What Kind of Batteries Do Vape Devices Require?
Batteries are a critical component of every vaper's hardware, whether you know it or not. Simply put, they provide the power needed to vaporize your e-liquid: no power, no vapor. If you’ve got a smaller pod or cigalike system, chances are your battery is integrated into the device and is not replaceable. But if you have a larger advanced personal vaporizer (APV, or "box mod"), then chances are you'll need to familiarize yourself with the world of high-discharge lithium-ion cells.
All vapor devices utilize rechargeable lithium-ion batteries (with the rare exception of disposable pre-filled cigalikes), though each device has its own specific battery needs. In this article, we’ll look at the differences between integrated and removable batteries and learn how to stay safe when using them.
As we mentioned above, most smaller pod and cigalike devices use an integrated battery, meaning it's built into the body of the vapor device and isn't meant to be removed or replaced. Integrated batteries will use chemistry called lithium ion (with a liquid core) or lithium polymer (with a gel core) and are combined with the circuitry, controls, and outer casing to form a single unified system that connects to the atomizer and e-liquid delivery device. Some advanced mods also use integrated batteries.
The most convenient aspect about an integrated cell is that charging is usually accomplished with a micro-USB port commonly used to charge a host of other devices. Other than charging, there’s really no battery maintenance required - plug in and boom, you’re charging your device. Most pod devices come with a charging cable that can be connected to any USB wall plug, so your starter kit really is all-inclusive.
One thing we'll note here: while your computer likely has a few USB ports, and while your charging cable will easily plug into them, we strongly advise against using a computer for charging. These ports are designed for data transfer, and if anything malfunctions while transferring power you're not only risking damage to your vape but to your computer, which is likely worth a lot more money. Regardless, you should never leave a charging battery unattended - keep an eye on anything you're charging, and if it gets hot (slightly warm may be okay, we don't recommend taking risks), unplug immediately.
Still, the advantages of choosing a system with integrated batteries are pretty obvious. No cleaning. No buying replacement batteries. No worries about upkeep. The one downside to using them, however, is that every battery has a finite number of times it can be recharged. Once your battery begins to fail, you've got to replace the entire device, which typically occurs after somewhere between 150 and 300 charge cycles.
Most advanced mods on the market, in contrast to entry-level devices, use replaceable batteries. These have a number of advantages but also require more maintenance than integrated designs. If you’re switching over from a pod system to a mod system, more than likely you’ll be making the jump from integrated to replaceable batteries.
Replaceable cells have the advantage of being swapped out at any time. This means that no matter where you go, you can always have a spare set available if your device is running low and you're not near an outlet. With the ability to choose mods requiring anywhere from one to four cells, you'll also be able to generate considerably more power than with a fixed-battery device or generate the same amount of power for a longer period of time.
One thing to keep in mind: you'll want to get a standalone charger and always charge your batteries outside the mod if that's an option. While many advanced mods will come with a USB port and cable, this is intended to connect to your computer to receive software updates to the mod's programming, not as a primary means of battery charging.
Another aspect of replaceable battery mods is that each one might use a different type of replaceable battery. Most devices until recently have favored 18650 cells (18 mm wide and 65 mm long), but the industry has recently begun shifting to a larger and more powerful battery, the 21700. Some, but not all 21700 mods will include adapters so that they can still use 18650s.
Something to know when it comes to replaceable batteries is that there are only three companies that legitimately manufacture cells suitable for vaping: Samsung, LG, and Sony. High-powered box mods require lithium cells with a continuous discharge rating of 20 amps or higher; while other battery manufacturers like Panasonic and Sanyo exist they don't currently produce cells capable of such a high output.
More common are battery "re-wrappers" - these companies purchase cells manufactured elsewhere, often "seconds" that don't pass quality control inspection at the manufacturer, and then wrap them with a private label that may or may not accurately describe the battery's capabilities. Some popular re-wrappers in the vaping world include Efest, Imren, and Vappower, among others.
Battery safety is an important part of vaping, and it's a topic that we've covered in detail. If you have a device that requires a replaceable battery it’s crucial that you not only choose the right cells for your device but also charge them properly (with a dedicated charger) and carry them safely (always in a sealed plastic container). Nearly all of the "exploding e-cigarette" stories you'll hear on the news aren't from regulated, properly handled mods but instead from loose spare batteries being carried around in a pocket or purse where they come into contact with metal objects like keys or coins and discharge without their owner's knowledge.
If you're considering a device with replaceable cells, don't worry. When handled properly, they're as safe as other battery-powered electrical devices - just take a few minutes to learn before you buy. In the meantime, you can also check out Breazy’s vast library of vaping resources here.