If you’ve recently shopped for a vaporizer, you’ve likely seen the terms “convection” and “conduction” tossed around, sometimes interchangeably. They are very different, however, and you’ve likely found that internet discussion forums are full of people who swear by one or the other. Is one really better than the other, however? The answer isn’t quite that simple.
What is conduction?
Put simply, conduction is a method of heating that involves passing heat around an item in order to heat it. In contrast, convection requires that the heating source actually touch the item that it needs to heat. At first glance, one could assume that conduction is better. If the heater touches the herb or oil less often, it seems less likely to burn out. The herb or oil inside the vaporizer also seems less likely to burn if it isn’t touching its heating source. Most modern vapes, as a result, use conduction in order to vaporize the herb.
Pros and cons of conduction vaporizers
Conduction provides a few key advantages. The first is speed. When using a conduction vaporizer, it takes just a few short moments for the heat to transfer. Since conduction heats up your dry herb via direct contact with the heating element, the heat is transferred almost immediately 🔥.
Most people don’t want to sit around and wait ten minutes for their cannabis or other plant material to heat up to right temperature for vaping. By the time you activate the heating element, you’re ready to inhale right away. Vapes that use conduction heating coils are designed to speed up that process as much as possible.
Conduction vaporizers are also much more affordable than their pricier convection counterparts. Since they don’t have as many complex moving parts (generally just a heating coil in the chamber), they can be manufactured at a much lower cost. Convection units are the cheapest way to start vaping marijuana or wax 💲.
A final benefit of conduction units is that they are easier to clean and maintain. Since the heating chamber is much less complex than the ones found in convection units, you won’t have to invest much time in maintaining one of these devices. Just be careful before you start cleaning it. That coil can be hot!
Unfortunately, the simple design that makes conduction vaporizers so appealing is also one of their most glaring downfalls. The fact that the heating element is in direct contact with the plant material means that you have a much greater chance of combustion.
Since the point of buying one of these products is to avoid inhaling harmful smoke, it’s important that we avoid burning the wax or dry material. To avoid this, don’t activate the heating element for too long. Once you’ve reached the precise temperature that creates vapor, don’t heat it up any longer. If you own a temperature control unit, set it to a low temperature at first and gradually work your way up. This will help you avoid the harmful effects of breathing in smoke.
A second disadvantage is that it will heat your cannabis unevenly. The portion of the plant material that is in direct contact with the coil in the atomizer will heat up first. This will lower your vapor quality. To avoid this, many companies that make portable convection products will include a stirring tool. Every once in a while, open up the atomizer and stir things around to make sure that everything is heated evenly. If the manufacturer doesn’t include a stirring tool in the package, sometimes you can just shake the unit around (especially if it’s a small portable vaporizer) and that should help you to heat your product evenly.
What is convection?
So why consider a vaporizer that uses convection? Modern day convection vaporizers are not like their older counterparts. In the past, the temperatures were often inconsistent, leading to combustion of the herb. Today’s convection vaporizers, however, are much more advanced. The herb is placed on a small screen which is heated by the device, creating a fast, more flavorful vape. Put simply, when convection is done correctly, it can provide a better outcome than conduction.
The only downside to a modern vape properly using convection is that regular cleaning is required. Due to the constant contact of the screen to the herb, it can often burn onto the screen. Using a finer ground product can help insure this happens as infrequently as possible, and it also allows the herb to absorb heat more evenly.
So, ultimately, which product is better today, conduction or convection vapes? The answer is that it simply depends on personal preference, and the quality of the device. Modern technology has made the two so comparable in quality, that you shouldn’t simply judge a vape by its heating method. Rather, research and assess the quality of the materials, the warranty period, cost and practicality.
Pros and cons of convection vaporizers
The number one benefits of convection units is that there is virtually zero risk of combustion. We all got interested in vaping because we want to avoid the negative effects of inhaling harsh smoke. Since your dry herbs, essential oils, or wax never comes in direct contact with the heat source, you can avoid burning your material and inhaling smoke or poor quality vapor.
A second direct benefit is even heating. Since these types of vapes use hot air that surrounds the marijuana to get to the precise temperature for vaporization, you don’t run the risk of some of your material getting burned while the rest looks fresh and new. This will help you unlock the active ingredients and enjoy your product to the fullest extent possible without having to worry about stirring things around.
Unlike conduction units, convection vaporizers generally offer precision temperature control. This means that you can directly influence the degrees Fahrenheit (or Celsius) that your product is heated to. If you’re a control freak (I know I am) and you want everything to be exactly the way YOU want it, then this is one of the most important benefits.
So at this point, it might seem like convection is the way to go. Unfortunately, as with everything else in life, there are trade offs. The first disadvantage is that it’s going to take a lot longer to heat up your herbs. Since they have to put out enough energy to heat up the actual air that surrounds your plant material, it’s going to take much longer to get to the correct temperature for vaporization.
They’re also a lot more expensive than their cheaper conduction counterparts. If you’re a big baller and can afford it, this isn’t a huge problem 💰💲🤑. But if you’re a vaper on a budget, you might want to wait for a sale or even look at buying a conduction vaporizer instead. So why are convection products so much more expensive?
It’s simple: they just have more moving parts. It’s a lot cheaper for the manufacturer to throw a coil into the heating element and be done with it compared the complexity of creating a product that literally heats the air without even directly touching the wax or other material that you’re vaping.
The bottom line is that conduction vaporizers are on their way out. They are considered “dry herb vaporizers version 1.0” to a lot of people in the vaping community. Convection units are much more technically advanced and are viewed as the premium version. If you’re interested, we recommend checking out the Hydrology 9 or Firefly 2.
But there are still tons of manufacturers out there creating conduction products. If you’re new to vaping and just want to experiment, why shell out the cash for something that you’re never going to use? If you’re looking for a premium conduction product, check out the PAX 3.
As with everything in the vaping world, which product you choose is simply a matter of personal preference. So in the great conduction vs. convection battle, which one did you go with? Are you happy with the low cost and ease of use that you get from conduction? Or are you more of a high-end vaper and prefer the insane performance specifications of convection products? As always, sound off in the comment section and let us know!