What is the Difference between Conduction and Convection Vaporizers?
In a nutshell, conduction vaporizers heat their material directly via surface-to-surface heating while convection vaporizers pass heated air around and through the material.
Once you decide that you want a vaporizer you’re likely to be confronted with a slew of questions regarding your preferred heating method. Temperature control is such a massive part in Vaporization and selecting your preferred heating method is not easy. Do you want convection? Conduction? Are you worried about combustion? It’s easy to lose your way, but this article will hopefully shed some light on the key points and help you make an informed decision before you press the "pay now" button.
No matter what kind of vaporizer you end up with, it’ll use a heating system. Shocker. Your vape will be powered by either conduction heating, convection heating, or a hybrid combination of the two. For a long time, conduction-based heating has been ruled the roost - so this is the first one we’ll look at.
Conduction is the method which the vast majority of vape pens have used in the past. Conduction heating works by placing your herbs directly on top of a heating element or coil inside your vaporizer. The heating element then slowly heats your dry herb until it produces a vapor you can inhale. Pretty straightforward, right?
One of the drawbacks, however, with this method is that you can only vape the materials directly on top of the coil - which means that often you can end up wasting a large amount of your cannabis. Also, this can lead to a very inconsistent vaping experience, since you have to constantly stir around your herb to try and get evenly vaped herb. This method can also be very prone to combustion issues because of the herb's direct exposure to the heating element, which can be irritating when the whole reason you're vaping in the first place is to avoid combustion.
What is combustion, you ask? Basically, combustion is when your herb gets burnt. Sitting directly on top of the heating element you could see how easily this might happen, resulting in a burnt-tasting, not very enjoyable, smoky vapor-yield. Vapor contaminated by combustion can also contain carcinogens and other chemicals that are none too enjoyable for your throat or lungs.
These days convection is the technology of choice incorporated into most high-end desktop and portable Vaporizers. Unlike conduction, a convection heating element doesn’t touch the materials and therefore is unlikely to result in combustion. Convection heating is also much more efficient than conduction energy, as it heats your herb more evenly leaving you with less half-burnt, half-green wasted material.
There are two types of convection vaporizers - fan assisted and inhalation vortex. Fan assisted convection is where hot air blows through your herbs and results in a delicious vapour travelling down the mouthpiece into your lungs. With an inhalation vortex, the vaporizer relies on the force of your inhalation to pull hot air up through your dry herb to create vapor. Both methods are very consistent and should produce some very consistent and mouth-watering draws.
However, that step up in vapor quality doesn't come free - and convection models usually require more elegant engineering which means they're usually more expensive than conduction vapes, which are relatively easy to produce.
With a hybrid vaporizer device, you get the speedy heat up time and instant hit of a conduction vape with the efficient production and smooth, tasty vapor of a convection model. Hybrid heating elements are usually seen in more tech-forward portable devices looking to recreate the high-quality vapor you get with expensive desktop models, in a handy pocket-sized vape.
The only problem with this is the classic problem of things that try to do too much, they never really master anything. So while these are solid vaporizers and should be seriously considered they might not live up to the standards of their single-purpose contemporaries.
In short, each heating system has its own benefits and neither one should be ruled out entirely. There are some truly spectacular conduction-only vapes out there, and there are also some incredibly affordable convection and hybrid models available on the market.
The most important things to keep in mind when choosing a vaporizer are that it’s affordable for you and suits the needs of your lifestyle. Hopefully, this overview gives you a better insight thought into what the different heating methods actually are, and how to make the best purchase for your tastes (and your pocket).