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So over the past few months, I've been conducting my own independent tests of a few different batteries for use with my eCigs. There's a huge disparity of information out on the internet about "what's the best", so instead of concerning myself with "what's the best", I want to answer a different question...
WHAT WORKS GOOD?
Having been involved in the electronics world for the past 30 some-odd years, I've had a lot of experience dealing with all sorts of rechargeable cells. I won't mesmerize you with the depth and breadth of that knowledge here today, because it's irrelevant. If you need charts and graphs, move along as you won't find any here. Just know this - I want to help steer you away from OBVIOUS JUNK, but I also don't want you to have to break the bank in order to get a good, reliable and consistent setup. Fair? Good.
Just know this, there is no such thing as the "best battery". Yes, there are many that are bad, but I don't believe there's any such thing as "best".
For the sake of completeness, I want it to be known WHAT these batteries were tested in. I have tested each of these batteries inside of:
a. VAMO V2
b. SmokeTech Natural
c. Sigelei Mechanical Mod #19
d. VAMO V3 (added 10/20/2013)
e. Grand Vapor Private V2-clone (added 10/20/2013)
#1 - Samsung ICR18650-26F (unprotected)
I'm starting with this particular battery for a reason. As the model number of this battery suggests, this is a 2600mAh battery. This is the first "cell" that I purchased for use in my first APV, the VAMO. I originally purchased 2 of these in order to swap one out while charging. This battery has performed so well in my tests, that I now have a grand total of *6* of them in rotation. I selected this battery from a universe of 1,000's of possible cells. I chose it, because it's made by Samsung. Samsung's technology for producing batteries is second to none and I TRUST these batteries. What do I trust them to do? I trust them to be reliable, to have a good life and to do exactly what I ask of them. In other words, if you do something stupid and they leak/explode, you don't blame the battery, you blame the user.
Some will use their batteries until the charge runs out and then replace the battery. I do not subscribe to this irresponsible usage of a rechargeable battery. I swap my battery every 24 hours, whether it's dead or not. And let me tell you, these batteries DO last a full 24 hours PLUS. I smoked 2 packs of Analogs a day for 30 years, so it's safe to say that I'd be considered a "heavy Vaper". I've done PLENTY of Sub-Ohm Vaping using these batteries and plenty of 2.4-2.8 Ohm Vaping as well. No matter what I do, these batteries have lasted at least 24 hours and have done so for months as of this writing.
They hold a charge EXTREMELY WELL. After 6 days of sitting on a shelf waiting to be used, these batteries are still testing out at 4.19V. I highly recommend these batteries - HIGHLY!
Update 10/20/2013 - First of all, I want to thank Katya for the plug on e-cig forums. Second, I just wanted to let you all know that I'm STILL using the same 6 - ICR-18650-26F's that I wrote about in this review. No problems, no issues, 100% reliable. If / when they die, I'll be sure and update this.
Update 3/30/2015 - It's 2015 and I'm STILL using the same 6 Samsung batteries I purchased in 2013! Samsung is really the one to beat, as far as reliability goes.
#2 - Samsung ICR18650-30B (protected)
Early on in my Vaping life, I came across many people talking about the severe dangers associated with the rechargeable batteries used for Vaping. For the most part, the cautionary tales are true. In reality, most of you will never have a problem. Problems are the exception, not the rule. As the model number of this battery suggests, this is a 3000mAh battery.
I purchased 2 of these cells and I have been testing these for about 2 months. One test I ran, was a shelf-life test. After 30 days, the charge was metered at 4.17V, not bad. These cells are protected and as such are LONGER than an unprotected cell. They DO NOT FIT in most non-telescopic mods, such as the SmokTech Natural. There's only a 4mm difference between this one and the unprotected Samsung 2600mAh cell, but due to the way that non-telescoping mods are made, it's a non-starter. These WILL NOT FIT into a VAMO V2 (and I suspect the V1 & V3 as well). Don't even try it, the pressure from FORCING the battery cap on will undoubtedly break the small circuit board.
These batteries have proven to be reliable, they pass my 24 hour requirement, AND as they're made by Samsung, I have enough faith in these cells to recommend them.
#3 - TrustFire 18650 - 3000mAh (protected)
There's a lot of misinformation floating around on the net about any battery with the word "Fire" in its name. Here's what you need to know. They OVER-RATE them.
This is TrustFires higher-end cell and it's the reason that I chose them. While the battery is clearly labeled as "3000 mAh", there's published information available on the internet that shows these batteries are only 2600mAh. Is that a problem for me? Nope. I've been using Samsung 2600mAh batteries now for months and there's PLENTY of charge for my needs.
I purchased 2 of these and I have been testing them for 2 months. Much like the Samsung ICR18650-30B, their shelf-life is impressive. Tested at 4.19V after 30 days of sitting on a shelf.
These cells are protected and as such are LONGER than an unprotected cell. There's only a 3.9mm difference between this one and the unprotected Samsung 2600mAh cell, but due to the way that non-telescoping mods are made, it's a non-starter. These WILL NOT FIT into a VAMO V2 (and I suspect the V1 & V3 as well). Don't even try it, the pressure from FORCING the battery cap on will undoubtedly break the small circuit board.
These batteries have proven to be reliable, they also pass my 24 hour requirement. The big question that I have to answer, is can I responsibly recommend them? Well, they're made in China and like it or not, Chinese made batteries are not made to the same standard as most Korean made ones. Knowing that, the question is, "do I trust the protection circuit?". While China hasn't quite gotten the "battery thing" figured out yet, their ability to produce IC's and circuit boards is good enough even for Apple to have their stuff made there. If you follow safe practices for handling rechargeable batteries, I'd say YES, go ahead and get a pair and see if you like them. Remember, TRUST IS NOT GIVEN, IT IS EARNED. A product can only EARN your trust if you give it a chance.
#4 - EFest 18350 - 800mAh V2 (unprotected)
Truth be told, I only purchased these batteries for ONE REASON. I bought them to test out the ability of my VAMO to handle higher voltages when there's a greater supply voltage. At 800mAh, I consider these batteries almost useless FOR ME. On average, I get only about 4 hours of use out of them. Are they defective? No, they're just half the size of an 18650 and can't FIT enough power in them to be useful.
If you need to have the "smallest mod possible", then you're probably going to want 18350's. Just be prepared to have extra batteries in your pocket, your glove compartment or in your purse.
Do I recommend them? I only recommend them if you need to Vape at anything higher than 6V or if you have the "tiny mod complex". They don't pass my 24 hour requirement, but they are manufactured by a known reliable company, so I can't say "don't buy them". As with anything, your mileage my vary...
#5 - Standard eGo-C 1100mAh (protected)
You might be asking yourself WHY I would bother to throw this into my 18650 & 18350 Battery Review. Let me tell you why. I threw it in here for a LONGEVITY comparison that I'm sure somebody out there might be interested in.
For my very first eCig "kit", I selected the BEST and LARGEST battery I could find. The 1100mAh eGo-C battery fit the bill. I used that battery until I discovered that there WAS a better way to Vape (but that's a story in a different blog post). And quite honestly, I do pull this battery out from time to time, just to see how it performs with various atomizers.
Over the course of my time Vaping, I have used every device I own on this battery. It always lasted at least 24 hours before the blue light started flashing and it always performed as designed. This device won't even power on if your coil is under 1.2 Ohms, but I've used 1.2 ohm and all the way up to 3.0 ohm coils on this unit and it always passed my 24 hour test.
Do I recommend you get one? Well, if you're new to Vaping, then sure! Go get a couple and figure this whole Vaping thing out. If you want the freedom and flexibility to Sub Ohm Vape, or even to make a 1.1 ohm coil for that matter, then you're going to want to get a Mechanical mod.
Too many people are pushing AW IMR batteries and EFest batteries unnecessarily. There's no EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE that proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that you NEED to spend the extra $$$ (or £££ for that matter). Just because I recommend these batteries does not mean that you SHOULD get them for yourself, it means that I can CONFIRM that they WORK WELL. In other words, you could do worse...
Update 10/28/2013: I just wanted to throw one more piece of information into this blog entry. IF and that's a BIG IF, you want to seriously go 100% Subohm Vaping @ ridiculous Wattage levels (remember, Watts is a measurement of HEAT), then you're going to want to find batteries that can withstand 20A or more of current drain. Just as an example, .2Ω @ 4.1V is about 84 Watts. That's just 16 Watts less than a 100 Watt light bulb Ever touch one of those with your bare fingers? I'm just sayin'.... ;) To the best of my recollection, none of the batteries in this review are able to supply more than 10A if memory serves me correctly. 99% of MOST Vaping is done between 5-15W! See what I'm getting at here?
So that's my 18650 & 18350 Battery review. I know there are many choices for batteries out there and I know that there are MANY good batteries for sale, from a variety of countries and manufacturers. Just follow safe practices when dealing with rechargeable Lithium-Ion cells and try to incorporate your cells into a rotation, so that your batteries last a very long time.
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(images used above sourced from http://www.google.com)