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By: Nicholas King.
Last Updated: November 30th, 2018.
Choosing The Right 18650 Batteries
If you enjoy debate about batteries and deciphering obscure references to Ohms, wattage, discharge rate, and Amperage, just stroll into the midst of a conversation at a vaping convention! Although the subject seems somewhat impenetrable to the new vaper, there is actually a straightforward way to get vaping safely without having to dive too deeply into the subject. We’ll get you headed in the right direction in a few really easy steps.So when choosing you have to select which one of the above is more suited to your type of vaping. High-capacity batteries generally have a lower continuous discharge and of course, high discharge batteries have a lower capacity.
Li-Ion 18650 Batteries are the Bomb
Start with one simple fact: Most of us grew up with AA and AAA batteries in the home and have a favourite among the Duracells, Energizers or others, but although 18650 batteries look like a more powerful or souped-up version of an AA battery, they are not the same thing at all.
Li-Ion 18650 batteries are in a different class altogether, and we must exercise some care to ensure we don’t become a battery explosion statistic, rare as they are. If you want to vape like a mini steam locomotive, you’ll need to find the right gear and match it to the correct battery.
Asking ‘What is the best 18650 battery?’ is like asking ‘What is the best car?’. Best car for what? Like everything else we buy, vapers must judge whether their batteries are fit for purpose. Now, we’d like you to buy a battery already so you can get vaping! So let’s have a look:
Life’s Big Sliding Scale
Most of the consumer choices we make contain some form of a sliding scale of pros and cons, factors that make an item more or less suitable for its purpose. Sports car owners usually love speed and are more likely to purchase high-speed tires than a suburban taxi mum, who would probably prefer to get more mileage from her tires.
When attending the social event of the year, my partner might show off her outfit with a pair of killer heels, even if it means she can’t mingle because her feet hurt! The big sliding scale forces her to choose between fashion and comfort to get something that is ‘fit for the particular purpose’.
The Battery Sliding Scale
You have to weigh up two major factors when picking 18650 batteries, keeping in mind the symbiotic balance between these two specifications. They are:
- Density – we usually mean ‘how long the battery can last’ or usage time. Density is measured in milli-Amp hours (variously depicted as mAh or maH, MAh).
- Discharge – we usually mean the rate of current which the battery can deliver, we tend to think of this as ‘power’ because the higher the current, the higher the wattage output. Discharge is measured in continuous Amps (A).
In theory, your 3000mAh battery should draw 3000 milliAmp for the period of one hour, or 1000 milliAmp for three hours. In practice, cells are not 100% efficient, but it is a good guideline, so it is clear that a 3000mAh will last longer than a 1500mAh battery.
In the ideal world, we would choose the highest mAh and highest amperage battery possible. Sadly, technology is not there yet, and the small size of these cells means there will always be a tradeoff between capacity and high current.
Choosing a high power battery means accepting lower capacity, and vice versa. This ‘sliding scale’ is non-negotiable and unavoidable: The higher the density, the lower the discharge rate. Batteries are getting better though, and there are whispers that the inimitable Elon Musk is working on 18650 batteries that will soon blow our socks off!
As a result of this see-saw relationship between capacity and discharge, batteries are grouped into three broad ranges: high capacity/low power, high power/low capacity, and several variants that fall somewhere in between. Your vaping gear will determine where you go on the sliding scale.
Safety of 18650 Batteries
Now this is a very important subject, we have all read the headlines about vaping explosions, and more often than not it is because of the battery that is being used. To cover this subject fairly we have a separate article all about the safety and handling of Lithium-ION batteries that you should read!
Reverting to Battery Type
To make things easier all round, the broad ranges have been further categorized into 5 Types of batteries. This helps new vapers because it means that that you just need to choose the correct class for your particular mod. The battery types are labeled A-B-C-D-E.
Every manufacturer has their own color-coding system to help users choose the correct type of battery. Just remember that every company has their own system; a green battery may be a Type A, but could also be a different brand Type E. Always check the info printed on the battery to ensure you have the correct battery ‘Type’.
3 Easy Steps To Choose The Correct Battery For Your Vape
- Look at your mod and check whether it is a regulated or unregulated (mechanical) mod. These two types of mods differ. Mechanical mods are used only by advanced users who possess a good knowledge of batteries and can be ‘fine-tuned’ to heights of performance not possible with regulated mods. Examples of regulated mods can be found in our list of the best box mods. We haven’t actually reviewed any unregulated mods as they are not recommended to the general vaping community.
- Next, look at the battery type chart and choose the correct type. If you aren’t sure, sub-Ohm vapers should err on the side of caution and rather pick a high-drain (high current/Amp) battery just in case you floor it in a moment of extreme enthusiasm! The bigger mechanical mods can draw serious current, and you will need batteries built for that purpose. We suggest that advanced users brush up on their ‘Ohm’s law’ before putting together their sub-ohm gear, and to fire it with an appropriate battery.
- Look for the best battery in class. We’ve put together a list with some good options which can be found on our list of the best 18650 batteries for vaping.
All Li-Ion Batteries Are Not Equal
Pause before you buy re-wrapped batteries and never buy known clones or the cheapest brands. It’s also good to find and support a trusted vendor who won’t swap good batteries for fakes. Most of the best vape products, shown on our list may offer their own batteries, but do a bit of digging to figure out which brand it actually is to be 100% safe. Be prudent when charging and storing your batteries and gear, and enjoy your vape!