How easy is it to fake a Samsung 18650 battery? February 27 2015, 3 Comments

A Samsung 22P wrapper sold online from China to anyone

This is pretty bad. These are very official looking Samsung PVC tubes being sold online. With these wrappers, you can make nearly any 18650 cell look like a genuine Samsung battery. They are being sold by a very popular online supplier for only $0.88 for 10. That's about 9 cents per battery.

Where did they come from?

You guessed it - probably China, maybe Malaysia.

Option 1. A factory contracted to make these tubes for Samsung created too many, and rather than throw away the excess, they sold them to an "after-hours" dealer.

Option 2. An established counterfeiter printed too many and decided to sell them on rather than throw them away.

I think either option is similarly as likely without more evidence.

Here's another look at the skin.

As you might have noticed, the text 'ICR18650' seems a little faded towards the bottom. If they are all misprints, and Samsung's quality control denied them, it lends support to the theory in option 1 stated above.

Why this is a bad thing

It makes it very easy for anyone to start counterfeiting this 18650 battery model. If someone wanted to start doing so, all they would need are some cheap low-grade cells (which are plentiful on Ebay) and a hairdryer.

 

With the Remington hair dryer, these Samsung PVC wraps, and some cheap cells you are ready to go.

This .gif shows three stages of the wrapping process. Cutting, placing, and wrapping.

What do the large 18650 counterfeiters use?

Lots More PVC. Also note the 4200mAh rating on this Ultrafire which is an energy density physically impossible with our current understanding of battery science.

More variety.

Big machines to cut the PVC. These cost about $500.

And also big machines to heat-shrink the PVC. (No more hair-dryer at this point.) These are also about $500 each. So it is relatively inexpensive and easy for a criminal group to start counterfeiting 18650s.

Are counterfeit Samsung 18650 batteries dangerous?

Yes. Every battery has a safe continuous discharge rating that really should not be exceeded. When counterfeiters misrepresent their battery specs, everyone loses.

Pulse rating

Vapers can get away with pushing their batteries past their limit in what is known as "pulses". The truth about pulse discharge ratings is that they are almost always meaningless. A proper discharge rating is always a coupling of two variables - amperage and time. For example, the correct way to state pulse is as follows - the Samsung 25R has been rated at a pulse discharge of 65 amps for 1 second.

Counterfeiters and bad re-wrappers will often just state one of these numbers on their battery. That should be the first red flag, as no serious manufacturer would make this mistake.

So be careful, and always think twice before buying 18650s from an unknown supplier

If a battery exaggerates or falsely states its specifications, it creates a serious opportunity for a dangerous situation. If lithium ion batteries are pushed too far, they can and will vent or explode.

Are there fake Samsung 18650s on the market?

Yes. As the popularity of Samsung batteries rise, so will the number of counterfeiters. I have now heard 3 or 4 stories of fake 25R batteries that were bought both in shops and from Ebay. If you have come across any fakes, please leave us a comment letting us know where and how you found out.