18650 Battery Buying Guide for Vapor Users

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Buying Choices

When buying an 18650 battery or batteries for your vape you might be overwhelmed because you are faced with too many  options and brands etc. What this article will do is try to convey is that although there are many choices… there are only a few really good choices when it comes to vaping. Buying a good 18650 is easier than you think and this article will attempt to explain why.

Cutting to the chase

We have carefully chosen the batteries that we feel are best for vaping and have focused on only offering these cells to the vape world in our store. We have bought these cells in big bulk and are now offering them at wholesale pricing.  In the beginning we sold only what sold…and have carried mxjo, fony sonys (we even made clear they were fonies) but decided to yank those brands and sell what’s right. We can buy and offer any battery…but have decided to only offer the cells we really believe in regardless of how well they sale. For us the choices were easy…these cells are clearly better than all the others for vapng. Here is a link to our batteries and what we feel are the best prices in the industry for authentic name brand cells:

http://www.wakeandvape.com/parts-new/batteries/

Here are the cells we recommend and why:

Samsung 25r 

The 25r has proven itself to be high performance highly stable cell.. If you are looking for pure high amperage performance at a decent size (2500mah) there is no better cell than this. It is made in mass quantities and for that reason it’s price is low. The Samsung 25r was made to compete with the original sony vtc5. In fact it is so good..it is overkill for most vapor users…more  on that later.

LG He4 2500mah

Widely considered to be the cell most competent to stand up the Samsung 25r for high amperage vaping. Because it is newer design it very well might be better than the 25r and at the same low price because it is made in huge quantity.

Panasonic NCR B 3400mah

This cell is the market leader for huge capacity (3400mah), meaning it has the highest power density. If you do not need high wattage when you vape, the Panasonic is the perfect battery because of its huge capacity. This is among the most expensive cells on the market. (read our review on this cell when we called it most underrated vape battery)

Samsung 29e  2850mah

A high capacity cell  with a very descent amp rating (10 amps continuous) at an affordable price. This is a very good value cell for the vapor user  who does not need high amperage. It is the same price as the 25r and 25 percent larger capacity.

LG HG2  3000mah

A very exciting new cell that uses the latest technology to make a battery that is both large capacity (3000mah) and high amperage (20amp continuous) based on the manufacturer claims this may be the Samsung 25r killer. However, this cell is more expensive than any of the other cells and is too new to have really proven itself yet. it is currently one of the hottest cells on the market…for good reason.

Samsung 30q  3000mah

Samsung’s answer to the LG-HG2. A 3000 mah cell with a relatively high discharge; 15 amps continuous. Like the LH HG2, it is too new to know how this cell will stack up and, of course, it is more expensive than other cells.

Friends do not let friends buy MXJO or Efest

Chinese companies such as this have made their mark on the vape world by selling batteries with hyped up performance numbers that are simply not true. These batteries are actually more expensive than name brand, quality batteries and offer less performance. To put it short they are rip offs…and are a Chinese version of bad marketing BS.

Both MXJO and Efest are great examples of re-wrapped batteries.

What is a Re-Wrapped Battery?

There are many battery companies that are not actually manufacturers, but are simply brands. Meaning, they do not make their own cells and are just buying cells from other manufacturers and “rewrapping them” with their own case that has their own brand name and their own logo.

Most rewrapped batteries are Chinese brands. The first thing vapors must realize is that many of these brands have nothing to lose, and can make greatly exaggerated claims regarding performance with no bad fall back. For example ultrafire will claim 6000mah capaicty in cells that are tested to be only 1000mah.  Of course the other grossly exaggerated stat is amp rating…and to sale to vapors, many of these companies will make outrageous claims..  We really recommend that the consumer stay away from all re-wrapped batteries. Here is a list of battery brands highly suspected of being re-wraps:

  • Efest
  • MXJO
  • AW
  • AWT
  • Boost
  • Sigelei
  • Imren
  • Ultrafire
  • Trustfire
  • Orbtronic
  • EH
  • GTL
  • Robiton
  • AWT
  • EagleTac
  • AmpMax
  • Basen
  • BattEnergy
  • EnerPower
  • Fenix
  • Intl-outdoor
  • Redilast
  • Xtar

Highly Respected Battery Manufacturers

Here are the key manufacturers for 18650 batteries which are pushing the edge and making better and cheaper batteries:

  • Samsung
  • LG
  • Panasonic

Sony no longer manufactures 18650 batteries for consumer use (such as vapers) and most Sony cells on the market are fake, which is why we have not included Sony on this list. (read our article on clone batteries)

Beware of clones

The fact the the Sony VTC-5 is the most sold battery on Amazon and Ebay, and has been out of  production for over 3 years (read this article about the vtc5 fiasco ) is an indicator that probably every VTC-5 you have seen in the last few years is a fake… cloned 18650s are a huge problem in the vape industry. Clones can be indistinguishable from authentic based on sight and initial testing. China is full of clones. We highly recommend you buy your 18650s from a trusted source and avoid buying Sonys or any name brand battery from China. The vape market is full of clones and while they work well at first, they will always have a greatly reduced life expectancy compared to authentics.

Low Quality Clones and Re-wraps have been good for the Vape  Industry  (sad but true)

Many unscrupulous sellers,  especially certain brick and mortar owners have made a big business from selling and hyping clone and low quality rewrap batteries (knowingly or unknowingly who knows).  Its a good thing for a retailer when a customer has to return every week and replace your worn out  batteries. Bad quality non name brand or clone batteries are as expendable as coils and can go bad just as fast …and a lot more expensive. If you find your batteries are not lasting longer than a week…its time to change suppliers and try another battery. It is imperative that you buy your 18650 batteries from a vendor  that you trust.  Quality 18650 batteries should not only put out the amps you need….they should also last a long time!

Buying bleeding edge 18650s The importance of buying big brand batteries.

If you are looking for the best in battery performance in terms of amperage and capacity and life expectancy, then you want to buy the best… the most technological 18650s available. Only manufacturers like LG, Samsung, and Panasonic are researching and making such cells. They spend millions in development costs and millions in testing to see how good these cells really are. There are no Chinese brands that are doing this or even capable of doing this. These are brand new, high-performance cells that they do not share with anyone. Meaning that you cannot get re-wraps, no matter what the companies selling them say, of the best cells on the market. Examples of  bleeding edge cells  currently on the market include the Samsung 25r and  30q, the LG HG2, and the Panasonic NCR B.  These cells are industry leaders and would be very very hard to clone.

18650s where are they made

The best 18650s on the planet, the bleeding edge cells, are being made in Korea and Japan. Although there are rumors that Japanese or Korean companies have cells made in China, it is not their best cells and it is not the entire cell. For the best cells on the market, Korean and Japanese companies have more sense than to share their manufacturing secrets with China. For their cheaper cells it is possible but they are not open about this. Most LG cells say on the box “Made in Korea”, and most Samsung cells say on the box that they are “Made in korea ” or made in “Japan”.  For years now the best lithium chemistry batteries have been made in Korea….and its one place china has not been able to dip their feet.

Tesla is rumored to be changing the way 18650 batteries are made and is currently working on a  top secret 18650 battery manufacturing plant in the Nevada desert. The rumor is that Tesla will attempt to make batteries en mass for cheaper than they can even be made in Asia, utilizing the latest in robotic technology and of course the very latest in battery chemical research.  The trick to making 18650s affordable is to make one battery in huge quantity…much like the samsung 25r is made now.

Regarding Capacity

Capacity is how much energy the battery stores. Most quality 18650s have a capacity between 2000 and 3400. These numbers measure how long it will last on one charge. The higher the capacity, the more power density and the more valuable the cell. Note that the capacity is when the cell is brand new, and as you use the cell its capacity will decrease over time, as well as due to mistreatment of your battery such as letting it get hot to the touch. The higher quality the cell, the longer its capacity will stay high. Cheap quality cells can lose half their capacity in a weeks time under heavy vaping. That is why it is a very good idea to spend the money and get big brand batteries like Samsung, LG, or Panasonic.

Regarding amperage

This is where it get tricky. Capacity is easily tested…a batteries amperage is not. There are many variables on how the amperage rating is defined that makes it possible for companies to grossly exaggerate amp rating with no repercussions.

Name brand cells are conservative on how they rate their cells. They do not want people pushing the performance envelope because it is common knowledge that if abused 18650s can be fire hazards. Name brand cells give very conservative continuous rating for amperage rating. Continuous is very different than burst rate…which is the only important thing for a vape user since nobody is vaping for hundreds of watts for minutes at a time.

Calculating wattage output of a battery

Vapes are sold based on how much wattage they put out. Batteries are sold by voltage and amperage, making it more confusing to pick an appropriate battery for a vape.

If you are using a single 18650 vape your voltage is 4 volts..and if you multiply  the amps by the volts you will get the wattage. For example a 25r rated for 20amps will put out 80 watts continuous in a single 18650 vape. In a dual 18650 vape, the 18650s are in series so they put out 8 volts. 25r cells will put out 160 watts safely for minutes at a time….but in reality for short burst will put out much much more….meaning a 25r is probably more than enough battery for almost any vape user.

How much amperage do I really need to vape?

In reality, any top quality cell is probably enough for you to vape with since most quality cells under state there amperage performance numbers. Most cells are rated based on continuous amperage output. And in reality, no vapor user needs this. Vapors vape in short bursts and any quality 18650 is going to have a high wattage capability in bursts. A Samsung 25r, for example, has been proven to be able to put out 100amp bursts (it is rated conservatively for 40 amp bursts), which to put in perspective on a 2 cell 18650 mod would be enough to push 800 watts…enough to barbecue a chicken.

The easiest way to know if your batteries are capable of putting out the amperage you need is, actually, your batteries. If your vape gets hot, then this means you are being too hard on your cells and you are reducing their life expectancy. Please note that getting warm is normal… but getting hot is another subject. If you find your vape is getting hot to the touch while using it, it is time to upgrade to a higher amperage battery. Batteries that get hot will not keep the same capacity for as long as a battery that is kept cool.

Regarding Amperage and capacity

To get a cell with both high amperage and high capacity, you have to go to the bleeding edge of 18650 technology and get the best cells available.

The He4 and 25r is among the best cells available for putting out high amperage with a decent capacity (2500mah).

The LG He4 is very close to the performance of the Samsung 25r. Both batteries have the same MAH rating with the same rating for amperage output.

You cannot go wrong with the He4 or the Samsung 25r in terms of a high amperage 18650 cell at a respectable mah rating (2500). These are some of the highest performance cells on the market and are used in high power electric vehicles for this reason.

Which battery you choose between these 2 is a matter of availability, price, and personal opinion. And to be honest, you can’t go wrong with either.

Now there are some new cells on the market which offer even higher capacity and also high amperage.  Look into the new Samsung 30q and the LG HG2 (brown battery) for 3000mah batteries that are 25 percent larger than the older HE4 and 25r and offer the same high amperage discharge. These are the cells that everyone is watching and very well might be the future.

LIFECYCLE…The most important question

20amp.jpg

This is from tests with LG performed on the HE4. You can see after 200 cycles the cell dips below 2000mAh, a 20% decrease in capacity, which is LG’s official cut-off point for their rating of cycle life. The cell continues operating past 300 cycles, but the capacity will continue to reduce at that point.

Keep in mind this test was done at 20amps continuous which is much more rigorous than burst amperage output, which applies more to vaping. When using in a vaping device, you can expect an even longer life span from your battery. Especially if you are careful to not let your vape get hot to the touch. When the cell starts heating up is a sure sign that you are deteriorating its life span early. With proper care, you can easily expect 500 cycles before the LG He4 needs replacing when using in any mod.

Tips for at least doubling the life of your cells

A lot of  new information has been gotten from car manufacturers such as Tesla who actually use large banks of 18650s spot welded together to power their cars, and you can use some of this research and understanding to greatly increase the life expectancy of your cellls if you want to be a real battery miser.  Using these tips its possible to get up to 1000 charges from a quality 18650  battey, especially if you dont vape hard..

Here are some tricks to greatly extend the life of your battery just by changing the way you charge your batteries:

  • Ideally do not charge your battery to 100 percent each time you charge. Instead of charging to 4.2 volts charge to 3.5 volts. This can as much as quadruple your battery life.
  • Invest in a fancy charger that allows you to change maximum voltage
  • Do not charge over 1 amp to further prolong life. The slower you charge the better for battery life
  • If you are charging to 4.2 volts…wait until your battery is almost dead before charging.
  • Do not allow your battery to remain dead for long periods of time, especially if its plugged in your vape.

Geek Out on your chosen cell

All name brand manufacturers release data charts such as the one above on each of their cells  so users will know what to expect from their cells in terms of life expectancy. For any name brand battery you should be able to find testing data on how much amperage it puts out, life expectancy etc…  if you are using a battery that is a re-wrap and you cannnot find any testing data on the internet…that probably means the cell is not worth testing and not worth wasting money on in the future.

The key is to select a cell that will put out the amperage you need, be as  large as  possible (mah), and will stand the test of time meaning it will still be useful after a month of hard use.

Putting your batteries to the real life test

Consider buying a sophisticated charger like the Soshine s7 which will actually measure in MAH how much energy your battery is taking in. This will not only assure you that you are getting the mah you are paying for when you buy batteries, but also will show you how fast your battery degrades in time. A cheaper quality or clone battery will degrade very quickly while a good battery should last months even with heavy use.

What if you want more?

If you want to experiment with the latest and greatest 18650 battery technologies, you can try moving up to a 3000mah cell with high amperage. The 2 most exciting cells on the market are the Samsung 30q and the LG Hg2. Time will tell if these batteries are the He4 and 25r slayers their stats claim them to be.

How to know if my battery is any good?

Almost any 18650 will put out the amperage that a vape will need…even the high power vapes. But the real question is how long will your battery last at these high energy levels before it will lose most of its capacity and become useless.

To Recap:

Here is how you do not waste money on a battery that becomes useless quickly:

  • Only buy batteries from proven brands, i.e. Samsung, LG, Panasonic
  • Avoid Sony because the majority of them are clones
  • Stick to korean or japanese made when it comes to 18650s
  • Avoid re-wrapped batteries… you really don’t know what you are getting.
  • Buy from a trusted vendor so you know what you are getting.
  • Avoid cloned batteries.
  • If you vape in big watts, buy a high amperage battery.
  • If you vape low wattage then buy a high capacity (mah) battery.
  • If you want high amps and high capacity, buy a bleeding edge cell like the LG HG2 or Samsung 30q.
  • Invest in quality batteries.
  • Do not buy Efest or MXJO batteries and do not let your friends buy them! You are overpaying for chinese marketing hype and can get a quality name brand battery for less money.