Vaping Devices

Refillable Pod System vs. Pre-Filled: What Are the Differences?

Hemok Wang
Hemok Wang
Nov 11, 2022
Refillable Pod System vs. Pre-Filled: What Are the Differences?

Over the past several years, pod systems have become so popular among the members of the vaping community that practically all of the fastest-selling vaping devices on the market today are pod based. When people talk about pod-based vaping devices, though, they’re actually talking about two types of vapes that, aside from the fact that they store their e-liquid in plastic pods, have very little in common.

One of the main ways in which pre-filled and refillable pod systems differ is in how they’re sold. While the refillable pod systems made by companies such as Innokin are typically sold in vape shops, you’re more likely to find pre-filled pod systems at places like convenience stores and gas stations.

So, are you better off buying a refillable pod system or a device that uses pre-filled pods? In this article, we’ll help you through the buying process by explaining the differences between these two types of vapes.


What Is a Pod System?

Before we discuss the differences between pre-filled vs. refillable pod systems, we’ll start by explaining the thing that both types of vapes have in common: the pods themselves. In a pod system, the device’s e-liquid and atomizer coil are both contained within a translucent plastic pod. The pod is a drop-in component that usually attaches magnetically, and you can simply lift it to remove it from the device.

Sceptre 2

Unlike vape tanks – which work with all threaded vaping devices – vape pods are proprietary. That means a pod system only works with the pods designed for it and does not work with third-party attachments. However, the fact that the pods are designed specifically for the device means that pod systems are often some of the sleekest and most stylish vaping devices on the market.


What Is a Refillable Pod System?

A refillable pod system is a vape kit that’s sold in an empty state with no e-liquid. You buy the device and the vape juice separately, and you fill your own pods. When a pod is empty, you’ll refill it. You can typically refill a vape pod several times before the flavor quality starts to decrease. At that point, you’ll replace either the atomizer coil or the entire pod, depending on the design of the device.

Pros of Refillable Pod Systems

Refillable pod systems offer a large number of benefits compared to pre-filled systems, and the biggest of those benefits is variety. In some regions, legal regulations prevent makers of pre-filled pod systems to offer vape pods in flavors other than tobacco and menthol. Even in places where no legal restrictions exist, though, no pre-filled pod system has more than a small assortment of flavors available. With a pre-filled pod system, on the other hand, you fill your pods with bottled e-liquid – and that means you have a virtually endless variety of flavor options.

Another benefit of refillable pod systems is that they’re much more advanced than pre-filled devices and typically offer significantly better flavor quality and vapor production. Pre-filled pod vapes are a bit underpowered in comparison and can often taste a little “plasticky.”

The final benefit of refillable pod vapes is that buying your e-liquid by the bottle is much more affordable in the long run than buying it in small pods. A pre-filled vape pod may last around a day at the most, but a single bottle of salt nicotine e-liquid can last several days – even if you’re a heavy vaper.

Cons of Refillable Pod Systems

The only real drawback of refillable pod systems is the same drawback that’s inherent to all pod-based devices: They’re proprietary and only work with the pods designed for them. However, some pod systems add a bit more flexibility by offering multiple pods or coil options. Since you can have a different vaping experience by using a different coil or by installing a pod with a different coil, a refillable pod system can offer a similar level of flexibility to what you’d get with a full-fledged vape mod. Look at a device like the Innokin Sensis EZ to see the full range of what’s possible with a refillable pod system.

Sensis EZ

Refillable Pod System Example: Innokin Sceptre 2

Everything you loved about the original Sceptre, but better. The Sceptre 2 is equipped with improved airflow, faster coil swapping, and simpler controls, all in a smaller package.

Refillable Pod System - Sceptre 2


What Is a Pre-Filled Pod System?

A pre-filled pod system differs from a refillable pod system in that the pods are filled with e-liquid at the factory and aren’t designed for refilling. The pods are usually sold in packs of two or four, and they’re ready for immediate use out of the package. All that you need to do is drop a pod into a charged battery and start vaping. When the pod is empty, you’ll discard it and replace it with a fresh pod.

Pros of Pre-Filled Pod Systems

One of the biggest benefits of pre-filled pod systems is that they’re widely available in the same stores that sell tobacco products. They’re the types of vaping devices that most convenience stores and gas stations sell. It’s a great thing for vape kits to be readily available at traditional tobacco retailers because it encourages smokers to make the switch to vaping. A pre-filled pod system provides a perfect introduction to vaping, although most vapers eventually outgrow pre-filled devices and seek out products that offer better performance and greater variety.

The other benefit of pre-filled pod systems is that they’re convenient and simple. Aside from recharging the battery and replacing the pod when needed, a pre-filled pod system requires no maintenance and is always ready to use. That makes a pre-filled pod system a good choice for someone who doesn’t like gadgets and doesn’t want to go through the trouble of maintaining one – but there’s also an even better alternative that we’ll discuss shortly.

Cons of Pre-Filled Pod Systems

Although pre-filled pod systems offer a high level of convenience, they also have a number of drawbacks that you should consider if you’re on the fence and aren’t sure what type of vaping device you should buy. The first drawback is that pre-filled pod systems tend to be very expensive to use. Since a pre-filled device only works with the pods designed for it and only works with the e-liquid supplied by the device’s manufacturer, pre-filled pods often cost only slightly less than cigarettes.

Another problem with pre-filled pod systems is that there have been very few new releases in this product category over the past several years. Pod-based devices have been on the market for more than half a decade now, and they’ve changed very little during that time. As a result, most of the pre-filled pod vapes available today are widely considered obsolete by modern standards. They don’t offer much in the way of battery life or vapor production. As we mentioned above, many people also find that the flavor quality of pre-filled pod vapes simply isn’t very good compared to refillable devices.

The last drawback of pre-filled pod systems is that their flavor selection is extremely limited compared to refillable devices. When you use a refillable pod system, you can fill it with any bottled e-liquid you want. Since there’s competition between e-liquid manufacturers, you’ll spend less – but more importantly, you’ll have a much wider selection of flavors. At any vape shop, you’ll find dozens – if not hundreds – of different e-liquid flavors. With such a wide selection, you’re certain to find something perfect for your individual taste. If you buy a pre-filled pod system and don’t like the flavor assortment, on the other hand, you’re out of luck and will have to either put up with the subpar flavor selection or buy an entirely new device.

Pre-Filled Pod System Example: INNOBAR C1

The INNOBAR C1 Pod is equipped with Aquios water-based vaping technology. This delivers smoother vapour, faster satisfaction, and unmatched flavour clarity. A vaping experience like no other.

Prefilled Pod System - Innobar C1


For Convenience Without the Drawbacks, Try Disposable Vapes

As we explained in the section above, the convenience of using a pre-filled pod system comes with some pretty enormous drawbacks in terms of performance, price structure, and flavor selection. Using a vaping device that’s simple and convenient, however, doesn’t have to mean that you’ll need to put up with a below-average vaping experience. While pre-filled pod vapes have been largely stagnant in terms of their development over the past several years, the technology behind disposable vapes has advanced by leaps and bounds.


If you want the convenience of a pre-filled vaping device without the drawbacks, modern disposable vapes have largely made pre-filled pod systems obsolete and have essentially taken over that segment of the market.

Compared to pre-filled pod systems, disposable vapes are even more convenient because they require no maintenance at all – they come out of the package ready to use and don’t require recharging or refilling. You can carry a disposable vape in your pocket wherever you go and simply puff on it when you need nicotine – and when the battery dies, you’ll dispose of the device. That’s even simpler than using a pod system.

Price is another area in which disposable vapes have an enormous advantage over pre-filled pod vapes. When you buy a pre-filled pod vape, you’re locked into that brand’s ecosystem and have no choice but to pay high prices for the refill pods. With disposable vapes, on the other hand, you’re never tied to a single device for more than a few days and can switch brands whenever you like. Because there’s a high level of competition between the makers of disposable vapes, the prices are much more reasonable. If you switch from smoking to using disposable vapes, you’ll enjoy a high level of convenience – but you won’t overpay for it.

Hemok Wang
Hemok Wang

Hey! Hemok here, a vaping enthusiast with a passion for helping people quit smoking. My uncle was diagnosed with lung cancer a few years ago after smoking for more than 40 years. I do understand that quitting smoking isn't only a physical issue but also a mental one. It's just hard to go "cold turkey". I believe that vaping is one of the best solutions to make the switch only if you do it in the right way, and that's why I am here to share :)