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BATTERY BASICS AND OHMS LAW

Before reading this document, you need to know fundamentally what ohms, volts, a
nd amps actually are, if you're going to get a well rounded explanation of ohms
law. Rather than go into one of my long winded diatribes, I've found a superb du
mmy's guide on you tube that cover the basics in an engaging fashion that anyone
should be able to grasp.
What are ohms volts and amps?: https://youtu.be/zYS9kdS56l8
The single most important safety issue for vapers is that of batteries. Whilst o
ur mods are essentially glorified flashlight tubes, assuming that you can throw
any old cell into one and have it work, is potentially very dangerous. A modern
LED flashlight may appear to be converting enormous amounts of energy into a bli
nding beam, but the demands on batteries are very low when compared to the rigou
rs of vaping a subohm build; therefore finding the cell best suited to both your
device and plans for its use is vital. Sadly this isn't helped by many batterie
s having few clearly discernable details on their wrappers, or worse - deeply mi
sleading information designed to lure in the unwary buyer with big numbers. If y
ou've already read our document regarding series, parallel and stacked batteries
, then some of the following will be familiar territory to you:
One of the most popular ranges of cells for vaping is the Sony VTC line, which a
re 18650, flat top 3.7v, 1600 -2600mAh, 30A, unprotected, IMR cells - so what d
o those numbers and designations all mean?
18650: this is simply the size of the cell. 18mm in diameter, by 65mm in length.
This SHOULD be standard across all cells, but that's not always the case. Depen
ding on the spec of the battery, there is often some mild variation due to the e
xternal wrap applied to it, the style of positive terminal, and anything the man
ufacturer may have done to a third party cell that they've modified in some way.
For example Keeppower and Xtar both make batteries that are essentially rewrapp
ed Sony VTC4/5 cells, but which somehow manage to be a tad longer.
Flat top: this refers to the positive (top) terminal of the battery. Most people
are familiar with 'button' or 'nipple' top batteries that have a small raised s
ilver disc on them. However, as many of these cells are designed into go into ba
ttery packs rather than be sold to end users, they're supplied with a flat top o
nto which a metal tab is meant to be welded. This allows cells to be formed toge
ther in parallel or series to give the desired output in a sealed battery pack -
like the ones supplied with laptops and cordless power tools.
Volts: this is the 'potential difference' between the negative and positive, or
'electrical tension' that the cell provides - if we think of a water system, vol
ts is akin to pressure. Whilst 18650 batteries are labeled 3.7v (their 'nominal
charge'), a fully charged cell will actually be able to deliver 4.2v. 3.7v is th
e recommended long term storage charge, and ensures your cells arrive in the bes
t condition possible. In use, never run a lithium ion battery down below about 3
V. once you get to around 2.5V, it is considered 'deeply discharged', and unless
you're using a charger like one of the Xtars, that effectively means you batter
y is dead, and will not be recognised by the device when you throw it on for a t
op up.
mAh: Milliamp hours - the capacity of the battery. In simple terms, this is how
much energy the cell contains. If we again imagine electricity as being like wat
er; the bigger the mAh rating, the bigger the tank, and the more water it holds.
In the case of the Sony VTC cells we're using as an example, you can buy VTC3 -
1600mAh, VTC4 - 2100mAh, and VTC5 - 2600mAh. All are the same voltage and amp r
ating, only the capacity and cost changes.
Amps/amperes/amperage: Returning to our water analogy, this is like the diameter
of the water pipe, and completes the system - we have a tank containing a certa
in amount of water, an ability to push that water from either a pump or gravity,
and finally the hose out of which the water flows. Because of the intense deman
ds made on our cells, we want this number to be as high as possible. However, th
e trade off is capacity, or mAh: high drain cells like the 30A Sony line can sup
ply a maximum of 30a continuous current, and 2600mAh capacity. Other cells may d
raw you in with their stated 4800 or 5500mAh, but won't be so brazen when it com
es to telling you that the available current is a maximum of often only 3A.
The labeling of batteries can be misleading on many vape specific batteries. Whi
lst the Sony VTCs state a rated amperage of 30A - representing how much current
it can deliver - this is a 'continuous' rating. That means that a VTC5 can 'work
' a device that pulls 30A until the battery is at its minimum recommended charge
, but without harming it. In reality a VTC can be 'pulsed' (used in short bursts
, which is what we vapers do) with far more demanding builds - 100A is possible
as long as you're not taking pulls of much over a second or two. Sadly many othe
r companies are a little more shady, and we often see cells marked '50A', but wi
th no clue as to whether this is continuous or pulse. When it comes to 18650s, c
urrently 30A is about as high as you can get with a continuous rating, and vape
specific cells from Vamped, Keeppower, and Xtar are often simply rewrapped VTCs
with a best guess at safe rating that sounds good.
In the opening paragraph, we referred to the large amount of light generated by
a torch. To grind on with the water analogy, this is like a very powerful jet of
water pumped out of a hose when cleaning your car. Whilst a high pressure jet c
an be used to cut metals, it's very focused, and 'low current'. What vapers want
is 'high current' - a tsunami, and not a hose. Now you see why you can survive
a 50,000v blast from a taser without lasting damage, but a 13A household supply
can kill you - a painful jet of fast moving water under high pressure but low ma
ss, versus being pured by metric tons of water crashing onto the shore relatively
slowly.
Unprotected: So that sounds bad, right? Well all it means is that the cell doesn
't have a notoriously untrustworthy chip inside it that prevents your batteries
over charging or over discharging. Any 18650 charged higher than 4.2v is in dang
er of being damaged at best, and exploding at worst. You should always use a goo
d quality intelligent charger from Nitecore, Luc, or Xtar (others are available,
but those are the most popular and trusted brands) that cuts out as soon as 4.2
v is achieved. Similarly, the VTC we're using as an example will die and refuse
to charge if allowed to discharge below around 2.5v. If you're using a regulated
device, then the circuit in your mod will tell you long before that figure is r
eached, and show your battery as 'empty'. In fact you will usually still have ar
ound 3.5v available, but the device is guarding against your cell dying. In a me
ch mod, it's down to you to know when your cell is about to check out. Below 3.7
v, the vape production will drop off noticeably, but it's worth buying a cheap i
nline meter that you can screw into your 510 if you're not sure.
IMR: the two most common battery chemistries you will encounter are IMR and ICR.
ICR (lithium ion cobalt oxide - round cell) are usually protected cells, and ar
e considered 'unsafe chemistry'. Despite the protection, they can fail, and tend
to make a world or fuss about it when they do. Even if there isn't a loud explo
sion, the gasses they vent are very toxic - not something you want when they're
an inch from your mouth as you're inhaling. IMR (lithium ion manganese oxide - r
ound cell) however, are considered 'safe chemistry'. On the rare occasion they d
o throw in the towel, an IMR venting is rarely more than a hot fart of far safer
gasses. Hence why all vapers should take the extra bit of effort to look after
their cells, and use IMR. However, there are also INR and NCR (actually NCA or L
iNiCoAlO2) cells we commonly come across (made by Samsung and Panasonic/Sanyo re
spectively) that are also perfectly safe, and very solid. Personally I think the
NCR cells are the best all 'round cells made, and could be the future of rechar
geable batteries once the switch to silicon anodes happens. If you want a good e
ndorsement, that's what is now used in Tesla vehicles (earlier models used Samsu
ng INR cells). For a more in depth explanation of the various types of chemistry
available, point your browser in the vague direction of http://batteryuniversit
y.com/learn/article/types_of_lithium_ion.
'C' rating: Whilst not displayed on the wrapper of our Sony VTC5 - or many batte
ries vapers come into contact with for that matter - there are a few exceptions,
such as AW who use it. This figure defines the relationship between mAh (capaci
ty in milliamp hours) and amperage (current). For example: if a 2000mAh (2A) cel
l is marked '10C' then the maximum current you can draw continuously from it is
2A*10C=20A. This rating is most commonly applied to high drain LiPo battery pack
s used in applications such as remote control vehicles, but I mention it here fo
r the sake of completeness.
Wrap/wrapper: all or some of the above data may be printed on the plastic sleeve
that covers your battery - the wrap or wrapper. This is a whole lot more import
ant than merely being a place to slap a company logo, as this is what isolates t
he negative to just the exposed base. Without it, the entire shell of the batter
y becomes a negative terminal, and inserting a bare cell into a metal tube mod f
or example, will result in it bypassing the switch completely and auto firing. n
ow, whilst few people would be quite so stupid as to use a battery sans wrap, it
is possible for even small nicks in one to create a soft connection to the meta
l body of your mod via arcing. if you fail to spot a tear that exposes metal any
where other than the base of your battery, you risk your mod auto firing. Emerge
ncy repairs can be made with electrical tape and even nail polish or paint, but
a good long term solution is to buy 25-30mm heat shrink tubing, and rewrap any c
ell with a torn cover. This can be bought pre cut from battery specialist, or in
lengths from electrical stores very cheaply. It's handy stuff to have around, s
o buy it before you need it. You need to strip away the old wrap, reclaim the di
sc insulator from it, place that over the positive, put the cell inside a length
of heat shrink tubing, and apply heat with a hair dryer or heat gun. It will sh
rink to fit the cell, hold the upper insulator disk in place, and be capable of
insulating against many times the voltage that your battery can produce. Fast Te
ch now sells both the wraps precut for various cells, and matching paper insulat
ors, which are far better than those supplied by most factories.

Now that we understand better what all that gobbledygook on the wrapper of your
cell means, we can look as to how we can safely use that new found knowledge in
our circuit.

OHMS LAW
Understanding ohms law is pivotal to knowing whether you're about to enjoy a rel
axing vape session, or an unplanned visit to the burns ward. The reality is that
you have to work very hard to have anything go catastrophically wrong, but it d
oes happen to even experienced vapers, so don't assume that "oh, I'm sure it's j
ust fine" and plough on regardless.
Ohm's law states that the voltage (V) of a circuit equals the current in amps (A
) multiplied by the resistance () - in scientific notation: V=A (you will often see
E=IR used, which is also correct, but why mess around with designators for the v
ariables that make only partial sense to the layman, and never appear printed on
electronic components?) However, we already know the voltage of our cell (let's
assume we have a fully charged 4.2v battery) and the resistance of the build -
BECAUSE WE'VE CHECKED IT WITH AN OHM METER, HAVEN'T WE KIDS? - (we'll say it's a
0.42ohm coil to make the illustration simpler). To find the amperage, we simply
swap the equation around to read: A=V/ (amps equals voltage divided by resistance
) so, 4.2 divided by 0.42 equals 10 - our build therefore needs ten amps to func
tion safely, and the 30a VTC will handle that without breaking into a sweat.
We also may wish to consider Watt's law, which states that P (power in watts) =
VA, or V/, so let's say you have the same 4.2v potential difference, and a 0.42ohm c
oil, your power would be 4.2v (4.2*4.2=17.62) divided by 0.42ohms, which equals 42
w. We also know that our drain is 10a, so 4.2v multiplied by 10a also equals 42w
.
Ohm's law - V = A
Watt's law - P = V/ or VA
P= power in watts
V= potential difference in volts
A= current in amps
= resistance in ohms

VOLTAGE DROP AND BATTERY SAG


This creates some controversy and confusion amongst vapers, as the terms are oft
en applied in a number of different contexts. The key issues are that no materia
l is a perfect electrical conductor, and even the most efficient material (which
currently would be graphene) has a degree of resistance that robs us of useful
little electrons on their way to the business end of our mod - the coil. One way
of quantifying this is to measure the output of your battery, put it into your
mod, and then measure the output between the positive (the pin inside your 510 o
r middle post of your atty) and negative (body of the mod or an outer post of yo
ur atty) depending on whether you wish to test just your mod, or your whole set
up.
Personally whilst I agree that this is by definition a measurement of voltage lo
st within the circuit, I don't refer to this as 'voltage drop' per se, as it's s
imply a measure of the parasitic resistance of the device 'off load'. What we're
interested in is the measurement made when the device is firing a coil of a kno
wn resistance. Most people do this with a simple in line meter and a 1ohm build,
which is an arbitrarily reached consensus of a baseline for testing. You read t
he supplied voltage at your 510, and then attach your atty and fire the mod. You
subtract the subsequent reading from the first, and you get what MOST vapers re
gard as a device's voltage drop.
To take this a level further, we need to understand the phenomena of battery sag
, as that's a key factor in play here. Sag is the effect whereby a battery under
load will not supply the stated voltage, but instead 'sag' down to a lower one.
If you have an SX chip based regulated mod, you will be used to seeing the volt
age read-out drop from whatever setting you have selected, each time you hit the
sizzle button. Many will argue that because the supplied current is less than s
tated (your 4.2v battery actually supplies 3.9v under load for example) then the
lower figure is the one that counts in our calculations for Ohm's law. Others w
ill argue that battery sag is a symptom of the battery being stressed, and there
fore the first signs of it building towards failing. To be completely honest, th
is is where my knowledge of the matter for practical purposes also drops off. Un
less you're a huge nerd, then stick with the voltage recorded off load, and calc
ulate your required ampersge around that - it's either correct, or gives you add
ed headroom.
So how is sag calculated? The sag of a battery is dependent on the internal resi
stance of a cell. Many cloud chasers know that certain batteries have lower inte
rnal resistance, and are therefore more efficient - the Sony VTC4 leaps to mind.
Like amp rating, there tends to be a relationship between not only capacity but
also physical size, and internal resistance. 26650 cells notoriously get out pe
rformed by 18650s on that basis. As we have mentioned the vernerable VTC4, and a
s the spec sheets for it are readily available, let's use that as an example in
our calculation, which again follows Ohm's law: V=I*R. The stated internal resis
tance of the VTC4 is 0.012ohms, and the current is 30A, so: V=30*0.012, or 0.36v
in battery sag. That figure combines with the parasitic resistence of the devic
e to give what we vapers rightly or wrongly refer to as 'voltage drop'.
Naturally the above equations contain variables that we can adjust by merit of c
ell selection, coil, chosen voltage or wattage if we're using a regulated device
, or battery charge state if we're using a mech. As a result, the amount of drop
or sag is not a set figure for a mod by itself, hence why we tend to test our d
evices with a stated load and cell. If I ever quote a figure, it will be based o
n a fully charged VTC4, and a 1ohm load in my Taifun. People can replicate such
tests and get different results with even what appears to be an identical rig, a
ll because of a poorly calibrated meter, slight inconsistencies in build, the ag
e of the batteries used, and even the individual metallurgy of the mod. Chances
are they'll all be in the same ballpark, but with such a range of hard to pin do
wn variables, voltage drop tests are more useful as a personal way of judging th
e efficiency of one mod against the other. They're especially useful if like me
you tend to put some work into reducing the drop with conductive grease on clean
threads, carefully honed and clean contacts, and copper tape in non copper tube
mods - all of which can rob back a small fraction of the drop stolen by the vol
tage pixies. Does such anal retentiveness mean your rig immediately "hits like a
truck"? No, but along with good battery selection, and careful maintenance of c
ells and devices, it all adds up to a more efficient and better performing vape.

BATTERY SELECTION
So, now we know why we want high drain cells, and how to use them safely - what
do we buy? My personal recommendation for new vapers starting with mechanical mo
ds is to buy the highest drain cell possible, even if their immediate plans only
go as far as a super ohm build in a Kayfun. That may sound like a waste of mone
y, and an unnecessary cap being placed on capacity; but the simple fact is that
we all make mistakes when we're learning, and it's better to do that with a cell
that's barely breaking a sweat rather than one driven to the ragged edge. Plus
as they develop their skills, the same batteries will see them winning cloud com
petitions down the line if they so choose. Currently the following brands are un
iversally considered safe to vape:
Sony VTC3/4/5
Samsung 25r
LG He2/4
In addition there are cells from AW, Efest, MXJO, Keeppower, MNKE, Vamped, Imren
, Orbtronic, and Xtar - which are often the subject of heated debate. Some or al
l of the above companies' cells are one of the six listed above, and simply rewr
apped. Knowing which is which with total confidence isn't always possible, but w
hen you do, it often makes a total mockery of nebulous 40A and even 50A markings
on the wrapper. That said, they're still perfectly safe if you know what's unde
r the hood. There are also other lower rated cells from the above companies that
are perfectly usable in regulated devices like my personal favourite the Panaso
nic/Sanyo NCR18650GA. Whilst only rated at around ten amps continuous, that's fi
ne for a DNA30 or SX200 based device, or even a mech if you're extra meticulous
about only building not to far south of 1ohm. The trade off is 3400mAh, which me
ans you get a great solid day chugging away at your RBA at 15-20w, and with no f
ear of anything unpleasant happening. JUST DON'T MISTAKE ONE FOR A HIGH DRAIN CE
LL AND THROW A CLOUD CHASING BUILD ON YOUR MOD!

BATTERIES FOR TEMPERATURE CONTROL


Temperature control essentially throws a lot of what we think we know about batt
ery safety out the window. The reason for this is the way the mod throttles the
current supplied, in order to keep a specific temperature. We have spoken about
'pulse ratings', and how batteries can survive way beyond their rated amperage i
n short bursts, and that's essentially how TC works - and why they often make a
slight buzzing sound called 'rattlesnaking'. Seeing as I like a good analogy, th
ink of temperature control as a ratchet jack; you conserve energy by moving what
you're lifting in installments. Imagine that your jack is faulty in some way, a
nd when the load has been raised to the required height, it drops back a small a
mount every few seconds. Instead of having to rejack the load from its original
starting position, you simply need to pump the jack a little now and again to ma
intain the load's position. That's why something like NCR cells can be used quit
e safely with TC builds that should be way over their rated amperage according t
o ohms law, as it doesn't take into consideration the micropulses used to delive
r current, which only maintain a temperature once the coil reads a certain resis
tance. That said, please don't think that TC is a magical panacea that allows yo
u to use leaky high capacity low drain ICRs you dug out of an old laptop battery
.
As every TC chip works slightly differently, there's no simple way to calculate
what battery is safe; therefore be generous with your allowances - if in doubt,
use one of the Samsung, LG, or Sony cells already mentioned. If you do decide to
use lower drain high capacity batteries such as NCRs or 30Qs, monitor the tempe
rature of the battery itself whilst firing. If your box mod has a removable door
, then leave it off for a test so you can place your fingers on the cells as you
vape. If you feel significant heat, then stop and find a higher rated cell. If
your mod has a screw in base, then place the side of your pinky on it, and be pr
epared to remove it as soon as the cover gets noticeably hot. I use NCR18650GA b
atteries in my YiHi Mini, and despite their 10A rating and a build that ohms law
rates at over four times that, they don't even get slightly warm.
With the launch of the Evolv DNA200 chip, LiPo cells are becoming increasingly p
opular, as even a triple 18650 can struggle to keep up with the needs of such a
ludicrously overpowered board. People are often thrown off by LiPos being rated
with capacities not much more than a VTC, but which is actually capable of great
ly extended use due to the relatively low voltages being applied. A full explana
tion is outside the scope of this document, but rest assured that a 3000mAh LiPo
will last waaaaaaay longer than a 3000mAh 18650.
When used in a mod, it's hard to imagine a precise situation where one of these
battery packs would become unstable, but it is worth noting what can happen whe
n they do. a quick search of YouTube will give you a range of clips posted by Ja
ckass wannabes overcharging LiPo packs, and hitting them with hammers. The resul
ts are dramatic to say the least. That said, it's uncommon in normal use, even w
hen applied to remote control vehicles, which is where compact high power LiPos
are most often found, and an application in which extreme stress and shock are c
ommon. I have seen a video of a very high powered RC car being turned into shrap
nel enveloped in a blinding white flash thanks to so questionable handling of th
e LiPo cell powering it. Chances of such a thing happening in a mod is so tiny a
s to be negligible, but it could happen in theory. Educate yourself about what c
hemistry cell you're holding to your face, how to use it safely (which hopefully
this rambling diatribe will help with), and you'll be fine. But be aware that t
here are only SAFER batteries, not SAFE batteries - any cell has the potential t
o fail catastrophically. That said, you're statistically more likely to have you
r phone or laptop go *BOOM* than your mod, as long as you're using it sensibly.
THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY
That's the good, but what about the bad and the ugly? With batteries you get wha
t you pay for, and whilst a dollar a piece generic 18650s from eBay, recycled la
ptop batteries, and anything with the word 'Fire' in the name (Trustfire and Ult
rafire) may sound like enticing bargains, they're a false economy that could cau
se physical injury down the line. Save them for torches and USB power banks, for
which they're perfectly suited.
You should also be aware of fakes. AW cells - which are one of the better rewrap
s - are about the most faked battery out there, but here's a guide to spotting t
he fakes: http://www.ecigarette-politics.com/aw-batteries-authorised-dealers.htm
l. Next in line would be VTC5s, and fakes of those tend to be the far cheaper 10
A Sony V3 with a clone wrapper, but can also be far less robust cells - there's
a separate document in the same folder as this that can help you identify them,
and they're pretty easy to spot. There are also fake Efest cells out there, but
more often than not they're easily identified thanks to stupid spelling mistakes
made by counterfeiters - I've seen 'rechargeable' spelt about half a dozen diff
erent ways on various shoddy fakes based on gods only know what. If in doubt, th
en pass up that too good to be true deal, and buy from a reputable seller. There
's a guide to spotting the more cunning fake efest cells here: http://www.efest
power.com/html/173504425.html

SAFETY
There is no such thing as a safe battery, only safer. Therefore you need to trea
t your cells with some healthy respect, even if they are safer chemistry. Always
use a good intelligent charger, and whenever possible, try to only charge them
when you're around to keep an eye on them. you don't have to watch them like a h
awk, but personally I never leave the house with batteries left charging, just i
n case. You should also be very aware of how you store and transport them. a loo
se 30A battery thrown into your pocket with your keys, could create a circuit le
ading to thermal runaway. Even if your battery isn't an ICR, and therefore less
likely to explode, you could suffer serious burns before you manage to throw the
thing into the nearest body of water whilst shouting "FRAG OUT!". For the sake
of a dollars you can buy sturdy plastic cases for 1-4 18650s, and even 'battery
condoms', which are a flexible silicone sleeve which insulated the two terminals
. As mentioned earlier, you should also be mindful of the integrity of the batte
ry's wrapper. cover any nicks, or better still, rewrap them entirely with precut
heat shrink covers that cost pennies each.

Please refer to the folder in this drop box entitled 'Battery Spec Sheets' for f
actory issued data on a variety of cells; and also a further guide in this secti
on regarding series, parallel, and stacked batteries. The latter shares the prea
mble from this piece, but goes into more specific data regarding how we can intr
oduce cells into our circuit in different configurations, and with maximum safet
y.
Nymza Vril 2014