In recent years there has been extensive media coverage concerning mods and e-cigarettes exploding, and we get a lot of questions from customers who are concerned about what causes battery mishaps and how they can avoid becoming a victim. These stories are generally regarding mod batteries, AKA Lithium-Ion 18650s, and so we believe this is an important place to start for anyone interested in using a mod for vaping.
With a little knowledge we can vape more safely and prevent these types of accidents from occurring. The good news is that extensive studies have been done, and battery explosions are a rare occurrence- only about 1 in 10 million and is 100% avoidable. Hopefully by the end of reading this article you will have more general information about batteries and safety when using them so you will feel more comfortable when vaping your mod.
Li-Ion Battery General Information
What do the numbers mean?
The battery numbers are a measurement. An 18350 is 18mm in diameter and 35mm long. The 0 at the end means it is a round battery.
18350: 18mmx35mm | 18500:18mmx50mm | 18650:18mmx65mm
What do the letters mean?
The first letter indicates the basic chemical makeup of the battery. The second and most important letter indicates the material. “I” means that it is a Lithium Ion class battery. “C” indicates the material as cobalt; “M” indicates manganese; “N” indicates nickel. The “R” just means rechargeable.
The “AW” on some batteries is initials for Andrew Wan, who owns a China-based company which purchases large quantities of batteries from the big boys (Samsung, Panasonic, etc.) and performs quality tests on each one.
ICR batteries (Li-Ion/Cobalt/Rechargeable) can handle most atomizers we buy in stores today. They are known for their higher capacities and are suited for the average vaper’s device, but they are not well suited for use in advanced devices. These batteries are best used in applications with a current draw of less than 3A. ICR batteries do need to be protected, which is either built into the battery or is accomplished by use of a Vape Safe fuse, which we will discuss in more detail later in the article.
IMR batteries (Li-Ion/Manganese/Rechargeable) are the preferred battery type for “modders” or vapers who like to use a mod. They have a “safer” basic chemistry than ICR batteries as they can sustain higher internal temperatures before becoming unstable. They can be overcharged by old-technology chargers and may burst. Overcharging (>4.25 volts) or discharging below 3 volts will shorten the service life. If you run them below the minimum discharge voltage the cell can be damaged. There is no ‘trip out’ as with a protected Li-Ion battery.
Li-FePo4 batteries are lithium ferrous phosphate and are a newer technology that is much more expensive in comparison. Most have a working voltage much lower than the Li-Ion equivalent and they cannot be used with Li-Ion chargers.
What is battery duty cycle?
Battery duty cycle refers to the approximate number of recharges it can be “cycled” through before the battery will no longer hold a charge. Duty cycles can vary between 150 and 500 depending on the core battery composition and care of the battery.
How do you properly charge mod batteries?
A Li-Ion battery has no “battery memory” or “charge memory” so it can be charged at any point of the discharge cycle with no ill-effects. It does not need a long first charge or a “conditioning” first use, full discharge then a full charge. They are fully charged at 4.2v and best recharged at 3.4v. They must not be discharged below 3v or they will be damaged. It is advisable to recharge them before they reach full discharge, as this extends their service life. It may be a good idea to rest batteries after charging.
Protected vs. Unprotected
There is a common misnomer in the vaping community that a protected battery is safer to use than an unprotected battery. There is a belief that a protected battery will prevent you from over-drawing your battery and causing it to vent gas or even explode. A battery labeled as “protected” does not always prevent you from applying a higher current draw than it is capable of handling. The protection circuits in batteries vary from manufacturer to manufacturer but primarily prevent you from over-discharging or over-charging the battery. The” protection” moniker is not all-inclusive either. Some will provide just over-discharge protection, others have over-charge protection and in some batteries over-current protection. The term “unprotected” is vague and often misunderstood. It can mean a “safer chemistry IMR or hybrid” that does not use a protection circuit or an “unprotected ICR battery”. Unprotected ICR batteries should NEVER be used in a mod. They are only suitable for less demanding applications like flashlights. All Li-Ion batteries have what is called a PTC or positive temperature coefficient circuit. This is built into the battery just above the positive terminal and is present regardless of any “protected” labels. The PTC is designed to raise the resistance of the battery as the temperature of it rises. The theory behind PTC is that as the resistance goes up, the current draw from the battery goes down-Ohm’s law. This helps prevent most accidents from happening but should not be relied on.
What are inline fuses?
Inline fuses are small disk-shaped components which you place inside your mod below the negative terminal on your battery. An inline fuse, commonly rated at 7amps, will prevent you from accidentally pulling too much current from your battery either from device failure or low atomizer resistance. If you are using a mechanical mod it is suggested that you use these!
Battery explosions and mishaps are a concern when using Li-ion batteries. As stated earlier, these occurrences are avoidable if you follow basic safety guidelines for storing and using batteries.
ALWAYS make sure you are using the correct battery for your vaping device.
Most devices will include instructions that give you specifics about the type of battery to use in your mod. Always follow the manufacturer instructions, and if you are still unsure which style of battery to use, contact the manufacturer or the store it was purchased from.
NEVER use a battery that is damaged.
Damage includes dents in the battery as well as nicks in the wrapper. Knicks and tears in the battery wrapper is one of the leading causes of battery explosions. The wrapper on a battery leaves only the top and bottom of the battery exposed to electrical current. When there is a tear or even a small nick in the wrapper, electricity can “arc” or bounce around because it is able to be transferred where the nick or tear is. Inspect your batteries frequently, and if there are any visible nicks or tears, discontinue use of the battery immediately. Batteries can easily be re-wrapped. You can purchase battery wraps online and do it yourself or your local vape shop may be able to re-wrap it for you. Vape Hut re-wraps batteries and will be happy to help you.
ALWAYS charge batteries on an approved charger for that particular battery.
In a technological world, we have tons of chargers at our disposal. Chargers put out different amounts of current, and it is important to charge your batteries on a charger that does not put out too much current. This is another common cause of battery explosion. Use the chargers and wall adapters that came with your device. Car chargers often put out too much current or not enough current to properly charge a battery. If the charger being used puts out a low amount of current, it will not cause explosion. This will cause the battery to not last as long as it should or it may take an extended amount of time to fully charge.
NEVER leave a battery charging unattended.
You should always stay near your batteries when they are charging in case a mishap occurs. Do not leave them charging overnight or when you are away from home. There are also Li-Po bags available for protection of your battery while it is charging. The bags are available at Vape Hut or other places online. The bags are designed to help contain any debris or flame in the rare event that something happens while charging.
NEVER overcharge your batteries.
The type of charger being used to charge li-ion cells is important. Don’t cut corners and buy a low-end charger. Most of them do not automatically stop charging when the cycle is complete, and this can cause you to damage cells in the battery or can cause a battery explosion. It is worth it to invest in a charger that detects voltage and stops charging when the battery is full. The Nitecore Intelligent charger is one of our favorites, but there are other ones that do just as well.
NEVER store batteries near other metal objects.
Batteries should be stored in a plastic battery case or in a pocket free of keys, coins, or other metal objects. Contact with other metal objects can cause current to be exchanged and can cause a battery to overheat and possibly explode.
NEVER store batteries in extreme heat.
Do not store your batteries in the car or anywhere they would be exposed to an extreme amount of heat. Always store them somewhere room temperature or cool.
The tips above will help you store, charge, and use your batteries properly to avoid becoming the victim of a battery explosion.
It is also worth mentioning that other factors can cause mishaps when using a mod or other vaping device. The most common occurrence is using a coil that is not rated for use with the mod. Most of the time, this occurs when an “RDA” or mechanical device is being used, and the user is vaping at a subohm level, meaning that the coil is below 1 ohm. If you are using an atomizer in which you are building the coil, you should be knowledgeable about the “Ohms Law” before attempting to use. Also, mechanical mods are not regulated by an internal chip or board. Therefore, they will still fire even if the coil is unsafe to use with the battery that is installed in the mod. Regulated mods, however, have built in protection and will not allow the coil to fire at an unsafe level.
Hopefully this article has been informative. For questions about using your mod, you can call our store at (910) 399-8071 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will be happy to answer any questions you may have.
By: Bridgette Norris and Ashleigh Spaulding