eCig Batteries – Is Bigger Better?

The following is a guest post by Lorraine. All opinions expressed within are solely those of the author.

batteryHello fellow vapers! I am the operations manager for SmokeStik International. We are a comparatively small, family run electronic cigarette manufacturer and retailer, both online and brick and mortar. I asked Steve K. if I could write a guest article for his site and he kindly said yes. I wanted you all to know upfront that I work for a specific company because like you, I get very frustrated trying to sort through the ecig articles and reviews looking for something “honest” that is not just an affiliates advertising tool.

I was very active on ECF for a long time before I even became acquainted with SmokeStik. And frankly, the first interactions between us were none too friendly….LOL. (the unfriendliness was solely on my part). I felt that the SmokeStik product was overpriced and was not shy about telling them that. As a result I learned a LOT about the reality of electronics manufacturing, failure rates, quality control and the difference between “cheap” and good value.

Obviously I became convinced of the errors in my thinking because here I am. ☺ But enough about me….what I would like to do, (with the help of my partner at SmokeStik, Steve, the SS technical advisor) is write a series of articles that gives you, the reader, some “inside” knowledge about electronic cigarettes. So on to my topic for today: In the world of electronic cigarettes, is bigger really better?

IS BIGGER BETTER? A little about batteries.

The chemistry of all lithium ion (li-ion) batteries dictates that the maximum amount of unboosted voltage possible it 4.17V (potential) and the minimum is 2.4V. Potential means the battery is not under load…it’s not being asked to “do” anything. The functional voltage is around 3.7V. At 2.4V the battery has completely discharged for any functions.( This is the minmum voltage that any li-ion should ever be allowed to discharge to, discharging any more can ruin a li-ion battery and make it totally inoperable) This range applies to ALL lithium batteries regardless of physical size.

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It’s the physical size of the battery that dictates what the interval from fully charged to fully discharged is. Translated for our specific purpose…how many hits can you take before the battery will no longer produce enough voltage to heat an atomizer or cartomizers AND properly vaporize the eliquid. The rating that tells you what this interval is likely to be is “mah” or milliamp hours. The higher that number is the longer you will be able to use the battery before recharging it. That also means the higher that number the greater the violence potential at catastrophic failure. Put simply…it’s the difference between getting a little too warm when something goes wrong….and exploding. ALL lithium batteries have the potential to start a fire. NOT all of them have the potential to combust with a concussive force…ie…blow your teeth out.

Ecig batteries basicly fall into three major categories.

  1. The “mini”…..your 180mah, 250 mah, etc cigarette like battery. The 510, RN4081, KR808D’s and several other proprietary (specific to one company only) all come in the mini form. However those numerals are referring to the thread pattern of the battery connector (only). You can technically make a “mod” using any of those connector types. These little batteries are generally considered the safest in terms of violence potential. They will not explode concussively and in the under 250 mah level probably will not have enough material inside them to cause any significant ignition although they can get quite hot to the touch. Between 250 and 400 in a catastrophic failure they could ignite and burn themselves up obviously causing a fire hazard. However this is extremely unlikely as these types of ecigs always have some type of regulator or PCB (printed circuit board) inside the tube that has a cutoff time and other built in safety features. These devices are not “raw” batteries but a collection of components that work together inside a small metal tube.
  2. variable voltage ego size comparisonThe eGo class…..400 to 900 mah. This includes some “pen style” ecigs, Joye eGo and eGo clones, ecigars and epipes. It can also be raw batteries that may be used inside a “mod” device. This may be a tube type or a box type. They may be used solo or in pairs. Using them in pair increases their danger greatly. When used in pairs it is essential that the e-cig or mod has a protection circuit.
  3. Big Battery Mods containing a battery core over 1000mah either singly or in pairs. These devices are usually handmade or limited production by craftsmen in the USA. There are a few mainstream foreign production models on the market as well. Because of potential for advanced personal vaporizerscatastrophic, (explosive) failure ecigs using batteries this big should always use protected batteries at a minimum. This means that the battery itself contains a protection circuit. If your mod is electronic the optimum situation is for the mod to contain a protection circuit as well. If your mod is mechanical it absolutely should contain blow out vents. A sealed metal tube containing a large lithium battery without vents….is essentially a pipe bomb. If you want to venture into this territory you should at the very least own a volt meter and know how to use it. Here is a website that provides excellent technical guidance: http://batteryuniversity.com/
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There is much more involved in the performance of an electronic cigarette than just the battery. The main points are the resistance of your atomizer or cartomizer, the constitution of the liquid and the switch. In future articles I will explore these points as well as the pros and cons of the different battery sizes and how they relate to the other components in your electronic cigarette. A good electronic cigarette experience is a combination of all the above and while size does matter, bigger is not necessarily better. It all depends on what you need in a particular situation.