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.
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:
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 tyres than a suburban taxi mum, who would probably prefer to get more mileage from her tyres.
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’.
You have to weigh up two major factors when picking 18650 batteries, keeping in mind the symbiotic balance between these two specifications. They are:
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.
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 seperate article all about the safety and handling of Lithium-ION batteries that you should read!
To make things easier all round, the broad ranges have been further categorised 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 labelled 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 Samsung 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’.
|TYPE A||TYPE B||TYPE C||TYPE D||TYPE E|
|Ultra High Density (Up to 3500 mAh)||High Density (Up to 3000 mAh)||Medium Density (Up to 2500 mAh)||Low Density (Up to 2000 mAh)||Very Low Density (Up to 1500 mAh)|
|Very Low Discharge – Up to 10Amp||Low Discharge – Up to 15Amp||Medium Discharge – Up to 20Amp||High Discharge – Up to 25 Amp||Ultra High Discharge – Up to 30 Amp|
|Recommended usage: No more than 30 Watts||Recommended usage: 30 – 60 Watts||Recommended for Regulated mods 40 - 80W||Recommended for Regulated mods 60 – 120W||Recommended for Regulated mods 120+ Watts|
|Mechanical Mods 0.4Ohm or higher||Mechanical Mods 0.27 to 0.4 Ohms||MECHANICAL MODE 0.19 to 0.26 OHMS||MECHANICAL MODE 0.15 to 0.18 OHMS||MECHANICAL MODS 0.14 to 0.12 OHMS|
|Average Voltage 3.6V||Average Voltage 3.6V||Average Voltage 3.7V||Average Voltage 3.7V||Average Voltage 3.6V|
|Example: LG MJI 18650||Example: Samsung INR18650-30Q||Example: LG HE2 18650||Example: Sony VTC5||Example: LG HB6|
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 e cig manufacturers 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!