A Guide To Vape Modes

Everything you need to know about vape modes.
By Josh, Head Of Media
30 NOV 2023

Vaping has come a long way since Hon Lik’s original e-cigarette and the cigalikes of old. These days, when picking up a new vape kit, you’ll find some pretty handy features. Among them are customisable output modes or “vape modes”, which you can use to change how your kit works.

This might sound a little confusing and these modes are not a necessity, there are plenty of kits – like the Vaporesso Xros 3, Aspire Flexus Q and Uwell Caliburn G2 – that don’t feature modes and let you just crack on. If, however, you’re looking for the option to customise how much vapour your kit produces or how it feels when you inhale; these modes are perfect.

We’ve put this guide together to introduce you to the different modes and how to use them, all with the aim of helping you pick the perfect vape kit. If you’re just starting out, we recommend you take a look at our short beginner’s guide to vaping. In the meantime, let’s get started!

How To Find Out What Modes Your Vape Kit Has

Elf Bar Mate 500 unboxed

First things first, you’ll need to know how to find out what vaping modes your kit features, if any at all. We list any modes that your vape offers on our product pages. These might include Variable Wattage mode, Temperature Control mode, etc. Alongside listing these modes we’ll also tell you how they work.

If you’re just browsing and looking at pictures of kits, there are actually a few common similarities between all kits that feature modes – they’ll all have buttons and menu screens. You’ll need both to set up your vape and select the mode that you want. Good examples of this would be the Smok Nord 5 and the VooPoo Drag S.

If you already own a kit and are wondering what else it can do, you can check the user manual for a full listing or look up a video review.

What Is Variable Wattage Mode?

Variable Wattage is the most common mode and probably the most popular. It lets you set the kit’s power output – in Watts, giving you full control over how much vapour it produces.

But, how are you supposed to know what the best power output is? It all depends on what coil you’re using. At its simplest, different coils support different power levels and this is all to do with their resistance – known as Ohms. Lower wattages work best with high-resistance coils (above 1.0 Ohm), while higher wattages are better suited to coils below 1.0 Ohm.

You won’t have to remember any complicated calculations, the recommended wattage for your coils is normally printed on the side of each one, so you can choose the best power level at a glance. If you can’t see that number, or it isn’t printed on your coil, try vaping at the lowest wattage level possible and increase the power gradually with each puff until you discover a vape that feels right.

While Variable Wattage gives you more control over your vape, setting it up can be a little tricky to get right at first. If that’s the case, the next mode on our list might be more your speed.

Variable Wattage Mode Pros and Cons

  • Simple to use
  • Supports MTL & DTL vaping
  • Full control over vapour level
  • Can be technical for new vapers

What Is Smart Mode?

If Variable Wattage sounds a little too complicated and time-consuming, then Smart mode could be a good setting to start with. Essentially, it takes all the guesswork out of selecting a wattage level. Your kit will read your coil’s resistance and automatically select the best power level for it, saving you a fair bit of hassle.

This “plug-and-play” approach to vaping is becoming more common, particularly with kits that are compatible with a range of coils. If you ever swap to a coil with a different resistance, your kit will re-read it and automatically set the wattage again.

Most kits that feature Smart mode also come equipped with Variable Wattage, so you can use Smart to find the coil’s best wattage and then slightly increase or decrease power output with VW mode and select a level that suits you. A beginner-friendly option, it’s quickly becoming the standard for a range of kits.

Smart Mode Pros and Cons

  • Simplest mode available
  • No setup required
  • Supports MTL & DTL vaping
  • No option to manually control power output

What Is Bypass Mode?

If you’re looking for the most powerful vape possible, but don’t want to waste time working out the correct wattage level, Bypass mode is the perfect choice. Slightly different to Smart mode – which selects a slightly lower output for your coil to help it last longer – Bypass reaches the highest power level based on coil resistance and the charge level of your battery.

This mode is handy as there’s no set-up required, even if you switch tank, and if you’re after a hard-hitting vape, nothing else comes close. But, there are a couple of things you’ll want to bear in mind.

As your battery loses charge, the kit’s power level will begin to dip and vapour production will decrease. Constantly outputting a high power level might also drain your battery faster than usual, so it’s worth carrying spares or swapping to another mode when you notice your vape slowing down. This mode can also shorten the life of your coils as you’re pushing them to the limit, so you may only be able to use a coil for 4-5 days rather than the standard 7.

Bypass Mode Pros and Cons

  • Delivers The Most Powerful Vape Possible
  • No Setup Required
  • Perfect For MTL & DTL Vaping
  • Drains Batteries Faster

What Is Pulse Mode?

Pulse mode isn’t a standalone mode but is used alongside Smart or VW. You set a power level and then every time you vape your vape will “pulse” the chosen output every 0.2 seconds.

This pulsing output means a more consistent vape with no power drops and works great with both high and low wattages. The only real drawback is that this mode can feel a tad intense, as it boosts flavour and vapour production.

This mode is mainly found in Vaporesso kits and mods, but more brands are taking note of how popular it is and we’re bound to see it cropping up more often.

Pulse Mode Pros and Cons

  • Improved flavour
  • Works at any wattage level
  • No setup required
  • Rare to find

What Is Eco Mode?

Eco mode is a little different than most of the other options on this list as it doesn’t control how much vapour your kit produces. When your battery starts running low (below 40%), kits with Eco mode give you the option of selecting a power-saving mode that helps your vape last longer.

How does it work? Your vape will reduce screen brightness and slow down ramp-up time, all of which saves your battery. These performance drops might be a little noticeable, but if you’re out and about and running out of battery – it can mean the difference between a weaker vape or no vape at all!

Eco Mode Pros and Cons

  • Saves battery
  • Doesn’t affect vaping style
  • No setup required
  • Slight drop in performance

What Is Variable Power Curve Mode?

VPC or Variable Power Curve is one of the more advanced modes on this list. Just like Variable Wattage mode, it lets you set a power output in Watts, however, unlike VW mode, you can set up to five different levels that your kit will reach one after the other whenever you vape.

This gives you the ability to program a “power curve” and you can experience a vape that gradually gets more powerful or starts strong and leads to a light finish – it’s entirely up to you.

Like some of the other modes on this list, VPC mode might not be the best choice for new vapers. This is because it can take a bit of fiddling around to fine-tune the power levels and experiment to find your perfect vape.

Variable Power Curve Mode Pros And Cons

  • Create your perfect inhale
  • Supports MTL & DTL vaping
  • Full control over vapour production
  • A little technical

What Is Temperature Control Mode?

One of the most advanced vape modes on offer, Temperature Control (TC) is only recommended for experienced vapers. When activating this mode, rather than setting a wattage level your kit will fire at you set a maximum temperature your coils will reach every time you vape.

By setting the temperature of your kit, you can experience either a cool or warm vape, and it can also be used to make sure your coils don’t get too hot and deliver a dry hit. It can also be used to unlock different flavour notes in your e-liquid. Generally speaking, cooler temperatures are ideal for fruity blends, while warmer temperatures work better with dessert and tobacco flavours.

It can take a bit of trial and error to find out exactly what the right temperature is, and it’s also worth bearing in mind that only certain coils can be used in this mode. Temperature Control coils need to be made out of Stainless Steel, Nickel and Titanium – standard Kanthal and NiChrome coils are not compatible.

TC Mode Pros and Cons

  • Stops coils from burning
  • Unlock different e-liquid flavour notes
  • Supports MTL & DTL Vaping
  • Only Compatible With Certain Coils

What Is TCR Mode?

Modes don’t get more advanced than Temperature Coefficient of Resistance. Aside from being an absolute mouthful, it’s also an advanced option that’s used alongside TC mode. Essentially, with TC mode your kit doesn't read changes in temperatures but rather changes in resistance as the metal in your coil heats and cools.

But, what if you have a coil that has a different alloy content and doesn’t react to heat in the same way as the presets programmed into your kit? You can use TCR mode to programme custom resistance levels based on your coil of choice, which allows your kit to more accurately track your coil’s reaction to heat.

This mode is incredibly useful, as you could use virtually any TC coil with your kit and doubly so if you’re planning on using rebuildable coils, The average vaper will have little use for this mode and it’s becoming rarer, but if you’re looking for an extra degree of control – it’s ideal.

TCR Mode Pros & Cons

  • Increases The Usability Of TC Mode
  • Supports Rebuildable Coils
  • Completely Customisable
  • Requires A Huge Amount Of Vaping Knowledge

Need More Help?

We hope this guide has helped you understand some of the vaping modes that your device might have to offer a little better. If you’re still unsure, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our friendly customer service team. They know all there is to know about vaping and can give updates on some of the latest vape kits and e-liquid. They’re available seven days a week and are always happy to offer support and advice, so don’t be shy!

If you’re looking for a more general overview of all things vaping, then our Short Beginner’s Guide To Vaping might be of further help. Or, if you’ve recently picked up your first DTL (Direct To Lung) vape kit, why not check out our Short Guide To Sub Ohm Vaping?

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