Rechargeable Hearing Aids

No more fiddling with batteries!

Rechargeable hearing aids have been around for many years, with leading German company ‘Siemens Hearing Instruments‘ paving the way with behind-ear models, and Hansaton (another German company) being the only brand to have released in-ear rechargeable hearing aids. (Note: ‘Siemens Hearing’ is now ‘SIGNIA’ which is owned by Sivantos).

These hearing aids used batteries that reduced hearing aid performance over increasing periods of charge cycles and thus never really developed that far. However, developments in alternative battery technology has progressed and all leading hearing aid manufacturers are now offering high specification rechargeable hearing aids – with new custom in-ear rechargeable hearing aids to be launched by Starkey in 2020.

Let’s take a look at the latest rechargeable hearing aids on offer by the leading brands.

Firstly – Understand the battery types

Silver-zinc

In 2017 a company called Z-Power teamed up with several hearing aid manufacturers and produced a hearing aid battery charging unit which can be adapted to suit different hearing aids simply by changing the charging insert tray – the hearing aid manufacturers then simply had to produce a hearing aid battery door conversion kit for their hearing aids so that the hearing aids could be inserted into the trays to charge the batteries up.  This meant that the leading hearing aid brands had now a rechargeable option, without having to put in much development time – and this kick-started competition in the rechargeable market. All very good, but two problems: the charging units are expensive at around £300+; and silver-inc batteries degrade over time, slowly affecting performance. More information on ‘Z-Power‘.

There has been a third problem reported since – the units (or thebatteries) appear to be quite unreliable.

Z-Power rechargeable hearing aids and conversion kits have effectively now been replaced by lithium-ion rechargeable hearing aids (as of 2019/2020).

Lithium-Ion

Lithium-ion battery technology is creeping into all gadgets – and hearing aids are no exception. Why? – because lithium-ion batteries charge quicker, last longer on a charge, they do not deteriorate from partial charging (after a first full charge) and the batteries do not degrade in performance over time (although the charge capacity will drop over time). The main consequence being that lithium-ion is volatile and therefore is more hazardous and requires more care in development. (Note: If posting lithium-ion rechargeable hearing aids you should attach a hazardous substance sticker which is supplied at the post office).

Lithium-ion batteries are therefore integrated into the hearing aid – the user cannot change of handle the battery.

Lithium-ion rechargeable hearing aids were originally bigger than silver-zinc hearing aids, until the introduction of the slim-line Signia Styletto. Lithium-ion rechargeable hearing aids will inevitably become smaller.

So – we recommend Lithium-Ion hearing aids

The best rechargeable hearing aids of 2020

(in no particular order)

Note – battery usage times will decrease over time and with wireless streaming use

Starkey LIVIO Ai : lithium-ion

Starkey have excelled themselves with their latest rechargeable hearing aid – the Starkey Livio AI – with more technology than any other hearing aid! Full Direct StreamingMade for iPhoneMade for AndroidArtificial Intelligence

The main larger portable charger is supplied with the hearing aids and includes space for a dehumidifier drying crystal

3.5 hour charge for a full day use (20 hours with 3 hours of audio streaming). A 15 min charge will give a few hours of wearing time. The charger also holds charge for 3 days portable charging.

The mini-turbo charger provides 3.5 hours use in just 7 minutes of charging.

The hearing aid battery should last 4-5 years and will need to be replaced by the manufacturer – there will be a fee for this if the hearing aid warranty has expired.

Signia : lithium-ion

Current rechargeable hearing aids include Signia Pure ‘X’ Charge & Go (receiver-in-canal), Signia Motion ‘Nx’ Charge & Go (BTE) and the ultra Signia Styletto ‘X’.

Signia Styletto ‘X’ : 19 hours use on one full charge. A full charge takes 3 hours. A 30 minute charge gives 5 hours of use. Portable charger holds 4 days of cable free charging power. The hearing aid battery in Signia Styletto lasts efficiently for about 500 charges. After 3 years it will run at approximately 80% capacity.

Signia Pure ‘X’ Charge-&-Go : battery life after each charge is 23 hrs, 21hrs with 5 hrs streaming. If the aids are under warranty they are replaced.

Hearing aid batteries will need to be replaced by the manufacturer – there will be a fee for this if the hearing aid warranty has expired. This will be approx. £150 per hearing aid for the Signia Stylettos, and likely £50 per hearing aid for Signia Charge & Go (Pure and Motion).

ReSound Quattro : lithium-ion

ReSound launched the LiNX Quattro lithium-ion rechargeable hearing aid in 2019.

3 hours charge gives 30 hours of wear time, or 24 hours with streaming use. 1 hour charge gives 16 hours wear time. 30 min charge gives 8 hours of wear time.

The portable charger holds extra charge for 5-6 travel days cable free charging.

The hearing aid battery and the charger battery lasts approx. 4 years, by which time they will likely run at 80% charge capacity. The hearing aid battery will need to to be replaced by the manufacturer – the battery is covered under their extended warranty.

Phonak : lithium-ion

Phonak entered the rechargeable hearing aid market in 2017. Their latest rechargeable hearing aids are  Phonak Audeo Marvel and Bolero Marvel Marvel.

Lithium-ion rechargeable and the first ever ‘made for android & iPhone‘ hearing aid.

Available in 3 models – Audeo M-R, Audeo M-RT and Bolero M-PR. Also still available is the slightly older Naida B-R.

3 hours for a full days use. 30 min charge for 6 hours use. The battery lasts approximately 6 years – it will need returning for replacement after this period and a replacement fee will apply.

A disadvantage is that Phonak only supply the mini-charger (shown left) with the hearing aids – it is extra cost for the larger charger and for the portable charging pack.

Unitron: lithium-ion

Unitron entered the rechargeable hearing aid market in 2019.

The Unitron Discover lithium-ion rechargeable is the current premium rechargeable hearing aid by Unitron is  ‘made for Android & iPhone‘.

Available in 2 rechargeable RIC models – Discover Moxi Jump R and Discover Moxi Jump RT (with telecoil).

3 hours charge gives a full day of wear timee. 30 min charge for 6 hours use. The battery lasts approximately 6 years – it will need returning for replacement after this period and a replacement fee will apply.

Unitron supply the battery charger case AND the portable battery pack with purchases of their hearing aids.

Update on Widex Moment hearing aids coming soon

Oticon OPN-S : lithium-ion

The second generation OPN hearing aids – ‘OPN-S’ – are now rechargeable Mini-RITE-R with telecoil included.

Available at 3 technology levels – OPN-S 1, 2 and 3.

The Oticon charger uses inductive charging technology for ongoing reliability.

3 hour charge gives 24-26 hours use, 1 hour charge for 50% use, 30 minute charge for 25% use.

Daily charge usage time will reduce if streaming audio, and will be at about 85% after 3 years.

The Oticon charger does not hold charge for cable-free portable charging.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Oticon have stated that the rechargeable batteries in the hearing aids are not covered by the warranty period of the hearing aids – the batteries only have a 1 year warranty. This is important to know as it means there WILL be a fee to pay when the battery needs replacing, regardless of the warranty period on the hearing aids – however, these batteries can be changed by the Audiologist (rather than needing to be sent to the manufacturer as per other brands) and the fee will likely be less than £50 per hearing aid.

A look to the future

The inventor of lithium ion battery technology – Mr John Goodenough.

Developments are being made for higher capacity, increased longevity and quicker charging batteries, which will in turn find their way into the hearing aid market and will allow for smaller rechargeable hearing aids.

We hope to see real developments coming from thermal batteries – whereby the hearing aids can run on the heat of our body!