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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 launched by Starkey in 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 integrated into the hearing aid – the user cannot change 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.

The best rechargeable hearing aids of 2021

(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 Xperience (X) : 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 ONE : lithium-ion

ReSound launched the LiNX Quattro lithium-ion rechargeable hearing aid in 2019, which has now been replaced by the ReSound ONE.

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 charger unit holds extra charge for 3 days cable free charging – great for short trips away.

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 Paradise and Bolero Marvel Marvel.

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

Available in 3 models – Audeo P-R, Audeo P-RT and Bolero M-PR.

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 ‘Discover Next’ : lithium-ion

Unitron entered the rechargeable hearing aid market in 2019.

The latest Unitron Discover Next platform offers lithium-ion rechargeable hearing aid technology.

Available in 2 rechargeable RIC models – Discover Next ‘MOXI MOVE R’ and Discover Next ‘MOXI JUMP RT’ (with telecoil) and a BTE model Discover Next ‘STRIDE PR’.

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.

The charging case doubles up as a dehumidifier which reduces moisture damage and thus also hearing aid repairs.

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

Widex ‘Moment’ : lithium-ion

Widex launched their first lithium-ion rechargeable hearing aid in 2020 during the storm of Covid and hence didn’t see the take off that they’d hoped for. That said – Widex Moment is a supremely good hearing aid offering many features.

Widex Moment offers:

16-20 hours of listening (depending on streaming time with full 4 hour charge).

30 minute fast charge for 4 hours listening

Drop-in lightweight charging case

The Widex charger does not offer portable cable free charging

Oticon ‘MORE’ : lithium-ion

Oticon’s latest rechargeable offering is Oticon MORE – rechargeable Mini-RITE-R with telecoil included.

Available at 3 technology levels – MORE 1, 2 and 3 (1 being best).

Lower specification models available in the Oticon RUBY range.

The Oticon charger uses inductive charging technology for ongoing reliability. New battery protection mode protects from over-charging degrading the battery life.

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.

Bernafon’APLHA’ : lithium-ion

Bernafon’s latest rechargeable hearing aid is ALPHA – a rechargeable hearing aid with with telecoil included.

Available at 3 technology levels – ALPHA 9, 7 and 5 (9 being best).

The Bernafon charger uses inductive charging technology for ongoing reliability. Battery protection mode protects from over-charging degrading the battery life.

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

IMPORTANT NOTE: Bernafon policy is that rechargeable batteries in their 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!

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