From phones to cameras to music players, how we power our electronics has evolved. A robust, rechargeable hearing aid battery is finally realizing the hopes of hearing aid manufactures to replace the antiquated disposable power sources of the past.
Size 312 batteries are the most prevalent of the disposable batteries that have typically been used to power hearing aids. Today, the most prominent version of these batteries is generally known as a “zinc-air” battery.
The Downside to Disposable Hearing Aid Batteries
As the name would indicate, a zinc-air battery is impacted by the presence of air. Regarding the 312 batteries used in many hearing aids, the user is required to pull a small tab off the back of the battery before it’s turned on and functional.
They will start draining power as soon as they are fully oxygenated. So the power is draining even if the user isn’t currently using it.
The biggest disadvantage to disposable batteries, for the majority of users, is how short they last. With 312 batteries, the user could be changing 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 buy 120 batteries, spend the time twice a week to replace them, and correctly dispose of each. From a cost perspective alone, that likely equals over $100 in battery purchases.
Rechargeable battery Improvements
Fortunately, for hearing aid users looking for another alternative, there have been significant advancements to rechargeable hearing aids that now make them a feasible option.
The vast majority of people would wear rechargeable hearing aids if given a choice according to some studies. Until recently these models have historically struggled to supply a long enough charge to make them worthwhile. However, modern innovations now facilitate 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.
These new models give less aggravation on top of maintaining a 24 hour charge because the user doesn’t have the burden of continuously swapping out the batteries. Instead, they just need to pop out the battery and place them in a convenient tabletop charger.
When a disposable battery nears the end of its life it can’t run your hearing aid at full capacity. There’s also no exact way to know how close to being inoperable the battery really is. So the batteries could die at the exact moment that a user needs them the most which could even put them in peril. A dead battery will not only lead to a safety hazard, it could cause the user to miss out on key life moments.
Hearing Aids Come in Different Types
There are unique advantages to each of the different materials that rechargeable batteries are made of. The ability to maintain a charge for 24 hours is one reason why integrated lithium-ion batteries are one practical option that manufacturers provide. And cellphones are powered by this same kind of battery which may be surprising.
Another kind of modern rechargeable battery is a silver-zinc. This revolutionary technology was initially developed for NASA’s Apollo missions to the moon. You can even use this technology to update and retrofit the existing hearing aids you’re comfortable with by changing the device to rechargeable power. These batteries, similar to lithium-ion, will also last all day before needing to be recharged.
Some models even let you recharge the battery while it’s still in the hearing aid. During the night, or at some other time when the hearing aid isn’t being used, the whole hearing aid can be placed right into the charger
While each of these rechargeable strategies offers substantial benefits over disposable batteries, each approach should be properly vetted to get a complete picture and to discover if it’s right for you.
If you’re looking for more information about hearing aid technology or how to select the ideal hearing aid to meet your needs, we encourage you to take a look at our hearing aids section.