Rechargeable hearing aids are a sought-after feature in OTC hearing aids because they remove the inconvenience of having to replace batteries in hearing aids. Also, you no longer have to carry spare hearing aid batteries with you, or worse, try to find batteries if you do not have any spare.
Other added features such as audio streaming for hearing aids drain the battery faster which is not always ideal for replacement 312 batteries which are typically made from zinc-air. However, rechargeable lithium-ion batteries - which is the preferred rechargeable battery for hearing aids - are more than capable of handing prolonged instances of use.
What are rechargeable hearing aids
Rechargeable hearing aids, as the name suggests, are hearing aids that offer rechargeable internal batteries that are fixed inside a hearing aid device. These batteries are non-removable and are typically charged through the hearing aid themselves.
Rechargeable hearing aids typically use lithium-ion batteries (such as Go Hearing) due to their compact size, powerful output, and enhanced lifespan. The smaller size is excellent for inside-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids as they can offer the power the hearing aid needs while keeping the device slim to fit inside the ear.
As with all exciting new technology, rechargeable hearing aid battery technology does come with some drawbacks. Below are the pros and cons of using rechargeable hearing aid batteries to help you decide whether they would be the right fit for you.
Pros of rechargeable hearing aids
- The convenience of rechargeable hearing aids is the biggest advantage. No more struggling with tiny batteries, it is now as simple as ‘plugging’ them in overnight next to your mobile phone.
- For people with dexterity or visual issues, rechargeable hearing aids are ideal as you no longer need to handle the battery and worry if the battery is inserted correctly.
- Rechargeable batteries give you peace of mind that your hearing aid battery is not going to run out at an inconvenient time when it is difficult to replace; depending on the hearing aid, you can have up to 20 hours of wearing time after one full charge.
- There is no longer the need to remember to buy new batteries and keep spare ones on you which inevitably fall out of their pack and go missing.
- Rechargeable batteries also reduce the number of small parts lying around that children or pets may get hold of.
- For certain hearing aid brands, there may be a long-term financial saving when using rechargeable batteries versus buying new ones every few weeks. Although the cost of the charger and hearing aids upfront makes them more expensive than non-rechargeable, over time it can work out cheaper.
- Silver-zinc batteries generally need to be replaced every six months to a year; lithium-ion batteries can last up to five years. Either way, they represent a significant reduction in the number of hearing aid batteries being thrown away compared with disposables, all the better for the environment.
- Because hearing aids with lithium-ion batteries are a completely closed system, no battery door opens the hearing aid to the outside world, so it is more protected and less susceptible to damage.
- Certain hearing aid brands include a dehumidifier with the charger so that unwanted moisture is absorbed from the hearing aid while it charges.
Cons of rechargeable hearing aids
- If you experience frequent electricity outages or are going somewhere with a limited power supply (such as a camping trip), you will not be able to charge the hearing aids. However, certain manufacturers do have special portable chargers for such occasions that can be used for a few days without needing an electrical outlet.
- That said, when going on holiday, it is vital that you remember to take the charger with you because, without it, your hearing aids will be useless, unlike traditional hearing aid batteries that you can easily buy at the nearest pharmacy.
- The battery is contained within the hearing aid and cannot be removed, so if the battery malfunctions, the hearing aid cannot be used until it has been repaired, unlike non-rechargeable batteries that can be replaced.
- If the battery runs out during the day, you’ll need to wait for it to recharge (a top-up recharge is generally about 30 minutes), compared with just immediately replacing a disposable battery. Using a hearing aid’s streaming capabilities for long periods will make this more likely to happen.
- Not all chargers come with a dehumidifying function, which could leave your hearing aids at risk of moisture damage if you do not balance their dehumidifying time with their charging time.
Ultimately, rechargeable hearing aids are not necessarily a cost-saving option. Rather, the benefit comes with their ease of use, convenience, and environmental impact. As with all new technology, it may seem scary at first, especially if you are a long-time user of disposable battery hearing aids. But just like with our smartphones and step counting watches, rechargeable battery hearing aids are here to stay, and eventually, we’ll wonder how we ever managed without them.