“When I first started seeing patients, disposable hearing aid batteries were the only option. Not only were they difficult to use and expensive, but they tended to find their way into unsuspecting places like dropping into a patient’s ear canal or even in a grandchild’s nose. Fortunately, rechargeable hearing aid batteries are now becoming mainstream.” - Drew Sutton, MD, Board-Certified Otolaryngologist
Getting your first set of hearing aids can be a significant undertaking as you most likely do not know your exact preferences when it comes to fit, and you may not understand all of the features possible in a pair of hearing aids.
One crucial question that is frequently asked is how long hearing aid batteries last. This question has two potential answers as rechargeable batteries have a lifespan, but they also carry a specific electron capacity that allows them to function. The lifespan refers to how long the battery will discharge and fully recharge, while the capacity refers to how long you get in a single discharge cycle.
Below is a closer look at how traditional hearing aid batteries work, how rechargeable hearing aids differ, the lifespan and capacity of hearing aids, as well as ways to take care of your hearing aids to ensure you get the most mileage out of them.
Disposable Hearing Aid Battery
If you are a long-time hearing aid user, you are most likely familiar with the disposable batteries that come with a standard hearing aid.
These disposable batteries are zinc-air batteries, and they are commonly utilized in hearing aids, car keys, remotes, and watches. Zinc Air batteries are utilized to cut costs and keep a consistent voltage as they discharge, which is desirable in a battery.
Zinc-air batteries are different from standard batteries in that they are open to the air and actually utilize air to facilitate the reaction necessary for the battery to work. While this reduces weight and cost, the zinc-air battery is not as resilient as a sealed battery. Temperature, humidity, and sitting in a device for too long can significantly reduce the battery’s lifespan.
How Long Do They Last?
Zinc-air batteries can last roughly three to four weeks until they need to be replaced, but this can change depending on the exact usage and environment that they are placed in. For instance, if they are left in a hot and humid climate, they may last significantly shorter.
In addition to the environment, the level of amplification needed for your hearing can also dictate how long the battery will last. More amplification will yield shorter battery life, and less amplification will result in a longer one.
Rechargeable Hearing Aid Battery
Rechargeable hearing aid batteries are significantly different from those that are utilized in a typical hearing aid. Typically hearing aids that have built-in rechargeable batteries are considered more premium as the batteries themselves cost more to manufacture and are included in the hearing aid.
Rechargeable batteries differ significantly from disposable batteries. Rather than being open to the environment, rechargeable batteries are often sealed from the environment, which helps to increase their resilience against environmental factors like humidity. Added resilience of sealed batteries makes them the ideal choice when designing waterproof or water-resistant devices.
The chemical composition of the battery also differs significantly. Several different batteries are rechargeable, but one of the most common is lithium-ion batteries. Lithium-ion batteries are the type of battery used in most smartphones and most electric vehicles.
Lithium-ion is one of the best options on the market from a usability perspective. Other kinds of rechargeable batteries suffer from low capacity, but lithium-ion has the perfect balance between capacity and longevity.
What Is the Capacity?
One of the most glaring differences is that disposable batteries typically carry a higher capacity which essentially means that it will last longer as it discharges. Rechargeable batteries have the disadvantage of capacity but more than makes up for it with their ability to be recharged.
Rechargeable hearing aids can expect to last approximately 24 hours from a full charge. As the batteries get older, this capacity decreases, but 24 hours is more than enough to get you through a standard day; after all, how often are you wearing hearing aids while you sleep.
What Is the Lifespan?
The nice thing about rechargeable batteries is that they can last many times over when compared to disposable batteries since they can be recharged. While rechargeable batteries can be recharged, there is a limit to how long they last. Many manufacturers for batteries will state the lifespan of a battery in terms of charge cycles.
Charge cycles refer to how many times the batteries can be charged and discharged before a significant decrease in capacity is noticed.
If you have held on to a smartphone for long enough, you may have noticed that as the phone got older, the ability for the phone to hold a charge decreases. While age can certainly impact a battery, the number of charge cycles experienced by the battery was likely high, resulting in a lower capacity.
The lifespan of rechargeable hearing aids can vary based on factors, including what storage conditions are like, how frequently the batteries are run dead, and more.
Typically it is safe to say that a pair of quality rechargeable hearing aids like the EV3 will last you a few years, which is a good amount of time in the tech world, as by then, there will most likely be a better and more improved product you can get.
How To Care for Your Hearing Aids
Hearing aids are an important aspect of your day-to-day since you require them to hear sufficiently. Hearing is one of your five basic senses, and your hearing aids allow you to hear adequately. Taking care of your hearing aids can help to ensure you have a reliable and well-maintained piece of equipment that will stand the test of time.
Below is a closer look at ways you can get the most mileage out of your hearing aids.
Lithium-ion batteries have a finite lifespan, and because of this, it is important to try your best to support them through best charging practices. In general, batteries dislike being run down to the point they are dead. Because of this, you should attempt to ensure you are not running the batteries all the way dead.
Batteries typically like to stay in a charged range anywhere from 20 to 80 percent. This can be thought of as the sweet zone for battery longevity and performance.
With Audien’s range of rechargeable hearing aids, simply plugging them in to charge before you go to bed can help to ensure that they stay within a healthy battery range to provide you with the most battery longevity possible for the built-in batteries.
Another aspect you should be on the lookout for is how and where you are storing your hearing aids when they are not in use. In general, you should avoid storing them in high humidity areas as it can cause premature wear to some components in the hearing aid.
Another thing you should be aware of is temperature; as a general rule, electronics don’t do well in extremes. Head can negatively impact the lifespan of a battery, while the cold can reduce the battery’s capacity. You should make an effort to have your hearing aids in a climate-controlled setting such as your house when not in use.
Regularly cleaning your hearing aid is another way to ensure you get the most out of your hearing aids. When hearing aids have been in your ear all day, it isn’t too hard to imagine the amount of earwax, debris, and gunk that gets stitched on the surface of the reading aid or ear tip.
Depending on the manufacturer, cleaning directions may differ due to potential differences in the materials utilized in the hearing aid. Audien’s EV1 and EV3 both come with a set of cleaning tools and instructions that can ensure you can regularly clean your hearing aids and get the most life out of them.
The final way you can make sure you get the most out of your hearing aid purchase is to add a protection plan policy. With a protection plan policy, your hearing aid investment is protected in the event of damage, loss, or water damage. If any of these occur, Audien’s protection plan allows individuals to purchase an entirely new pair for as little as $19.
In summary, the longevity of hearing aid batteries depends greatly on what type of battery they are and how they have been cared for. The disposable batteries in some hearing aids can last as little as a couple of weeks, while a rechargeable battery can last years when adequately taken care of.
Having a fuller understanding of what to expect with hearing aid batteries can make you a more informed consumer and allow you to pick the best option for you and your specific needs.