October 2015

Safety First

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Words and photos by Nick Bessette

There literally are millions of vapers nowadays, and many of them are trying out the art of building their own coils and/or using a sub-Ohm tank. However, there are a few things that everyone should know before they delve into the realm of rebuilding and sub-Ohming; battery safety and Ohm’s Law are on the top of that list. The following is a step-by-step guide on the do’s and don’ts of the subculture of vaping.

Battery Safety
It may seem like common sense to use the right tool for the job, but for a beginner, there’s so much information available that it might seem a bit overwhelming. Hopefully, these tips will get you on the right track for being a responsible, advanced personal vaporizer (APV) or mod owner.

Never Fully Discharge or Overcharge Your Batteries. When charging, keep an eye on your batteries and make sure you take them off the charger when

  • they say they are fully charged (most of the time at 4.2v.) Most modern chargers are equipped with overcharge protection, but that doesn’t mean you should just leave them on until you’re ready to use them. Batteries slowly drain even when they’re not being used in a mod, so if you leave them on, they will continuously cycle even though they still read 4.2v. Also, make sure you take out your batteries before they hit their lowest charge rate (most of the time at 3.5v.); you should notice a significant loss of power when using a mechanical (mech) mod when the batteries are starting to drain. When this happens, take it out and swap it for a fully charged cell.
  • Never Leave Your Batteries on the Charger Overnight. This can cause the battery to have a reduced life cycle, and any chance to extend the life of your batteries is one you should take into consideration. Not to mention the fact that Li-ion batteries are very fragile, so you should always be cautious when using them and keep an eye on the charging process. Furthermore, make sure your charger is in a safe place out of the reach of children and never on the carpet.
  • Buy the Right Battery for the Job. Buying batteries can be a pain with so many different brands to choose from. First of all, when something has the word “fire” in the name, it’s best not to trust it. If you’re using a regulated device that only goes up to 15w and is not capable of sub-Ohming, you should most likely use an AW IMR protected cell battery. There are several sizes to choose from, including 18350, 18450/500 and 18650, among others. Make sure you purchase the correct battery size for your device and never stack batteries. If you’re using a mech mod, you will need an unprotected, high-drain cell, such as the Samsung 25R “Smurfs” or the Sony VTC4’s. These batteries are capable of putting out a much higher amperage than protected cells, and if you are using it with a sub-Ohm coil, you will also be using a higher-than-average amp draw from your battery.
  • Don’t Short Out Your Batteries. A short circuit is like a shortcut that electricity can take on its way from the positive to negative terminals. This can be caused when your positive and negative terminals touch the battery at the same time, such as using a hybrid connection with a device with a shallow positive pin. But a short can be caused by a number of other factors as well. One thing to stay away from is storing batteries with other metal objects. Don’t just throw your batteries in your pocket with your keys and loose change, as it can short your battery and even explode! The telltale sign of a short is that your battery and mod will get very hot. Don’t risk using a battery that you shorted out; a $15 battery is definitely not worth risking your hand over.

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· Always Check Your Battery Wrappers For Rips. This is a common problem that is too often overlooked. I’ve seen countless customers come into my vape shop that have tears in their battery wrappers and think it’s not a big deal, but they are definitely wrong. Even if it’s a minor tear, you should always rewrap it, because if it’s left untreated, it could get larger or possibly short your battery and cause you to get shocked. Battery rewraps are cheap and easy to do; simply peel the old wrapper off your battery, slide the new one over it (trim if necessary) and heat it using a hair dryer. Presto! You’re ready to start vaping safely once again.

· Know the Amp Limit of Your Batteries. Before building your coils, make sure you check the amp limits of the batteries you are using in your mod. It is imperative that the batteries you use can handle the amp draw from the resistance of your coils. If the batteries you’re using cannot handle the amp draw, you can short out your device or possibly vent your batteries, which could be catastrophic. Furthermore, always use a married set of batteries of the same make and model if you’re using a dual battery mod. If you do not do this, it could lead to failure of your batteries or damage to your mod.

Ohm’s Law
Ohm’s law is the relationship between three mathematical equations relating to the flow of electricity. It may be difficult for those of you who don’t have a pre-existing knowledge of electricity, so I’ll try to make it easy for you and relate it to a highway.

What is voltage? Voltage would be like a huge super-highway with lots of cars speeding down it. The speed at which the cars travel is determined by their own top speed and how many lanes are in the highway. The difference between the speed at which the cars are travelling and the cars’ maximum speed could be thought of as potential voltage.

What is current? The best analogy for current would be the fastest speed the cars can travel as determined by their own top speed (voltage). The quantity, volume or intensity of electrical flow would best describe current, as opposed to voltage, which refers to the force or “top speed,” causing the current flow.

What is resistance? Resistance is like a bottleneck where four lanes get reduced to two and the traffic is forced to slow down. The more lanes (lower resistance), the faster traffic can go, and the fewer number of lanes (higher resistance), the slower it can move. The coils you build are the resistance, in the case of vaping. All three of these factors play a crucial part in Ohm’s law.

Ohm’s law can be stated as mathematical equations, all derived from the same principle. In the following equations, V is voltage, measured in volts (the size of the highway); I is current, measured in amperes (related to the top speed [voltage] of cars speeding down the highway); and R is resistance, measured in Ohms as related to the size of the highway:

V = I x R (Voltage = Current multiplied by Resistance)
R = V / I (Resistance = Voltage divided by Current)
I = V / R (Current = Voltage Divided by Resistance)

Knowing any two of the values of a circuit, one can determine (calculate) the third, using Ohm’s Law. For example, when building coils, you will have your known maximum voltage output (4.2v for most batteries) and your resistance (Ohms), so when you plug those two factors into the equation, you can determine how many amps you will be drawing from your battery. This information is crucial, because you don’t want to be going over the amp limits of your batteries. There are helpful tools out there to help you with this, including websites, and even apps that allow you to plug in the known factors to determine the amps you’re drawing from your batteries. Always use an Ohm reader or multi-meter when rebuilding so that you know the resistance of your coils and have the numbers you can plug into these formulas.

At this point, you should have a solid knowledge base of the safety aspect to vaping and hopefully have gained some knowledge on how batteries work as well. The information that I really want you all to take away from this is how important safety is when it comes to rebuilding your own
coils. Too often, I see people using unsafe batteries or making coils that would make an electrician cringe. The more accidents we have as vapers, the more the media will show bad press and push for more regulations. Vape safe, everyone, and as always, vape on!

For the video portion of the story, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9zHEKIG2vIU&feature=youtu.be.

Nick Bessette works at Voltage Vape shop in Springfield, Mass., and he does video reviews for his own YouTube channel, Daily Vape TV, among others. He has been building for two years and conducting battery safety courses at VCC events over the past year. Teaching the safety aspect of vaping is a passion of his, and he believes that it’s an extremely important topic for every vaper to know about.

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