When we first put together a guide on using vape batteries, it was considered a complicated topic.
Many vapers still used unregulated mods and had a better understanding of battery science than many A-Level physics students.
Since then, vape devices have become simpler and easier to use. However, even if you are using a simple pod device, knowing a few basics can extend the life of your vape battery - not to mention other kinds of batteries you own!
From maximising the life of your vape battery to maintenance and safety tips, this guide covers everything most vapers need to know.
- What is a vape battery?
- Types of vape battery
- Battery capacity v. battery wattage
- 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
What is a vape battery?
A vape battery is simply the part of a vape device that provides the power needed to turn e-liquid into vapour.
Although these batteries come in many different sizes, they typically sit in the lower part of the vape device below the tank or the pod.
Most devices used integrated batteries, which are built into the devices and charged in the body of the device via a charging cable. However, some larger devices such as pods and pod mods use removable and replaceable batteries.
Types of vape battery
Auto-inhale vapes were once the first type of devices new vapers would try.
Most disposable and cigarette-like vaping batteries have auto-inhale operation, yet the performance is generally better with manual options. But what do these terms mean?
When you inhale on a cigalike or a disposable vape with an automatic battery, a sensor detects the rush of air and activates the battery. However, with a manual battery, you press 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 devices like the Vaporesso Xros 3 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 require a shorter charging time
- May experience a delay between puffing and inhaling the vapour
Manual vape batteries
- Usually have more power, offer more vapour and produce 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
Variable wattage batteries and mods
Variable wattage 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.
Mod devices such as the Smok Morph 3 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 Vaporesso iTank 2, 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 Vape 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 the 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.
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 increase the life of your coil and can improve the flavour of the vape.
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.
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.
For more advanced information, see our guide covering variable voltage, variable wattage and sub-ohming.
Battery capacity v battery wattage
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 vape 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 1.0ohm coil will be able to output 3.7 volts for longer than a battery with 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 take care of your device, the battery will last longer between charges. 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 Vaporesso Gen 200.
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 40% charge. This allows for some discharge while ensuring enough power is retained to keep the protection circuit alive.
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 a 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. 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 untill the battery is dead) can reduce the 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 a device to fire. 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 a 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-ion 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, 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 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 if a battery over discharges, while a circuit behind buttons limits 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 in 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 came with the battery, the most important thing to look at is the voltage output of the charger. This has to match the input voltage of 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.
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.
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.
6. Discard damaged batteries
If you see any visible sign of battery damage, including tears on the outer covering of the battery, discard them immediately.
For more information, see our complete guide to vape battery safety.
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.
Troubleshooting battery issues
Device doesn’t produce vapour
- Check the pod or tank is not empty. If you are using a tank you can easily see the level of e-liquid, if not, you may need to try another pod to be absolutely sure.
- Ensure the battery terminal is clean.
- Ensure the tank/pod thread is clean.
- Ensure the battery terminal is connected to the tank/cartridge.
- 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 it (see the Ultimate Guide to Vape Tanks or Common Tank Mistakes for more information.)
- If using a tank designed for cloud vaping, try changing the coil in the tank.
Battery light stays on
- Gently tap the led side of the battery on a wooden surface.
- Remove battery from the tank/pod and inhale and exhale from the battery.
- Blow gently at the LED light (for cigalike devices).
- Allow the 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.
Occasionally, you might find the battery fires by itself even when you are not inhaling. This is particularly a problem with disposable vape devices.
Really, the best thing to do is to buy a reliable reusable device like the Vaporesso Xros 3.
If you do experience this problem with a reusable device, you should disconnect the battery and place it in a hard container. If you experience it with a disposable device, you won’t be able to disconnect it, but you can still place it in a safe container.
For more advice and tips see our full guide to preventing and fixing auto-firing issues.
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.
Batteries don’t last forever, so you will eventually need to replace them.
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 Vapes: 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:
- Take it to your local recycling centre. Recycle Now can help you find the one closest to you.
- 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.
Best pen-style battery: We’ve been very impressed with the Innokin Go-Z. This is an easy-to-use device that delivers a constant power output, but one of the biggest pros is that it uses Z-Coils, which deliver superb flavour.
We also like the fact that the 1500mAh capacity provides a long-lasting battery life for what is a light, compact device.
Best long-lasting vape batteries: The iStick Power 2 (review) has a long-lasting 5000mAh capacity battery. It can also function as a power bank and comes with a host of unique survival functions. It’s not the newest device, but nothing has come along that can beat it for sheer battery capacity.
What is the difference between 18650 and 21700 batteries?
18650 and 21700 are both lithium-ion batteries, and the different numbers refer to their dimensions. The first and second numbers refer to the diameter and the second two numbers to the length. For example, the 18650 battery is 18mm in length and 65 mm in diameter. The 0 at the end refers to the fact it is a cylindrical device.
Does a 21700 battery last longer than an 18650?
While the numbers 18650 and 21700 refer to size rather than capacity, in general a 21700 will have more capacity than an 18650. That means most 21700s will last longer than the equivalent 18650 batteries. However, when choosing a battery it’s important to look for the mAh, which is a measurement of the capacity. This is a more accurate measurement of battery life than the size.
What’s the difference between a vape pen and a vape battery?
A vape pen is a type of vape device which is long and slim and bears a resemblance to a pen. A vape battery is the part of the device that provides power. In a vape pen, the battery is usually built into the body of the vape device.
Are 21700 batteries better than 18650 for vaping?
A 21700 will usually have more capacity, so given the same usage it will last longer than an 18650. However, an 18650 will be slightly lighter in weight than a 21700. If maximum battery life is important to you, you will find a 21700 battery best, but if weight is the most important factor choose an 18650.
Is it safe to charge vape batteries in a mod?
Modern vape devices are designed for safe charging, whether the battery is charged in a mod device or in an external battery charger. However, it is important only to buy authentic mod devices and batteries from reputable manufacturers and vendors.
Should I turn off my vape battery when charging it?
Yes, turning off your vape battery will increase the speed at which it charges, reducing total waiting time.
What is the difference between battery capacity and battery voltage/wattage in vape devices?
The battery capacity measures how much energy the battery can hold. This is measured in mAh (milliamps per hour). The battery voltage or wattage can often be adjusted and measures the amount of energy that is discharged.
Can I use a wall plug to charge my battery?
Yes, and in general it is better to use a wall plug than to plug your device into a laptop. However, it is important only to buy plugs from reputable manufacturers and vendors, and to use one that is suitable for the country you are in.
What batteries do vapes use?
Vape devices use lithium-ion batteries. However, the exact size and capacity vary depending on the device used. Devices that use replaceable batteries typically use 18650 or 21700 battery types.
- Vape Battery Safety: The 7 rules you need to follow to maximise safety (these apply to all batteries, not just vape batteries!)
- Best Vape Mods: The best current options for mod vapers.
- Using Replaceable Vape Batteries: A complete guide to effectively using removable vape batteries with your device.
- 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.