Rechargeable Hearing Aids
Models, Features, Prices, and Reviews
24 September 2019
In the three years since Phonak introduced the first hearing aid with an integrated lithium-ion rechargeable battery, all other major brands have followed suit with rechargeable models. That's because ongoing improvements are constantly increasing battery life and enabling smaller and more flexible form factors. In fact, rechargeable batteries are becoming so attractive that industry watchers are predicting they may soon replace disposable batteries as the preferred solution for hearing aids.
Phonak Audéo Marvel hearing aids recharging in the portable Mini Charger. Integrated LED lights indicate when the hearing aids are charging, and when they are fully-charged.
Rechargeable hearing aid guide
Given the range of choices now available, we have put together a comprehensive guide to the best rechargeable hearing aids for 2019. Click on the links below for detailed information on each topic, or read on for more background on rechargeable hearing aids.
Pros and cons: rechargeable versus disposable
Should you choose a rechargeable hearing aid, or one that uses disposable batteries? Hearing aid users have long made it clear they would generally prefer rechargeable hearing aids over their disposable-battery counterparts.
In our 2016 survey on Rechargeable Hearing Aid Preferences, 70% of respondents said they would prefer rechargeable hearing aids. Even so, 89% said they were still using hearing aids with disposable batteries. But since the survey was taken, new and improved rechargeable hearing aid technologies are changing the pros and cons:
- One charge per day: Until recently, rechargeable hearing aid batteries failed to meet the one-charge-per-day standard that consumers have become accustomed to with their mobile phones. Earlier batteries based on nickel metal hydride technology suffered from shorter life and less stable power output. But new lithium-ion and silver-zinc hearing aid batteries last all day, making an overnight charge easy and convenient.
- Cost: Rechargeable hearing aids generally cost more than hearing aids that use disposables. But constantly replacing disposable batteries with new ones can cost anywhere from $50 to more than $100 dollars per year, depending on how much power your hearing aids draw. So, in comparing hearing aid prices, keep in mind the extra cost of ownership of disposable-battery hearing aids. Read more below.
- Environmental concerns: All batteries, rechargeable and disposable, should be recycled when they eventually wear out. Rechargeable batteries in hearing aids now last several years or more, so you don’t have to worry about recycling very often. Disposables last only a few days or a little over a week, so you have to recycle them frequently (or feel guilty for tossing them in the trash).
- Convenience: Some people find it more convenient to charge their hearing aid batteries overnight. Others find that always having a backup with disposable batteries in their pocket is more convenient. And for people who want to charge their batteries overnight and also have disposable batteries as a backup, ZPower sells silver-zinc rechargeable batteries that can be swapped with disposables on certain hearing aid models. So consumers can find a convenient solution depending on their specific needs.
- Manageability: Hearing aids are small devices that require a lot of manual dexterity. Sometimes older adults or very young kids have trouble getting them into their ears, turning them on and off and, especially, changing those tiny batteries. Rechargeable hearing aids with built-in lithium-ion batteries eliminate that dexterity challenge.
When you look at the pros and cons, it’s clear both disposable hearing aid batteries and rechargeable hearing aids are here to stay. Which you choose depends on your specific needs.
Frequently asked questions about rechargeables
Rechargeable hearing aids are most often premium products from top hearing aid brands. So prices for a pair can range anywhere from approximately $2,500 to $6,000, depending on what other features and functions they have.
Most rechargeable hearing aid manufacturers promise a full day of use on a single charge, so the batteries can be recharged overnight while you are sleeping. The length of time batteries hold their charge varies depending on how the hearing aids are being used. If you stream audio from your phone many hours a day, the batteries will run down faster.
Lithium-ion rechargeable batteries need to be sealed in the hearing aid’s case and can’t be swapped for disposable batteries. ZPower’s silver-zinc rechargeable batteries can be swapped with comparably sized disposable batteries, but only after your hearing aids have been retrofitted to accommodate the ZPower system. (Contact ZPower for a list of compatible hearing aid brands).
Li-ion hearing aid batteries are very safe because they are always sealed in the hearing aid’s case. If the case breaks, you should stop using the hearing aid and have it serviced.
Some electronic products with larger lithium-ion batteries can’t be left in checked baggage. But lithium-ion hearing aids have passed safety checks that let you check them in baggage. You can also wear your hearing aids on airplanes and other public transportation.
Lithium-ion rechargeable batteries
In 2016, Phonak changed the game by introducing the first rechargeable hearing aids with lithium-ion batteries. They utilize the same technology found in your mobile phone and hundreds of other rechargeable consumer products. Providing a strong combination of energy and power density, they can now yield more than a full day of power for hearing aids, even when paired with power-hungry Bluetooth devices. And thanks to their consistent power output, users don’t experience the malfunctions or intermittence that limited hearing aids based on earlier rechargeable technologies.
Over the past three years, other top manufacturers followed Phonak with lithium-ion rechargeable hearing aids of their own. Consumers have generally given most of these premium-level rechargeable hearing aids high marks for performance and ease of use. And they are proving to be reliable, too.
But when you shop for rechargeable hearing aids, it's important to consider that, depending on how you use them, sometimes a benefit can also be a drawback. For instance, for safety and performance reasons, lithium-ion batteries are sealed into the cases of hearing aids. Unlike hearing aids with replaceable disposable batteries, they don't have battery doors. That's a benefit to users who sometimes have difficulty manipulating the small controls on hearing aids and who are happy to have one less moving part to worry about. Sealed batteries also provide better moisture protection for the hearing aids. However, enclosing the battery in the case also means you cannot use disposable hearing aid batteries as a backup when you don't have your charger with you or access to an electrical outlet.
Silver zinc rechargeable batteries
For users who want disposable batteries as a backup, California-based ZPower has a solution that's available for many models of hearing aids. ZPower’s rechargeable batteries are based on silver-zinc technology, which was originally developed by NASA for its Apollo moon missions. Silver-zinc rechargeable batteries have higher energy density than lithium-ion batteries, which means they can come in smaller sizes. They are also non-toxic, 100% recyclable, and non-flammable, whereas lithium-ion batteries that are improperly removed from their sealed cases have the potential to overheat and/or ignite.
ZPower's silver-zinc rechargeable batteries can be swapped with disposable batteries.
Because of their small size, ZPower’s rechargeable batteries can be used instead of standard disposable batteries in many existing hearing aid models. The company developed a retrofit compartment that can be swapped with standard hearing aid battery compartments, allowing them to use ZPower's rechargeable silver-zinc batteries. The retrofit battery compartment is available for many popular hearing aid models, enabling users to stick with the products they already own and are familiar with. (Click here for a list on ZPower's web site).
2019: The Year of the Rechargeable
So many rechargeable hearing aids have been introduced in recent months, that it might even be fair to call 2019 "The Year of the Rechargeable." Following is a list of the top rechargeable hearing aids from the world's leading brands.
Phonak rechargeable hearing aids
Phonak’s Audéo B hearing aid was the the first to use lithium-ion rechargeable batteries. Since then, Phonak has expanded its line of rechargeable hearing aids to five models, all using lithium-ion technology.
Audéo Marvel hearing aids are the flagship models of Phonak’s broad product line. They were the first to enable wireless streaming of all audio content to both ears, in stereo, from Apple iPhones, Android smartphones, and countless Bluetooth devices. And a second rechargeable Audéo Marvel model now also comes with a telecoil.
Charger Case Combi
The Phonak Charger Case Combi is a charger, drying kit and protective hard case all in one. Additionally, it includes a cleaning tool in the robust and splash-proof housing.
Compatible hearing aids
Phonak also introduced rechargeable models for its earlier Belong technology platform—the Phonak Audéo B R, Phonak Bolero B PR, and the Phonak Naída B-R rechargeable hearing aids.
Oticon rechargeable hearing aids
Oticon’s lithium-ion rechargeable battery options are available with its miniRITE R rechargeable hearing aids in the Oticon Opn S family for adults and Oticon Opn Play family for children. It also offers an optional ZPower retrofit system with its original Opn model, with silver-zinc rechargeable batteries that can be swapped with disposable batteries.
An overnight lithium-ion battery charge provides all-day power, and a 30-minute fast charge provides up to six additional hours of hearing aid use.
Compatible hearing aids
ReSound rechargeable hearing aids
With a lithium-ion battery, ReSound LiNX Quattro is ReSound’s longest-lasting rechargeable hearing aid, with power lasting more than a full day per charge.
And for those who want to swap rechargeable batteries with standard disposable batteries, the ZPower silver-zinc rechargeable battery system is available with ReSound LiNX 3D hearing aids.
Signia rechargeable hearing aids
Signia offers a broad range of rechargeable hearing aids utilizing lithium-ion batteries. Charge&Go Nx models provide overnight recharging, and Styletto Connect hearing aids come with a portable charger for use when traveling. The portable charger gives three full charges to a pair of hearing aids, meaning wearers get four full days of hearing aid use without having to plug in.
Widex rechargeable hearing aids
Widex rechargeable hearing aids can utilize replaceable silver-zinc batteries from the ZPower system. Widex Evoke and the earlier-generation Widex Beyond hearing aids both offer models utilizing ZPower’s batteries, which can be swapped with standard zinc-air disposable batteries. If you currently own either EVOKE Fusion 2 or BEYOND Fusion 2 hearing aids, you can ask your audiologist to retrofit them with a new battery door to accommodate the ZPower rechargeable batteries.
Starkey rechargeable hearing aids
Starkey Hearing Technologies’ Livio AI and Livio rechargeable hearing aids use lithium-ion batteries. Starkey’s all-in-one charger holds enough charge to provide portable charging without plugging into the wall. Starkey also offers an optional pocket-size, “grab-and-go” recharger. And Starkey’s older Muse hearing aids come with an optional silver-zinc recharging system from ZPower.
Unitron rechargeable hearing aids
Unitron’s Moxi All hearing aids utilize the ZPower silver-zinc rechargeable battery system. Unitron’s Stride MR and Moxi Fit R hearing aids, based on its earlier North technology platform, also work with the ZPower system.
Philips rechargeable hearing aids
Philips made big news when it scored a deal with Costco to sell its hearing aids. And because the Philips HearLink miniRITE TR hearing aid is manufactured by Oticon, its lithium-ion rechargeable batteries can be expected to perform well.
How much do rechargeable hearing aids cost?
The first rechargeable hearing aids from the top brands have all been top-performing, premium-priced models. But even in the premium category, there is a broad range of prices. If you click on a few of the “Local Deals” under the photos of each hearing aid listed in this post, you may see that prices for rechargeable hearing aids can range anywhere from well under $3,000 a pair to nearly $7,000 per pair.
And when you’re assessing prices, consider the total cost of ownership of hearing aids with disposable batteries versus rechargeable hearing aids. Let’s do some math:
- If you shop around on Amazon for disposable hearing aid batteries, you can purchase them for as little as 35 cents each.
- If you wear your hearing aids in both ears 16 hours per day, and if you plan on getting about 75 hours of use out of each disposable battery, you end up needing approximately 150 hearing aid batteries a year.
- That amounts to more than $50 per year for batteries.
- If you keep your hearing aids for five years, the batteries add $250 to their total cost.
Meanwhile, manufacturers of rechargeable hearing aids are starting to offer warranties that cover batteries for five years or more. That means you won’t incur additional costs if your rechargeable battery stops working during that period. So, when you compare costs with hearing aids that use disposable batteries, keep in mind that paying one or two hundred dollars more for a rechargeable with similar features and performance may provide comparable lifetime value.
ZPower rechargeable hearing aid batteries, which can be substituted for disposable batteries, cost approximately $50 each and need to be replaced once a year. Therefore they add to the lifetime cost of hearing aids that use disposable batteries, but you get the benefits of both disposable and rechargeable batteries.
Looking ahead, a steady stream of additional new rechargeable hearing aid models is expected hit the market in the coming months. Which means more competition, more product-line expansion, and lower-priced options. So if you’re considering a rechargeable hearing aid, be sure to continue checking back to see what current deals on rechargeable hearing aids are being offered near you.
Bonus video: Dr. Cliff gets up close and personal with rechargeable hearing aids
In this popular 2019 video, Dr. Clifford Olson from Applied Hearing Solutions in Anthem Arizona gives a live-action view of rechargeable hearing aids. Follow his YouTube channel for more!