An electronic cigarette, also known as an e-cigarette or personal vaporizer (PV), can be found in two basic configurations:
So what is the difference between an atomizer and a cartomizer?
The basic explanation is that an atomizer is reusable and attaches to a separate cartridge that can be filled and refilled with e-liquid, while a cartomizer is disposable, prefilled cartridge that combines a disposable atomizer and e-liquid into one unit.
To explain further...
A three part e-cigarette utilizes a battery and two separate components known as an atomizer and a cartridge. To use the electronic cigarette, one end of the atomizer (heating element) screws onto the battery (power source) and the other end gets pushed onto the cartridge (mouthpiece).
The atomizer (or atty) is the part of the electronic cigarette that vaporizes the e-liquid in the cartridge so that it can be inhaled. By slightly heating the e-liquid, it produces the vapor, flavor, and throat hit that allows a sensation similar to cigarette smoking.
Atomizers are reusable, but they do not last forever. They all degrade and fail over time, especially if in constant use. On average, the natural lifespan of an atomizer is about one month, but this can vary from a few days to a couple months. It is always a good idea to have at least one or two extra atomizers on hand.
There are several types of atomizers available, which differ in size and performance. A few of the most popular atomizers are the 510, 901, and 801. The 510 and 901 are in the mini category (close in size to a traditional cigarette) and offer similar performance. The 801, used in the "Classic" Penstyle category of electronic cigarettes, is larger and offers greater intensity vaping.
One of the primary factors affecting the performance of the atomizer is its resistance (measured in ohms).
Types of atomizers include standard atomizers, Low Resistance (LR) atomizers, and High Voltage (HV) atomizers. A High Voltage atomizer, which is intended for use with 6v + mods (will not work with regular batteries), allows users to use a higher voltage device with a similar feel to standard vaping. A Low Resistance atomizer, which needs to be used on batteries of at least 450 mAh, mimics the experience of higher voltage vaping (greater intensity) without the need for a 5 volt or higher device, however LR atomizers can also burn out faster.
The cartridge (or cart) is the part that holds the e-liquid and is used in combination with an atomizer. One end of the cartridge attaches to the atomizer and the other end is the mouthpiece. Users can choose from a variety of mouthpiece styles, such as a round shape to resemble a traditional cigarette or like a whistle to resemble a flat tip on a cigar.
Cartridges for e-cigarettes can be purchased blank (empty) or pre-filled (e-liquid inside). The empty cartridge can easily be filled and refilled with e-liquid by sliding the mouthpiece on and off of the atomizer.
Although atomizers are typically used with cartridges, some of the more experienced vapers prefer to use a drip tip and drip the e-liquid into the atomizer without the cartridge.
A two part e-cigarettes utilizes a only a battery and a cartomizer (or carto), rather than a separate atomizer and cartridge. A cartomizer is a type of cartridge that combines the atomizer and cartridge (mouthpiece with e-liquid) into one disposable unit. The cartomizer is easily replaced by screwing and unscrewing it directly onto the battery.
Cartomizers are generally purchased pre-filled with e-liquid, used once, and then disposed. They are available in a variety of flavors and in varying strenghts of nicotine. They are convenient and easy to use. Cartomizers are typically intended for a one time use, yet some users do refill them by popping off the end. If wanted, they may also be purchased blank and filled by the user.
There are two primary types of cartomizers, the 510 and the 808. The 510 fits the traditional 510 batteries and mods based on those. The 808 fits the traditional 901 batteries and mods based on those.
While atomizers may offer more custom combinations and pique the interest of experienced vapers who want to experiment with various options, the cartomizer electronic cigarettes are easy to use and offer a satisfactory experience, making them a good option for many e-cigarettes users, especially those new to vaping. In the end, based on your own needs and tastes, you want to choose the electronic cigarette that makes the experience enjoyable for you.