Top 10 High Drain Batteries for Sub-Ohm Vaping
By Lindsay Fox Posted April 20, 2016
In this age of sub-ohm tanks, 150 W vape mods and cloud competitions, vape batteries need to be capable of putting out some serious power. We’ve addressed battery safety elsewhere, but the short version is that any given battery can only put out so much current, and if you ask for too much from it, you can have a very bad time (i.e. your battery venting and possibly exploding). That’s why getting the right vaping battery matters.
But finding the best battery for vaping isn’t easy. Our list of the best high drain batteries for sub-ohm vaping aimed to make that a little easier, but sadly it wasn’t entirely accurate. We made the mistake of actually trusting what the manufacturers said: with re-wraps (cells from other manufacturers clothed in another brand’s wrapper) and pulse amp limits masquerading as continuous amp limits, you have to be a lot more careful about which batteries you put in your mod. Thanks to several very helpful comments and a lot of research, we’ve put together a new 2016 list of the best 18650 batteries for sub-ohm vaping. There isn’t a purple Efest in sight.
Best 18650 Batteries for Vaping
We’ve primarily focused on amp limits, but to order the list we also paid attention to capacity, and as well as the best 18650 batteries, we’ve added a couple of 26650 batteries to the list too (placed at the bottom because most vapers still use 18650s, despite the high amp limits and capacities of 26650s). So, without further ado, here’s our list of the top 10 high-drain 18650 batteries for vaping:
10 – MNKE IMR 26650: 20 A – 4,000 mAh
This vape battery has a pretty high max continuous discharge rating of 20 A, and combined with the substantial capacity of 4,000 mAh and the IMR safer chemistry, it makes it an excellent option for vapers with a 26650 mod. You might have trouble finding these in stock, but there is a 3,500 mAh version available that also offers a max discharge current of 20 A and is easier to find. There are fakes around, though, of the 4,000 mAh in particular, so be sure to buy from a reputable vendor. Tests of these generally turn out fairly positively, although the capacity drops fairly substantially during high current draw (at least on the 3,500 mAh version).
9 – KeepPower IMR 26650: 20 A – 4,200 mAh
This battery is making the rounds as the Vappower 26650, and claims to be rated for 40 A, but it’s been suggested that these are just re-wrapped KeepPowers. For the KeepPower IMR 26650, testing from Illumn led them to recommend a maximum continuous discharge rating of 20 A. There is a 5,200 mAh version available too, but the maximum discharge rating drops to 15 A on these. Again, these are safer chemistry IMR cells, and they stand up pretty well to testing, apart from when tested at 30 A.
8 – Samsung INR 18650-30Q: 15 A – 3,000 mAh
Onto the best 18650 batteries, the Samsung INR 18650-30Q has a slightly better than average amp limit – offering up to 15 A continuous discharge – and an excellent capacity of 3,000 mAh. This uses nickel chemistry (indicated by the “N” in the name), and testing suggests it actually performs reasonably well at 20 A, although it’s better to stick to the 15 A max recommendation for safety purposes.
7 – AW IMR 18650: 20 A – 2,200 mAh
AW IMR 18650 batteries are lithium-manganese, safer chemistry options that have been widely-used by vapers or many years. The new 2,200 mAh version not only increases the capacity, it also offers an amp limit of 20 A, making it a great vaping battery for sub-ohming. The older, 1,600 mAh versions are rated for 24 A, and despite suggestions they’re only good for 16 A continuous discharge, testing indicates that they can stand up to at least 20 A. The choice between the two is ultimately up to you, but with a comparable amp limit and better capacity, the newer 2,200 mAh options seems like the better choice overall.
6 – LG INR 18650HG2: 20 A – 3,000 mAh
Also offering a 20 A maximum continuous discharge but providing 3,000 mAh capacity, the LG INR 18650 HG2 is up there with the best vaping batteries for sub-ohming. The only reason this isn’t placed above the HE2 and HE4 is that initial testing from Kidney Puncher suggests a fairly poor performance, dropping to around 2,100 mAh when tested under vaping-like conditions on a 0.2 ohm coil (meaning 21 A at the full 4.2 V). Still a great option for the amp limit alone, though.
5 – LG 18650 HE2/HE4: 20 A – 2,500 mAh
The HE2 and HE4 hybrid IMR 18650 batteries from LG both have the same core specs, offering a 20 A continuous discharge limit and 2,500 mAh capacities. The (yellow) HE4 is the newer model (and is actually called the LG DBHE41865), and shows good performance in tests at 20 A, although the capacity drops considerably when tested under the (not recommended) amp-load of 30 A. If you can’t find the HE4, though, the (red) HE2 is still a very dependable battery and may be easier to find in stock. Kidney Puncher claims that they’ve seen tests where the HE2 handles much higher currents, but available tests show a notable capacity and voltage drop when tested at 30 A. As always, it’s best to stay within the battery’s official limits.
4 – Samsung INR18650 20R: 22 A – 2,000 mAh / 25 R: 20 A – 2,500 mAh
The Samsung INR 18650 (hybrid chemistry) 20R has since been upgraded to the 25R, but that upgrade came with a slight decrease in maximum continuous current. The benefit of the newer version is in capacity, with the 25 R offering 2,500 mAh, which still leaves the 20 R as the best high-drain option for sub-ohming if you only consider the amp limit. The decision is really between an extra 500 mAh capacity or an extra 2 A max discharge. Personally I’d opt for the 25 R for the capacity, but that’s ultimately your decision to make depending on what you need most from a vape battery. Testing shows that both cells do really well, so you’re unlikely to be disappointed whichever you shoot for.
3 – LG 18650 HD2: 25 A – 2,000 mAh
The LG ICR 18650 HD2 pushes the amp limit up to 25 A, comfortably earning it a spot as one of the best batteries for vaping. The capacity of 2,000 mAh might not be as high as some of the others placed lower on the list, but it’s a sacrifice for the higher amp-limit. The chemistry is actually lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide (Li [NiMnCo]O2 or just NMC), which is a mouthful effectively meaning it’s a hybrid chemistry option and doesn’t carry the same safety risks as actual ICR (lithium-cobalt) options. The battery fares pretty well in testing, keeping its capacity reasonably well up to about 20 A.
2 – LG HB6 18650: 30 A – 1,500 mAh
LG’s highest entry is for the HB6, a beast of a battery that packs up to 30 A maximum continuous discharge, easily putting it towards the top of the pack for vape batteries. The drop in capacity is the main trade-off, but if you’re looking for something for a relative short period of serious cloud chasing this could well be the battery you’ve been hoping for. The chemistry of this uses the same elements as the NMC HD2, but it’s called an NCM, indicating that the ratio of the metals in the cathode is slightly different. The only downside is that the battery has apparently been discontinued, although it is still available from some vendors, including IMR Batteries.
1 – Sony US18650VTC5: 30 A – 2,600 mAh
After some problems with finding authentic VTC5s and finding any in stock, there is a new supply of authentic Sony VTC5 batteries available (also at Kidney Puncher), and this is probably the best vape battery on the market. With a 30 A limit and a capacity much larger than pretty much any other high drain battery you can find, Sony’s offerings are still the best available. Kidney Puncher’s testing showed positive results firing in a vaping-like pattern on a 0.2 ohm coil, but you wouldn’t really expect anything less from the genuine article. Although the VTC4 “only” has a 2,100 mAh capacity, it would have otherwise taken the title of best 18650 battery – since it still offers a 30 A maximum continuous discharge – so it’s still well-worth picking up if you can find it.
Conclusion – Vape Safe
Choosing the best 18650 battery for vaping is partially about “chuckin’ clouds” and becoming your own mini steam train, but the reason it’s so important is ultimately safety. If you’re looking to draw some serious current from your battery, you need one that can stand up to it, and outside of in-built batteries in regulated mods, this means you need to understand what you’re doing. If you can’t already recite ohm’s law from memory, brush up on it and why it’s important before you go putting together a super-sub-ohm build and trying to fire it with an inappropriate battery.
If you know your stuff, then get yourself a dependable, capable vape battery – ideally one with a bigger amp limit than you really need, since it’s better not to push your battery too close to the limit – and go ahead and wow the crowd at your local cloud contest. Get one of the best vape batteries and you can have fun chuckin’ clouds without worrying about your mod turning into a pipe bomb.
Recommended Vendors for 26650 and 18650 Vape Batteries:
Resources – 18650 Batteries for Vaping:
- KidneyPuncher: 18650 Battery Tests
- Kritical Mass: Battery Amp Limit Calculator
- E-Cigarette Forum: Baditude’s Blog: Battery Basics for Mods – IMR or Protected ICR?
- E-Cigarette Forum: Baditude’s Blog: Deeper Understanding of Mod Batteries (Part 1) (Part 2)
- Indiegogo: Best 18650 Batteries for Vapers as of May 2015
- lygte-info.dk: Individual Battery Tests