RTA and RDA Vape Tanks Explained: Choosing your Vape Atomizer
People new to vaping often ask me, "what's the difference between an RTA (rebuildable tank atomizer) and an RDA (Rebuildable drip atomizer) and which one is better?"
If you're not sure, then you've landed on the right page because in this article we break it down for you with a simple to understand explanation of RTA and RDA vape tanks.
We're also going to walk you through the pros and cons of each, explore the things you need to consider before choosing an RTA or RDA and provide you with our product recommendations to help you find the most suitable product for your needs.
So lets get started.
What is a vape atomizer?
The atomizer is a vital piece of a vaping machine. It's the engine room of the vape where e-liquid is turned into vapor.
Atomizers can be divided into three main categories Disposable Atomizers, Replaceable coil head Atomizers and Rebuildable Atomizers (RBA).
Rebuildable Atomizers (RBAs) are available with varying properties and characteristics which can be further divided into four categories. Each type is labeled with a distinctive acronym starting with the letter “R” (for Rebuild-able).
- RBA is the general term that describes all rebuildable atomizers.
- RTA (Reduildable Tank Atomizer) is the term used to describe rebuildable atomizers that have a tank to hold your e-juice.
- RDA (Reduildable Drip Atomizer) is the term used to describe atomizers that require you to drip your liquid onto the coil.
So what is an RDTA (Rebuildable Dripping Tank Atomizer) ?
An RDTA is basically a combination of both an RTA and RDA. It has a tank to hold juice but , the difference is the function of “Auto Dripping”. Unlike an RDA you don’t need to pull off the top cap and drip onto the wick constantly, rather they work by dripping onto your wick when you press down on the drip tip. Its often called an “Auto Dripper”
Sound confusing? It's not really, however I don't want to overwhelm you with complexities so for the purpose of this article lets just take a closer look at RBA v RTA v RDA.
What is an RBA?
RBA (Rebuildable Atomizer) – a universal term used for atomizer units containing a deck upon which coils and wicks (also known as ‘builds’) are mounted. The word RBA literally denotes the property of physically wrapping the coil, affixing it to the system, and adding a wick to allow for smooth vapor production. The builds can be categorized according to RBA types and can be modified by the user according to their vaping preferences.
Benefits of using an RBA
While an RBA comes with out of the box"replaceable coils, the main benefit of using these types of atomizers is the option of customizing the coil assembly to achieve the desired resistance. Users can calibrate their vape to their exact preference in a personal quest to maximize their vape performance. The secondary advantage is that building your own coils is significantly cheaper than buying pre-made replacement coils.
RBAs can be divided into these sub-categories:
- Rebuildable Tank Atomizer (RTA)
- Rebuildable Dripping Atomizer (RDA)
- Rebuildable Dripping Tank Atomizer (RDTA)
What is an RTA?
RTA (Rebuildable Tank Atomizer) – a type of rebuildable atomizer (RBA) with a posted deck which is enclosed by a sealed metal chamber cap. It is encompassed with a tank pool for containing the e-juice. The chamber cap is linked to a chimney which routes the vapor to the drip tip. Gravity, along with pressure, helps push the e-juice into the tank and down the chamber cap; and finally, up through the channels present around the girth of the deck. Ends of the soaking wick are placed in these channels, and by the process of diffusion, the e-liquid is passed from the wick on to the coil for vaporization.
Pros and Cons of an RTA Tank
PROS of an RTA tank:
- Sub-ohm level liquid quantity, RDA-grade flavor,and cloud production
- Cheaper to use, compared to sub-ohm tanks
- Easier to use than a RDA
- Flexibility to experiment with coil builds
CONS of an RTA tank:
- Requires the ability to replace and or build coils
- If you want to change flavor you need to empty your tank and clean it
RTA Tank bottom-line?
Other than these small hitches, RTAs are terrific setups for fine vapor production and great flavor production. According to professional vapers, good quality RTAs deliver the full potential of e-juice flavors, similar to an RDA setup; which is known for its superiority in dishing out the perfect blend of vape smoke. RTAs are more convenient to use than RDAs as they have the juice tank which saves you the hassle of dripping and carrying a bottle of e-juice with you everywhere you go. RTAs also saves you a good buck due to their cheap components and low maintenance requirement.
What is an RDA?
RDA (Rebuild-able Dripping Atomizer) - a type of rebuildable atomizer (RBA) with a deck and posts(to fasten the coil and to provide a closed path for electric energy from the batteries that heat up the coil). The tank part to hold the e-liquid is omitted in this system, and instead, the liquid is dripped by the user directly onto the coil or the wick by removing the cap and replacing it before vaping. In some cases, there is a small reservoir present under the coil assembly which holds a minute quantity of e-juice (<1mL).
The RDA is known to be the best vaping hardware unit, in terms of pure and intense vapor output. Ideal for cloud chasers wanting to blow massive vapor clouds with intense flavor. RDA's have become the go to equipment for advanced vapers. However, while there are certainly some advantages of using an RDA there are also some cons which are simply to much for the average vape user.
Pros and Cons of an RDA Tank
Pros of an RDA tank
- Provides a truly wonderful vaping experience, with thick clouds and intense flavor – a true standard!
- Easy on the pocket – cotton and coils are cheap
- A wide range of choices
- Customizable coil options – bring out the inner creative you!
- Stable and solid performance
- Easy to maintain and manage
Cons of an RDA tank:
- No e-juice storage capacity, other than small wells
- Wicking can be complex and difficult for beginners
- Frequent dripping of e-juice is required, making it a hassle
- An initial investment of buying a decent RDA tank is high
- Experience in coil building required to maximize the potential of your RDA
RDA Tank bottom-line?
The RDA tank is undoubtedly one of the top favorite vaping devices among picky vapers and those that like to tinker with coil building. In terms of flavor and performance RDAs deliver bigger clouds and more flavor. It is a cheaper option than a sub-ohm tank, but the absence of a reservoir means constant refilling (by dripping) and carrying e-liquid bottles everywhere you go – this indeed is a major inconvenience!
Also, the wicking task is cumbersome and requires a lot of practice until you get the hang of it. The small and complex design makes it hard to reach the tight spots and place the wick in a perfect position.
The cost of buying a decent quality RDA is comparatively high. All these key characteristics make the RDA a disadvantageous buy for beginners. Best left to serious advanced vapers, cloud chasers and coil builders.
Which is better an RTA or RDA?
Now you have a basic understanding of RTA and RDA, the question remains which one is the better choice?
Of course, this is not a case of ‘one size fits all’ and it’s for you to decide firstly If an RBA is right for you then secondly whether you should choose an RTA or RDA.
If you're looking for an atomizer that is easy to use and simple to build on look no further that the Wotofo Gear RTA. The Gear RTA has been designed for those of you looking for the RDA cloud and flavor experience without the hassle of dripping.
Already receiving massive praise from both pro reviewers and end users this is the perfect atomizer to begin your experimentation with rebuildable tank atomizers. It comes fully equipped with pre-built coils and features a very user friendly build deck with big screws to make changing coils a breeze.
So what about an RDA?
While the Gear RTA delivers amazing flavor and comes close to matching the vapor cloud of an RDA, without a doubt RDA produces the best vapors and clouds. However as mentioned earlier there are several drawbacks to the RDA including the need to drip and carry bottles of e-juice everywhere you go.
If dripping is not an issue for you and you're comfortable building your own coils then an RDA should be on your shopping list. However if you want to produce the massive vape clouds that only an RDA can deliver, but you're not into building custom coils there is a solution.
The best RDA solution is an RDA designed for use with mesh strip coils. Unlike custom made vape coils mesh strip coils are easy to install on your RDA deck and require no building skills.
At Wotofo we are the industry leader in mesh coil technologies with our revolutionary product nexMESH.
nexMESH is a triple density mesh coil that delivers lightning fast ramp up speed and with its greater surface area produces massive vapor with super intense flavor.
The other benefit is that because of this increase surface area there is significantly reduced spit back.
So if you don't like that oily feeling that you get in your mouth from standard RDAs then an RDA that is compatible with our nexMESH mesh coil strips is a great alternative.
Other considerations when comparing RBA
After you have chosen between a Rebuildable Tank Atomizer and a Rebuildable Dripping Atomizer, there are a few things to consider before choosing which model to buy. Below are some things that you should check for when comparing atomizers.
- An accessible deck – some RDAs are extremely compact and complex and are difficult to handle for new-comers. Be sure to choose something ‘user-friendly’, before you get put off by the first purchase.
- Be sure to get something with manageable size screws and post holes. Puny ones can be hard to handle for users with large fingers or bad eyesight.
- Screw types can be a consideration. Philips screws are straightforward to work with, but they can damage and cut the wire. Grub screws are better as they don’t harm the wire, but needs a special Allen Key to operate, which may or may not be included in the box.
- For beginners, it is advisable to choose a unit with a bigger deck. Tiny and compact sizes can be a turn-off for new-comers.
- Be sure to gather your research on coil and wick materials so you end up buying the right items for your device.
- You might want to investigate the resistance of your coil using an ohm-reader to make sure it is safe for your atomizer.
- It is important to understand the Ohm’s Law before building and using your mod.
- Be sure to purchase a high-quality battery to get the most out of your vaping equipment.
- Watch Youtube videos and research on other platforms to get an overall idea about your first build.
As a general consensus, the RTA setup is more convenient to use, and delivers a superb flavor output. RDA delivers massive vapor and intense flavor but looses points due to the absence of a storage tank and complex wicking.
If you're a casual vaper who values convenience of use then an RTA is arguably a better choice. What do you think? Join the discussion in our comments section below.