Types of Vape Tanks 101: The Complete Guide

There are 5 main types of vape tanks. These include clearomizers, tanks, rebuildable tank atomizers (RTA’s), rebuildable dripping atomizers (RDA’s), and rebuildable dripping tank atomizers (RDTA’s). 

Each of these categories refers to the type of atomizer the vape tank uses. The component turns your vape juice into vapor.

Not all vape tanks are created equal. Different styles have their own advantages and disadvantages. 

Clearomisers and tanks are typically the vape atomizers found in starter kits since they’re the cheapest, easiest to use, and simplest to maintain. 

The rebuildable tank atomizer style allows the user to hand-craft their own coils to best match their vape mods.

With roughly 1 in 20 Americans using e-cigarettes and a projected $40 billion market, it’s no surprise there are so many different vaping styles. 

Choosing the right tank can be confusing so here are the product details for each type.

The Five Types of Vape Tanks

1. Clearomizer

A clearomizer is similar to a vape pen in that it is easy to use and features a simple design.

Clearomizers are the type of tank found in starter kits. These devices are the most popular type of vape.

A clearomizer is a simple plastic or glass tank with a mouthpiece or drip tip. The bottom has a screw-in portion that fits the battery or mod that comes with the kit.

Most clearomizers will have the heating coil at the bottom near the battery, with wicking material extending up into the tank that houses the e-liquid. 

These vape atomizers come with either replaceable coils or pre-built coils where a new device needs to be purchased when the coil wears out.

Clearomsers are great for beginners or casual vapers, but their performance isn’t as good as other vaping options.


  • An affordable option for beginners
  • Pre-built coils 
  • Refillable


  • Weak airflow and vapor production
  • Low e-liquid capacity
  • Low battery life

2. Tanks

Tanks are an upgraded version of a clearomizer. They can hold more vape juice, have long-lasting replaceable coils, and provide great flavor and vapor production.

Tanks have additional features like adjustable airflow and a wider range of replacement coils to match your battery.

If you’re using a vape mod, you want to be using a tank instead of a clearomizer. Tanks can be used for high-wattage vaping, where clearomizers can not. 

This is important for battery safety, as you need to run a matching wattage for your battery, tank, and coil for the best and safest experience.

Most tanks suffer from leaks through their airflow systems. When the coil begins to degrade or if an o-ring wears out, vape juice will find its way out of the tank.

Replacing coils often and cleaning your vape device can reduce both the amount of juice that leaks and how frequently leaks occur.


  • Great e-liquid capacity
  • Ideal for high wattage and sub-ohm vaping
  • Adjustable airflow vents
  • Replaceable coil variety (mesh coil, vertical coils, etc.)


  • Prone to leaking
  • More expensive than clearomizers
  • Shatters easy when dropped

Sub-Ohm Tanks

Most modern tanks you find today are categorized as sub-ohm tanks. This means the coil resistance is below 1 ohm, and the wattage on the coils can vary between 30W to well over 120W.

These are best for MTL vaping (mouth-to-lung). This vaping style is when the user directly inhales the vapor into their lungs and then immediately exhales it. 

Sub-ohm tanks are also referred to as MTL tanks. Always check the side of your coil on your vaping device for the recommended wattage and coil resistance.

3. Rebuildable Tank Atomizers (RTA’s)

A rebuildable tank atomizer (RTA) has a design similar to a standard vape tank. The main difference is that the consumer builds and sets up the heating coil for the tank themself.

The big draw for an RTA is how much cheaper it is for building a coil rather than buying one. 

A pre-made coil will typically run between $2 and $8. For the same price, you could make 10 or more of your own coils with an RTA.

The rise of sub-ohm tank vaping devices and better-performing components has made RTA’s much less popular than they once were.

The big downside of an RTA is that the coils are built inside a small housing, making it difficult to maneuver within the space to build the coil. 

It isn’t a beginner-friendly process and can become frustrating for users just getting into building coils.


  • Cheaper to run
  • Customizable
  • Same or better performance than a normal tank


  • Minimal space for building coils
  • Requires time, effort, and knowledge to build coils
  • Not beginner-friendly

4. Rebuildable Drip Atomizers (RDA’s)

A rebuildable drip atomizer (RDA) is a component that has no tank. It instead relies on a deck, which the coil is built on top of, for vapor production. 

A typical deck will have one or two points to build a coil on but can have as many as four.

The e-liquid is dripped directly onto the wicks by the user and must be reapplied every few puffs. This can get annoying for heavy users or trying to use your vape in public.

Unlike an RTA, the RTD’s have plenty of space on the deck to build a coil.

RDA’s produce the most vapor and are typically the style chosen by competition vapers and other users wanting the biggest clouds possible.


  • Best vapor production
  • More room to build coils
  • Easier to build for beginners than RTA’s


  • Need refilled often
  • No vape tanks
  • Requires extra maintenance

5. Rebuildable Drip Tank Atomizers (RTDA’s)

A rebuildable drip tank atomizer (RTDA) is a hybrid between a rebuildable drip atomizer and a rebuildable tank atomizer. 

It has the same kind of deck for building coils as the RDA but the wicking material extends down into a large tank.

Having a tank is convenient for going out. And because they hold e-liquid in larger amounts, this means not having to refill your vape device as often.

Combining the drip-type coil style with the wick gives you huge clouds without having to constantly drip vape juice onto your coil. 

You essentially get the best of both types of rebuildable tanks with an RDTA. Although they offer the most coil options, they are one of the most expensive options.

Most decks come equipped to set up one or two coils, but you can find variants with more. 

More coils typically spread heat more evenly and create better vapor, but they require much higher wattages than one or two coil setups.


  • Holds a large amount of e-liquid
  • Not as leak-prone as normal tanks
  • Better flavor than RDA


  • Complicated to build
  • Typically the most expensive tank style

Safety Concerns

A rebuildable atomizer can be tricky, simply because mistakes can lead to a damaged mod or even a battery explosion. Coil design is important for both a quality vaping experience and safety, so be sure you know what you’re doing before making your own coil.

Most vape tanks rely on prebuilt coils to turn e-liquid to vapor. Since the coils are regulated and inspected, the chance for mistakes is much lower.

Rebuildable atomizers are made by vape users and carry more risk for mistakes.

Cleaning your device, no matter which kind you choose is important. Buildup can cause leaks and battery damage over time.

How do I choose the best vape tank?

Choosing the best vape tank depends on a consumer’s experience and goals. Remember to check the legal smoking age in your region before purchasing vape products.

For beginners, there are plenty of starter kits to choose from including simple vape pens. 

Many mod kits come with a tank, and these will give you a better vaping experience and a more durable vapor device than purchasing a clearomizer. 

Look for a mouth-to-lung or sub-ohm device for a smoother experience and replace the screw-in coils often.

If you enjoy a bit of engineering, a rebuildable atomizer might be for you. 

Both vaping cotton and copper wire are readily available and cost-effective. Tutorials for safely building a coil are readily available.

Clearomizers are the best option for people who want an affordable tank that’s easy to take on the go. 

They’re by far the smallest and easiest to transport, though they have an underwhelming performance when compared with bigger options.

Check the manufacturer’s tank recommendations for what best suits the mod before purchasing.


Vape tanks are categorized by the type of atomizer they use. Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, on a tight budget, or looking for a quality product, there are plenty of tank options available.

Starter kits have come a long way in recent years, both in performance and in quality. They’re no longer just an entry option, and many shops will point you to them as a preferred vaping device.