The Cost Of Vaping In 2020
I gave up smoking and started vaping in 2015. Back then, there was far less variety and choice available. I like to keep a tight budget, and I had to do a lot of research (and make some costly mistakes) to get the best value for money.
It’s no secret that vaping can be a lot cheaper than smoking tobacco, but there are more elements and variables to consider. The device itself, batteries, eliquid, coils etc. all come with different price options.
So, how much do vapes cost? We’ve done the hard work for you, and written this article to answer exactly that. If you’re a budget-minded person and want to get the best vaping value for money, read on!
How Much Do Vapes Cost?
If you’re looking for a device, there are a considerable number of designs on the market. For someone just getting started, the sheer amount of choice and technical jargon can be overwhelming. Do you go ohm or sub-ohm? Single battery or dual? Mechanical or regulated? Squonk or traditional etc.
To make things easier, here are some of the more common types of vape you might encounter, and a look at the price range for each device.
If convenience is your main concern, a pod vape might be a good choice.
Pod vapes are a recent development in vaping. They aim to make vaping as easy as possible. If refilling tanks and swapping out coils isn’t for you, pod vapes could be a great choice.
Pod vapes are straightforward devices. They consist of only two parts – the battery and the disposable pod. Once you have vaped all of the eliquid inside of the pod, you simply replace it and throw the old ones in the trash. Pod devices are small, discreet and easily concealable.
Pod vapes tend to produce smaller clouds than other devices. For this reason, you will need an e-liquid with a higher nicotine percentage.
Pod vapes offer the closest experiences to smoking cigarettes, and can be a great, inexpensive way of easing the transition from tobacco to vaping.
Prices range from under $13 for entry-level pod vapes to around $58 for a more premium experience. You will need to replace the pods whenever you run out. This recurring cost, though small, shouldn’t be ignored.
Another excellent option for the beginner is a pen vape. As the name suggests, these devices tend to be sleek and concealable. This benefit does come with some drawbacks in vapor production. Still, pen devices offer a fantastic, inexpensive way to finally kick the tobacco habit. What’s more, if you’re interested in vaping cannabis products such as CBD oil, a pen device may be essential. Most CBD cartridges require the 510 thread common to this type of vape.
Pen vapes comprise of two parts – The device itself and the cartridge. Pen vapes can be used with any e-liquid (“juice”) and don’t require you to purchase pre-filled pods. This could either be a pro or a con, depending on the level of convenience you need.
Pen vapes are very inexpensive. You can get hold of the cheapest devices for around $15, but options are available upwards of $65 if you want something higher end.
When you finish a tank of juice, simply open it up and fill with your flavour of choice. You will need to replace the coil periodically, and these cost between $3.00-$6.00 a piece.
Unregulated (Mechanical) Tank Mods
If you’ve been vaping for a little while or are looking for something with a bit more “oomph”, an unregulated mod can produce fantastic clouds.
Unregulated mods are similar to pen mods in that they consist of two parts, a battery and a tank that holds the coil and juice. What sets them apart is that they tend to be much more powerful than either pen or pod vapes. Expect giant, dense clouds with a more satisfying flavour intensity.
Mechanical mods range from simple tubes to ornate, handcrafted devices, and the range of prices available reflects this diversity.
The most basic mechanical mods cost around $32, but if you’re looking for something premium this can go as high as $390 at the luxury end!
The downside of mechanical mods is that you can’t change the power level. If you are someone who switches tanks or juices regularly, you might want to try something with a little more control.
Regulated Tank Mods
Regulated mods are the most common vaping device today. They are what most people think of when they hear the term “vaping”.
Regulated mods differ from mechanical mods, which are essentially just a tube to hold the battery and a switch, in that they add circuitry between the battery and the tank. This additional tech lets you fine-tune the amount of power going to the coil.
Regulated tank mods range from approximately $25-$100.
As with pen vapes, coils eventually burn out and need replacing. These cost around $3.00-$5.00 each.
How Much Does Vape Juice Cost?
So, you’ve decided between pod, pen, regulated and unregulated vapes. But this is only one step of the equation.
As well as the device itself, you will need to put something in it to vape!
E-liquid, also known as juice, is the substance that your device uses to create inhalable vapor. It usually contains a mixture of propylene and/or vegetable glycerol (more on that in a moment), nicotine, plus your flavourings of choice.
For pre-filled pod systems such as the popular Juul, Blu and Vype, the process is straightforward. Simply buy replacement pods and fit them to your device. Pods run from $3.00-$4.00 each and last for 200 puffs.
A recent innovation to hit the market is refillable pods. These enable you to use pod systems with any e-liquid you like, but reports of their quality vary.
If you are using a tank-style device, you will need to buy your e-liquid in pre-filled bottles. These come in a range of sizes, flavours and nicotine strengths. A critical complication in the UK is “shortfill” bottles. Well-meaning but ill-advised government legislation banned the sale of e-liquid containing nicotine in containers larger than 10ml. As so often happens with poorly thought out laws, drafted by people who don’t understand the issues, the effect was the opposite of the intended one. To get around this, manufacturers now commonly offer much larger bottles of juice than the 10ml that used to be standard, even up to 200ml bottles, with nicotine sold separately that the customer mixes themselves.
Shortfill bottles tend to be highly economical. At the cheapest end of the spectrum, you can pick up a 50ml bottle of juice for $10, with the nicotine shot being around another $2.00-$2.50. This is very cheap, however, and one should expect the quality of flavour to reflect this.
Generally speaking, a mid-range bottle of costs around $15-$20, with each nicotine shot around $2.00-$3.00
“Premium juices” are available and contain higher quality ingredients. They are manufactured to stricter specifications and as such can cost quite a bit more. Expect prices in the $35-$40 range for 50ml, not including nicotine.
If you are particularly fiscally minded and don’t mind a bit of DIY, there’s another option, and that’s to mix your own. The ingredients are all available online, and you can save a lot of money! More on this later.
What About Advanced Vapers?
The longer you stay a vaper, the more time and money you are likely to invest. Having been vaping since the earliest sub-ohm devices first hit the scene, I dread to think about the accumulated cost.
Many vapers who start with a pen or pod device are entirely satisfied with the hit they get. However, others find that once they’ve experienced the flavour and cloud intensity of a sub-ohm device, its tough to go back.
The main drawback to sub-ohm vaping is the price. Making big clouds requires a lot more e-liquid, and the cost of having to buy so much extra juice quickly adds up. To combat this cost, many cloud chasers opt to mix their own e-liquids.
Another cost that will add to your total vaping expenditure is coils. Manufacturing has come a long way, and you can expect your coil to last at least a week or two. Of course, this depends on the frequency of use and how high you run your coils.
Some devices aimed at the enthusiast end of the market enable you to make your coils yourself. These rebuildable atomisers are a bit more work, but are far cheaper and permit levels of customisation not possible with off-the-shelf coils.
Once you have been vaping for enough time, you will probably find that you own at least a couple of different devices. No vape is perfect, and each has its own strengths and weaknesses. Sometimes these only become apparent after using it for some time.
For example, I have a tank vape for every day, “out and about” use, a pen vape that I use for CBD products and a beast of an RDA (rebuildable dripper atomiser) to give me huge clouds when I’m relaxing at home.
How To Save Money On Vaping
Vaping is almost always a cheaper alternative to smoking. However, there are many individual costs, and these can quickly add up. The good news is that with a bit of creativity, you can save a significant amount on how much vaping costs.
As far as upfront costs go, the device is usually the most significant purchase, followed by the tank.
Fortunately, the explosion in vaping popularity means there is an abundance of second-hand devices available. For hygiene reasons, its probably best not to get second-hand drip-tips, and always clean all equipment thoroughly before use.
The best places to find second-hand vape equipment are eBay and the Facebook marketplace/groups. A quick search on either of these platforms yields hundreds of results. The sheer number of people selling old equipment means you are almost guaranteed to find something suitable. Expect savings of up to 60% for second-hand devices, depending on how old they are.
Try DIY Coils
Another way to save many on vaping is to build your own coils. A pack of 5 coils for a standard tank runs at around $20. For the same price, you can get enough kanthal wire and cotton to build your coils for an entire year!
There are some upfront costs associated with building your own coils. Asides from the wire and cotton, you will need a coil jig to shape your creations, as well as an ohm-meter to measure their resistance accurately.
Mix Your Own Juice
One of the best ways to save money in the long-term is to mix your own e-liquids. The two most common bases for e-liquid are propylene glycerol (PG) and vegetable glycerol (VG). PG tends to carry flavour better but can be harsher on the throat, whereas VG is best for big clouds. Most mixtures use a blend of pg and VG. The two most popular PG:VG ratios are 50:50 and 30:70 (for sub-ohm vaping).
Simply mix your PG/VG blend with your flavours and the right amount of nicotine, leave it to mellow (known as “steeping”), and your personal e-liquid will be ready in a matter of weeks!
A recent blow to DIY juice enthusiasts living in the UK means you can now only purchase nicotine in 10ml bottles. This cost increase can bump up the price of mixing your own e-liquid a bit, but it still works out cheaper than buying premixed.
Avoid The Bleeding Edge
Like any technological market, the vaping world evolves very fast. New technologies, refinements and innovations are continually hitting the market, and these things come with a premium price tag.
One benefit of the abundance of new devices is that you can sometimes pick up slightly older equipment at a steal. eBay is a great place to find unopened bargains of earlier models, and many vape shops and websites have a clearance section. Unless you are a dedicated follower of fashion, there are few drawbacks to buying a slightly older device.
The more news and reports that come out, the clearer the message: Vaping is healthier for your body, and your bank balance, more than smoking tobacco could ever be.
The amount of money you will spend on your vaping hobby depends on what kind of experience you want, and how much cash you have to burn. The lazier amongst us will pay a premium for convenience, but the fiscally sensitive can save a lot of money for not much effort. Most vapers, including myself, will eventually find a compromise.
As with everything, in vaping and in life, balance is the key.