When you take up a new hobby – whether it’s golf, rock climbing, flower arranging or vaping – there are always a host of new terms and acronyms to learn, and in some industries like vaporizing the terms can become so numerous and confusing that you feel like you’re learning a whole new language. In many ways that’s an accurate description; it’s necessary for you to understand the basics and the intermediate concepts before you can move on to become an advanced user. In other words, you have to learn to walk before you run and here at Vapebuzz, we’re here to help you do just that.

One of the hardest things for a new vaper to wrap their heads around is the basics of electricity – Charge, volts, current, ohms – it’s enough to make you feel like you’ve gone back to school. But with a little effort, you can master this topic in minutes, it’s all fairly straightforward, even if you have to read the guide a few times to get all of the concepts you’ll have a much better understanding of the way your vaporizer and indeed, how electricity works after this article.

The Analogy:

Image source: sparkfun.com

A good way to think about electricity is to use the analogy of a water tank. Picture a water tank supported above the ground, with a hose below it exiting out onto the floor. The electrical charge (the amount of charge in your vaporizer battery) is portrayed by the amount of water in the tank – when the tank is full of water there is more charge than when it is half-full. This is measured in Milliamp Hours; the amount of milliamps that can be delivered by a battery in an hour.

Volume of Water = Charge (mAh)

The amount of water pressure at the end of the hose is relative to the amount of water in the tank; as the tank empties the water pressure at the end of the hose will decrease.

This water pressure can be thought of as voltage. Think of how a battery powered torch will dim as the batteries run low, this is voltage decreasing.

Water Pressure = Voltage (Volts)

What else are we missing? What about the amount of water that is flowing through the hose? In a real-world setting we might measure the volume of water passed by the hose over time, or flow. In electrical terms we do something similar; we measure the amount of charge passed through by a circuit over time. This measurement is called current and is measured in Amperes or Amps.

Flow = Current (Amps)

If we imagine another tank now, with a narrower hose, what happens to the flow rate on the narrow hose? It will measure at the same water pressure (or voltage) as the other tank, but the flow rate will be decreased because of the smaller width of the hose. This brings us neatly to our last term; resistance. The width of the hose can be thought of as the resistance of the circuit (which is affected by the material, temperature, length, width, etc.), which we measure in Ohms.

Hose Width = Resistance (Ohms)

If we wanted to have the same water flow in the narrower hose, what variable would we change? We would change the volume of water (or charge) in the tank. The increased amount of water would increase the water pressure (or voltage) and thereby increase the flow rate (or current) of the hose.

To recap:

Volume of Water = Charge

Water Pressure = Voltage

Flow = Current (Amps)

Hose Width = Resistance (Ohms)

Do you see the relationship between the three? Let’s see if you can answer an electrical question.

Q: If we had a lot of charge in our device but wanted to lower the current, what variable would we change and how?

A: We would increase the resistance of the circuit to lower the current.

Terms:

We hope this analogy has helped you understand a little better what exactly goes on inside your vaporizer when you use it or charge it. Before we go we leave you with a quick rundown of the most common electrical terms.

mAh: Milliamp/Hour. This is a measure of the potential energy storage of a battery; the amount of milliamps that can be delivered in an hour before the battery runs out of charge. A 100mAh battery could deliver 100 Milliamps over one hour, a 500mAh battery would deliver 500 Milliamps over one hour and so on.

In terms of our analogy, this is the size of your water tank. A larger tank will have a wider range of potential flow and pressure options, as well as being able to sustain that flow and pressure for longer than smaller tanks. In real-world terms, a 2000mAh battery has twice the capacity of a 1000mAh battery.

Amps: A measurement of the volume of electricity passing through a circuit or wire over time.

Volts: The “pressure” of the electricity. More specifically it’s the difference in electric potential between two points.

Watts: This is a measurement of the amount of electricity used or delivered by a device.

Ohms: This is a measurement of electrical resistance, in other words, a measurement of how difficult it is for electricity to pass through a circuit or wire.