We have noticed recently that we are getting a lot of enquiries from people browsing our website looking for information about rechargeable hearing aids.
The idea being that with rechargeable hearing aids you avoid the cost of replacing your hearing aid batteries ongoing. Also perhaps the fiddly nature of replacing batteries regularly. We thought it was high time to write an overview. To highlight the various rechargeable hearing aids from all the hearing aid manufacturers in the UK.
Different types of rechargeable hearing aids
There are two main types of rechargeable hearing aids currently available.
- Z Power silver zinc. With an interchangeable battery where you can use a replaceable rechargeable hearing aid battery or a standard zinc air hearing aid battery as required.
- Lithium Ion. With a rechargeable battery that is fully integrated into the hearing aid with no option to change yourself.
Pros and cons of the different types
The Z Power interchangeable battery has a key benefit. If you forget to charge your hearing aids or if you don’t have power to charge them you can use a standard zinc air hearing aid battery until you get back home. The downside of Z Power is that so far they do seem to be somewhat unreliable. The Z Power rechargeable batteries are supposed to last about a year before needing a replacement.
Lithium ion versions of rechargeable hearing aids have so far proved more robust. As a sealed unit there is a reduced chance of things going wrong with your hearing aids. Issues that might arise around moisture ingress, contact issues etc. can be avoided.
Lithium Ion batteries will likely need replacing at around 3-6 years. We do not anticipate the cost of replacement will be excessive in comparison to the original cost of the hearing aids.
A hearing aid case and charger combined
Both versions of rechargeable hearing aids are supplied with some kind of charging case or charging pod. Some charging stations are designed to be pocket size for portability. Others a little more substantial and with battery packs. These last you a few days if away with little option to access power.
Some charging cases also allow enough room for drying capsules. Some manufacturers also supply a mini charger for travelling or a more substantial case that allows for multiple charges.
Overnight and quick charging
Rechargeable hearing aids can be charged overnight or when its convenient for you. It can become part of a daily routine meaning you should find yourself less unlikely to run out of power from your hearing aid inconveniently. Typically you would charge overnight to last all the following day but have the option for a quick charge to last a few hours if necessary.
Good for the environment?
Rechargeable hearing aids as an option are more eco friendly than zinc air hearing aid batteries. Nowadays, hearing aid batteries are mercury free (they used to contain a small amount of mercury). There is still more of an environmental impact with disposable hearing aid batteries.
With Z Power you will need to replace the batteries about once a year. During a typical five to six year hearing aid lifespan you will need about six batteries per ear. During the same time span, with a 312 zinc air battery you will need on average 250-300 disposable batteries per ear.
With the Lithium Ion option, you’d probably be looking at a replacement of the internal battery typically once during the lifetime of the hearing aids.
What is the cost implication with rechargeable hearing aids?
Typically the cost of rechargeable hearing aids is a little higher than the equivalent hearing aid that uses a standard disposable zinc air hearing aid battery. The extra cost of buying rechargeable hearing aids can to a degree be offset by the savings of not buying disposable zinc air hearing aid batteries.
If you work out the sums a box of 60 hearing aid batteries is just under £15 on our website here. So a typical size 312 hearing aid battery might last a week. As a rough rule of thumb you might spend £15 a year per ear on batteries. With a more severe hearing loss you consume more batteries. If the hours a day you wear your hearing aids is longer you’ll get less days before they run out! The larger size 13 batteries last much longer than the smallest size 10 batteries!
Putting aside the ‘how long is a piece of string’ argument it’s probably cheaper to use disposable hearing aid batteries. However, many people like the convenience and environmental benefits of using rechargeable hearing aids.
What is available in 2019?
As of early 2019 the list of the latest rechargeable lithium ion models available by manufacturer are as follows;
- Phonak Audeo Marvel – 3 hours for a full days use. 30 min charge for 6 hours use. The battery should last approximately 6 years
- Signia Styletto – 3 hours for a full days use. 30 min charge for 5 hours use. After 3 years Styletto will run at approximately 80% capacity.
- ReSound LiNX Quattro – 3 hours charge gives 30 hours of wear time, or 24 hours with streaming. 1 hour charge gives 16 hours wear time. 30 min charge gives 8 hours of wear time. The battery should start to deplete a little after about 4 years.
- Oticon OPN S – 3 hour charge for a full days use, 30 minute charge for 6 hours use. The battery should last approximately 4-5 years.
- Starkey Livio AI – 2.5 hours for a full days use. Turbo Charger provides 3.5 hours in 7 minutes. The battery should last approximately 4-5 years.
- Unitron are launching a Lithium Ion rechargeable hearing aid in May 2019 (details to follow).
Widex Energy Cell
Widex are the only UK manufacturer persevering with the Z Power model at this time, but at the end of 2019 approximately they should be releasing a new and innovative solution – Widex Energy Cell. The staggering potential is that you can fully charge your hearing aid from flat in 20 seconds for up to 24 hours!
If you are interested in rechargeable hearing aids…
Rechargeable hearing aids tend to cost slightly more than the equivalent non rechargeable hearing aids at any particular technology level or manufacturer. Some might say it is a price worth paying.
This format is definitely an attractive option from a convenience point of view or if you are interested in the environmental aspect. It is worth mentioning that rechargeable hearing aids from the major UK manufacturers at this point are only available in RIC and BTE format (the type of hearing aid that sits on the back of your ear).
RIC are generally very discreet. BTE less so but are better for very severe hearing loss.