many years to come. When it comes to your health and the savings you’ll make in the long run, you really will get what you pay for.
When it comes to price, cheap may look attractive but it doesn’t equal quality. Vaporization is a burgeoning young industry, and there are lots of cheap knock-offs and imitations emerging that may tempt your wallet but are ultimately inferior products. The last thing you want is to get ripped off with a cheap Chinese import that won’t vaporize your herbs correctly, wastes lots of active ingredients, uses unsafe materials, and will end up costing you more in the long run.
Too many people have read about all the wonderful properties of vaporizers only to buy the cheapest model they can find and end up disappointed. This is a sad mistake, as many people judge vaporizing based on this one unsatisfactory experience and go back to smoking, believing that vaporizing simply isn’t for them. Having a bad experience with a vaporizer always comes down to one of two things: user error or a bad unit. Sometimes you can do everything right and still not get good performance from a device no matter how much you try. Bypass the frustration altogether and do your research on any unit you’re thinking of buying. Online forums and anecdotal user reviews are usually the most telling (the reviews section on our store is a good place to start!)
There are plenty of mid-range options from trusted manufacturers that offer quality at a reasonable price. A good quality vaporizer may seem expensive at first, but think of it as an investment. In the end, you really can’t put a price on your health.
Like any electrical appliance, even the highest quality vaporizer can break. A truly decent unit will come with a decent warranty period, so be sure to check the conditions on any vaporizer you’re thinking of purchasing. While accessories such as acrylic grinders may not be covered under a warranty, any vaporizing unit definitely should be. The absence of a substantial warranty period is a red flag for any unit you consider buying.
At Australian Vaporizers, we will facilitate any warranty-related issues directly with the respective manufacturer. If you have a problem with your vaporizer within the stated warranty period (and in accordance with proper use and care) the process is as simple as filling out a warranty form and sending the faulty unit back to us. We’ll take care of it at the discretion of the manufacturer, who can offer credit, replacement or repair. It’s easy and there’s no need to send anything overseas so the issue will be resolved in no time at all. We really have done everything we can to make your experience as stress-free as possible.
If a product is reliable, a reputable manufacturer will be behind it. Watch out for fly by night operations to ensure you don’t get stuck with a knock-off vape that you won’t be able to find parts for later. When looking for a vaporizer, ask the following questions of the manufacturer: how long have they been around? Where is their product made? Do they stand behind its quality? Does the product give you lots of flexibility to customise your experience with accessories? Are replacement parts easy to find?
Looking online for reviews and user experiences can also be an indicator of what you can expect from a manufacturer and their products.
Signs of a reliable manufacturer:
- Will have years of experience
- Will be willing to address your questions and criticisms
- Will often have a website with a good amount of information available about them and their products
- User reviews of their products will be easy to find online
- Products will be known among the vaporizing community (in a positive way)
- Replacement parts will be easy to find and a number of aftermarket add-ons (accessories, whip kits, different mouthpieces, etc.) may be available
- Will offer a substantial warranty on any unit you purchase
- Location: German, Canadian and American manufacturers are market leaders
In recent times, some companies have been selling cheap imitations of popular vaporizers like the Magic Flight Launch Box, and even passing off near identical copies of the Pax as the real deal. These fakes are often poorly made and dangerous products (glass dust has been found in Da Kube’s draw stem, for instance) that exist only to cash in on the fast growing market for portable vaporizers while taking profits away from legitimate manufacturers of safe and top quality units. These imitation products don’t perform like their legitimate counterparts, will most likely break, and won’t have a warranty period or available replacement parts. Make sure you buy from a trustworthy seller (hint: Australian Vaporizers) to avoid being stuck with a fake that won’t work.
No matter what kind of vaporizer you buy, or what it’s made out of, some level of maintenance will be needed to keep your machine functioning properly. An unclean vaporizer will make your vapour taste bad, stick parts together and make your vaporizer look and feel gross. Some people enjoy cleaning and maintaining their devices to keep them in tip-top condition; others hate it or simply just don’t have the time. Consider the materials that your chosen vaporizer is made of.
Glass is the best for preserving vapour quality and lasts forever with care, but it does require the most maintenance. At best, your glass will last for years but will need regular cleaning to keep it looking and tasting nice. At worst, you may chip or break your glass pieces and will need to spend money on replacement parts. Replacement mouthpieces, heater covers, stems and elbows can range from $5 – $30 depending on what part and manufacturer.
Any vaporizer is likely to use screens to stop unwanted particles from travelling up the mouthpiece. Screens will need to be replaced the most as they will quickly attract build-up as you draw. You can clean them regularly with a brush and isopropyl alcohol, but you will need to take the plunge and purchase new ones at some point. Good news – screens can be as cheap as $6.95 for a pack of 10.
If you use a Volcano, congratulations, you have the absolute lowest maintenance machine possible. Balloons for any balloon style vaporizer should last you between 50 and 200 uses before they need to be changed, and the amount you receive with your vaporizer should last a while before you need to hunt for more. We sell them as full replacement kits (with valves/mouthpieces etc.) or by themselves as sets of three or five. Our site ranges from $5.50 – $16.95 for just the bags, or up to $24 for a full replacement kit.
If you use a whip style vaporizer, the whip tubing is another component that will eventually need replacing, even with regular cleaning. Like balloons, your whip should last you a lot of uses before you need to replace it, but this can be slightly more expensive to buy. Manufacturer-specific tubing is available on our site from $6.95 – $17.50, or you can choose to do your own research to find what you want. Before you do, read our tips on replacing your whip tubing so you know what to look for!
Portables vs. tabletop units:
Portable vaporizers inherently carry more risk of damage as they are smaller units with more moving parts and you’re more likely to carry them around and risk dropping them. This means that things like screens, stems and mouthpieces may need to be replaced more often than with a tabletop unit. That said, you’re also likely to experience breakages with a tabletop unit that contains glass components.
Over all, full-sized tabletop units are more robust machines that are built to stand up to regular usage. If you need a unit that is reliable and won’t cost you too much to maintain, we recommend a tabletop over a portable device.
For more tips on vaporizer care, check out our cleaning guide.
THE most important component of a vaporizer is the quality of its heating element and ability to regulate temperature. Vapor thickness is directly related to temperature accuracy. If a device is unable to regulate temperature efficiently and with accuracy, then the amount and quality of vapor it produces will be inconsistent and you won’t always get a satisfying hit.
A good quality vaporizer will have a high-quality heating element that prevents temperature fluctuations. Different vaporizers will have different methods of temperature selection and control, and it’s important to know that this affects more than aesthetics and usability.
Types of Heating Elements
Ceramic: Ceramic heating elements are the most common kind you’re likely to come across. They are so widely used due to ceramic’s extremely high heat resistance, making them among the safest options for inhaling vapor from. Ceramic may be hailed as the cleanest option for heating your herbs, but it’s important to note that for someone to classify their heating element as “ceramic” just means that ceramic has to be used somewhere in its construction, and cheap vaporizers that claim to have a ceramic element may in actual fact use only a small amount combined with cheap metal coils.
Considering that the bulk of what you pay for a vaporizer goes towards its heating element, splashing out for a more premium model will ensure you’re paying for a quality design. For health-conscious vapers, a quality ceramic element is the cleanest option.
Aluminum: Some of the best vaporizers on the market use aluminum heating elements. Manufacturers say that Aluminium is the most precise at regulating temperature because it responds fast to fluctuations. An example is the Volcano, which uses a large aluminum heating block and has the best temperature stability of any vape on the market today. Because aluminum responds so quick to fluctuations, your vaporizer will be able to detect any drops or increases in temperature and adjust itself accordingly to ensure that your herbs are never charred or left cold.
Like any metal, aluminum does carry a slightly higher risk of releasing toxins into your vapor over time. Purists often recommend ceramic over aluminum for this reason, but it’s important to note that while aluminum’s boiling point may be far lower than ceramic’s, it’s still much higher than any temperature it’s likely to reach inside your vaporizer. If you want the best temperature stability and vapor consistency, you can be confident that an aluminum element will deliver the results with minimal risks to your health.
Glass: There is only one vaporizer on the market today that uses a glass heating element – the Vapolution. Glass performs basically the same as ceramic but with the obvious drawbacks of being fragile and quick to tarnish.
Different vaporizers will have different methods of temperature selection and control. We usually recommend units with digital temperature displays for beginners or those who vaporize for a specific effect, as these machines will generally regulate temperature more accurately. These units are more expensive than machines with an analog dial, but they do provide the best accuracy and control when heating your herbs.
That’s not to say that an analog machine that uses a dial, or one with pre-determined temp settings like the Arizer Solo, would produce inferior results. These units will work just as well and are usually cheaper than vaporizers with a digital display. They just require a little more learning to find the sweet spot when vaporizing, as you won’t be able to see precisely what temperature your device is running at.
Some vaporizers, like the MFLB and the VaporGenie, rely solely on user skill to regulate their temperature. These devices will take some trial and error before you can master their use, as the speed and strength of the draw will directly affect the temperature and quality of your vapor. These can be tough to master, but not at all impossible.
When it comes down to it, a well-designed vaporizer is one that is easy to use, requires little maintenance and is virtually free of usability issues like parts getting too hot to handle when in use. Look online for user reviews of any product you’re thinking of buying (the comments section on our site is a good place to start!)
What have other people said about it? Have they complained about the machine’s function or nit-picky user issues? Have they praised a unit for its ease of use and well thought-out design?
For example, something as simple as the difference in angle between the heating elements of the Da Buddha and Silver Surfer could make all the difference to a user’s experience. Small things such as access to the herb chamber, size of the chamber itself, small screens that are hard to remove, or how hot the unit gets when in use may seem like very minor things, but they can interfere with the enjoyment of the experience.
If a vaporizer’s design has been properly thought out, it will have as few of these kinds of issues as possible.
Auto Shut-off Feature
Some vaporizers like the Arizer Solo, Extreme Q, Volcano Digit, and the Da Vinci have an auto shut-off feature that will turn your vaporizer off after it has been idle for 12 minutes.
This may seem like a novelty, but it greatly enhances the safety of your vaporizer. Checking that your potential vaporizer has an auto shut-off feature may be a good idea to prevent any burning or damaging of your device and furniture should you get distracted or forget to turn it off.
Help! I’m Still Confused!
Still don’t know where to start? That’s okay! We’re here to help and inform you as much as possible. If you want a more in-depth explanation of exactly what makes your vaporizer tick, then check out our article What Makes a Good Vaporizer? for more information on how a vaporizer works and what to look for in a quality unit.
Alternatively, if you have a question to ask us, you can send us an email. Don’t be shy, we’d love to hear from you.