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Hey guys, welcome to Pete’s Pick, the series where I you give you the criteria and a comparison of two different devices so that you can decide on which one will be the better choice for you. But I will also let you know which one of the two is my favourite and that is going to be Pete’s Pick. Today, we’ll be comparing two similar vaporizers that have several significant differences, the Volcano Classic and the newer Volcano Hybrid. If you’re looking for more information on either of these devices, we have a full individual review on each of them so check that out if you want to find out even more in-depth info.
The design of the Volcano is iconic, in a lot of people’s minds this is what a desktop vaporizer looks like. It’s shape sort of resembles a volcano, with a round base and a coned upper section with a flat top. It features a chamber where you load your flower, and this gets placed that on top of the unit to heat, with then fills a balloon with vapour for you to inhale. However, with the Volcano Hybrid, the chamber can also be used with a whip in addition to the balloon system.
Although the two the chambers are quite different in terms of looks, they function in a similar manner and seem to have the same capacity. The chamber of the Volcano Hybrid screws onto the unit to secure itself in place, which is nice, while the chamber on the Classic clicks in place to secure it, though it’s not “secure” anything like with the screw on chamber. Even though the chambers are different, they can both use the same easy valve balloons which just get replaced when they are too dirty.
While they both have the same dimensions in terms of size, there are some obvious differences between them. The first thing you notice when picking them up is the Volcano Hybrid is significantly heavier; the Hybrid must have more guts inside as it seems to weigh about 30% more based on my estimation. On the back of the Volcano, the Classic features a three-prong grounded cord that is built directly into the unit, while on the back of the Hybrid it features a two-prong cord that it is removable from the unit. This makes it easier for travel, though I'm not sure why one is grounded, and one is not.
The Volcano Classic is an analogue device, whereas the Volcano Hybrid is a digital device. This means that the controls on the Classic are binary and manual, while the controls on the Hybrid are purely digital. On the front of the Volcano Classic, you have a dial that is numbered 1 to 9, and this is how you control the temperature. On the bottom black ring of the Classic, you will see a light labelled Control, and this comes on whenever the heater is turned on. That means the light will come on when the device is heating to maintain your set temperature either while idle or in use, and it will stay on while you’re heating it up to a new temperature, and when the light goes off that means it is at temperature and ready to go. On the bottom black ring of the Classic, it features two buttons with a small LED light built into them labelled heat and air. One just needs to flick the heat button to turn the device on or off and press the air switch to turn the heat pump on and off.
The Volcano Hybrid on the other hand has a digital interface with no switches or dials, but rather touchscreen buttons. It has a plus and minus button which can be used to change the temperature with precision rather than the dial, and they can also switch the digital display between Celsius and Fahrenheit. Below that, it also has a heat and air button, like the Classic. As it doesn't have a Control light to let you know when it is at temperature, it optionally can turn your heat pump on for a short burst to alert you when it arrives at temperature when you first turn it on, though I have that turned off as it heats up so quickly regardless.
Heat up time
One thing that they massively improved with the Volcano Hybrid is the heat up time. While these are desktop vaporizers and speedy heat up is typically not a huge priority, they really worked to make the new Hybrid heat up significantly faster. From completely cold to maximum temperature, my Volcano Hybrid heated up in about 90 seconds. When I did the same heat up test on the Volcano Classic, that is completely cold to maximum temperature, it took just over five minutes.
With the Volcano Hybrid, you are getting a three times improvement in terms of the heat up time which is a massive increase. Most people aren't super concerned with the heat up time on desktop vaporizers as they are typically the sort of thing that is turned on in the morning and turned off at night, but being realistic, I want it to heat up as fast as possible, and when you put the two side-by-side the Classic definitely feels on the long side.
One thing to note in this comparison, while you need to walk up to your Volcano Classic to physically turn it on, the Volcano Hybrid features Bluetooth and or a web app for iOS which allows you to turn it on remotely. That allows you to check the status of the device from a different room or turn it on when you get home and have it ready to go when you reach your vape station which is a handy feature that helps to negate any heat up time calculation. And one thing to keep in mind, is these heat up times were going to maximum temperature, which is seldom where you will use the device. If you are heating the Volcano Hybrid to something like 380°F where I normally use it, it's going to get to that temperature in under 60 seconds, which is super-fast for a desktop.
The Volcano Classic features pure convection vapour, delivered in abundance. The complete convection nature of the Classic means you are getting the purest flavour possible which effects to match. If I have a choice, I always go pure convection, as I find the effects are the strongest I get from any device. There are always drawbacks to any system though, and convection devices typically take longer to warm up, which you see in this case. On the top of the unit, it has six large holes for the warm convection air to pass through into the chamber, warming up your flower in the purest way possible.
With the new Volcano Hybrid, it features primarily convection vapour with some conduction mixed in. At first you might wonder why they decided to change it from a pure convection device to a hybrid device? I certainly did myself but adding in the conduction has some benefits. For example, adding conduction is probably one of the reasons that the Hybrid heats up significantly faster, which is a substantial improvement between devices. When you look on the top of the units, it has nine smaller air holes rather than six large ones, and a metal ring which sits flush with a metal ring on the bottom of the chamber, providing the conduction heating. Conduction heat produces really thick vapour, so adding in the conduction is going to give the Hybrid an extra initial punch of vapour while the convection is having a chance to warm up the flower and get producing. Also with the conduction action, you can let the chamber sit on the unit for a minute or two to preheat and get rid of that initial moisture, leading to a thicker initial bag.
Between the two, the Volcano Classic is the choice for the maximum purity, whereas the Hybrid is the best choice for someone looking for the thickest bags they can get, but the end results aren’t massively different between the two. The pump sounds quite a bit different between both devices, however. On the Hybrid it is noticeably quieter, though it does have a louder initial punch when it starts and a little rattle when it stops. The Classic is overall louder, but it has a more subtle and less jarring on/off. I prefer the sound of the pump more on the Hybrid, but I like how smooth the Classic turns on and off.
Ease of use
The Volcano Classic is a super easy device to use, even for a first-time owner. There aren't too many parts, and all the components are easy to understand, as is the process. Having a rotary dial on the front makes turning it up or down very intuitive, although you will need to reference a chart or manual to understand what temperature the numbers correspond with, if vaping at a specific temperature is important to you.
The physical switches with lights make it easy to understand and use. I like the LED lights that are embedded into each of the switches, as it makes it easy to see if it is turned on at a glance, and for the air it more just makes sense in terms of design as you’re usually going to be able to hear the fan. The fact that it has a physical switch is means that this is a perfect desktop vaporizer for a smart plug. My Volcano Classic turns on at 6 AM, and it turns off at 10 PM. I don't worry about the heat up time as I am not trying to have a bowl before 6:05 AM, and then it is ready anytime I want to hit it throughout the day or evening.
As long as you can figure out how to load flower in the chamber, there is no technique whatsoever required with the Volcano Classic. Put the chamber on top, turn the fan on, and it instantly starts filling the balloon with superb vapour. Some people will prefer the touchscreen system of the Hybrid, though overall I prefer physical buttons myself. Though I prefer how the Hybrid has single degree temperature control and up and down button as I really appreciate the precision, and I miss having that on the Classic.
The touchscreen controls aren't backlit or illuminated in any way, meaning that if you are in a dark room, you will need to shine a light onto the Hybrid to turn it on or start the fan, or of course you can always control it via the Bluetooth app. As the Hybrid doesn't have physical buttons, you can't have this automatically turn on with a smart plug, you will need to manually turn it on to use it. It does heat up insanely fast though, when I'm using it at regular temperatures sometimes it's only around 45 seconds, but it's not as convenient as having it automatically turn on in the morning. The Hybrid also has an automatic power off built into it, and it is quite a short time. I find the auto shut off happens too quickly, and I usually must turn it back on when I want to have another session which isn’t ideal. You can turn this off or adjust the shut off time period using the app, which is nice, but I wish by default it was not turned on, and you could rather enable an auto shut off if you preferred that.
I prefer how the chamber screws on to the Hybrid, rather than just sitting on top of the unit like the Classic. It is a way more secure connection, and it also enables you to use the whip, which the Classic’s design doesn’t accommodate. Having the whip in addition to the balloon is going to be enough for some people to choose the Hybrid, as the whip is a very convenient way to use the system. It makes using it with a group very easy, and it's one of the few ways you can easily run a Volcano through a water piece.
Extraction (taste, smoothness, size, effects)
On both versions of the Volcano, the vapour is absolutely fantastic. The Volcano vapour is some of the best out there in my opinion, you are not getting the thickness and density that you get with a ball Vape unless you turn the Volcano up to the absolute max, but that is not really the goal of the Volcano.
The Volcano gives you extremely pure, flavourful, and smooth vapour. The balloon system allows for the ambient air to dramatically cool the vapour down, making it way less harsh, even if you consume the bag over a few minutes. The Volcano Classic has pure convection vapour, so when you see that dense, opaque bag, that is full of 100% convection vapour. That means the flavour will be incredibly pure and true, and the effects are as strong as can be.
I don't find the bags have the same “one and done” the potency from a ball vape, however the difference is that with a Volcano you can inhale as deeply as you want into your lungs with the balloon system, which can give you incredibly strong effects. From testing this new Volcano Classic Peace Edition for a while, I was blown away by how powerful it was. I was getting stronger effects from this than I expected, because of those super deep inhales and finishing a complete bag in three breaths.
The Volcano Hybrid on the other hand has the conduction addition, meaning that the bags are even thicker on this than with the Classic. I find when you get them too thick then they start to be a bit harsh, but just keep in mind if you want white out, thick as bags possible, the Volcano can go head-to-head with any of them. I don't find the flavour quite as good on the Hybrid though not by much, but I do find the effects to be on a very similar level to the Classic. The conduction doesn't seem to take away from the strength, it just seems to add to that initial thickness and density as well as improving the heat of time. I prefer the balloon to the whip in terms of smoothness, however when I use the whip, I am running it through a water piece, which gives you insanely smooth vapour. If you haven't tried running a Volcano through water, I would recommend trying that out as soon as you can.
Whichever model you decide to go with, the vapour is top notch on the Volcano. It excels when you use it at the lower to medium temperatures, but it performs admirably if you want to get the thickest bags possible. About 380°F is an ideal mix for me of smoothness, strength, flavourful vapour, and overall density.
Efficiency is one area where the Volcano doesn't really excel. For both devices it has a large chamber, and you must fill the chamber at least halfway to ensure the screen is totally covered to get the proper device operation. Every time you load the chamber you will be putting in a considerable amount when compared to most other devices, but just keep in mind this will give you many bags full of extraction. When I use this in my preferred temperature range, my ABV stays in the dark green to very light brown range. If you want to turn it up to the maximum temperature it will definitely brown it up more, but this is the not the sort of device to give you that dark, crunchy ABV.
I usually change the chamber out when the flavour and dense vapour is gone, though it is still producing vapour when I get rid of it, so I am not trying to maximize my efficiency on this one, I’m more focussing on maximizing my vapour quality. If you do want to get the most efficient operation you can from either Volcano, I would first advise temperature stepping, that is increasing the temperature for each session, ending at the highest temperature you are comfortable vaping at. When you do this properly you can get a dense bag every time, without it getting too harsh.
The next thing you can do is get a Chamber Reducer, which does exactly what it sounds like. This reduces the chamber volume by at least 50%, meaning you can load in 50% less material and still get proper operation. I like this as I prefer to do fresh bowls more often, and I also don't always want to load in a full chamber worth of material, unless I know I will be finishing it within that same day. The Chamber Reducer is also sized so that you can use dosing capsules, which really increases the convenience of the device. The chamber stays cleaner, you can pre-load as many capsules as you want, and it only takes a second to unload the chamber and loading a fresh capsule.
My favourite thing about the Volcano Classic is the timeless nature of it. This is a winning design that has been around for 22 years and counting, and if it isn't broke, don't fix it. They have made some tweaks and enhancements along the way, but it is a proven device with simple manual controls that is easy for anyone to use. It is essentially like purchasing an appliance, this thing is built for the long term, and I don't see them changing it anytime soon.
I have two favourite things about the Volcano Hybrid, and the first is the hybrid nature. Adding that conduction in really adds a thickness and punch to those bags on lower temperatures, and the addition of the whip as well as the balloon changes how the entire device can be used. A lot of people ask how to use a Volcano through water, and the Hybrid is by far the easiest way to do that, you just need to add one of our Universal Whip Adapters or a similar piece. My second favourite thing is how fast it heats up. In terms of desktops this thing is basically on demand, as you can leave it turned off, but it can still be ready to go in reliably under a minute. This is crazy fast compared to the Classic and a huge improvement overall.
I found this a hard decision as you can easily make the argument for either device. I like the whip and balloon combo with the Hybrid alongside that fast heat up, but I like the physical buttons and dial of the Classic, along with how much easier it is to use in dark rooms. As they both give quite a similar vapour experience in a blind sort of test, I had to think about which device integrates best into my particular set up, so for this edition of Pete's Pick my choice goes to the Volcano Classic. I want my desktop ready to go at any time, and when this is set up to my smart plug it is on and ready to go any time of the day without me having to do anything. I use the balloon a lot more than a whip, so the Hybrid aspect isn’t as critical to me, and I find the Volcano smooth enough to not really want to run it through a water piece all that much. Finally, the Volcano Classic is $479USD while the Hybrid is $699 USD, so while neither of them are inexpensive devices, the sizeable savings you get on the Classic were the final differentiator for me. You cannot go wrong with either model though, and I don't think anyone set up is truly complete until they have some kind of Volcano, it is just that important and iconic to the space that it's a must have for every collector.
I hope you enjoyed this episode of Pete’s pick, let me know what is your pick between the two devices down in the comments, and check out vapenorth.ca and sneakypetestore.com where you can find all of the different products and accessories you see me using in my videos.
Thanks so much for watching guys I really appreciate it.