Lithium Batteries

14500 or 18650 – that is the question?

As a manufacturer sourcing the right battery for your electronic device, there are a number of issues you need to consider, to maximise the longevity and performance of your product.

Two similar but distinctly different battery types are the 18650 and 14500 lithium-ion rechargeable batteries. They are the best choice for manufacturers producing portable electronic devices – everything from cordless power tools, laptops, phones, e-cigs, flashlights, and consumer beauty products to wearable technology, tracking devices, and laptops.

This guide will help you differentiate between the two to help you make the right choice for your product. If you need to talk through your requirements in more detail, then our experts are always on hand to help you

The areas to consider are:

Battery Size

The 14500 is 14mm wide and 50mm long – the same dimensions as a normal AA battery but can only be used in devices that are specifically designed for 14500 cells as it is 3.6 volts – significantly higher than regular AAs (which are usually about 1.7 volts. The 14500 weighs 21 grams.

The 18650 batteries are larger than 14500 li ion batteries – they measure 18mm wide and 65mm long and weigh more than double – 48 grams.

The size and weight are important depending on the device you are looking to use it in. Being smaller and lighter, the 14500 li ion battery is the better choice for portable devices such as portable power tools, e-cigarettes, flashlights and torches, and other smaller consumer electronic items.

The 18650 battery can also be used in similar products but are also suitable for laptops and electric vehicles. The 18650 rechargeable cells are often constructed into an 18650 battery pack and used in higher energy density products like rechargeable power banks, Vacuum cleaners and even hoverboards.

Power Output and Performance

The 14500 is the less powerful of the two batteries but can still offer a high energy density. A low discharge rate means that it will retain its power for longer when the device is not in use, making it an economical choice, as well as more environmentally friendly.

The 18650 rechargeable battery has a comparatively higher capacity, so can store more energy than the 14500, and has a longer battery life. Both cells can be specified in a range of capacities depending on cost, internal chemistry and application.

There are two types of 18650 – protected and unprotected. Protected cells incorporate a circuit that prevents the cell from being overcharged. With this protective circuit, the battery cell can be overcharged and potentially cause a fire. The unprotected variety may be cheaper, but its use is only recommended when its use and recharging are externally monitored and controlled. Otherwise, the risk is too great. YOK Energy lithium batteries are manufactured with built-in safety measures as standard.

Battery Life and Charge Time

Compared to a standard AA battery, the 14500 rechargeable lithium cell will provide at least double the sustainable power before needing to be recharged. The 18650, being a larger battery size, beats the 14500 in terms of battery life.

Both take approximately two hours to recharge completely depending on use.

The following rules should be followed to ensure the lifecycle of your 18650 or 14500 lithium rechargeable batteries is optimised.

  • Always follow the battery manufacturer’s recommendations. Do not compromise on the quality of the charger. The charger needs to maintain a constant voltage, and cheaper chargers provide unstable current delivery, which can risk the cells becoming overheated. Also, be sure to remove the cells from the charger when fully charged.
  • When a lithium battery is fully charged, the charger will adjust itself to reduce the flow of current. Additionally, the charger might open up the battery to release some of the power so that the cell within the battery does not become overcharged.
  • Charge the battery regularly, and don’t let it run too low.
  • Having said that, allowing it to drain down to 5% once a month may help to extend its life. Keep an eye on it, let it drop to 5%, then put it on charge.
  • Store batteries in a cool, dry, dark place. Excessive light, heat, and moisture compromise the functionality of the battery.

Since the advent of electronic cigarettes and LED flashlights, consumers are becoming increasingly savvy about the performance, and risks, of lithium rechargeable batteries. Previously 14500 and 18650 lithium batteries were only available to manufacturers, supplied as in battery packs. Better control was maintained over their application and use. However, single-use and rechargeable lithium cells are more widely available online to the consumer, which has spurned the supply of cheaper alternatives. This has led to an increase in reported incidents of batteries exploding through misuse and mishandling.

Working with a trusted battery supplier will guarantee that the product you manufacture is fitted with a bespoke rechargeable Li ion battery pack delivering the right level of voltage, distributed in a consistent, constant manner, with safety measures incorporated into the internal design.

We are also available at the end of the phone in the event of any issues.

If you are confused as to whether you should choose the 14500 or 18650 cells for your specific application, we may have something even more suitable. Before you go straight to designing a bespoke lipo battery, you might want to consider if the attributes of a 27500 rechargeable li po battery pack would suit the requirements of your electronic device.

Our YOK Energy team will be on hand to guide you through the entire specification process.  Contact us now to discuss your needs.

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