What Are External Vape Batteries and Why Would You Use Them?

External vape batteries are simply batteries that don’t come per built-in to your mod. Like any other battery you use in day-to-day life, they have a positive end and a negative end, and current then flows from them when you attach both terminals to a circuit. For vaping, the most common type of battery is the 18650, but regardless of size, they all have the same basic design and perform the same function.

The most important things to be able to recognize on a vape battery are the positive and negative terminals. This is really easy to do: the negative end is always completely flat, and the positive end has a little button on top or a smaller raised terminal, with an inset ring in the body just below it. Look for the ring on the body of the battery, and you’ve found the positive end.

While devices with in-built vaping batteries are undoubtedly easier from a user’s perspective, there are a lot of benefits to using vape devices with external batteries.

Internal or External Batteries: Which should you use?


  • Easy to use
  • No fitting required
  • Battery validation
    (compatibility guaranteed)


  • Extends life of mod
  • More choice over battery
  • Easy to add in spare batteries
  • External Charging
  • Interchangeable with other devices using the same size battery


First, and most of all, you can replace the battery when it reaches the end of its life rather than having to replace your whole mod. This saves you tons of money, and means that upgrading your battery is always an option at any point.

If your battery runs out when you’re at work and you use an in-built battery mod, you’ll need to recharge, but with an external battery mod you can just bring a spare with you and pop it in.

Choosing your own battery also gives you more freedom to choose a battery that works for you – for example, if you value battery life over performance, you can choose something to suit that rather than being stuck with whatever your mod includes as standard.


Battery Basics: Chemistries

Batteries all store chemical energy and convert it to electrical energy, which in turn powers your device. They have two electrodes – a positive one called the cathode and a negative one called the anode – an electrolyte and something to separate the cathode and anode. The chemistry of a battery tells you what materials it uses, and for most vaping batteries – and most modern batteries in general – lithium characte rises their chemistry. The anode for lithium ion batteries is made from carbon/silicon and graphite, but the cathode material differs and gives each battery unique characteristics.

When you buy a vaping battery, it will be identified by a series of letters like “IMR” or “ICR,” and these tell you about the make-up of the battery. The “I” means lithium-ion and will be the same for any battery you buy for a vaping device, and the “R” stands for rechargeable. However, the other letters tell you other materials used in the battery.

C stands for cobalt

F stands for iron

M stands for manganese

N stands for nickel

So this means that an IMR battery is a lithium-manganese and an ICR battery is a lithium-cobalt. The specific chemistry of the battery tells you a bit about how it will perform, and a couple of chemistries is worth covering specifically:

IMR (Lithium-manganese) batteries allow a lot of current to flow without increasing the internal temperature of the battery too much. This makes them much safer to use for vapers, and they don’t need protective circuitry built in because the design is intrinsically safe.

INR (Lithium-manganese-nickel) batteries offer many of the benefits of IMR batteries (largely due to the manganese), but add nickel to produce a “hybrid” chemistry battery. In practice, this means INR batteries offer high current, low operating temperatures and higher capacity than IMR chemistry batteries. Popular vaping batteries like the Sony VTC 4 and 5, the LG HE2 and the Samsung 25R use INR chemistry.

ICR (lithium-cobalt) batteries are the highest-energy battery chemistry you might use for vaping, but they don’t do as well as the others when it comes to safety. They need additional protective circuitry (which is added by a third-party company) to be used in a mod, but they are very limited because the highest current you can safely use them at is shown by the mAh rating (which we’ll cover in more detail later).

Battery Basics: Sizes

The size is another key characteristic that the name of the battery you buy will convey. The standard batteries used for vaping are called “18650” batteries. This can be broken into two key parts: 18 and 65. The 18 tells you the diameter of the battery in mm, and the 65 tells you the length of the battery, 65 mm. So an 18650 battery is 18 mm in diameter and 65 mm tall.

If you encounter an 18350 battery, you’ll instantly notice that this will be the same thickness as an 18650 battery (18 mm), but much shorter (35 mm vs. 65 mm). Similarly, a 14500 battery is both shorter and thinner than an 18650 battery, and a 26650 is much wider but the same length.

So now, if an enthusiastic vape-nerd tells you about their new 18650 INR battery, you can break down exactly what that means. You know INR batteries are lithium ion (“I”), use nickel (“N”) in addition to manganese and that it measures 18 mm in diameter by 65 mm in length.

What is the Right Battery for Your Mod?

Now you’ve had a brief crash-course in battery chemistries and sizes, you can start to think about what the best battery for your mod will be. There is a lot to consider if you’re looking at getting the very best performance, but all you need is your mod to find something that will get the job done. The main things to think about are: the size of the battery, how many you need and your safety requirements.

Common Vaping Battery Sizes

Most mods on the market still take 18650 batteries, but there are some exceptions to this. If you have a compact mod – especially small mechanical tube mods – you might encounter 18350 or 18500 size batteries, which are just as wide but slightly shorter than the standard.

However, for more modern devices you’re more likely to run into larger batteries. The biggest devices use 26650 batteries, which generally last a lot longer between charges than 18650 options and can put out a lot of power too. Other options that are less commonly found are 21700 and 20700 batteries, and these generally improve on 18650s in terms of capability too.

For most situations, you’ll just need an 18650 battery, but check the store you purchased your mod from, the manual for your device or the manufacturer’s website to confirm if you aren’t sure. The good news is that the different batteries are different sizes, so it will be obvious if you’ve made a mistake.

Are External Vape Batteries Right For You?


This post has given you a detailed run-down of the most important things you need to know if you’re going to vape with an external battery, but it’s important to remember that this isn’t absolutely necessary. Using separately-bought batteries does offer a wide range of benefits, in particular the flexibility to take spare batteries out of the house with you and choose your battery to suit your preferences, but if you want things to be as simple as possible, mods with in-built batteries work just as well and are more user-friendly.

However, despite the detail in this post, once you’ve picked up a few batteries for your mods, using external batteries really isn’t much more difficult than vaping using mods with in-built batteries. The only real difference is removing and replacing your batteries when you charge, and ensuring you carry any spares around safely. For this limited additional effort, external batteries offer a hugely more flexible and sustainable solution to powering your vaping devices. Once you’re familiar with the most important pieces of safety advice, the benefits far outweigh any costs.

Buying Batteries: Only Buy From Reputable Vendors

Last but not least,choose reputable vendors when you’re buying batteries to ensure you don’t end up with a counterfeit!

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