After testing another brand of ceramic coil based clearomizers, I was anticipating testing and reviewing the Heatvape Ceram.
It is polished stainless steel and glass construction. The design holds much promise: 6 ml juice capacity, adjustable airflow, refillable from the top, ceramic coils, and more.
I have to say that Heatvape is on the edge of technology, the leading edge. Now if they could only engineer products that work, they'd have something.
The Heatvape Ceram is a major disappointment once you get over the ooohhh and aaahhhh factor of opening the box and holding this attractive clearomizer in hand. I need to add here that Heatvape has released an updated version addressing some of the concerns I have about this tank.
Have a kleenex ready ... you'll need it to wipe away the tears of wasting money purchasing this thing, and then you can use it to clean up all the juice this thing leaks out – through the top.
The first issue is that this thing has a TIGHT draw, horribly tight. Your toe nails curl as you draw on this thing. The air flow control is innovative, really quite a smart feature. But there is only one hole in the bottom that is about 1 mm and it opens to a channel as you can see at the bottom that is much larger. It really doesn't matter how large that adjustable channel is, it is limited by the 1 mm hole that it has to pass air through. Without some expensive machining, there is no way to drill this out – you'll manage to drill out the air hole, but the channel has to be machined out to accommodate the larger hole. And, there's only one hole. So, even the adjustment has limitations. It's as close to an on/off switch as you can get.
There are a lot of parts to this unit. All are integral. If you unthread the top, the outer unit comes apart. If you unthread the button, the outer unit comes apart. There is only one way to fill this, and it is through a tiny hole at the top. It is well sealed and the only way it leaks is when you fill it. Because the filler hole is so small, only a needle filler will work. As it turned out, it is even more limited than that: only a hypo needle or a U-Can can fill this without forming a seal around the hole and getting more liquid on the outside than inside the tank.
The tank filling process is smart. Not innovative, though, I've seen it on other tanks. The other tanks have two holes, one for venting and one for filling. The other unit and the Heatvape Ceram both work the same way, you loosen the top chimney part that the drip tip sits in, rotate the top to align the outer and inner holes and then use a needle bottle or syringe to fill. I've taken the upper portion apart and it has silicone seals so that when the outer and inner holes are not aligned, the seals block liquid from leaking out and maintain the vacuum inside the tank.
There is a reward for being patient while refilling though. The flavor generated by this tank is incredible. Very tasty juice and lots of cloud production for a pre-built coil system. While you glance at the picture on the left, the 510 connector pin is copper and is fully adjustable with a flat head screwdriver.
With the tight draw, I did manage to get a few dry hits even though the tank was nearly full. Without proper air flow, there is a limit to how the tank can pull in juice into the coil. The Heatvape Ceram is so tight that it can't keep up with getting the juice to the coil and you end up with dry hits – this is just from "normal" vaping.
Now, here's the larger problem: the leaking I mentioned at the top is not from filling. When you fill a tank, it's somewhat expected to get a bit of juice that needs to be wiped up. The leaking I am talking about is frustrating. Very frustrating. I needed a Kleenex with me all the time. The leaking is from juice going up the air flow chimney and pooling at the top between the base of the drip tip outer shroud and the drip tip base. The gurgling sound is annoying because the juice gathers near enough to the top of the air flow chimney to cause the gurgling sound. You are constantly taking the drip tip off and wiping the top of the air flow chimney and bottom of the drip tip. Occasionally you have to blow air through the bottom air flow to get all the liquid out of the air flow chimney. If you are lucky, you'll get about 10 good draws before needing the Kleenex.
There was no leaking from the usual places though. The bottom of the Heatvape Ceram stayed dry, not even a hint of juice coming out of the air flow channel at the bottom. That's a bonus.
I also need to point out that vaping this at greater than 13 watts was an exercise in futility: all it does is burn your liquid. Not a pleasant taste at all.
Coils, by the way, are labeled as 1.8 ohm (2.0 ohm is also available). The labeling is incorrect on the 1.8 ohm coils, on every meter I have and the mods that display resistance, these turned out at 1.9 ohms.
So, let's look at the pros: incredible flavor, huge 6 ml capacity, ceramic coils, attractive design. And the cons: difficult and finicky juice filling, huge gurgling problem, frustrating leaking through the top of the air flow chimney, and maximum 13 to 15 watt limitation.
So, what's the verdict? Is it worth it? Sadly, no, it is not. Once I finish this tank of juice (my favorite, by the way), this tank is going in my "wall of shame" display – as in shame on Heatvape for releasing this "not ready for prime time" product – and then recognizing that there are significant problems and releasing a "fixed" version. Will I get the fixed version? Not a chance. But, I will tell you about the fixes. On October 20 (2014), Heatvape announced a new version of the Heatvape Ceram with this comment: "Support wattage up to 20W; removed tight airflow issues; smooth adjustable airflow control". While the improved air flow might also fix the top leaking/gurgling problem, I am not putting another dime into this company. They have not addressed my issues or offered a replacement (or even a discount to previous buyers). So, in effect, Heatvape treats their buyers as beta users. They clearly have done no internal testing to find these issues on their own. The Heatvape Ceram is not an inexpensive trinket, it's a premium priced tank that is a major disappointment. I'm not chancing that their fixes actually work or fix the overall problems. They also have not addressed the liquid filling problem. It is also worth mentioning that the drip tip on my test unit needed to be replaced after only 12 ml of juice (2 tank of eLiquid) ... that's because the O rings at the bottom of the drip tip wore out from all the in/out to wipe the leaking juice. Save your money and tears ... avoid this thing.