Vaping has come a long way over the past 10 years, and how we vape has changed substantially. What began as simple devices has evolved over the years into something none of us could comprehend back then. With so much changing, what has stayed the same? In a word, batteries. Batteries have remained one of the key components of vaping and although what batteries we use has changed, their importance has not. It is important to understand battery safety at the best of times but how much do you actually know about batteries? Fear not, Drip Hacks has you covered. So join us whilst we explore exactly what a battery is to hopefully teach you a thing or 2 to keep you safe and understanding how to power your device effectively.
What is a Battery
A battery is “the thing” that provides power to the electronic device it is being used for. It is a chemical makeup that allows electricity to flow through the circuit safely and run whilst there is charge within the battery itself. The battery is made up of different components inside that allow for the storage of power and come in many shapes and sizes for many projected uses. See below for more details on what is inside a battery.
The overall make up of a battery is a positive end (top) negative end (bottom) in a metal casing. The battery is protected via a insulating wrap around the battery and the top of the battery also has an insulating cap to protect it further.
Vape battery device options
A vape battery is a pretty broad term when it comes to options out there with many different choices and options depending on what you choose to vape with. First things first, let’s take a look at the different types of vaping batteries out there to understand what batteries are classed as.
Internal batteries are classed as devices with batteries built into the mod itself. They are unaccessable and do not require them to be changed at any point. You charge them via USB and all internal mods will come with protections to ensure you cannot over discharge / charge your battery to keep you safe. An internal battery will vary in capacity, usually smaller capacities found in smaller devices and larger has more capacity. The battery will be a Lipo, Lithium Ion that is found in most devices that come with a similar style battery including laptops and phones. Internal battaries are easy to maintain and you never need to worry about looking after them besides general safety and maintaince of the device itself.
The downside to using internal battery mods are two fold, which is why they prove to be less popular than external. Because of the built in battery, the capacity and output will not match up to an external battery. Most devices won’t carry a charge all day with the biggest (4400 mAh) out currently still not lasting a full day. The second downside to an internal is that once the battery stops performing as expected, the whole device has to be changed which can prove to be more expensive in the long term than simply replacing batteries.
External Batteries are the ones you take out and charge and can vary in many different ways. As a rule they will come unprotected and therefore require proper battery care when using / charging.
An external battery will come looking like a bigger version of the ones in your remote at home but they don’t act the same way. The battery will discharge at around 3.7 volts with the max at charge 4.2V. Once the battery reaches 3v output, it will be depleted and require another changr before they are safe to use again. An external battery will become unsafe under 3v and similarly will be dangerous charged over the 4.2v maximum capacity. This is where a good battery charger is handy to have as that will protect you from something going wrong. These types of batters are classed as IMR/ INR batteries to give them their correct terminology.
The battery will come with the same profile no matter the style, with a top and bottom covered in insulating wrap. The top is the positive end and can be either a button or flat top, with the bottom the negative.
Vape Batteries are Lithium Ion (Li-ion) and will come with 3 parts, the Cathode, Anode and Electrolyte. Each part allows the battery to work as intended. The Cathode is the positive part of the battery chemistry, the Anode the negative and electoryte the middle part. How the battery works is dependant on chemistry which is where it starts to get interesting.
The anode of a battery will remain the same no matter the style, however the cathode will vary which is where we get the different types of batteries available. A ICR based battery (colbalt) for example will provide high capacity and energy but will be more unstable which is why they are not found within the vaping community. The IMR adds nickel and will have a lower capacity but will be more stable as a long term use battery.
Batteries can come with coding to explain to those who know, what it actually means. The most popular codes you will see are;
I = Lithium Ion
C = Cobalt
F= Iron Phosphate
R = Rechargeable
What this means is for example a IMR battery will be a Lithium Iron Maganese Rechargeable battery (or IMR for short)
IMR batteries are stable, produce lower temperatures when being discharged and provide good capacity. Most of your standard mods will use an IMR battery and require no further protections inside. They aren’t the most common now but an IMR will serve you well. Because of their make up, they are safer than other options and provide more long term use.
The most popular style of vaping battery on the market today, the INR uses chemistry to provide a much better performance than a standard IMR style. Chances are, the batteries you are using now will be an INR as most popular brands use this method. They are stable, provide high energy from the nickel but keep the low resistance from the manganese part of the battery. Therefore a INR can offer better capacity and longer performance whilst keeping the chemistry safe enough to use without concern.
ICR – Li-cobalt:
ICR batteries are the one type of battery that is used for high output/discharge but because of this, become unsafe when used in a vaping device. ICR batteries are the make up of battery backs, rechargable vehicles or other non vaping related products due to their high drain capability. These should never be used in a vaping device as they would be classed as unsafe and put you at risk. All IICR require a protection board to be used alongside them to help regulate them, something that vaping devices do not provide.
Vape Battery Sizes explained
There are different types of battery sizes on the market, which is always evolving within the industry. The most popular ones are;
What do these numbers mean? Their size effectively! The measurements (in mm) of the batteries are a make up of the battery itself, so for an 18650 battery for example, it is the diameter 18mm with 650mm in length.
Battery coding continued
Batteries are categorised by different details
The mAh rating stands for Milliamp per hour and this determines what the battery is better suited for. A higher mAh will better for high wattage devices whereas a lower mAh will be suited for lower wattages to get the best possible performance from your battery.
Effectively, the mAh determines via an industry standard how long it takes before the battery is fully discharged, so a full use of a 3000mAh battery will be 3 amps in one hour. Chances are you aren’t discharging continuously for 1 hour so the battery will last you much longer than that.
The CDR is the current discharge rate and this determines what the safe amount of continuois discharge rate should be before there is a problem with the battery. Exceeding the CDR, which can vary from different manufacturer can lead to issues and even explosion if not treated with caution. A regulated device for example will only safely discharge the battery whereas an unregulated mod will not take this into account.
So we have covered what a battery is but the next question is how to I safely charge my batteries? This can vary on what type of battery you are using so we will break down the charging style for each type
Internal batteries are charged via the provided USB cable that came in the box. Always check to see if wall charging is an option, with the rule of thumb being, the bigger the internal battery, the more charge that can go through it. It is recommended that you charge via usb port to get the best possible battery life from your device. There is no safety concerns other than checking temperature whilst charging to ensure it isn’t heating up to unsafe levels.
External batteries are always recommended to charge via an external battery charger rather than inside the device. This is to ensure the batteries are fully charged safely and to ensure you get the best possible performance from them. It is possible to charge within a device but it is not recommended, due to the process being a feature on a mod compared to a dedicated function. For example if something has gone wrong within the device, it may try to over charge the battery, compared to a battery charger which is designed to charge safely.
Battery Duty Cycle
Battery Duty Cycle is essentially the amount of charge a battey can take before it finally stops working. Ion average you will get around 500 charges from a battery before it is unable to hold a charge, which will vary on performance and brand. The BDC determines how much performance you get out of a battery and usual battery rules apply here. For example, for best possible perforamcne over its life span, never fully discharge a battery and always store with some capacity, usually around 40%. This is to maintain efficient BDC over a longer period of time.
Vape Battery Safety
So now we have established all of that, the most important part is battery safety and making sure you keep yourself safe with batteries. It seems odd to say that vape batteries are really safe to use as long as you look after them as you would anything else. So let’s take a look at some of the main points of battery safety to ensure you keep yourself from any unexpected harm.
Good Quality Vape Mod
One of the biggest issues when it comes to unexplained issues is down to proper care of your vaping mod. It is this device that uses the batteries on a regular basis so this has to be in top condition to ensure you are safe. So this means no loose battery doors, good condition, no leaking issues etc. Keep your mod in good condition and you won;t have to worry about the batteries inside.
Don’t just buy the first battery you see advertised as it may be no good for you, the wrong size etc. Always look into the batteries you are buying to ensure the mAh is suitable, the capacity matches what you need or whether it simply is suitable for your style of vaping. Check brandings against others, check the number make ups on the specifications and even ask others for their advice. A little research beforehand can really help you out.
No Loose Batteries
This is a pretty big one, never carry batteries loose in your pocket and ALWAYS use a battery case when transporting spare batteries. How the battery works mean any metallic contact made with the battery can lead to venting / explosions as the battery makes a connection but has nowhere to vent the power to. The majority of stories you read about are from loose batteries being carried and a 18650 battery carries much more of a risk than a normal AA does. So always transport batteries safely to ensure you don’t have any unwanted explosions from your pocket / bag.
Never mix Batteries
Again this is something that seems innocuous at first but there is a reason for it. Always marry batteries together and charge / discharge together to ensure you are safe at all times. Never mix batteries up and never mix types of batteries up neither. This is because an unmarried pair of batteries will be discharging at different rates with different capacities from their BDC. So the last thing you want is for your device to be trying to pull charge from a battery that is mis-matched as it will lead to venting and possibly exploding. So simply buy a pair of batteries and keep them together all the time to make sure they are discharged at the exact same level throughout their lifespan.
Never use damaged batteries
Maintaining battery quality is also dependant on the battery itself with any imperfections spelling out potential risks in the future. For example don;t use a battery that has a teared wrap, missing insulator or dented in any way. This can prove to be extremely dangerous simply down to the chemistry inside the battery. A dent can knock the inside of the battery just enough to change the chemical reaction when you use it, leading to, you guessed it, explosions. Same as the battery wraps, all it takes is some unwanted metallic contact on a different part of the battery and it can be quite dangerous. So re-wrap / replace batteries as and when they require it to make sure they are safe to use.
Don’t leave your battery charging unattended
No matter how good a battery charger you have or how well your mod charges via USB, you should never leave it unattended. If something was to go wrong and you weren’t there to deal with it then that could spell disaster. So if leaving external batteries on charge, don’t leave them on whilst you nip the shops, you may not have a home to come back to. 99% of the time charging the batteries is perfectly safe, you may wonder why we even include this. Rest assured, for those 99% of the time, you don’t want to be out the house for that 1%.
Don’t exceed the amps of your battery
This is for any unregulated / coil builders out there. Make sure you have a full understanding of your batteries and coils before you use them because Ohms Law is more than just for coils, it affects batteries as well. Always double check that your build is going to run fine on the batteries being used and never exceed what the battery capacity is telling you. This can lead to issues that will be very much noticeable when they happen. Simply check all your details before you start vaping and you will be fine.
Similarly never over discharge your battery at any given moment. The limits are there for a reason, to keep you safe. So asking a battery to draw power beyond what it is possible will lead to the battery straining and potentially venting , causing very big problems. So once a battery is empty, recharge, never try to get a couple of last pulls from your device.
Don’t charge or rest your device on flammable surfaces
Again seems very obvious but well worth keeping note of. Always make sure you charge on a non flammable surface to ensure if something did go wrong then there wouldn’t be more than one issue to deal with. Don’t leave a device charging on a bed, armchair or soft toy, always make sure it is a flat surface and the wire is not over stretched to make sure you keep safe. Even as a precaution, use a plate, the non flammable surface of the plate will not lead to fire if something did go wrong.