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Best 18650 Battery Guide 2018

Best All Around 18650 Battery

Sony VTC5A

The Sony VTC5A is our best overall battery of 2018. It offers a capacity of 2600mAh and CDR of 25A. While these specs do not seem overwhelming, the performance of the VTC5A surpasses these modest ratings. It is able to maintain a higher voltage output throughout its cycle while maintaining a cool running temperature enabling it to hit the hardest throughout the entirety of the battery cycle. The Sony VTC5A receives our highest honor!

Sony VTC5A
LG HB6

Safest Battery

While all lithium ion batteries are safe when used properly, the LG HB6 is considered one of the safest options. The CDR of 30A is the highest among all lithium ion 18650 batteries and it has shown to even maintain a low running temperature at up to 40A CDR. This high current rating does come with a cost as the LG HB6 has a capacity of only 1500mAh so you will find yourself charging these batteries very often.

Best Seller

The Samsung 25R remains our top seller for 2018 and it's easy to understand why. This has been the go to battery for many vape users since being released in 2014. With a capacity of 2500mAh and CDR of 20A, this battery provides a great balance of current rating and capacity.

Samsung 25R
Samsung 30Q

Best Value

The Samsung 30Q 18650 Battery with a 3000mAh capacity and 15A CDR is rated as our best valued battery. During testing, this battery has surpasses its rating of 15A and all while giving you 3000mAh of capacity. It maintains a higher voltage output than most throughout the entirety of its cycle but not quite as high as the Sony VTC5A. It does offer a higher capacity and a lower cost than the VTC5A which is why we have rated the Samsung 30Q as our best value of 2018.

Top Performer

The LG HG2 ranks right up there with Samsung 25R as best batteries for vape devices. This battery is powering electric vehicles, power tools and so many more applications. It has great reliability with a 3000mAh capacity and 20A CDR. Truly, one of the best batteries on the market!

LG HG2

Best 18650 Batteries of 2018 - Top 10 List


  1. Sony VTC5A 2600mAh 25A
  2. LG HG2 3000mAh 20A
  3. Samsung 25R 2500mAh 20A
  4. Sony VTC6 3000mAh 15A
  5. Vapcell 2000mAh 38A
  6. Samsung 30Q 3000mAh 15A
  7. Sony VTC4 2100mAh 30A
  8. Vapcell 2800mAh 25A
  9. LG HD2 2000mAh 25A
  10. Sony VTC5 2600mAh 20A

Best Battery Chargers of 2018 - Top 5 List


  1. Nitecore SC4
  2. Nitecore D4
  3. Efest Luc V2
  4. Nitecore I2
  5. Xtar VC4

Choosing an 18650 Battery

Brand

The first thing to consider when choosing an 18650 battery for your device or project is the battery brand. Not all brands are created equal and often times you will find are not very truthful in their battery ratings. The goal of any brand is to sell as many batteries as possible but this is especially true for new Chinese battery manufacturers.

There are four major brands that manufacturer batteries who you can rely on to provide quality, consistent and truthfully rated batteries and those brands are; LG, Samsung, Sony and Panasonic/Sanyo. These brands are well established and have long standing tradition, values and standard to uphold. Any manufacturer specs put forward from these brands are likely exact if not underestimated and you will often see the battery outperform the manufacturer ratings.

Other brands such as Efest, Vapcell, Imren and MXJO have been established for a few years and their quality has certainly improved. These brands can tend to be slightly favorable in the battery ratings in order to sell more. They do often provide value with a thicker wrapped battery which provides an extra layer of protection and a free battery case.

There are various other unknown brands with all sorts of unrealistic ratings. As of 2018, there is not a single 18650 battery rated above 3500mAh capacity or a 30A CDR. If you see any 18650 battery marketed above these specs, you should be very weary of what you are actually getting as it is known to be false and exaggerated.


Capacity

Given the choice, everyone would choose a battery with the highest capacity. Capacity is measured in milliampere-hours (mAh) and this tells us how many milliamps we can draw from the battery for how many hours. However, capacity comes at the cost of current rating (CDR). Inside of each cell, they can only fit so much material so you often have to choose between a high capacity battery OR a high current battery. Take for example the LG HB6 which has a CDR of 30A but only a capacity of 1500mAh. On the other end of the spectrum is the Panasonic NCR18650B which has a CDR of only 4.9A and capacity of 3400mAh.

There are some batteries that manage to balance capacity and current rating such as the Samsung 25R, LG HG2, and Samsung 30Q. All three of these batteries provide a great balance of capacity and current.

18650 Battery Capacity - Sorted 18650 Battery CDR - Sorted

Continuous Discharge Rating (CDR)

This is probably the most important thing to consider when selecting a battery. You need to know how much current the device you are trying to power requires before choosing your battery. If you choose a battery with a current rating less than what you need, you will notice the battery overheating as it is working beyond its ability to keep up. There are also two terms you should know that are discussed in battery current ratings. Those terms are continuous discharge rating (CDR) and the pulse discharge rating (Pulse).

CDR – The maximum current at which the battery can be discharged continuously without damaging the battery or reducing its capacity.

Pulse Rating - The maximum current at which the battery can be discharged for a short period of time without damaging the battery or reducing its capacity.

We avoid using any pulse ratings as there are far too many factors to consider when pulsing a battery such as pulse length, time at rest between pulses and battery temperature to accurately compare two batteries. For these reasons, we use the CDR rating which is the current rating at which the battery can be continuously discharged at safely without overheating or damaging the cell.

Voltage

When someone refers to a battery “hitting harder”, what they are referring to is the voltage at which a battery can sustain midway through its cycle or even longer, commonly referred to as voltage sag. Some batteries can remain around 3.7V midway through the cycle while other batteries are operating at 3.2V.

18650 Battery Voltage Comparison

Operating Temperature – If your battery is consistently reaching a high temperature and getting hot, this is a warning sign that the battery is being pushed too hard. A battery that is consistently rising above 45C will certainly age faster than a cool running battery. They can also be dangerous as the potential for venting and/or bursting is increased greatly with a high temperature lithium ion battery. You should consider choosing a battery with a higher CDR rating.

Flat top and Button Top – One final thing you want to consider is whether you need a flat top battery or a button top battery. This is referring to the positive end of the battery. A button top battery has a protruding surface which increases the battery’s length and may not fit in a device which requires a flat top battery. A flat top is as the name suggests a flat surface and may appear to be too short if your device is requiring a button top battery.

Flat Top and Button Top

18650 Battery Chemistry

Battery chemistry is not an attribute most consumers need to be aware of when choosing an 18650 battery. A battery should be chosen based upon the factors listed above; Brand, Capacity, Discharge Rating, Voltage and Temperature. With that being said, some chemistry mixtures are more volatile than others and we have listed these in terms of least volatile to most volatile.

LFP (lithium-iron-phosphate) – Least Volatile

  • LMO (lithium-manganese-oxide)
  • NMC (nickel-manganese-cobalt)
  • NCA (nickel-cobalt-aluminum)
  • LCO (lithium-cobalt-oxide) LiPo – Most Volatile

Common prefixes that are used by manufacturers

Caring for your 18650 Battery

There are many safety precautions that should always be taken when using, handling and/or storing lithium ion batteries. Please refer to our battery safety guide for these tips. The following tips are suggested to get the most life out of your 18650 lithium ion batteries.

Temperature – Lithium ion batteries will age at an accelerated rate below 0C or above 45C. If you are running your batteries hot, this will certainly cause premature aging.

Discharging and Charging – To get the max life from your battery, we recommend keeping it within a range of 3.0V – 4.0V. This tip does take some effort as most batteries will discharge down to 2.5V before requiring a recharge and will fully charge up to 4.2V. The logic behind this is when you push the cell to the extremes of its capabilities; it puts stress on the battery. In testing, batteries kept in this range will have double the life expectancy.

Charger – To get the most out of your batteries, you should always make sure your charging device automatically turns off when charging is complete. It is also recommended to remove the batteries from the charger once charging is completed as many chargers have a function to continually top off the battery to make sure it is always at max capacity. This constant topping off can stress a battery and cause it to age prematurely.

Charge Rate – There are chargers on the market capable of charging at 4A or even 6A. While this can be very convenient, keep in mind rapid charging can accelerate the aging process as these speeds put added stress on the battery cell. A healthy range to charge your batteries at is anywhere between 0.1A and 3A.

* Lithium ion 18650 batteries are manufactured and sold for the intended use of system integrations with proper protection circuitry or battery packs with a BMS (battery management system) or PCB (circuit board/module). These batteries are neither designed nor intended to be used with an e-cigarette, vaporizer or similar device. *