You’d think that having a standardized battery like an 18650 would mean that any battery labelled 18650 would perform the same. Sadly, that’s not even remotely true!
So many are re-labeled, so you don’t know exactly who made them or to what specs. Plenty more are from generic brands you’ve never heard of, and have no reason to trust. They’re dangerous and unreliable!
In this buying guide, we’ll introduce you to all the best 18650 batteries on the market right now. Our picks are stable, reliable, and capable performers. Most importantly, we only recommend batteries from reputable brands, sold by authorized resellers!
Check out our top picks for each power bracket:
|Samsung 30Q||LG HE2 20A||LG HE4 35A|
|Our Rating: 5|
|Our Rating: 5|
|Our Rating: 5|
There are a lot of reasons to be choosy about the batteries you use in your mod. Batteries determine how much runtime you get from your mod, how much power you can send to your coils, and how safe your whole setup is to use.
Check out the most dependable on the market!
Best 18650 Battery Reviews
- Samsung 30Q
- Samsung 25R
- LG HE2
- LG HE4
1. Samsung 30Q
“hands-down the best Class B power cell.”
Samsung’s 30Q is a great low-amperage cell for your compact mods. It’s inexpensive, well-made, and very dependable. Plus, it has a higher amp limit than others in this class.
We think it’s hands-down the best Class B power cell. The 30Q is ideal for a mini-mod user who wants extended runtimes and doesn’t push the highest wattage settings on their box.
This one’s rated up to 15A, but can actually discharge slightly more. Most pros will tell you it’ll discharge up to 20A safely, though we never recommend pushing things. It should serve most mini mod users well, as long as you don’t always use your highest output settings.
This is a Class B 18650 unit, so it’s all about longevity. At 3000mAh, the Samsung makes for long-lasting power. You should easily get 1-2 days from it, especially if you’re staying in the lower wattages (30-50).
It’s well-made, as you’d expect from one of the leading makers. There’s good shrink-wrapping, it’s airtight, and has a great reputation for reliability/quality control.
For something that has such stellar runtime, it’s a relatively cheap cell.
Obviously, a 15A battery isn’t exactly high-powered. This is a relatively low-output cell for smaller mods. We don’t recommend it for anything more than a mini mod like a Pico.
It’s also better for folks who don’t exceed 60W on a compact mod. The 30Q earns massive points for runtime, but you shouldn’t push it for output. If you plan to push to the top wattages on your mini mod (usually 75W), you should use something with higher output.
2. Samsung 25R
“the best life cycle rating in its class”
The Samsung 25R is a super popular battery right now. It’s good for folks who use mini mods at their highest settings, or for dual-battery box mods where runtime is a higher priority than output.
This one gives you some more oomph to work with, compared to the 30Q. It’s rated for 20A continuous current. We consider that suitable for medium wattage mods, ~60-80W. Of course, that’s using a single cell. You can supply higher wattage mods if you use these in pairs, provided you don’t push 150W.
While it’s not something you’ll see a huge difference from, the 25R is very efficient. It charges fast, and the storage keeps a charge very well with minimal loss.
It’s also got the best life cycle rating in its class, as far as we know. You can recharge one of these 250+ times! Assuming you get two days of use per charge, you’ll probably see a year and a half from these!
In our experience, these are as well-made and high-quality as Samsung’s other cells.
While Samsung’s usually very good in the quality department, the 25R has an imperfect record for quality control. We’ve never had bad experiences with them, but we have seen a few reports in vaping forums we subscribe to about folks who got units that either undercharged or wore out quickly.
Hopefully, those are cases of knock-off’s. LG’s offering in this slot has a better reputation in that regard, but it won’t give you as long a working life.
3. LG HE2
“essentially the same battery as Samsung’s 25R”
LG’s HE2 is essentially the same battery as Samsung’s 25R. We recommend it as a comparable alternative because it has a better reliability record overall. As with the Samsung, the LG is suitable for mini mods used at higher wattages, and for dual-battery/mid wattage mods.
It meets the same basic specs as the Samsung. The HE2 is rated at 20A continuous discharge, and has a capacity of 2500mAh. In terms of performance, we don’t think there’s a noticeable difference between the two.
It would be an overstatement to say that the Samsung 25R has real reliability issues, since the vast majority of users don’t report any problems. Still, the LG HE2 has a better overall track record in the quality control department. If you don’t want to take any chances on getting a lemon, this one’s a better choice.
You’ll pay more for the LG than for the Samsung.
You’ll also get slightly shorter life expectancy. With that said, life expectancy is irrelevant if you get a crummy cell straight from the factory.
4. LG HE4
“a good midrange workhorse”
Getting into 18650’s for high-wattage mods, the LG HE4 is a bit of an oddity. It has the same continuous rating as the HE2, but with a wildly higher “pulse” rating.
If you’re the sort of user who’s experienced, and doesn’t mind pushing a battery to the upper limits, this is a good midrange workhorse. We think this one’s a good choice for people who want to push their mods a bit further than 20A cells usually allow, without demanding the kind of constant output that would justify a 30A battery.
The most distinctive feature on the HE4 isn’t any one of its specs: it’s the gap between the continuous output rating and the max output rating. Normally, we advise people to ignore “pulse” or max ratings, since there’s no way to know exactly how much you can rely on them.
In this case, the LG’s 35A max rating is so much higher than the 20A continuous rating that any reasonable person would tell you to push it higher than 20A with no worries. We can’t guarantee the that the cell will last as long if you do that regularly, but as far as we know, it’s perfectly safe to do.
And while that’s a pulse rating rather than a continuous output spec, it’s still impressive given that the HE4 still manages to pack 2500mAh. This’ll run for several days at a lower wattage (say, 20-30), and give all but the most demanding users a full day. If it’s doubled up, we don’t think you’ll have any issues getting a full day
These are really popular cells for mechanical mod users. The HE4 has a very low voltage drop, which is ideal for analog setups.
They’re well-made, well-wrapped, and well-inspected. Exactly what you expect from LG! You can expect a solid year of performance from one of these.
You shouldn’t rely on this to do more than 25A, despite the pulse ratings. Pulse ratings are always iffy, as we explain below in our Buying Guide section. So, expect this to give you an edge over other 20A cells, but don’t expect it to crank like a 30A cell.
5. Sony VTC 4
“great for high-powered setups”
Sony’s VTC4 is unquestionably the best of the Class D batteries. It’s probably the most popular 30A cell on the market right now, and it has a terrific reputation from high-watt mod users. It’s great for high-powered setups, either on its own or in a pair.
The VTC4 is a Class D battery, with a hefty 30A output. This is where high-watt mod users ought to be looking. One of these can handle anything up to 120W, so having two in your box mod is more than enough to satisfy the most ardent cloud-chaser!
This one has surprisingly good runtime, for something so high-powered. It’s rated at 2100mAh, which is 5% than most other Class D options. It’s only beaten by the VTC5 (reviewed below).
It’s relatively inexpensive. That’s one key reason we still include it next to the newer VTC5.
It has a fantastic track record, which is the other reason it’s still on our rankings. The VTC5 ought to be a solid long-term workhorse, but the VTC4 has been around long enough to prove its worth. High-end vape users swear by these things.
This one remains at the top of most people’s rankings, but we think the newer VTC5 is unquestionably better. It has the same amperage, but significantly better capacity. The VTC4 is typically cheaper, but if you don’t mind the marginal difference, the VTC5 is a better battery.
The key difference between the VTC4 and VTC5 is capacity. That’s also where you’ll see the biggest downside to this battery. Like many Class D options, it has about 1/3 to 1/5 less capacity than our other picks. You get lots of extra amperage in exchange, but there’s definitely a hit to your runtime.
6. Sony VTC5
“a worthy choice for any mod.”
Sony’s VTC5 is by far the best 18650 on the market right now. As far as we’re concerned, it hits the perfect sweet spot between amperage and capacity. We love the mix of Class C/D power with a capacity closer to a Class B! Even though it’s one of the most expensive 18650 cells, we think it’s a worthy choice for any mod.
While it’s too recent to have acquired the same reputation as the VTC4, the VTC5 is something really special. It has the best amperage to capacity ratio of any power cell in this guide!
The VTC5 is rated at 30A continuous output, just like the VTC4. The difference is in capacity, where the VTC5 adds an additional 500 mAh. It has the longest runtime of anything in the C/D Classes, which is why we think it’s a midpoint between B’s and higher-powered cells.
For perspective, this beats anything but the ultra-low amperage Samsung 30Q in capacity. So, it actually gives you a longer runtime than the Samsung 25R or the LG HE2, despite the fact that it also gives you 1/3 greater amperage!
Since its output to capacity ratio is so stellar, we actually recommend this to absolutely anyone who needs more power than the 30Q can offer!
While some users of the smallest mods can certainly make do with the 30Q, the majority of folks who use mini mods at high wattages will do better with this one. You won’t be putting stress on your battery when you go to a high wattage setting, and you won’t sacrifice much in the way of runtime.
It’s particularly good for people who have high-powered dual-battery boxes, since it offers as much amperage as anything else from the big brands, combined with more runtime than other Class C/D cells.
It’s just as well-made as the VTC4, and we have no reason to think that it won’t be the same kind of top-notch workhorse.
There’s a reason we don’t simply recommend this and ditch all our other suggestions. It’s the most expensive battery here. The price difference is pretty negligible considering you’ll only need replacements every year or so, but we know some people will prefer to go with something cheaper.
The other note of caution we offer to you is that while this ought to be just as reliable as the Sony VTC4, it hasn’t been on the market long enough for us to have a good sense of its long-term performance. We haven’t heard anything troubling, but there’s less of a track record to judge by.
Finding the right battery for your mod can be a real pain, and surprisingly so. Despite the 18650 standard, there are still a wide range of options, and there’s no one-size-fits-all answer for every vape user. In this portion of our buying guide, we’ll answer some FAQ’s, and help you navigate the decision-making process!
What’s an 18650 battery?
First and foremost, it helps to know what you’re dealing with. 18650 is a standard for battery production. Within the standard, there’s a fair amount of variation. Despite that, you can count on a number of things to be true.
All 18650 batteries are lithium ion power cells. They’re the best battery tech we have so far, so you don’t have to worry about nickel cadmium or other batteries getting mixed in. All 18650’s are lithium ion.
They’re also the same size, regardless of differences in amperage or capacity. So, every reputable 18650 cell will fit in any mod’s battery compartment.
As you look at different power cells, you’ll see the abbreviations “INR”/“IMR” These signify the material that’s used in the battery contacts (manganese vs. nickel). It’s not something you need to be concerned with.
The variation comes in how the batteries internals are put together. 18650 batteries vary wildly in capacity and amperage. We’ll get to those specs in a second.
One useful thing about the 18650 battery market is that they’re grouped loosely by class, which is determined by capacity. These class distinctions give you a rough way to figure out what you need from your batteries.
Here’s a quick guide to the different classes–bear in mind that when we say a certain battery is appropriate for a given wattage, we’re taking them individually. So, if you have a dual-battery mod, just double our figures to get a perspective on the wattages you can use.
Class A (3500mAh+)
These are extremely high-capacity, low-output cells. They produce 10A or less, so they’re only suitable for 30W mods or lower. They won’t put out a high amperage, but they can produce a smaller amount of power for a very long time.
Since they’re so low-powered, they’re not made by the reputable brands. They’re part of the 18650 standard, but the only options are from re-wrap or lesser-known brands. We don’t trust them, since rewrapped specs are rarely accurate. In any case, class B batteries are a better choice for most users.
Class B (3000mAh+)
They’re the best option for high capacity, at least the best made by the major manufacturers. These still have quite low outputs, though. You can usually expect one of the Class B 18650’s to be rated up to ~15A or so. We suggest them for running 30-60W mods.
Class C (2500mAh+)
Class C 18650’s have a bit more oomph, and they’re a nice midrange choice in terms of capacity. They’ll give you more power, and they won’t totally sacrifice capacity. These are especially good in pairs!
Nearly all our recommendations fall into this class. They’re rated for 20 up to 30A (usually at the lower end, but designs are improving fast!). As a general rule, we suggest them for mods from 40-80W.
Class D (2000mAh+)
These are the highest-powered batteries we recommend. They’re generally rated up to 30-35A, and are suitable for 60-120W mods. As far as we’re concerned, this is as much amperage as anyone’s actually going to use in the real world. Especially when paired, Class D 18650’s take you right to the limits of the highest-powered mods.
*There are also Class E 18650’s. They’re super high-powered, but they have shockingly low capacity. They’re pretty hard to find, but LG HB2/6 are good, if you can ahold of them.
We don’t recommend any because most people don’t actually need something this high-powered. That’s especially true when you consider that most people are pairing batteries in the first place. It’s better to go with a D and get higher capacity, since you’re not likely to make full use of an E’s high output specs.
How to navigate specs
In our short introduction to the different classes of 18650 batteries, we’ve given some broad guidelines for which batteries are suitable for which wattages. The decision is slightly more complicated, though, especially because there are variations within each class. Having a good handle on what specs mean and how to balance them is essential to finding your ideal power cell.
Basically, it’s a balancing act between finding something with the output you want, and still having enough capacity to get you through at least a full day’s use.
Batteries are either high-current, or long-lasting. While all our recommendations have a decent balance of the two, you do have to sacrifice one to get the other. It’s all a question of finding the right place on the spectrum for you.
Amperage is a measure of the power a battery puts out. What an amperage spec actually represents is the maximum amount of power a battery can put out without overheating dangerously or degrading.
There are usually two amperage specs listed, and it’s important to be sure you know which you’re looking at. One is for the maximum continuous output, and another is the maximum output/pulse rating. They’re exactly what you think they are. The continuous output is how high an amperage the battery can safely produce as long as you want it to. The maximum/pulse output rating is how high an output it can achieve, period.
Always look at the continuous, not at the pulse rating! That can be confusing, because some manufacturers will list the pulse rating in the item name/packaging, and you only see in the details that you can’t get that amperage on a continuous basis.
It’s best to ignore pulse ratings altogether. You may think that’s counterintuitive since vaping isn’t a continuous draw, but there’s no standard for measuring a “pulse.” It’s basically a meaningless term, from a technical standpoint. You have no idea how long a pulse the manufacturer is referring too. You also have no idea how long they rested the batteries between pulses.
Continuous discharge is the only universal measure you can trust for amperage. If there’s a big jump between the continuous rating and the pulse rating, you can probably expect to go slightly higher than the continuous rating. Don’t plan on it, though. It’s a better idea to get something with a higher continuous rating than you need. You’ll work the batteries less hard, and get longer lives from them.
Capacity is a measure of how densely-packed a battery is. While amperage is a measure of the level of power a battery produces, capacity is a measure of the total amount of power it will produce, at that amperage.
Capacity is represented by mAh (milliampere hours). That number represents how many milliamps a battery can discharge per hour. It’s determined by multiplying amperage x time. You don’t need to worry about the math, though.
Comparing mAh ratings is the easiest way to tell relative runtime. The larger, the better! Besides, so many factors determine actual runtime on a mod that any calculation on paper will be a rough estimate anyway.
The most important thing is to have a general sense of how the ratings work, and know that the higher the mAh rating, the longer you can vape! Bear in mind that these are also rough figures, even from the most stringent manufacturers. Use them as guidelines, but don’t try to get too precise.
Making your decision
Start by establishing the amperage you want, which is the current you need to run your mod/atomizer setup. You’ll find amperage specs on your mod, or in the user manual. That’s the best way to be sure of your needs. We’ve given some rough estimates above, but always consult your gear!
Then, take the amperage you need, and compare it to the amperage on the batteries in this guide. Remember to multiply a battery’s rating by two if you’ll use a pair concurrently. Or, halve your mod’s amperage.
Contrary to what you might think, it’s not always a good idea to buy the highest-output battery you can find. After all, the higher the output rating, the shorter the runtime will typically be. Case in point: our “weakest” recommendation actually has the longest runtime.
The best thing to do is find something with just enough amperage to run your mod without overheating. Then you won’t completely sacrifice capacity for power. Just don’t go too low, or you’ll overwork your batteries and burn them out. Again, it’s a balancing act! Try to slightly overshoot your required amperage.
Remember, be sure to factor in whether you’re using one battery or two!
Check for a low operating temperature
One very important reason to give use batteries that are just slightly overpowered: operating temperature! The harder you work a battery, the hotter it’ll get. That’s why you should never, ever try to overdraw a battery.
Even if you’re staying within the ratings on your battery, you should be mindful of operating temperatures. You want the lowest possible temperature, with the highest possible output. Thankfully, we’ve done this for you! All the cells we recommend operate at safe temperatures.
Always spend more for a real brand and follow our links to an authorized reseller
You can find batteries from any number of brands, but only a few are worth doing business with. When it comes to the 18650’s in your mod, you should only buy from Sony, Samsung, or LG. Panasonic is another reputable manufacturer, but they don’t have many high-powered offerings.
These companies have by far the best R&D departments, which is why they regularly come in first in efficiency and longevity ratings. You can also trust their ratings, unlike so many off-brands. They’re listed with accurate specs, and made to standards of very strict quality control.
In fact, many off-brands or vape manufacturers actually sell batteries from the big three manufacturers. LG, Samsung and Sony off-load their substandard units to be relabeled. You can certainly save some money by purchasing re-wrapped batteries, but we think if a battery can’t pass manufacturer standards, it’s not worth the money.
That’s a key reason to avoid rewraps. Another is that many brands are careless when repackaging. You can easily end up with an unsafe or unreliable cell, even if it worked alright when it came from the original factory.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, beware of counterfeits! While batteries are relatively inexpensive to buy, even from the best manufacturers, there are always going to be temptingly low prices available at disreputable retailers. If the price looks too good to be true, it almost certainly is!
Be sure to avoid counterfeits, which are even worse than rewrapped batteries. After all, at least re-wraps are usually made by a decent brand in the first place. You have no idea where counterfeits were made, or to what safety standards. They’re hazardous, unreliable, and a total waste of money.
All the links in this guide will send you to Direct Vapor, an authorized reseller for all the decent battery manufacturers. Our links are your quickest, safest way to end up with an authentic, high-quality power cell!
Don’t cheap out! Saving a few dollars isn’t worth the risk of getting an unsafe power cell. While much of the fear around exploding batteries is unfounded, knock-off or rewrapped batteries can be very dangerous to use.
Do yourself a favor and get something that’s up to scratch. Plus, any one of our recommendations ought to last you a year, so don’t think that batteries are going to be a high upkeep cost
By the time you’ve finished reading this guide, you ought to be an expert on 18650 batteries! We hope you’ve also found your way to a power cell or two that you could use in your own mod.
If so, click through the links in our reviews! We’ve linked to an authorized retailer for all these batteries. Buying through our links is a safe, convenient way to make sure you get the real things!
For more of our guidance and expertise for all things vaping, check out our homepage! That’s the best place to find links to all our buying guides and articles.