Modern technology has changed the way we power electronics of all types, from cameras to phones to music players. For decades, those looking to address hearing loss have hoped for a similar progression, and the industry is finally recognizing the promise of a powerful rechargeable hearing aid battery.
Disposable hearing aid batteries have traditionally been the power source of choice among manufacturers, with size 312 batteries serving as one of the more common battery types. Nowadays, the most prominent version of these batteries is generally known as a “zinc-air” battery.
Disposable Hearing Aids Have a Disadvantage
As the name would suggest, a zinc-air battery is impacted by the presence of air. In the case of 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 activated and functional.
As soon as it is fully oxygenated, it begins to lose power. That means power is start to drain even if the user isn’t ready.
The biggest downside to disposable batteries, for the majority of users, is how short they last. Some reports have estimated the average life expectancy of a size 312 disposable battery to be from 3 and 12 days, which means users could switch out their batteries about 120 times every year.
That also means users may need to buy 120 batteries, spend the time twice a week to replace them, and properly dispose of each. From a cost point of view alone, that likely means more than $100 in battery costs.
Improvements in Rechargeable Batteries
Luckily, for hearing aid users in search of another approach, there have been significant improvements to rechargeable hearing aids that now make them a viable option.
The vast majority of individuals would use rechargeable hearing aids if given a choice according to some studies. Over the years, these models were impractical because they didn’t maintain a charge long enough. But today’s rechargeable batteries will hold a charge all day without requiring a recharge.
Users won’t see substantial cost benefits by switching to rechargeable batteries, but where they will see an obvious improvement is in quality of life.
In addition to providing 24 hours of charge time, these contemporary models result in less frustration for the user, since there’s no more changing and properly disposing of batteries. They simply need to place the battery on the charger.
A disposable battery approaching the end of its life simply can’t operate at full capacity. There’s also no real way to know how near to being inoperable the battery really is. So the batteries might 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 hazard, but users may miss important life moments due to a dead battery.
Hearing Aids Come in Different Types
There are distinct advantages to each of the different materials that rechargeable batteries are constructed from. Integrated lithium-ion batteries are one alternative being used by manufacturers because of their ability to hold a 24-hour charge. You might be surprised to know that this same kind of technology is what charges and powers your smart-phone.
Silver-zinc technology is another material used for modern rechargeable hearing aids. Initially, these revolutionary batteries were developed for Nasa’s moon missions. 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. Just like lithium-ion, silver-zinc can also supply enough power to last you for a full day.
Some models even allow you to recharge the battery while it’s still in the hearing aid. At night, or at some other time when the hearing aid is not being used, the whole hearing aid can be put directly into the charger
Whichever solution you choose, rechargeable batteries will be significantly better than disposable batteries. You just have to do some research to decide which option is best for your needs.
If you’re looking for more information about hearing aid technology or how to pick the best hearing aid to meet your needs, we encourage you to take a look at our hearing aids section.