Safety First: The Right Tool for the Job – Modern 18650’s for Sub-Ohm Vaping

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Words and photos By Nick Bessette

With the industry pushing the boundaries of how many watts they can cram into even the smallest mod, and cloud chasers pushing for lower and lower resistances while using a single 18650 mechanical mod, you need to know now more than ever exactly which batteries will work for the right application. If you’re using a 150 watt regulated mod, you wouldn’t use a battery that would work better in a mechanical mod, would you? I didn’t think so. The big cloud comp is coming up; do you want to make sure you make it past the first round? Don’t worry, just keep reading! There are so many batteries on the market nowadays, and researching different models can be a bit confusing if you’re not an electrical engineer. So, the following will be a handy guide for just about every type of vaper out there.

The first batteries on my list are the Samsung 25R, which boasts a true 20A continuous discharge rate and 2500 mAh battery life. The older, baby

blue – wrapped cells run very cool and have very little voltage sag, meaning your mod won’t be saying “check battery” nearly as fast as other cells. The updated green wrapper keeps the same overall specs, but improved battery chemistry means you will get even longer cycle life out of these bad boys. These batteries work great with high-wattage mods, whether you’re using a HexOhm, Sigelei Fu Chai or a Wismec Reuleaux 200 watt.

My next choice is the LG HG2 with the same 20A continuous discharge rate; it boasts a 3000 mAh battery life, which, in my opinion, is slightly exaggerated, especially when using higher amperage. That being said, these batteries run great, even when using them at their maximum discharge rate of 20A and will last longer, especially when they’re used in tandem in mods like the Snow Wolf or Sigelei 150 TC, because the amp draw is spread across both cells. If you’re looking for a longer-lasting alternative to the HE2/4 you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the HG2.

Now, this one is for all the mech mod users out there. Finally, we have another true 30A continuous battery on the market as an alternative to the elusive Sony VTC 4/5. Allow me to introduce you to the LG HB6, which looks stunning in its white wrapper. The interesting this about these cells is that although they only advertise 1600mAh of power, they last longer at higher discharge rates, as compared to the higher-capacity counterparts. For anyone building 0.14-0.21 Ohms, these batteries are definitely for you!

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Simply because these are the most sought-after batteries on the market, I have to mention the Sony VTC 4/5. They’re the only other true 30A continuous discharge batteries on the market that I could find. The VTC5s feature an impressive 2600 mAh, but fall a bit short when using the full potential of 30A, and the VTC4s rating is 210 mAh, again, further decreasing if used at the 30A max. To be perfectly honest, it’s not recommend that you use these for continuous discharge, as tests show that these batteries heat up much more under load than the HB6s and can decrease the cycle life if used as such. Now, we vapers will only be using these batteries in brief bursts, since it’s difficult to reach the continuous discharge rate while vaping. But, if your mod auto-fires for some reason, these are more likely to vent due to the high temperatures damaging the battery chemistry. Can you use these for sub-Ohm vaping? Of course, but be aware that the increased stress on the cells can hinder the cycle life and you’ll be in need of new ones every six months or so. On the bright side, if you use these at 20A, they will perform very similarly to the Samsung 25Rs. The most practical use for Sonys are with mechanical mods, but they will definitely work great in any single battery box mods, like the IPV D3 or Snow Wolf Mini.


Glossary:

Amp Limit: The maximum amount of current a battery can discharge at once.

Battery: A container consisting of two or more electrochemical cells, in which chemical energy is converted into electricity and used as a source of power.

C-Rating: The C in C-Rating stands for capacity. To break it down to its simplest terms, the C-Rating is the maximum safe continuous discharge rate of a cell.

Cell: In this instance, it refers to an individual battery; e.g., an 18650 is a single battery cell.

Continuous Discharge: The maximum current at which the battery can be discharged for pulses of over 30 seconds.

Cycle Life: The number of discharge-charge cycles the battery can experience before it fails to meet specific performance criteria.

mAh: Stands for milli-Ampere-hours and indicates how much electric charge the battery can provide. Pulse Discharge: The maximum current at which the battery can be discharged for pulses of up to 30 seconds.

Voltage Sag: A dip in battery performance under load.


Buyer beware:

There are a lot of clones of the Sonys on the market now that they’ve become more rare. There are some telltale signs to look out for, however: first, the nasty seam on the battery wrapper, as well as an enlarged logo and slightly raised negative terminal. I’m sure there are other clones out there, so be careful and always make sure they’re authentic!

There are a number of factors to consider when purchasing batteries, so make sure you pay attention to the test results, and don’t be fooled by inflated stats on the battery wrappers or packaging. For instance, I’ve seen a lot of batteries marked as 40A; however, these numbers may be indicating its maximum “safe” discharge rate, which might only be for a few seconds, and is not suitable for vaping. Also, consider that there needs to be a tradeoff between maximum amp rating and milliamp rating; you can have one or the other, but not both. One example would be a 40A battery that is said to be rated at 3000 mAh, but is more likely safer at 20A and still only gets around 2100 mAh of power. If something looks too good to be true, it probably is!

Nick Bessette works at Voltage Vape shop in Springfield, Mass., and he does video reviews for his own YouTube channel, Daily Vape TV, among others. He has been building for two years and conducting battery safety courses at VCC events over the past year. Teaching the safety aspect of vaping is a passion of his, and he believes that it’s an extremely important topic for every vaper to know about.

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