Buying Guide: 18650 Box Mod Vapes

Currently in the e-cig industry, none of the higher wattage box mods have built-in non-interchangeable batteries. The vast majority of these high power box mods use easily replaceable 18650s, the same cell that the Tesla electric car company uses.

We have compiled a list of questions for people to ask themselves to decide if a removable 18650 vape is for them. And which one you should buy.

What the hell is an 18650?

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An 18650 is specifically sized battery (like AA, A, B, C, or D battery sizes) that is changing the vape, power tool, flashlight, laptop, electric bicycle, and even the electric car industry. Because the 18650 is such a huge game changer in so many industries, it is currently being made in massive quantities. Which makes it affordable and easily available. We can all have awesome rechargeable batteries made from reputable companies in Japan and Korea for an affordable price. This is a big change from just a year or two ago when we were stuck with cheap chinese batteries that were built into the device.

So 18650s are cheap and available… The key that makes an 18650 performance so awesome are 3 factors:

Power Density – quality 18650s can hold lots of energy in that small space. From 2000 to 3400mah in modern cells. Mah rating is something you really need to look at because it will tell you how much power that little cell holds.

High Amperage: Today’s 18650s can put out a lot of power (amps) Don’t listen to what the battery company claims. Many times amp numbers are exaggerated. Google your 18650 cell for real numbers.

Long Life Expectancy- Quality cells are designed to last a long time…500 charges without deteriorating….cheap quality 18650 cells (chinese brand) will not last as long.

Need to know what type of battery to buy? Read our 18650 Buying Guide for Vape Mods

What’s the biggest benefit of an 18650 Vape?

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Mods that have built in internal batteries have been rather popular in the past, and it is easy to see why. There is little need to learn about batteries, battery safety, or anything else. Just charge them up and you are good to go… right? Not many people realize this, but if you buy a mod with a built-in battery you are getting low quality battery cells that will not last a long time. When you can load your mod with a 18650 battery, you have control over the battery life and battery quality. You can load quality affordable cells made in japan or korea, which makes a huge difference on your vaping experience compared to mods with internal batteries that cannot be replaced. You can choose high amperage (for power) or high mah (for long battery life). Try out different brand names of 18650 cells and find the one that works for you. However, you need to be careful when buying 18650 batteries, you want to be sure that you are buying from a trusted vendor. There are many fakes out there (probably more fakes than there are authentic). (read our story)

What is the downside of an 18650 vape…argument for buying a built in battery?

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Many of the smaller wattage boxes such as the Kamry 20w or ELeaf mini do not have interchangeable batteries. These batteries can be extremely efficient size wise and allow the companies to be versatile on the size and style of the vape. The other big plus to this is that, when you buy it you are ready to vape…no extra batteries or chargers to buy. The downside is that you cannot replace the battery when it dies, which means you can’t vape as long, and when the battery deteriorates you have to throw away your whole vape.

One or Two 18650 batteries?

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Some of the more popular boxes are the 150 watt IPV3Li and the 150W Sigelei which put out extra power (200w), and therefore use two 18650 batteries. Because of the popularity of these two models other companies such as Kamry are following suit with large dual battery models.

Not only do these devices put out a lot of power, they also hold double the battery life (mah). This effectively gives you the capacity to vape twice as long at the same wattage without having to change or charge your batteries.

One thing to be aware of when using mods that require two 18650 batteries: Make sure that whatever you do with one battery you also do to other. This is called “marrying” among vapers. What you want to do, and this is what we recommend, is to purchase two new batteries at the same time. Then label them, such as “B1” and “B2”. Not only do you want to use them together, but you also want to switch how you use them each time. You will want to switch their locations, i.e. “B1””B2” first, then next time “B2””B1”. This way they are used together, are drained the same way together, and are charged together.

Another thing is that none of these dual 18650 mods have built-in charging. This means that you will have to deal with the added expense and hassle of using an external charger to charge 2 batteries while also being unable to vape on your new mod. Nothing big, but something you should be aware of.

How Big Is It?

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Here is a critical question that I think is often overlooked by vape buyers. Dual 18650 battery mods are larger than some might expect. Single 18650 battery mods are typically tall enough to hide in your hand while using, especially if you have larger hands. Dual 18650 battery mods are not only taller, but are also wider, making even large hands seem smaller while using them. This is something to think about, especially if you are one who likes to carry their mod in their pockets or you have smaller hands. For the most part, though, the sizes are not all that different and I rarely hear someone complain that their dual 18650 battery mod is too large for them to use.

For me who has one of everything….i rarely take a large dual battery mod in public because its cumbersome for me to carry around. I prefer tiny.  Also if stealth is a concern….of course the larger the vape the less stealthy it is.

Does it charge with USB?

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The latest “must have” feature in a 18650 box, is being able to charge it with a standard USB cord. It is obvious why, it is an awesome convenience. Currently the only boxes that offer this option are single battery 18650s. (read our article why). None of the high amperage dual 18650 battery units charge with USB and most require you buy an external charger which adds to expense and house clutter. After all, who wants another charger around? We can all do with less wire clutter.

How do I access the batteries?

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This may seem unnecessary to talk about, but trust me on this… the battery door on your mod is important. Especially if your plan is to charge your 18650(s) externally, and you will be forced to charge them externally if you are buying a dual 18650 battery mod. Being able to quickly take the battery off and have it be quickly secured when put back on will save you time and mental anguish. And if you vape as much as I do, that time saved adds up quickly. The battery door is a very important consideration on mods with removeable 18650s.

Different designs have different battery doors. Since on most 18650 box mods you will need to take out the battery to charge, an easy tool-less battery removal is key.

Here are some different company takes on battery removal:

Sigelei tends to use magnetic battery doors, these are the most ingenious battery doors available.

IPV Mini 2 utilizes a battery door that very conveniently screws off with just your fingertips.

The original IPV3 utilizes a battery door that requires the use of a speicial  screwdriver, similar to the IPV Mini 2  to get into the battery compartment. Easy to misplace the screwdriver and being unable to get to your batteries until it is found or replaced.

IPV3Li and D2 uses a “slide & click” battery door concept, where you simply slide the battery door on or off and it secures in place with an audible “click”.

How much do the 18650s and charger cost?

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When buying a mod with removable 18650 batteries, you also have to factor in the cost of the batteries as well as a battery charger capable of charging 18650 batteries safely if the mod does not charge through USB.

A lot of retailers keep a competitive price on the mech and box mods but mark the hell out of the 18650 batteries. Be aware that it is rather difficult to ensure that the batteries you are buying are authentic (read story), so always buy from a reputable seller. Right now, some of the best batteries on the market for vaping are the Samsung 25r’s, which have recently been updated, and the LG batteries, both the HG2’s and the HE4’s.

We are proud to offer grade A, authentic good batteries for the best price possible and highly suggest you buy our batteries from us as they are authentic.

We also have some of the best prices on external chargers. We recommend the Nitecore Intellicharger D2, which is a great charger, and our Wake and Vape Energizer, which not only charges your batteries through a Micro USB cord but will also charge your phone or any other electric that charges through USB and can hold up to 4 18650 batteries.

So straight to the chase 7 bucks each for a quality battery from us….$15-20 for the charger.

Should I buy a big brand name mod?

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Brand name in a mod is important these days because most are being made in China, and everyone knows it can be hit or miss when it comes to chinese factory products.

For removable 18650 mods, there are 2 brand names that are completely dominating the market right now: Sigelei and Pioneer4you. No other brand name comes anywhere close to offering quality removable battery 18650 mods at an affordable price. These are high end vapes with every detail worked out. It can be easily argued that these are not only the most popular throughout the vape market, but also the best. The chipset that controls any mod is extremely important, especially in the newer mods that can use Temp Control. Sigelei and Pioneer4you share the same brand of chipsets and no chipset has yet to have been proven to be better than the one they use.

The other big brand names such as Kamry, ELeaf, and Kangertech who once dominated the market are now playing catch up and are releasing removable 18650 mods at a ridiculously price making it easy to find some real bargains. However, none of these brands as of yet have gotten any foothold to compete with Pioneer4you or Sigelei.

There are some excellent mods out there from small, relatively unknown brands like SMY, Limwell, HTS etc. Buying from these brands are a great choice if you are wanting to buy something unique along with features like a large full color screen. These brands typically do not make their mods with Temp Control in mind, but if you are not looking to get into Temp Control and you want a mod that few, if any, have ever seen before, then looking into the above brands is an excellent choice that you won’t regret.

How good are its battery protection features?

This is very important issue and another reason why it is smart to not mess with cheaper, no name box mods. 18650s can be dangerous if abused. IT use to be 18650 mods were mechanical and had no battery protection features and they were sold to advanced users only.

Thank to new technologies in box mods…18650s are much safer and easier to use.

You will want to make sure your new box mod has as many protections as possible so that your batteries, your mod, and yourself are all safe. 18650s can be a fire hazard if abused!

First of all, the box mod should be made of metal. Plastic mods are popping up here and there, especially with the popularity of 3D printers, but there is little security in vaping on a box made of plastic. Your box not only needs to be metal, but it also need to have vent holes just in case one or both of your batteries fail. The vent holes will give you much needed time to save your mod and yourself. You want your box mod to be as fireproof as possible, hence why we suggest only metal mods. You want your battery door to be metal (not plastic like on the IPV4) and you want that battery door to have a firm latch that won’t pop off in the unlikely case of a battery mishap.

Next, you want your box mod to have software sections which is standard for the higher end box mods. Here is a list of good 18650 protection features which should be standard on every high end 18650 mod:

  • reverse battery protection (put battery in backwards no big deal)
  • low voltage cut off (if battery is too low, voltage turns off)
  • high voltage cut off (if battery get too high, charging shuts off)
  • damaged battery sensing (shuts off mod if bad battery is detected)

Can it power a sub ohm tank?

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Tops like the Aspire Atlantis Sub Ohm and the Kanger Sub Tanks are changing the industry by providing huge clouds and excellent flavor without the hassle of a custom dripper. To power these tanks you need a battery capable of supplying the huge amps needed for a sub ohm heating coil.

How many watts does it burn?

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This determines how much power your vape has. If it’s a 20 watt Kamry it may not have the power to heat your coils effectively, whereas the 260 watt Variant is power enough to barbecue chickens… okay, so maybe not strong enough to cook a chicken, but it has a TON of power. Somewhere in the middle is a happy medium.

Does it have pass through option?

Any mod that has a USB passthrough option means that you can vape on the device while it is also charging. This can be a nice feature to have when you realize the battery is low, but you want to vape. You are, however, tethered to the outlet while using the mod like this.

Does it have Temperature Control?

Temperature Control is the hottest feature of 2015. All of the new Sigelei and Pioneer4you products have it as an optional feature. Temp Control is a hot feature right now, but only a small percentage of people who own these mods utilize it regularly. Of course, that may change as tanks improve.

But you can get amazing deals on amazing removable vapes such as the original Sig 150 if temp control is not an important feature for you.

Which 18650 do you recommend?

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For us, there is no question about it… we are huge believers in the Samsung 25r. There is just simply no better battery for high amperage vaping. Don’t listen to inflated amp numbers on batteries such as the efest or mxjo, those numbers are highly inflated in order to make sales. The Samsung 25r blows away any battery on the market currently for usage in stable, high amperage vaping. The 25r is capable of putting out bursts of over 70 amps, while at the same it can also put out 20 amps reliably and still last a long time

If high amps are not important to you, perhaps you do not vape at high watts, then buying a battery such as the LG HG2s, which have a high mah rating, will benefit you better so you can vape longer between charges.

We have 3 go-to batteries which we feel are the best on the market for vaping long periods. The LG HG2 3000mah, the Samsung 30q 3000mah, and the biggest of all the Panasonic NCR B 3400mah. Those are the best 3 batteries, in our opinion, for high mah vaping.

What are the best removable 18650 mods on the market?

This is an easy list for me.

August 2015: here are the mods that I think are the best removable battery 18650s on the market, in order from my favorites down to ones that might not be a favorite but are still awesome mods. This is a very easy list to make because all of these vapes kick ass and there are not many kick ass mods that I have left off.

  1. Sigelei 150w & Sigelei 150w Temp Control
  2. IPV3Li
  3. IPV4s
  4. IPV D2
  5. Sigelei 75w Temp Control
  6. IPV Mini 2
  7. Snow Wolf 200w Temp Control
  8. Kangertech Subbox
  9. Sigelei Mini 30w
  10. SMY 60w TC Mini Box (and original SMY 60w)