Rebuildable Atomizers: RTAs, RBAs and RDAs

Posted on October 08, 2015 by Paul McNamara

If you are relatively new to the vaping world you may have heard the term ‘Rebuildable Atomisers’ or ‘rebuildables’ being thrown around but be confused about the difference between RDA, RBA and RTA. We have noticed that this question often pops up in e cigarette/vaping forums so we have put together this beginner’s guide to rebuildables.

What are Rebuildable Atomizers?

Rebuildable atomizers can be easily taken apart, allowing you to customise your e cigarettes and take your vaping experience to the next level. With these DIY atomizers, you can build your own coils and choose your own wicking material. Having said that, rebuildable atomizers are meant for advanced vapers. As the name suggests, the user must rebuild their wicks on a regular basis. They don’t work right out of the box as they need to be assembled.

Stro Mini V2 RDA
Stro Mini V2 RDA

The atomizer consists of two pieces of metal (generally stainless steel) – a deck or base and a top cap. At the bottom of the deck you will find a native 510 connection. On top of the deck there are usually two posts, a negative one and a positive one (there can be 3, 4, 5 or 6 posts depending on the type of rebuildable atomizer). Through the two posts you attach wire by threading it through the holes on the posts. Unlike conventional atomizers which have the air hole on the 510 connection, rebuildable atomizers have an air hole on the side of the top cap.

Top Cap

The top cap is attached to the base by o-rings so you can adjust the amount of vapour generated by your coil.

Rebuilding an atomizer is actually easier than it sounds. There are only a few basic steps involved. You take the atomizer apart, clean it, attach a new coil where the previous one was, reassemble the atomizer and then you are ready to vape (you should always test your coils). The easiest way to learn to how make coils is either directly from an experienced vaper or watching YouTube. There are literally thousands of videos on YouTube that you can learn from.

Types of Rebuildable Atomizers

The 4 main types of rebuildable atomizers are:

  • Rebuildable Dripping Atomizer (RDA), also often referred to as Drippers. This is the most commonly used type of rebuildable atomizer. With this type of rebuildable you directly drip e-liquid on the wick or coil (there is no tank). RDAs do not hold much liquid at a time. Sometimes there is a well or pit, inside the base of the dripper to hold a bit of extra juice.
  • Rebuildable Tank Atomizer (RTA), also often referred to as just Rebuildable Atomizers (RBA): unlike RDAs they possess a tank section to hold extra liquid. RTAs consist of four main components – the base and deck, the chimney, the tank and the top cap and drip tip. When an RTA is built and filled it works just like a clearomizer so it is possible to vape repeatedly for a large part of the day before you will need to refill.
  • Rebuilable Dripping Tank Atomizers (RDTA), also referred to as Hybrid tanks: this is essentially a combination of an RDA and RTA. It is also sometimes referred to as an “auto dripper” because it is designed to drip liquid onto your coils.
  • Genesis-style: this type of rebuildable atomizer is modelled on an original design which was called the Genesis. Genesis-style tanks consists of a tank, wick and conductive coil. There is a build deck on top of the tank. This type of rebuildable atomizer is very easy to maintain as the wicks normally last for at least a month. Wicks can be made of various materials including oxidized steel mesh, surgical cable, and porcelain. One of the advantages of this type of rebuildable is that depending on the kind of wick you use you may enjoy more intense flavour compared to a cartomizer tank or clearomizer. This is thanks to the e-juice being drawn up from the tank to the exposed section of wick, directly onto the coils.

Why use Rebuildable Atomizers

If you rebuild your atomizer correctly so that it achieves its peak performance, the amount of vapour you are able to produce will far surpass that which you can create with a conventional atomizer or cartomizer.

Another major advantage associated with rebuildables is that you can experience amazingly flavourful vapes.

You can also achieve a better throat hit. Throat hit is largely determined by the nicotine level, flavour and quality of nicotine liquid you use. The usual nicotine strengths used are 12 mg or 1.2% and 18 mg or 1.8% on the majority of electronic cigarette devices. The throat hit is fairly mild when vaping 18 mg with a clearomizer, but the throat hit is greatly increased when using a rebuildable atomizer. It could actually be too harsh so you will most likely need to reduce your nicotine strength to 6mg or 12mg.

Another advantage of DIY atomizers is their versatility. You have a variety of coils you can install, ranging from single and dual to quad coils. You can also customize your own wire to control ohm resistance and the amount of wraps used for the coils. Rebuilding your own coils rather than buying replacement coils also results in a significant cost saving in the long run.

RDAs versus RTAs

As Rebuildable Dripping Atomizers do not have a tank in which to hold extra e-juice (like an RTA does), they only hold as much liquid as the wicks can soak up. Some RDAs have a small well so they can hold a bit of extra juice. You have to refill the liquid more often than you would with an RTA. When the liquid starts to run low you just drip more onto the wick and coils, and then you are ready to start vaping. It won’t be necessary to re-drip after every single draw. Most drippers can soak up a fairly decent amount of liquid. A fully saturated wick should provide around 10 - 20 puffs, depending on your wattage, the resistance of the atomizer and the wicking material you are using. It will also depend on whether the RDA you have chosen has a juice well or not.

Kanger Sub Tank Mini RTA

RDAs are extremely popular because many vapers believe that they let you achieve the best flavour and the largest amount of vapour. They are also the easiest to build as it is a simpler process to make and change out coils and wicks. It is also easier to customise your Ohm output. So, if you’re obsessed with flavour or are a bit of cloud chaser and don’t mind spending a bit of extra time on maintenance, then this is the rebuildable atomiser for you.

Just keep in mind that RDA’s are for advanced vapers only. It is very important to understand how to build them safely and test them before you start vaping.

RTAs, on the other hand, have a tank that holds liquid, meaning you don’t need to refill your liquid as often as you do with an RDA. You still have the ability to customise your own coils and wicks, but it isn’t as easy to replace or modify them as it is with an RDA. An RTA can function similarly to a clearomizer when built and filled properly, which also allows optimum vaping performance with the least refilling effort. RDAs are ideal when you have time to sit, relax and re-drip when necessary. The extra time will most likely result in more vapour production. RTAs are great for when you are on-the-go as the tank mechanism will allow the e-juice to gradually absorb into its coil and wick.


Whichever type of Rebuildable Atomiser you choose and no matter how experienced a vaper you are, you should always make safety your top priority.

There are some basic safety guidelines you should always follow when rebuilding and utilizing your rebuildable atomizer including:

  • Make sure the base isn’t connected to your mod while you are building
  • Watch out for sharp ends with resistance wire
  • Always test your coil: it is crucial that you do not try to use a newly wrapped coil before testing it first. You should get a multimeter or ohm meter before you start wrapping coils. Check your coil’s resistance regularly. A shorted atomizer could result in an increase in current. This could push your battery past its limit and end cause injury, damage to your property or worse.
  • Make sure you have a good understanding of battery safety

If you are new to rebuildable atomizers it’s a good idea to chat to an expert about safety precautions and the best type of atomizer for you. Contact Vaphilia today to find out more about rebuildables on 03 9528 2548.

Posted in General Vaping Info