Updated: Sep 5
Are rechargeable hearing aids any better than battery-powered ones? Do rechargeable hearing aids need less maintenance? How long does a pair of rechargeable hearing aids work on a single charge? Continue reading this article to learn more about rechargeable hearing aids.
Before I started setting up HearingNow I used to work for Specsavers. It was not surprising to see a lot of interest in rechargeable hearing aids both the brand hearing aids and the white label hearing aids that Specsavers sell under the Advance brand name. The popular top-of-the-rank Phonak Audeo Paradise could not become one of the best sellers in 2021 if it was not rechargeable. The hearing aid manufacturers are pushing the limit, and more custom rechargeable ITE/ITC/CIC are coming to the market.
Why rechargeable hearing aids are so popular?
Rechargeable hearing aids are becoming more popular, so why not? There are several reasons why rechargeable hearing aids becoming more and more popular. Some of these reasons are:
Dexterity issues - Rechargeable hearing aids are a great help to patients with dexterity issues. Arthritis could also signal to go for rechargeable hearing aids. I just had a senior lady at 94 who has been using hearing aids for more than 20 years. When we discussed the option of rechargeable versus battery-powered hearing aids, she was very determined to go for a change to rechargeable mainly because of her arthritis and the difficulty she sharted to notice in loading and replacing the batteries in her hearing aids in recent years.
Environment - People are more environmentally conscious, that's a fact. We are much more aware of dumping hazardous waste such as hearing aid batteries in normal garbage bins. In the UK some councils collect batteries in separate special bins from houses, but these councils are not many. Also in the UK since 2010 businesses selling batteries or appliances that take batteries need to provide battery collection services as well (source). All that means extra cost to businesses, individuals and as a whole to our society. I used to replace two 312 batteries every week, Which makes 104 batteries over a year or 520 over 5 years of the life of the hearing aids. With 2 million hearing aid users in the UK only, we are talking about more than 200 million batteries going to waste every year if they all used batteries (just a ballpark figure).
Logistics - Carrying and managing batteries all the time is not fun. I used to wear a pair of battery-powered Unitron hearing aids. At some point I had to keep a pack of 312 batteries in each coat, carrying bag and backpack, just in case. Carrying batteries with you everywhere is simply not cool. Just another thing that you need to worry about.
Cost - The cost of buying batteries over the lifetime of a hearing aid may not be a huge deciding factor as you can buy batteries in bulk for 6-month consumption really cheaply. On a personal level, the cost of hearing aid batteries would cost around 40 to 80 pounds a year depending on the volume of purchase and the brand of the battery. But hey, every little bit counts.
Rechargeable technology - Rechargeable technology has advanced in every sector. Thanks to recent advancements the manufacturers are able to provide rechargeable hearing aids that can keep charged for more than 24 hours with 25% budget being on streaming (streaming takes more power from the hearing aids).
Why someone might choose to buy a battery-powered hearing aid?
Despite all the above battery-powered hearing aids might be a better option for certain groups of patients.
Familiarity - A routine makes you comfortable in doing what you do regularly. Some patients have been using hearing aids for years and they don't want to change much about their hearing aids. If they fail obviously they will be in the market to buy a new pair, but they are just fine to replace batteries every week.
24/7 usage - I have had a couple of patients who preferred to wear hearing aids 24/7. Such an unusual case could be the patient who is a young mother with hearing difficulty who needs to be able to hear the crying sound of the baby when the baby needs her/his mother. Another cause may be a patient who is constantly worried about her security when she sleeps at night (living alone).
Shift work - Same as the item before this, there are jobs that follow a non-routine schedule. Jobs like nurses, firefighters, and pilots,... may demand irregular or long shifts that leave no routine days for the wearer. In such a case a pair of battery-operated hearing aids might be a wiser option as you could always be sure that there are batteries to energise your hearing aids and there will be no surprises.
What is the cost of replacing the battery of the rechargeable hearing aids?
My advice to patients is that if you wish to go for a pair of rechargeable hearing aids make sure that you get an extended warranty. Another piece of advice is to make sure to monitor the battery life of your hearing aids when they are fully charged about 6 months before their warranty is about to expire. If you feel that they are not charging fast enough, or if they charge as fast as before, but the battery life doesn't give you the 24-30 hours anymore then this is the time to send them over to the manufacturer for service. In such an event very likely the manufacturer would replace your batteries with new ones and you are good for another 4-5 years from that point on. Missing that might cost you anywhere from 150 to 250 pounds to replace the rechargeable batteries of a pair of rechargeable hearing aids (the range of the cost depends on the manufacturer, type of the hearing aids, etc.)
The good news is that at HearingNow most of the hearing aids we offer (if not all) come in rechargeable and battery-powered versions. Browse the top of the top-of-the-line advanced digital rechargeable hearing aids here.