There are three styles of rebuildable atomizers: RTAs (Rebuildable Tank Atomizers), RDAs (Rebuildable Dripping Atomizers) and Genesis atomizers. A fourth category called an RDTA, for Rebuildable Dripping Tank Atomizer, has also been created, but for the purposes of this article they will be considered the same as RTAs. All three styles use a coil or coils made by the user by wrapping wire around a small rod; generally 24 mm in diameter. The user then must also create a wick to transport the e liquid to the coil(s).
Vapers use a variety of wire to wrap coils. Kanthal A1 can be used in variable wattage (VW) mode on all mods because it has very stable resistance when heated. Other wire types must be used in temperature control (TC) mode due to their varying resistance when heated. These wire types would be ni200 and titanium (ti grade 1). Stainless steel has a slight variation in resistance when heated and can be used in both VW and TC modes.
Many different types of wicking materials can also be used for vaping in rebuildable atomizers. Cotton or rayon are most commonly used in RTAs and RDAs. Stainless steel mesh rolled into a tube is usually used in Genesis atomizers.
How does an RTA differ from other types of atomizers? RTAs generally have a building deck where the user puts the coil(s) at the bottom, while the tank for e liquid sits above the deck. Depending on the size of the RTA it may hold anywhere from 2 ml to 10 ml of juice. A chimney section surrounds the deck. Air enters the deck from beneath or next to the coils and rises through the chimney’s stem to the drip tip. Side airflow RTAs are often termed RDTAs. Many newer RTAs also have top airflow that comes down through the outside of the chimney stem to the coils, and then back up to the drip tip. RTAs contain slots or holes in the deck to allow e liquid to feed through the cotton wick(s) to the coil(s).
An RDA differs from an RTA by having a small well in the bottom to hold e liquid, and tend to have significantly less capacity. The coil(s) also are in the bottom of the atomizer, and the wick(s) dip down into the well of juice to feed the coil(s). They do not have a chimney section since the juice is below the level of the coil(s). Instead they have a top cap that sits on top of the building deck. Air enters from the top, bottom or sides and rises up from the top cap to the drip tip.
A Genesis atomizer seems like a combination of an RDA and an RTA. It has a tank, like an RTA, but it sits at the bottom of the atomizer below the build deck. Due to the location of the tank section it is similar to a very large RDA well. Wicking is achieved by rolled stainless steel mesh tubes which feed the e liquid up to the coil(s). Genesis atomizers also have a top cap like an RDA and, likewise, air flows from that directly up to the drip tip. Many current popular atomizers are a hybrid of the Genesis style by having a bottom tank and upper build deck, but use cotton wicking like an RTA. Some of these hybridized style atomizers are also termed RDTAs.
RTAs offer some advantages to vapers compared to sub ohm tanks, RDAs or Genesis atomizers. The primary benefit over Subohm tanks is the freedom from buying factory coil heads. Wrapping coil(s) offers a huge savings over purchasing them. An entire roll of wire can make several coils at approximately the same cost as one or two factory made coil heads. Additionally, the user is less likely to run out of wire at an inopportune time since a roll of wire may last months or years. Similarly, a package of organic cotton or box of rayon for wicking may also last months, years or even decades. Moreover, the user of Subohm tanks must rely on the manufacturer to continue providing coil heads for purchase, while the RTA user does not. With FDA regulations in effect, factory coil heads for Subohm tanks may no longer be available to US vapers in two years (or less).
RTAs edge out RDAs in two categories. The first is e liquid capacity. Users of RDAs must continually drip more juice into their atomizer. Vapers of RDAs must carry bottles of e liquid with them, and this can create a dangerous situation if the user is dripping and driving. An RTA with large capacity may provide vaping enjoyment all day at work before needing refilled. The second merit of RTAs over RDAs is that most do not leak if they are not kept upright. Because an RDA does not use a chimney section it will dump juice if sideways or inverted.
Many vapers find RTAs easier to coil and wick than Genesis atomizers. This is because the user must oxidize the stainless steel mesh on a Genesis, and then work out hot spots where the mesh makes contact with the coil(s). Also, like RDAs, Gennys tend to leak when not kept upright.
A few helpful tips can guide vapers in using RTAs. The first suggestion is to be sure the coil(s) span the air slots, especially on a bottom airflow atomizer. Too short coil length allows the wick(s) to drip e liquid into the air holes, which leads to gurgling and even flooding. Another trick to prevent flooding is to be sure the wick(s) do not allow e liquid to flow past them onto the deck. The wick tails must adequately block the juice feeding slots or holes. However, if the RTA begins to dry hit, then the user has too much wick blocking or hindering the flow of e liquid. Finding the perfect balance is key to top performance. Most modern RTAs allow the user to access the build deck at any time for rewicking, and are highly recommended for beginners and reluctant builders. Finally, be sure not to overfill the RTA. Leaving an air bubble allows juice to adequately flow to the wicks and exchange air for vaporized liquid.