Conduction Vaporizer vs Convection Vaporizer
Vaporizers provide a safer and healthier alternative to smoking by using heat to release active ingredients from herbs or essential oils. The way that this heat is generated and transferred to the load differs greatly between different vaporizers, but all vaporizers utilize one or both of the two main methods of thermal transmission
Conduction is when heat is transmitted through a substance or a solid object. Substances can range from loose leaf tobacco, to marijuana, to herbal belnds, to hash oils, essential oils, and ejuices used in electronic cigarettes. Conduction heat moves through materials like metal and ceramic effectively, and rather ineffectively through substances like loose leaf tobacco, cannabis, marijuana, herbal blends or air. In vaporizers that employ the conduction effect exclusively, the load is heated by direct contact with a heated surface. This includes popular vaporizers like the Pax, Indica, Flowermate, Ascent, PNP, Volcano, Firefly, Pinnacle Pro, Haze, Inhalater and MFLB vaporizers.
Convection is when heat is transmitted through a liquid or a gas. Most commonly this gas is air, drawn into the vaporizer where it is superheated to vaporization temperature and then pulled through the load. Because air is an insulator with a low thermal conductivity, it takes a lot more energy to bring a steady stream of air up to the temperature that it needs to be at to properly vaporize. As a result, convection effect vaporizers are often more expensive and require more power to run. This includes vaporizers like the FireFly, Thermovape and Cloud.
It is extremely rare to find a vaporizer design that does not experience both convection and conduction heating effects while in operation. However, each design usually has a dominant effect which is used to classify it as a conductive or convective vaporizer.
Experienced users tend to find that they come to prefer one kind of heating effect over the other, based on their own personal needs and the effects they give. Taste, vapor quality and effects are noticeably different between the two, and each heating method offers their own distinct advantages over the other in vaporizer design.
Conduction is a very efficient way of apply heat to the load. It requires a relatively small amount of power to generate enough heat, and very little of it is lost in transmission because of the short distance between heating element and load. However, conduction vaporizers have a higher chance of singing the load, and require the user to stir or mix the load on a regular basis to ensure an even extraction. This comes from the very low thermal conductivity of plant material, which leads to only the layer of herb closes to the heated surface getting properly heated.
Convection requires a great deal more power and heat to be able to continually provide a stream of hot air for vaporization. Until very recently, convection vaporizers required a power outlet to be able to run, as battery technology has only recently progressed to the point where they are capable of supplying enough power. The large amount of heat required also needs to be managed, to prevent the vaporizer from getting too hot on the outside. However, convection heating is extremely effective at evenly vaporizing the load, as the air is pulled around and through the porous plant material, heating it in places where the conduction effect cannot. Convection vaporizers rarely require stirring and often cause less irritation and coughing in the lungs of the user.
Both of these heating effects have their places in vaporizer design and we are still seeing both areas innovated upon greatly. However, as technologies improve (especially batteries), we are seeing more companies pursue the convection effect in newer designs. The vaporizer industry is due for some very exciting innovation over the next few years as more and more becomes possible.
While convection vaporizers are available for essential oils, hash oils, ejuices, and other kinds of extracts, usually they are not portable and require a power cord to allow it to vaporize the essential oils. While Convection allows portable vaporizers like the Omicron, Persei, 8, Atmos, Gpen, Vape pen, and the countless others based on the electronic cigarette design.