Rechargeable Hearing Products
Rechargeable hearing aids had been available for a long time, but battery life was always limited to a few hours, which took your hearing aids out of commission for recharging at inconvenient times.
The recent product innovations have changed the rechargeable landscape. Now, rechargeable hearing aids feature:
A full day of use: The new products provide around 24 hours of use time.
Familiar form factors: They provide daylong power in the same familiar hearing aid form factor.
Less hassle: Just insert your hearing aids into an easy-to-use recharging unit at night.
The new rechargeable hearing aid models are available from several hearing aid manufacturers including Phonak, Siemens, Starkey, and Unitron. They vary in the type of battery they use and have a specific model that is rechargeable. In other words, not all hearing aids are rechargeable—specific models in their product lines are designated as rechargeable. All feature a versatile RIC that treats all hearing losses.
The Phonak and Siemens models integrate a lithium-ion rechargeable battery into the hearing aid’s sealed body. The power cells have a lifespan of several years, easily lasting the entire life of the hearing aid. Even if an exchange of the power cell becomes necessary, it can be done by any hearing care professional.
Both Starkey and Unitron models can also use a disposable battery (not for charging) as well as a rechargeable because the battery drawer is not sealed. Starkey utilizes a silver zinc battery. All come with a recharging station.
Phonak’s Rechargeable hearing aid is touted as “the first mainstream lithium-ion rechargeable hearing aid.” Phonak claims their new aid will last 24 hours on full charge, including up to 80 minutes of wireless streaming. Phonak mini charger is shown on the left.
The Siemens/Signia rechargeable is billed as “the only inductive, wireless and contact-free chargeable hearing aid in the world.” Apparently one-upping Phonak on operating time, Siemens/Signia claims it can run for “at least 24 hours with unlimited streaming.” The Siemens rechargeable is the second picture from the left.
Lithium-ion batteries are a proven, familiar solution, and the new class of lithium-ion rechargeable hearing aids are easy to recharge and last for a full day. With these welcome improvements come some potential limitations, including:
Safety: Lithium-ion is a poison, and hearing aids are small enough to swallow, presenting a hazard to children and pets. And you’ve heard about the Samsung phones whose batteries catch fire? They’re based on lithium-ion technology.
Sealed Case: The fire hazard dictates that the lithium-ion battery be integrated into a sealed case. If it runs out of power while still in use, the hearing aid cannot run on a normal disposable battery but must be taken out of commission while it recharges. And when a lithium-ion battery reaches the end of its life, it can’t be replaced by the user but must be swapped out by the audiologist (or other service provider).
Power Limitations: If you stream a lot of audio (from an MP3 player of mobile phone, etc.), there’s a possibility batteries may not last the full 24-hour day. This shouldn’t affect most people though, since 12-16 hours would be a typical day of hearing aid use.
However, Phonak and Sivantos (formerly Siemens Hearing Instruments) note that their sealed cases and rugged construction resolve any safety concerns.
Starkey’s devices are completely charged and ready to deliver up to 22 hours of use after a 3 – 4 hour charging cycle (they do recommend overnight charging every night). One pair of batteries can take the place of an estimated 200 disposable batteries — and should last an entire year before needing to be replaced. You can use regular (disposable) batteries in the hearing aids also, in case you are unable to charge your hearing aids. The Starkey model is the second picture to the right.
The Unitron rechargeable delivers all-day, 24 hours, listening on an overnight charge, although they are fully charged in 6 – 7 hours. . Like the Starkey models, you can swap the rechargeable battery cells with traditional, zinc-air batteries at any time. The Unitron model is the first picture to the right.
Rechargeable hearing aids may be a consideration for the environmentally conscious, for those that have difficulty with battery insertion (e.g., failing eyesight, limited mobility), or for the convenience. For travelers, the charger unit is equipped with a standard micro USB interface, enabling users to charge the hearing aids with nearly any USB-compatible power source (e.g., laptops, car adapters, or power packs).
Ask us for a demonstration!