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Rechargeable vs. battery hearing aids: Which is right for you?

Last update on Jun, 28, 2024

Every hearing aid is powered by batteries. However, the type of battery varies—some hearing aids use disposable batteries, while others use rechargeable batteries—and both deserve some consideration when you’re thinking about getting hearing aids.

So which is better: hearing aids with disposable batteries or rechargeable hearing aids? It can be a highly personal choice that depends on a number of factors. This guide will help you understand the differences between the two kinds of batteries so you can pick the best hearing aid for your budget and preferences.

What is a disposable battery-powered hearing aid?

Disposable battery-powered hearing aids use small, removable zinc-air or button cell batteries to power the electronic parts of your hearing aid. These electronic parts include the microphone, receiver and internal processing components. The batteries must be replaced regularly for disposable battery-powered hearing aids to keep working—how often depends on the model you have and your usage.

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Pros of disposable battery-powered hearing aids

Traditionally, all hearing aids were powered by disposable batteries. It’s only in recent years that rechargeable hearing aids have hit the market. Because of their ubiquity, you can easily find disposable battery-powered hearing aids. Miracle-Ear offers a variety of disposable battery-powered hearing aids in different styles and technology levels

The upfront cost of disposable battery-powered hearing aids is generally lower than that of rechargeable devices. However, the price may depend on where you buy your hearing aids, as well as the style and other features of the hearing aid. 

Cons of disposable battery-powered hearing aids

One downside of disposable battery-powered hearing aids is that the batteries must be regularly replaced for the hearing aid to keep working. This means keeping replacement batteries on hand at all times. Fortunately, many hearing aids will give you a “low battery” alert so that you know when it’s time to replace your batteries, before they fully die.

So, how long do disposable hearing aid batteries last? It depends on the brand and how often you use them. However, 10 to 16 days is typical. Maximize the battery life by waiting to remove the sticker until you’re ready to use the battery. Conserve power by leaving the battery door open while you sleep and turning off your hearing aids when not in use.

Hearing aids use smaller disposable batteries than many electronic devices, which can make them tricky to handle. People with dexterity challenges may struggle with switching dead disposable batteries out and replacing them with new ones. Children who wear hearing aids may have a tough time handling small batteries, too.
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What is a rechargeable hearing aid?

Rechargeable hearing aids use built-in lithium-ion batteries that don’t need to be replaced. Instead, you set your hearing aids into or onto a charger, similar to your cell phone or tablet. Once the batteries have recharged, you can use your hearing aids again.

The pros of rechargeable hearing aids

Rechargeable hearing aids generally have a longer lifespan than battery-powered hearing aids. How long do rechargeable hearing aids last? It depends on the materials with which they’re made, the style of the device and how often they’re cleaned. However, the average hearing aid lifespan is three to seven years.

The cost of rechargeable hearing aids tends to be higher than battery-powered ones. But with rechargeable hearing aids, you don’t need to buy replacement batteries. The average yearly cost of single-use batteries can range from $30 to $150 for both hearing aids. Depending on how many years you use your hearing aids, rechargeable hearing aids may be more cost-effective over time.

One of the benefits of rechargeable hearing aids is that it’s easier to charge batteries than it is to replace them. Placing them in their charging port is easy, and they can conveniently charge while you sleep each night. Plus, you don’t have to plan on carrying replacement batteries around. 

Rechargeable batteries are more environmentally friendly than tossing them. However, note that disposable hearing aid batteries can—and should—be recycled. The zinc-air batteries found in most hearing aids contain low levels of mercury. When you throw these batteries in with the household trash, they get incinerated or wind up in a landfill. The mercury released can cause environmental harm, affecting air and water quality.

The small batteries in battery-powered hearing aids can be tempting to children, who might accidentally swallow them. Because of this, rechargeable hearing aids can be safer than battery-powered styles for children who wear hearing aids or those who live in or frequently visit a household where someone else wears them.

The cons of rechargeable hearing aids

So, what are the disadvantages of rechargeable hearing aids? While you don’t need to worry about replacing batteries, you need to charge the batteries regularly. Most rechargeable hearing aids last up to eight hours with a 30-minute charge. But if you want your hearing aids to work up to 24 hours, you’ll have to charge them overnight.

Rechargeable hearing aids tend to be more convenient and have a longer lifespan. Therefore, the upfront cost of rechargeable hearing aids is often higher than battery-powered ones. The average hearing aid price is between $1,000 and $5,000. However, the exact cost varies, depending on the technology, style and other attributes of the hearing aid.

The batteries in rechargeable hearing aids can last a long time. However, there may come a point when they stop charging. If that happens, you may wonder: Can rechargeable hearing aid batteries be replaced? You can’t replace a rechargeable battery yourself—but if the battery fails, the device can be sent back to the manufacturer for replacement, if this is a repair that falls under the standard warranty for your devices.
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Looking for the hearing aid for you?

If you still have questions, visit a Miracle-Ear Hearing Aid Center. Our hearing care professionals can help you choose between disposable battery-powered and rechargeable hearing aids. Look for the Miracle-Ear Hearing Aid Center nearest you.

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