USB charger – Choosing the right one for your mod

USB charger – Choosing the right one for your mod

Some mods use external chargers; You remove the 18650 batteries or what have you, and put them in a separate USB charger. Those are not what we’re going to talk about here. This post is about mods and batteries that are charged via USB.

Hopefully it can provide some clarity, and maybe rid us of a few misconceptions about the technology involved.

There are basically two styles of USB powered mod chargers; the Ego/cigalike style chargers that come with smaller non-replacable batteries, and the integrated chargers found in box mods and certain tube mods. But before we go into all of that, let’s clear one thing up …

Your wall wart is not a charger

It’s just a dumb voltage regulator.

Pictured here is a USB power supply, aka USB wall adapter, aka USB wall wart, aka USB “charger”.

This is not a charger. People commonly refer to them as USB chargers, because they use them to charge things with. Yes, it sounds logical, but it is an unfortunate misnomer.

People will read about battery chargers, and believe that it applies to their USB wall warts. It rarely does.

The actual battery charger, which we will soon have a closer look at, is tailor-made for a specific type of battery. It monitors the battery as it charges, and limits the charge current in order to protect the battery. A good charger will shut down when the battery is full.

The USB power supply, on the other hand, has one job, and one job only: To put out a direct current at 5 Volts. It will try to do this from the moment you plug it in, to the moment you unplug it. It does not know, or care, about your battery. That is simply not its job.

Like all devices, the USB power supply has its limits. Some can only output a maximum of 0.5 A (500 mA), just like the typical USB 2.0 port in your computer. Some can output 1 A (1000 mA), which is closer to your typical USB 3.0 computer port. Others yet can provide 2 A, or even more.

It is important to note that a USB power supply rated at 2 A does not always output 2 A. It can if it must, but that is for the load (the charger) to decide.

So how about that USB charger?

They come in two flavors.

Ego/cigalike style charger

These screw into the battery. Different batteries come with different chargers. Because the charger is specially made for the specific type of battery, it is very important to always use the correct charger for the battery. If you ignore this, the battery may catch fire or explode, and you may lose your house, your car, or worse.

A word of warning: If you buy the cheapest starter kit that you can find on some online auction site, you risk getting a criminally unsafe charger with it. (Ask me how I know.) Some of these products are house fires waiting to happen.

As long as you get your batteries and chargers from reputable vendors, and make sure to always use the correct charger for the battery, you should be OK, though.

Integrated charger

What do you mean you don’t see a charger in this picture? Oh, you’re right. The charger is hidden inside the mod, right behind that micro USB plug.

The good news here is that the charger is the correct charger for the battery. The manufacturer certainly made sure of that. Well, almost certainly. Crap products are always being made. Staying away from them is up to you.

The bad news …? There is no bad news. The charger doesn’t take up much space, it typically weighs less than a gram, and most importantly, you don’t have to think about it. This is about as safe and convenient as it gets.

This type of charger is common in box mods, but you can also find them in some tube mods.

What does this all mean for me?
Can I use my XYZ wall wart to charge my mod?

Probably yes. Remember, the USB power supply only provides 5 VDC to the actual battery charger. As long as it does this right, and the actual charger does its job right, everything is dandy. BUT here are a few things to check:

This symbol means Direct Current (DC). Your power supply should say Output: 5 V with this symbol next to it, or 5 VDC.
  • Is your USB power supply of decent quality? Is it made by a reputable manufacturer?
  • Does it actually output 5 VDC (like any well behaved USB power supply should)? Have a look at it. Does it say “Output: 5 V DC”? Then you should be good to go. If it says “Output: 12V AC” or something else, it doesn’t adhere to the USB standard, and you should not use it for anything other than its originally intended usage.
  • Some USB power supplies made for pads and other high power devices are able to switch from 5 VDC to higher voltages, e.g. 12 VDC, depending on what is plugged into it. If you have one of these, how much do you trust its auto-sensing capability?
  • If the battery charger for your mod is capable of charging at 1000 mA, you probably want to use a USB power supply that can provide at least 1000 mA. If you use a significantly smaller power supply, it will become a bottleneck and slow down the charging. It is better to use a slightly overpowered power supply, than an underpowered one. More on why below.
Stop sign

But someone said “You cannot use this or that USB adapter”

Some people advocate using an underpowered USB power supply (e.g. no more than 500 mA), because in the event of a charger failure, there is a chance that an underpowered power supply may limit the damage it causes.

However, running an underpowered wall wart at full tilt for hours on end comes with its own problems, like introducing ripple to the charger or simply running hot. Both of which increase the risk of failure in the first place.

Normally, the best practice is to run your equipment within its specifications. That means that you should use a USB adapter that is rated for at least as much current as your charger will draw.

Further reading


Yeah, well, you know, this is just, like, my opinion, man.

Do with this information as you will, and take the responsibility for your own safety. If running your equipment within spec actually causes it to fail, blame cruel fate, not me. If you feel that it’s safer to ignore everything I’ve said, knock yourself out.

37 responses to “USB charger – Choosing the right one for your mod”

  1. I just want to mention that the photo of the microusb port on the silver box mod, is a photo of the IPV3Li, which is not a charging port at all. It is only an update port. Not a big deal by any means I just figured you could get a more accurate photo. This is the internet ya know, some random could get really uppity about this. Thank you for the information though.

  2. Very well said. I wanted to know if I could plug a USB type charger that states input as 5V 350mA and output 4.2V 300mAH to a 5V iphone wall wart to charge a small one cell Lipo battery of 150mAh. I think I can after reading this article. Thanks.

  3. Please help my mod won’t charge I plug it in to the port and it says it’s charging but I let it sit there for hours charging and it won’t go up at all what am I doing wrong?

  4. So, tell me if i’m right, I can use with no issues my 5V DC 1A iPhone wall-wart for my DNA75 box mod, because DNA75 chip has a 1A internal charger.

  5. since i started vaping everyone around me said its dangerous to use a phone charger to charge your mod, i usually use one of those external battery chargers

    • External 18650 chargers also come in different qualities. I recently picked a cheap one to bits, that I didn’t bother to put together again, because after looking at the circuit I wouldn’t trust it as far as I can throw it.

      That being said, half of the time I charge my batteries with an external 18650 charger myself. The other half of the time, I charge them in the mod, via a USB cable connected to either a computer or a phone “charger” (wall wart). As long as you take basic precautions and use common sense – and decent equipment – you should be fine either way.

  6. Can i use my samsung cable with the fast charger adpater to charge a 18650 battery for rx75 mod?? Awnser pls

    • Depends on what charger you’re using. If you’re charging the battery internally in your Reuleaux RX75, my guess is that it should work fine.

  7. Thanks for sharing this article.

    I have a tarot nano with 2500 mAh built in battery which can be charged via usb port on it.
    But i don’t know if the input is 0.5 or 1A to charge my mod.
    Can u help me and tell me what charger i should use? A charger with 1A or other?

  8. Great article, which I think I understand. So. . . my mod instructions state that ‘the maximum charging current can reach up to 1amp’ my wall wart with 2 USB ports states ‘output 5v – 3amp total’
    This is fine because the internal charging circuit of the mod will only take up to a maximum of 1amp. So I can relax and vape in the knowledge that I’m not going to kill my beloved mod.
    Is that about right?

  9. Hey, my Samsung charger says “Output: 5.0v ===1.55A” could I still charge my smok alien?

  10. Hello,I’m using Puma by Vapor Storm and it stated on the user manual “Fast balance charging: DC 5V/1.5A”. I usually charge my 18650 batteries on Nitecore D2 external charger and I happen to have 3 types of USB Power Adapter at my house:

    1) Samsung USB Power Adapter Stated: 5.0V === 1.55A

    2) OnePlus USB Power Adapter Stated: 5V === 4A

    3) Remax 3 Slot USB Power Adapter Stated 5V === 2.1A / 5V===1A x 2

    I really want to charge my batteries directly from the Mod Micro USB Slot itself but I am really worried about the cases where the Mod exploded. Yet the direct charging from the Micro USB Slot on the Mod is the most convenient way. Which of the USB Power Adapter that I have is the most suitable to charge my Mod directly from its Micro USB Slot? Please help me clarify this matter. Please. Thank you in advance.

    • I did some searching on the net, and according to the ads your mod has overcharge and overdischarge protection, which is good. The mod also seems to show the charge of each battery independently, and apparently it has balance charging, which is very good. From what I could find, the charge current is 1.5A. If this refers to the USB current, I would perhaps consider a 2.1A output to be the best match for it. But I think any of your USB power adapters would be a decent match, as long as the power adapter is of good quality.

  11. Thanks alot Dampmaskin, that clears my doubt. Now I can charge directly from the Mod without being worried much. Btw sorry about the two same comments that I’ve posted, I thought that the first one doesn’t go through since I cleared my browser after sending the comment. Thanks again man, really appreciate it..

  12. Hello the article was delightful to read.
    But I still want to make sure of my safety
    Im using smok mag kit and I lost rhe cable that came with it , and im very scared to charge it with my samsung charger
    Its a 2.1 a – 5v output and I have 2 18650 batteries
    I want to charge my batteries internally from my mod
    Sorry for my bad english tho.

    • I assume that you meant that your charger gives an output of 0.5A, not 0.5V. In that case, using a 1A charger should not be a problem.

  13. My original charger gives an output of 1 volts. But I want to use a fast charger whose output volt is 2A. Would it cause any problem? The battery in my phone is of 10000 mAh.

    • Did you get volts and amps mixed up? Anyway, phones usually come with detailed user guides, try to find the guide for yours. If in doubt ask the manufacturer or reseller.

  14. Hello. I recently bought a Smok Novo and im wondering what kind of charger i should use. I cant seem to find the answer anywhere and you seem like my best bet. Probably a dumb question but an answer will be much appreciated!

    • I don’t know the Novo but after some googling it seems to me it’s charged via a standard USB lead, so in general I reckon you can use any good quality normal USB power adapter.

  15. I recently bought a smok stick v8 and i am charging it with 5v 2A. I would like to know if it is OK

    • I tried searching for a user manual, but came up empty handed. I’m gonna assume it’s OK since Smok hasn’t said otherwise, but if you want a definitive answer you should probably ask Smok. Informing customers about their product should be their own responsibility.

  16. I have 2 a Smok Novo’s. Need some specific advice please. I have many chargers, Samsung, Motorola, ONN, LG. They range from 550mA up to 1000mA, which one is Best to use? The only info I have in the mod’s specifications read, *Battery capacity 400-450mAh*, *Stanby current <200uA*, Input voltage 3.3V-4.2V*, and *Output wattage 10W-16W*. Thanks, Christine

    • Unfortunately, as is so often the case with mods, the specs are lacking and frankly don’t always make sense. The “Input voltage range 3.3-4.2 V” is one example of that. To me those numbers sound like the battery voltage, not the input voltage. Anyhow … A 450 mAh battery is pretty small, so I would reckon a 550 mA charger would do fine.

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