Rechargeable batteries are officially mainstream from our phones to our AirPods and even our cars.
If you’ve had hearing aids for decades or are researching your first pair, you’re likely considering the pros and cons of rechargeable batteries.
You might also be searching for brands that offer the most extended battery life or the best recharging cases. In this guide, we’ll get to all of that and more. ⚡️
Prefer to watch?
Watch our quick breakdown of our rechargeable hearing aid research.
Let's start with some background.
Just 10 years ago, nearly all hearing aids were powered by disposable batteries.
This type of battery, typically zinc air, requires oxygen to become activated. Once the battery is powered up, it can offer a steady stream of power for 3-10 days (depending on battery size).
In the last few years, all leading hearing aid manufacturers have released devices with all-day rechargeable batteries. Today, most hearing aid wearers choose rechargeable when they purchase a new pair.
So is the decision clear-cut? Not necessarily.
Here are a few reasons that some hearing aid wearers still opt for disposable batteries.
Invisible hearing aids still use disposable batteries.
The first reason to choose disposable batteries is size. Most IIC and other small custom hearing aids do not come with rechargeable options at this time.
Disposable batteries give you more control.
I've had some patients who like to go camping regularly or desire reassurance that they'll have battery power in the middle of a Florida hurricane.
While most rechargeable batteries offer all-day power, If you forget to charge your device or run out of juice while away from home, you may have difficulty using it until you can re-access power.
Disposable batteries offer more straightforward repairs.
Suppose your rechargeable hearing aid loses battery capacity or needs a new battery for some reason. In that case, you'll likely need to ship your hearing aids off to the manufacturer and make do with a backup. Disposable battery-powered devices are less susceptible to these issues.
Rechargeable hearing aids are growing in popularity for some excellent reasons.
Rechargeable batteries have advanced in the last few years, with many holding a charge of 20 - 30 hours on a single charge. In addition, rechargeable batteries are easy to use, requiring only that they be placed in the charger each night. Recently, even superpower hearing aids have become available in rechargeable form.
Rechargeable hearing aids are now on the rise, providing numerous benefits that disposable batteries can't match.
Rechargeable batteries give access to more power.
Developments in artificial intelligence and sound processing technology have led to devices that require more battery power than ever before—making rechargeable forms much more efficient for long-lasting power.
Easy to use and better for dexterity challenges.
Modern rechargeable hearing aids are incredibly user-friendly, with the convenience of charging your device similar to that of charging a cell phone.
Dexterity is another essential consideration since rechargeable batteries require less fiddling with small parts.
Safer and better for the environment.
Rechargeable batteries reduce the number of hearing aid batteries that go to the landfill and can prevent dangerous ingestion of hearing aid batteries among pets and children.
Rechargeable batteries are more predictable.
Disposable batteries last 3-10 days, depending on their level of amplification, streaming, and use. They often give out in the middle of the day, leading to frustration and unpredictability. Rechargeable hearing aids return to the charger each night and offer full-day power each day.
What are the price differences between rechargeable and disposable batteries?
Generally speaking, rechargeable hearing aids cost $300-$600 more per pair. On the flip side, disposable batteries cost around $4-$5 per month.
Pros and Cons
The debate over rechargeable vs disposable batteries isn't going away anytime soon. Here's a summary of the pros and cons.
If you choose disposable batteries:
If you opt for disposable batteries, you'll want to keep track of when you change your batteries. For example, note in your calendar when you expect a battery replacement. This way, you'll be prepared and not be out somewhere and suddenly lose battery power.
If you choose rechargeable batteries:
On the other hand, rechargeable devices typically come with lithium-ion batteries that last a full day on a single charge. If you forget to charge your device or run out of juice while away from home, you may have difficulty using it until you can access power again. Create a daily routine of charging your hearing aids and recharge case each night while you sleep. Double-check your battery levels on your smartphone app before you leave the house for critical engagements.
These are our top 6 rechargeable hearing aids for power, price and convenience. 👇
There you have it! Some background on the raging debate between disposable and rechargeable batteries along with our guide to the best rechargeable products on the market at this time.
Frequently asked questions
Rechargeable hearing aids have a non-removable battery embedded inside the device's body (much like your phone). Typically you will place your hearing aids in a particular charging case overnight to fully recharge the devices.
Rechargeable hearing aids can be an excellent choice for seniors who don't want to bother with regular battery changes. Disposable hearing aid batteries are tiny and difficult to replace for anyone with dexterity challenges.
Seniors with dexterity challenges should look for rechargeable hearing aids with a conduction charger versus a case with charging ports. Conduction charging means electric ports do not need to be connected in any particular fashion. ReSound, and Signia have great conduction chargers.
This is one clear drawback of rechargeable hearing aids. If your rechargeable hearing aid battery stops working, you'll need to work with your hearing professional to send it back to the manufacturer. Most manufacturer warranties will cover hearing aid batteries for three years, but waiting for the repair and return can be frustrating. In this area, disposable batteries have an edge.
Rechargeable hearing aids usually cost anywhere from $200-$400 more per pair. Disposable batteries typically cost $5-$7 per month. Over a three-year lifespan, rechargeable batteries pretty much pay for themselves. Read our full guide on the topic here.
Each hearing aid manufacturer has their charging case (they are not interchangeable between brands). There are a few things to look for in a hearing aid charge case:
- Some cases must be plugged into the wall while they give your devices a charge. Others can hold a few charges portably before they need to be plugged back in (Starkey, ReSound, and Signia offer this option).
- As mentioned above, some chargers require the hearing aids to be "locked" in with little metal pieces in direct contact with the charger. More advanced models use conductive charging, which does not require direct contact with a metal piece. Conductive charging cases typically result in fewer failed charging sessions.
- Some brands like Starkey offer a "turbo charging" case which gives you a few extra hours of power with only a few minutes on the charging doc.
Hearing aids can support those with tinnitus by adding missing sounds and offering full-day masking sounds. Widex and ReSound are leaders in tinnitus management. Read our complete guide to tinnitus masking hearing aids here.
Costco currently offers three brands in their in-club clinics. All three products come standard with rechargeable batteries. Read our complete guide to Costco hearing aids here.
Many rechargeable hearing aids have an IP68 rating. This means they can take a quick dip without a problem. It is not recommended that you swim in hearing aids or keep them submerged for long periods of time regardless of their batter. Read more about waterproof hearing aids here.