In A Nutshell
- 18650 batteries are rechargeable cells used to power high performance electronics, such as laser pointers and vaporizers
- The best overall 18650 battery of 2016: LG HG2 (20A, 3000mAh)
- The best high capacity 18650 battery: 3400 mAh Panasonic 18650 or Orbtronic Panasonic cells
- The best 18650 battery charger: XTAR VC2
What are the advantages of 18650 batteries? They are 3.7 volt lithium-ion batteries that can be recharged and are compatible with a wide range of electronics, including laptops, digital cameras, flashlights, and even electric car batteries.
Because 18650 batteries all have a uniform and unassuming look, its natural to assume they are all created equal. But don’t let the generic casing fool you, as there are substantial differences in quality from battery to battery.
Panasonic, Sanyo, Sony, Samsung, and LG are the top level 18650 cell manufacturers, making long lasting cells in a standard size (18 mm by 65 mm) that fits all 18650 compatible devices. Chinese knockoffs are available for cheaper, but are prone to shorter lifespans and aren’t always uniform size. As a rule, be wary of “protected” 18650 batteries, which have small circuit boards at the bottom that do not fit some electronics, such as flashlights.
When deciding on which battery is best for you, balance out the capacity, current rating, and voltage. Considering those qualifications, the LG HG2 is the best 18650 battery. It generates 20 amp and 3000 mAh — making it both high-drain and high-capacity.
High-drain batteries are safer and designed for use with high current devices, such as vaporizers. They are also less wasteful, meaning they have a longer life cycle and can last for more recharges. High capacity means that the HG2 can go for longer stretches of time without being recharged, which is useful for just about every situation.
Best 18650 Charger
The best part about 18650 batteries is that they can be recharged. That means you will need a reliable charger to keep them energized and in working order. I like the XTAR VC2 charger because it has a stylish and informative LCD screen display.
The LCD screen tells you the real mAh capacity of your batteries, so you can make sure they are getting the advertised amount of fill or identify when they are losing efficiency.