Everything from cell phones and iPads to electric weed whackers and lawn mowers can run on rechargeable batteries. Is it any surprise then that rechargeable hearing aids are increasingly in popularity?
Traditional hearing aids use disposable zinc-air button batteries, which last anywhere from 5 to 15 days, depending on the size of the battery, hearing aid features, and hours of use. Rechargeable hearing aids have built-in batteries you recharge by placing on a docking or charging station when not in use. With rechargeable hearing aids you don’t have to worry about purchasing and replacing batteries on a regular basis.
Initially hindered by low battery life and power capabilities, rechargeable hearing aids now provide enough power for a full day’s use, even when using streaming audio or Bluetooth. If you value convenience and long-lasting batteries, rechargeable hearing aids may be right for you.
Like any type of hearing aid, rechargeable hearing aids have their strengths and weaknesses. The advantages of rechargeable hearing aids include: long battery life, they're safer for kids and pets, they're better for environment, they perform better in cold weather compared to disposables.
While these are all excellent reasons for considering rechargeable hearing aids, there are some potential disadvantages. None of these drawbacks are necessarily deal breakers, but they are important to consider when choosing the right types of hearing aid for you.
Whether or not your hearing aids have rechargeable or disposable batteries is an important consideration, but not as important as ensuring your hearing aids have the features you need to improve your hearing and quality of life. If all other considerations are equal, and you prefer the convenience of a charging port to the hassle of frequently changing button batteries, rechargeable hearing aids may be right for you.
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Fully charged, rechargeable batteries provide 24 to 30 hours of use, even when the user listens to streaming audio for half the day. On average, it takes three hours to fully charge rechargeable hearing aids, and you can get six hours of use out of a 30-minute charge.
Rechargeable hearing aid battery lifespan depends on the type of battery used. Lithium ion hearing aid batteries are the same type of battery used in cell phones and other portable electronics. They are sealed in the hearing aid case and have a lifespan of five years, after which they need to be replaced by a licensed hearing professional.
Silver-zinc rechargeable batteries are the same size as disposable zinc-oxygen button batteries. Unlike lithium-ion batteries they can be removed from the hearing aid, making replacement easier. Silver-zinc batteries provide as many hours of use as lithium-ion batteries and have a lifespan of approximately one year. Both types of rechargeable batteries are recyclable.
Rechargeable hearing aids are no more expensive than disposable battery hearing aids with similar features. You will, however, need to purchase a charging station, which can cost $200 to $300. Silver-zinc rechargeable batteries cost $25 to $50 to replace every year, which compares well with the $30 to $150 a year you’d spend on disposable batteries.
Lithium-ion batteries cost up to $200 to replace, but as they only need replacing every five years, they’re still cheaper than five years of disposable battery purchases.
The care and cleaning of rechargeable hearing aids is no different than for hearing aids with disposable batteries. Caring for the batteries, however, is a bit different. Whether your hearing aid uses lithium-ion or silver-zinc batteries, always place the hearing aids on the charger when not in use. Frequent charging will not reduce battery life.
If your hearing aid uses silver-zinc batteries, do not open the battery door when you’re not using the hearing aid except for in the following situation. If you are not going to use hearing aids for three or more hours and do not have access to the charging station, remove the batteries and store in a location where they do not touch each other or any other metal objects.
If you are not going to use lithium-ion rechargeable hearing aids for several hours and do not have access to the hearing aid charging port, turn the hearing aids off and store in a safe location.
No matter what type of batteries power your rechargeable hearing aids, keeping the hearing aids dry and away from extreme temperatures maximizes battery life.