Unfortunately there is currently a lot of misinformation when it comes to battery safety in this industry, and it is a very important topic especially for the subset of users that use mechanical or unregulated mods. Most store owners are familiar with the 18650 battery size, as they have become ubiquitous across the industry because they have a great combination of form and function. However, there are a few important things to remember when sourcing batteries.
Before launching into the many discrepancies with products in the market, I’d like to go over a few baseline safety concerns when it comes to removable 18650 or 26650 batteries. Batteries are currently rated for both continuous and pulse discharge. Continuous discharge is the industry standard rating, both within the vaping industry and outside of it. A typical continuous rating is usually between 20 and 25 amps, it is a rating determined by the manufacturer, and it represents the amperage limit a battery can reach safely. At this time there are no batteries on the market that exceed 20 to 25 amps continuous discharge. That is an absolute, they are not currently being manufactured anywhere. Pulse rating has no standard definition and varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. This does not represent safe operating parameters and can generally be ignored because it is not a good indicator of battery capability. Re-wrap companies also have been known to misrepresent this information in order to appeal to the top-end enthusiast crowd looking for maximum power for super-sub-ohm builds.
This brings us to our second concern, which are re-wrapped batteries. There are currently only four major manufacturers of 18650 batteries: Sony, Panasonic, LG, and Samsung. Panasonic makes quality batteries but their amperage ratings and capacity are generally too low for vaping with the exception of high-impedance mouth-to-lung hitters. Sony has outwardly said they do not like to do business with the vaping industry, which is a shame, because their VTC batteries are exceptional. Samsung and LG make high quality cells for reasonable prices, and are relatively easy to find, so they are always a good choice. Aspire, makers of the popular Atlantis and Nautilus tank systems, have begun manufacturing their own batteries but for now they are utilized in Aspire’s own tank/mod systems and are not widely available separately.
All other batteries are re-wrapped versions of these or other less reputable and lower quality cells typically from China. Re-wraps are usually of passable quality though of less quality than their Samsung/LG counterparts, despite the markup in price. However, and most importantly, they do often misrepresent important ratings, especially the pulse discharge rating. This is where we encounter issues, as customers base their coil builds on inaccurate information, which leads to unsafe battery drain, venting, and our worst case scenario: catching fire.
It is important to make this distinction to your customers when selling them batteries for their mechanical mods/unregulated boxes. Regulated devices, which are quite popular and make up the largest market segment, are less of a worry since the chip does all the regulation on the fly. It is important to stress the importance of remembering Ohm’s Law when doing coil builds on a mech mod, or recommend a good calculator or phone app. One of the best resources out there is www.steam-engine.org, which is a calculator for coil builds that is highly recommended. They include variables for multiple coils, wire gauge, and power source, and is a good comprehensive option for those exploring how to do their own coil builds.
In the next blog post there will be further details about re-wrap battery safety and I will include a great independent testing resource that will help you and your customers make informed decisions about battery safety, including what to carry in your shop. This is great information to circulate, so please share it with anybody you know that is into vaping, as this will help cut down on the amount of accidental issues that unfortunately seem to receive a disproportionate amount of media exposure.
For More information about the basics of batteries and which batteries can be used together, please see our blog Battery Safety: Will You Marry Me.