In need of a performant, dependable brain stimulation solution? Are you interested in both anodal and cathodal stimulation technologies as well as their benefits? Caputron's Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation devices (tDCS for short) might be the ideal choice you've been looking for. Currently undergoing research and trials in pursuit of FDA approval for treating various neurological issues, this consumer-geared, non-invasive brain stimulation technology is designed to assist your general well-being and improve your mental health.

As conveyed in this video, tDCS operates at the cellular level, altering neuron firing capabilities by improving synaptic responsiveness. Like with our other available technologies, tDCS ensures painless brain stimulation treatment, and despite its FDA investigational status and ongoing clinical trials, it remains a viable means of improving mood and regulating neurological functionality.

Small and portable, the main unit and its connected electrodes administer a low, constant electrical current that is carefully maintained to ensure absolute safety and minimal discomfort. You can map the electrodes to different areas of the brain, and we have accessories such as head straps that make this process easier. Bear in mind that a tDCS device does not "activate" neurons but rather changes the behavioral patterns of those already active in the brain.

As for negative after-effects, they are not only minor but few and far between. You should only expect a slight tingling and perhaps a bit of irritation where the electrodes have been placed. However, this will subside relatively quickly, and you are always protected by built-in safeguard mechanisms.

What makes a high-quality device stand out from the rest? Is it build quality, accurate current delivery, automatic current ramp-up or ramp-down capability, a built-in timer, or a low battery indicator?. As it turns out, reliability is one of the most common drivers of sales through Caputron - customers want to know they can count on the systems they purchase. Reliability is also, therefore, one of the most fundamental features to consider as you shop for your device. If you are in the market for such equipment, there are a variety of products available to suit your needs.

Our goal at Caputron is to help you recognize which recommended features to look for in a tDCS home device, helping you make a more informed and satisfying purchase decision. We hope this will help you to find the best tDCS device for inproving your mental health, general well-being, or any other use.

With that in mind, let's break down the features and advantages of the different tDCS stimulators on the market. At the same time, we'll spotlight the critical functions you should ensure your new device has. For a detailed side-by-sideside by side comparison, view our Comparison Table.

1. Activadose tDCS Device Starter Kit - Best Overall Device

Actvidose tDCS Device Starter Kit
  • Best Professional Grade device available for tDCS
  • Built-in session timer
  • Low battery indicator
  • Calibrated and accurate current delivery
  • Automatic current ramp-up / down
  • Automatic resistance monitoring and current adjustment
  • Recommended by tDCS professionals
  • Used in leading universities worldwide
  • 2 mA standard. 4 mA option available
  • CE marked

2. Brain Premier tDCS Device - Best Entry Level Device

BrainPremier tDCS Device
  • Professional Grade
  • Easy to use
  • Low battery indicator
  • Built-in rechargeable Battery
  • Automatic current ramp-up / down
  • Built-in timer up to 40 min in 1 min increments
  • Current settings up to 2 mA in 0.1 mA increments
  • Sham/Placebo mode available
  • CE marked

3. LIFTiD tDCS Headset

LIFTiD tDCS Headset
  • Professional Grade
  • Easiest tDCS Device to use
  • Automatic 20 minutes timer
  • Automatic current ramp-up / down
  • Comfortable 1.2 mA current setting
  • Designed for gamers, students, working professionals and musicians
  • CE marked

4. BrainDriver tDCS Device

BrainDriver tDCS Device
  • Easy to use
  • Automatic 20 or 30-minute timer
  • 4 stimulation intensities - 0.5, 1.0, 1.5, and 2.0 mA
  • Backlit Display

The Essentials

Build Quality

When choosing any device, review the build quality and ensure it has been tested for safety and accuracy. There are many devices on the market, but only a select few have undergone extensive electrical safety testing from an independent body. This includes devices such as Activadose, Focus, Brain Premier, LIFTiD and PlatoWork (PlatoWork is not only available to medical professionals and universities). tDCS stimulators that have undergone such testing typically come with a higher price tag, but they also have a more durable and professional-grade build.

Accurate Current Delivery

A tDCS device is built with the goal of producing an accurate and stable direct current (DC) waveform. However, not all devices can reliably achieve this goal. Each user will have a different skin resistance (impedance). Therefore, you need to know whether your device of choice has enough power (voltage) to ensure a constant current delivery, regardless of skin resistance. At Caputron, we recommend a minimum of 20 volts. This ensures it has enough power to deliver a stable, consistent current at 2 mA. This value was calculated using Ohms law, which is V= I * R (voltage = current * resistance). tDCS modeling software uses a value of 10,000 Ohms for the average value of skin impedance. If we want to be able to reliably achieve 2 mA of stimulation, then our device should therefore be capable of providing at least 20 volts.

In addition, you should ensure your device can automatically adjust the amount of voltage needed to provide a constant current. As your skin becomes used to the sensation of stimulation, the resistance begins to drop. Your device should be able to automatically “read” that new resistance and adjust its voltage to administer a constant current. This is a feature that would be found in a digital system such as the Activadose or Focus, but not in analog alternatives such as Apex or Super Specific (Both of these devices have been discontinued). For example, if you are using an Apex system, you will manually need to adjust the output current during the session.

Automatic Current Ramp Up/Down

When shopping for a device, also bear in mind that it needs to be capable of increasing and decreasing the current, over approximately 15-20 seconds, at the beginning and end of each session. This allows you to accommodate to the sensation of stimulation, preventing you from becoming light-headed. Analog devices will allow you to manually do this by rotating the current or intensity knob. This should be done slowly at the beginning and end of stimulation.

Built-in Timer

An automatic built-in timer will enable you to select your desired length of stimulation, and without worries about missing your end-of-session alarm reminder. Most devices have this setting, though not all allow you to choose your own time. Instead, some allow you to select from pre-set times of either 20 or 30 minutes.

Low Battery

A tDCS device is battery-powered and designed for portability. Therefore, ensuring yours has an accurate and easy-to-read battery indicator is very important. The device needs a clear visual indicator that will inform the user when the device is running low. Otherwise, if you’re about to start a session, you may not get to complete it in time before the charge runs out.

Electrode Type

Most tDCS systems come with all the accessories you need for basic use, but you should ensure they are of equally high quality and designed for use with the specific device you order. We recommend never using accessories that utilize an alligator clip for tDCS. To ensure your safety and comfort, only use electrodes which include a protective covering that completely hides the metal of the lead cable. If your electrodes feature alligator clips, you risk serious burns and discomfort if the exposed metal of such a design comes into contact with your skin. We also recommend avoiding hydrogel electrodes for tDCS purposes, as they are designed for AC stimulation. When hydrogel electrodes are used with DC stimulation, the hydrogel itself quickly wears down and leaves the bare electrode in contact with the skin, resulting in burns. Therefore, when shopping for such a device, be certain that it comes with sponge electrodes that are protectively covered

Best Overall Device

Actvidose tDCS Device Starter Kit

There are many systems available on the market, but few of them have undergone as much testing and have as positive a reputation and history as the Activadose device. This is why it is our top pick at Caputron if you are seeking a tDCS kit.

When compared to other devices on the market, Activadose is among the most durable and well-built, using a professional-grade design and assembly. It is featured in numerous publications, not to mention used in clinics and prestigious universities around the world every day. The Activadose tDCS is IEC 606601 EMC compliant, a standard for electrical devices set by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).

Best Budget Device

BrainPremier tDCS Device

Looking to get started with tDCS? The Brain Premier is an excellent choice. This devices allows for full customization of stimulation parameters in a compact and portable design. The rechargeable battery makes simple to charge your device via a USB port.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a tDCS device?

A Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) device, is a small handheld electronic device used to apply small levels of direct current (DC) to the brain. In doing so, a tDCS device can either excite or inhibit different regions of neurons. tDCS devices are non-invasive and apply this current through the use of sponge-based tDCS electrodes placed on the surface of the skin.

tDCS brain stimulation is easy to administer and tDCS devices usually have at least two buttons, one to set the current and the other to set a duration. The electrodes are connected to the device with a cable. The current passes from the device, through the anode electrode and to the brain. It is then returned through the cathode electrode and back to the device.

How do tDCS devices work?

tDCS is made possible by two types of electrodes, known as Anode and Cathode electrodes, each of which is either positive or negative, respectively. This combination enables the electrical current to enter the body, reach the appropriate areas of the brain, and then safely exit the body to ensure it isn’t overstimulated. This is how tDCS systems work; as long as you target the right areas of the brain, you can benefit from the effects this technology provides.

How do I use a tDCS device?

The placement of electrodes plays a critical role in the tDCS process. By following the installation guidelines, key zones of the brain can be targeted to encourage different chemical reactions internally. This means everything from mood to mental state and even optimism can potentially be improved over multiple short treatment sessions. Check our electrode mapping guide for more details.

Are tDCS devices safe for me to use?

Absolutely. Not only is the current very low and completely controlled, but tDCS systems have failsafe protocols in place to protect against surges and overstimulation. Some of these devices are also CE-cleared and have passed meticulous safety tests. Caputron only sells high-quality tDCS devices with a reputation for dependability and safety.

What are the specific benefits of a tDCS device?

In the United States, rigorous testing of tDCS systems is ongoing to determine official certification for the treatment of some conditions. Currently tDCS is considered investigational and is not cleared for a medical indication. These devices are designed to focus on general wellness and improving mental health.

In the EU, tDCS is approved for treating depression and fibromyalgia.

Are tDCS devices expensive?

Caputron is proud to offer a wide array of tDCS devices to suit every budget and preference. Whether you want something basic and to the point or are interested in investing in higher-end units with more special features and design elements, we’re sure to have an ideal choice in stock. We also carry a steady supply of replacement electrodes, montage placement straps, and more. Typical device prices range between $100 and $500 US, though professional-grade variants are even costlier if necessary due to the special components and programming put into them.

Do I require special approval to use a tDCS device?

No. There are alternative stimulation treatments that require extra steps for verification purposes or the services of a trained expert, but tDCS is relatively simple to set up and use. If you’re feeling unsure, reach out to our team and we’ll be happy to guide you through the purchase and setup process.

What are the different waveforms used in tDCS systems?

There are some variations on the standard Direct Current of tDCS systems that offer different energy waveforms for unique effects. The most common are Alternating Current, Pulsed Current and Random Noise waveforms. However, it’s always best to check with the experts and verify the performance efficiency and quality of any tDCS device you’re considering. Our team is happy to help you make a more informed, safer and more cost-effective purchasing decision by guiding you on tDCS best practices and selecting an ideal system for your needs.

Disclaimer: Consumer tDCS products are not medical devices. These products do not claim to diagnose, assist, treat, improve, cure, or prevent any medical condition or ailment whatsoever.

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