Buying decent 18650 batteries is a must as any serious vaper knows all too well. But that’s only half the battle… Charging those bad boys in a poorly designed 18650 battery charger (or worse – a Chinese knockoff) will affect the performance of the batteries in a big way!
18650’s aren’t cheap, so skimping on the battery charger you use is likely to come back to haunt you in the long run!
Charging your batteries in a decent 18650 battery charger not only guarantees you’ll get the most out of your batteries… It’s also vital in terms of safety.
A good battery charger should be packed with safety features. It should also charge multiple batteries at a time (independently) and provide you with as much information as possible about the state of the batteries.
We’ve put together a list of the best 18650 battery chargers broken down by the number of charging ports. We’ll also answer a few common questions and leave you with a few tips and tricks to help you get the most out of your vape batteries…
Disclaimer: All of the chargers we recommend we’ve tried and tested personally. Please click on any of the product images below to check out the current price on Amazon. We receive a small commission on any purchase made.
So to start us off, let’s delve down and take a look at our top picks for 2 port charging…
BEST 18650 BATTERY CHARGER – 2 BAY
1. Nitecore D2 Intelligent
Mains Charger | 2 x 0.5 Amps | Digital LCD Display
You’ll see the name Nitecore repeated several times throughout this post. And for good reason… They’re one of the biggest names in battery chargers and a trusted (and highly recommended) brand!
The D2 is a 2 bay charger, connected via mains plug and featuring a digital LCD display. The screen provides information like charging progress, voltage and current.
The D2 has plenty of features, including intelligent circuitry to prevent overcharging your batteries. Very much a plug and go charger, the D2 also automatically detects the best charging mode for each individual battery.
Compatible with most rechargeable batteries (not including 20700 or 21700), the D2 is a great charger to get you started.
2. Nitecore I2 New
Mains Charger | 2 x 0.5 Amps / 1 x 1 Amps | LED Display
Essentially the I2 New is an updated and improved version of the original Nitecore I2. Expect to pay slightly more for the upgraded I2 model but it’s well worth it considering the additional features.
The main difference between the I2 models and the D2 above is the information displayed to users. While you’ll get less information with the I2, the silver lining is a lower purchase price.
The biggest improvement over the original I2 is by far the ability to charge 20700 or 21700 batteries. With more and more mods on the market requiring these bigger sized batteries this makes the I2 New a great choice for a 2 bay charger.
As well as this feature the I2 New also allows users to charge at a maximum of 1 Amp in a single slot (0.5 Amps when charging two batteries). No more waiting around for your batteries to charge! As if you needed another reason to love the I2 New, it even allows you to restore a depleted IMR battery (a battery that’s drained past the minimum voltage level considered safe).
3. Nitecore UM2
USB Charger | 2 x 1 Amps | LCD Digital Display
The UM2 is yet another great charger from the guys over at Nitecore. The UM2 has a LCD display with real-time charging information, including voltage, time on charge and charging current.
Like the model above, the UM2 can charge 20700/21700 batteries, features intelligent charging and the ability to restore over-discharged IMR batteries. It’s worth mentioning that the UM2 also allows you to set the max charging current to 1 Amp for both batteries being charged. This means you’ll get a much faster charge using this device than those listed above.
By far the biggest difference however is the ability to charge via a USB cable. While this is obviously more convenient than a mains powered charger, there is a caveat… Chargers operated via USB are limited to the power output of the USB port being used. For example, if you’re using a USB port with a maximum output of 1 Amp, a set of two charging batteries will only be charged at 0.5 Amps each.
Packed with additional features, such as the ability to use the device as a power bank and even charge via solar panel, the UM2 battery charger is a great little device and well worth the money.
4. XTAR VC2S
USB Charger | 2 x 0.5 Amps / 1 x 1 Amps | LCD Digital Display
The first XTAR 18650 battery charger on our list, the VC2S gives the Nitecore models some stiff competition. Featuring a LCD display showing you all the necessary info you’d need, the VC2S has the added benefit of coming in at a much lower price than the Nitecore LCD models.
The XTAR VC2S 18650 battery charger allows you to charge a range of batteries including the 20700 and 21700 cells. As well as this, the VC2S includes the innovative ‘soft-start function’ meaning the device will gradually increase the current being delivered to your batteries. Over the long run, you’ll get much more life from your batteries.
Like the UM2 above, this device also charges via USB. While this again means you’ll be limited by the USB port you choose to charge from, the VC2S only has a maximum charging current of 1 Amp (2 x 0.5 Amps). With most USB ports charging at 1 Amp or above, you shouldn’t really have to worry about being restricted unless you’re charging from something like a laptop.
All things considered, the VC2S is a great 18650 battery charger at a decent price!
5. XTAR VC2 Plus
USB Charger | 2 x 0.5 Amps / 2 x 1 Amps | LCD Digital Display
Essentially an upgrade of the VC2 18650 battery charger above, the Plus model has a slightly higher price as you’d expect. Perhaps the biggest improvement is the fact the VC2 Plus gives you the ability to charge both batteries at 1 Amps each. In my opinion, this makes the VC2 Plus the obvious choice and well worth the higher cost.
The interesting ‘power-path USB’ feature also gives you the option to charge both batteries and an external device at the same time. Handy if you just can’t decide between your phone and those much needed vape batteries.
Gun to my head I’d have to pick the VC2 Plus over it’s predecessor simply for the extra features and the higher current output. This XTAR model really gives the premium Nitecore models like the UM2 a run for their money!
6. XTAR SV2 Rocket
Mains Charger | 2 x 0.25 Amps / 2 x 0.5 Amps / 2 x 1 Amps / 2 x 2 Amps | LCD Display
By far one of my favourite 2 port chargers, the XTAR SV2 gives you plenty of options when it comes to charging your vape batteries! Having the choice between multiple charging currents allows you some control over the lifespan of your batteries. While a slower charge (2 x 0.25 Amps) increases the longevity of the batteries your using, the higher end (2 x 2 Amps) means you really won’t be waiting long for your batteries to charge!
In fact, this great little charger has the highest charging current output of any 2 port charger on this list! While this fact alone makes the SV2 an excellent choice, the device also comes with all of the great add-ons its Nitecore counterparts feature. Battery restoration mode, reverse polarity protection and the ability to charge 20700/21700 batteries to name but a few.
Whether you’re a novice vaper with only 2 batteries to your name or a seasoned pro with box-fulls of 18650s stashed in the closet, you couldn’t go far wrong with purchasing the XTAR SV2!
7. XTAR MC2 Plus
USB Charger | 2 x 0.5 Amps / 2 x 1 Amps | LCD Display
A small but powerful USB charger, the XTAR MC2 Plus is another great 2 bay option, especially if you’re on a budget! As with all the other chargers listed, just click the image to check out the current price on Amazon!
The MC2 Plus battery charger allows you to charge a range of batteries including the 20700 and 21700. Features include automatic optimal charging and the ability to restore over-discharged batteries, both of which are great for extending the lifespan of your cells!
With a display indicating the charging current, battery power and charging status along with all the standard safety features you’d expect, the MC2 Plus is a great compact charger and definitely one I would recommend.
8. Efest LUC V2
Mains Charger | 2 x 0.5 Amps / 2 x 1 Amps | LCD Display
The first Efest 18650 battery charger on our list and a decent little 2 bay charger. This device features a great charging output and the ability to be used as a power bank.
It’s important to note though that this charger doesn’t allow the bigger vape batteries; namely the 20700 and 21700 cells.
With a LCD display and all the safety features you would need you couldn’t go too far wrong with picking yourself up a LUC V2!
2 Bay Charger – Best of the bunch
All of the 8 chargers above are great choices and whichever one you pick you’ll be happy knowing your batteries are being charged safely! With that being said, gun to our heads we’d have to pick the XTAR SV2 Rocket or the Nitecore UM2 as the best of the bunch!
They’re both great chargers in their own right and they both have a ton of handy extra features. Both are priced reasonably and the main difference between the two is the power supply (Mains / USB). I tend to prefer mains chargers and with the highest charge output of any 2 Bay on the list, the XTAR SV2 Rocket slightly pegs it in this category!
BEST 18650 BATTERY CHARGER – 4 BAY
1. Nitecore D4 Digicharger
Mains Charger | 4 x 0.375 Amps / 2 x 0.750 Amps | LCD Display
The first 4 bay 18650 battery charger on our list; the Nitecore D4 Digicharger is actually the first charger I bought way back when I started vaping. I have to say, the thing I love the most about the D4 is the build quality and how robust the model is. I’ve had it for years, travelled all over the world with it and it works just as well as the day I bought it!
The D4 is a universal smart charger allowing you to charge almost all cylindrical batteries, with the exception of the 20700/21700 cells. It comes with all the features you’d expect from a Nitecore charger including intelligent and independent charging for each battery, optimized charging and a range of safety features.
The D4 comes with an integrated LCD panel clearly displaying the charging parameters and progress. As stated above, the D4 18650 battery charger really stands out when you consider how reliable it is and we would highly recommend this model.
2. Nitecore I4 New
Mains Charger | 4 x 0.375 Amps / 2 x 0.750 Amps | LED Display
The Nitecore I4 New is essentially the bigger, badder version of it’s younger brother the I2. The charging output is the same as the D4 Digicharger above but the I4 New has the added benefit of active current distribution technology. To you and I, this means that when one battery has finished charging, all charging power will automatically transfer to the other slot(s).
Again, with this standard of charger you can expect all the usual features and safety measures. Just pop your batteries in and the charger will take care of the rest.
The biggest benefit of the I4 New over the D4 above is the ability to charge 20700/21700 cells. Although most mods take the standard 18650 cells, it’s always nice to have the option. The drawback of the I4 New in comparison to the D4 is the information displayed on the LED screen. Unfortunately, it doesn’t give you nearly as much information as the D4. Otherwise, the I4 is a decent charger at a fair price and you can’t really go wrong.
3. Nitecore UM4
USB Charger | 4 x 0.5 Amps / 2 x 1 Amps / 1 x 1.5 Amps | LCD Display
With only a slightly higher price tag, the UM4 18650 battery charger is Nitecore’s flagship 4 bay device. Featuring a higher charging output than the I4 and D4 models above, your batteries can be charged at a much faster rate.
Another benefit over the I4 is the range of information shown via the LCD display. As well as this the UM4 has the ability to charge 20700/21700 cells. As with most of the chargers on this list, the UM4 offers over-discharged IMR battery restoration and automatic charging detection for optimal charging.
Given the price of the UM4 is only slightly higher than the other 4 bay Nitecore chargers on this list, we’d definitely recommend this device. I generally prefer a mains charger over USB but the higher charging output of the UM4 makes this an obvious choice for a 4 bay charger.
4. XTAR VC4
USB Charger | 4 x 0.5 Amps / 2 x 1 Amps | LCD Display
As with the XTAR 2 bay chargers we reviewed above, you can expect to pay slightly less than their Nitecore counterparts. With a higher charging output than the Nitecore I4 and D4 models the XTAR VC4 is only beaten in terms of charging speed by the UM4.
It’s worth noting that the VC4 allows you to charge 20700 and 21700 cells. The VC4 also features a soft-start function to gradually increase the charge being delivered to your batteries and includes over-discharged IMR restoration. Over the long run, these features will increase the longevity of your cells.
The value for money with VC4 is outstanding, considering it shares the same features as the best of the Nitecore models.
5. XTAR VC4S
USB Charger | 3 x 1 Amps / 4 X 0.5 Amps | LCD Display
The big brother to the XTAR VC4, the VC4S comes with some extra handy features. The best of these is easily the boost in charging current….much less time spent waiting around for a full charge!
On top of this the VC4S also comes with IR test, capacity test and storage test functions. At the time of writing the VC4S only comes in at slight more expensive than it’s younger brother. The boost in charging current makes this more than worth it in our eyes.
6. XTAR VC4SL / VC4 Plus
USB Charger | 3 X 1 Amps / 4 X 0.5 Amps | LCD Display
The final XTAR entry on our 4 bay list….the big, big brother to the VC4. The charging current is boosted again like the VC4S and you get the added benefit of being able to charge protected 21700 batteries.
The selectable charging current is also a great feature. Just be aware that you’ll be paying a fair amount extra for the ability to charge the bigger cells. Only worth it if you’re planning to use these.
We recently wrote a product review on the VC4SL Battery Charger as it exceeded our expectations over their already great earlier releases of the VC4 series of chargers. Click here to jump directly to our review.
4 Bay Charger – Best of the bunch
Again, while all the chargers we’ve reviewed are great options…”there can be only one!” (one for the highlander fans!). Broadsword to my neck I’d have to recommend the Nitecore UM4.
If you’re after exceptional build quality and a device that will last you for years to come then the UM4 steals the show!
BEST 18650 BATTERY CHARGER – 6 BAY
1. Efest LUC V6
Mains Charger | 6 x 0.68 Amps / 2 x 2 Amps | LCD Display
We’re only reviewing two single 6 bay chargers because we haven’t used any other devices. Simply put, if we haven’t used a product, we won’t review or recommend it. With that said, the Efest LUC V6 18650 battery charger is a top notch 6 bay charger with great build quality, all the necessary safety circuitry and plenty of extra features.
The charging output is great considering the device charges a total of six batteries, especially when you consider this device charges those six cells faster than many of the devices above can charge four cells.
The V6 offers a USB output so you can use it as a power bank, allowing you to charge other devices. Other features include automatic charging detection and a digital LCD display. You can also charge most batteries, including 20700/21700. While this is the highest priced charger on our list, the additional bays make it more than worth the extra money.
Our only real gripe with the V6 is the fact the display remains active even after the device has finished charging your batteries. However, this is a small issue and shouldn’t really detract from the overall quality of the product.
2. Nitecore Q6
Mains Charger | 6 x 0.650 Amps / 4 x 1 Amps / 2 x 2 Amps | LED Display
Nitecore’s foray into the 6 bay charger market brings us the Q6. With a really simple design and a great charging output, the Q6 will appeal to those looking for a straightforward but powerful charger. You’re also covered if you want to charge 20700/21700 batteries.
The Q6 offers over-discharged IMR restoration and all the usual safety features and protective circuitry. The Q6 is also extremely easy to use with a simple display.
Just keep in mind, if you’re looking for plenty of info while you charge, you probably want to consider another charger on this list. I may just be a battery geek but I like to see as much data about my batteries as possible while they’re charging!
6 Bay Charger – Best of the bunch
The Efest LUC V6 easily wins this contest hands down! With the bonus of an LCD display, great charging current and mains connection its easily worth the extra money over the Nitecore Q6.
We have seen the XTAR MC6 bay charger on the market, but we’re yet to give this one a try. If you have one of these let us know in the comments below!
Now we’ve had a good look at the best chargers on the market let’s look at some things you might want to think about when using an 18650 battery charger…
What to look out for –
What specifications should my charger have?
With any charger, the standard specification should include:
- Capacity to charge batteries simultaneously.
- Independent monitoring and charging of separate bays simultaneously.
- Optimized charging design for IMR batteries.
- Intelligent circuitry that detects the battery type and status before entering automatic charge mode (CC, CV, dV/dt).
- Automatic detection of battery power status and selection of appropriate voltage and charge mode.
- Auto-shut off when charging is complete.
- Over-charge prevention to protect batteries.
- Reverse polarity protection to prevent damage caused by improperly inserting batteries.
- Short Circuit protection.
- A design featuring optimal heat dissipation.
It’s also super important to buy your charger from a reputable brand. I know it’s easy to get a cheap device online but you do need to be careful about quality when you’re buying a charger.
So should I buy a 2 bay, 4 bay or 6 bay?
Well… Obviously if you’ve only got 2 batteries we’d stay clear of a 6 bay charger…
BUT, it’s really down to personal preference and of course, your budget.
You’ll also want to consider how long it takes to charge your 18650 batteries. Depending on the charging current of the device you use, it can take up to 4 hours to fully charge a cell.
If you’re anything like us, you’re likely to own more than a few spare batteries and keeping them all charged can feel like an uphill struggle. Given that you shouldn’t really leave your batteries charging unattended, the more batteries you can charge the better.
How long will my vape batteries last?
The ‘Charge Cycles’ or ‘Cycle Life’ of an 18650 battery massively depends on the 18650 battery you buy. Of course, buying good quality 18650 batteries will mean they last a lot longer. When you also make sure to buy a great quality 18650 battery charger then you’re going to dramatically increase the longevity of your cells!
While most batteries will last for around 200 to 500 cycles, choosing the right charger will really increase this number. A cycle is defined as a full charge to 4.2V and a full discharge to the lower voltage limit of between 2.5V – 2.8V. You should also consider a charger that allows you to choose the current being delivered to your cells. This way you have the option to set the charging current at the lowest setting. While you’ll be waiting longer for a fully charged battery, you’ll drastically increase the lifespan.
Can I charge my battery in the mod?
While you can of course charge your battery in the mod, this isn’t always the safest or the most efficient way to do so. Without all of the safety features we’ve talked about above you’ll stand a good chance of really reducing the battery life of your 18650’s.
On top of this, if you only have one vape mod you’ll still need at least one spare vape battery. Keeping your spare(s) charged means you can quickly swap out discharged batteries and carry on vaping away. If you’re only able to charge one battery at a time in the mod you’ll have to wait around for your battery to charge. Or even worse, puff the vape while charging, again reducing the battery life!
Charging safety – How to charge your vape batteries the right way!
- Never leave your batteries charging unattended – While you’re not likely to have any issues with the chargers we’ve reviewed, leaving your batteries unattended just doesn’t make good sense.
- Charge in a safe area – Making sure that you keep your charger away from direct sunlight and other heat sources will keep the batteries and/or charger from overheating. It really should go without saying that you should also make sure the charger is out of reach of little ones and pets!
- Always buy from a trusted brand – quality is important and unfortunately there are lots of chargers and batteries out there that don’t include the safety features we’ve recommended above. You really can’t go wrong sticking with either Nitecore, XTAR or Efest!
- Know how to take care of your 18650’s – If you’re interested in learning a little more about how to make sure you’re using 18650 batteries safely, check out our handy guide on just that.
So there you have it ladies and gents, our top picks and safety tips for all things 18650 battery chargers. Please leave us a comment below or click to share this post!
Thank you very much to the writer for writing this informative article. Would you please tell me Can we charge a lithium-ion battery using an acid battery charger?
Thank you for your comment and glad you found our best charger post informative.
Your question depends on the type of Li-ion battery and the level of control of the lead acid charger. In principle yes but with vaping batteries NO.
With regards to vaping batteries, I would always only ever recommend a dedicated charger fit for purpose, specifically designed to charge 4.2v Li-ion batteries. It is imperative for safety reasons to use the correct type of charger for the batteries you have.
The chargers we’ve specified in our post are very good, very reliable and designed for the types of batteries we use in the vaping world. Using any other type of charge will have safety implications.
It’s worth noting that the XTAR VC4 cannot charge “protected” 20700 and 21700 cells. That restriction does not apply to the Nitecore UM4 charger since the battery compartment is longer.
Thanks for your comment. You’re correct in saying that protected 20700/21700 batteries won’t fit in the XTAR VCN4 chargers. Because they’re protected cells, the internal protection circuit makes the batteries longer in length. However, it’s generally recommended not to use protected batteries for vaping.
There’s a couple of really good reasons for this. Firstly, the longer length batteries generally won’t fit in most mods. Secondly, protected batteries have a lower CDR value and are not suited for vaping applications. Because in most cases vaping requires a higher discharge current, only unprotected batteries with a higher CDR value are suitable. Protected batteries have a higher drain (mAh) capacity and are more suited to flashlights.
Hope this helps Felix. Happy vaping!