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Rechargeable Hearing Aids

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What are the Pros & Cons of Rechargeable Hearing Aids?

Phonak Lithium Ion Charger

Rechargeable hearing aids have surged in popularity recently, particularly with the introduction of the latest wave of longer last rechargeable hearing aids from all leading manufacturers.


Rechargeable hearing aids have been around for a long time, however, they were not overly popular because of power output. As new features were added, such as streaming, usage got even worse.

There are 3 types of rechargeable batteries for hearing aids that are available on the market today:

Rechargeable Hearing Aids

The New Generation of Rechargeable Hearing Aids

A new generation of rechargeable battery technologies has arrived and it promises to make life easier. Two new rechargeable hearing aid technologies arrived on the market in 2016, Lithium-Ion and Silver-Zinc. Both of these technologies offer excellent usage and convenience with one-charge-per-day-standard, but each have different benefits and limitations.

Lithium-ion Hearing Aids Silver-Zinc Hearing Aids

Lithium-Ion Rechargeable Hearing Aids

The lightest of all rechargeable batteries, Lithium-ion is used in countless rechargeable portable devices such as mobile phones, cameras, laptops, power tools and even cars. Lithium-ion batteries offer the fastest charging time and the longest lasting battery on the market today.

Lithium-ion hearing aids have sealed, integrated power pack systems. Sealing the battery in the body of the hearing aid means it is protected from mishandling and from dust and moisture, which is great for safety and reliability. However, a sealed battery means that it can not be replaced by the user or Audiologist - the hearing aid needs to be sent back to the manufacturer for replacement. The good news, however, is that we offer a minimum 3-year warranty on all hearing aids (5-year for Oticon and 4-year for Phonak), which covers the lithium-ion battery.

Lithium-ion has a typical life expectancy of between four and six year, which means the battery pack will have to be replaced when performance declines - like all devices which run on lithium-ion batteries, such as your iPhone, the battery will continue to provide power but the capacity degrades over time.

Phonak hearing aids
Siemens Signia hearing aids
ReSound hearing aids
Oticon hearing aids


Pros of Lithium-Ion Rechargeable Hearing Aids Cons of Lithium-Ion Rechargeable Hearing Aids
  • No more fiddly battery changes - no longer have to worry about the expense and inconvenience of purchasing, carrying and changing disposable hearing aid batteries; particularly practical for those with dexterity difficulties.
  • 24 Hours - 24+ hours of continuous use, inclusive of hours of direct streaming (talking on your mobile, listening to TV, music, etc...), with one overnight charge.
  • Easy Charging - simply drop your hearing aids in your charger, and in the morning take them out and they're ready for the day - no hassle.
  • High IP Rating - because the lithium-ion battery is completely sealed, the hearing aids are more resistant to dust and moisture, reducing maintenance issues, improving performance and increasing the life of the hearing aid .
  • Sealed Case - if your hearing aid runs out of power while still in use, the hearing aid cannot run on a normal disposable battery. When a lithium-ion battery reaches the end of its life (in 4-5 years), it cannot be replaced by the user - it will need to be swapped out by the manufacturer.
  • Power Limitations - if you stream a lot of audio, e.g. from your mobile phone, there’s a possibility rechargeable batteries may not last the full 24-hour day.
  • Size - A lithium-ion battery is bigger than traditional zinc-air hearing aid batteries, which means slightly wider hearing aids - although this is not readily noticeable when wearing your hearing aid behind your ear.
  • Safety - lithium-ion is a poison, and hearing aids are small enough to swallow, presenting a potential hazard to children and pets. In addition, lithium-ion has the potential to catch fire if severely damaged.

Silver-Zinc Rechargeable Hearing Aids

Unitron Silver Zinc Charger

Like the Lithium-Ion systems, Silver-Zinc batteries provide power for a day of use. However, Silver-Zinc rechargeable systems are not integrated and not sealed into the hearing aid, which means if you forget to recharge your hearing aid, you can simply slip in a disposable battery. In addition, Silver-Zinc is more stable than Lithium-Ion - it won't explode when damaged.

Some manufacturers, such as Unitron and Oticon, have made their Silver-Zinc rechargeable hearing aid system backward compatible. If you currently own a Moxi Fit or Oticon Opn miniRITE, you can buy the kit and make your hearing aids rechargeable.

Unitron hearing aids
Widex hearing aids
Starkey hearing aids
Oticon hearing aids


Pros of Silver-Zinc Rechargeable Hearing Aids Cons of Silver-Zinc Rechargeable Hearing Aids
  • Flexibility - As Silver-Zinc batteries are removable, the rechargeable batteries can be easily replaced by standard disposable hearing aid batteries in the event of an emergency. The hearing aids can run on the disposables until they can be recharged at night. In addition, you can replace Silver-Zinc batteries yourself, without the need to send your hearing aids to the hearing provider or manufacturer.
  • No more fiddly battery changes - no longer have to worry about the expense and inconvenience of purchasing, carrying and changing disposable hearing aid batteries; particularly practical for those with dexterity difficulties.
  • 24 Hours - up to 24 hours of continuous use, inclusive of up to 5 hours streaming, with one overnight charge.
  • Easy Charging - simply drop your hearing aids in your charger, and in the morning take them out and they're ready for the day - no hassle.
  • Safety - Silver-Zinc is non-flammable, non-toxic and 100% recyclable.
  • Smaller Size - higher energy density means a Silver-Zinc battery is smaller than a comparable Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery, which means slightly smaller and more discreet hearing aids.
  • Backward Compatible - Silver-Zinc technology is backward compatible, which means you may be able to upgrade existing hearing aids to rechargeable hearing aids.
  • Once a Year Replacement - Silver-Zinc batteries need to be replaced once a year, which represents ongoing cost and inconvenience, however, given the relatively low price, the cost over four or five years probably matches a comparable repair cost associated with changing a Lithium-Ion power pack.
  • Risk of Loss - there is a chance of losing or misplacing the small Silver-Zinc battery as the batteries are not sealed in the hearing aid, and need replacement annually, and in cases when they are swapped our for traditional zinc-air batteries.
  • Power Limitations - if you stream a lot of audio, e.g. music from your mobile phone, there is a possibility the batteries may not last the full 24-hour day.

Contact us on 1800 00 4327 to find our more


Second Generation ZPower

In 2019, ZPower released a more robust and reliable Second Generation Rechargeable system for silver-zinc rechargeable hearing aids.

According to Widex, the ZPower Second Generation Rechargeable System has the highest energy capacity compared to all other rechargeable 312 batteries. It outperforms other rechargeable options by more than 20%, and the battery can be charged hundreds of times without losing significant capacity. The ZPower Second Generation Rechargeable System now has a more robust design to reliably have enough power for a full day’s use.

The ZPower Second Generation Rechargeable System now offers an additional coating, giving vital metal parts higher protection from corrosion. So wearers can go out in any climate and feel confident that their hearing devices will work.


What factors impact performance of rechargeable hearing aid batteries

There are four primary factors which can influence battery performance:

  • Hearing aid features
  • Wireless sound streaming
  • Amplification
  • Battery drain

Hearing Aid Features

Modern hearing aids offer a range of advanced features, which provide clearer and more comfortable sound. Technologies like noise suppression and feedback cancellation continuously monitor and process sound via an onboard computer. These active processes increase power consumption leading to higher battery drain. These features not only differ among the hearing aids but also by the hearing aid user. For example, a person with a more pronounced hearing loss may require more feedback cancellation than someone with less hearing loss and may have more demands on the battery and shorter battery life.

Wireless Sound Streaming

A substantial amount of energy is used every time you stream audio from your smartphone, TV, iPad, or other wireless accessories. Wireless streaming also happens when your left and right hearing aids talk to each other to exchange audio or data. Many hearing aid pairs maintain a constant wireless connection to provide more comfort and benefit in noisy environments. The more you stream, the more the battery will be drained.

Amplification

Battery performance can also be impacted by the amount of amplification provided by the hearing aids. When you turn up the volume of your hearing aids, the hearing aids will drain the battery at a slightly faster rate. For those with more severe hearing loss, more amplification is required to provide adequate volume. Unfortunately, this also means more power consumption. Also, if one ear has more hearing loss than the other ear, the battery life on the more impaired ear could be shorter.

Battery Drain

Battery drain refers to how fast the hearing aid drains power from the battery. Hearing aid manufacturers typically publish current drain figures for every new hearing aid they produce. When current drain is measured by the manufacturer, hearing aids are put into a "test mode" which disables advanced features and wireless connectivity. As a result, manufacturer specifications of current drain typically underestimate true battery drain in the real world.


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