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The best 18650 batteries in 2022

Stuart Andrews
17 Jan 2022
Best 18650 battery
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Get more power or a longer-lasting charge with the top 18650 batteries for torches, doorbell cams, vaping and more

You won’t find 18650 batteries in your local supermarket or even many mainstream online stores, yet they’ve become the battery of choice for a new wave of devices and electronics – and for good reason, too. The best 18650 batteries can enhance high-performance LED torches and headlamps, allowing LEDs to shine brighter for longer than an ordinary set of AAs or AAAs, and you’ll also find them in outdoor wireless cameras, doorbell cameras, smartphone or camera gimbals, handheld fans and drones, where their ability to deliver long-lasting power can make all the difference.

They’re also heavily associated with vaping or e-cigarettes, both because they need replacing from time to time, and because there’s a surge of interest in vaping mods, which allow vapers to customise their vape experience. These mods often need a higher-powered battery to function, and a rechargeable Lithium Ion 18650 fits the bill nicely.

How to choose the best 18650 batteries

Where can I buy 18650 batteries?

Many of the largest manufacturers don’t sell direct to the public; they sell them to be integrated into other devices, such as a torch, a vape kit or e-cigarette. You can still buy 18650 batteries from specialist suppliers or component stores, though, and Amazon carries products by some brands.

What kind of 18650 batteries should I buy?

Good question. Don’t be tempted to just rush out and buy the cheapest you can find; 18650 batteries aren’t like AA batteries, even if they can look similar. Admittedly, they do all stick to the same 3.6v to 3.7v voltage range, and resemble a super-sized AA, but they differ quite a bit in terms of their capacity and discharge rate and come in two different designs to boot.

Vape kits and e-cigarettes tend to use the flat-topped design, with flat contacts at either end of the battery and no built-in overcharge or overheat protection. Torches and other electronic devices use a button-topped design, with a top contact like the one you’d find on an AA or AAA battery. These are more likely to include a protection circuit that prevents the battery from overheating, overcharging, short circuiting and more besides. They also include a system of vents to prevent high pressure building up within the cell.

There’s always a risk in using an unprotected battery in a device designed around a different battery, so you need to know what you’re doing and make sure the specs match up. Meanwhile, some devices will only take a longer, protected, button-top battery. If you have the option, pay extra for protection – it will give you peace of mind when using and charging your battery or device, if nothing else.

READ NEXT: The best battery chargers

What specs should I look out for?

When comparing 18650 batteries, the key specs are the continuous discharge rating (CDR), while the pulse or burst discharge rating is the current, in amps, that you can continuously draw from the battery without it heating up to potentially risky levels. Batteries aimed at vaping will also list the pulse discharge rating, which is the current the battery can safely discharge in a pulse. In theory, this can be higher than the CDR, as the batteries have time to cool between pulses. However, as there’s no standard way of calculating this, it’s wise (and safer) to take this figure with a pinch of salt.

Finally, the capacity (in milliamp hours, or mAh) is the figure for the storage capacity of the battery, and how long it can carry on delivering current before it runs dry. As a rule of thumb, the higher the CDR, the lower the capacity, and vice versa, so there’s always some balancing to be done if you’re looking for a high CDR battery that also lasts a decent time between recharges. If you’re just looking for a longer-lasting battery for a device, just find one with the required CDR and the biggest capacity you can find.

READ NEXT: The best rechargeable batteries to buy

Is there anything else worth looking out for?

Apart from checking that the battery will fit your device and any charger you’ve already purchased, it’s worth looking for a battery that comes with a protective casing and/or a plastic case, to protect the insulating wrap around the battery and the insulator at the pole from damage.

For safety’s sake, any batteries not in use should be stored in some kind of casing and away from any metallic objects, including loose change, paperclips, old screws or keys. Don’t just stick them in your junk drawer and forget them!

READ NEXT: The best AA batteries

The best 18650 batteries in 2022

1. Molicel P26A: The best high discharge 18650 battery

Price: £7 | Buy now from Argos

The Molicel P26A is a popular battery with vapers, and it’s not hard to understand why. It will happily handle a CDR of 25A and a pulse discharge of 35A, and while the 2600mAh capacity is nothing to write home about, it actually lasts a decent time. The Molicels seem to handle more charging cycles without losing capacity than some of the smaller brands out there and have a good reputation for reliability and build quality. As with most 18650 batteries, you need to match the battery to the demands and limitations of your device; our test torch shone extremely brightly but became uncomfortably hot to the touch within two hours of continuous use. In more normal, sporadic use, though, we didn’t have any problems.

Key specs – Type: Flat topped, unprotected; Capacity: 2600mAh; Nominal voltage: 3.6V; CDR: 25A (approx); Max discharge: 35A

2. Samsung 25R: The best all-round 18650 battery

Price: £4.50 | Buy now from Battery101

The Samsung 25R is a great all-rounder. While Samsung has actually stressed that this battery isn’t suitable or safe for vaping, it’s a good choice for other applications, with a high CDR of 20A and a capacity of 2500mAh. It’s also solidly constructed and as reliable as you’d expect from the brand, which is why you’ll regularly find them used in a wide range of electronic devices. We saw good performance in our pocket torch, which became warm but not worryingly hot while pumping out blinding quantities of light.

Key specs – Type: Flat topped, unprotected; Capacity: 2500mAh; Nominal voltage: 3.7V; CDR: 20A (approx); Max discharge: 20A

Buy now from Battery101


3. BAK N18650CK: The best button-top, protected 18650 battery

Price: £5.45 | Buy now from fogstar.co.uk

If you value peace of mind over CDR, then the BAK N18650CK is an excellent choice. It comes in button-top and flat-topped versions, with or without protection, and has a larger than normal capacity of 3000mAh. It’s not a great option for vaping, with no stated CDR and a maximum discharge of 6.1A, but it delivered plenty of lumens in our test torch and lasted for a good six hours before running low on power. The low discharge rate also helped it stay cool for the whole period.

Key specs – Type: Button topped, protected; Capacity: 3000mAh; Nominal voltage: 3.6V; CDR: Not stated; Max discharge: 6.1A

Buy now from fogstar.co.uk


4. Sony VTC6: The best high-capacity 18650 battery

Price: £10 | Buy now from fogstar.co.uk

The Sony VTC6 is another battery that’s widely regarded in tinkering circles, thanks to a balance of high performance – a 20A CDR – and a high capacity of 3000mAh. Users are generally impressed with their stamina, both for electronics and for custom vape mods, and while they’re more expensive than your average 18650s, they’re well worth the extra money. Sony also produces a button-top variant with a 15A CDR, which is ideal for high-powered torches, and reliability is just what you’d expect from a major brand such as Sony.

Key specs – Type: Flat topped, unprotected; Capacity: 3000mAh; Nominal voltage: 3.6V; CDR: 20A (approx); Max discharge: 20A

Buy now from fogstar.co.uk


5. EFest IMR18650 3000 35A: High capacity and high CDR

Price: £20 for two | Buy now from Amazon

Some of the best 18650 batteries can be tricky to get hold of, but these 3000mAh Efest batteries are easy to find on Amazon. They’re fairly expensive, at nearly £20 for two, but have a similar balance of high capacity and powerhouse discharge rates to the Sony VTC6. We’re also big fans of the scratch-and-check security panels, which you can use to check that you’ve got the real deal, and not some dodgy, fire risk clone. They lasted well in our test torch, going brighter than the BAK N18650CK while lasting well over five hours. They also have the high CDR that vape modders look out for – though, as with other high CDR batteries, they can run uncomfortably warm.

Key specs – Type: Flat topped, unprotected; Capacity: 3000mAh; Nominal voltage: 3.7V; CDR: 20A; Max discharge: 35A

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