18650 Battery Cells
While you may not have seen many 18650 batteries in person, these efficient cells are in almost all modern electronics and can drastically change the way you vape. To put it simply, an 18650 is a lithium-ion rechargeable battery, that is capable of outputting an impressive amount of power while still maintaining a relatively high battery capacity. Generally speaking, almost all 18650s will have a voltage of 3.7V and can have between 1800mAh, 2500mAh, 3000mAh, and 3500mAh of capacity. The output range and overall capacity make the 18650 perfect for almost any situation. Outside the world of vaping, 18650s are traditionally used in a huge range of devices, including laptops, flashlights, laser pointers, camera accessories, and even some electric vehicles, just to name a few.
In the realm of vape batteries and vaping technology, the 18650 is by far the most popular rechargeable battery being used, as it manages to balance high-power with robust capacity. While other batteries are available for vaping, 18650s have prevailed as the industry favourite thanks to their availability, reliability, and proven ability to work efficiently.
It should be noted, that 18650s can be cloned or faked, and that these offerings are often quite dangerous to use. Rest assured that all the 18650 batteries offered by 180 Smoke are proven to be real and will therefore retain all the original manufacturer's safety measures.
Measuring in at 18mm x 65mm in size, the name18650 refers exclusively to the size of the lithium-ion battery cell and carries no indication of the cell’s power output or overall capacity. That being said, most mass produced 18650 batteries, especially those used in vaping, will have an output of 3.7V and a capacity in the range of 1800mAh to around 3500mAh.
Choosing the right 18650 does take a decent amount of effort and research, but choosing the right battery for your device can make a world of difference. When choosing an 18650 for vaping, it’s best to look at the amperage of the battery and the mAh capacity. Both these aspects will impact your vaping in the greatest way, with amperage determining how much power is going to your device (this really only applies to mechanical mods) and mAh determining how long your battery will last per charge.
How are 18650s Used?
Because of their versatility, 18650s are used in a staggering amount of products, including flashlights, laptops, camera accessories, various electronics, and even Tesla electric vehicles. This lends a sense of legitimacy to these devices, as they are designed for purposes outside of vaping that require a higher level of safety and various precautions when manufacturing.
Unprotected vs. ProtectedWithin the realm of 18650s, there are two distinct camps that help identify and distinguish some of the capabilities of the battery; protected and unprotected. As the names suggest, these terms help showcase the built-in safety features of the battery and can help users determine how they should be used.
Protected cells, as the name suggests, have built-in safety measures coming in the form of a small electric circuit integrated into the battery packaging and seamlessly blending with the cell itself. The circuit helps prevent certain dangers, such as excessive charging and discharging, short-circuiting, and extreme temperatures. All these measures help protect the battery, which in-turn protects the device using the battery and the user.
On the other hand, unprotected batteries lack this circuitry and can be slightly more prone to the issues the protection are designed to work against. This doesn’t mean unprotected cells are incredibly dangerous, some of the best cells are unprotected. This simply means users will have to take a little more care when using these batteries and should always be aware of the stress they are placing on the cells.
In vaping, unprotected cells are the norm. That being said, the batteries’ are often protected by the device itself. On the majority of vape mods, users will find battery protection for a host of issues to help supplement the lack of a circuit.
Flat Top vs. Button Top
To further demonstrate how non-standardized 18650 batteries can be, there are two distinct variations in size: flat tops and button tops. These terms specifically refer to the positive contact of a battery and how it appears.
As the names suggest, a button top battery with have a small protrusion and a flat top will be completely flush. The few extra millimeters produced by a button top can make the difference on the fit of a battery, with many manufacturers specifying whether a flat or button top needs to be used.
Generally speaking, all vape mods will use a button top cell, but be sure to check out the manual or ask the retailer if you are unsure.
Avoiding Fake Batteries
Like any branded product, 18650 batteries are subject to fakes and its common for certain vendors to purchase these cheaper cells. The easiest way to prevent buying fakes is to simply purchase from reputable vendors. Places like eBay or even Amazon can become flooded with fake 18650s posing as something of a much higher quality.
Not only is purchasing a fake battery a waste of your money, but it can also be potentially dangerous if the battery is being used in a high-power device. These fake batteries often misrepresent the specifications they list, so pushing them can lead to venting and catastrophic failure.
Unfortunately, battery scammers and fakes are quite good at what they do, and a fake battery is often visually indistinguishable from a genuine one. From wrapping, branding, and online listings, fake batteries are almost identical to the real deal and can be very hard to distinguish from the real thing. That being said, you can sometimes tell if a battery is fake by its weight.
Most reputable brands (i.e. Sony, LG, Efest, and Samsung) will have their batteries’ weight available somewhere so it’s easy enough to cross-reference any batteries you buy online with the manufacturer’s specifications. When checking the battery itself, you should be able to find some specs printed on the battery which you can cross-reference with the manufacturers' sources. Keep an eye out for spelling mistakes too, as fake batteries are more prone to this.
Selecting the Right 18650
To be completely honest, there is no one single 18650 that will accommodate any vape mod or mechanical mod. There are several factors that play a role in what battery you should use, but it’s important to keep in mind that mechanical mods do not have any built-in safety features, whereas vape mods do. In the same vein, remember that mechanical mods draw pure power from the battery, meaning something with a high amperage over mAh is desired. On the other hand, vape mods do still require a decent amount of amperage but because a chip is regulating the power, you can focus more on the capacity of a battery.
When considering a battery for your vape, users will want to look primarily at the battery’s Continuous Discharge Rating (CDR) and capacity.
CDR: This is the primary rating used by reputable battery manufacturers to compare battery discharge. When properly rated, CDR can signify the rate at which the battery can be discharged at a continuous rate without taking damage or reducing its capacity.
Capacity: Measured in mAh (milliampere-hours) the capacity of a battery indicates the running time of the battery. One mAh will generally equal to one milliampere flowing for one hour. Ultimately, mAh will give you a baseline to determine how long a battery will last while in use.
If you look over the rating of many of the batteries used in vaping, you’ll find there is always a trade-off between CDR and capacity. Vapers will often have to choose which factor they find more important, and there is no 18650 with a CDR over 30amps. At the same time, there is no 18650 with a capacity at or over 3000mAh, which will also have a CDR of 20amps. For benefits in one, there must be detractions in the other.
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