18650 Battery Guide
Batteries are a very important part of any vaping setup. Without a battery, a vape pen/mod could never function. Reliability, safety, capacity, and power are all important – and with so many different types of batteries on the market, it is apparent that E-cig manufacturers and vapers alike have had their work cut out for them in choosing the best brands, makes, and models to use.
The 18650, however, has really risen to the top of the heap – and for good reason. This is the battery that most mods and vape pens are using nowadays. There are a lot of reasons for this – and we will discuss them, along with many other details, in this guide.
If you’re looking for a place to get a wealth of information about this amazing and very commonly-used battery type all in one place (as well as the best places on the web to buy them), then this guide is for you.
Things to know about 18650 batteries
What, exactly, are 18650 batteries?
18650 batteries are basically lithium ion batteries of a specific size (18mm by 65mm). Over 40% of the batteries produced in the world right now are lithium ion batteries, and the 18650 is one of the most widely manufactured batteries within this type. This type of battery is used for a wide range of different applications. Not only is it used to power E-cigs and flashlights, but it has also found use in robots, electronic vehicles, laptops, and even solar grids.
They are sturdy, low-cost, efficient, and easy to handle – making them useful in a wide range of different applications. One interesting thing about lithium ion batteries that most people don’t know about is that they are difficult to ship. They are considered quite a dangerous product when sent through the mail (you’ve probably heard the infamous stories of lithium-ion batteries exploding on plains), so packaging and customs regulations tend to be quite strict where they are concerned.
But, with that being said, they are safer now than they have ever been – and progress is continually made to make them safer and more effective.
Different types of 18650 batteries
The first and most important thing to understand about 18650 batteries is that they can come ‘protected’ or ‘unprotected’, and that there is quite a difference between these two types. Protected batteries are a bit larger, because they come with a built-in circuit board that prevents the battery from overcharging, overheating, or over-discharging.
Most batteries offered on the market today are protected – but unprotected 18650 batteries are still available. It is very important to know what you need and to understand the difference between these two.
Beyond this, the main differences between the different 18650 options are in mAh ratings, amperage, and voltage. Higher voltage batteries, for example, will provide more wattage – but if ran for longer periods of time, they can get hotter faster. MAh stands for milliamp-hours, and is basically a measurement of how much ‘juice’ a battery will hold – while amperage translates to how much current the battery can provide at any given moment.
Which type of battery you choose will depend on your needs and on the type of device that you plan on using. You will also find that 18650 batteries can be different based on what they use as a cathode material. We will explain this further below.
How do 18650 batteries work?
Like most other lithium ion batteries, 1860 batteries contain three basic parts – a cathode, an anode, and an electrolyte. The anode of an 18650 lithium ion battery is made of carbon/silicon and graphite, but it is the cathode that determines exactly which type of battery you are dealing with. There are a number of different types of 18650 batteries that are different because they use different cathode materials – but in-general, this is how an 18650 works.
As a rechargeable battery, the 18650 makes use of lithium ions that move from the negative side to the positive side when it is being discharged (this is what creates electricity). Then, when it is put on the charger, the ions move back to the other side – in a process called charging. You can read more about how lithium ion batteries in-general work here. It is a rather complex chemical process, but this is the basic summary.
There are a number of different types of 18650 batteries available on the market today that use different cathode materials. Here is a brief rundown of each.
- IMR – LMO: Lithium manganese batteries
Commonly used for vaping and flashlights. These types are much safer than most other types of lithium ion batteries.
- INR – NMC: Lithium manganese nickel batteries
This type of battery works extremely well for vaping, because it uses manganese but adds some nickel to the mix–making it a hybrid. It has low resistance and high energy.
- NCA: Lithium Aluminum
These types of batteries are most commonly used in electric bikes and cars.
- LFP – NCO: Lithium ferrous phosphate nano co-crystalline compound
This type of battery isn’t produced very often. It’s sort of a rare chemistry, and it is unlikely that you will encounter it as you search for an 18650 for your vape pen.
- ICR – LCO: Lithium cobalt
This type of battery delivers the highest specific energy of any type of 18650 – but they are also quite dangerous! If you plan on using this type of battery for your vape pen, you should definitely look for models that have built-in protective circuitry.
- IFR – LFP: Lithium Phosphate
These types of batteries tend to have lower voltages, so they’re not usually considered ‘high drain’.
Are there 18650 batteries rated at more than 30A?
As of January, 2017, there are several options for batteries rated above 30A.
There are quite a few batteries with a 30A rating (the LG HB6 is one example) – but we’ve also found some 35A and 40A 18650s. You can buy 40A rated batteries from vaporbeast.com, for example, that are rated at 3,000 mAh and designed primarily to provide incredible power for sub-ohm vaping.
But, it is also important to understand that batteries do not always put out what they are rated for. Battery performance can be affected by many things – the quality of the battery itself being one of them.
In other words, the numbers may look great on paper – but some of these higher-amp batteries don’t actually deliver the amps specified under most working conditions. For best results, you should always read some real customer reviews before buying. It might also be a good idea to purchase one at a time, and to try it out before you buy more of them – as the first one might not perform as well as hoped.
What is a rewrapped battery?
Some companies don’t actually produce their own 18650 batteries, but instead, purchase them from other companies and re-wrap them to sell them as their own. Sometimes, the companies sell them for the same price – so you’re getting pretty much the same thing – but there are other companies that mark them up, selling them for even more.
Even worse, some companies buy components that didn’t meet the quality requirements set-forth by the original company, and then re-wrap them and sell them as if they were premium-grade batteries.
This can obviously cause some problems, because you might end up paying more money for a battery that wasn’t even good enough to make the ‘first cut’ right off of the assembly line!
If you wish to avoid buying batteries that are ‘re-wrapped’, then you might want to do some research to find out which companies actually produce their own products. Visiting the company website and doing a simple Google search should yield a lot of information that can help you to make the best, most positive choice as you shop for the perfect battery for your vaping needs.
How to find the best 18650 battery
Thankfully, finding the best 18650 on the market doesn’t have to be rocket-science. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your cash when the time comes to replenish your ‘stash’ of lithium ion 18650 rechargeables for your vape pen or mod.
First tip: look for high capacity
Capacity is most accurately measured as mAh… or milliamp hours. A high-end, high-capacity battery will generally be rated at about 3500mAh, but they come in a wide range of different sizes, with the average being somewhere around 1500mAh.
It’s certainly in your best interest to buy a battery that has a higher capacity rating, because these batteries will tend to give you more power for longer periods of time. If batteries had some sort of an ‘energy storage tank’ measurement, mAh would be it. Obviously, batteries don’t really ‘store’ energy, they ‘create’ it – but mAh is the measurement you’re looking for when you want something with a high capacity.
If you want to know how long a particular battery will last you on your setup, you can check out steam-engine.org. They have a calculator on their website that makes the vaping life of any particular battery easy to calculate. You will quickly see how higher mAh ratings add up to more puffs for your device!
Aim for a high current rating
The current rating of any particular battery is measured in amps, or A. So, if a battery is rated at 20A, it means that it is supposed to have a continuous current rating of 20A. This basically tells you the amount of current that you can continue to draw from a battery while also maintaining a decent, workable battery life without overheating it.
In the simplest terms, higher current ratings are better (in general – sometimes it does depend on your device, though) – because they will allow you to draw more current for longer without depleting or overheating the battery. Keep in mind that batteries can be ‘pulsed’ at a higher current than this rating, so a 20A battery could technically be used to deliver a higher current. But a continuous current rating does help to provide a baseline that we can use to compare one battery to another.
And in-general, the higher the current rating, the better.
Look for a model that will deliver high voltage when vaping hard
Having a battery capable of a higher voltage is definitely better for vaping. Basically, having more voltage means that it just ‘hits harder’. For a regulated mod, this means that the battery won’t have to work as hard in the long run – so it is certainly in your best interest to find a battery that’s going to be capable of delivering a higher voltage at the same current as a different battery.
In order to find batteries that operate at a higher voltage, you can do two things. Firstly, you can check the voltage rating provided by the company to see what the battery is supposed to operate at – which can give you a baseline measurement to look at. And secondly, you can see if anyone on the internet has actually tested the battery to determine what type of voltage it actually delivers in real life – as this number is not always the same.
Most 18650 cells are rated at somewhere around 3.6 volts – though the complete voltage range for most of them is actually somewhere closer to the area between 2.5 and 4.2 volts. As a general rule, going above or below this range is considered a bad idea – so testing batteries and finding out exactly what voltage is being generated is important.
Try for a model with a low operating temperature
Figuring out the operating temperature of an 18650 can be quite a task. You might have to go through quite a bit of technical data to find out the measurements for operating temperature – and even then, the answer might be vague.
But it is still an important thing to look at!
A lot of batteries are specified to run at 27*C, but this is because lithium ion batteries actually perform better for shorter durations at slightly higher temperatures. A battery that provides 100% capacity at 27*C will only deliver about 50% of that capacity at -18*C. But, exposing batteries to high temperatures for a prolonged length of time will also shorten their life.
Information! In-general, 18650 batteries operate the best for the longest amount of time when used at about 20*C, or room temperature. Obviously, batteries are going to ‘heat up’ when in use – so the lower the operating temperature, the longer their lifespan (and the less of a possibility of overheating).
Our Selected Best 18650 Batteries For Vaping
If you’re looking for our opinion regarding the very best 18650 batteries on the market, then here’s a rundown of what we’ve found. These might not be the only good batteries available – but as far as our own personal experiences have gone, these are our current top-choices.
Up to 20A…
LG Electronics HG2 30 A 3000 mAh Battery
You can buy two of these batteries for £15.99 on Amazon.com. Plus, they come with their own carrying case – which is awesome! They’re rated at 30A for pulse and 20A continuous discharge, 3,000mAh, and are considered high drain IMR lithium ion batteries. They also come with free shipping in the UK (as of the time that this was written) if you order them on Amazon.com – which is a big plus.
Due to their stats, they’re perfect for electronic cigarettes. 3,000mAh offers plenty of capacity size, while a 20A discharge rate will keep you in business with plenty of power to spare. The 30A pulse rating is also really good for sub-ohm devices that require bigger surges of power. Keep in mind that these are not ‘protected’ batteries, so if you require protected 18650s, these might not be the type for you.
Samsung INR 18650-30Q 3000mAh 20A Batteries
Once again, as with the above-mentioned batteries, these are currently being offered for £15.99 for a pack of two on amazon.co.uk. They come with a protective plastic case, and are shipped for free in the UK if you buy them on Amazon. They’re rated at 3000mAh, 20A, and are INR unprotected batteries – which means if you need protected batteries, you will either need a protection module for these, or you will need to find batteries that are already protected.
But as far as value goes, this set offers a lot for the money. At 3000mAh, these batteries will provide you with plenty of device-life between charges. And at 20A, you can rest assured that you will be getting plenty of current. The customer reviews on them are quite good – so if you’re looking for an inexpensive battery that will get you vaping with little fuss, these might be an option to try out.
SAMSUNG INR 18650 2500MAH Battery – 2pcs
You can buy this 2-pack of INR batteries for just £14.95 from ePuffer. Plus, they offer free delivery on UK orders of £25 or more – which is pretty nice. With a 2500mAh capacity, they’re rated a bit lower than the batteries we’ve looked at so far – but they’re also CE certified, meaning that you can expect excellent quality, which is a huge plus!
They have a voltage rating of 4.2V when fully charged, boast a recharge cycle rate of 300, and have a shelf life of 2 years. And with a 20A continuous discharge rating, you can be sure that these high-drain batteries will provide plenty of power when it counts the most!
If you’re looking for an affordable battery that will deliver real longevity and quality, then this is a deal that you should certainly take a look at!
LG HD2 25A 2000mAh 18650 Battery
If you’re looking for a battery that will pretty much universally work with most modern mods on the marketplace today, then this battery from LG will likely serve you well. You can buy one of these on the greyhaze.co.uk website for about £6.99 – which isn’t a bad deal at all. You can also qualify for free shipping if your order total exceeds £30, which adds a lot of value if you need to order several at once.
With a discharge rate of 25A, a capacity of 2000mAh, and a nominal voltage of 3.6V, you can expect this 18650 to go the distance – lasting longer than most 30A batteries in the same price range! Discharge end voltage is rated at 2.5V, standard charging current at 1.25V, and the charging voltage at 4.20 +/- 0.05 V.
If you’re looking for a fantastic option for a wide range of applications and don’t fancy paying a fortune, then this might be one of the better choices to consider.
SONY US18650-VTC4 2100mAh 30A Li-ion Battery
We found a pretty good deal on these batteries on amazon.co.uk. You can actually get 2 of them for just £10.90. Rated at 2100mAh and 30A, these batteries should pack plenty of power for your box mod or vape pen without running out of juice too quickly.
Now, keep in mind that you always want to make sure your Amazon seller is selling real, genuine batteries that are premium-grade, and not just knock-offs or stock that didn’t make it off of the official company assembly line. But we had pretty good luck finding some good stock on Amazon, so as long as you’re careful and read-up on the seller, you shouldn’t have a problem finding a heck of a deal on these 18650s!
If you’re looking for some economical Li-ions with power to spare, then these 18650s by Sony might just be the ticket!
30A + Batteries…
LG HB6 1500mAh 30A 18650 Battery
Priced at just £5.49 each on vaping101.co.uk, these batteries (though rated at a lower 1500mAh capacity) boast a current of 30A, a nominal voltage of 3.6V, and a lot of value for the money. They are unprotected, so you should certainly take that into account before ordering – but if you’re looking for an unprotected 30A battery at a lower cost and operate a smaller or more efficient vape pen that would work well with a 1500mAh 18650, then this might definitely be an option to consider.
We’ve never had any bad luck with these batteries. They’re simple, inexpensive, and effective. They get the job done – which is the important part. If you’re interested in something low-cost that you can use to power your vape pen and throw on the charger when you’re done, then these LGs should do the job nicely!
SONY US18650-VTC5 2600mAh 30A Li-ion Battery
The last place we saw these batteries was on Amazon.co.uk, where you could buy two of them for just £13.99. They boast a powerful 2600mAh capacity, and are rated at 30A – which is pretty awesome if you’re looking for a lot of power for a sub-ohm mod or vape pen.
It says on the website that the storage voltage on these batteries is around 3.6V, which is pretty typical. If you’re looking for a more powerful 18650 option with which to power larger box mods, sub ohm tanks, and other similar types of devices, then this option will probably be a better bet.
The larger capacity will give you plenty of power over a longer length of time, and the 30A rating will allow you to channel that power into a strong, powerful vape.
Frequently Asked Questions about 18650 Batteries
Here are some of the most common questions that we’ve run into regarding 18650 batteries… as well as answers that might help to provide some information.
To put this in the simplest terms, 1 mAh is the amount of capacity that a battery would need in order to supply one milliampere of electrical current for one hour. Therefore, a 1000mAh battery would supply 1000 milliamps of energy for 1 hour, etc.
For vaping, you certainly want to use high drain batteries, as these will last longer and provide better performance in the long run. If you try to vape with regular batteries, you will likely learn that they tend to ‘wear out’ quite quickly – as they are not built to discharge so much current. Vaping actually puts quite a strain on batteries – and high drain 18650s are just better able to handle it.
mAh is a specification that you can look at to get a basic idea of the capacity of a battery – but actual run-times will vary by device and battery. Voltage, Amps, and the type of device that you are using will all play a roll, as will the chemical makeup of the battery, and even the quality with which the battery was produced.
The only real way for-sure way that you can tell how long a battery will last on any given device is to test it out. You can use online battery calculators to try to determine the ‘theoretical’ run time, but these are also subject to a number of variations that cannot completely be predicted.
Nowadays, a lot of 18650 chargers are ‘smart’ chargers, that do all of these calculations and make the adjustments automatically when the battery is placed on the porn. These same chargers also stop charging when the battery is fully charged – which eliminates the possibility of over-charging.
For best results, purchase a smart battery charger that has been specifically labeled as being compatible with 18650 batteries.
This is a measurement called a continuous current rating, and it basically measures the continuous current that you can expect to draw from the battery while discharging it, while also maintaining the battery life and keeping the temperature low enough to be considered safe.
To put it quite simply, the higher the amp rating, the faster the battery will tend to discharge. So the higher the amp rating, the more power you can expect to pull from the battery as you activate your vape pen – but this also means that the battery will drain sooner. Obviously, the mAh rating of the battery will also play into this. And different devices will tend to work differently with different types of batteries.
An ‘amp’ basically measures the volume of the electrons that are passing through the connection every second. To be very specific, one amp equals 6.25 x 10-to-the-eighteenth-power electrons per second.
Mixing and matching batteries can cause your batteries to fail much faster than they otherwise would. Even if the specs are the same, using two different brands together can still cause failure to happen much sooner than usual. And in the worst-case scenario, you could have an overheating situation on your hands – which would not be good!
On the other hand, you can buy a 2500mAh battery with a discharge rate of 20amps for your medium-wattage vape pen (60 to 80 watts), and these will support resistances as low as 0.19… but then again, you are dealing with a lower mAh rating and using a lot of juice at that low resistance – so they might not last as long as the battery in the first example.
It really all depends on your situation.
We don’t necessarily recommend buying rewrapped batteries because you never really know what you are getting for your money. When you buy from a trusted manufacturer, you know that you are getting original, premium-grade batteries that are produced the same way every time.
But when you buy rewrapped versions of these products, you could be getting them from anywhere. And worst of all, they might not be premium-grade. They might be factory seconds or thirds that were culled from the assembly line for failing to ‘make the grade’, and then sold at a discount to another company.
For best results, stick to quality, name-brands that you can trust, and always do a bit of research about the company before purchasing their batteries. Customer reviews are an excellent place to begin your fact-finding, as this can give you a lot of information regarding the quality of the products.