Atomisers, Cartomisers, Clearomisers..
How does it work ?
Low Resistance
High Voltage

How does it work?

The Atomiser or '('atty') is basically just a heater.
Inside is a
coil that heats e-liquid into water vapor.

The coil  is a thin strand of metal (nichrome) normally wrapped around a wick. The wick keeps the coil in contact with e-liquid. Above the wick is a metal mesh called a 'bridge', (actually the real bridge is a metal plate that holds up the mesh). The mesh is just for keeping in contact with the cartridge filler material. The bridge/mesh feeds juice to the wick, the coil heats up the wick and vapour is made.

The wick is either fibre-glass or 
silicon dioxide, which can withstand high temperatures. Ceramic wicks are also known to be used.

Cartomisers are a combination of atty + cartridge. A cartridge is embedded with a thin wire or built with an atty inside.

Clearomisers are a combination of atty + (clear) tank. Some are one unit, others can be taken apart to replace the atty.

Rebuildable Atties are atomisers with replaceable coils and wick.


Typical Atty

Low Resistance

LR attys are designed on the principle that  low resistance = high current = more power.

Because of this LR attys have a quicker response time and a warmer draw which can affect the flavour (for better or worse). More power will also deplete the battery faster, so LRs are often marketed along with bigger batteries.

LRs are not recommended on smaller batteries because of the high current drain.

LRs only take half the effort to produce the same vapour. For people who like smooth effortless delicate puffs, this is a god send. On the other hand for those who want quick hard cool draws, this may not be your thing.

Burning at higher power will boil e-liquid at a higher rate for the same puff duration. Be prepared to buy more e-juice.

Because they do burn hotter, you need a good long cartridge that can keep away the atty's heat. If using a short dripper, you could find yourself burning your lips.

The higher vape intensity can bring out more flavour but a vape that's too hot can 'overburn' affecting the taste.
Easier draws
More vapour.

Intense vape.

More throat hit.


Eats up liquid.  

Eats up battery.

Harsher vape
can hurt throat
or tongue.

Might not
maximise vapour

Over burning can affect the taste.

High Voltage  

HV attys cater for a high voltage.  The way lithium batteries are made, you can only get  high voltage at certain combinations, e.g 3V, 3.7V, and when applied in series -  6V, 7.4V. This would be too high for standard attys, so HV attys have a slightly higher resistance to compensate for the battery that might auto-cut-off because of too high a current.

The overall current and power is more than standard., and produces the same effect as LR attys on standard batteries (3.7V).

Of course you need a high voltage source, of which would usually be a battery mod of some kind. This could be a single long battery or two 3V / 3.7V batteries in series, or a custom battery pack.

  same as LR


same as LR


A combination of an atty+cartridge is called a cartomiser. In this single unit device, there may not be the need for a wick or a bridge, the coil is simply wrapped into and/or around the filler material which acts as a liquid store and a wick.

Below shows the inside of a type of cart without it's filler material.
Some carts have the wire wrapped all around the filler material.

  Single Unit.
Holds more juice.


Must replace
 whole thing.


The lifetime of an atty hinges on the quality of it's two parts;
The heating element (i.e the coil), and
The fibre wick that soaks the liquid to the heating element.

Usually it's the fibre that degrades and clogs up the flow of e-liquid to the heater. The fibre can be cleaned (see here)
for maintenance but sooner or later it will harden up to a burnt crisp.
Rebuildable Atties allow the wick to be replaced.

Sometimes impurities build up on to the surface of the coil. You can tell be measuring the resistance which increases as performance deteriorates, e.g from to 1.8 to 2.2 ohms. This can be removed by a 'dry-burning' method which effectively burns off the impurities albeit at the risk of shortening the atty life.

The importance of good wick to atty contact cannot be stressed enough. A poor contact  can lead to a type of over burning that greatly affects the taste of the liquid. It may taste 'off' or 'chemical' leading to the liquid being blamed instead of the atty.

Resistance Device typical Ohms brand supplier  
901 standard  3 SLB DSE These days the new standard is 2.5 ohms
501 standard

JoyTech HC These days the new standard is 2.5 ohms
LR 901 LR 1.5-1.7 EM EM
LR 501 LR 1.5-1.7 EM EM

BOGE 510 cartomiser 3 BOGE HC
LR 510 Dual Coil 1.5 HC HC

RN4081 3 RN4081 Trueman 2.8 - 3.3 ohms

103 cartomiser 3.2 unknown Trueman
LR 510-T tank LR 2 Joye HC
LR 306 LR 2 EM EM 1.8 - 2.3 ohms

Ego-T tank 3.7 EM EM

Small minis 3.0 - 3.7 various various e.g e-health types,  401 thread.



This was my first atty. It came in those days with auto-batteries but can be vaped manually.

It's distinctive air-intake hole and long barrel gives it a big under-bowl giving the vapour a good chance to mix. The 901 one is regarded in forums as the "taster's" atty. The vapour is a little less than the 501 but it is very smooth (not powdery nor harsh) and seemingly heavier/denser.

Shown here is the low resistance version. It vapes best for weaker mods at 3.7v or less. Strong mods that can give high constant current will overburn this LR , make the vapour harsh and distort the taste. A standard resistance 901 is recommended for this.

These days I vape it with a pipe-mod.

The 510 is the atty that won the thread-format wars. Mostly because it started it's history with manual sealed batteries so that there was no chance of juice leaking into the batteries.
The atty does have a centre hole to accomodate for auto-batteries, as do most attys.

It generates a lot of lovely light (whitish) and almost powdery vapour. The taste is not lacking, it's just not as much as some other attys. Throat hit is plentiful but can also get to be a harsh vape, especially if it's an LR on a strong mod. A harsh vape in the long run could give you a sore tongue, mouth or throat. A period of a few days rest is needed before you can vape again. This is the main reason why I don't use it much.
Recommended brand: Joytech.

The 306 is the little brother of the 510 and looks like one of those 'small minis' i.e health-ecig types. It uses the same thread as the 510 but has an 'exposed' atty as opposed to having a surrounding metal tube. This means the cartridge is sleeved over the whole atty and an inner cartridge provides the juice.

The vapour production is somewhere between the 510 and 901 but it does have it's own distinctive burn which affects the taste (which is very nice).

These days the 306 is usually sold as an LR at somewhere between 1.8 and 2.3 ohms. It therefore burns a little cooler than the 510 LR and smoother. I found the 306 can clog up more frequently than larger atties and you notice this when the draw gets to be a bit too tight. Regular cleaning is advised.

The 306 is a 'must try' for it's taste. Even if you are a die hard tank-user, you simply must have a drag on a 306 in your life time.

Shown here is a 306 with a drip tip.

The 'super mini' is actually medium sized, comparable to the 901 and 510 width. It's distinctive physical feature is a fat mesh over an atty that's entombed inside a long thick metal barrel. Instead of fitting on top of the barrel, it's cartridge is instead sleeved over the whole of the barrel's length. This also means an inner cartridge is required to provide the juice, which rather limits the amount of juice available per filling.

The taste is different to either the 901 and 510. It tends to bring out the sweetness. On a strong mod, the throat hit is not quite as much as either the 901 nor 510, but the flavour can get pretty intense. The vapour is light (whitish), plentiful and beautifully smooth (not powdery). The SR version is a cool luxurious vape. So far I have not seen an LR version.

These days, I do away with the inner cart, and instead drill a hole on the top of the outer-cart to make the unit drippable. (review here)

If you have the chance to buy this model, you simply must try it because the taste is different to other atties. Unfortunately genuine 4081s are really hard to find these days, being replaced by fakes. The genuine 4081s have an almost  'square' flat fat mesh and the barrel is properly thick. The fakes have a cheap looking pointy mesh, the barrel is thinner and the weight is lighter.

510-T Tank LR (2 ohms)
Much like the ego-T, the 510-T LR has a re-enforced atty tip that can penetrate the plastic hole of a tank.

The taste is also remarkably alike the ego-T. It is dense, dark and intense. Like the ego-T it also consumes a lot of liquid in a short time.

Unfortunately the vapour reproduction is less than even a regular 510.
Because of it's design, it is not drippable and must be used with the tank.

Waste of money - not recommended.

Boge 510  Cartomiser (3 ohms)

This is a cartomiser (coil wrapped into a filler material).

There are no markings on the one I got from this supplier so I cannot tell wether it's genuine or not.

Even though there was plenty of sizzling noise, the performance was very poor. low vapour, low taste and whistling noises through the air vents. If there's one thing I can't stand, it's whistling noises.

The cartomiser did stay reasonably cool though (on a strong mod) which is more than I can say for other cheap cartomisers I've bought that tend to get too hot and burn my lips.

Not recommended.

Dual Coil 510  (1.5 ohms) Tank.

An unbranded dual-coil device (two coils instead of one).
Basically a long metal cartomiser which can either be vaped stand-alone or enveloped with a fat tank full of juice. There is a tiny hole on the tube for the liquid to seep through.

Performance was very poor producing little vapour and taste.
I suspect the dual coils were dividing the current, although this could not account for it's crappy performance. The device gets very hot indeed in a very short time.

Not recommended.

DSE-103 (3.2 ohms) Cartomiser

An unbranded cartomiser that either fits a DSE-103 battery or RN4081 battery.

I've never come across a cartomiser that can out perform an atty, but they are very useful for travelling. They don't attract public attention and hold more juice than normal carts. And for this last reason, this model frequently replaces my drippable RN4081 atty as my travelling e-cig kit. It outperforms the Boge-510, hold 15 drops of e-lquid and presents no leaking problems nor whistling sounds.

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