Temperature Control: How TC Vaping Works
- 31 Mar, 2021
Last fact-checked 31 March 2021 | Report a factual error on this article
Temperature-Controlled (TC) vaping is one of the best ways to get consistent, tasty clouds of vapour and avoid burnt hits.
If your box mod offers TC mode, it can automatically stop your tank from overheating without interrupting your vaping experience. In this guide, I’ll explain how TC mode actually works on a vape. You’ll learn what phrases like TCR and TC SS Mode mean (and why they’re important), and we’ll also share a list of the top 5 best selling TC box mods of 2021 so far!
Temperature Control vaping (TC vaping for short) is a mode on your box mod that allows you to control the heat of your atomiser coil. TC mode helps vapers reduce their chances of a dry hit and get a more consistent vaping experience, but it’s also great for making small adjustments to the volume and density of your vapour cloud.
Before TC technology existed, coils would regularly overheat and dry hits were a regular occurrence for most vapers. The more times you pushed the ‘fire’ button, the hotter your coil became over time, and this would often cause your coil wick to dry up and singe. There was also very little consistency in the size and density of cloud you would get with each vape.
TC Mode evens out the vaping experience by keeping the coil heat below a maximum temperature threshold. When a TC Mode vape coil reaches its maximum temperature, the box mod doesn’t cut out completely — instead, it either puts less power through the coil or it ‘pulses’ short bursts of power through the coil to keep the temperature from soaring. You still get a full mouthful of delicious vapour when you use TC mode, but your mod will stop itself from soaring beyond the maximum temperature setting.
Box mods don't have in built thermometers that can check the temperature on the surface of your coil. Instead, your mod chip calculates the temperature based on the electrical resistance readings coming off your coil.
When you fit a new coil into a box mod with TC Mode, you start out by telling the mod what resistance (measured in Ohms Ω) the coil is, and what material the coil is made out of. Based on this information, the chip in your box mod takes a look at the TCR, or the Temperature Coefficient of Resistance, of the coil, then figures out how hot the coil is going to be based on this information. TCR sounds complicated, but bear with me here — it’s simpler than it sounds...
Every vape coil has an electrical resistance, measured in Ohms (Ω). The resistance of your coil changes depending on the length and diameter of the wire in the coil, but it also changes depending on the metal the coil is made out of and how hot this metal gets.
TCR (Temperature Coefficient of Resistance) just describes how the electrical resistance of a coil changes at different temperatures. Materials like nickel, titanium and stainless steel have reasonably high TCR ratings, whereas Nichrome 80 and Kanthal have a very low TCR (which makes them unsuitable for TC vaping — more on this in a moment).
When you tell your box mod what your coil is made out of, your mod’s chip takes the electrical resistance running through the atomiser, looks up the TCR of your coil’s alloy and figures out just how hot your coil must be based on that formula.
If your mod chip decides that your coil is in danger of overheating, it can either ‘pulse’ power through your coil in short bursts, just to give your coil a split-second to cool down, or it can send less power through the coil. Either way, with TC, you can vape safe in the knowledge that you’re not going to get a burnt or dry hit, and you’ll get the same size and density of vapour cloud each time.
Every box mod has a slightly different set of menu options, but in essence, there are three steps to TC vaping:
Step One: Set It
First, you need to tell your box mod what alloy your coil is made from. You can usually do this just by picking the coil type from a pre-set dropdown menu on your box mod’s screen. If your box mod doesn’t have a built-in Ohm meter, then you’ll need to manually set the resistance. You can then set your target temperature. As a rule, you’re setting the maximum temperature that you want your coil to reach. Read the manufacturer’s instructions if you get stuck on this.
Step Two: Try It
You can then fire up your mod a go and see if you’re happy with the warmth and thickness of the vapour you’re getting. If your vapour isn’t thick enough, then you’ll need to increase your max temperature setting. If it’s too dense, bring the max temp down a little. If your vapour feels too hot, before you change the TC settings, try opening up the airflow holes on your tank. It might just be that your evaporated e-juice needs to mix with more room-temperature air before you inhale it (learn more about vape airflow).
Step Three: Fiddle Until You’re Happy
Keep playing with the settings, making small incremental adjustments until you find your sweet spot. You’ll need to re-calibrate your TC settings every time you change your e-liquid (especially if the VG/PG ratios are different), or when you change your coil, so get comfortable with the TC Mode adjustment process, and memorise how to do it if you can.
What Is The Best Temperature To Vape At?
Our customers often ask us what the right vaping temperature is. Vaping at a low or a high temperature isn’t necessarily ‘bad’ — it just depends on what your personal taste is.
Coil temperature is best understood as a sliding scale. At the lower end of the temperature scale (around 200˚C), you’ll get a small amount of vapour but it won’t feel quite as hot when you inhale. At the higher end (around 240˚C), you’ll get buckets of vapour but the heat can be quite uncomfortable. Spend a couple of minutes adjusting your TC settings and make a note of the temperature that feels right when you find it.
There are two main limitations to TC vaping. It all boils down to what your coil is made out of, and the TCR of that coil:
Kanthal and Ni80 Don’t Work On TC Mode
Nichrome 80 and Kanthal are really stable metals when heated — it’s part of what makes them such a great choice for vaping on. Kanthal and Ni80 coils have a really low TCR, so the resistance readings don’t really change as they get hotter. This makes it very hard for your TC vape chip, because it can’t ‘see’ the coil temperature just by looking at your coil’s resistance.
The best coils for TC vaping are made from alloys with high TCRs (like Nickel, Titanium and Stainless Steel). … and even then you have to be careful.
You should stick to TC SS Mode with Stainless Steel Coils
TC SS stands for ‘Temperature Controlled Stainless Steel’ — it’s a special TC mode designed to just give you a little added peace of mind when vaping on a stainless steel coil.
Stainless steel can release potentially dangerous chemicals, so you never want to vape from a superheated stainless steel coil. What’s more, stainless steel comes in a range of grades, all of which have different TCRs. Some box mod chips will be able to give you TC control for every grade of stainless steel, even if they don’t explicitly say they have a ‘TC SS’ mode. If you need advice, please get in touch and we’ll advise you — it’s no problem.
We took a look at sales stats on our own site (UK wide) for the first 3 months of 2021 (1 Jan - 30 March inclusive), and there were five clear best selling ‘TC enabled’ box mods. Just to keep it fair, we’ve excluded any mods that were sold at a promotional discount:
That’s it - thanks for reading! You now know everything a vaper needs to know about Temperature Control vaping. The whole point of TC vaping is to make life simpler by doing the complex resistance/TCR/temperature sums for you … that doesn’t mean you should neglect important principles like Ohm’s Law. As with anything involving electricity, the more you know, the safer you’ll be, so take the time to learn as much as you can!
Stay safe and happy vaping!
- John Boughey