Best 18650 Battery Chargers
By Lindsay Fox Posted December 6, 2017
Most vapers who use mods have an interest in finding the best 18650 battery charger. Some mods come with in-built batteries, but many require separately-purchased batteries an offer more flexibility and longevity as a result. But not all vape charger units are created equally. Not only can the prices vary, the charging speed and the reliability of the chargers can differ substantially.
Finding the best vape battery charger means considering various factors including safety, accuracy and how many batteries it can support. Most chargers do the job well enough for most purposes, but if you want the best charger for 18650 battery mods, here are our picks.
Best 4-Bay 18650 Battery Chargers for Vaping
We’ve split this list of the best 18650 battery charger options into two groups, one for 2-bay chargers and one for 4-bay chargers. Here are five of the best 4-bay battery chargers for vaping if you have multiple vape devices and want to minimize your charging time.
5 – Nitecore D4
Nitecore is a huge name in chargers, and many of the best 18650 battery chargers in this list are made by them. The e-cig battery charger has four independent charging bays, so you can charge multiple batteries (even of different types) simultaneously. When you insert a battery, the charger automatically detects the type of battery you have installed (apart from LiFePO4, which you have to select) and switches to the most appropriate charging mode. It supports most sizes of Li-ion battery – 26650, 22650, 18650, 17670, 18490, 17500, 18350, 16340(RCR123), 14500 and 10440 – as well as Ni-MH, IMR, LiFePO4 and NiCd options.
The 18650 battery charger has an LCD display so you can see the charging status of each battery you have installed, and if any have finished charging. The charging speed isn’t as high as some of the options on this best vape battery charger list, at 375 mA (i.e. 0.375 A) for four batteries simultaneously charging and 750 mA (0.75 A) for two batteries. It does have all the expected safety features, though, with reverse polarity, overheating protection, and over-charge protection.
The Nitecore battery charger costs $29.99.
4 – Efest Lush Q4
This device is in the running for the title of best charger for 18650 battery mods thanks to its fast-charging, nice design and affordable price. The Q4 has a simple, no-button design, and has four independent battery bays which you can use to charge a wide variety of vaping batteries. These include 18500, 18650, 22650 and 26650, as well as many other sizes, both Li-ion and LiMn. The display is relatively simple – with each just informing you if the slot is charging – but this makes it easy to get the key information at-a-glance.
If you’re charging three or four batteries, the Lush Q4 operates at 0.5 A, with 1 A charging for two batteries and 2 A charging for a single battery. These settings are automatic, though, so you can’t choose to charge at a slower rate without charging more batteries simultaneously. It automatically stops charging when your battery reaches 4.2 V, and has reverse polarity, over-voltage and short-circuit protection.
The Lush Q4 costs $21.95.
3 – Xtar VP4
The VP4 from Xtar is a reputable charger with four independent bays that works with a huge range of lithium ion batteries. As well as being one of the top-rated 18650 battery charger units, it also supports 18350, 18500, 22650, 26650 and many other sizes of battery (although others aren’t commonly used for vaping). This means you can use it as a vape battery charger for any size of battery you’ll come across when you’re vaping.
It has an LCD display screen which shows information for the charging status of each battery you have loaded up. It can charge four batteries simultaneously at 0.25 or 0.5 A, or two batteries at 1 A, with the outer bays offering faster charging. There is a precision cut-off to ensure your batteries aren’t charged to over 4.2 V, it can wake up “sleeping” or over-discharged batteries, and has plenty of safety features like reverse polarity and short circuit protection. Some other units on this list have more features, but the VP4 offers everything you’ll need for most purposes.
You can pick up the Xtar VP4 for $39.90.
2 – Efest LUC V4
Efest’s LUC V4 is a fairly basic-looking but still effective entrant on to this list, with four independent bays and support for most Li-ion and LiMn batteries. As well as 18650 batteries, it also supports 10440, 14500, 14650, 18500, 17670, 18700, 26500 and 26650 battery sizes. The charger is also features a USB charging port, which isn’t especially important but is a nice extra for charging your smartphone or other devices. It has a display that shows each battery’s charge level, and can charge at 0.5, 1 or 2 A (with the fastest speed only available when charging two 26650 or 25550 batteries).
This Efest 18650 charger has protections against overcharging, short circuits and reverse polarity, and it can be used to revive any batteries still at 0.6 V or higher. The vape charger offers pretty much everything you need from an 18650 charger, and you can pick it up for $29.95.
1 – Nitecore i4 Intellicharger
The i4 Intellicharger from Nitecore strikes a great balance between low price and excellent performance, and this earns it our pick as the best vape battery charger in the category. The unit has four independenly-controlled bays, and it automatically detects the battery you have installed and chooses the most appropriate charging method. It’s compatible with all of the battery sizes you could need for vaping – including 18350, 18490, 18650, 22650 and 26650 – and many more, and supports Li-ion, IMR, LiFePO4, NiCd and Ni-MH batteries.
The e-cig battery charger works at different speeds depending on how many batteries you’re charging simultaneously. For four batteries, it runs at 375 mA (0.375 A), for two it runs at 750 mA (0.75 A) and for a single battery it works at up to 1.5 A. There are three LED indicators to show the charge level of the battery in each slot. As you’d expect, it also features overcharge, short circuit and reverse polarity protection, as well as a feature to prevent charging for excessive amounts of time (cutting off at 20 hours).
You can pick up the best 18650 battery charger in the class for just $19.99.
Best 2-Bay Battery Chargers
If you aren’t likely to need to charge four batteries simultaneously, the best 2-bay battery chargers for vaping will give you more than enough options for charging your batteries.
5 – Efest Lush Q2
The Lush Q2 is the smaller version of the Q4 from Efest. While the features are essentially the same as on the larger unit, it still deserves a mention on this list of the best vape battery chargers for vapers who can get by with two independent battery bays. Like the larger version, it has displays for each battery bay, but doesn’t give any indication of charge level until your battery is fully-charged. It supports 18500, 18650, 22650 and 26650 vaping batteries, along with many others you’re unlikely to come across in a mod. It supports Li-ion and LiMn chemistries.
The Lush Q2 charges single batteries at 2 A and reduces this to 1 A when you have two batteries inserted. This is an impressive charge speed for two batteries, and is one of the reasons it earns a spot among the best vape battery charger devices. However, like the Q4, this is automatically selected. It features over-charging, reverse polarity and short circuit protection, and can recover batteries with over 0.6 V left in them.
The Lush Q2 is available for $15.95.
4 – Efest LUC V2
The LUC V2 is a smaller version of the V4 from Efest, and it takes a spot in the best 18650 battery charger countdown thanks to its solid selection of features and clear, well-executed display. It features two independent battery bays, with a USB output too so you can charge your cell phone or other device if you want to. The LCD display shows the current charge level for the batteries in each bay, and also displays the charging current. The LUC V2 supports most common vaping battery sizes, including 18350, 18500, 18650 and 26650, which makes it suitable for most vapers’ needs. It supports Li-ion and Li-Mn batteries.
The LUC V2 charges two batteries simultaneously at either 0.5 or 1 A, which is more than enough for most purposes. It has the standard set of safety features you’d expect for any device on this list: over-charging protection, short circuit protection and reverse battery polarity protection. It can also revive batteries provided the remaining voltage is at least 0.6 V.
The LUC V2 is available for $24.95.
3 – Nitecore i2 Intelligent Charger
The i2 Intelligent charger from Nitecore is a scaled-down version of the i4, with just two independent bays but all the same features that earned the larger device a spot on this best vape battery charger list. The i2 works with Li-ion, IMR, Ni-MH, NiCd and LiFePO4 chemistries, and covers a wide range of sizes. For an e-cig battery charger, the most important sizes covered are 18350, 18490, 18650 and 26650, but many others work with the i2 as well.
When you’re charging two batteries simultaneously, the i2 Intelligent charger works at 0.5 A, but this increases to 1 A when you’re only charging a single cell. There are LED lights to give a rough display of your current charge level, with marks for 30%, 80% and 100% charged, and a red LED to show a slot charging at 1 A. It can revive low voltage batteries, and has over charge, over time, short circuit and reverse polarity protection.
The i2 Nitecore battery charger costs $16.99.
2 – Xtar VC2 Plus
The VC2 Plus from Xtar makes this list thanks to its wide compatibility, affordable price and impressive range of features. It has two independent bays for batteries, and also features a USB output port, allowing it to charge other devices along with vaping batteries. The VC2 plus also works as a power bank, which is a really handy extra feature. Like many of the top vape battery chargers, it automatically recognizes the type of battery you’ve inserted and adjusts its behavior accordingly. It supports pretty much any battery you’ll use for vaping, including 18350, 18490, 18500, 18650, 22650 and 26650, as well as many others including huge 32650 options. It can be used with Li-ion, IMR, INR, NiMH and NiCd batteries.
One of the features that puts the VC2 Plus in the running for the title of best charger for 18650 battery using vapers is the option of controlling charge speed. It either works at 0.5 or 1 A, which is great for vapers looking for a quick charge on multiple batteries simultaneously. It also has a countdown timer when you’re charging – as well as an accurate display of the current charge level – so you know exactly how long it will take. It can revive low-voltage batteries, and it has short circuit, over-charging and reverse polarity protection. Unlike most options, this is actually an 18650 USB charger, which is powered by any standard USB port or wall adapter.
1 – Nitecore SC2
The best 18650 battery charger in the two bay class is the SC2 from Nitecore. This is especially good if you have batteries that can cope with high-amp charging, because it works at 3 A with a single cell. However, with two batteries you can also have one slot working at 3 A and the other working at 2 A, which is particularly impressive. This makes it the best choice for anybody looking for a fast vape mod battery charger. You can select your charging speed from 0.5, 1, 2 and 3 A, which is a great feature that makes it really easy to use the charger with any vaping battery. Like the i2 and i4 chargers, the display uses LED lights to show your charging current and the charge level of your battery.
The SC2 supports a wide range of sizes of Li-ion, IMR and LiFePO4 batteries, including important vaping battery sizes 18350, 18490, 18650, 22650 and 26650, as well as many others. It also supports Ni-MH and NiCd batteries ranging from AAAA to D. It also has a USB charging port that operates at up to 2.1 A of current. It can recover low-voltage batteries, and has protection for short circuit, reverse polarity, over-time and over-charging.
The SC2 is available for $29.99.
18650 Battery Charger Basics
The lists above offer all of the basic information on your options when you’re looking for the best charger for 18650 battery mods, but you might not be sure of the basics of how you should charge your batteries, how to charge safely, or what type of thing you should look out for when you’re making your decision. This section will give you a run-down of the main things you need to know.
A Charging Guide for Vapers: How to Charge Your Batteries
If you’re wondering how to charge 18650 battery mods, the answer is thankfully pretty simple. Vaping batteries are really just like any other battery – they have a positive end (which has a protruding button section) and a negative end (which is completely flat). The positive end usually has an indented ring around the tube of the battery too so this is generally easy to identify.
To charge, remove the battery from your mod. You don’t access the battery section in the same way on every mod, but generally speaking there will either be a cap to unscrew to get access or a panel you can remove. When you remove the battery, identify the positive and negative ends.
Battery chargers are usually explicitly labeled with a “+” and a “−” sign for the positive and negative ends. You simply insert your battery in the correct polarity. Don’t worry if you get it wrong, though, good chargers – like all of those in our 18650 vape battery charger lists above – throw up an error message if you insert it the wrong way around.
Then plug in and switch on your vape battery charger. In most cases, this is all you need to do. The charger identifies that you have a battery inserted, and sets itself in the appropriate mode for what you have inserted. You won’t encounter vaping batteries with unusual chemistries, so there is rarely any need to press anything. For example, if you had an LiFePO4 battery, you’d need to press a button on a Nitecore battery charger to put it in the correct charging mode. But vaping batteries are basically all Li-ion, IMR or INR, so you won’t need to do this.
This is really all you need to know when it comes to how to charge a vape battery. Good chargers (like all of those listed above) will at least stop charging and give you an indication when the battery is fully charged, and most will give you a continuous indication of the charge level. Simply wait for it to be fully charged and when you notice it’s done, remove the battery or batteries and re-insert into your mod.
Vape Safety Guide for Charging a Battery
As long as you buy one of the high-quality options from our list of battery charger units, you’re unlikely to run into safety issues when you recharge. However, it’s still a good idea to know the basics of battery charging safety. So here’s a brief bullet-point vape safety guide for charging a battery:
- Make sure your charger has over-charge protection. Over-charging your batteries regularly will impact its lifespan and could lead to more serious issues as a result of the stress on the internal components. The best advice is to get a battery with over-charge protection. Even if you do, though, it’s still worth removing your batteries from charge as soon as you notice they’re done.
- Don’t leave your batteries charging unattended. You’re unlikely to run into issues with a high quality vape battery charger, but it’s still good advice to not leave your batteries charging unattended. It’s also better to not leave them charging overnight.
- Charge away from heat sources or flammable materials. Overheating can cause issues with lithium-ion batteries, so it’s best to avoid charging near heat sources or in direct sunlight. Keep your charger away from flammable materials too, just in case there is a problem.
- Check how quickly your battery can charge. Batteries ideally shouldn’t be charged at higher than 0.8C, where 1 C is the capacity of the battery. So if you have a 2,000 mAh capacity battery, it shouldn’t be charged at a higher current than 1.6 A. Find out your battery’s capacity and multiply it by 0.8 to find this number (in the example above, 2,000 mAh ×8 C = 1,600 mA = 1.6 A). Technically, lower-speed charging is better for maintaining battery life, so really it’s better to charge at 0.5 C. In this case, multiply the capacity by 0.5 to find the safe charging current. In the example above, this would be 2,000 mAh × 0.5 C = 1,000 mA = 1 A.
- For in-built battery devices, use the recommended charger. If you have a vape pen, hookah pen, internal battery mod or a cigalike, using the charger that came with your device is the best way to stay safe. The hookah pen charger you get with your device will definitely be safe, so just stick with it. Although you can match the output on your original charger with the output on your new charger, it’s easier to just use the manufacturer’s charger if possible.
- Don’t buy cheap chargers. Battery chargers don’t seem important, but they really are. Don’t just choose the cheapest charger you can find. Stick with reliable manufacturers and choose one of the e-cig charger options listed in the lists above to stay safe.
Choosing Your Vape Battery Charger
As long as you stick with a reliable manufacturer and recommended vape battery chargers, you’re unlikely to run into issues when charging your batteries. However, you do have to choose a specific charger somehow, so here are some general tips for getting the right one for your needs.
- 2 bays or 4 bays? Although it might seem like getting a charger with more bays is automatically better, if you only have a couple of vape mods, you might be able to save a bit of money by getting a smaller but still high-quality charger. However, if you have several batteries and are likely to get more, 4-bay battery chargers (or even bigger ones) don’t cost too much more.
- How quickly does it charge, and does it let you choose charging speed? Provided your batteries can take the higher current safely (see the previous section for details), the top 18650 battery chargers can generally charge at a higher current. Charging more slowly is generally safer anyway, but if you’re likely to be in a rush getting a faster charger is generally better. The best vape battery charger devices give you a choice of how fast to charge.
- What are the safety features? The best vape battery charger devices have a range of safety features too. The most important is over-charge protection, but short circuit protection and reverse polarity protection are important too. There should also be some venting for the heat generated by charging.
- What is it compatible with? Although every entry on the lists above class as 18650 battery chargers, you may have other sizes of battery too. Check which batteries are compatible with your charger prior to making your purchase.
- Check an 18650 battery charger review before buying. Looking at specs and features gives you a broad idea of what a charger can do, but there is no substitute for checking an 18650 battery charger review for the device you’re considering prior to buying.
Conclusion: Don’t Sacrifice Quality for Price
Getting a high-quality, safe battery and a high-quality vape battery charger is essential if you’re going to stay safe when you vape. Our best 18650 battery charger lists are a great guide, but if you decide to pick something up not listed above, make sure it’s high-quality and not just something you’re picking up because it’s cheap. Safety should be paramount when making your choice. Don’t worry too much, but remember that it’s not worth cutting corners when it comes to chargers.