The Best 18650 Batteries Of 2016

by Patrick Hyde •


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

The Details

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.

Comments 16

  1. Dan

    The denser the cell the higher the chance of damage when dropped and explosion. Stick with 3000. It’s safer

    1. master

      See the comment below by Battery Bro. He says that 3000 mah is the max for 18650 batteries.

    2. Matthew E

      You’re seeing the fruits of manufacturing fraud. You can find 18650’s sold as 6000 mAh and even 10000 mAh on eBay.
      When people buy and test them, they never perform as well as claimed, or as well as name brand batteries. Look at the reviews that include images of test charge results.

    3. pinky

      China is a huge customer manufacturer of many shop that will customer make according to your specification including labeling, such as low capacity cells (li-ion, NiMH and so on) with private label like “hell-fire” or “PanicSonics” that 50000mAh… Many of those private label are Chinese domestic retail, but also US private label. Depending on your price point, buyer beware. For mission critical application, buy braded cells like Samsung and the like.

    4. Anonymous

      Those specs dont exist in single cell 18650’s , nor does any CDC (Continuous discharge) rating over 30amps

  2. Sal

    Excellent in depth article.
    I wish I can see more posts about 18650 batteries and chargers.

    Probably most important thing that I would add is safety related.

    It is easy to see this I would call “Warning message” when you visit: LG, Panasonic, Samsung, and Sony official battery manufacturing web sites.
    Basically what they say “No 18650 battery should be used without electronic protection installed”.

    18650 batteries with protection circuit installed are available, and these li-ion batteries are called Protected 18650 batteries.

    Anybody using unprotected 18650 batteries should know at least basics about lithium-ion safety.

    I would also add one unprotected 18650 battery next to your (very good) LG HG2.
    It is Panasonic NCR18650GA 3500mAh 10 A High Capacity – High Drain

    With new devices such as vape mods writing a few paragraphs about safety (and dangers) when using lithium-ion batteries is very important.

    1. Stan

      Sal, 3,500mah for a 18650 battery is past the max of 3,000mah. Which leads me to believe it’s some sort of markup to compensate for the overall performance and durability of the battery, let’s not forget safety; because 10amps is a very low number as far as amperage is concerned. Most vapers stay within 20amps on a regulated device if they are following the guidelines of battery safety and ohms law. Specially if they are using a rda or rta, as far as protected 18650 batteries do not believe the hype…

    2. Anonymous

      You actually went to the Panasonic,LG Sony websites interesting since they dont manufacture the batteries it is their subsidiary companies that manufacture the cells lol, Sony is SEDC, LG is LG Chem, Panasonic is PEVE, Samsung is Samsung SDI.

  3. Dave

    I just bought a ThruNite TN32 CW Tactical flashlight. I was under the impression that I should buy a protected battery. Is that not so? What reasonably priced battery and charger is best for this flashlight?

    Thanks for any help.

  4. Battery Bro

    Thanks for the good article, but I think there are some other important things to mention.

    Top 3 categories:
    We can categorize the best 18650 batteries by things like high-energy (Wh), high-power (A), or high-capacity (mAh).

    Other considerations:
    There are also things like safety standards, your application, environment, and so forth which will dictate which cell is best for you.

    One important factor that people overlook is production availability. Many cells simply are not currently in production so any stock you buy will be old. It’s best to buy whats in production, now.

    If we just take a balanced look at cells, here is what I think are the best cells at the moment (posted March 2016).

    LG Chem HG2
    3000mAh, 20A

    LG Chem HE2 / HE4
    2500mAh, 20A
    *Note, the HE4 is better with handling heat, and also only needs to be discharged to 2.5V to reach its maximum capacity, while the HE2 needs 2.0V.

    Samsung 25R5
    2500mAh, 20A
    *Note, the blue 25R is no longer in production, always buy the green 25R5

    These cells are primarily high-power cells (amperage).

    If you are maximizing for capacity, there are other cells you may consider. I know many people reading this post are e-cigarette / vape users. Actually it is a myth that your battery needs to be “super-amped”. In many situations, especially with dual-battery mods where the amperage is multiplied, you only need 10A cells to product significant “clouds”.

    The other nice thing about high-capacity cells, is that generally they have a longer cycle life. You can also put protective circuitry directly on low-amp cells (less than 6 amps generally).

    So here are the best high-capacity 18650s:

    LG MJ1
    3500 mAh, 10A

    Samsung 35-E
    3500 mAh, 10.5A

    Panasonic B
    3400 mAh, 4.5A

    If you are really interested in high-power cells, with a high maximum continuous discharge rating, then take a look at this cell:

    LG HB41500 mAh, 30A

    There are many “fake” or counterfeit cells with high amp ratings that exceed 30 amps. That is impossible, no 18650 cell on the market has a rating above 3000mAh.

    I hope this helped you find the best cell! All the models I mentioned in this list are currently available and in-production by LG, Panasonic, and Samsung.

    1. Post
      Patrick Hyde

      Thanks for sharing this information; your research is immensely helpful in making sense of the crowded and dynamic battery market.

    2. muraari

      Your inputs are helpful.

      I need guidance on Batteries for small electric vehicles.
      Can you or any forum member help?
      Replace the X’s above with appropriate symbols @ and . to mail me.

      1. Vaughan Pratt

        How could Tesla get to 90 kWh with only 7104 cells? 3000 mAh for a 3.6V cell is 10.8 Wh. The Tesla battery would therefore be 10.8*7104 = 76.7 kWh. To get to 90 kWh would require 90000/7104/3.6 = 3520 mAh.

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