Why 18650 cells and not some other size?
18650 cells are the same cell used in the Tesla electric car, in its giant battery pack. It uses 1000’s of these tiny cells soldered together. Why? They are cheap and made in mass production. 18650 is one of the most affordable solutions to go lithium because they are made in massive quantity and are used in everything from power tools to laptop batteries. For the hand-held vaporizer the 18650 is absolutely perfect solution. They are a bargain and the shape and size adapts well to vape designs. You dont have to put 10,000 of them together to get the capacity or voltage you need (like in a tesla). For vape user the most they will ever need in a vape is 2 18650s…and most users will only need one.
Quality 18650’s does not mean expensive
Some of the best 18650 cells on the market are Samsung and Panasonic. But other names can be more expensive and sometimes exaggerate amp output etc. Be careful of these designer brands. The reason Samsung and Panasonic batteries can offer a better battery for cheaper is because they are made in huge production runs. There is a reason why Tesla uses either Pansonic or Samsung 18650 cells to make their packs.
What is mAh rating?
The milli-Amp-hours (mAh) rating is the capacity of the cell, meaning how much charge the battery holds. This number is when the cell is brand new, as you use it this mAh rating will slowly fade if you are using a quality name brand cell, and fall like a rock if you are using a made-in-China cell. The mark of a quality cell is it will continue to give you good capacity after months of hard use. Most 1860 cells sold to vapor users today are between 2000 and 3400mah. There is no reason to go under 2000 with moden technology in 1860 production.
What is amp rating?
Amp rating means how much power a cell will put out, and should be continuous current. Meaning the cell puts out this energy for minutes at a time. There is also a burst rating for a cell, meaning how much it can put out for a few seconds. A Samsung 25R for example can easily put out 60amp bursts for 10 seconds at a time (and two of them in a dual-battery mod can put out 120A).
Some unscrupulous companies will publish burst rates instead of continuous rates, or will use different measuring methods to determine amp rating. It is important for the vape user not to take the amp rating at what the manufacturer claims.
How to Calculate Watts?
To calculate how many watts your cell can put out times the amp rating by the voltage. So for example an 18650 fully charged is 4 volts…a 20 amp cell can put out 80 watts. In most 2 battery mods, the 2 batteries are in series so they are really putting out 8 volts. Times that by 20 and you get 160 watts. Remember that burst rating is much higher in a cell than continuous rating. With the nature of vaping you are only taking hits of a few seconds… so in reality many cells are capable of putting out the amperage necessary to vape at high watts.
Protected vs Non-protected 18650
Protected 18650 cells have a built in circuit which protect the battery from becoming under charged or over charged which is the quickest way to ruin an 18650. These are not needed and do not fit in most of todays box mods which have built in battery protection features. As long as you are using a sophisticated modern vape wtih battery managment features, and a smart charger, you do not need protected 18650 cells.
Todays Vapes…18650 Battery Management!
Its hard to believe but just a year ago unregulated mechanical 18650 mods were all the rage. I had one catch on fire one night in a crowded bar when i put my batteries in backwards. I remember vape stores would sell these mods “for advanced users only” You really needed to understand the nature of li-on to vape safely and most people didnt. Todays box mods have changed anything. Put in your batteries backwards? No problem your mod automatically shuts down… Run your battery too low? No problem your mod shuts down. Is the 18650 you are using bad? The mod detects this and shuts down. 18650s have become more usable in the vape community because of these 18650 safety features.
It is important for vape users to go with a BIG name brand 18650 battery and all of these are made in Japan or Korea (Panasonic, Samsung, LG, AWT, etc). In general you should stay away from Chinese made 18650s because as of this writing they do not live up to their amp rating and are not consistent in high amperage environments and will degrade quickly. Many batteries supposedly made for vaping such as the Sigelie and Boost brands are actually rebranded chinese batteries and should be avoided regardless of what amp rating they claim on there package. Avoid Sony 18650 batteries because they are probably clones…the vape industry is full of clones…and most of those are Sonys.
Avoid clone 18650s. Clone batteries are more than likely impossible to detect by looking at them, and will put up similar performance numbers when brand new….but will degrade much quicker than an authentic name brand battery. Most Sony cells currently for sale to vape users are clones. Do not buy Sony 18650 cells unless you really trust the source Read our story on how to avoid clones.
How many amps do I need?
As long as you buy a quality name-brand cell with a continuous rating over 10amps you should be fine for frequent vaping up to 100 watts in a dual-battery mod, and the batteries will still last a very long time. A 10A continuous cell will likely have over a 20amp burst capability, so a dual mod with a cell like that can provide 150W when you want to dial it up. If you want to be sure, we highly recommend you buy the Samsung 25R which is the highest quality cell on the market for vaping at high amperage. It is very stable and will last long time. Plus it is a bargain.
Getting hot in your hand?…the only Gauge you need
Rather than invest in testing equipment or waste your time scouring battery tech websites, the best way to determine if your battery is giving you the amperage you need is notice the temp of your vape when you are vaping.
If you like to vape at high wattages and your vape is getting hot, you are pushing your cells hard and degrading the life expectancy of your cells. Try to let your vape cool down between sessions or consider vaping at a lower wattage. Now its time to consider investing in some higher amperage cells such as the Samsung 25R.
Or maybe its time to go to a double 18650 mod of you are only using one now.
If your vape still gets hot when using a top brand high amperage cell, then you are a vape fiend and keep doing what you are doing…but understand that your cells are probably only going to last 100-300 charges before they are gonna lose half their mAh rating…so just expect to replace your batteries often.
If your vape does not get hot when using it
You are fine and your batteries are adequate for you. You can even consider going with a larger mAh cell such as the Panasonic 3400-mAh NCR18650B which will give you ultra high capacity, which means you can vape all day on a single charge happily.
High capacity is great if you don’t need high amps!
A high capacity cell such as the NCR18650B is perfect for vapor users who vape at low watts or who vape only occasionally (short burst of vaping throughout the day). Read our write up on why the Panasonic ncr18650 be is one of our favorite batteries for vaping.
What about Charging? How fast should i charge?
The slower you charge an 18650 the longer it will last. If you are charging your batteries fast enough so that they are getting warm then you are reducing the life of the cell. Do not spend the money on a fast charger….just charge your batteries nice and slow like they should be.
Should I charge my 18650 inside my vape?
Charging your 18650 has for some reason got a bad rap in the vape community for no good reason.
There is nothing wrong charging your 18650 inside your vape if you are using a high end vape. Most modern vapes have high end 18650 battery protection built in. This not only keeps them from getting too low, but also keeps them from getting too high when charging. Also the metal case that vapes like the IPV3 or sigelie 150 can help protect your from your 18650 if it bursts into flames. Charging is the most critical time for 18650s when they are most likely to be a fire hazard. In the above picture you can see the ipv4 has vent holes in its casing. Part of the reason for this is fire containment. However we do not like that the ipv4 has a rubber door and prefer instead all metal devices such as the ipv3li or sigelie 150 for charging inside the vape.
Charging Dual Battery Mods Inside the Vape
This is where it gets tricky. The reason why no dual battery mod offers usb charging, is most dual battery mods are designed to run with the batteries in series, meaning at 8 volts. A usb charger is not strong enough to charge up to 8 volts. That is why the ipv4 uses a 9v battery charger instead of a usb charger. (buy the 9v ipv4 charger in our store).
What is “Marrying”?
Marrying batteries refers to the use of batteries in mods that take two 18650s, rather than just 1. When dealing with mods that require two batteries, buy them at the same time, brand new. Don’t use one new battery with another battery that you have used for some time. Keep them labeled and don’t do anything with one you don’t do to the other. They should be charged together and discharged together. It is advisable to change the order of the batteries in the box between cycles to prevent one battery from wearing faster than the other.
18650 and Fire Safety
Whenever you pack something full with a lot of energy it is a potential fire hazard and 18650s are no exception. If 18650s are abused they have the potential to catch fire. Here are some tips to avoid 18650 fires:
- Never attempt to charge an 18650 you suspect is damaged
- Always use a quality charger or charge your battery inside your quality vape
- Never leave your vape in a car in the hot sun
- Do not continue using your vape once it gets too hot
- Understand that 18650s are most vulnerable to fire when charging
What if I want to be extra careful about fire?
If you want to be extra careful, we recommend that you either charge your 18650s in a fire proof lipo pouch, on top of your oven, or on a fire safe place.18650’s have the possibility to catch fire, especially while charging. Charging them in or on top of a fire safe place will be added protection for you and your home in case the unthinkable happens and your 18650 catches fire while charging.
There’s a lot of mis-information out there when it comes to 18650s and vapes and we hope this article helps to clear things up. This article is to help everyone understand what you need in a battery and how to use it safely. We do not wish to scare anyone, but we do wish for the safest methods to be out there and understood. It is up to you to decide how you use this information.