When people start vaping, they don’t care much about the vaporizer or e-cig they’re using. But gradually they want to improve the experience. Then, they want the best of everything, the best mod, the best e-liquid and the best batteries. There is a lot of debate and some good pieces of advice about vaping gears and vaping materials, but ironically things get complicated when it comes to batteries. When choosing the right vape batteries, the last thing you should consider is their price. A good battery will last for a long time, and a difference of a couple bucks doesn’t even matter. So, the million-dollar question is: what is the best vape battery?
Well, asking that question is akin to asking what is the best car? You will get as many answers as the number of people you ask the question to. The 18650 battery is the ideal choice when it comes to vaping. However, there is no one battery that would qualify to be the ultimate best 18650 battery, but we can find the best battery in different classes, each for vapers with different style and expectations.
Why 18650 batteries?
So, what makes the 18650 the ideal choice for vapers? Why not the preinstalled batteries, such as you see in ELeaf Mini, Kamry 20W etc.? They are compact and yet fairly powerful. Moreover, you don’t even need to buy new batteries or external chargers. You can start vaping as soon as you buy your vaping gear. What’s more, you don’t have to worry about any safety concerns with the built-in batteries.
Well, while the built-in batteries might offer several advantages, they are pretty much disposable. Once they deteriorate, you have to throw away the whole unit. On top of that, the 18650 give you a lot more control over your mod and battery quality. The moment you load high-quality batteries, your vaping experience goes through the roof. You can choose any type of batteries (either high amperage or high mAh – which we’ll discuss shortly), and you can replace the batteries when they reach the end of their lifecycle.
Desired characteristics of a good vape battery
- Amperage and mAh
What the heck these two terms mean anyway?
Put simply, the amperage roughly translates to power i.e. how much current the battery can offer at one time. The higher the current, the higher the wattage output you get. On the flip, mAh is Milliamp Hours, which in layman terms is the overall life of the battery. Here’s a simple analogy to explain the two terms. Imagine a big champagne bottle; the milliamp-hours is the overall size of the bottle, which tells you how much “juice” it can hold while the amperage can be correlated to the neck of the bottle, whose width dictates how much juice can go out at one time. So, mAh and amperage together show how long your battery will last.
Theoretically, a 2000mAh battery should draw 2000 milliamp for one hour, or 1000 milliamp for two hours. However, in practice it’s different as the batteries are not 100% efficient and a Samsung 25R’s 2500mAh won’t always offer 2500 milliamp for one hour. Although these settings don’t give a perfect idea, however, they can help you roughly compare two batteries. For instance, a 3000mAH LG HG2 will most likely last longer than any 1500mAh battery.
So, you would want to get a high mAh and high amperage battery, right? It will definitely offer the highest power. But in the real world, that’s not possible unfortunately. The technology today has its limitations, and fitting everything into a small 18650 isn’t possible yet. There is a tradeoff between high current and capacity. So, if you want a high power battery, you’ll have to compromise on capacity, and vice versa. So, we basically have three main types of vaping batteries: high capacity and low power, high power and low capacity, and then there some which are in between that try to offer a comprise between the two.
Whenever vaping at high wattage, just make sure you know your battery well, and don’t put too much burden on it – which is called overdrawing. If you overdraw a battery, it might get overheated, and although most batteries have protection against overheating, you don’t want to take the risk.
- High voltage, low temperature
To get higher wattage, you want your battery to offer higher voltage. To attain even higher wattage, some modern mods come with two 18650 batteries, but that’s a different story which we’ll cover in a later section. For regulated devices, the batteries don’t have to work very hard but for mechanical, unregulated mods, you want high voltage to get those “hard hits” – a favorite of cloud chasers. More voltage means the coil will get hotter, a hotter coil means more vapor, more vapor means bigger clouds and more flavor, which is the ultimate goal of every vaper.
Ironically, different batteries run at different voltages, even when they are producing same amount of current. Your best bet is to go for the one that runs at the highest voltage, for extended periods. These types of batteries can be greatly beneficial, no matter you’ve a regulated or unregulated mod. However, a battery that does run for very long on very high voltage also needs to function at reasonably low temperature. At very high temperatures, the battery can get hot enough to vent or burst.
Understanding the labels
If you don’t have a lot of working experience of the batteries, information given on the batteries won’t make a lot of sense to you. This information is extremely important for vapers, so let’s demystify some of the most common terms you’ll see. Remember, most 18650 batteries produce 3.7V, and chargers have an auto-shut off system when the battery reaches 4.2V.
I : a Lithium-Ion (Li-ion) battery
M : Positive ion is Manganese
C : Positive ion is Cobalt
N : Positive ion is Nickel
F : Positive ion is Iron (the symbol for iron is Fe)
R : Round
F : Flat
18650 : the battery is 18mm thick and 65mm in height
For example, in case of the Samsung INR18650, it’s a Li-Ion battery, with nickel as positive ion, round shape, dimensions: 18mm by 65mm. Likewise, the LG IMR 18650 2500mAh 3.6V is a Li-Ion battery, with Manganese as positive ion, round shape, dimensions: 18mm by 65mm, a capacity of 2500mAh and 3.6V nominal voltage.
Five classes of batteries
While there is no standard classification of batteries per se, but for better understanding, we have divided them into five classes, based on their capacity. According to our experience and personal likings, we’ll also recommend the best in class for each category.
- Class One – 3500mAh
The Class One has the highest capacity of 3500mAh, however, they usually have the lowest discharge i.e. 10 amp or even lower. These type of batteries are ideal for use with mods having wattage of 30W or lower, and can support resistances of 0.5ohm and above.
The best in Class One is LG MJ1 18650, a relatively new battery with a capacity of up to 3500mAh, an average voltage of 3.6V and a lifespan of up to 400 cycles. The battery isn’t one of the cheapest options, and can cost you around $15.
- Class Two – 3000mAh
Another high capacity class, with a 3000mAH capacity and a slightly higher, 15amp, discharge. They are ideal for use with 30-60W mods. These batteries can support a coil resistance of as low as 0.27ohm.
The winner for Class Two is the Samsung INR18650-30Q, with a maximum capacity of 3000mAh and 15amp discharge rate. With a nominal voltage of 3.6V, this is a rather more affordable choice costing around $6.
- Class Three – 2500mAh
For Class Three, the capacity comes down to 2500mAh but the discharge rate goes up to 20amps. Ideal for use with medium wattage i.e. 60 to 80 watts, these batteries usually support a resistance as low as 0.19ohm.
LG is again the winner in Class Three with its LG HE2 18650 battery that has a capacity of 2500mAh and 20amp discharge rate. It offers a voltage of 3.7v and costs around $12.
- Class Four – 2000mAh
As the capacity comes down to 2000mAh for Class Four, the amperage goes up to 25amps. These batteries are ideal for use with powerful mods that can support wattage between 80 and 120W and a coil resistance of 0.15ohm.
Sony US18650VTC4 with a maximum capacity of 2100mAh and discharge of 30A is the winner in class four. It offers nominal voltage of 3.7V and costs around $10.
- Class Five – 1500mAh
The class with lowest capacity of 1500mAh has the highest discharge rate of up to 30amps, and can be used with very powerful mods i.e. more than 120W. Moreover, they can support extremely low resistance, such as 0.12ohm.
The best in Class Five is LG HB6 with a capacity of 1500mAh and 30amp discharge. It has a nominal voltage of 3.6V and costs around $5.
How about rewrapped batteries for vaping?
Only the three big battery manufacturers could make it to our top five list because most other vape battery brands are rewrapped cells from these manufacturers. Toshiba, Panasonic, Hitachi, and BYD also offer decent 18650 vaping batteries. The biggest possible issue with rewrapped batteries is that they can be the pieces that didn’t make it through quality assurance and testing by the renowned manufacturers, and are purchased by a different company, rewrapped and sold under a different brand name. Usually, they have exaggerated ratings and sometimes even a higher price.
Some rewrapped batteries are of decent quality and even their rating can be nearly the same as mentioned on the label. However, it’s better to stay away from these murky waters because they are not from actual manufacturers, but just brands who have nothing to lose.
How to calculate wattage output of a battery
While mod manufacturers label the power in terms of wattage, battery manufacturers do so in terms of amperage and voltage. So, for newbies, it might be a little confusing if the battery they are buying will give enough power to attain maximum wattage. Fortunately, it’s very easy to calculate how much wattage your battery will give. If you have a single vape that supports 18650, your voltage is 4V (more accurately it’s about 3.7V but to make calculations easier we use 4), and for dual battery vape, the voltage is 8V. Multiplying the voltage with amps will give the approximate wattage output. For example, if you have a 160W dual battery mod, you need two 18650 batteries of 20amp (20*8=160). Likewise, if you own a 40W mod, you can do with a 10amp battery (10*4=40) and also enjoy a higher capacity.
Single battery or dual battery mod?
Vapers want bigger clouds and manufacturers have done a variety of things to fulfil their fantasies, from ridiculously lowering the resistance of coils to using very high power batteries. Some modern, high power mods that offer wattage as high as 200, can’t simply run a single 18650 battery, so the manufacturers used two 18650 vape batteries. This not only increases the output power, but also doubles the battery life.
So, does that mean you should always choose a mod that supports two batteries? Maybe, or maybe not. The extra power comes at a cost. Firstly, the dual 18650 mods are bigger in size and not very pocket-friendly. Secondly, while many mods can be charged with a USB cable, the dual 18650 mods need an external charger. Lastly, they cost considerably more than a mod that supports a single battery. So depending on your style and expectations, you can either choose a single or dual battery mod.
Protected vs unprotected batteries
While most batteries produced today are protected batteries, there are some unprotected batteries that you should either stay away from or use with extreme care. Protected batteries have a built-in, small circuit board in them that prevents the battery from overcharge, over-discharge or even overheating. While this smart circuit is absent in unprotected batteries, extra caution is required when using or charging them. When they are in use, unprotected batteries produce 4.2V when fully charged, but then their output quickly comes down to somewhere around 3.6V. Once they are close to being fully discharged, their voltage drops very rapidly, and if discharged below 3V, they become simply unusable. When charging, you need a special charger that stops charging the batteries once they are fully charged i.e. 4.2V, or the batteries can get damaged.
Rumored Tesla 18650 batteries
Tesla, the prestigious American automotive and energy store company, is rumored to be working on their own 18650 battery, in a secret plant somewhere in the Nevada desert. If you’re wondering why would they make vape batteries, you probably don’t know that Tesla Model S has a special 70-90 kWh lithium-ion battery, which contains thousands of cylindrical 18650 battery cells. Tesla is already an industry leader in terms of battery, but they want to take it to a new level. The company is working out on changing the way the 18650 batteries are made, and are trying to offer the most powerful yet the most affordable batteries. We aren’t so sure how they will make the badest batteries, but maybe making one battery in massive quantities – like Samsung makes their 25R – could bring the manufacturing cost down.
If the rumors about Tesla 18650 batteries are even remotely true, this could be a great news for vapers. We might see a whole new line of mods after the breakthrough in battery manufacturing happens. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.
Safety and battery preservation tips
- Keep your batteries out of reach of children and pets.
- If you had to do just one thing to manifold your vape battery’s life, it should be not charging it to a 100%. In other words, instead of charging to 4.2V, charge it to about 3.6V or 3.8V and use it.
- Assuming you’re using a protected battery, if you fully charge your battery, then calibrate it. It means to use your battery until it’s nearly empty and then charge it again.
- Don’t buy a cheap charger. Get a reputable charger, that lets you adjust the voltage. If you’re a serious vaper, choose a more sophisticated charger like the Soshine S7. You’ll be able to see how much energy your battery is taking in, so you’ll know if you’re really getting the mAh you’ve paid for and how quickly your battery is degrading over time.
- Don’t leave your batteries dead for too long.
- If you intend not to use your batteries for a while, charge them to about 60% and store them in a cool, dry place — ideally around 60 degrees Fahrenheit. While some people store batteries in the refrigerator, most battery manufacturers say it’s not necessary. If you really want to store your 18650 in a fridge, make sure to put them in a sealed plastic bag to prevent condensation.
- Never leave batteries in your device or charger for too long, when you’re not using them.
- Don’t leave dead batteries in your device; instantly take them out and dispose them off properly.
- Never disassemble, crush, damage or throw your batteries in fire.
- Don’t carry loose batteries in your pocket, especially with other metallic objects like coins as there is always a risk of short-circuit.
- If you have a dual battery mod, never use one old and one new battery together.
- Don’t use two different types or brands of batteries together, no matter if they have the same power and capacity.
- Clean the contact surfaces of your batteries by gently rubbing them with pencil eraser or a clean cloth.
Instead of trying to find a silver bullet: one battery that fits all vapers’ needs, acquire as much battery knowledge as possible and then figure out the battery that best fits you bill. This is why we have put together almost everything a you need to know about batteries. Although we have named a few batteries, but it doesn’t mean that other batteries don’t perform well. The best way forward would be treating this guide as a starting point, you have to experiment with different batteries and see which one suits your vaping style. Then you can find your best 18650 vape battery. A few takeaways you should consider are: don’t buy clones or rewrapped batteries, don’t buy the cheapest battery, buy from trusted vendors, be cautious when storing or charging your batteries and enjoy your vape… responsibly!