AO Aluminum HMD and AO Stainless Steel HMD on metal background with AO logo

Aluminum HMD vs Stainless Steel HMD: A Comparison of AO Heat Management Devices

Steel. Aluminum. Lid. No lid. We'll break it down for you. ...

The modern hookah smoker has evolved. The days of foil and poking holes for many hookah enthusiasts are in the past, other than a few select scenarios. So as the methodology of heating a fresh bowl of shisha has changed, let’s take a closer look at two great heat management devices (HMDs).  Each with their own pros and cons, these hookah heat management devices are excellent options for both retail smoke shops as well as hookah lounges

The Standard HMD from AO is the most popular option for retailers and hookah lounges for a variety of reasons. This model is made of high-grade aluminum and is designed to fit seamlessly in bowls with an HMD lip.  It can also rest on top of a bowl that doesn't have the HMD groove, as long as you are aware of any risks involved in the event the device were to fall.  (Not that a bowl with an HMD lip would be any different if the hookah was knocked over.)

AO Standard Aluminum HMD AO Standard Aluminum HMD

The Standard HMD comes with a well designed box with a magnetic sealing edge that truly elevates the presentation. You will not find anything like this with other cheaply imitated HMD’s in this price range. They just don’t exist. This is one of the reasons this product has done so well in the retail space. When your customers see the quality of the product, the presentation of the packaging and the unbelievable price, they will definitely take this HMD home.

AO Standard Aluminum HMD on hookah with lid openAO Standard Aluminum HMD on hookah with lid open
AO Standard Aluminum HMD on hookah with lid closedAO Standard Aluminum HMD on hookah with lid closed

The lid fits securely on the HMD and has a heat resistant handle, so it's easy and safe to manipulate. To prevent the charcoal from suffocating in the device, the lid has vent holes to keep the fire going, while still trapping lots of heat, so your customers can get those monster clouds. The bottom of the HMD has raised grooves that elevate the coals from the bottom and allow airflow on all sides of the charcoal briquettes.

AO Standard Aluminum HMDAO Standard Aluminum HMD

Hookah lounges that want to upgrade their rental hookah fleet to all HMDs, or at least have them available for an upgrade, need an affordable option that performs as well as the premium brands on the market.  Imagine a $9 accessory that you can rent out as a $5 upgrade over 100 times. That is the kind of ROI you need to really generate the extra profit that separates the standard lounges from the truly successful operators.

Key Features of the AO HMDs

AO Standard Aluminum HMD with boxAO Standard Aluminum HMD with box

Standard Aluminum AO HMD

  • Premium Packaging
  • Grooved Air-Flow Channels
  • Vented Lid w/ Handle
  • Low Price
AO Premium Stainless Steel HMD 912 with boxAO Premium Stainless Steel HMD 912 with box

Stainless Steel AO 912 HMD

  • Premium Packaging
  • Grooved Air-Flow Channels
  • Solid Stainless Steel Construction
  • Multiple Color Options

Now let’s talk about the premium AO Stainless Steel 912 HMD. These are for the advanced hookah enthusiast (or aspiring enthusiast) that is looking to create a hookah set they are truly proud of. We are talking about your customers that love the art and science of hookah, probably enjoy multiple sessions per week, if not per day, and collect the finest hookah bowls, hoses, and other accessories to compliment their upscale hookah. 

Stainless Steel Heat Management Devices are on the market with the top brands selling to consumers from $80 - $100 per unit. That is some serious dough to cough up for just a single component of your hookah set up.  This is where the AO Stainless Steel 912 can expand the consumer segment looking for premium products with the highest quality materials.

AO Premium Stainless Steel HMD 912 in various colorsAO Premium Stainless Steel HMD 912 in various colors

The 912 is made with Stainless Steel and is available in a range of finishes. You can get them in Gun Metal, Silver, Rose Gold, and Rainbow (aka Oil Slick) - with other finishes coming to market in the future. Customers will instantly feel the difference in weight, as the heavier steel has the heft and feel of an ultra-premium accessory. This unit is machined from a single block of steel so there are no loose parts or screws that hold it together. Air vents on the bottom ring around the edge to maximize the heat transfer to shisha loaded in phunnel style hookah bowls.

AO Premium Stainless Steel HMD 912 in SilverAO Premium Stainless Steel HMD 912 in Silver

One distinct feature that many customers will ask about is the lid.  Why no lid? The answer is easy…it doesn't need one.  After quite a bit of research with hookah smokers in multiple countries, AO found that the majority of HMD users either do not use a lid; or only briefly use the lid at he very beginning (to quickly heat the HMD) or at the end of the session (to trap the remaining heat on dying charcoal).

By foregoing the lid that often went unused, AO has been able to deliver a premium Stainless Steel HMD at a much more affordable price than any other company was able to deliver. The steel absorbs and distributes heat even better than the aluminum, and your customers will notice how much easier it is to load this HMD with lots of charcoal; but the temperature does not skyrocket and scorch the shisha. It will reach and hold a temperature that is ideal for shisha smoke but will not overheat! I have loaded the 912 HMD with three cubes and a fourth coal on top, filled the cracks with flats and still have not burnt the bowl….and I was trying my hardest to push the limits

Pros and Cons of the AO HMDs

Standard Aluminum AO HMD Pros

  • Aluminum Body Heats Quickly
  • Affordable for Consumers & Lounges
  • Fits All HMD Compatible Bowls
  • Includes Vented Lid

Standard Aluminum AO HMD Cons

  • Can Overheat if Too Much Coal is Used

Stainless Steel AO 912 HMD Pros

  • Best Heat Distribution
  • Nearly Impossible to Burn Shisha
  • Customizable to Match Different Hookah Styles
  • Fits All HMD Compatible Bowls

Stainless Steel AO 912 HMD Cons

  • Some Users Want an HMD with a Lid

Now either way you decide, you will get a great value and high quality product that not only looks great but has incredible utility and design. The only choice to ask yourself is if you are in the market for the Toyota or the Lexus?