While desktop vaporizers may not be the most popular type of vaporizer on internet forums, they are undeniably the vaporizer of choice for the cannabis connoisseur. Portable vaporizers are great and convenient but they cannot deliver the same level of control and reliability as a desktop vaporizer. With a portable vaporizer the user is at the mercy of their battery units, and most rechargeable batteries will only function for a year or two before they will need to be replaced. That's a lot waste and caustic chemicals that typically ends up in landfills or recycling facilities. Desktop vaporizers, on the other hand, have the potential to last throughout the user's lifetime if they are well built and maintained, and they often use a fraction of the watt-hour energy that is needed to maintain charges on a fleet of rechargeable battery units for a portable vaporizer. Desktop vaporizers also create a fraction of the carbon footprint that is generated by portable vaporizers. Both types are going to need electricity, but portable vaporizers produce a significantly higher amount of waste and greenhouse gas from the manufacturing process of the unit and batteries, as well as the added waste of rechargeable battery cells that will regularly need to be replaced. Desktop vaporizers last much longer overall; they use city power which is becoming increasingly renewable, and the carbon footprint is further reduced when a desktop vaporizer is maintainable and easy to repair. Desktop vaporizers also deliver a higher level of control over temperature and air flow than portable units are capable of, and it's for this reason that desktop vaporizers are preferred by cannabis connoisseurs all over the world.
If you're shopping for a desktop vaporizer, which unit should you choose? There are a lot of options out there, but there are a few desktop units that consistently stand above the rest when it comes to function, reliability, ease of use, reparability, and customization options. We have selected the top three desktop vaporizers for review. There are many others available on the market but these are the three units that have stood the test of time and are worthy of comparison. If you read our "Best Desktop Vaporizers of 2021" article then you may notice that these are the same units and the same scores from last year's review, and that's because these units have not been changed or revised and there haven't been any newcomers who have been able to challenge the superiority of these three desktop vaporizers.
As a manufacturer of desktop vaporizers we admit that we are completely biased, but we are always willing to test competitor devices and we will always give them a fair and honest review. Product reviews, even from 'unbiased' sources, are almost always biased because reviewers are compensated with free products and swag by companies that want to sway the reviewer's opinion. We are not paid or compensated for reviewing competitor products; we purchased these competitor products at retail price as a product research expense, and we do it because we genuinely want to compare our own products with what is available on the market so that we can find ways to improve our products. If a competitor product does something better than our own, then we want to know that so we can refine and improve our own products in order to stay competitive. It's for this reason that we feel that our product reviews are some of the most honest in the industry.
We also feel that being a manufacturer of desktop vaporizers gives us unique qualifications in reviewing desktop cannabis vaporizers. Our CEO, Steve Kelnhofer, has been a regular cannabis user for more than 26 years, and he has been manufacturing desktop vaporizers ever since he built the first Silver Surfer Vehicle unit in his garage in Colorado Springs 18 years ago. Steve has put decades of experience and research into our desktop vaporizer units, and our products have undergone countless revisions to stay on top of the latest research and developments in the cannabis industry. Steve even launched Elev8 University to help educate customers as well as wholesalers and distributors on the latest technologies and advancements in the cannabis vaporizer industry.
Elev8's vapor delivery vehicles are proudly owned and used by some of the top names in cannabis culture like Willie Nelson and Woody Harrelson, and bands like Cypress Hill, Ballyhoo, and Pepper have all been known to keep their tour busses equipped with at least one Silver Surfer Vehicle. You would be hard pressed to find a company that is more experienced in the fields of dry herb vaporization and concentrate vaporization, and we feel that our years of research gives us an edge over other reviewers when comparing desktop vaporizers.
When deciding which desktop vaporizers deserve to be called "the best" we take many factors into consideration such as overall value, ease of use, reparability, and customization options. We've included a full list of all categories which are considered when assigning a score at the bottom of this article. It was clear to us that these three desktop vaporizers were the best units of their kind in the industry, and all three of these units held their positions at the top of the pack through 2021 and on into 2022. So here are our Best Desktop Vaporizers of 2022:
The Silver Surfer Vehicle (SSV) has been a major contender in the desktop cannabis vaporizer market since Steve Kelnhofer built the first unit in his garage in 2004. These vaporizers are assembled from solid aluminum and steel parts, with a vapor pathway built entirely from glass. The heater cover and wand mate with a spherical glass joint which allows the wand to be articulated in multiple directions like a ball joint without stressing or breaking either the wand or heater cover, and the unit includes a 'Hands Free Attachment' which will hold the wand in place while you vape. Elev8 offers an endless assortment of glass fittings and accessories for their units, allowing the user to connect any sort of rig, water pipe, or custom mouthpiece to the vaporizer. Though the Silver Surfer Vehicle was initially designed as a dry herb vaporizer, Elev8 offers special Essential Oil Kit attachments for each of their vaporizers that allow them to be used as an E-Nail with a specially designed quartz dab dish, making the Silver Surfer and Super Surfer true 3-in-1 cannabis vaporizers. Elev8 also offers Aroma Tops for each of their vaporizer units that can be used to melt scented wax and diffuse essential oil fragrances into your room without impeding your ability to use the unit to vaporize herbs and concentrates. The upgraded version of the Silver Surfer known as the Super Surfer Vehicle includes a variable speed forced air system for filling vapor bags, a crucial feature for users with certain medical conditions, as well as multicolored lighting for aesthetic appeal. Elev8 products are assembled right here in the United States at their facility in Colorado Springs so if you ever need repairs, custom components, or anything else then Elev8 is just a phone call or email away, and the level of support that Elev8 provides for their products cannot be matched by any other desktop vape manufacturer in the world. Purchasing a Silver Surfer Vehicle or Super Surfer Vehicle is an investment in your health and in a vaporizer unit that will last for many years to come, potentially even a lifetime, and as long as Elev8 is around they will ensure that your vaporizer unit continues to perform to the best of its ability. The level of support, customization options, and the quality of construction are unmatched by any other unit and its for these reasons that we feel that Elev8 is manufacturing the best desktop vaporizers available on the market today.
Extreme Q Vaporizer by Arizer
Despite the fact that the Volcano is the more popular choice on internet forums, we feel that the Arizer Extreme Q Vaporizer scores a little higher than the Volcano in a few categories like overall value, ease of use, and customization. Unlike the Volcano, the Extreme Q uses a vapor pathway made entirely from glass components. This is the same type of system that Elev8 uses in all of the desktop vaporizers that we manufacture. Unlike the Silver Surfer Vehicle, the Arizer Extreme Q can only be used with dry herbs, as the vertical arrangement of the vapor pathway would cause concentrates to drip down into the heating element which could start a fire. Arizer includes a multitude of accessories so that the unit can be used to fill vapor bags with a forced air system, and it can also be used with a traditional whip and mouthpiece system that can be attached to a rig if you buy a separate elbow adapter. Arizer also includes a separate attachment for diffusing potpourri and other dry herb fragrances. The Extreme Q can be controlled with a remote and it has a few "smart" features that some users will find very beneficial. Thanks to Arizer's decision to use standard glass components users have the option to acquire all sorts of custom components for their Arizer Extreme Q, and you can hit up Elev8 anytime over phone or email to get custom handmade glass components for your unit. The Arizer Extreme Q is manufactured in China so you don't get the same outstanding build quality that you would with the Silver Surfer or Super Surfer, but what you do get is an amazing vaporizer for an amazing value, and Arizer's customers attest to the longevity of their vaporizer units with some customers claiming over 11 years of use before they needed to repair or replace the unit. That level of quality and value simply cannot be overlooked, and that's why we've scored the Arizer Extreme Q over the Volcano for a second year in a row.
Volcano Classic, Digit & Hybrid Vaporizer by Storz & Bickel
Little needs to be said about the Volcano Vaporizer that hasn't already been said in forums and reviews online. The Volcano Vaporizer is one of our biggest competitors in the desktop vaporizer market, manufactured by Storz & Bickel in Germany, and while we feel that the Volcano Vaporizer and its variants have many strengths we also feel that these units leave a lot to be desired in terms of functionality, ease of use, quality of construction, and reparability. The Volcano uses a vapor pathway made entirely from proprietary plastic and rubber components which can make cleaning and maintaining your unit quite difficult, and while it saves Storz & Bickel a lot of money to manufacture their units this way we feel that it cannot provide the superior flavor and control that an all-glass vapor pathway can provide. Replacement parts for Volcano Vaporizers are shockingly expensive for components which are made entirely from molded plastic and rubber. Volcano Vaporizers are also nearly impossible to maintain or repair as the user is not given easy access to the actual internal components of the unit including the heating element, which is a shame because the vertical arrangement of the air pathway is going to necessitate a lot of cleaning to keep the unit functioning properly. Many of the components are pressure fitted and the external housing is attached with security screws that will require a special screwdriver bit to remove, so good luck trying to maintain this unit yourself. Storz & Bickel sells attachments for using concentrates in your Volcano Vaporizer but we strongly recommend against doing that because of the unit's construction; concentrates are going to drip down directly into the internal chamber and onto the heating element posing a serious fire risk. The Volcano was originally designed to be used with vapor bags and for many years that was the only way that they could be used, but within the last few years Storz & Bickel has started including a "tube kit" that strongly resembles the wand system from a Silver Surfer Vehicle (but made entirely from plastics). At $500 for a Volcano Classic unit and $700 for a Volcano Hybrid we feel that far more value can be found in a Silver Surfer Vehicle or Super Surfer Vehicle, and Elev8 will guarantee lifetime serviceability and parts availability for their units. Of course, if you simply love the Volcano, Elev8 offers a line of glass components specially designed to be used with the Volcano Vaporizer as an upgrade to the stock Storz & Bickel components. Despite these issues the Volcano still functions well and is a household name in the desktop vaporizer market which is why it still scores roughly on par with the Arizer Extreme Q.
Why do you not see other desktops vaporizers here?
This is a great question as there are a lot of desktop vaporizers available on the market, but we feel that these are the three units that have stood the test of time, and when you read posts on Reddit and other internet forums these are the three units that you will see being mentioned most often. We will always consider any newcomers to the market if and when they reach a level of popularity that is comparable to these units. If you're shopping for a desktop vaporizer in 2021 and 2022 we feel that you can't go wrong with any of these three units, but when it comes to overall value we have to give the top slot to our own Silver Surfer Vehicle and Super Surfer Vehicle units. When we designed these desktop vaporizers we set out to give our customers the highest quality and most versatile products while providing the most value with the lowest price point possible.
Desktop Vaporizer Rating Guide
This is how much monetary value the unit provides to its user. All three of these units come in at different retail price points but we also consider the quality of construction and several of the categories which are listed below when determining overall value. We also take into consideration where the unit is manufactured, the cost of labor in its manufacture, and the amount of labor required to construct a unit. These aspects all factor into how much value a desktop vaporizer can offer its user.
Ease of Use
This is how simple we feel the unit is to use. Desktop vaporizers have a lot of parts and can seem complex at first, but as with any other machine once you become familiar with the unit you will be able to use it quickly and efficiently. All three of these units are a breeze to use, and all three have instructional videos on how to use them available online.
This is how easy it is for the user to affect services or repairs to their desktop vaporizer unit, whether the user is performing the repair themselves or sending it in to the manufacturer. Neither Arizer nor Storz & Bickel offer replacement internal components for their units, and they don't recommend that users attempt to perform repairs themselves. Despite Arizer's warning, the Extreme Q is said to be extremely easy for users to repair themselves using standard components that can be easily acquired on the internet; the Volcano, however, uses many proprietary components that cannot be sourced online, and the Volcano is held together with security screws to prevent the user from attempting to open it without the proper screwdriver bit. Both of these manufacturers recommend that you send your unit in to them for repairs, but Arizer is based in China and Storz & Bickel is based in Germany so this is going to cost North American users quite a large sum of money in shipping costs. In comparison, the Silver Surfer Vehicle and Super Surfer Vehicle are easy to repair and Elev8 offers kits with all of the internal components that you would need to repair your unit yourself, as well as written instructions and video instructions for performing these repairs. If the user doesn't feel comfortable performing these repairs they can send their unit to Elev8 for repairs even if it's out of warranty, and for customers who are based in the USA you simply can't beat the convenience of practically having your vaporizer manufacturer right in your backyard.
Durability & Stability
This is how well we feel the unit is built, and how stable the unit is when being used. All three of these units have sturdy and wide bases that will make it pretty difficult for your cat to knock them off of your desk. The Arizer Extreme Q vaporizer is the lightest of the three, and when you hold it in your hand you can tell that it's constructed from thin metal and light plastic. The Volcano desktop vaporizer feels solid and heavy, but many of its plastic components can shatter or crack and the stainless steel housing is thin and a hard hit will certainly leave a dent, though that's not much of a worry for a desktop vaporizer. The Silver Surfer Vehicles and Super Surfer Vehicles are heavy duty units with aluminum housings that are nearly 1/4" thick and steel bases that hold the units firmly in position. Steve Kelnhofer even shot a Silver Surfer Vehicle with a .223 and .308 to test it, and it fired right back up and still functions to this day.
This is how functional the desktop vaporizer is. What can it do? All three of these units function well and offer a variety of ways that they can be used, but the Silver Surfer and Super Surfer units have a host of additional features, like scented wax diffusion and custom sublimated images available for the housings, and these additional options make the SSV units stand out among the competition.
Heat Up Time
This is how long it takes for the unit to heat up to vaporization temperature. All three of these units heat up quickly enough that it will not inconvenience the user. The Volcano units were the slowest, and the Silver Surfer and Super Surfer units were the quickest. The SSV units also offer the additional benefit of extremely low power usage which allows them to be kept on all day without any fear of the unit overheating or running up the power bill. This cuts your heating time to a fraction of the time required for the other two units.
How Well Does it Vape Flower?
Desktop vaporizers were originally designed to vaporize dry herbs, and all three of these units perform that function admirably. The Volcano and Extreme Q both have digital temperature controls, and these are useful when filling bags but when using a whip or "tube kit" we find that the user's draw speed has a dramatic effect on the actual temperature of the air as it passes over your herbs, and it's for this reason that we opted for an analog knob-style control on our Silver Surfer Vehicle and Super Surfer Vehicle as it allows the user to experiment and easily tweak the temperature.
How Well Does It Vape Concentrates?
Most desktop vaporizer manufacturers did not account for the sudden surge in interest in high grade concentrates in the early 2010's, but the Silver Surfer Vehicle and Super Surfer Vehicle are the only units with a concentrate-friendly design that prevents melting concentrates from getting onto the heating element. The Extreme Q and Volcano Vaporizer both have a vertical vapor pathway that will cause concentrates to drip onto the heating element, posing a potential fire risk.
This is how aesthetic and useful the packaging is. The Silver Surfer Vehicle and Super Surfer Vehicle are packaged in a quality Hempster padded bag that can be used to carry the unit. Some of our customers use the Hempster bag for their cameras or other items as well. The Extreme Q and the Volcano both come in cardboard boxes; the Volcano's box is the nicest but it's still just a box that's eventually going to get thrown away.
This category accounts for the range and versatility of customization options that are available for the unit. The Silver Surfer Vehicle and Super Surfer Vehicle blow the Extreme Q and Volcano out of the water. The Extreme Q has a decent range of customizations available thanks to its use of standard glass fittings, but the Volcano has basically no customization options other than the color of the housing, and even then the options are very limited. The SSV units are fully customizable from the color of the housing and base to the colors and types of glass attachments, and they even have a series of units which can be sublimated with custom imagery on the housing.
This is how easy it is to maintain your desktop vaporizer to ensure that each session is as flavorful as possible, as well as keeping the unit in good shape so that it can function for many years. Storz and Bickel recommends only cleaning their heating element and other components with a damp washrag soaked in water. They specify that their unit must be cleaned only with water, and that sounds to us like you can't properly clean cannabis residues off of Volcano components because cannabis residues are not soluble in water. The glass components on the Extreme Q and SSV units allow the user to safely utilize isopropyl alcohol which is the preferred solvent for cleaning cannabis residues. On top of that, the Volcano cannot be easily disassembled for deeper cleaning or maintenance, so the Volcano easily scored lowest out of the three in this category.
How much effort and energy does it take to use the desktop vaporizer each time? All three of these units received comparable scores in this category, but the SSV units scored a bit higher since they can be left on and fully assembled throughout the day so you can pop in and do a quick vaping session without needing to break out all of the components individually.