From cameras to phones to music players, how we power our electronics has evolved. For decades, those looking to address hearing loss have wished for a similar advancement, and the industry is finally realizing the promise of a robust rechargeable hearing aid battery.
Size 312 batteries are the most prevalent of the disposable batteries that have traditionally been used to power hearing aids. Today, the most popular version of these batteries is known as a “zinc-air” battery.
Disposable Hearing Aids Have a Disadvantage
The presence of air impacts a zinc-air battery, as the name indicates. The user needs to pull a small tab off the back of a 312 zinc-air battery to activate it.
They will begin draining power as soon as they are completely oxygenated. So the power is draining even if the user isn’t actively using it.
The biggest downside to disposable batteries, for most users, is how long they last. Some reports have cited the average life expectancy of a size 312 disposable battery to be between 3 and 12 days, which means users may need to replace their batteries around 120 times per year.
Because of this, besides needing to purchase 120 batteries, the user will have to change and correctly dispose of batteries at least two times every week. From a cost point of view alone, that likely equates to over $100 in battery costs.
Rechargeable battery Improvements
Fortunately, for hearing aid wearers in search of another alternative, there have been significant improvements to rechargeable hearing aids that now make them a practical solution.
The vast number of individuals would use rechargeable hearing aids if given a choice according to various studies. Until recently these models have historically struggled to provide a long enough charge to make them worthwhile. However, recent advancements now enable a full day of use per charge.
Rechargeable batteries won’t save users substantial amounts of money, but they will improve their 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 changing out the batteries. They just need to place the battery on the charger.
When a disposable battery gets near the end of its life it can’t run your hearing aid at full power. And you can’t determine how close the battery is to failing. So the batteries might die at the exact moment that a user needs them the most which might even put them in danger. Not only is this a safety concern, but users may miss out on important life moments due to a faulty battery.
Types of Rechargeable Hearing Aid Batteries
There are distinct benefits to each of the different materials that rechargeable batteries are constructed from. The ability to hold a charge for 24 hours is one reason why integrated lithium-ion batteries are one viable option that manufacturers supply. You may be surprised to know that this same type of technology is what charges and powers your cellphone.
Silver-zinc technology is another material used for today’s rechargeable hearing aids. Originally, these revolutionary batteries were developed for Nasa’s moon missions. With this technology, even your current hearing aids can probably be upgraded to run on rechargeable power. Just like lithium-ion, silver-zinc can also produce enough power to last you for a full day.
Some models even let you recharge the battery while it’s still in the hearing aid. For these, users will place the entire hearing aid into a charging station when they sleep or during another time when the device is not in use.
While all of these rechargeable strategies provides significant benefits over disposable batteries, each approach should be carefully 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 ideal hearing aid to meet your needs, we encourage you to take a look at our hearing aids section.