Kanger IPOW2

So recently I’ve had a problem in vapeland. I had everything so I thought, four batteries, two chargers, a bunch of clearmoizers and plenty of liquid as well as the fixings to make more. I noticed something disturbing happening. My batteries were not lasting as long as they should. I’m not talking about thirty minutes or an hour less, I’m talking about 20% or less of their former capacity. Something was amiss. At first, I assumed it was the charger. Such things are made in China and made to be cheap so it’s more or less expected they will fail at some point. A simple failure of it’s voltage reference would cause it to say it’s done charging when it isn’t. Which was exactly what I thought was happening.

Not so in this case. The purchase of a new charger did nothing to revitalize these poor batteries which were in fact just dying as all LiON batteries with too many charging cycles wearing out the battery. So the damage is two of my batteries out of four with another one being about half working. This is kind of scary since I depend on these things.

Having to spend an entire day out of doors an away from my home made AC box mod was rather frightening, I didn’t want to run out of juice. I knew of a brick and mortar on Yonge St. named 180° Smoke so I went there looking to replace with the same old de-branded 1300mAh spinner type battery that has served me so well.

Evaluating my options, it seemed to me that the usual spinner type batteries weren’t so competitive and awesome any more. Sure they can be bought for cheap online, but they aren’t great, and actually kind of a pain in the butt in many ways. They have no display or feedback for the charge state of the battery, they are variable voltage so need frequent tweaks to get a good vape with differing atomizer resistances and battery charge levels as well as the saturation of the clearo itself. Moreover, they have no readout at all aside from the flashy button LED which tells you very little if anything. So I saw the Kanger IPOW2 and thought “ooh that’s shiny”.
IPOW2

The IPOW2

For $30-40 here’s what you get – a variable power (wattage) integrated battery with a nice display and smooth interface. What more could you ask for? The design is nice and sleek and all flush mount, the display is a nice bright (and informative!) OLED display which shows the battery charge, output power, and atomizer resistance all at once. It is a bit longer and thicker than the spinners which is no big deal really. It’s not oversized. It comes in 1000mAh, 1300mAh and 1600mAh models to suit everyone’s size vs. battery capacity taste. The thread at the top is 510 but helpfully comes with an eGo adaptor in the box. Here’s one of my favourite things about it – it charges by a micro USB cable (also included). No more stupid screw in chargers!

Theory of Function

Before, variable power (as opposed to voltage) was only available to the owners of APVs (advanced personal vaporizing devices) for quite a bit more than your standard eGo twist clone. What this means in brief is that you get a consistent output from your device no matter what the atomizer resistance or battery charge level. From first vape to last it will be consistent. With the twist/spinners, one would have to keep adjusting the knob on the bottom to continually tweak to get the desired vape out of the thing which is fiddly and annoying honestly. With this, you can set it and forget it and just enjoy your vape.

The reason variable power (wattage) is so important and why it works is quite simple and just a bit of basic electronics. The atomizer coil is just a resistor by another name. Resistors are just heaters by another name :). If you apply a voltage across a resistor, it will pull current through it and dissipate heat according to it’s resistance value. Basic Ohm’s law: voltage = current x resistance. So if your coil is 2.2Ω and your battery is set to 3.7V it will draw 1.68A of current (re-arrange the formula: current = voltage/resistance, 3.7/2.2=1.68). Easy. So you’d think you just set it at 3.7 and always get 1.68A through your coil to get a consistent vape, no problem. Catch for young players: what if the voltage changes, or the resistance?

Fact is, the little knob on the bottom of your twist will say it’s set to 3.7V, but remember it’s not made to be a laboratory grade voltage regulator, so it could be off by who knows how much. Not only that, but it could drift off depending on the load you put on it or any number of other factors. It can also drift and even fall off as your battery drains. All voltage regulators have what’s called a “dropout” voltage, meaning it needs a bit of overhead to regulate the voltage to the desired level consistently. If your battery voltage is lower than your dropout voltage plus your setting, you will not get your desired voltage. Likewise, over their lifespan, atomizer coils can increase their resistance causing the battery to work harder for the same output. This, I believe, is through heat expansion of the coil and it being gunked up with e-juice. Eventually, the coil just becomes unusable for a variety of reasons, but one thing variable voltage battery owners find is they have to increase the voltage to get the same vape as the atomizer ages. The point is, it’s the power output that is important. Regulating that is key to a consistent vaping experience.

So what is the variable wattage about and how does it solve these issues? Well, let’s look at what wattage actually is. A Watt is a derived unit of power. It could mean electrical energy, or thermal energy, but always 1W = 1 joule per second. It is a direct measurement of the amount of energy over time that something is outputting. This is why amplifiers, heaters, microwaves, everything uses it as their rating by which you buy them. According to the formulae, 1W = (current)^2 x Resistance, or it is current x voltage. By making power what we want to regulate, we let voltage fly free and allow it to be adjusted as need be to maintain a steady output.

This is essentially what I (and probably you) were doing by fiddling with that bottom knob on the spinners. We knew, by feeling, where our perfect vape was, and would adjust this knob up or down as needed. We were varying the voltage to match the changing resistance of our coil or the battery charge level to get the same power output. The variable wattage takes care of this for us. It’s voltage regulator will sense changes in output resistance and compensate for the battery charge level and focus on keeping that steady power output regardless of these two factors. If the atomizer resistance increases, the device ups it’s voltage to compensate.

The Review

Finally, after my tedious intro rand and technobabble, I’ll finally talk about the device itself.

I’ve been using it about 30 hours and I have to say I’m suitably impressed. It is certainly more fun to use than the boring old spinners and yes I’m quite dazzled by all sorts of electronic technology so having this as my PV appeals to me. It’s thickness is greater, as I mentioned, but I actually find this more comfortable to hold in my hand than the thinner spinners. The controls and display are all nicely flush mounted which to me not only looks good but is less to break when I drop it or knock it against something. Conversely, since the button is flush I have had occasional trouble finding it when not looking at the device which is slightly annoying. Nevertheless, the fire button has a nice tactile click and is not hard to actuate. I imagine it no more or less durable than the microswitches found in other batteries so I would still suggest against mashing it. Oddly, this button is in the shape of a shield, which brings to mind anti-virus software logos. I do not know why Kanger chose this but I don’t mind it either. A clear plastic light pipe surrounds the button to indicate when it is being operated and flashes like you would expect it to when turning it on and off, when it reaches it’s max firing time, and when the battery has run flat. I do note shadows in the oddly shaped lightpipe so it’s not quite as attractive as it could be be being nice and bright and lit up. Unlike some batteries, the LED powers off instantly. Guess they didn’t want to put a cap there to make it fade. Which is neither here nor there.

The OLED display is nice and bright and blue and perfectly flush mounted on the metal tube. One thing I absolutely love is that it shows you all information at once. In one glance you get your power setting, your atomizer resistance, and battery charge level. I’ve looked about and I cannot find a device for a comparable price that does that. Even some higher end APVs only show one of the three at a time and one has to hunt through menus in an awkward operating system to see everything one wants to know. Who wants that? It brings up another point – the user interface. It is dead simple.

All that is involved in using the thing is pressing a button. If one wants to adjust the power level, simply adjust the knob on the bottom. That’s it. Usual 5 click on-off. That’s it. No menus, no bullshit, just hassle free vaping.

IPOW2disp

The knob on the bottom is great too. On the twisters, I was pretty sure I was turning a linear potentiometer and could feel the wipers scraping inside. Those would definitely wear out or get gunky over time and I also had the feeling that really they needed a log instead of linear pot since the control didn’t feel linear at all. The knob on the IPOW2 is great, it just turns endlessly in either direction while the display updates your settings in 0.5W increments. So it’s an endless rotary encoder instead of a pot, grand.

This, the display and the fact it is variable wattage tells me clearly that somewhere in there is a little microcontroller. Your vaping kept consistent by digital micro processor control, what could be better?

Another big plus of this device is it’s integrated charging circuit. I was already frustrated with failing eGo chargers and hated having to buy a specific charger with a specific thread only to have them die on me. The IPOW2 uses micro USB. Done. The little display even shows charging progress.

So here’s the summary:

Pros
  • Consistent power output
  • Sleek design, comfortable to use in the hand, smooth flush mount controls and display
  • Bright OLED display with all information at once
  • Simple operation, button and encoder, no menus to fiddle with
  • Integrated Micro-USB charger
  • Temperature protected, double protected battery, multiple vent holes for heat and battery failure
  • 3-15W regulated output
  • Cheaper than APVs with the same feature set
Cons
  • Flush button hard to find by touch
  • Non-replacable integrated battery
  • Display at bottom, counter-intuitive
  • Battery display not proportional to how long it will last (they all are)

Overall, I’d declare it a winner. It’s a lovely offering a step up from the basic eGo batteries and cheaper than the APVs. I was doing my research into an APV for myself since the batteries seem to die faster than anything else, and I thought it prudent to start using replaceable battery models. This, however, proved to be both a nice stop-gap and convenient solution. For the average vaper, it is a no fuss device that just works. I think I will buy one or two more to replace my spinners entirely.

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