E-Cig Batteries: Battery Size & Power
Batteries are often an overlooked component of e-cigs and vaping, but we're here to remind you that battery knowledge is crucial to safe vaping. Check out our previous article on e-cig fixed vs. regulated batteries for more battery info.
Battery size is important primarily because purchasing batteries that don't fit properly in your hardware is a waste of money and effort. However, choosing a battery that fits, but doesn't produce the right amount of power can also cause problems that jeopardize your vaping saftey, or damage your hardware.
The most popular battery configuration in the vape world is an 18650 – a battery 18 mm wide and 650 mm tall – that's about the size of the "AA" household batteries you're familiar with, though most mods use flat-top cells compared to the "button top" or "nipple top" batteries with an extruded positive contact.
A few other sizes of battery exist for vape use; semi-popular designs include 18350, 18490/18500, and 26650. The smaller 18XXX series batteries are generally used in mechanical mods designed with a smaller profile for aesthetic purposes, though for modern vape purposes, they're often lacking in power and frequently dangerous (we'll get to that in a minute). The 26XXX series were at one point gaining traction as a means of delivering greater battery power and longevity, but when a dearth of cells available became appealing for vapers (and the few existing desirable cells were quickly snatched by enthusiasts) the market as a whole returned to the tried-and-true 18650.
It should be noted that not all batteries are created equal – currently, the only verified manufacturers of 18650 batteries are Sony, Samsung, LG, and Efest. Nearly every other "manufacturer" in the industry is selling re-wrapped "seconds," usually batteries that didn't pass quality control at the true manufacturer. Popular re-wrappers such as MXJO, Vamped, Efest, and others then turn around and sell these usually-inferior quality products as "premium" batteries, usually for more than a legitimate cell from the original manufacturer would cost.
If this wasn't bad enough, the re-wrap companies habitually include specifications for use that seem to come from thin air. Efest, for example, sells a battery claiming a 30 amp (30A) output that's only safe to use at 8-10A. Another Efest that claims 35A is only rated for 20A. And so on…
Why does this matter? For that, we're going to have to get back into Ohm's law…and a quick plug for www.steam-engine.org as a handy site for vapers looking to learn about (safely) building their own coils.
Ohm's law basics: Current (Amps) = Voltage (Power) / Resistance (of your coil)
Assume you've got a mechanical mod with a fully charged battery that produces 4.2 volts of power, and a rebuildable dripping atomizer (RDA) with a 0.2 ohm coil installed:
4.2 (Power) / 0.2 (Resistance) = 21 Amps
If you think you've got a 35 amp battery, it's perfectly safe to use this build. If you're actually vaping on a 20 amp battery, however, you're over-taxing the cell, meaning it could overheat and vent (leak) or explode (bad!) if you push it.
18350 an 18500 batteries usually have amp ratings of around 8-10, meaning they're only safe for use with coils 0.5 ohm or greater in resistance – because lower resistance is a trending theme, the smaller 18XXX series batteries are falling out of favor.
That brings us back to the 18650 – the vast majority of these cells today are rated for a maximum draw of 20 amp. The highest rated cells, Sony VTC3 and VTC4 (both frequently counterfeited) and the LG HB6, are rated for a 30 amp discharge. If you're going to build insanely low on a mechanical mod, or if you're going to buy a 200-watt dual battery regulated box and actually use it on the highest settings, these are the batteries that your hardware requires.
If you're like most of us and can't imagine how badly 200 watts would scorch your poor lungs, worry not – a good 25 - 30 amp battery should do fine in a single-cell regulated mod up to 75 watts or so and in a dual-cell mod up to 150 watts.
The most commonly-recommended cells as of today, include the Samsung 25R, the LG HE2 and HE4, and the Sony VTC4. All of these are rated for at least a 20 amp discharge and 2100 mah life (time between charges), and can be had usually at a comparable price to or cheaper than the less-reputable "brands."
So before you think about starting to vape, or if your a master vaper and want to test out some new hardware, be sure you have all of the info you need before purchasing/using any vaping materials. Check out our next article to learn more about how to charge different batteries.