What is an RBA? Your Guide to Rebuildable Atomisers (RDA, RTA & RDTA)

What is an RBA? Your Guide to Rebuildable Atomisers (RDA, RTA & RDTA)

If you have been vaping with a sub-ohm tank for a while, you may find yourself wanting to upgrade to something that will allow you the freedom of customising your vape experience to better suit your preferences. In this case, a rebuildable atomiser (RBA) is the way to go!

We stock a great range of RBA’s and accessories here at VAPELAB NZ, from premium and well-trusted vape brands. If you’re interested in making the switch over to an RBA style vape, you’ve come to the right place! Below you’ll find a rundown of some of the key things you should know when it comes to rebuildable atomisers. 


What is a Rebuildable Atomiser (RBA)?

RBA is an acronym for ReBuildable Atomiser. This is a catch-all phrase for a group of vaping atomisers in which you ‘build’ your own coils. The three common types of RBA’s are:

  1. RDA (Rebuildable Dripping Atomiser)
  2. RTA (Rebuildable Tank Atomiser)
  3. RDTA (Rebuildable Dripping Tank Atomiser)

Each of these different types of RBA’s has their own unique advantages and disadvantages, it will often come down to personal preference when deciding which one is best for you. 

For each of these RBA’s, you can either wrap your own coils from vape specific wire or purchase a pack of pre-made coils such as the Cloud Revolution - Handmade Coils. To this, you would then add a wick, or cotton as it is commonly referred to. The different build options you have with an RBA are endless depending on the type of RBA you are using as well as your desired vaping experience. You can adjust your coil placement, discover your preferred coil resistance, choose from a wide variety of cotton and find the perfect balance between temperature, airflow and flavour.


How does an RBA work?

A built and ready to use RBA most commonly consists of one or two coils. Each individual coil has two ‘leads’ - one which clamps into a negative terminal and the other into a positive terminal. This creates an electrical circuit for power to travel from your vape device to your coils.

Vape cotton is threaded through the inner channels of these coil(s), acting as a wick for your e-liquid to be vapourised. As you draw on your vape, power is sent from the device/mod to the coils, these coils heat up and begin to vapourise the e-liquid which has saturated the cotton.

This principle is not dissimilar from any other vaping atomiser. Next time you are changing the coil in your sub-ohm tank or pod vape device, take a good look at it! The pre-made coil heads for sub-ohm tanks and pod systems will include either a wire coil or mesh surrounded by cotton. Together, these are in-cased in a shell that screws or plugs into your tank or pod. There are openings in this casing to expose the cotton to the e-liquid in your tank or pod, this is how e-liquid is wicked to the coil. 

Like many sub-ohm tanks, an RBA connects to your vape device with a 510 pin connection.


Rebuildable Dripping Atomiser (RDA)

An RDA is a type of rebuildable atomiser that requires you to manually drip e-liquid onto the coil each time you want to vape. This is unlike other atomisers which can hold up to 8mL of e-liquid in a tank. Seems like a bit of a hassle right? Well, this style of vaping actually has many benefits! 

RDA’s are a great option for vapers starting out their rebuildable journey. This is because the build deck is generally larger and easier to work with than other types of RBA’s. The wicking process is also more forgiving with an RDA as you are dripping e-liquid directly onto the coils and cotton, unlike an RTA which requires more precise wicking to achieve an enjoyable vape. Not only are RDA’s more forgiving to learn on, but they are also known for their exceptional flavour and large clouds. This is a result of there being very little obstruction between the coil and the mouthpiece. Here at VAPELAB, we stock the Kennedy - Kennedy 2 Post RDA, this is an excellent option that we would highly recommend to someone looking to switch over to an RDA.


Rebuildable Tank Atomiser (RTA)

An RTA such as the Geekvape - Zeus X RTA, functions much like a sub-ohm tank or pod system with a tank to hold your e-liquid. This eliminates the need for you to be constantly dripping e-liquid onto your cotton. Here at VAPELAB, we highly recommend using an RTA if you’re craving some of the customisable benefits of an RBA but with the convenience of a sub-ohm tank or pod system.

The biggest downside of an RTA is that the wicking process can often be more difficult to master compared to an RDA, this means we do not commonly recommend RTA’s to vapers starting out. The main reason for this is that unlike an RDA where you can drip e-liquid directly onto your cotton, with an RTA you need to ensure that your cotton wicks are installed accurately to allow your e-liquid to travel from the tank to the coil; too much cotton can cause dry hits and too little cotton can flood your build deck. 

It can take a certain amount of trial and error to perfect your wicking, but with a bit of practice and patience, the payoff is huge! With an RTA  you’ll have a flavourful vape that is catered to your preferences with no need to be constantly dripping your e-liquid. 


Rebuildable Dripping Tank Atomiser (RDTA)

Last up for our RBA’s is the RDTA, although a good option, over the last few years these have definitely fallen in popularity. As the acronym suggests, a Rebuildable Dripping Tank Atomiser blends together features from both an RDA and RTA. RDTA’s have a build deck that is similar in design to an RDA and the performance is more or less the same, providing great flavour and big clouds. In addition to this, an RDTA also features a tank, similar to an RTA, to feed e-liquid through to the coils without dripping. The combination of these features makes this type of rebuildable atomiser a great option for someone who wants the performance of an RDA, but with the convenience of a tank, like an RTA. 


Coil Types

One of the upsides of using a rebuildable atomiser on your vape device is the extensive range of options you have when it comes to coils. Different coils behave differently depending on how they are built and what they are built from. 

For direct-to-lung (DTL) vaping, it is recommended that you use a coil with low resistance, this allows you to run your vape at higher wattages, producing warm dense vapour. This style of vaping is best suited to RBA’s with generous airflow. Lower resistance coils with wider wraps can vary in type and style but are always made with wide/thick wire, which is then wrapped into a coil (the fewer times the wire is wrapped the lower the resistance). You can also use pre-made coils such as Cloud Revolution Game Over Man Original.

For mouth-to-lung (MTL) vaping, it is recommended that you use a coil with high resistance, this allows you to run your vape at lower wattages, producing cooler, more gentle vapour. This style of vaping is best suited to RBA’s with a more restricted airflow. A coil with high resistance can be made with a single strand of wire wrapped into a coil (the more times the wire is wrapped the higher the resistance). You can also use pre-made coils such as Cloud Revolution Steam Train.


Vape Cotton

Vape cotton used for wicking is usually super absorbent, untreated and organic - making it perfect for soaking up your e-liquid.  Vape cotton usually comes in either ‘Threads’ or ‘Lumps’. Cotton threads contain the exact amount of cotton you will need for wicking and are held together by a thin aglet, making it easy to thread the cotton through the coil(s). Cotton Lumps, as the name suggests, comes in a lump. This gives you the ability to use more or less cotton depending on your preference. There are many different brands of cotton and some are better than others, at VAPELAB we really like Cotton Bacon Prime and recommend this cotton for wicking.       


Why Choose a Rebuildable Atomiser?

There are many reasons why you may prefer to use an RBA over an atomiser that utilises pre-made coil heads, such as a sub-ohm tank or pod vape device. The use of an RBA allows you to build or buy coils suited to your exact vaping style, so you’re not limited to the manufacturer’s pre-made coil options. Not only does this help to improve your vaping experience but it can also significantly reduce your running costs. Instead of throwing your coils away once they burn out, you have the option to clean the coil and re-wick with new cotton - this can be done many times before having to replace them. The greatest benefit of using an RBA is the flavour, this is far superior in an RBA compared to a sub-ohm tank or pod vape. 



While rebuilding can be very easy, convenient and cost-effective once you have the hang of it, there are a few safety precautions that should always be taken into consideration when rebuilding your vape. Always build your RBA on a regulated device or an ohm’s reader. This will give you an accurate resistance reading and should have short circuit protection. Never build your RBA on a mechanical vape device. Please make sure you have a good understanding of RBA’s before you start building to reduce any risks.

We hope that this post has given you some insight into rebuildable atomisers. If you are keen to start using an RBA but aren’t quite sure where to start, please feel free to visit our team at either one of our two stores located at 20 Victoria Street, and 33 Ghuznee Street, Wellington Central. Alternatively, you can contact us here we are always more than happy to help!

Shop the story