At Art's request and post his show, I typed up the following on battery discipline as a guide.
For purposes of vaping, anything less than an IMR (lithium manganese) or hybrid chemistry “High Drain” battery is not appropriate for our purposes. This rough guideline is not a guide to lipo packs or modding specifically, simply for consumer use with ready made devices on the market.
Straight lithium ion chemistry batteries are not for vaping. Cells claiming over 2000mAh capacity and 10 amp discharge are NOT IMR chemistry cells, they are hybrids and if not labelled appropriately, are fraudulently labelled and shouldn’t be bought by consumers nor sold by vendors.
All cells have a specification, from mAh capacity to maximum continuous amperage discharge output (pulse ratings mean nothing and no consumer has reason to know or even try to estimate what this is or might be as it does not help you in the event of a pocket fire you cannot control the end point of) to estimated charge cycles for it. It is important to know the specification of your cells and the maximum capability of your device that will be using them and marry the two appropriately according to the device's demands and the capabilities of the cell.
The cells we use are 3.7v cells, not 4.2v ones. A fully charged cell is not denoted in health by its reaching a 4.2v reading output exclusively however a possibly malfunctioning charger or deteriorating cell can be diagnosed if it reads over 4.25v fully charged. In this event, stop using the cell and diagnose if the charger itself is to blame with another cell, if the charger is at fault, replace it along with your cells reading that high. The life span of an 18650 (for example) that has a charge cycle estimation of 500 cycles used appropriately and in rotation with other cells should last for many years (2-4yrs), not 6 months. If you are not getting decent life out of your cells, you are either abusing them or they are not what they were sold to you as being.
3-4 cells per device you regularly use (daily for example) is a good marriage as it means you will never need to charge a cell more than once in a 24hr period (which you shouldn’t do) and allows for proper resting of cells between discharging and charging so that you will never be waiting on cells or be using one too soon.
Good battery discipline for charging and discharging will see your cell life span be maximised without major deterioration to performance over the charge cycle life. Letting cells rest a good 6hrs after discharge or over night is good (you can voltage test your cells to demonstrate what this does for the cell after removing it from a device and after the resting period where you will see a .1-.2v reading increase as internal resistance, heat, dissipates). Slower charging is better so while a charger may have the ability to charge at 1amp or higher, this doesn’t mean that it is good for the cell’s life span, even if it is spec’d to be able to handle it. If you need to charge your cells that quickly, you either do not own enough cells or you are discharging them too quickly as there is no reason to be in that big of a hurry to charge a cell.
Good chargers are Xtar and Nitecore. Current lineups of both have amazing spec and safety features along with being very reasonably priced so there is no reason to be using a budget and or low quality charger. As stated above, know the spec of your cells and charge appropriately, know what the max charge rate for a cell is and be lower than it is if possible for slower charge rate which equates to less internal heat build up in the cell itself as heat is the enemy of batteries (so is extreme cold but less frequent to encounter unless living in Alaska).
Devices with internal charging circuits are a bonus but should not be relied upon if the cell is replaceable. Not all are created equal and some have proven to be downright dangerous so do your research on the device you own before you buy it and or use the charging circuit. If you are reliant upon that circuit then you cannot be practicing best battery discipline as stated above unless using multiple devices so that a cell can rest before charging it to use again. This being said, in a very well made, safe and designed device, if the price you pay is simply replacing a cell more often in order to get what you need from it, then it is a small price to pay as cells are not overly expensive.
Storage of batteries. Cells should always be stored in battery boxes, if your cells did not come in one or the vendor doesn’t sell boxes, then you shouldn’t be buying batteries from them. They should never be carried outside of one either, be it in the pocket or in a bag and even in that event, be wary of heavy and or metal objects in the same space as battery boxes are cheap and can crack or break.
Damaged cells. Cell wrapping damaged batteries should no longer be used, same goes for suspicion of or actual moisture/liquid gotten into them via the top of a battery. In either event a cell should be pulled from rotation and be disposed of through recycling. Do not throw the cells we use in the trash, they are not green and will not decompose in a manner that is good for the environment. Google for battery recycling in your area and you will find a location where you can take your cells and other electronics to dispose of them through a service that will recycle them properly (they are literally everywhere as it is the law and they are free so there is no excuse for not disposing of a battery or electronics appropriately).
Do not re-wrap cells yourself, be it to fix an existing wrapping that has been damaged or for aesthetic purposes. These are things we carry in our pockets and hold up to our faces multiple times a day. It is important to respect their output power and the damage potential they pose if they fail.
A large portion of batteries on the market are not consumer grade batteries. OEM cells carry no markings of spec or manufacturer/distributor. This means the seller and buyer have less protection as they cannot prove who made the cell or where it came from nor chain of custody. Support vendors and distributors who do this correctly. A consumer product battery wrapping should carry a company name, voltage, basic chemistry or High Drain stated spec and ROHS/CE standards logos ideally. Anything else is a bonus but if you go to the company’s site, you should be able to see more specification stated there.
All metallic alloys oxidise in time and through use. Keep your contacts, of both your devices and batteries clean. Doing so will reduce the resistance and work a cell or device has to do to give you what you want which equates to longer battery life both in the device and the longevity of the lifespan of the battery itself. This doesn’t mean every single day, merely once in a while is fine or you will notice problems down the line of your usage via poor performance.
Devices that use series configuration battery set ups must be respected and used correctly. Marry your cells to one another. If your device uses two cells for example, label the pairs (1A, 2A and 1B, 2B and so forth). Keep your cells paired and rotate their placement in the device every time you put that pair in it, slot one and two. This keeps the wear on the cells even and will lead to them lasting longer. Charging discipline is the same as above. Do not use the cells outside of their pairing. If one cell of a pair fails or shows signs of deterioration then both cells must be replaced, you should not use a cell from one pairing with another as the wear will not be even.
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