I'm posting the following as a blog entry rather than in the open forums because I'm not a modder, engineer, or anything that would traditionally qualify me as an expert on these subjects. If you read what I have posted below and disagree, that's fine, but I'm not interested in defending my informed opinions because some might argue that I don't have the proper background to form and express said opinions. I do have a college degree from a reputable university, so at least I'm trained to competently research, absorb, and interpret data. I've done a lot of reading and have formed some opinions. Here are some of them:
Just some additional info on batteries for those that would like to know more:
ICR 18650 = lithium cobalt oxide (traditional) cylindrical cell
IMR 18650 = lithium manganese oxide cylindrical cell
IFR 18650 = lithium iron phosphate cylindrical cell
ICR are your Lithium Ion batteries that have great capacity (higher mAh) but require a Protective Circuit Board (PCB) for safety. A PCB is basically a circuit breaker that shuts down the flow of electricity if too much is going in or out of the battery. The PCB is needed because there is a high resistance to the flow of ions when these batteries are charged and discharged. PCB's can fail and the user would never know it unless the battery goes into thermal runaway. The result is lots of heat, venting of gasses, and possibly FLAME. That's why venting holes in mods are so important. If the gasses can't escape, pressure builds up until it explodes. When using protected Li-ions in a PV, always go for high quality, reputable brands like AW, Panasonic, and Redilast. Any protected Li-ion bought on dealextreme is only good for a flashlight with a low amp LED bulb, in my opinion. Trustfire and Ultrafire are distributors, not manufacturers. They'll slap their heatshrink label on any battery, including recycled cells and factory rejects. That's why they can be had so cheaply. Their mAh ratings are vastly overstated, too. AW is a distributor as well, but they install PCB's and heatshrink their label on to Panasonic cells. I'll take AW any day of the week. The AW 2600 mAh protected ICR battery is the best choice for a PV if you're wanting a protected Li-ion. They outperform the AW 2900 and 3100 mAh batteries for our uses. The high mAh batteries only last longer in flashlights with low amp draws. In PV's, with higher amp draws from our LR atties, the AW 2600 is as good as it gets.
IMR batteries are vaunted as "safe chemistry" and therefore don't require protection. This is true. The ions in an IMR battery flow much more freely, making them ideal for devices which want to draw a lot of amps, like Provaris and Lava Tubes. IMR batteries can short out and go into thermal runaway too, but they just produce heat and gas. No flame. Venting is still important and burn injuries are still a possibility. Provaris and Lava Tubes are supposed to have protections built in to cut the flow of electricity if they detect too much current coming out of the battery, but in a worst case scenario, your PV would get too hot to hold. If it's in your pocket, make sure you can easily fish it out if you feel it getting warm. As long as vented gases can escape and not build up pressure, there's not a huge safety risk.
IFR are also known as LiFePO4 and are also safe chemistry, but are limited to about 3.2 volts nominal due to their chemistry. This is why they are commonly used in stacked pairs of RCR 123a cells for 6 volt vaping. Stacking batteries in unregulated mods like the Silver Bullet, Omega, etc., is just not worth it, in my opinion. You have to take care not to over discharge them and also make sure your charger is compatible with LiFePO4 batteries. Also, the battery closest to the load will discharge much faster than the one "on bottom" so you have to take care to flip the batteries after every recharge cycle. That is, the one that was on top during the last use, should next be placed on the bottom after the pair is recharged. You also need to measure the voltage on each battery after every recharge cycle. If each battery in a pair don't have close to the same exact voltage after recharging, the potential for battery failure goes up considerably when using them stacked. As always, adequate venting in your PC is imperative. I, myself, would only use stacked batteries in a regulated mod with built in protections, like the Buzz Pro or Infinity Pro from notcigs.com, personal opinions of Mike and his company, notwithstanding.
When the LavaTube was first marketed by Volcano, the manufacturer/distributor that sold the Lava Tube to Volcano also sold them counterfeit AW IMR batteries. When Volcano was informed that what they were reselling to their customers were, in fact, unprotected lithium cobalt batteries (holy ...., that's not safe at all), Volcano had to scramble to make it right. This just goes to show you that some Chinese companies have no scruples when it comes to making sales, so beware of what you're buying and whom you're buying from.
Now multiple North American vendors are selling Lava Tube kits under multiple names. The batteries that come with these kits are an unknown factor and I would not trust to use them in any PV. The vendors are all about making a buck at this point and cashing in on the VV craze while they can. I have no problems with them selling the mod at their ridiculous mark ups, but selling these mystery batteries and cheap ... chargers with them is beyond irresponsible.
If anyone asks me, I'll them to buy the mod alone and then go to RTD Vapor or Super T Manufacturing to buy genuine AW IMR batteries and a TR-001 charger. If they have concerns about chargers and don't mind spending more, the XTAR and Pila chargers are both highly recommended.
TL;DR: If you aren't willing to take the time to educate yourself about the batteries we use in PV's, you should probably stick with a low mAh starter kit. The vendors are no longer trying to inform you what is best and safest to use. They just want your money. Too bad they couldn't follow Provape's example. FYI: I've never owned a Provari. Maybe someday...
My nickname on the meatside is Tripp. It might as well be on my birth certificate because that's what everyone calls me. My legal name is the same as that of my father and his father. I'm the 3rd. Hence, Tripp. Tripp means three, or so my parents have told me.
I was born in North Carolina and lived there till I was 32. Then I moved to Texas because I met this amazing woman from there and couldn't talk her to moving to NC. So I went to her. She was a single mother of a biracial 4 year old boy when I met her. He's now 12 and I refer to him as DemonSpawn or just "my son." We've had two more children together in the 7 years we've been married. Texas women are amazingly fertile. A half dozen of my coworkers are pregnant. My wife conceived on two other occasions but both of those pregnancies ended in early-term miscarries. After the birth of our youngest almost two years ago, we decided that three children were enough to ensure we could send some daycare owner's children to college, so I got some of my plumbing snipped and she got some of her tied. Our doctors must think we're swingers. We're really not, but I've been given my wife's permission to be intimate with a select few female celebrities should the opportunity ever present itself.
I started smoking when I was 24. It was a crutch I used to help deal with the stress associated with my job at the time. It turned into an addiction and began to take it's toll as I grew older. Notice I didn't say "matured." That ain't gonna happen. Anyway, I switched from cigarettes to Black & Mild cigars a few years ago and never gave serious consideration to quitting. I thought I enjoyed it. On a whim, I bought a used Joye 510 starter kit and tried vaping. When it worked properly, I loved it and quickly grew to prefer a good vape over smoking. It didn't work properly all of the time though. The battery issue was a pain, but a charger and spare batteries were easy enough fixes. Getting juice to wick properly from those blasted carts was pure frustrations. I started researching and found ECF early on. I tried a couple of the cartridge mods I read about here, and had limited success. While hopping around the forums, I stumbled across Clyde's review thread on the Reo Grand. I hadn't learned about mods in general yet, but the concept of the Reo Grand and the bottom feeding juice delivery combined with the much longer lasting battery struck a chord with me. I bugged Clyde, Sterno, and Redeyedancer via P.M. to learn more about the Reo Grand. All three answered my questions. I learned how they were being sold in the ECF thread and decided I would try to get my e-mail sent in time. That was 12/29/10. When Rob sent me a PayPal payment request, I felt like I had won the lottery. My Reo Grand arrived almost a full week before the batteries and charger I had ordered. Those were dark times. I got my batteries and charger on a Friday evening. I put the batteries on the charger and went to work. I smoked a cigar at around 11:00 pm on my drive home. I went to bed. The next morning, I had two charged batteries and my Reo Grand to play with. I started vaping that sucker like a fiend.
When I woke up from my coma, I was an ex-smoker. I had one cigar left in the last pack I bought sitting on top of my dresser. It's still there and I look at it everyday. I've had no desire to light it up. As I type this, I haven't smoked for 1 month, 1 week, and 3 days. And I've had some bad vaping days. My taste buds hated me and refused to let me taste any of my juices on several occasions. Cinnabomb was the only flavor I could taste and I let myself run out. My replacement order got frozen during shipping and was ruined. I didn't know that at the time and held on to it to let it steep. In hindsight, that was a waste of time. I sent it back to be replaced and just got the replacement 4 days ago. Now it's too strong, due to my taste buds having mostly recovered. I have to dilute it with 100% VG just to make it tolerable and it's not as satisfying as it once was. It's a nice change-up flavor from time to time, though. I don't expect I'll ever use it all. While I was without any flavored juice that I genuinely enjoyed, I vaped on the stuff I had. Mouth developed multiple painful sores. My nostrils dried out and painfully bled a little bit. I had acne I hadn't seen since the 1980's. My lips got horribly chapped. I KNEW all these issues were side effects from vaping + quitting smoking. I still didn't want to go back to cigars, though. I kept reading, kept ordering juice samples and different attys, and started drinking water like it was going out of style. Eventually, it got better. I still have days where I'm not tasting well or my juice self feeds like it's possessed or some other irritating issue pops up, but I keep on vaping.
I love my Reo Grand, the community, and the fact I don't want to smoke anymore.
There's more to tell, but it's my bed time. G'nite!
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