Disposable Vs. Rechargeable Hearing Aid Batteries — Which is Right for You?

If you’re thinking about purchasing hearing aids, you also may be considering rechargeables, one of the latest innovations in the industry. While many consumers think they would prefer rechargeable to disposable batteries, there are lots of factors to consider when making this choice. Here are some of the key issues to keep in mind.

About Rechargeables

In the big scheme of things, rechargeable hearing aids have only been available in the past few years. Today, all major brands of hearing aids offer a rechargeable option, but each has its advantages and disadvantages. For example, some require longer to charge than others. Some hold their charge longer than others. And some use different types of rechargeable batteries, namely lithium-ion rechargeable batteries.

Lithium-ion batteries are sealed in the hearing aid for safety, so there’s no battery door in the brands that use those and coincidentally, no batteries to change

In general, rechargeable hearing aids are easier for people who have dexterity issues to handle. There’s usually no fiddling with the small battery door to change the batteries. On the other hand, you do have to remember to charge them daily, usually overnight.

What Type of Hearing Aid User Are You?

Before purchasing rechargeable hearing aids, it’s important to think about the type of hearing aid user you are. Your answers to these important questions will help you and your audiologist make the best decision regarding whether you’re a better candidate for rechargeable or disposable hearing aid batteries:

  • Do you wirelessly stream audio to your hearing aids, including Bluetooth streaming?  If so, this can eat up more battery life and may reduce the operating time of rechargeables before needing a charge.
  • Do your hearing aids use a higher-powered speaker?  That’s a question for your audiologist, but if they do, this can consume more battery power, too.
  • How severe is your hearing loss?  If your hearing loss is severe and the volume of your hearing aids is louder, that also can use more battery life.
  • How long do you expect rechargeable hearing aids to last? Like many rechargeable devices, as you use your hearing aids and continue to recharge the batteries, they won’t hold the same charge they did when they were brand new. Eventually, you will likely have to replace the rechargeable batteries through repair.
  • How much do you expect to spend on rechargeables vs. disposable batteries?  If you think rechargeables will be less, right now that’s not the case. Typically, we find that rechargeables require a bigger investment up front for the technology (usually an additional $250 to $350). Replacement rechargeable batteries through repair vary in cost but could run upwards of $350 each when the time comes to replace them. Disposable batteries can be purchased as needed, and over the same period of time will likely cost less in comparison.
  • What kind of sound environment are you usually in?  If you wear your hearing aids in quiet environments, they may not use as much battery as if you are in noisier environments.
  • Are you someone who does a lot of hiking, camping or outdoor activities where you might not have access to power sources for more than a day? If so, rechargeables might not be the best option for you simply because of power supply availability. In this case, you might be better off carrying an extra pack of disposable batteries with you.
  • Traditional disposable hearing aid batteries are a long-standing and reliable technology that tends to have few problems.  Sometimes, new rechargeable hearing aids, because they have more components including the charging system, can be more likely to have repairs, especially if the battery system isn’t charging.   
  • If you have visual or dexterity limitations, rechargeable hearing aids can be easier to manipulate since changing regular batteries isn’t necessary.

Environmental Concerns

Many consumers lean toward purchasing rechargeable hearing aids because they think they are more environmentally friendly, but really, all disposable hearing aid batteries are recyclable and less harmful to the environment than older mercury-based batteries.

Disposable zinc air batteries, such as the PowerOne batteries sold by Associated Audiologists, are mercury-free and can be safely disposed of in the household trash.

Overall, there are lots of questions to consider if you’re looking at rechargeable hearing aid options. Be sure to talk with your audiologist before deciding which battery option is best for you. Your audiologist is an expert in the latest hearing aid technology, and based on your hearing evaluation and preferences knows whether you are a good candidate for this technology.

Schedule an appointment with a doctoral-level audiologist.