The Chinese invented the electronic cigarette, and they are perhaps the world’s leading manufacturer of consumer electronics. For those reasons, they have an enormous head start on the United States in the e-cigarette industry. However, several USA-made electronic cigarettes have appeared over the past few years, and you now have a fairly wide variety of choices if you want to buy an e-cigarette made here rather than overseas. In this article, I’m going to look at the USA-made electronic cigarettes that have received enough positive customer feedback to warrant your consideration.
Benefits of USA-Made Electronic Cigarettes
Few people have the ability to machine their own steel or aluminum, design and reproduce their own circuits and so on. Although buying any e-cigarette within the United States brings income to a small business, USA-made electronic cigarettes may also contribute to the economy by keeping skilled tradespeople at work.
In addition, USA-made electronic cigarettes often have special features that you wouldn’t ordinarily find in a Chinese-made e-cigarette. For example, although the batteries in products like the eGo e-cigarette may be rated for an output of around 3.7 volts, people have tested these e-cigarettes with multimeters and found that they dip well below that under load. USA-made electronic cigarettes typically use high-quality lithium manganese batteries with a much steadier output. The other features that you might find include the ability to vary the voltage for more vapor and flavor and different trim options such as stainless steel, wood and gold plate.
Drawbacks of USA-Made Electronic Cigarettes
At the time of writing, all USA-made electronic cigarettes are “mods,” which is to say that they don’t look like real cigarettes. Most USA-made electronic cigarettes look similar to pocket flashlights, while others are box-shaped. While the larger size allows for the benefits described above, it also makes these e-cigarettes less portable than their Chinese counterparts. Also, if you tend to smoke while you’re out with your friends, you may feel a little strange pulling out a flashlight while the others light up. If you want an e-cigarette that “fits in” a little better, you may want to go with something smaller like the 510 e-cigarette.
Also, to date, no company in the United States has developed its own atomizer or cartomizer. While some merchants such as Avid Vaper buy atomizers and modify them to their own specifications, the parts are still Chinese in origin. The fact is that, although the body of an e-cigarette may be made in the United States, the component that actually turns the liquid to vapor will still be Chinese. In addition, the popular AW batteries used in most USA-made electronic cigarettes use cells manufactured by Panasonic in Japan.
Note: All prices are for full e-cigarette kits with batteries and chargers. If you already have your own accessories, you can usually save money by buying the e-cigarette body only. Of the products on this list of USA-made electronic cigarettes, I own the ProVari and the Sparki SP3. I can recommend both. (2014 Update: unfortunately, the Sparki SP3 is no longer available and the manufacturer’s website has not been updated in quite some time.)
Buy it from: ProVape
The ProVari is the best-known of all USA-made electronic cigarettes, and with good reason — it’s awesome. Although I compulsively try new e-cigarettes, the ProVari is the one I always come back to. It has a voltage booster allowing you to set the output between 2.9 and 6.0 volts, and I find that there is no noticeable decrease in vapor production as the battery drains. I also love the design; everything fits together beautifully, which seems to result from some very strict quality control. The downside of the ProVari is the price, although you can save a bit of money by buying the ProVari body only if you already have your own batteries, charger and attachments. The ProVari is available in stainless, chrome, black and gold. The included battery has a capacity of 1100 mAh.
Buy it from: Notcigs
The Buzz Pro is a variable-voltage electronic cigarette with a range of 3.3 to 5.5 volts. Although no accidents have been reported with the Buzz Pro, it achieves its high power levels by using two batteries stacked in series, which is generally considered poor for safety. The ProVari, in contrast, uses one battery. In addition, the Buzz Pro has a much simpler design than the ProVari, lacking its fit and finish as well as its digital controls and LED display. However, the Buzz Pro has a slightly lower price than the ProVari. Notcigs also makes the Infinity Pro, which has similar features, a different battery type and a slightly lower price of $114.95 with batteries and charger. While the Buzz Pro uses two 3.7 volt 650 mAh 16340 batteries, the Infinity Pro uses two 3.7 volt 650 mAh 14430 batteries.
Buy it from: Great Lakes Vapor
The GLV-3 is an interesting e-cigarette in that it has the ability to operate as a standard tube-shaped mod or be connected to a box containing a bottle that feeds liquid to the heating coil from the bottom. With the box connected, the GLV-3 can hold up to 10 ml of liquid — enough for a week of usage or more. However, the GLV-3 is expensive and doesn’t give you the ability to vary the voltage setting. When you purchase the GLV-3, you are permanently limited to 3.7, 5.0 or 6.0 volts. In addition, the GLV-3 uses stacked batteries, which is considered less safe than the single battery and voltage booster used by the ProVari.
Buy it from: AltSmoke
The Omega is a large mod with a 510 atomizer connection and enough internal room for a massive 3.7 volt 2400 mAh 18650 battery. It’s available in chrome, black, pink and black with silver speckles. The interesting thing about the Omega’s design is that the entire top part seems to operate as the activation switch; just push down anywhere when you want to take a puff. Although that probably means that the Omega isn’t very pocketable, it may be a good choice if you dislike e-cigarette mods with the fire button on the side or bottom of the unit. Also, since the Omega is only designed for use at 3.7 volts, it should have some pretty stellar battery life.
Buy it from: Altsmoke
Although I have no direct experience with the Silver Bullet, I’ve noticed that it seems to be one of the more popular USA-made electronic cigarettes. It operates at 3.7 volts and can be purchased with either a 2600 mAh protected battery or a 3100 mAh unprotected battery. It’s available in a lot of different colors, and it has a six month warranty. One of the good design decisions is the fact that the activation button is slightly recessed. It’s also a mechanical switch, which should mean that it requires a bit of pressure to push. These should both prevent the Silver Bullet from going off in your pocket. For maximum safety, the manufacturer of the Silver Bullet strongly recommends using only protected batteries.
Buy it from: NHaler
The Darwin is an enigmatic e-cigarette that’s quite expensive and seems to always be out of stock. It has an unusual design, consisting of a small rectangular body and a swinging arm to hold a 510-threaded atomizer or cartomizer. Although most adjustable USA-made electronic cigarettes allow you to change the power by raising or lowering the voltage, the Darwin is power-regulated with a minimum of 4.2 and maximum of 12.7 watts. It also has a very high over-current limit of 6 amps. The Darwin contains two 900 mAh lithium polymer batteries, and my understanding is that they are not removable; you have to send the Darwin back to the manufacturer for a battery replacement, which costs $25. Having stacked batteries, the Darwin is one of those “use at your own risk” devices.
Buy it from: NHaler
With 28 different colors to choose from at the time of writing, the XHaler is definitely a product for someone who wants a unique e-cigarette. It uses 510-threaded accessories, but it also includes adapters for 801 and 901 accessories. It operates only at 5 volts and includes a NiMH battery, which is rather unusual among USA-made electronic cigarettes. The manufacturer does not specify the battery life, but I’m guessing it’s pretty good. Because the XHaler has a side-mounted button positioned near the bottom of the unit, some may find it a rather awkward e-cigarette to hold and use. Also, the button does not click and seems to extend a bit from the side of the XHaler. This could potentially cause misfires if you carry the unit in your pocket.
Buy it from: Super T Manufacturing
The PrecisePlus is a 3.7 volt mod with a bottom-positioned activation button, much like the Sparki SP3. The default battery is a small 350 mAh 10440 battery, but you can purchase larger models compatible with higher-capacity batteries up to a 2600 mAh 18650 battery. This version of the PrecisePlus costs $179.99. Although the PrecisePlus is quite expensive compared to other e-cigarette mods with similar designs, it definitely looks nice in the pictures. The higher-end models have locking activation switches to prevent misfires, and Super T Manufacturing offers a lifetime warranty on the e-cigarette’s finish; apparently, if the PrecisePlus gets banged or scratched up after long-term use, you can send it back to have it reconditioned for free. The switch, battery and atomizer contacts on the PrecisePlus are made from gold-plated rhodium.