The 18650 battery size is the most common batteries in vaping. These are the most readily available, reliable, extensively tested, and the most used batteries in vape mods. While newer batteries, such as 20700 and 21700, have raised the stakes, we rarely see them in dual or triple battery vape mods due to their larger size. Manufacturers still lean on 18650 as they combine a smaller size with tried and tested performance.
Due to the large availability of 18650s from electronics manufacturers, this list does not contain any rewrapped batteries. But it is not rare for 18650s to be counterfeited, so always do your research and only buy batteries from reputable vendors.
Note: Always practice battery safety when operating powerful lithium-ion cells. Make sure you understand Ohm’s law, especially if using mechanical mods. And only charge vape batteries in dedicated battery chargers.
The Molicel P26A’s true continuous discharge rating is 25A, but it still holds its place as the best all-around 18650 on the market. Directly competing with the Sony VTC5A, the P26A stands its ground due to the slightly higher capacity. If you’re vaping up to 75 watts per cell, the P26A comes highly recommended.
The Samsung 20S is a real 30-amp battery with a 2000 mAh capacity. Due to its high output, it is the only 18650 with specs that allow it to be safely used in the 70-80 watt range on regulated mods. If you are using a single battery mod with a mid to high power sub ohm tank, that’s the battery you’re looking for.
One of the most trustworthy and balanced 18650s on the market, the Sony VTC5A is an all-rounder. A great 25-amp battery, with enough capacity to last through the day. One of the best 18650s for mechs if you build according to its amp limit, the VTC5A is also an excellent battery for use with regulated mods.
The VTC6 comes with a whopping 3000 mAh and Sony’s reliable brand name. Ideal for lower wattage ranges due to the limited amp draw, this is quite possibly the best 18650 for MTL vaping available. If you want to raise the wattage a bit, pair two VTC6s on a dual-battery regulated mod.
The Samsung 25R is one of the longest-standing tried and tested batteries on the market. There are two editions available that perform at a similar level, with the green wrap 25R having a slightly longer life cycle than the blue one. Samsung 25Rs are easy to find, not very expensive, and work great.
How we picked the batteries
Choosing “best batteries” is not something to pick simply based on subjective likes. While our international team of experts and vape enthusiasts use the batteries on our lists, our recommendations and product selection could not have taken place without first going over the data offered by Battery Mooch.
Battery Mooch (or just Mooch) is the vape community’s expert tester of batteries. For a few years now, he’s been supplying the community with in-depth and reliable testing for the majority of batteries used in vaping.
This is not his list of best batteries, though all these batteries have been verified by his battery charts to be worthy of inclusion. Mooch and his highly detailed research can be found on his E-cigarette Forum blog, his channel on YouTube, and his recommendations on Reddit.
18650 ratings and specifications
Note: Some of the information in this section originally appeared in our article published in early 2016, written for Vaping360 by Battery Mooch.
Continuous Discharge Rating (CDR)
This is the rating that is used by reputable electronic manufacturers, and the one rating that we can use to compare battery discharge. When accurately rated, it signifies the current that a battery can be safely discharged at a continuous rate without taking damage or reducing its capacity.
Rewraps and Chinese manufactured batteries will often overstate the CDR, or use other ratings instead of it. One good example is the maximum discharge rating (or maximum discharge current), which may even be the only rating on the wrap. It is the maximum current that a battery can supply in short intervals (that are most of the times not mentioned on the rating). This is not a rating that should be taken into account when considering a battery, as it is often times misleading. Always look for the CDR of a battery, and cross-check ratings with online sources.
Calculated in mAh (milliampere-hours), the capacity of a battery signifies its running time. One mAh is equal to the charge transferred by a steady current of one milliampere flowing for one hour. While this rating is sometimes overstated on battery wraps, this doesn’t happen as often as it does with discharge ratings.
Going over the ratings of reputable manufacturers, you will notice a pattern: there is always a trade-off between CDR and capacity. There is (still) no 18650 with a CDR over 30 amps. At the same time, no 18650 with a capacity at or over 3000 mAh, will have a CDR over 20 amps. Until further notice, any battery that is not rated according to these two rules can be assumed to be falsely rated.
Try to avoid rewraps, as the batteries that are used for them may change at any given time. With 18650s being so readily available, finding a battery from a reputable manufacturer should always be a priority.
Other devices powered by 18650s
18650s are commonly used in:
- laptop batteries
- cordless power tools
- electronic vehicles
- LED flashlights and more
The Tesla Roadster, the first production automobile to use rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, was powered by 18650s, as were the company’s Models X and S. Granted, there were thousands used for the electric vehicles’ battery packs, but they were still 18650s nonetheless.