From phones to cameras to music players, how we power our electronics has advanced. A robust, rechargeable hearing aid battery is finally realizing the hopes of hearing aid makers to replace the outdated disposable power sources of the past.
Size 312 batteries are the most common of the disposable batteries that have typically 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 Downside
The presence of air impacts a zinc-air battery, as the name suggests. The user needs to pull 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 starts 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 disadvantage of disposable batteries. Some reports have estimated the standard life expectancy of a size 312 disposable battery to be from 3 and 12 days, which means users could switch out their batteries around 120 times every year.
Because of this, besides having to purchase 120 batteries, the user will have to switch and correctly dispose of batteries at least twice every week. From a cost perspective 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 good news for individuals who use hearing aids.
The vast number of people would wear rechargeable hearing aids if given a choice according to some research. Previously, these models were impractical because they didn’t maintain a charge long enough. However, recent advancements now enable an entire day of use per charge.
Users won’t see substantial cost savings by changing to rechargeable batteries, but where they will see a demonstrated improvement is in quality of life.
On top of supplying 24 hours of charge time, these contemporary models lead to less aggravation for the user, since there’s no more swapping and correctly disposing of batteries. Instead, they just need to pop out the battery and put them in a convenient tabletop charger.
A disposable battery nearing the end of its life simply can’t function at full power. There’s also no exact way to identify how close to being inoperable the battery actually is. Consequently, users chance putting themselves in a situation where their battery may die at a critical time. Not only is this a safety hazard, but users could miss important life moments due to a dead battery.
Types of Rechargeable Hearing Aid Batteries
Rechargeable batteries come in numerous different materials, each providing distinct advantages. Integrated lithium-ion batteries are one option being used by manufacturers because of their ability to hold a 24-hour charge. And cellphones are powered by this same kind of battery which might be surprising.
Another type of contemporary rechargeable battery is a silver-zinc. This innovative approach was initially developed 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 converting the device to rechargeable power. These batteries, like lithium-ion, will also last all day before needing to be recharged.
There are also models that allow you to recharge the hearing aid without taking out the battery. During the night, or at some other time when the hearing aid isn’t in use, the whole hearing aid can be placed right into the charger
While all of these rechargeable strategies provides substantial advantages over disposable batteries, each approach should be carefully vetted to get a complete picture and to discover 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 best for you or any other info about hearing aids.