Vapcell 14500 Flat Top Cell Review

Preface

I have an awesome number of Vapcell’s in for review, and this is the first of the bunch.  These are unprotected flat top 14500 cells, and here I’m testing two of them (as always).  14500 cells are the same size as AA cells, but don’t always work in those lights, due to the higher Li-Ion voltage.  

As always, click for bigger images!!!


Official Specs

Price

I received these directly from Vapcell.  I don’t think Vapcell sells direct, but the best price I’ve seen is around $3.50 per cell.  Not a bad deal, really.

Short Review

These cells test well.  They perform consistently, and perform higher than their rated 3A discharge.  

Long Review

Package

Two cells ship in a Vapcell branded box.  

Inside that bigger box, are two smaller boxes, each containing a cell in a plastic zip top baggie.

Separately I received a plastic case (with a different set of cells), but it’s also feasible that these would ship in this 4-up plastic box.  

Build Quality

No complaints on these cells!  The wrapper is a nice gold color – very distinguished.  It’s put on perfectly, and also includes the requisite information about the cell.  

Size

I measure these at 14mm x 49mm.  That’s just what they should be as “14500” cells – remember the first two digits are the diameter in mm: “14.”  The next two digits are the length in mm: “50.”  And the final digit indicates it’s a cylindrical cell.  

Testing

I’ve tried to keep the scales similar, so over time the charts will be generally comparable.  For these 14500 cells, which broadly have a lower capacity than what I generally test, these charts have a scale that’s possibly a little … off.  Still, all the info is there and visible!  Look at the legend if you have any specific questions. 

Discharge tests

These cells aren’t rated above 3A for continuous discharge.  I tested one at 4A just to see what would give, and the cell seemed to handle it just fine.  It also means there’s no overcurrent protection above 3A, which is certainly something to be aware of.  You might think there’s no need for >3A output on a cell like this, but I have a little hotrod single cell triple that pulls around 8A on startup, and settles around 6A.  So the need is there.  (Also this cell runs that light just fine!)

Capacity

Energy

Bounce

“Bounce back” is what the cell voltage does when the cell rests after a discharge. Interestingly, after heavy discharge rates, the cell bounces back higher.  This corresponds to a discharge amount of less energy, and does mean that there’s energy left in the cell.  So if I selected the cell with the highest bounce back (ie the cell that was discharged at the highest current), then discharged it to 2.8V at 0.2A, I’d still find that there was a lot of energy still in the cell. And I have finally figured out what I think it so interesting about “bounce.”  A poorly performing cell will bounce back higher on high discharges.  That’s because the IR is higher, and because the cell performs much worse under high loads.  So a good performing cell (like this one) will bounce back much less because it’s much more capable of high discharge.  And we can see that here.  This cell is capable well past the tested 20A, and so at 20A much more of the energy is used from the cell.  Hence less bounce.  I don’t really have anyone else telling me that, so I could be grossly wrong.  Or maybe I just proposed a new metric for cell quality.  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Charge test

Power, Constant

Internal Resistance

Most often (read: always), internal resistance is mentioned as a spot value.  In truth, the IR changes over time.  Due to cell age and cell heat among other things.  A graph of IR is interesting because it can show, for example, when a cell begins to “die” – at which point the remaining energy will be “harder” to extract.  This is when the IR spikes.  In the graph below, that’s around 750-800mAh.  These graphs are also useful for determining if a cell would be good for a hot-rod flashlight, for example.  

Conclusion

These are nice little cells, and good performers.  


Up Next

I have flashlights, cells, chargers, and stuff to review!  I have the button top version of this 14500 Vapcell to review too – could be done by Thursday.  Just a bunch of items to review!  Stay tuned!  

Notes

  • These cells were provided by Vapcell for review. I was not paid to write this review.
  • This content originally appeared at zeroair.org.  Please visit there for the best experience!
  • Whether or not I have a coupon for these cells, I do have a bunch of coupons!!  Have a look at my spreadsheet for those coupons. It’s possible to subscribe and get notifications when the sheet is edited!!

Author: zeroair

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