Dripping vs. Sub-Ohm Tanks: Which Is Better?

If you’re an e-cigarette user on the hunt for more vapour, you have two options. You can use a rebuildable dripping atomizer (RDA) for dripping, or you can use a sub-ohm tank. If you use a sub-ohm tank, you’ll add e-liquid by filling a glass reservoir periodically. If you use a rebuildable atomizer, you’ll keep the atomizer wet by dripping, or sending e-liquid down the top opening a few drops at a time. Although sub-ohm tanks are presently the most popular e-cigarette attachments in the vaping community, there are plenty of people who prefer and love the experience of dripping. Here at Vapester, we carry some of the best sub-ohm tanks on the market including the SMOK TFV12 Prince and the Aspire Cleito – but are sub-ohm tanks the right choice for you? In this article, we’ll provide some information that can help make your decision easier.


In the battle of sub-ohm tanks vs. rebuildable atomizers, tanks are more convenient by far. Using a tank, you’ll spend far less time tinkering with your e-cigarette and more time using and enjoying it. Here’s why.

Replacing Coils

Replacing a Sub-Ohm Tank Coil

A sub-ohm tank uses a pre-assembled, self-contained atomizer coil. It arrives from the factory ready to use. To use a pre-made atomizer coil, you only need to open your tank, unscrew the current coil and screw in the new one. Wet the coil’s exposed cotton with a bit of e-liquid, refill the tank and you’re ready to continue vaping. Replacing the coil in any sub-ohm tank requires about a minute or less. Sub-ohm tanks make coil replacement incredibly convenient.

Replacing a Rebuildable Atomizer Coil

RDA vs Tank

The standard way to replace the coil in a rebuildable atomizer is by making a new coil yourself from resistance wire. You’ll begin by cutting a length of wire – two lengths for a dual-coil build – and wrapping the wire tightly around a drill bit or coil jig. You’ll then trim the ends of the coil, place the ends in the mounting posts of your RDA and tighten the posts. After checking the resistance of your coil, you’ll pulse power through it and make adjustments with a pair of ceramic tweezers to ensure that there aren’t any hot spots. Finally, you’ll thread some cotton through the coil for wicking and wet the cotton with some e-liquid. After all of that is done, you’re finally ready to vape. While changing the coil in a sub-ohm tank takes about a minute, rebuilding an atomizer typically takes around 15-30 minutes.

Adding E-Liquid

Adding E-Liquid to a Sub-Ohm Tank

You’ll fill a sub-ohm tank by adding e-liquid via a filling port at the top or the atomizer or by removing the atomizer’s bottom cap and adding e-liquid directly to the reservoir. Regardless of the filling method, you can fill most sub-ohm tanks in just a few seconds.

Dripping With a Rebuildable Atomizer

A rebuildable atomizer has a wide mouthpiece leading directly to the atomizer coil. You’ll add e-liquid by dripping – adding e-liquid to the coil through the mouthpiece. Dripping is faster than filling a sub-ohm tank, but you need to do it much more often. Your RDA will dry out after just a few puffs, so you’ll need to drip constantly. The need to drip after every few puffs means that you can never go far without a bottle of e-liquid if you want to continue vaping. It also means that leaks are likely – and you shouldn’t even consider driving while vaping on an RDA. As easy as dripping is, carrying a bottle of e-liquid everywhere you go is definitely not convenient. Sub-ohm tanks win here, too.

Vapour Production

An RDA Has Superior Vapour Production

Two primary factors influence the vapour production of an atomizer coil: the surface area of the coil and the amount of air that passes over the coil during vaping. In satisfying those two factors, nothing compares to a rebuildable atomizer. A good RDA gives you plenty of room to build very large coils with lots of surface area. Would you like to build a coil using very thick low-resistance wire? Would you like to increase surface area even further by twisting or braiding multiple wires? With a good RDA, you can build anything that you can imagine. An RDA also has free and open airflow that allows you to draw in vapour as quickly as your lungs will allow.

Sub-Ohm Tanks Lag Behind RDAs – But Not by Much

If everything else is equal, an RDA will produce more vapour than a sub-ohm tank – but the difference is small. Your ability to extract the most possible vapour from an RDA also depends on your coil building skill. However, vaping product manufacturers caught on to the cloud chasing trend long ago and have gone to great lengths to create sub-ohm tanks that can compete with RDAs. While a sub-ohm tank may have slightly closed-off airflow compared to an RDA – it’s necessary to prevent leaking – today’s tanks produce more vapour than ever. If you choose the right sub-ohm tank, the cloud production will not disappoint you.

Flavour Quality

Flavour Enjoyment Is Subjective

Whether one type of e-cigarette attachment has better flavour characteristics than another is subjective, and only you can decide whether your e-cigarette is producing the flavour you want. One thing that isn’t subjective, though, is that air and e-liquid do not taste the same. As you introduce more air into the vapour path, you’ll taste less of your e-liquid’s flavour. Some people therefore feel that the airy draw of an RDA tends to dilute the flavour of the vapour. You can compensate for that by building larger coils or turning up the wattage of your e-cigarette, but doing either of those means that you’ll use your e-liquid more quickly. A sub-ohm tank can produce a clearer and more concentrated flavour at lower wattage settings.

Coil Longevity

Sub-Ohm Tank Coils May Last Longer

Dripping vs Sub-Ohm Tank Coils

How long an atomizer coil lasts depends on two primary factors. The first factor is the type of e-liquid that you use. If you use an e-liquid that’s sweetened or heavily flavoured, your e-liquid will leave residue in the form of a dark crust that collects on the coil and eventually burns, adding a harsh taste to the vapour. Atomizer crust – many vapers call it “coil gunk” – is a problem that you’ll have to tackle regardless of the type of e-cigarette attachment you use.

The second factor affecting coil longevity is the build quality of the coil. If the coil has no hot spots and stays wet consistently due to efficient wicking, it’ll last longer. A coil head for a good sub-ohm tank will have perfect build quality and generous wick openings. It’ll last longer than an imperfect RDA coil. Many RDA users can build coils that are every bit as good as factory-made coils, but coil building is a skill that takes time to develop.

Initial and Ongoing Costs

A Sub-Ohm Tank Has a Higher Cost of Ownership

When you buy an RDA, you’re only buying metal hardware. When you buy a sub-ohm tank, though, you’re often buying a lot more. Depending on how luxurious the package is, you may receive accessories such as an extra glass tube, spare coil heads and a set of replacement O-rings. Since a sub-ohm tank typically includes many add-on items, it’ll usually cost more to buy than an RDA.

An RDA also has lower long-term costs than a sub-ohm tank. A replacement coil for a sub-ohm tank typically costs about £2-3. If you need to change your coil every day or two because you love sweet e-liquids that cause coil gunk, you’ll find that the ownership cost of a sub-ohm tank can quickly add up.

Buying Bulk Supplies Makes RDA Ownership Cheap

Next, let’s compare sub-ohm tank vs. RDA ownership. With an RDA, you can buy your coil building supplies in bulk. If you buy a large spool of resistance wire and a big bag of organic cotton, you’ll have the necessary supplies for months – maybe years – of coil building. You won’t pay £2-3 each time you build a new coil – you’ll pay a few pence. The cost reduction is dramatic when using an RDA rather than a sub-ohm tank.

Although an RDA costs less to use than a sub-ohm tank, it is important to remember that your time is also valuable. Suppose you need a new atomizer coil every two days, and building a new coil takes you 30 minutes. That means you’ll spend more than seven hours building new coils each month. Is it worthwhile to save a few pounds if the time spent building new coils reduces your work productivity or keeps you from your family? Only you can decide.


Pre-Built Coils Are Perfect, and Perfection Is Safe

Defects are possible in any factory-made product, but Chinese factories have been pumping out vaping products for more than a decade now. Pre-built coils almost never have issues, and it is very safe to install a coil in your tank and vape without worrying about testing the coil for safety.

Things are a bit different if you use an RDA. It’s very easy to make a mistake that results in a short circuit when building a coil. Although a modern vaping device with power regulation can detect a short circuit, you shouldn’t trust your safety to your box mod. If you use an RDA, you should own a resistance tester. Test the resistance of every new coil before you connect your RDA to your mod.