Vaporizers generally employ one of two methods to heat plant material. They can either use convection or conduction. Typically, older vaporizers make use of conduction, whereas newer more high-tech ones use convection. That’s not to say that no new vaporizers use conduction because many still do, although it’s somewhat fallen to the wayside in the wake of the more efficient convection method.
Convection vaporizers use hot air to heat the plant material in order to vaporize the aromatic material. This method of vaporization is the most popular and efficient; nearly all high-end vaporizers make use of the convection method. When compared to other types of vaporization, convection affords the user more control of the rate of heating and allows more uniform heating of plant material, which result in a more efficient process overall.
The one main downside of convection vaporizers is that the hot air generally has to be cooled down in some way. Most vaporizers will use a long whip or allow the vapor to pass through ice or water in order to humidify it and bring the temperature down.
Conduction vaporizers directly heat the plant material on a hot plate through direct contact. This type of heating method was the first and is still popular, although not nearly as much as convection. In conduction vaporizers, the plant material may not be heated as uniformly, nor does it offer the same control of heating.