From phones to cameras to music players, how we power our electronics has progressed. For decades, those looking to address hearing loss have hoped for a similar advancement, and the industry is finally realizing the promise of a powerful rechargeable hearing aid battery.
Disposable hearing aid batteries have historically been the power source of choice among manufacturers, with size 312 batteries serving as one of the more common battery types. The most prominent form of this battery, now, is “zinc-ion”.
Disposable Hearing Aids Have a Downside
The presence of air impacts a zinc-air battery, as the name suggests. When it comes to the 312 batteries used in many hearing aids, the user is required to pull a little tab off the back of the battery before it’s activated and functional.
The moment it is fully oxygenated, it begins to lose power. That means power is start to deplete even if the user isn’t ready.
Most users regard the length of life to be the biggest disadvantage of disposable batteries. With 312 batteries, the user might be replacing the batteries in their hearing aids about 120 times each year because they drain in 3 to 12 days according to some reports.
That also means users may need to purchase 120 batteries, spend the time twice a week to change them, and properly dispose of each. From a cost point of view alone, that likely equals more than $100 in battery costs.
Advancements in Rechargeable Batteries
Fortunately, for hearing aid wearers looking for another approach, there have been profound advancements to rechargeable hearing aids that now make them a viable solution.
The vast number of individuals would wear rechargeable hearing aids if given an option according to some research. Previously, these models were impractical because they didn’t maintain a charge long enough. However, recent innovations now enable a full day of use per charge.
Users won’t see substantial cost benefits by changing to rechargeable batteries, but where they will see a demonstrated improvement is in quality of life.
On top of supplying 24 hours of use time, these contemporary models result in less aggravation for the user, since there’s no more changing and properly disposing of batteries. Instead, they just need to pop out the battery and put them in a convenient tabletop charging unit.
A disposable battery approaching the end of its life simply can’t function at full power. There’s also no real way to identify how close to being inoperable the battery really is. So the batteries could die at the precise moment that a user needs them the most which could even put them in peril. Not only is this a safety concern, but users may miss out on significant life moments due to a faulty battery.
Types of Rechargeable Hearing Aid Batteries
There are unique benefits to each of the different materials that rechargeable batteries are constructed from. Integrated lithium-ion batteries are one option being used by manufacturers because of their ability to hold a 24-hour charge. You may be surprised to learn that this same type of technology is what charges and powers your cellphone.
Silver-zinc technology is another material used for modern rechargeable hearing aids. This innovative approach was originally manufactured for NASA’s Apollo missions to the moon. With this technology, even your current hearing aids can probably be updated to run on rechargeable batteries. These batteries, like lithium-ion, will also last all day before needing to be recharged.
There are also models that allow you to recharge the hearing aid without taking out the battery. For these, users will slip the entire hearing aid on a charging station when they sleep or during another time when the device is not in use.
While all of these rechargeable solutions offers considerable advantages over disposable batteries, each option should be properly vetted to get a complete picture and to see if it’s best for you.
If you’re searching for more information about hearing aid technology or how to select the best hearing aid to satisfy your needs, we encourage you to take a look at our hearing aids section.