Lithium-Ion vs. Silver-Zinc Rechargeable Hearing Aids

Hearing aids are among the few premium portable electronic devices that until recently completely relied on disposable batteries. The true challenge so far has been to develop a rechargeable battery that is small enough so it can fit even in the smallest hearing aids. Being small isn’t the only requirement though, a tiny battery has to power a hearing aid with increasing battery-hungry features, such as audio streaming, for a full day.

It took a while, but we finally have rechargeable battery technology that’s up for the job. In fact we actually now have two different types of batteries to choose from. In this article, we’re going to look at the pros and cons between lithium-ion and silver-zinc batteries.

But first, a video review on this very topic!

Lithium-ion Batteries

Lithium-ion batteries are well known when it comes to home and portable electronics, they’re the go-to-choice to power your laptop or smartphone. Lithium-ion batteries are common because they charge fast, last long and have a high power density for battery life. They are definitely a good solution for many consumer electronics devices, but are they the best solution for hearing aids? Let’s look at some pros and cons:

Pros
-No more batteries. Ever. With this tech, the battery is built-in and can’t be taken out. If you’ve spent decades fiddling with batteries and want to say “No more!” lithium-ion is the technology for you. Choose it and you’ll never have to deal with those tiny batteries ever again.
-More durability. Since the hearing aid’s case is sealed, it will be more resistant to moisture and dust. And it will have less moving parts too, compared to hearing aids with traditional batteries, so technically they should break less.

Cons
-You can’t use traditional batteries. A lithium-ion battery should last a full day but if you weren’t able to charge it fully or if you do a lot of audio streaming, the battery might not last until the end of the day. If that happens, you can’t just pop in a new disposable battery- you’ll have to put your hearing aids back in their charger and wait.
-You can’t replace the battery yourself. Every 3-4 years you’ll have to get your battery replaced (like we do with laptops). This isn’t something that hearing aid users can do themselves, you’d usually need the provider or even the manufacturer for this job. This might cost up to $200+.

Silver-zinc batteries

A company called Zpower has created a system that allows to retrofit a rechargeable battery on hearing aids that were designed to work with traditional, disposable batteries. Here’s a video of how the system works in detail:

Pros
-You can still use regular batteries. If your rechargeable battery runs out of juice in the middle of something important, you can still pop in a regular battery. If you’re not too bothered by replacing a tiny battery every so often, this is a great feature.
-You can retrofit to existing hearing aids. The ZPower system can be installed on existing hearing aids, so if you are a hearing aid user you can augment your current hearing aid with the convenience of rechargeability!

Cons
-You have to buy a new battery once year. Silver-zinc batteries need to be replaced more frequently than their li-ion cousins but you can do it yourself: the operation is the same as replacing a normal battery. These usually cost about $40 each.
Full charge might not last 24 hrs. Many of our customers have reported that while it’s claimed that silver-zinc batteries should last 24 hrs, the real-life battery life is more like 14-16 hours (which is still plenty for most people).

We hope that we covered the pros and cos of lithium-ion vs silver-zinc rechargeable hearing aids and, as always, should you have any questions please ask in the comments below.

Gianluca Trombetta Gianluca Trombetta Gianluca Trombetta is a hearing aid user and an expert in living well with hearing loss. He teaches hearing aid users how to maximize their communication abilities even in the most challenging situations at getsuperhumanhearing.com.
2 comments
  1. Posted by Jack Luc on 10/17/2018 at 10:42 am | Reply |
    • Posted by Jeff Hall on 10/18/2018 at 10:57 am | Reply |

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