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Vaporizer Buying Guide - Conduction vs Convection Vaporizers

Conduction vs. Convection

Generally speaking, all vaporizers operate on the same basic principle. They use gentle and persistent heat to activate organic compounds without causing combustion or releasing harmful contaminants.

However, different vaporizers achieve this process in different ways. Some vaporizers use direct contact with a hot element to vaporize your blends, known as the conduction method, whereas others either separate the herb chamber from the element or use a fan to push hot air through your herbs, which is known as convection heating.

The difference between these two methods might seem insignificant at first, but the way in which your herbs are heated can have a substantial effect on the efficiency of  your vaporizer and the quality of the vapour it produces.

As such, understanding the pros and cons of each method is helpful when it comes to picking the right vaporizer.

What’s the Difference?

To use a simple anecdote, the difference between conduction and convection vaporizers is similar to the difference between the heating element in a kettle and the hand dryer in a restaurant bathroom. The kettle uses a much more direct and aggressive method to boil water, whereas a hand dryer uses an element to heat air, which in turn dries your hands.

Conduction vaporizers are like the kettle. They rely on direct contact between your herbs and a hot element (usually ceramic or stainless steel) to facilitate the release of active ingredients. This is a very direct way of heating your material, and often provides very fast and immediate results. However, conduction chambers are more difficult to regulate and carry a slightly elevated risk of combustion, though this is often negated by the digital controls inside most vaporizers.

Conduction can also be less efficient than convection, as it relies on all the herb in the chamber being able to make contact with the hot surface. For this reason, users of conduction vaporizers often find they have to stir their herb regularly to make sure it is evenly browned.

In contrast, convection vaporizers are like the hand dryer. They also contain a heating element, but this often situated below the heat chamber, so your blend does not make direct contact with the element itself. Instead, a convection vaporizer uses the heated air moving through your herb as you draw to vaporize, or it may even use an internal fan to actively push air up through the chamber.

Convection is generally considered the most gentle and the most efficient way of extracting active ingredients from your herb due to the steady and consistent application of heat.

It is worth noting, particularly if you are looking for a portable vaporizer, that most units will inevitably use a combination of both conduction and convection. However, they are classified based on the dominant process involved.

How can I tell them apart?

If you're looking at a portable vaporizer, one incredibly simple way to tell which heating technology it uses is to look at where the herb chamber is situated.

If you load your material in the bottom of the device, then it is most likely a conduction-based vaporizer, as there is no space underneath for a heating element to produce hot air when you draw. Most convection-based portables have their heat chamber somewhere near the top of the unit, with space for the heating element to sit underneath.

The majority of desktop models, due to their size, will be able to utilise convection heating. Desktops like the Volcano, Extreme Q and VapirRise that use an internal fan use convection in the absolute truest sense of the word, whereas most whip vaporizers will be a combination of both to some degree.

Which is Better?

Despite the fact that convection vaporizers are often lauded as the superior solution on many web forums, it’s vitrually impossible to say which method of heating is objectively better. A more accurate (and diplomatic) way of putting it is that each type has their unique advantages and disadvantages for certain users. There is always an element of personal preference involved in choosing the best vaporizer for you.

If you’re looking for a vaporizer that heats fast and produces instant vapour, or is as small and lightweight as possible, then a conduction vaporizer may be more suited to you.

Conversely, a convection vaporizer would be the better option for someone who’s priorities involve the best tasting and incredibly smooth vapour, high efficiency, or who really needs to get the most out of their botanicals.

Generally, the pros and cons of each are as follows:

Convection Vaporizers

Pros:

  • Evenly heats botanicals, so there’s no chance of accidental combustion occurring
  • Uniform heating also means that conduction vaporisers are more efficient, and make full use of your chosen botanicals.
  • You never need to shake, stir or re-distribute your botanicals
  • Consistent results are easier to achieve

Cons:

  • Convection vaporisers heat up slightly slower than their conduction counterparts, and take a little more time to produce vapour
  • Often larger than conduction vapes, due to extra space requirements
  • Convection vaporisers tend to be more expensive

Conduction Vaporizers

Pros:

  • Very fast heat-up times and almost instant vapour production
  • They are often much smaller and more lightweight vapes

Cons:

  • More frequent stirring is required to ensure all your herb heats evenly
  • Increased risk of combustion due to herbs making direct contact with the element, as well as their tendency to heat unevenly
  • Can produce hotter/harsher vapour hits
  • Consistent results can be harder to achieve

At the end of the day, it all comes down to your individual needs, and depends almost entirely on your own preferences. After all, there are literally hundreds of models on today’s vaporizer market, and many different users with many different opinions. You may fall in love with your first vaporizer, or it may take you a couple to get the one you like, but either way the process can be a lot of fun!

Our Top Picks

Want to know which vaporizers we would recommend from each category? Here are our top recommendations for convection and conduction vaporizers.


Top 3 Convection Vaporizers

1. The Volcano

Volcano Vaporizer

We would pick the Volcano as our number one choice, simply because it is truly a convection vaporizer in the purest sense of the word. The Volcano uses an ultra-precise Aluminium heat exchanger and a powerful internal air pump to push heated air up through your botanical blends to collect vapour inside a balloon bag. This bag can be detached from the unit and then inhaled from at your leisure, so it's also very convenient and especially good for people who have limited dexterity or who want to be able to vape away from the machine. 

The Volcano is an absolutely premium vaporizer, but it isn't in everybody's price range. If the internal fan with balloon option sounds like something you'd like to try, mid-priced alternatives like the Extreme Q and the VapirRise are popular alternatives, and also allow you to use the vaporizer with a whip.

 

2. The Mighty

Mighty Vaporizer

A premium portable vape, the Mighty is manufactured by the makers of the Volcano and definitely lives up to the brand's prestigious reputation. With an easy to use digital display and precise controls, the Mighty is a powerful portable that uses dynamic convection and a little conduction to vaporize your herbs evenly and efficiently. It employs the same patented aluminium heat exchanger found inside the Volcano, but on a smaller scale, and produces very consistent, high quality vapour. The inbuilt cooling unit attached to the mouthpiece filters vapour through a series of channels as you draw, lengthening the air path without adding any size to the unit, and ensuring you always get a cool and comfortable draw even on high heat settings.

Budget alternatives: Arizer Solo, Arizer Air

 

3. The Silver Surfer

Silver Surfer Vaporizer

The Silver Surfer (SSV) by 7th Floor is a super-simple analogue desktop whip vaporizer. With a clean all-ceramic element and glass components, it produces very clean and aromatic vapour. It is a convection vaporizer and works by heating the air that passes over the ceramic element as you draw through the whip. It does require frequent stirring of your herbs inside the glass wand, as the depth of the bowl can prevent all your material from heating evenly.


Top 3 Conduction Vaporizers

1. The Vapium Summit

Summit Vaporizer

The Vapium Summit is a heavy-duty portable vaporizer marketed for the adventurous types. It is ruggedly designed for the ultimate utility and function, and also made to withstand some abuse. Originally released as an "outdoors" vaporizer, the Summit is suitable for just about anyone who wants a small and stealthy conduction vaporizer that will withstand the test of time. 

 

2. The Magic-Flight Launch Box

MFLB Vaporizer

The little vaporizer that brought conduction vapes back from the brink of irrelevance, the Magic-Flight Launch Box is a tiny vaporizer, around the size of a matchbox. It uses rechargeable NimH batteries to heat the mesh trench inside and instantly vaporize your herbs. It is powerful for it's size but has a definite learning curve, and carries one of the highest risks of combustion. Temperature control inside the Launch Box relies solely on the user's draw and how long the battery is held into the side of the unit. For this reason, it can be difficult to get the hang of proper technique, and vapour production can be inconsistent. However, those who have mastered its use can enjoy many years with their Launch Box, backed by a reliable lifetime warranty.

 

3. The DaVinci Ascent

DaVinci Ascent Vaporizer

The DaVinci Ascent was the world's first portable glass-on-glass vaporizer and boast a range of intuitive digital features that allow you to fully customise your vaping experience. The glass-shrouded ceramic element and all-glass vapour path make for very clean and aromatic vapour results, though consistency does tend to be on the thinnner and hotter side. The DaVinci does incorporate a little convection, with air holes in the bottom of the heat chamber that filter in air as you draw. However, it relies mostly on conduction inside the heat chamber to vaporize and works best with a full, tightly-packed bowl.

Still Struggling to Choose?

Remember that you can always contact us for a friendly chat – we’d be more than happy to offer one-on-one guidance, and we love helping our clients to find the perfect vape. Just send a message via our contact form or, if you’d prefer to chat on the phone, call us on 1300 088 112.

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