In the past decade or so, there has been some experimentation with rechargeable hearing aids. Most notably Siemens (now Signia) and GN Resound (who later stopped using these batteries). Siemens uses an older nickel-metal-hydride battery, which delivers about 8-10 hours of use per charge.
In 2017, everything started to change in regards to rechargeable hearing aids. A company called ZPower ® started gaining traction with their rechargeable Zinc-Air hearing aid battery. Phonak launched their Lithium-Ion rechargeable B-R range of hearing aids. They were quickly followed by Signia with their Lithium-Ion Cellion range of hearing aids.
So, today we essentially have two camps of rechargeable hearing aids. One is based on Lithium-Ion, while the other is based on ZPower’s ® rechargeable Zinc-Air solution.
Each has its pros and cons, which will be discussed a little later.
Lithium-Ion batteries are built into the hearing aids and cannot be removed by the user. You simply put the hearing aid in the charger overnight. By doing so you receive 24 hours of use from the rechargeable hearing aid including some use while streaming. These batteries are designed to last at least 2 to 6 years, depending on brand but are replaced when the hearing aids go to the manufacturer for repair or servicing.
Pricing options differ between suppliers. Phonak includes the charger in its pricing, whereas Signia adn GN Resound do not. It’s important to make sure any quotes include the charger, as the hearing aid won’t function without it.
Lithium-Ion hearing aid batteries are controlled by a chip, so you shouldn’t have any issues with over-charging or exploding batteries. Due to the small size of the batteries, they are also safe to fly with.
Lithium Ion is available in three brands, Signia, GN Resound and Phonak.
Phonak offers the following rechargeable devices, starting at their essential level device:
- Audeo B50-R (Basic Range)
- Audeo B70-R (Advanced Range)
- Audeo B90-R (Premium Range)
- Naida B50-R (Soon to be released)
- Naida B70-R (Soon to be released)
- Naida B90-R (Soon to be released)
- Bolero B50-PR
- Bolero B70-PR
- Bolero B90-PR
- Audeo M30-R
- Audeo M50-R
- Audeo M70-R
- Audeo M90-R
Phonak’s batteries are rated to last 6 years.
Signia offers a range of models with rechargeable batteries.
The ranges include
Styletto NX (2 year battery life)
Pure charge & Go NX
The NX range is their latest range and offers great sound quality.
The Lithium-Ion rechargeable hearing aids are usually a few hundred dollars more expensive than their non-rechargeable counterparts.
GN Resound is a later entrant to Lithium Ion based rechargeability.
The Quattro 961-R and Quattro 761-R both offer this functionality.
They have a lovely charger case that stored a few charges for when you are off the grid.
ZPower ® Silver-Zinc:
ZPower ® is a company who have innovated by building a rechargeable silver-zinc battery solution that can be adapted to fit most suppliers’ hearing aids. The initial release is focused around size 312 batteries, but work is being done to release a size 13 model soon. ZPower ® also shows size 10 and 675 batteries on their website. So, watch this space.
The hearing aid manufacturer that wants to make use of the ZPower ® rechargeable option, needs to design a battery door that fits into the ZPower ® charger. The ZPower ® rechargeable hearing aid battery then replaces the normal hearing aid battery. A charger is included and the hearing aid user simply docks the hearing aid in the charger overnight. The charger is smart enough to detect if a normal zinc-air battery is in the aid instead of the rechargeable hearing aid battery. It will simply not charge in that event.
There are several manufacturers supporting Z-Power ® as it is a very easy and affordable way to turn popular hearing aids into rechargeable versions. Many brands also offer retrofit rechargeable kits for their hearing aids. It consists of a battery door, some rechargeable hearing aid batteries and the charger.
Unitron Rechargeable Hearing Aids:
Unitron was one of the first companies to partner with ZPower ® to produce the Moxi Fit-R range of hearing aids. Unitron offers rechargeable hearing aids at all levels of technology.
Receiver in canal aids:
- Moxi 500 Fit-R
- Moxi 600 Fit-R
- Moxi 700 Fit-R
- Moxi 800 Fit-R
- Moxi Pro Fit-R
Receiver in canal aids with Bluetooth Direct connectivity:
- Moxi 500 All-R
- Moxi 600 All-R
- Moxi 700 All-R
- Moxi 800 All-R
- Moxi Pro All-R
Behind the ear hearing aids:
- Stride 500 M-R
- Stride 600 M-R
- Stride 700 M-R
- Stride 800 M-R
- Stride Pro M-R
At present, Oticon only offers a rechargeable option in its brand new OPN MiniRite hearing aids.
A retrofit kit is available for the following models:
- OPN1 MiniRITE
- OPN2 MiniRITE
- OPN3 MiniRITE
Please note, the rechargeable kit is not compatible with the OPN Mini-Rite-T nor the OPN 13BTE.
Bernafon, as the Bernafon Zerena is basically an OPN in Bernafon clothing, it also has a rechargeable option.
Starkey has a rechargeable option available in their Muse microRIC range of hearing aids for the following levels of technology:
- Muse i1200
- Muse i1600
- Muse i2000
- Muse i2400
Widex is releasing a rechargeable solution in their Beyond Fusion RIC range of hearing aids in a few weeks’ time (which will be known as Widex Beyond Z). The official launch date is waiting to be confirmed. This rechargeable solution will be able to be retro-fitted to any Beyond hearing aid:
- Beyond Z110
- Beyond Z220
- Beyond Z330
- Beyond Z440
Their rechargeable solutions have now been extended to the latest Evoke range of hearing aids.
Pros and Cons
Rechargeable batteries, irrespective of type has the following general benefits over disposable batteries:
- The are more environmentally friendly as there is less waste
- They are easier to use as you don’t need to change the batteries all the time
Note: Interestingly, cost savings are not one of the pros as rechargeable options are often more expensive over the life of the instrument than disposable types. This may change in time with economies of scale however.
- Can deliver over 24 full hours of charge including about 5 hours of streaming on a single 3 hour charge.
- Quick charging – a quick 30 minute charge gives you 6 hours of use
- Can last all day, not matter how full your day is.
- There is no battery door, so the hearing aid is more moisture resistant than those with battery doors.
- A single battery can last 5+ years – so no additional ongoing costs.
- Very low risk of battery ingestion
- You either need a power point or a battery pack to ensure you don’t end up with a dead hearing aid when travelling.
- The Lithium-Ion battery makes the hearing aid a bit bigger than ones with a standard size 312 or 13 battery.
ZPower ® Silver-Zinc:
- Fully recyclable
- Aid is smaller than Lithium-Ion Counterpart
- Gives up to 12-16 hours use with 5 hours streaming on a 4 hour charge
- Disposable batteries can still be used as back-up
- No Quick Charging, so if you forget to charge them, you are out of luck, unless you are willing to wait a while.
- Needs replacing every 6 to 12 months at a cost of about $100-$150 per pair
- Water can still get into the battery door
- It appears that you can actually short out the rechargeable cell by accident, costing you $50 per cell to replace!
- Easy to lose the expensive battery – you’ll need to remember to remove it when aid goes in for repair.
- Makes the aid a bit longer than non-rechargeable versions to accommodate charging contacts.
- Risk of battery ingestion still exists as the battery is removable.
Now that rechargeable batteries have been around for a few years, it appears that Lithium Ion is set to become the clear winner for convenience and benefit.
Call us today on 1800 157 429 o get a quote on a rechargeable hearing aid best suited to you.