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E-Cigarette reviews for the rest of us

Box Mods Explained: The Ultimate Guide

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Based on what I see when I look around, I can’t help but wonder if box mods are actually the most popular e-cigarettes on the market today. I don’t know if it’s just that box mod users happen to be the ones most likely to vape in public, but I rarely see anything else — and why not? Box mods are relatively compact, they often last for hours with near-constant use, and they can produce an absolutely crazy amount of vapor. Vape pens have absolutely no chance of keeping up — the batteries simply aren’t powerful enough.

box-mods-explained

So, join me as we learn all about box mods. We’re going to discuss what box mods are, find out whether any box mods for beginners exist and learn about the best box mods on the market in every price range. By the time we’re done, you’re going to know just about everything there is to know about these little dynamos.

Getting Started: The Best Box Mods of 2017

Best Box Mod Under $200

Wismec Reuleaux DNA 200

best-box-mod-under-200

Price: $154.95

Coupon: None

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Features:

  • USA-made chipset
  • 200 watt power range
  • Customize everything with eScribe software
  • Supports three 18650 batteries

Best Box Mod Under $100

Halo Reactor Mega

best-box-mod-under-100

Price: $70.00

Coupon: VAPE4LESS (5% Discount)

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Features:

  • Lots of accessories; great value for the price
  • 80 watt power range
  • 5,000 mAh internal battery
  • Includes bottle of e-liquid

Best Box Mod Under $50

Wismec Reuleaux RX200S

best-box-mod-under-50

Price: $42.99

Coupon: ecig15off (15% Discount)

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Features:

  • Similar feature set to the Reuleaux DNA 200 at a much lower cost
  • 200 watt power range
  • Supports three 18650 batteries
  • Large, very legible display

Best Box Mod Under $30

ELeaf iStick Power Nano

best-box-mod-under-30

Price: $28.34

Coupon: ecig15off (15% Discount)

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Features:

  • Extremely small design
  • 40 watt power range
  • 1,100 mAh internal battery
  • among the cheapest box mods with temperature control

What Are Box Mods?

History of Box Mods

altoids-tin-box-mod

Early box mod

A box mod, in short, is an e-cigarette that has the shape of a box rather than that of a cylinder. The term “mod” comes from the fact that all of the earliest e-cigarette mods were either built by hand or made from modified household objects. There were box mods made from Altoids tins, snus cans, craft boxes — you name it. People found items big enough to hold batteries and simply attached buttons and atomizer threading.

Today, box mods are highly polished consumer products. They include safety features, variable wattage settings and custom temperature controls. The earliest box mods had virtually no internal electronics — just a few wires. People made them because they were tired of the poor battery life and vapor production of the cigalikes available at the time.

The truth is, though, that the earliest box mods actually had quite a lot in common with the box mods of today. The earliest mod makers tended to use 18650 batteries and 510 atomizer threading. Most box mods still use those components today. In fact, the 510 thread is now so ubiquitous that you don’t even need to understand the term — virtually every tank or atomizer today uses the 510 connection. Back then, the 510 thread was just one of a great many choices. Sadly, I don’t think there’s a patent for the first box mod!

Box Mod Features

box-mods-101

Today, box mods may be the devices on which the large e-cigarette manufacturers focus the most. Most of the big companies carry box mods in a wide array of sizes and power levels. There’s a sort of technological arms race between the e-cigarette manufacturers, with each company constantly trying to add new features that the other companies’ mods don’t have yet. These are just a few of the features that might find when you buy box mods online:

  • Variable settings for wattage, voltage, temperature or all three
  • Much higher power range than a cigalike — sometimes more than 200 watts
  • Very high battery capacity — often more than 4,000 mAh
  • Charging and/or firmware upgrades via USB
  • Digital display showing current settings, atomizer resistance, battery charge level and error messages

These features, though, barely scratch the surface of what box mods can do. These are some of the more unique features that you can find in just a few box mods:

  • Bluetooth support for tracking usage or changing settings on a mobile device
  • Touch screen for changing settings quickly or displaying pictures
  • Ability to adjust the thermal coefficient or any atomizer coil
  • PC software for creating your own entirely customized vaping settings
dna-box-mods

Many of the world’s best box mods use the USA-made DNA chipset

Who Are Box Mods Good For?

With all of the advanced features that box mods have, you probably have the impression that they’re only good for advanced e-cigarette users. That’s not really true. Aside from the wattage setting — which changes the amount of power supplied to the atomizer coil — you can safely ignore most of the other settings on a box mod until you’re ready to tinker with them. Many box mods include tanks, too. If you use the tank included with your device, you never have to worry about using your box mod in a way that isn’t supported.

One thing you do need to know, though, is that box mods usually include very low-resistance tanks with unrestricted airflow settings. If you prefer to inhale from your mouth to your lungs, a box mod probably won’t include a tank appropriate for that. Most tanks work best if you inhale directly to the lungs. In fact, few companies still make large e-cigarette tanks appropriate for mouth-to-lung inhaling, which means that you’re probably better off starting with a cigalike or vape pen if mouth-to-lung inhaling is what you prefer. Look at my recommendation for the best e-cigarette for beginners.

So, you don’t have to be an experienced e-cigarette user to buy a box mod — but it may be better if a box mod is your second e-cigarette rather than your first.

Are Box Mods Better Than Vape Pens?

Only you can decide which vaping setup is right for you. If having more features and higher power settings makes box mods better than other e-cigarettes, though, the answer is “yes.” In terms of their capabilities, box mods are the best e-cigarettes on the market. The reason is that box mods simply have a lot more internal space than vape pens and tube mods. They hold larger batteries — or more batteries — enabling them to last longer, deliver higher wattage and offer more features.

box-mods-guide

Box Mods vs. Vape Pens: Comparison

Box mods are better than vape pens for cloud chasing. Not only can they reach higher power levels than vape pens or most mechanical mods, but they can do it safely. Any good box mod should display an error message and stop working immediately if you try to use it in an unsafe way.

Should I Buy a Box Mod With an Internal Battery?

Box mods with internal batteries are often very sleek in appearance. Since a box mod with an internal battery doesn’t need durable battery terminals or a removable cover, it’ll usually be smaller than a box mod with a removable battery. A box mod with an internal battery has a lower initial cost of ownership, since you don’t need to buy batteries and a charger.

On the other hand, if you buy a box mod with a removable battery, you can read the reviews for yourself and pick your own battery and charger. You’ll know exactly what battery is in your mod, and you’ll know the battery’s capabilities. When the battery’s capacity finally decreases after 300-500 charge cycles, you can simply replace it instead of replacing the entire mod.

There is one thing that you should consider, though. While box mods with removable batteries technically have the potential to last longer, you can generally expect a rechargeable vaping battery to last at least a year or so. Manufacturers are adding new features to their box mods constantly. In a year, you might want a new device either way.

best-box-mods

Regulated vs. Unregulated Box Mods

Apart from the basic information provided right here, I do not discuss unregulated box mods in this article. The very first box mods — like the ones I describe at the top of this article — were unregulated. The people who built them were hobbyists and electricians who understood the risks. Before long, though, unregulated box mods became commercial products. People bought them — and continue to buy them — without understanding the massive power that lithium-ion batteries are capable of storing. There have been close to 200 e-cigarette explosions reported in the media. Nearly all of the explosions with horrific results occurred with unregulated mods.

There are hundreds — possibly thousands — of unregulated box mods in use around the world. Most of those devices’ owners will never experience a problem. Nevertheless, I don’t recommend unregulated box mods because they have no safety features of any kind. I only recommend mods that error out gracefully if there’s a problem.

Parallel vs. Series Box Mods

parallel-vs-series-box-modsIf you do buy an unregulated box mod, you should know that there are two kinds: series and parallel. The illustration on the right can help you understand the difference.

Let’s begin with the assumption that you’re using matched, married batteries. When you use multiple batteries in the same device, you should always marry your batteries — especially if the device has no safety features.

Parallel Box Mods

If you use a parallel box mod, you’re splitting the load across all of the batteries in the mod. So, you’re increasing the mod’s total charge capacity and amperage limit.

  • If you have two 4.2-volt, 20-amp, 2,500 mAh batteries in a parallel box mod:
  • Your device will still be 4.2 volts, but it will support a load of up to 40 amps and have a capacity of 5,000 mAh.

Series Box Mods

If you use a series box mod, each battery in the series handles exactly the same load. You’re increasing the voltage that your device delivers to the coil, but you are not increasing the mod’s capacity or amperage limit.

  • If you have two 4.2-volt, 20-amp, 2,500 mAh batteries in a series box mod:
  • Your device will be 8.4 volts, but it will still only support a load of up to 20 amps and have a capacity of 2,500 mAh.

Applying Ohm’s Law

As you can probably imagine, the parallel configuration should be the safer of the two since it supports a higher continuous current. Let’s look at what happens when you use certain coil resistances with the theoretical mods I’ve described above.

Unregulated Box Mods: Resistance Table

Parallel Box Mod: 4.2 volts, 40 amps

  • 0.5 ohms: 8.4 amps
  • 0.4 ohms: 10.5 amps
  • 0.3 ohms: 14 amps
  • 0.2 ohms: 21 amps
  • 0.1 ohms: 42 amps

Series Box Mod: 8.4 volts, 20 amps

  • 0.5 ohms: 16.8 amps
  • 0.4 ohms: 21 amps
  • 0.3 ohms: 28 amps
  • 0.2 ohms: 42 amps
  • 0.1 ohms: 84 amps

If you are going to use an unregulated box mod, you should understand the capabilities of your device, know your batteries and build accordingly. For everyone else, I strongly recommend buying a regulated box mod with safety features.

Unregulated Box Mods vs Mechanical Mods

People use the term “mechanical mod” to refer to two different things. Some people call unregulated box mods “mechanical mods,” but I don’t agree with that because unregulated box mods have electronic switches. I consider a mechanical mod a tube-shaped device with a button on the top or bottom that completes the circuit when you apply mechanical force.

mechanical-box-mods

A true mechanical mod requires force to complete the circuit

So, how do unregulated box mods vs. mechanical mods compare? Usually, a mechanical mod is designed to hold one battery. Many unregulated box mods hold at least two batteries, though. That means an unregulated box mod will generally give you greater amperage headroom and battery capacity — or higher voltage — than a mechanical mod.

On the other hand, an unregulated box mod has an electronic fire button. The fire button in a mechanical mod is essentially just a piece of metal with a magnet pushing it away from the battery. It shouldn’t ever fail — and if it does, replacing it will be cheap. Replacing an electronic button in an unregulated box mod isn’t expensive either, but doing so might require the use of a soldering iron and other tools.

What Are Temperature Control Box Mods?

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Nearly all of the best box mods on the market — and almost every mod I mention in this article — supports temperature control functionality. So, what are temperature control box mods?

Kanthal Coils: Stable Resistance for Wattage Vaping

To understand how temperature control vaping works, you must first understand Kanthal. Kanthal is an alloy of iron, chromium and aluminum. It’s one of the world’s most popular materials for heating wire, and its resistance changes very little when it gets hot. That makes it perfect for vaping. If you’re using a device with a fixed wattage — or a mechanical mod — you don’t want the resistance of your coil changing greatly while you use it. The resistance chart a couple of sections above clearly explains why.

Temperature Control Coils: Variable Resistance for TC Vaping

Temperature control vaping replaces the Kanthal coil with a coil made from a material that does change in resistance with heat — usually nickel, titanium or stainless steel. In fact, it changes in a predictable way every time. So, if you know the starting resistance of the coil, you can predict its current temperature during vaping if you know how much the resistance has changed.

When you tell your box mod the material of the coil you’re using, it applies the temperature coefficient of resistance for that material to estimate the temperature of the coil while you vape. The more the resistance of a coil changes during vaping, the more accurate the temperature prediction will be.

Warning!

You should never use temperature control coils in a box mod that only supports wattage mode.

Benefits of Temperature Control Vaping

Why are temperature control box mods good? Most atomizer coils use cotton wicks — and cotton burns when it’s dry. If you’re using the temperature control function on your mod, it’ll cut the power to the atomizer if its temperature rises rapidly — which can happen if you chain vape or your tank is empty. You’ll avoid dry hits and burned cotton. Your coils will also last longer.

Drawbacks of Temperature Control Vaping

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Titanium is one of the most popular coil materials for temperature control box mods

Temperature control vaping has three drawbacks. First, some people aren’t certain about the safety of vaping with nickel and titanium coils. The fact is, though, that we don’t fully understand the safety of vaping with Kanthal, either. Second, some people feel that nickel and titanium coils change the taste of e-liquids. You’ll have to be the judge of that.

The final drawback of temperature control vaping is that some temperature control coils — particularly nickel ones — have almost no starting resistance. When cold, a typical nickel coil has a resistance of less than 0.1 ohms. In other words, the resistance is dangerously low for a box mod in wattage mode — and much more so for a mechanical mod. If you use a temperature control coil, you need to use it with a mod that supports the coil material.

Best Box Mods for Beginners

If you’re a beginner, I recommend buying a box mod with a tank included. I also don’t suggest buying anything with a huge power range. There’s no real reason not to buy a 200-watt box mod if that’s what you really want. I just think it may be best to avoid the temptation to dial things up too much. Most of the sub-ohm tanks on the market won’t tolerate being used above 40 watts or so anyway — you’ll torch the cotton wick if you go higher than that. The best box mods for beginners are simple, durable and leave as little room as possible for configuration errors.

halo-reactor-miniHalo Reactor Mini

Shop Now | Price: $60.00 | Coupon: VAPE4LESS (5% Discount)

Of all the box mods in this section, the Halo Reactor Mini is the most complete product because it includes everything that you need to get started with vaping — even if you have never used an e-cigarette before. The Reactor Mini has a maximum power of 40 watts and includes a built-in 2,600 mAh battery. It includes a tank, two atomizer coils, two mouthpieces, a USB charger, a wall charger and a free bottle of e-liquid.

kanger-subox-mini-cKanger Subox Mini-C

Shop Now | Price: $33.95

With a maximum power of 50 watts, the Kanger Subox Mini-C is the most powerful device in this section. It’s also the cheapest, but it doesn’t include a battery. You’ll need to buy a 18650 battery as well to use this device. I like this device because it uses Kanger SSOCC atomizer coils, which are really well balanced between flavor quality and vapor volume.

vapor2-trinityVapor2 Trinity

Shop Now | Price: $89.95 | Coupon: VAPEGRL (10% Discount)

Just released in November 2016, the Vapor2 Trinity is the first box mod from the industry cigalike leader V2 Cigs. It’s an incredibly tiny device that features a 1,500 mAh battery and a maximum power of 40 watts. It includes a tank, two atomizer coils and a USB charging cable.

Best Box Mod for Cloud Chasing

ijoy-maxo-quadiJoy MAXO Quad

Shop Now | Price: $78.90 | Coupon: ecig15off (15% Discount)

The iJoy MAXO Quad is the only box mod to my knowledge that supports four batteries. It also works with two batteries. With support for so many batteries, it stands to reason that you should have great battery life and some serious headroom for amperage. The iJoy MAXO Quad maxes out at 315 watts.

wrdna200Wismec Reuleaux DNA 200

Shop Now | Price: $154.95

There are two versions of the 200 watt Wismec Reuleaux — this one and a much less expensive version that costs around $40-50. Don’t confuse them, because the Reuleaux DNA 200 is the box mod that you want if you’re a serious cloud chaser. This mod includes the USA-made DNA 200 chipset, which is tops in the world for flexibility and safety. There are lots of DNA 200 devices out there, but the Wismec Reuleaux DNA 200 might be the best because it utilizes removable 18650 batteries. Many DNA 200 devices use 900 mAh LiPo batteries — which have less than the capacity of just one 18650 battery. People who buy the LiPo versions are inevitably disappointed about the battery life. That won’t happen with this device.

Best Box Mods Under $200

Wismec Reuleaux DNA 200

Shop Now | Price: $154.95

The Wismec Reuleaux is a winner in this category as well. With one of the best prices — and some of the best battery life — of any DNA 200 device, how could you go wrong?

sigelei-snow-wolfSigelei Snow Wolf 218 W

Shop Now | Price: $113.95

One of the most affordable 200 watt box mods on the market, the Sigelei Snow Wolf has a lovely design featuring a beautiful stabilized wood center panel. The Snow Wolf uses three 18650 batteries, supports temperature control and fires pretty much any type of coil known to man. For the features, it’s a really great bargain.

Best Box Mods Under $100

halo-reactor-megaHalo Reactor Mega

Shop Now | Price: $70.00 | Coupon: VAPE4LESS (5% Discount)

The Halo Reactor Mega is huge on value. This 80-watt mod has a built-in 5,000 mAh battery and includes a tank, two temperature control coils, a USB charger, a wall charger and a free bottle of e-liquid. The Reactor Mega has a ton of pack-ins, and unlike most box mods under $100, it actually includes a tank. In fact, the box includes everything that you need to begin vaping right away.

sigelei-fuchaiSigelei Fuchai

Shop Now | Price: $57.37 | Coupon: ecig15off (15% Discount)

On the surface, the Sigelei Fuchai might seem like a bit of a utilitarian mod. That’s what you usually get when you want a box mod for under $60 and you want it to have a maximum power over 200 watts. The Sigelei Fuchai actually bowled me over, though, with its beautiful looks and extremely premium fit and finish. The buttons have the perfect amount of tactile feedback and are extremely responsive. The Fuchai uses two 18650 cells and monitors their charges independently. The battery door is extremely secure, yet easy to open and close. The Fuchai even comes with a silicone jacket that protects the device in the event of a fall.

vaporfi-vox-40VaporFi VOX 40

Shop Now | Price: $79.99 | Coupon: Automatic 12% Discount When Clicking

The VaporFi VOX 40 is simply one of the sharpest looking box mods on the market. Though it may have a maximum power of just 40 watts, that’s more than most people need. The zinc alloy unibody design of the VOX 40 is absolutely beautiful to behold. You’re really going to like the way this device looks and feels in the hand.

smok-x-cube-ultraSMOK X-Cube Ultra

Shop Now | Price: $67.95

The SMOK X-Cube Ultra requires two 18650 batteries and fires at a maximum of 220 watts. It has an entirely unique feature — vibration — which, as of yet, doesn’t exist in any other e-cigarette. The X-Cuba Ultra has a large fire bar on the front rather than a traditional fire button — and you can use the companion mobile app to change the color of the light behind the bar to anything you like. You can even use your smartphone to upgrade the device’s firmware via Bluetooth. The X-Cube Ultra also has an innovative charge balancing feature that helps to prolong the longevity of your batteries by preventing one from charging or discharging more rapidly than the other.

vaporesso-target-proVaporesso Target Pro

Shop Now | Price: $69.95

Would you like a box mod that looks like a joystick? Thanks to its unique design, the Vaporesso Target Pro can’t help but turn heads. This is the updated version of the original Target that caused quite a splash when it was released around a year ago. It has a maximum power of 75 watts, and it includes a tank. The tank uses an interesting type of atomizer called the cCell. It’s one of the few pre-made coils that uses ceramic fiber as a wick rather than cotton. Ceramic doesn’t burn at vaping temperatures, so you don’t need to worry about singing the wick if you drive the coil too hard. Since you can’t singe the wick, the coil will almost certainly last longer.

vaporesso-tarot-proVaporesso Tarot Pro

Shop Now | Price: $50.70 | Coupon: ecig15off (15% Discount)

The Tarot Pro doesn’t include a tank like the more expensive Target Pro, but it does have some slightly more advanced technology under the hood. With the Tarot Pro, you can actually create a custom wattage or temperature curve — something that previously was the sole domain of mods with the expensive DNA chip. Creating a personal curve can be great for cloud chasing — or to avoid burning your wick during long puffs.

Best Box Mods Under $50

wrrx200sWismec Reuleaux RX200S

Shop Now | Price $42.99 | Coupon: ecig15off (15% Discount)

The Wismec Reuleaux RX200S is simply one of the most popular 200 watt box mods on the market. It is a workhorse that’ll fire any coil you’d like to use — and look great while doing it. The Reuleaux RX200S is the more affordable version of the Reuleaux DNA 200. It has the same power range and similar features, but it costs a great deal less because it doesn’t have the USA-made DNA chipset. This is the mod against which all other affordable box mods are judged.

smy-touch-box-100SMY Touch Box 100

Shop Now | Price: 39.73 | Coupon: ecig15off (15% Discount)

Have you ever wanted an e-cigarette that behaves more like a smartphone? Don’t dismiss the touch screen interface of the SMY Touch Box as a gimmick. Does your current e-cigarette have the ability to store your favorite settings for certain tanks? Do you actually use that function? Probably not — it’s much easier to just hold one of the adjustment buttons until you get the setting you want. The SMY Touch Box 100 makes settings much easier to access than on virtually any other mod. Simply tap the screen, and it’s done.

smok-r200SMOK R200

Shop Now | Price: $39.11 | Coupon: ecig15off (15% Discount)

The SMOK R200 is a great alternative to the more expensive X-CUBE Ultra that I mentioned above. It has many of the same features, and it has nearly the same maximum wattage. It doesn’t have a fire bar with a color-changing LED, though, nor does it have Bluetooth. By omitting those features, though, you can save about $30. You’re still getting all of the main features that make SMOK’s box mods truly great.

Best Box Mods Under $30

tesla-80w-tcTesla 80 TC

Shop Now | Price: $29.95

The Tesla 80 TC uses slightly older temperature control technology in that it only supports temperature limiting with nickel and titanium coils. Hey, though — it’s an 80-watt box mod under $30! If you don’t need a temperature control mod that supports stainless steel coils, this device is a steel — er, I mean, a steal!

eleaf-power-nanoELeaf iStick Power Nano

Shop Now | Price: $28.34 | Coupon: ecig15off (15% Discount)

The ELeaf iStick Power Nano is the little brother of the Halo Reactor Mega that I mentioned earlier in this article. It has all of the same features — slick modern design, built-in battery, temperature limiting support — but it comes in a much smaller package and has a lower maximum power of 40 watts. For most e-cigarette users, though, 40 watts is kind of the sweet spot. You wouldn’t really want anything that can’t get to 40 watts, but most people don’t go higher than that, either. The Power Nano is also an incredibly tiny box mod!

When you click the link, you’ll also see a version of the Power Nano that includes a tank. It only costs a few dollars more. The cool thing about the ELeaf MELO 3 Nano tank is that it works with a great many third-party coils. The bad thing is that almost everyone says it leaks through the airflow vents. You might want to choose a tank on your own instead.

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