What is an RDA?
An RDA (rebuildable dripping atomizer) is what its name implies: a rebuildable atomizer made for dripping e-liquid directly on its coils and wicks.
A typical RDA has a build deck at the bottom of the atomizer, where the user places the coils. While RTAs and RDTAs come with tank sections and wick holes, RDAs have a juice well at the bottom of the build deck to hold e-liquid, and the wick tails are placed into the well. Generally, the juice well does not have as much capacity as a tank, so the vaper must continuously add e-juice every so often, to prevent the wicks from getting dry.
Unlike RTAs or sub ohm tanks, an RDA does not usually have a chimney section. Instead, a top cap sits on the build deck, and vapor rises straight up to the drip tip. Airflow may be fed to the coils from the bottom, sides, or top — or a combination of each. Typically, the user can adjust the airflow to suit their vaping style.
Different types of RDAs
RDAs come in a variety of sizes and styles. They range in size from a diminutive 14 mm in diameter to 40 mm or more, with the most common diameters being 22 mm and 24 mm. The build deck may allow for one up to 8 coils, though most are single or dual-coil designed. Many RDAs work well for both horizontal or vertical coil builds. Airflow may be suitable for mouth to lung (MTL) or direct lung (DL) vaping styles. They are available in a variety of metal types, from stainless steel to brass or copper, and most offer several color options.
Build decks can also be found in a great variety of configurations. In the past, most RDAs had three posts, two on the sides of the deck and a shared post in the middle. Two-post Velocity style RDAs were the first big evolution of the triple-post, and many of the RDAs that came out in the previous years implemented some variation of this deck. We have seen a plethora of innovations in the build deck department since then, with drop-down and post-less RDA decks becoming very popular, and even more interesting designs appearing every day.
Most RDAs nowadays come with an optional hollow positive pin, to allow their use on special bottom-feeding mods called squonkers. A squonk mod has a plastic bottle for e-liquid that a vaper squeezes to channel juice to the bottom-fed (BF) atomizer. Although they have always been used to alleviate the constant dripping of juice, they have spiked in popularity in 2017, and a huge number of squonkers have come to market recently by several manufacturers.
Cloud RDAs vs. flavor RDAs
Most vapers categorize RDAs as being primarily for clouds or flavor. Cloud chasing RDAs have room for two or more coils of heavy mass and large diameter like Clapton, Aliens and another fancy, creative wire designs. These RDAs also have huge airflow to generate immense, thick clouds of vapor and appeal to direct lung vapers. Some users even enter their cloud-chasing RDAs in contests to determine who can create the largest, thickest vape cloud. These super-airy RDAs are sometimes referred to as “competition RDAs.”
On the other hand, a flavor RDA tends to have less airflow and is suitable for a restricted direct lung, or even a mouth to lung vaping style. Flavor RDAs will hold only a single or dual-coil design and tend to be 22 mm in diameter or less. As expected, the primary objective is excellent flavor, though many create a decent cloud of vapor as well.
Advantages of RDAs
Many vapers prize RDAs for their exemplary flavor and feel they excel in this category over other types of atomizers. Because the vapor in RDAs has a short distance to travel with no obstructions other than the drip tip, the path to the user is maximized for flavor.
Additionally, RDAs allow for trying several juices quickly. Nothing beats an RDA for trying new e-liquids — a few drops of juice will let a vaper know whether that new bottle of e-liquid will stay or get passed on to a friend (or enemy.) You can always vape your cotton until it’s dry and then drip on it, or try new juices on fresh cotton. Which brings us to the next point…
RDAs are the easiest style of the atomizer to wick. They do not have wick channels, so they do not require the sometimes-delicate balancing of wick tails between flooding and dry hits like RTAs and RDTAs. They also don’t have all the tiny extra parts that other rebuildable usually come with. A quick rinse off, and it is ready for re-wicking. Just make sure your wick fits snug enough into your coil while maintaining a bit of freedom to move, and you are good to go.
Should you buy an RDA?
If you enjoy building your own coils and are after amazing flavor and impressive vapor production, RDAs are your best bet. When built correctly, RDAs will give you the best performance vaping has to offer. Even if you are concerned about liquid capacity, squonk RDAs are the solution. The bottles of squonk mods will provide an extra 5-10 mL of e-liquid to your bottom-fed RDA, and you won’t have to constantly drip when you are out and about.
If rebuildables are not your thing, don’t worry. Modern sub ohm and MTL tanks are high performers, and many of them give comparable results to RDAs. But when you’re ready, give RDAs a chance. The results might have you wondering why you haven’t tried them sooner!