Updated: June 2021
From maximising the life of your vape battery to maintenance and safety tips, this guide covers everything most vapers need to know.
One area we don’t cover here is unregulated mechanical or rebuildable mods. This area is well covered by niche websites, but as many of them warn, if you don’t know what you are doing they can be dangerous. If you are a modder, you will know where to find the information you need!
- What is a vape battery
- Types of vape battery
- Battery capacity v. battery voltage
- Battery capacity v. power delivery
- What kind of battery life can you expect?
- 9 ways to maximise the life of your vape batteries
- Battery safety
- Battery maintenance
- Troubleshooting battery issues
- Travelling with batteries
- Disposing of vape batteries
- Recommended batteries
- Advanced guides
What is a vape battery?
A vape battery can mean the part of the vape that holds a fixed internal battery. This term is often used for smaller vape devices such as the Halo Cigalike battery or pen-style batteries.
With larger devices, the section that holds the battery is often called a mod. This distinguishes it from the replaceable batteries that are often used inside a mod or pod mod.
Types of vape battery
Automatic batteries were once the first type of e-cig new vapers would try. Most cigarette-like vaping batteries have automatic operation, yet the performance is generally better with manual options. But what do these terms mean?
When you inhale on a cigalike with an automatic battery, a sensor detects the rush of air and activates the battery. However, with a manual battery you depress the button to activate the battery. This might seem less convenient but it’s something you get used to really quickly, and it gives you more control over your draw.
Nowadays some devices come with both auto and manual operation. This is great if you are new to vaping, as you can see which one suits you best.
Vape battery types
Automatic vape batteries
- Easy to Use
- Closely resembles a regular cigarette
- Usually requires a shorter charging time
- May experience a delay between puffing and inhaling the vapour
Manual vape batteries
- Usually have more power, offers more vapour and produces a better ‘throat hit’
- Offers more control and usually a longer cut off period
- Usually have a longer life than automatic batteries due to larger size
- Can usually be turned on or off by clicking the button five times
For more information on the difference between cigalikes and refillable e-cigs, see: Vape Face-off: Pre-filled v. Refillable Electronic Cigarettes
Variable wattage batteries and mods
Variable wattage (or voltage) batteries are the next step up from a manual battery. These allow you to increase or decrease the wattage provided by the battery, usually by pressing up/down controls.
There are several common types of variable wattage battery on the market today.
Options like the Vision Spinner could be considered variable voltage vape pens because they have a tube shape in the same way as simpler manual batteries.
Mod devices such as the Smok Morph 219 are usually variable wattage, but may also have other functions. For example, bypass control simply delivers the full power of the battery to the coil, while temperature control measures the resistance of your coil (see below). These devices feature bigger batteries with a larger capacity and often have a wider wattage range.
Either of these types allows you to find the right wattage for:
- your vape juice
- your coil/tank
- your personal preferences with regard to vapour and throat hit.
When you use a variable wattage battery with a tank like the Aspire Cleito Pro or the Geekvape Obelisk, you can control the experience even further by changing the resistance of the atomiser (coil) used in your tank. For more information see our Guide to Tanks.
Selecting the right wattage for your coil
Coils come in different resistances. It’s important to select the right wattage for the resistance you are using.
In the early days of vaping, vapers used to refer to a chart, such as the one below. This suggested different wattages for different resistances.
We now recommend referring to manufacturer’s instructions. That’s because the design and material used in coils differ. As a result, coils with the same resistances can require different wattages.
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Temperature control devices
Temperature control (TC) is a bit different. The term refers to the device rather than the battery used. TC devices use predictable changes in coil resistances to maintain your coil at a constant temperature. This helps prevent coils from burning out. You can read more in our guide to temperature control vaping.
Replaceable batteries for mods and pod mods
Many variable wattage mods (and some pod mods) have internal batteries as part of their design. However, not all of them do, and for some devices you need to purchase a battery or batteries separately. There are many sizes available (including 21700, 18350, 22650 and many others), but 18650 batteries (like the Molicell 18650) are the most commonly used in vaping devices.
Most of the time, having a separately-bought battery doesn’t have any impact on your experience at all. A mod powered by an external battery can still do all of the same things an internal battery mod can do.
The only difference is that you have to insert your battery or batteries in the right polarity (in accordance with the “+” and “−” signs found on the battery slot). Modern mods allow on-board charging of separately purchased batteries. You may also want to charge your batteries on a purpose-built battery charger such as the Nitecore Intellicharger 2. This allows you to charge spare batteries while you continue to use your mod.
Although using separate batteries may seem a bit more complicated or hands-on than using devices with in-built batteries, there is very little difference at all in practice. There are a couple of advantages though!
First, it means that when you go out of the house, you can take spare batteries. When the battery runs out, you can simply switch it over without needing to charge the device.
It also means your mod can last longer. When the battery degrades, you can simply change the battery instead of buying a whole new device.
Battery capacity v. Battery voltage
One of the things that confuse many new vapers is the difference between battery capacity and voltage or wattage. Things do get a bit more complicated here, so feel free to skip past this to the next section!
Battery capacity is a measure of “battery life” on a single charge. The capacity of electronic cigarette batteries is normally measured in milliamp hours (mAh). The higher the mAh rating, the higher the capacity of the battery and, depending on power drawn, the longer it will last between charges.
Most non-adjustable vape batteries output 3.7 volts. A battery with a capacity of 1100mAh powering a 1 ohm coil will be able to output 3.7 volts for longer than a battery that has a capacity of 800mAh. However, both will output the same voltage.
Battery capacity also depends on the coil used, as a lower resistance coil will draw more power than a higher resistance coil.
Battery capacity v. Power delivery
Many vapers simply select the largest capacity (measured in mAh) whilst ignoring the Amps.
However, insufficient Amps can cause problems in 18650 devices. These include the battery degrading more quickly and low power warnings.
If you have a single 18650 battery device, sometimes it’s better to select a battery with a higher continuous amp output and less mAh. For example, the Molicell 2600mAh 18650 battery is better for high wattage vaping than the Extreme Vape 3000mAh 18650 battery.
What kind of battery life can you expect?
It is almost impossible to predict accurate battery life because it depends on:
- the length and frequency of your inhales
- how you charge and maintain your device
- individual battery sizes and makes
- the voltage or wattage you use (variable voltage/wattage batteries only)
- the coil you are using in your tank
For example, a battery will last a lot longer for someone who takes short drags than for someone who takes very long drags. If you maintain your device better, the battery will last longer between charges. And if you use a lower-resistance coil, you’ll use more power and the battery won’t last as long.
The huge range of possible settings makes it virtually impossible to estimate how long a battery will last. There is such a big difference between vaping at 20W and 80W that the variation in the number of puffs would be massive.
However, you can safely assume you will be able to vape for the best part of a whole day on a single charge of any modern variable wattage mod or pod mod. You may be able to use your device for longer than a day with higher-capacity batteries such as the iStick Power 2 or with devices that use dual 18650 batteries such as the Smok ArcFox.
9 ways to maximise the life of your vape batteries
1. Storage: Store your battery in a cool, dark place, especially if storing for a long period of time. If you do plan to store the battery for a lengthy period, try to make sure it has at least a 40% charge. This allows for some discharge while ensuring enough power is retained to keep the protection circuit alive. Some sites recommend fully charging batteries before storing.
2. Use Regularly: Most vape batteries are designed to be used daily.
3. Charge Before Fully Drained: Battery University argues that a partial discharge stresses the battery less than a full discharge. If you can charge your battery before it is completely empty (ideally when it is around 20%) capacity you should improve its lifespan.
With variable wattage devices, vaping at very high wattages (close to the maximum on your device) will also put strain on the battery if it’s nearly empty. This is another reason to charge sooner rather than later if possible.
4. Don’t fully charge the battery
The opposite is also true, and not fully charging your battery may also extend life. However, many manufacturers display fully charged when the battery is at 90% of capacity for this reason.
5. Don’t charge the battery too often
In the same vein, charging too often (i.e. putting a little bit of charge and then vaping till the battery is dead) can reduce life span quickly. Try to keep within the parameters above (don’t fully charge, don’t allow the battery to fully discharge.
6. Take Care of your Battery: See maintenance tips below.
7. Turn off when not using: This is especially important if you are carrying the battery in a bag or in your pocket, as pressure can cause device to vape. This not only drains your battery but could also ruin your coil.
8. Keep out of high temperatures and direct sunlight. If your battery gets too hot this can contribute to wear and tear.
9. Use a case to protect your battery: Batteries can get banged around and pick up fluff and dust in pockets. For the best possible care, carry your battery in an vape case. You can see examples of carry cases here for manual batteries on our accessories page. If you’re carrying a separate battery for a mod, it’s very important to keep it in a plastic case so it doesn’t touch something metallic in your pocket and cause a short.
Lithium ion batteries are highly effective at producing power despite their small size.Unfortunately, the properties and chemicals used in a Lithium ion battery also mean that any lithium ion battery has the potential to explode.
Lithium batteries contain lithium, sodium, potassium and other highly flammable and volatile elements. If you tossed these into water on their own you would get an explosion. When a cell does overheat, it can lead to a chain reaction which can cause either battery swelling or explosions.
Fortunately, modern design means that explosions are very rare (an estimated one in ten million according to Battery University).
However, an overheating battery can still cause problems. This can be caused by a defect, such as a short circuit or improper insulation between the cells of the battery, or by mishandling.
If there is a short circuit inside the battery, this allows current to flow. This produces heat and damages the insulation, and making the problem worse. After the battery reaches a certain temperature, this breakdown can’t be stopped and the battery could go into “thermal runaway” and either explode or vent hot gas.
Again, though, it’s important to stress that this is a very rare occurrence, especially if you use your battery safely. Even when a battery does go wrong, modern vape devices are designed to vent, not explode. It will still make you jump, but damage will be limited. Most standard lithium ion vape batteries have been also designed with overcharge protection. This senses when too much voltage is being pushed into the battery and then stops the battery from accepting any more charge.
As additional protection, there is a fusing system built into the battery. This is designed to blow should a battery over discharge, and a circuit behind buttons limiting the amount of time the battery can be activated at any one time.
It’s important to note that it’s highly unlikely you will get a battery explosion. Most problems in the past have occurred when vapers have modified their own batteries, and modern vape batteries come with a number of safeguards built in.
However, despite testing, fuse protection and overcharge protection, there’s always a small chance of a defect with an individual battery. This is very unlikely to occur, but it’s important to remember that you need to take precautions no matter how many safety features are included on the battery. To minimise the risk, take the following precautions:
6 Ways To Maximise Vape Battery Safety
1. Don’t mix and match
Only charge a battery with the charger that was provided with the battery, or which has been specifically supplied for that battery. While chargers may look similar, the voltage output can be different.
Charge a battery from one supplier with a charger from another supplier and you could cause problems. In fact, as the London Fire Service has pointed out, this has caused most of the problems so far.
If you don’t have the original charger that provided with the battery, the most important thing to look at is the voltage output of the charger. This has to match the input voltage on the battery you’re charging. The current (in amps) should ideally match too, but since the device you attach only asks for as much current as it needs, having too high an amp rating on your charger isn’t too important (although it may reduce your battery’s lifespan over a long period of time).
2. Buy From A Reputable Source
One battery explosion occurred in the US when a vaper bought cheap batteries online to use with his vape kit. Always buy your batteries from a reputable source, and never knowingly use counterfeit products. The danger is illustrated in this Clueless Colin Video by Electrical Safety First:
3. Safe Charging
Don’t charge your battery overnight or when you are out of the house. For safety, charge your battery on a non-combustible surface.
If you have a manual battery, switch it off before charging.
4. Overcharge Protection
Check with your supplier to make sure your battery has overcharge protection. All batteries on E-Cigarette Direct come with overcharge protection.
5. Carry Batteries Safely
If you use a mod that takes separate batteries, carrying the batteries safely is absolutely essential. Without a plastic case, keys, coins or other metallic objects in your pocket could touch the terminals of the battery and cause a short circuit.
The cases are very affordable, but if you don’t use one you risk a battery explosion, so you should always use one when you carry loose batteries in your pocket.
6. Discard damaged batteries
If you see any visible sign of battery damage, including tears in 18650 batteries, discard them immediately.
For more information, see our infographic: The 10 Rules of Vape Battery Safety Infographic.
Clean Battery Terminals. There’s nothing complicated here, simply screw up some tissue paper and give the terminals a rub. A cotton bud can be used if harder cleaning is required. For the most effective cleaning, use a cotton swab soaked in rubbing alcohol to clean the terminal. Allow the battery a few seconds to dry before using.
Keep Batteries Charged. As explained above, keeping some charge in your battery can extend the life of your battery, especially if you go some time without using it.
- Switch the battery off when not in use.
- Disconnect from tanks/cartridges.
- Avoid a full discharge before storage. Aim for around 50% charge if you’re storing for a long time.
- Store batteries at low temperatures.
Device Doesn’t Produce Vapour
1. Check the cartridge or tank is not empty. If you are using a tank you can easily see the level of eliquid, if not, you may need to try another cartridge to be absolutely sure.
2. Ensure battery terminal is clean.
3. Ensure tank/cartridge thread is clean.
4. Ensure battery terminal is connecting with the tank/cartridge.
5. Test the battery with another tank to make sure that the issue is with the battery, and not with the tank. If the tank has an issue, try cleaning the tank (see the Ultimate Guide to Tanks or Are You Making These 9 Common Tank Mistakes for more information.)
6. If using a sub ohm tank such as the Cleito Exo, try changing the coil in the tank.
Battery Light Stays On
1. Gently tap the led side of the battery on a wooden surface.
2. Remove battery from the tank/cartridge and inhale and exhale from the battery.
3. Blow gently at the LED light (for cigalike devices).
4. Allow battery to completely discharge and then recharge. This should be the last step as allowing the battery to discharge completely is not good for the battery life.
If all troubleshooting steps fail, you may need a new battery. If your battery is relatively new, check your warranty, as most batteries come with a guarantee.
Battery is Dead
Assuming the battery has recently been charged, try leaving the battery for 24 hours at room temperature, and then recharging it. You should also make sure the battery terminal is clean and free from fluff – if not, give it a rub with a piece of tissue, a cotton bud or an alcohol wipe.
Travelling with Batteries
As with storing batteries, you should disconnect batteries from the cartridges/tanks and turn off manual batteries. Most airlines do not allow you to carry lithium ion batteries in your hold luggage, so you may need to place your batteries in your carry on luggage. If unsure, check with your airline. (Also see Travelling With E-Cigarettes: Essential Need to Know.)
Disposing of Vape Batteries
All vape batteries eventually come to the end of their life, and it’s important to dispose of them correctly.
Vape batteries should not be put in regular rubbish. Some councils do collect batteries. If your council doesn’t collect batteries, the best thing to do is either:
1. Take it to your local recycling centre. Recycle Now can help you find the one closest to you.
2. Return it to your local vape shop. Most vape shops will take back batteries they have sold under the WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment recycling) scheme.
Recommended Vape Batteries
Best pen style battery: The Innokin Endura T1811 has seen enduring popularity. It’s a reliable, easy-to-use manual device. The 1300 mAh battery makes it suitable for low wattage, Mouth-to-Lung vaping.
Best vape battery for a long life: The Coolfire IV is not a new device. But that also means that our recommendation is based on a lot of experience! The device is easy-to-use and extremely reliable, in some cases lasting for 5 years.
Best high capacity vape batteries: Both the iStick Power 2 (review) and the Innokin MVP 5 have long lasting 5000 mAh capacity batteries. Both can also function as a power bank, while the MVP 5 also comes with a host of unique survival functions.
Advanced Battery Guides
Want to take your knowledge to the next level? These guides will help.
Temperature Control Vaping: Find out how to control the temperature of your coil for a more consistent flavour and fewer burnt coils.
Sub Ohm Vaping: A Beginner’s Guide: Learn how to blow massive clouds of vapour!
The Vaper’s Guide to Voltage, Watts and Ohms: A more in-depth tutorial on key battery terms, split into beginner and advanced sections.
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