In this age of sub-ohm tanks, 230W vape mods and cloud competitions, vape batteries need to be capable of putting out some serious power.
We’ve addressed vape 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 vape battery matters.
But finding the best battery for vaping isn’t easy. Our previous 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 list of the best 18650 batteries for sub-ohm vaping.
Best Vape Batteries: 18650, 21700, 26650
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 alternative-sized batteries to the list too (one 26650 and one 21700, placed at the bottom because most vapers still use 18650s, despite the high amp limits and capacities of bigger sizes).
So, without further ado, here’s our list of the best high-drain 18650 vape batteries:
10 – iJoy INR 26650 (30 A / 4,200 mAh)
The INR 26650 battery may be from iJoy, rather than company that actually makes the cells, but this “rewrap” is actually pretty good, and thanks to the larger, 26650 batter size, it can pack a serious punch too.
If you’re a real stickler for quality, you might prefer to go for one of the big companies featured in the latter parts of this list, but this iJoy model still ranks among the best 26650 vape batteries on the market even without a big name attached.
The cell advertises itself as 40A, but based on testing by vaping battery expert Mooch, the true rating is 30A. However, this is still a more than respectable rating for battery and the performance is great up to this level.
The 4,200 mAh capacity is what you expect from a chunky cell like this, but it’s still excellent in terms of how long you can keep vaping on a full charge. You can pick up the cell for $19.99.
9 – Samsung INR 21700-30T (35 A / 3,000 mAh)
The INR 21700-30T from Samsung is the only option in this list if you’re looking for the best 21700 battery for high-drain vaping, but it’s a beast. With a 35 A maximum output, this hits harder than the vast majority of batteries on the market (never mind just in its size class).
The 3,000 mAh capacity might not be the highest but is a necessary evil if you’re looking for something that can deal with high current. Testing has confirmed these ratings, which is unfortunately rare in the battery industry, but it shows you can actually depend on this battery to do what it claims.
Overall it’s a fantastic cell and you can pick it up for $8.60.
8 – Samsung INR 18650-30Q (20 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.
You can pick this battery up for $9.99.
7 – Golisi S26 IMR 18650 (25 A / 2,550 mAh)
Golisi isn’t one of the big names in the battery industry, but the S26 IMR is a really solid cell. It oversells itself slightly, boasting a confusing “max” rating of 35 A, but testing demonstrates that the true rating is 25 A. This is very good for an 18650 vape battery, though, and combined with a respectable capacity of 2,550 mAh (again, based on testing), the cell is a great choice for high-drain vaping.
As always, there is a trade-off between high current output and maximum capacity, but if you’re vaping at high settings, the Golisi S26 is a fantastic option and it still lasts pretty long between charges.
You can pick it up for $6.10 per cell.
6 – Samsung INR 18650 25RM (20 A / 2,500 mAh)
Samsung is a pretty common name on this list of the best 18650 batteries for vaping, and for good reason: they make quality batteries and don’t tend to over-hype their ratings. The INR 18650-25RM is pretty similar to the 25R version, but the operating voltage is a little lower so they don’t hit as hard.
However, testing confirms that the cell works well up to its continuous discharge rating of 20 A, which is more than enough for most vaper’s purposes. Additionally, the 2,500 mAh capacity isn’t the highest but still works well in practice.
The price is pretty hard to beat too, at $5.50 per cell.
5 – LG INR 18650 HG2 (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.
Unfortunately for the cell, though, 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, and more than enough for many vapers' purposes.
4 – Sony VTC6 (20 A / 3,000 mAh)
Sony’s VTC batteries always feature on lists of the best 18650 batteries for vaping, and for good reason. All of the incarnations do a great job of balancing high current output with battery life, producing a series of cells that perform excellently and are as dependable as they come.
The latest cell – the VTC6 – might not have as high a maximum continuous current output as some older models, but the 20 A output combined with a huge 3,000 mAh capacity makes it one of the best 18650 batteries on the market. If you’re looking for a battery with a 3,000 mAh capacity, the VTC6 should be your number one choice.
You can pick VTC6 batteries up for $9.80.
3 – Samsung INR 18650 20R (22 A / 2,000 mAh) and 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.
2 – Samsung INR 18650-20S (30 A / 2,000 mAh)
This hybrid battery from Samsung takes the second place on this best 18650 battery for vaping countdown thanks to an impressive maximum continuous current rating and solid capacity to back it up too.
The stated maximum continuous current rating of 30 A has been confirmed in testing, and it performs particularly well throughout the discharge cycle too. While the Sony models arguably just top it due to a slightly higher capacity, it’s very much a toss-up and down to what works best for you as a vaper. You can pick up this cell for $4.49.
1 – Sony VTC4 (20 to 30 A / 2,100 mAh) and VTC5A (25 to 30 A / 2,500 mAh)
Sony takes the top spot on this list of the best 18650 batteries for vaping because they’ve released so many excellent batteries over the years. The VTC4 and 5A are their best offerings for high-drain vaping, with a stated maximum current rating of 30 A on both cells.
However, testing suggests that the 5A tops out at 25 A and the VTC4 is ideally used at a maximum of 20 A. Both of these can technically exceed these ratings (and be used at 30 A as the manufacturers suggest), but for longevity you’d be better off keeping the current slightly lower.
The short version is that the VTC 4 is a great option, priced at $6.30 per cell, but if you can find the VTC5A in stock (available for $12.51 per cell at the time of writing), the improved 2,5000 mAh capacity gives it a little more potential. For high-drain vaping, Sony really does dominate the best vaping batteries.
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 vapor 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 vape mod turning into a pipe bomb.
If you're looking for battery charger recommendations, check out this list of the best vape battery chargers to find a reliable charger for your batteries.
Recommended Stores for Buying 26650 and 18650 Vape Batteries:
Check out additional recommendations for reliable online vape stores here.
Resources – 18650 Batteries for Vaping:
- KidneyPuncher: 18650 Battery Tests
- Kritical Mass: Battery Amp Limit Calculator
- E-Cigarette Forum: Mooch's Blog: List of Battery Tests
- 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