Home time is relaxation time, and you can’t get much more chilled out than with nice pillows of delicious herbal vapour. If you’re someone who wants to vaporize your herbs in the comfort and style of your own home, a good quality tabletop unit is a must-buy. If you want a machine that will provide top-notch vapour, last for years and offer a few different inhalation options then tabletop vaporizers are the best quality units available to satisfy your every herb-based whim.
Different strokes for different folks dictates that not every vaporizer will be good for you. Whatever your needs, you can benefit from a sturdy and reliable vaporizer that you can use at home. There are three kinds of tabletop vaporizers to choose from:
1. Balloon Vaporizers
Vapour is collected inside a bag that detaches for easy inhalation anywhere in your house. Balloon style vaporizers come with a host of benefits.
A balloon vaporizer is a good choice if:
- You use a vaporizer for medicinal reasons
- You have limited dexterity that makes operating other devices difficult
- You want a durable machine that can stand up to wear and tear
- You want to vape in big groups of people
- You want a party vaporizer that won’t get wrecked by your friends
- You prefer cooler, more gentle vapour
The biggest advantage of a balloon vs. a whip style vaporizer is the portability factor. Not only do you get to sit comfortably while your machine does all the work filling a bag for you, but once it’s full you can detach the bag and use it on the couch, in the bedroom, or anywhere you please. Many users will find bags to be an easier option for this reason. Balloon vaporizers take the least effort to operate and bags are lightweight and easy to hold onto and inhale from, making them a great option for people with limited dexterity.
With a balloon, you won’t accidentally knock items off your coffee table or pull over your vaporizer and break it. Anyone who’s attempted to use a whip vaporizer while playing a game or watching TV will know how dangerous that whip can be! In social situations, this is a godsend. Nobody enjoys the awkwardness that ensues at a party as all your friends crowd uncomfortably around one short whip waiting for their turn. Using a bag allows everyone to recline comfortably and continue their conversation while passing the bag around the room. Not to mention, there’s far lower risk of anyone knocking over your vaporizer or breaking something!
- Easiest on the lungs – vapour has time to cool, is not as dense and you can draw slowly
- The easiest vaporizers to operate
- Great for social gatherings
- Bag can be used freely in any room of the house, so you’re not tethered to the machine
- Very durable and little maintenance required
- Replacement bags/parts are cheap
- Superb temperature control to heat your herbs evenly and prevent combustion
- Low maintenance
- Hit size is limited to the size of the bag
- Produces thinner vapour than a whip style machine
- Fans can be loud, so is not the most discreet option
Which one should I buy?
Our quality rating: 96%
You really can’t go past the German-engineered Volcano by Storz & Bickel. Currently the only dedicated balloon vaporizer, this unit put herbal vaporizers on the map and is expertly designed to be simple to use and virtually bulletproof. It uses a large aluminium heating block that reacts to even small fluctuations in temperature, keeping a very precise and consistent heat. This makes the Volcano extremely efficient at extracting the most active ingredients from your herbs as possible. When temperatures fluctuate too much inside the heat chamber, herbs can’t vaporize properly. The Volcano’s precise temperature regulation keeps the chamber at a consistent temperature, while the large herb chamber provides a larger surface area for even extraction, so you can get the most out of your herbs!
The Volcano’s design is thoughtful and efficient in every aspect. All components are made from heavy duty, heat-resistant plastic so they never get too hot to touch. You can conserve your herbs even more by removing the herb chamber once a bag is full, so you can keep your machine running without wasting anything! The Volcano is also incredibly low maintenance, as the plastic components don’t accumulate dirt and residue that easily. You will only need to clean your Volcano’s parts when it’s time to change over a new bag (once a fortnight – once a month, depending on use) and all plastic components can be cleaned in your dishwasher. How’s that for convenience!
The Volcano is available in a Classic model, which uses a dial and 9 pre-determined temperature settings, or in a Digit, which has a digital display, can be set to specific temperatures and has an auto shut-off feature if you accidentally leave it on. In terms of vapour quality, maintenance and ease of use, this machine is a solid investment.
Our Volcanoes generally retail between $500-$700, complete with Storz & Bickel’s generous three-year warranty period.
*** If you think that a balloon vaporizer is for you but the price of the Volcano is out of your price range, then scroll right down to the bottom to read up on some cheaper Multifunction vaporizers***
2. Whip/direct inhalation Vaporizers
With a whip style vaporizer, vapour is inhaled directly from the unit via a piece of tubing with attachments, called a whip. A whip usually has a glass wand at one end that has a slightly bulbous section with a screen, and a glass mouthpiece at the other end. You simply load your herbs into the end of the wand, attach it to the heater cover on the vaporizer, and inhale through the mouthpiece. Standard glass whips will usually require you to hold the wand up to the heat source for the duration of your draw, while others have ground glass and hands-free attachments for more convenient use.
A direct inhalation vape is a good choice if:
- You want potent vapour and big hits
- You don’t like using bags
- You vape mostly alone or in small groups
- You need a discreet and completely silent vaporizer
- You want to be able to customise your vaporizer with add-ons and accessories
A whip will deliver thick vapour but can take a little mastering. Where a balloon vaporizer uses forced air to push the vapour out and into the bag, a whip relies on the draw of the user to pull air through the herbs and extract the vapour. This technique requires a learning curve to master, as the thickness, smoothness and quality of the vapour relies just as much on the speed and strength of the draw as it does on temperature. Beginners may find that it takes a bit of trial and error to perfect their draw technique and find the sweet spot in temperature to get the best results. This is by no means impossible; practice makes perfect!
A whip style unit does have its advantages, namely the potency of the vapour and the fact that there’s no leakage from the whip when you’re not actively drawing. The amount that you can extract from your herbs is not limited by the size of a bag, and you won’t have to wait for a bag to fill up when you want to refill your herb chamber.
- Thicker vapour and monster hits
- Amount of vapour is controlled by the draw and is not limited to the size of a bag
- Convenient use for solo vapers or for smaller groups
- No waiting around for bags to fill
- Silent and discreet when in use
- Can take some trial and error to master proper use
- Herbs will need regular stirring to ensure they heat evenly
- Whip vaporizers often have glass parts that can be fragile and get hot during use
- Require regular cleaning and maintenance
Which one should I buy?
This market has far more variety than balloon vaporizers, and therefore much more variation in quality and value for money, so it pays to do some research on the best performing units so you don’t end up with a dud. Ultimately, you want a unit made from quality materials that is backed by a reputable manufacturer who stands behind the quality of their products with a decent warranty period. The following whip style vaporizers have all three requirements and are our top recommendations.
Our quality rating: 95%
If you want the brute strength and German engineering of the Volcano in a direct inhalation vaporizer, then look no further than its little brother, the Plenty. Economically priced and robust, the Plenty is a handheld unit that packs a punch.
The large flat herb chamber increases the surface area of your herbs to facilitate very even vaporization and extraction. The Plenty’s stainless steel coiled draw tube cools the vapour and makes for a pleasant experience even on high heat settings. The Plenty also has a bi-metallic regulator that ensures safe operation, independent temperature control, and an automatic shut-off feature. Temperature ranges from 130°C to 202°C and is shown by an analogue thermometer, which measures temperature at the filling chamber itself for reliable accuracy.
There are a couple of small things about the Plenty that deter certain users. One is that the Plenty is not a true desktop vaporizer, nor can it really be considered portable. To use it, you will have to hold it in your hands, as it doesn’t stand by itself. This may not be a big deal for some, but can be inconvenient for others. However, it’s perfect if you like to vaporize in groups, as you can easily pass the unit around the room rather than attempting to crowd around a stationary machine.
Another thing is that, while the large filling chamber provides the perfect conditions for even vaporization, the Plenty also works best when the chamber is full and packed tight. This means you may find yourself using a lot of herb in one session, which is great for daily vapers who routinely vape large amounts, but may not suit users who vape infrequently or prefer smaller sessions. You can use the Plenty with a half full chamber by using a filling pad to occupy the extra space and keep your herbs packed tight.
The Da Buddha and Silver Surfer (SSV)
Our quality rating: Da Buddha: 87% SSV: 89%
If you’ve ever stumbled upon an online forum for vapers, you will have quickly learned that US vapour giants 7th Floor have a stellar reputation amongst vapour lovers everywhere. With thoughtful design in every aspect from function to aesthetics, their products practically dominate the world of whip inhalation vaporizers.
All 7th Floor products are covered under a 3-year warranty and come with AU plugs exclusive to Australian Vaporizers (you’re welcome!)
The Da Buddha and the Silver Surfer are two of the most-loved whip inhalation vaporizers among the vaporizing community, and certainly the most popular of 7th Floor’s impressive arsenal.
The two are very similar machines and are comparable in many aspects, though the SSV does have some extra features that the Da Buddha doesn’t. Both use a fast-heating ceramic element with a quality glass heater cover and attachments, as well as 7th Floor’s own specifically manufactured whip tubing that is food grade and touted as being “better than silicone” as it won’t pick up oils from your hands. Basically, the Da Buddha could be considered a “no frills” version of the SSV, and is best for people who love 7th Floor quality without any fancy trimmings.
One advantage that the SSV has over the Da Buddha is the angled heater cover, which reduces the likelihood of spilling your herbs when attaching the whip to the heating element. Where the wand attaches to the Da Buddha at a completely horizontal angle, the SSV is angled at 45°. This angle ensures that your herbs stay safely inside the wand and won’t spill into your vaporizer or out onto the table or floor, as some have experienced with the Da Buddha’s horizontal wand. The SSV also rivals the Da Buddha in the aesthetics department, with hand blown custom glass and a range of colour schemes.
The Da Buddha uses a hands free ground glass attachment, which allows you to let go of the wand while it’s attached to the heating element, making for easier and more convenient use. With the SSV standard glass, you will have to hold your herbs up to the heating element while you draw, but this allows you to rotate the chamber slowly as you inhale to heat your herbs more evenly. Alternatively, ground glass or a hands free attachment is available as a custom option for the SSV.
Our quality rating: 83%
Another choice for a comparable price is the VaporBrothers Hands Free Vaporizer, which uses a natural mineral heat source and “glass on glass” design for ultra clean vaporization that really showcases the flavour of your herbs. It heats fast and delivers clean, smooth tasting draws with simple operation and quality parts.
The VaporBrothers Hands Free Vaporizer is to whip vaporizers as the Volcano is to bags. Created by a group of eclectic friends in 1999, when the concept of vaporization was just catching on, this unique wooden box vaporizer was one of the first on the scene. Created with natural inert materials to be as clean and efficient as possible, it is the unit of choice for many health conscious vapers. Considered by some to be a benchmark in vaporizer quality, the VaporBrothers Hands Free Vaporizer is not just a pretty face. It offers natural and intuitive vaporization that anyone can master, and also comes complete with a limited lifetime warranty.
3. Multifunction Vaporizers
Why not both? A multifunction vaporizer will offer versatility if you want a good all-rounder. They can be used with bags, whips or potpourri dishes and will often be suited to the same aftermarket attachments available for whip style machines, so you can customize your experience even further.
The Extreme Q
Our quality rating: 85%
For a top quality and affordable unit, the Arizer Extreme Q is a good choice. It can be used with a bag or a whip and also doubles as a potpourri warmer that can scent any room with amazing herbal aromas.
The Extreme Q is capable of producing thick vapour with a whip, or light and pillowy clouds in a bag. When using the bag, it’s often said that using a mid-low fan speed, rather than the recommended “high,” produces better results. This takes longer to fill a bag but will extract the most from your herbs and fill your bag with better vapour. The Extreme Q is the only vaporizer that comes with a remote for simple and relaxed operation, and even has an auto shut-off feature that automatically turns your machine off when it’s been idle for 12 minutes. It’s also suited to a wide range of accessories and aftermarket attachments, and even has an available power pack so you can use it without the need for a powerpoint. With so many options, the Extreme Q has the potential to suit any user!
Our quality rating: 85%
The HerbalAire is an interesting vaporizer, with the option to use it with a bag, whip, or as a direct draw vaporizer. It’s also interesting in that it’s the only unit that works best when you DON’T grind your herbs. It’s designed to vaporize whole flowers inside the crucible, coined “espresso mode.”
It uses a microprocessor-based control to keep temperatures constant and operation efficient. 18 small jets of heated air push through your herbs as you inhale, providing passive convection-based vaporization and smooth vapour. At all other times, the herb sits idle inside the chamber, so botanical essences are preserved while you’re not inhaling. The HerbalAire 2.2 has quality construction using Teflon and glass-filled nylon to ensure that your vapour passes through the safest of materials. It does not have an internal fan, so filling a bag requires a separate air pump (included) that attaches to the back of the unit.
Our quality rating: 83%
This is a vaporizer that takes versatility seriously, with the option to vape with a bag, a whip, or four whips! From the same people who brought you the NO2, the VapirRise is their answer to a desktop vape with all the options you coul want.
If you’ve ever tried to use a whip vaporizer in a group, you’ll know how awkward trying to get everyone around that one tube can be. The VapirRise can accommodate up to four people at the one time with the ability to accommodate multiple whips. Perfect for the social vaper!
It heats fast with a ceramic element and is fully functional with herbs and essential oils. The ceramic element and stainless steel vapour path produces clean vapour while the HEPA air filter keeps air free of impurities as it passes through the internal fan. The VapirRise also has a digital temperature display with touch pad controls that make operation effortless.