From cameras to phones to music players, how we power our electronics has evolved. For years, people looking to address hearing loss have wished for a similar advancement, and the industry is finally realizing the promise of a powerful rechargeable hearing aid battery.
Size 312 batteries are the most prevalent of the disposable batteries that have typically been used to power hearing aids. The most prominent form of this battery, now, is “zinc-ion”.
Disposable Hearing Aids Have a Downside
As the name would suggest, a zinc-air battery is affected by the presence of air. The user has to tear a little tab off the back of a 312 zinc-air battery in order to activate it.
As soon as it is fully oxygenated, it begins to lose power. So the power is depleting even if the user isn’t actively using it.
Most users consider the length of life to be the biggest drawback of disposable batteries. With 312 batteries, the user could be replacing the batteries in their hearing aids about 120 times every 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 every week to change them, and correctly dispose of each. From a cost point of view alone, that likely equals over $100 in battery purchases.
Advancements in Rechargeable Batteries
Rechargeable hearing aid technology has advanced to the point where it’s now a practical solution and that’s great news for individuals who wear hearing aids.
The vast majority of individuals would wear rechargeable hearing aids if given an option according to various research. Previously, these models were not practical because they didn’t maintain a charge long enough. However, recent innovations now facilitate a full day of use per charge.
Users won’t see significant cost savings by changing to rechargeable batteries, but where they will see a demonstrated improvement is in quality of life.
These modern models give less aggravation on top of maintaining a 24 hour charge because the user doesn’t have the burden of constantly changing out the batteries. They simply need to place the battery on the charger.
When a disposable battery gets near the end of its life it doesn’t run your hearing aid at full capacity. There’s also no real way to identify how close to being inoperable the battery actually is. So the batteries could die at the exact moment that a user needs them the most which might even put them in danger. A faulty battery will not only cause a safety hazard, it could cause the user to miss key life moments.
Types of Rechargeable Hearing Aid Batteries
There are unique benefits to each of the different materials that rechargeable batteries are made of. Integrated lithium-ion batteries are one option being used by manufacturers because they can hold a charge for 24 hours. And cellphones are powered by this same type of battery which might be surprising.
Silver-zinc technology is another material used for today’s rechargeable hearing aids. This revolutionary approach was originally manufactured for NASA’s Apollo missions to the moon. You can even use this technology to modify and retrofit the existing hearing aids you’re comfortable with by changing the device to rechargeable power. These batteries, like lithium-ion, will also last all day before requiring a recharge.
Some models even let you recharge the battery without removing it. During the night, or at some other time when the hearing aid isn’t being used, the entire hearing aid can be put directly into the charger
While all of these rechargeable strategies provides considerable benefits over disposable batteries, each approach should be carefully vetted to get a complete picture and to identify if it’s best for you.
Take a look at our hearing aid section if you’re searching for more information about what battery would be the right choice for you or any other info about hearing aids.