Vape Coil Types: A Guide to Pre-Built Coils

Vape Coil Types: A Guide to Pre-Built Coils

In this guide we'll cover:

What is a pre-built vape coil?

Pre-built vape coils are coils that are ready to be installed into an RDARDTA, or RTA tank. They are the small but wrapped coils that you would find by Aleaf or Vapor Tech. They are pre-made, thus, pre-built! These are different that your typical vape tank coils, as they do not go into tank atomizers. 

Different types of pre-built coils

There are several different types of pre-built vape coils. They can range from super simple to elaborate, and many of these different types may come together to make even more complex coils. Here's an example; a staple coil and a staggered coil meet in a bar. They come together and make a staggered staple coil! Or Clapton and framed coils come together and make a framed Clapton coil!

Here are some of the different names of coils:

  • Clapton - These coils have their names from their similarity to a guitar string. They have one higher gauge thin wire wound tightly around a thicker lower gauge wire. Learn more about clapton coils in this blog!
  • Fused Clapton - They are similar to the Clapton coil, and they get their name from two or more wires together inside a wrapped outer layer of thin wire. Read more in this blog about fused claptons.
  • Alien - Not from outer space, but practical! When you have a pre-wrapped coil that is straightened out again, you have your outer wire! It wraps around a core that is straight or fused together. Boom, Alien vape coils! Find out more about alien coils here!
  • Staggered - Staggered coils get their names from the staggered outer wire. It starts with 2 wires but ends up being only one after the second is removed making it staggered.
  • Framed - These are some of the thickest wires you can find. They receive their names by framing a ribbon wire on the outside. The ribbon creates gaps, the frames are gapped and that means more surface area for more flavor.

Kinds of Pre-Built Coils

Different types of wire

Along with different setups for coils, there are different mediums and shapes. The mediums are the kinds of wire that get used. Most are Kanthal, others are Stainless Steel or Nicrome. Here are some of the mediums and shapes with a brief description of them.


  • Kanthal - The most used wire in the vape game! It is part of the iron-chromium-aluminum family of metals. It is designed for high-temperature applications and its roots come from Sweden.
  • Nichrome - Also used for high temperatures. It is another member of the iron-chromium family. It consists of mostly nickel with chromium and often iron and has a lower resistance than Kanthal.
  • Stainless Steel - Another chromium, SS has several different uses. Some are household uses like forks and spoons. It holds the highest percentage of iron, chromium, and nickel.

Those are the most common. There are others; Ni200, Titanium, Ni80. These are less used but are hanging around.


  • Round - The most common type of wire used. Round wires act by themselves for simple wraps of wire that you would find in most coils. They also act as the core of complex builds.
  • Ribbon - Shaped after its name, you get more surface area with this type of wire. The more surface area you have typically leads to more flavor. Also, another core of complex builds.

These are the more common types. Another you would know is flat which acts as the outer wire in most complex builds.

Choosing the best coil type for you

Which of these coils is the best for you? You might already have an idea. There are other things to consider when you are choosing the best coil for you and your situation. Check out some of these considerations.

Things to consider

Resistance - When you are choosing your coil, the resistance would be the first thing to consider. Most will be sub-ohm (below 1.0Ω). If you are building with two coils, make sure to cut the resistance in half. For example, two coils each reading 0.5Ω together would come out to about 0.25Ω when paired.

Surface Area - Knowing the surface area of your builds is important for you flavor chasers. The more surface area you have the more flavor you will get!

Ramp Up Time - Most coils will ramp depending on the mod's fire rate. However, complex or gaudy builds have more wire to resist energy. Therefore, they take longer to ramp up regardless of the mod. Simpler coils will ramp up a bit faster. The longer the ramp-up time, the better the flavor.

Thickness - Your atomizer's deck can only take so many different builds of vape coils. The deck of a DigiFlavor Drop can handle most bigger builds, but the Wotofo Recurve does not have the room for thicker builds.

How to install pre-built vape coils

Dry Burning a Coil

Now for the good stuff! You have an understanding of the different coils, builds, mediums, and shapes. Now that you have the choice of coils it's time to make the magic! Here is how you install them:

  1. Insert leads into post holes
  2. Tighten the screws of the atomizer
  3. Cut the leads flush
  4. Using tweezers (ideally ceramic tips), adjust the coils so they are straight and squished together.
  5. Dry burn to find hot spots (These are small parts of the coil that burn brighter than the rest of the wire.)
  6. Lightly strum the hot spots with tweezers until they are gone
  7. Wait for the coils to cool off
  8. Insert your cotton
  9. Cut the wicks appropriately for your atomizer
  10. Saturate your wick with ejuice
  11. Place the ends of your cotton into the atomizer's well

There you have it! Now your build is ready for you to start vaping to your heart's content! You might wonder how you know it's time to change your coils. Here is some info for you:

When to change your coils

Things to look for:

  • Built up gunk
  • Caked on vape juice
  • Burnt taste
  • Resistance changes randomly
  • Visible gaps in the wire's structure

At the end of the day

You have an understanding of the types of coils, made your choice, built your build, and are vaping the day away! The best thing to do is practice on your own time. The more you practice your builds, the better you will be!

Make sure you share this with your friends that are aspiring builders of coils. They would love to learn like you did!

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Author: Gabriel Pimentel

Gabriel is a student of the vaping industry that loves to help inform the community! He started his vaping career in 2015 as a customer service agent and now works to write blogs for VapeWild. He loves to hear from his readers and answer their questions on Twitter! 

Posted by Gabriel on May 1st 2019

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