By: Nicholas King.
Last Updated: June 15th, 2017.
Many readers have asked me about battery sizes, charging and handling tips. Most of the best vape mods use 18650 rechargeable batteries or a built-in Lithium-ion battery, and I don’t think anyone can build a more powerful compact mod than the SMOK GX350, before battery technology improves. So, until Elon Musk finds a way to revolutionize 18650 batteries, Lithium-Ion cells are the most energetic rechargeable batteries available. Lithium (the element) is highly reactive and can store a lot of energy, which means a very high energy density.
Unfortunetely there are a lot of miss representation over the safety of vaping deivces, such as box and vape mods. You here in the news about vaping products bursting into flames, which you can read more about in our investigation into vaping devices exploding, but the short answer is that it is all about the care, and in most instances, the quality, of the lithium-ion battery.
|Battery type ||CWatt-hours per Kilogram of Metal |
|LI-ION ||150W |
|NiMH (nickel-metal hydride) ||60-100 |
|Lead-Acid ||25 |
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Advantages of Lithium-Ion Batteries:
- Very light because the electrodes are made of lithium and carbon
- Very efficient as they lose only 5 percent of its charge per month. NiMH batteries lose about 20% per month
- They have no memory effect so no need to completely discharge before recharging
- You can charge/discharge them hundreds of times (300-500 cycles)
- They come in all shapes and sizes, so there’s one to fit your favorite gadget (cell phone, laptop, etc)
Disadvantages of Lithium-Ion Batteries
- Start degrading almost immediately and has a limited lifespan of two to three years even if you never use them
- Acutely sensitive to high temperatures which cause faster degradation
- In a small percentage of cases, a lithium-ion battery may fail catastrophically and explode or burst into flame
- You can ruin a lithium-ion battery if you completely discharge it
9 Tips To Make Your Batteries Last Longer
- Keep them cool. Lithium-ion does badly when exposed to heat, and anything above 30°C (86°F) can impair performance. A temperature from 20 to 25°C is ideal. Never leave your charged mod in a very hot car.
- Don’t store it fully charged because that’s when oxidation of the lithium-ion is at its highest rate. It’s better to store it at around 50% charge.
- In very hot conditions, create a little nest near the eggs in the warmer part of your fridge (not freezer!)
- Lithium-Ion batteries don’t have a “charge memory” like NiCad and other batteries. Don’t engage in deep-discharge cycles. Partial-discharge cycles are better for the battery.
- If you discharge a lithium-ion battery to a level below 2.5 volts per cell, the battery will appear to be dead due to a built-in safety cut-out. You may be able to revive it using a battery analyzer with a special boost function, but if they have been stored in this condition for a few months, do not attempt to recharge it.
- If you don’t use it, you lose it. They start deteriorating on the day they leave the factory. There’s no point in keeping an extra set handy, as it will degrade right along with the set you are currently using.
- Check the manufacture date before you buy. That set of batteries on the discount shelf in the store may be as old as the set in your pocket!
- You can expect between 300 and 500 charges from your cells. I use a very thin sticker with a date of purchase on the cell to keep rough track of how many times it’s been recharged.
- Pairing can be a headache. Don’t mix up your batteries. If pairing is required for a large mod, I mark a set and never, ever use an individual cell from that set for any other purpose. This allows even charging and discharging, and the batteries remain functional for longer.
What Causes Lithium-ion Battery Explosions?
A short-circuit occurs when the separator sheet that keeps the positive and negative electrodes apart gets punctured, and allow the electrodes to touch. If the battery gets extremely hot, its pressure-sensitive safety vent hole will eject extra pressure. In a separator failure, lithium-ion gets hot enough to expel or vent the electrolyte fluid which can ignite in an explosive event that may cascade to nearby cells, with dramatic results.
The metal outer case contains:
- A Positive electrode: Lithium cobalt oxide (LiCoO2)
- A Negative electrode: carbon.
- Separator: Thin sheet of micro-perforated plastic which keeps the positive and negative electrodes apart while allowing ions to pass through.
- An organic solvent (Ether) that acts as the electrolyte.
While the battery charges, the lithium ions move through the electrolyte fluid from the positive electrode to the negative electrode. During the discharge cycle, lithium ions move back to the LiCoO2 from the carbon. This movement happens at high voltage, and each cell can produce up to 3.7 volts, far higher than the 1.5 volts of a standard AA alkaline battery.
Circuit Control for Electronic Vaping Gear
All vaping gear contain a chipset with a temperature sensor to monitor the battery temperature and shut it down when it gets too hot. The more advanced the equipment, the more advanced and efficient the chipset. It contains a voltage converter and regulator circuit, monitors the energy capacity and charging state of individual cells in the battery pack and executes many more functions for your safety. This is the part of the mod which cuts off the circuit if you press the fire button for too long.
Check out our guide to the best 18650 batteries for vape mods!
If you want to learn more about these wonderful batteries, Battery University is an in-depth source.