Posted April 27, 2012 by Jack Keenan in News

Lavatube Clones: Beware

Browsing e-cigarette websites recently, I have seen a disturbing trend; there seems to be a growing number of vendors selling clones of Volcano’s Lavatube e-cigarette. I am concerned by this development as it likely indicates that some electronic cigarette users are purchasing these copies believing that they are getting the same product, when in fact the “Lavatube” they receive may have completely different parts and safety features. In addition, these Lavatube clones may not have the warranty support that you would expect from a premium e-cigarette.

Lavatube Clones: Safety

The genuine Volcano Lavatube e-cigarette includes an AW brand lithium ion battery with manganese chemistry, capable of operating under temperatures up to nearly 500 degrees Fahrenheit without risk of thermal instability. As an added layer of protection, the Lavatube has an over-current limiting circuit that automatically lowers the unit’s output if the current exceeds safe levels.

If you purchase a Lavatube clone, you may receive a no-name lithium ion battery, or potentially even an AW battery knockoff. These batteries may work in the Lavatube and even charge in the same charging unit. However, they may use a different lithium ion chemistry such as the cobalt chemistry, which is only stable up to about 260 degrees Fahrenheit. Above this level, the battery can enter “thermal runaway,” causing rapid expulsion of hot gas, fire and potential explosion. In the event of an explosion, the Lavatube clone would effectively become a pipe bomb.

Are you considering buying a “Lavatube” from a manufacturer that claims to use AW batteries? Don’t be so certain; counterfeit AW batteries are extremely common, and it is virtually impossible to tell the difference between a genuine AW battery and a knockoff. The picture below shows a counterfeit AW 1600 mAh flat-top battery and a genuine AW 1100 mAh nipple-top battery photographed from different angles. Look at the sticker, the text and the way the casing wraps around the top and bottom of the cell. Can you┬átell the difference?

Lavatube Clone -- Counterfeit AW Battery

Counterfeit 1600 mAh AW battery and genuine 1100 mAh AW battery

In addition to the potential of explosion when discharging a counterfeit battery, Lavatube clones also present a possible problem if they include generic battery chargers. The genuine Lavatube includes a TrustFire charger, which is guaranteed to charge the Lavatube battery to a safe voltage, at a safe rate, and then stop charging. Generic chargers may not charge these batteries safely, creating a possible risk of fire and explosion.

Lavatube Clones: Warranty

Volcano’s warranty for the genuine Lavatube e-cigarette protects the device against failures and manufacturing defects for one year. Vendors selling Lavatube clones may not offer the same warranty, and if they do, may be out of business before they have the chance to back it up. Volcano is a Better Business Bureau-accredited company with a good reputation and solid standing within the business community. If something goes wrong with the genuine Lavatube e-cigarette, you can be certain that Volcano will make things right. If you buy a Lavatube clone, I wish you the best of luck. If you’d like to know more, take a look at my Lavatube 2 review.