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. Updated for 2016! This article now includes some of the very interesting modern personal vaporizers and mods that are made in the United States and were released after this article was originally published.
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 a KR-808 e-cigarette. I prefer the V2 Cigs brand — find out why in this article.
Also, to date, no company in the United States has developed its own atomizer or cartomizer. While some merchants buy components such as 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.
Price: $99.95 and up
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 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.
ProVape ProVari P3
Price: $199.95 and up
Buy it from: ProVape
The original ProVari was a truly revolutionary device when it was first released. Although it wasn’t the first variable-voltage e-cigarette, it was the first to my knowledge that was designed in a user-friendly manner and entirely safe even for those who didn’t know what they were doing. While other USA-made e-cigarettes used analog dials or stacked batteries for voltage adjustments, the ProVari used digital controls and had multiple features that prevented using the device in an unsafe manner. However, it grew irrelevant as the popularity of sub-ohm coils increased. The ProVari P3 is a more modern device with support for sub-ohm coils and firmware upgrades. While it lacks the flexibility of a mechanical mod such as the Volcano Pele (below) or a 50-watt device such as the VaporFi VOX II, the build quality of the ProVari P3 is unmatched.
Price: $139.99 (device only) or $199.99 (full kit)
Buy it from: Volcano
The Pele is a purely mechanical mod designed for the experienced e-smoker who builds his or her own coils and doesn’t need the ability to vary voltage and wattage. It’s also the first stainless steel e-cigarette mod to be designed and built in Hawaii. The Pele kit includes Volcano’s Caldera rebuildable atomizer — also made in Hawaii — and is designed to work with Volcano’s 35 amp Lavacell battery for sub-ohm coil support. If you prefer to buy the device a la carte, the Pele will also support the 510-threaded tank or atomizer of your choice. The Pele also features brass and copper connectors, safety vents and a locking fire button.
White Cloud Cirrus
Price: $39.95 and up
Buy it from: White Cloud
Although White Cloud still sources its batteries overseas like every other e-cigarette company, they still deserve special mention in this article as the only e-cigarette company I’m aware of that actually assembles and fills its own cartridges in the United States. White Cloud’s e-liquid is made in the USA as well. If you already have a KR-808 e-cigarette such as V2 Cigs or the Halo G6, you can give White Cloud’s USA-made e-cigarette cartridges a try with your existing batteries.
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. As of 2015, it appears that the Infinity Pro is out of production.
Price: $99.00 and up
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 for some e-smokers. 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 and mods like it.
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. AltSmoke also sells the Alpha, which is smaller in size and intended for use with 14500 batteries.
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: Evolv
The DNA isn’t technically an e-cigarette. Rather, it is a USA-made chipset for the operation and control of e-cigarettes. For hobbyists and small companies that have the ability to machine parts but cannot obtain and program their own integrated circuits, displays and other electronic components, the DNA chipset can bridge the gap between a concept and finished product. The various versions of the DNA chipset include the DNA20, DNA25, DNA30, DNA40 and the upcoming DNA200. Searching online can yield a wealth of information about the mods that individuals and companies have produced with the DNA chipset. Be aware that, although the DNA chipset is made in the United States, some e-cigarettes produced with the chipset are not. 2016 Update: The Volcano Lavabox, featuring the DNA200 chipset, has been released. This is currently one of the most advanced devices on the market, although I believe it is actually assembled in China.
Price: $80.00 and up
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. As of 2015, the XHaler now supports lithium-ion batteries and has some power regulation capabilities.
Price: Out of production as of 2015
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.
Price: Out of production as of 2015
The Sparki SP3 was a tiny mechanical mod consisting of just a few parts and costing under $30. It used an 800 mAh 16340 battery and a hybrid 510 atomizer with 801 threading. The design of the Sparki SP3 was as simple as an e-cigarette could possibly be — the only parts were the tube, a top cap for the atomizer and a bottom cap for the fire button — and every part could be purchased separately in the event of loss or failure. However, the Sparki SP3 evidently failed to catch on, and the company’s Facebook page has not been updated since 2013.
Price: Out of production as of 2015
The Prodigy and is cousin — the Legacy — were mechanical mods produced in the United States by PureSmoker, a company that first began selling e-cigarettes in the United States in 2008. Unfortunately, it seems as though a person suffered an injury when using a PureSmoker product in conjunction with a pair of stacked batteries of the incorrect type or voltage. Legal proceedings resulted and PureSmoker ceased doing business shortly afterward.
Price: Out of production as of 2015
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.