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What You Should Know About Batteries - A Beginners Guide

by Jennifer Frank March 12, 2017

What You Should Know About Batteries - A Beginners Guide

Congratulations on your vaping journey! No matter how you do it, you've cut down or completely eradicated smoking traditional tobacco cigarettes!

So, now that you have your device, how much do you know about it? Specifically, your batteries.

Battery Safety Overview

For any device with batteries or loose batteries:

Be sure to use the charger manufactured for your mod or battery and never leave a charging battery unattended. The average lifespan for a rechargeable battery is 6-12 months when cared for properly.

Always store your batteries around room temperature - extreme temperature changes can negatively affect your batteries.

It is recommended to store devices with batteries installed in a case or holster designed to carry your device. Your device can turn on and fire which can lead to battery instability and/or venting and cause you danger. If you do not use a case, lock your device when carrying them in your pocket or purse to limit the chances of auto-firing, though this can still happen to anyone at any time.

ALWAYS store loose batteries WITHOUT metal items such as keys and change, preferably in a plastic case designed to carry batteries.

For external batteries (18350, 18650, etc.), always make sure your contacts and body remain undented and free of arcing marks and the plastic wrapping is in pristine condition. Exposed metal is hazardous as this can cause shorts and venting. There are battery wraps available for purchase and even shops willing to re-wrap batteries for free. When re-wrapping batteries, always ensure you do not lose the insulator on the positive connection of the battery.

Do not drop your batteries as this can also cause instability. This is especially important with lithium polymer (LiPo) batteries.

Dispose of any battery if it is damaged. You can always take your batteries or devices to a vape shop and ask them if you are unsure about the condition of your batteries. If you have to question the condition of your batteries, do not use them until you are able to consult with a vape shop or credible vaper.

Types of Mods (battery device)

There are a ton of devices available on the market. You should know how each device operates when picking the right device for you. The right shop will talk you through safety, features and function of the device you are purchasing and can help you troubleshoot problems with operating the device. The following are types of mods and their typical features. Though some devices are safer then others, any electronic device with a battery can pose safety hazards if misused or improperly cared for and are subject to malfunction whether user or manufacturer error. Mods are not toys and should be treated with care and attention. It is ALWAYS a good idea to read any provided literature such as manuals or research the device online. User product reviews are also a great method to learn more about your device.

Regulated Mods

A regulated mod is the most common device on the market. They typically feature battery safety cut-offs and low voltage protection and can be powered by internal non-replaceable batteries or replaceable cells. They will not operate when the battery is drained beyond the minimum required power to operate. These are the highest recommended devices by vape shops because of the safety features and functionality. Common regulated mods have a regulator switch which will allow you to control the power to the atomizer for a wide range of coils and builds.

Some regulated devices do not feature overload and low voltage protection, but this is something that you can specifically request when purchasing a regulated device. Most reputable manufacturers make this a standard feature. If this feature is not present, you have a chance to overload the circuit and damage the regulator chip before batteries can be damaged, though depending on the situation this can still happen. Know the devices' amp loads and atomizer resistance cut-offs to operate within your devices' safe limits.

Non-Variable Mods

These devices are typically pen or ciga-like style. Though you cannot control the power, there are low power cut-offs and are typically regulated to a specific output. For example, EVOD batteries are internally regulated to a 3.7V output, you cannot control the power and the battery will not operate when it is completely drained.

Variable Mods

Variable devices allow you to control the battery output to your atomizer and works with the resistance of the wire to customize the amount of vapor produced. These devices typically range from 3V to 6V or 10W to 200W, and some newer devices can go up to as high as 365W. Most variable devices have safety features such as low resistance protection, atomizer short protection, low voltage cut-off and other valuable safety implementations. Variable Wattage mods are typically preferred to Variable Voltage for a wider range of control for power output.

Temperature Control Mods

Temperature control devices are used in the same manner as Variable devices, but are used with low resistance wires such as Nickel, Titanium and Stainless Steel. These devices can range from 200°F to 600°F and the power output is regulated by watts or joules.

The new regulated device standard is combination variable wattage and temperature control for use on a wide range of atomizers and coils.

Unregulated Mods

An unregulated mod is a device that does not allow you to control the device settings such as watts, volts or temperature. They typically use fuses (MOSFET) and resistors but do not have any regulators.  As the battery dies, you are restricted to the devices output and it will gradually decrease the amount of vapor you are producing. Unregulated mods do not feature low power cut-offs and you can over drain your batteries. When using an unregulated device, you are required to monitor your batteries' current and change your batteries when they get to the lowest recommended power (typically 3.2V).

These devices are subject to variables such as voltage loss in the connections and atomizer and can cause small or large variances in power to your atomizer (low voltage). For example, if you put a large gauge wire with many wraps and have stainless steel connections, even though your batteries are fully charged at 4.2V, the power loss is causing the voltage to dip as much as 1V. When your battery discharges it reads 3.6V, but when you are firing your atomizer, it is actually firing at 2.6V which is below the safe limit of the battery. 

Other variables to consider include battery amp load calculations (ohm's law) for re-building, no protections for atomizer shorts or low voltage, and mechanical part failure.

Due to these variables, it is not recommended you use these devices as an inexperienced vaper. You should have an intermediate knowledge of battery chemistry types, amp loads, ohm's law, and be comfortable with vaping on an experienced level. If you are interested in unregulated devices, you should speak with a vape shop employee or reputable vaper for completed knowledge such as do's and don'ts.

Mechanical Mods

A mechanical mod is a device that uses straight battery power for your atomizer. These devices are not limited or regulated in any way. Your power is restricted by your battery voltage and amp limits. Power starts at 4.2V (a fully charged battery) for a single battery or batteries in parallel, or if in series, 4.2V for every battery in the series. Because there are no regulators, it is VERY EASY to build outside the battery limits or even over drain your batteries (below safe 3.2V, dependent on your amp draw and voltage loss) and cause the battery to stress and possibly vent. Mechanical mods are typically used in competitive vaping and are not recommended for inexperienced vapers due to its high margin of error.

When using an mechanical device, you are required to monitor your batteries' current and change your batteries when they get to the lowest recommended power (typically 3.2V). Mechanical mods are subject to the same variables as unregulated devices such as amp load limits for batteries, low resistance, low voltage, etc.

Tube style mods are the most volatile of any mods available. They are typically not insulated inside the metal tube and if a battery with a damaged casing is installed, it can arc or create a dead short causing the battery to vent. Some manufacturers have started making tube mods with delrin or other heat-resistant plastics that separate the battery from the metal tube, but it is not yet a common feature. They also can include a lock ring or method of preventing you from pressing the button unintentionally, but the more popular tube mods feature a "Positive Lock" or "Recessed Switch" which only prevents firing when placed on a flat surface. 

As with unregulated devices,  it is not recommended you use these devices as an inexperienced vaper. You should have an intermediate knowledge of battery chemistry types, amp loads, ohm's law, and be comfortable with vaping on an experienced level. If you are interested in mechanical devices, you should speak with a vape shop employee or reputable vaper for completed knowledge such as do's and don'ts.

Standard Mechanical Mods

Standard Mechanical Mods can be a tube style (generally featuring a single battery or two batteries stacked in series) or box style (generally featuring from a single battery up to four batteries, and range from parallel to series to a combination of both when more than one battery is present). Standard mechanical mods will have a connector between the battery and the atomizer such as a 510 threaded connection, and will not have fuses or resistors. Of the two types of mechanical mods, this is the safer option due to the extra connection.

Hybrid Mechanical Mods

A hybrid mechanical mod is typically tube style. How the atomizer connects to the battery is what makes this style of mod desirable for most competitive vapers. There is no barrier between the atomizer and the battery. The atomizer seats directly on top of the battery for straight power with no extra voltage loss from additional connections. The largest problem with hybrid mechanical mods is the atomizer used. The positive pin from the atomizer should protrude at least 1mm from the threading and should never be spring loaded or flush.

Most mod incidents in our vape community happen when an inexperienced vaper uses an atomizer (such as a sub ohm tank) on a hybrid mechanical mod. The reason for the instability and possible venting is that the entire outside of the base on the atomizer is a negative connection. The only positive connection is the pin or screw. When an individual connects their atomizer on a hybrid, if the pin is not of sufficient height, the negative connection makes contact to the battery and causes a dead short, which leads to the battery venting.

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In summary, if you are educated about your device and batteries you can operate any device regardless of type. Always research and ask questions and never think it cannot happen to you. Even the most experienced vapers have had incidents - you just don't hear about them as often because the experienced vapers know why it or how it happened and how to handle a situation such as a venting battery or device failure. Some devices and batteries are safer than others, but that does not mean failures, malfunctions or errors cannot happen. Any electronic device from cell phones to laptops and calculators to vehicles are at risk of battery failure. If you're educated you are able to minimize or even prevent damage, whether physical or otherwise. Vape safe family!

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For more in-depth coverage on battery chemistry and how it applies specifically to use, check out our other blog on Battery safety by Nick Morrissey for more useful info!

* This blog is intended to be a guide and not a complete information package. There are a lot a credible sources on battery safety and you should always do research before using new technology. *




Jennifer Frank
Jennifer Frank

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