Rechargeable battery technologies
The cost and inconvenience of replacing and disposing of hearing aid batteries has long been a significant concern for hearing aid users. Though rechargeable hearing aids have been available for a long time, battery charge life has often been an issue, and people would often find their devices going dead at inconvenient times.
Consequently, most hearing-aid users continued to choose conventional non-rechargeable hearing aids with disposable batteries even though the batteries needed to be replaced frequently, are expensive, and dangerous if not disposed of correctly (corrosive and poisonous).
Recent innovations in rechargeable technologies have however improved battery charge life and made rechargeable options more viable and attractive. Now users can expect a full day of operation from a single charge.
Currently there are 3 main options when choosing what sort of hearing aid battery to get.
1 : Conventional disposable batteries. This option remains popular with pensioners who have their battery supply strongly subsidized through the Office of Hearing Services.
2 : Built in Lithium Ion batteries. (similar to phone batteries)
Hybrid Silver-Zinc Technology
In collaboration with Z-Power, many hearing aid manufactures like Oticon, Starkey, Widex, and GN resound have implemented a hybrid battery system option with their range of hearing aids. New hearing aids can be ordered with a special battery door that accommodates both disposable and rechargeable batteries that work with the Z-Power charger.
Many of the older models can also often be retrofitted with the rechargeable battery door. Removable rechargeable batteries can be easily replaced by standard disposable hearing aid batteries in the event of an emergency. The hearing aids can run on the disposable batteries until it is convenient to switch back to the rechargeable batteries.
The Silver-zinc rechargeable battery is non-flammable, non-toxic and 100% recyclable. Also the higher energy density means a silver zinc battery can come in a smaller package compared to equivalent lithium-ion rechargeable batteries. The initial cost outlay is a little higher with the rechargeable system but the ongoing cost of replacing disposable batteries is greatly reduced.
The Phonak and Signia (Siemens) hearing aids are based on built in lithium-ion batteries. Lithium-ion batteries provide more power than earlier rechargeable solutions for hearing aids that were based on Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) technology. NiMH solutions suffered from shorter battery life and less stable power output.
Unlike the hybrid option, the Lithium-Ion batteries are sealed into the hearing aids and cannot be replaced or changed by the user. Also the cost and inconvenience of replacing a built in lithium-Ion battery (life expectancy of around 3 to 4 years) has been a discouragement to people taking this option.
Phonak Audéo B-R
Phonak claims the new Audéo B-R will last 24 hours on full charge, including up to 80 minutes of wireless streaming. The new product is built on the “Belong,” processor, the newest platform from Phonak. It offers two charger options: charger case and mini-charger (a great travel option). There is also an optional Phonak power packs that can be purchased.
Signia Cellion Primax
The Cellion Primax also uses a built in lithium ion battery. It uses an Inductive charger which means it is contact free.
So which device is best for me?
Disposable, built-in rechargeable or hybrid? There are pro’s and con’s to all of these options and we recommend that you consult with your hearing care professional to discuss which option suits you best.