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One of the reasons why vaping is so popular is that it gives you lots of cool gear to get excited about. New mods with all the latest technological features, state-of-the-art atomizers, or the most delicious new artisan liquid — they’re all products that generate huge enthusiasm among the user community. But what about batteries?
For most vapers, batteries get a lot less attention. Experienced users of mechanical mods and high-powered regulated devices are an exception, but the average vaper isn’t interested in what powers their e-cig. This isn’t hard to understand. If you buy anything else powered by batteries, all you really need to know is the size it takes. If your flashlight uses AA cells then any AAs will power it.
Vape batteries are a bit more complicated. It’s important to get the right ones for your gear; making a mistake here can seriously affect performance, or even ruin the device. Unfortunately a lot of people don’t realize the importance of choosing the correct batteries.
E-cigarette batteries come in two main types: integrated and removable. They both have their strengths, but they tend to suit different types of vapers. Just to make it more confusing there’s a huge variety of both styles. Here’s an overview:
The simplest power source for an e-cigarette is a device that combines the battery, circuitry, controls, and atomizer connection into a single unit. As long as you charge them properly there’s basically no way these can go wrong.
The simplest integrated batteries are the eGo or Evod styles. These are the main part of what’s often called a vape pen; with an atomizer on top they’re about the same size as a pen or laser pointer. Most of them recharge by removing the atomizer and screwing a charging cable to the connector, but some also have a USB port so you can charge while vaping.
Vape pen batteries are really easy to use, and ideal for new vapers. They do have limits, though. Most of them don’t let you adjust the power level, and their storage capacity is low. If you choose this style it’s best to get two or three of them — that way you can always have one charging, so you’ll never find yourself without power.
You can also get more sophisticated devices with integrated batteries, starting with compact devices like the SMOKTech, Innokin iTaste or Eleaf iJust and going all the way up to advanced mods with variable power and temperature control. These are ideal for more experienced vapers; you can use them with any sort of atomizer, whereas the pen style are best with clearomizers.
Mods with built-in batteries can store a lot more power than a vape pen, usually enough to last you a full day. You can also recharge them with a USB cable while you vape. Once the battery dies they take a while to recharge, though.
The option that gives you the most flexibility is a mod with removable batteries. If you’re going out, all you have to do is put a spare set of batteries in a case and take them with you; that way, if you start to run low on power you can just take out the spent batteries, replace them with the fully charged spares, and carry on vaping. You get all the advanced features of a mod, without having to rely on being near a charging outlet.
However, using removable batteries does mean you need to get the right ones. A few years ago mods used lithium ion batteries in a variety of different sizes, but now the industry has mostly standardized on the 18650 size. This looks like an overgrown AA, delivers 4.2 volts at full charge, and two of them will hold enough power to last the average vaper for at least a day.
Using 18650s makes a lot of sense, but you do need to know something about them. They might look like a bigger version of an AA cell, but they’re not as simple. For a start, they pack in a lot more energy. They also aren’t as interchangeable. Any AA will fill any AA-size slot, but using the wrong 18650 could damage your device.
Mech mods are best left to more advanced vapers with more experience with the technology. Unless you have a good understanding of ohm’s law and battery safety, mech mods are an accident waiting to happen.
If you do use one, never stack more than one battery and only fit a protected battery in it. These have onboard control circuitry that compensates for the mod’s lack of safety features. Also make sure that the mod can handle a high current drain — for mechs you need a battery that can deliver at least 25 amps.
For regulated mods — that basically means anything with a screen and adjustment buttons — you’re fine to use unprotected batteries. These usually give you a bit more energy capacity, because no space is taken up by a circuit board. Modern regulated mods can deliver very high power, and again it’s best to use batteries that are rated at 25A or better.
If you use a mod that takes two or more batteries you should “marry” your battery sets. That means making up a set of identical batteries — never mix old and new or different types — and only using them in that mod.
Although vape batteries aren’t as shiny as mods and atomizers, they’re one place you should never try to save money. Cheap no-name batteries won’t perform well and might be unsafe — there’s no guarantee their real performance matches what’s printed on the label. Stick to major brands like Sony, Samsung, Panasonic, or LG. Always buy them from a reputable dealer like Misthub, too. There have been many cases of cheap batteries being rewrapped to look like premium ones. If an eBay battery seller looks too good to be true, they probably are.