Simple meets Advanced – Stainless Steel Vivi Nova Head Review

Yes, this is a review of a replacement head for a Vivi Nova. Yes, I know I’ve been on a bit of a Nova kick lately. But, this one is a little different, I promise.  What I’ll be reviewing this time around is not just any Vivi Nova replacement head.  This is a hand-rebuilt head that features a hybrid ceramic on stainless steel wick and a heavy-duty heating coil. Now does this sound interesting?

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Steel nova head review Product name  Hybrid Ceramic/Mesh Vivi Nova Head (BETA)
Available from  SnG Vapor
Price  $8.00
Wick  XC-116 ceramic over 500 Stainless Steel Mesh
Coil 30 Gauge Kanthal
Resistance 1.7Ω

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Vivi Nova Head Design

Tucked away on SnG’s site in the clearomizer replacement coil section lurks a monster. This monster is in the form of a lowly standard Vivi Nova head that was stripped down and then rebuilt with stuff commonly used by folks who are much better than I at building coils.

Nova head coil macroWhile the head is labeled as “beta” because this thing dips deeply into the hobbyist pool, the idea is that this is an advanced rebuilt coil packaged in a simple nova head.

If you’re not familiar with the finer points of rebuildables, join the club!  The fanciest I get is replacing the wick with cotton but avoiding building a new coil. I’m just not that coordinated.

A stock wick and coil assembly in a nova head consists of a length of nichrome wire wrapped around a length of silica wick (or multiple wicks).

SnG’s solution is fundamentally not that much different, it simply replaces the materials.  Instead of thin nichrome wire, this version uses a thicker coil made from kanthal wire. This makes for a more durable coil which should be able to handle more voltage flowing through it.

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Silica, the material used for the wick does a good job of standing up to the heat generated by the coil. However, it’s absorbent properties are less than optimal.  There are plenty of things that do a better job at absorbing liquid including cotton, bamboo, stainless steel mesh and ceramic fiber.

This head uses the latter two, which even in the world of rebuildable atomizers is a little unusual. Most people build wicks with one material.  The idea behind using two is to offset the negatives of the stainless steel mesh.

Steel Nova Wick Macro

Steel has to be oxidized to use in wicks. Otherwise, it would short-circuit the heating coil and that’s not such a good thing.  Sometimes there are spots that aren’t as well oxidized or other issues. By wrapping the steel mesh where it meets the coil in non-conducting ceramic, the two materials are isolated.

What you end up with is something that looks like a regular silica wick with metal wires sticking out the middle of them. It’s a little odd but it seems to be a solid theory.

All this extra stuff does make the stock nova silicone gasket not fit quite as nicely as it does on the stock head. It works, but you have to make sure the silicone is seated properly before screwing the top cap back on to the Vivi tank.

Using the Hybrid Head

There are a couple of other interesting properties behind the use of steel for wick. Among them is that it’s super simple to change flavors. Steel doesn’t hold on to flavor like silica or cotton. Changing out flavors is as simple as a quick rinse and letting everything dry, or doing a dry burn to get the excess water moisture out of the system.

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Hybrid nova head detailSnG does say that these heads can stand up to a dry burn, but warns if you do it to excess it can shorten the life of the head (which is considerably longer than a stock head.)

Otherwise, these heads work like any other, screw them on the post, fill the tank and vape.  I found that these heads had a break in period before they started working their best. A fairly long period, actually.  I probably had to run about 10ml of liquid through the system before it settled down completely.

The interesting thing was the amount of voltage I was running through these tanks. Remember, the coils are built around 1.7 ohm.  Yet I was running mine at 11.5 watts, which is around 5 volts going through a low-resistance head. I suppose at this point I should mention SnG doesn’t recommend using these on an eGo.

Performance during the break-in period at high voltage was actually incredible. The vapor was very warm as you might guess and throat hit was… very pronounced. The thing was essentially a beast. What’s more, I’m pretty sure I could have upped the wattage, but I was sort of at my own throat hit tolerance at that point.

Another interesting thing I noted during the break in was that occasionally the thing wouldn’t wick very well. But, unlike a regular silica wick, I didn’t get a dose of disgusting burnt hit. Instead, it just didn’t produce much vapor. There wasn’t really any sort of burnt taste going on at all.  It was strange.

Why I said it was the break in period is that it didn’t perform terribly well at lower wattages at first. After the first couple tanks at high voltage, I was able to settle into a more reasonably 9.5 watts.

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hybrid nova head in use

Granted, throat hit wasn’t as menacing down there, but it was nice. Vapor production was very good and the flavor reproduction was a thing of beauty. The “dry” hits also seemed to go away at this point as well providing a consistent experience.

Of course, this thing is still capable of handling the abuse at higher voltages too, though it probably would reduce the lifespan somewhat. What this head has that most other don’t is a sort of dynamic range. It produces good results through a wide selection of voltages making this a pretty versatile device.

Basically, it gives uncoordinated clods like me a reasonable facsimile of exotic materials rebuildables without all the swearing and wasted wire.

Too Long; Didn’t Read

hybrid nova head tldr

SnG Vapor’s doctored-up Vivi Nova heads brings alternative wick and coil performance to just about anyone. Adding a stainless steel wick with ceramic insulation is as easy as swapping a Nova head. Despite the occasional quirk and the dreaded “beta” label, this is not a bad way to dip your toes into the more exotic e-cigarette technology out there. Visit SnG Vapor to get one for yourself, but be warned, they’re frequently out of stock.

Pros

Simple installation
Long life
Great performance through a wide voltage range
Simple cleaning

Cons

Long break-in period
Silicon gasket fits poorly
Pricey for a Vivi Nova head

Disclosure: This review features affiliate links.

Steve K

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