The popularity of 18650 polymer lithium Ion battery cell’s is on the rise. One could argue that they are becoming down right ubiquitous. The 18650 cell is used in many laptop computer batteries, the Tesla Roadster, Tesla Model S, LED flashlights, and many Vape E-Cigarettes. They also work great for electronics projects. I have even used them to run my Christmas lights out doors. One cell will run a strand of LED lights (100 LED’s) for about five or six hours after a good sunny day. A pair of them in series will run an Arduino quite well at 7.4 volts and 2000 mAh. You could add an lm7805 and a USB Type-A Connector then use it to power a raspberry pi or beaglebone if you wanted to. A single cell or a pair running in parallel with a 3.3 volt regulator will run a Arduino pro mini for a ridiculous amount of time.
It is worth noting that not all 18650 batteries are created equally. While they are all 3.7V batteries they come in various mAh capacities. They also come with or with out battery overcharge and discharge protection. The batteries I am currently using are 2,000 mAh and do come with overcharge and discharge protection.
A bit about lipo safety – overcharging, over-discharging, over-temperature, and or shorting a cell can cause a catastrophic failure, including the cell rupturing, the electrolyte leaking, and or fire or explosion. Know what you are working with and what you are doing before you start. Do your research and be safe. If you are just starting out get a lipo charger and get batteries that have overcharge and discharge protection.
It even handles larger loads with ease… These particular batteries can sustain a maximum current draw of 2.5 amps.
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