Rechargeable Hearing Aids
Smart technology leads to increased battery consumption
In the past decade, hearing aid technology has come a very long way. These days, most hearing aids are wireless devices that are able to connect to your smartphones and even one model that connects directly to the Internet. nnHearing aid wearers are now able to stream phone conversations, music, and other media from their smartphones directly to their hearing aids through a wireless connection. Through downloadable apps, wearers have a whole world of features at their fingertips. nnMany hearing aids also offer an incredible GPS function. When wearers change their listening preferences, smartphone apps archive user preferences and when they return to these locations, the hearing aid automatically switches to pre-set preferences. Aside from these conveniences, hearing aids are also powered by very fast processing platforms and operating systems, providing wearers with incredible features to amplify sound, recognize speech, and locate sounds within their environment. nAs with many of our portable electronic devices, hearing aids require a great amount of energy to perform these functions. This leads to high battery consumption, which comes with its own set of complications. n
The problem with hearing aid batteries
Most hearing aids operate in the 1 to 1.6 voltage (V) range, with the most common battery the zinc air. nWith traditional hearing aids that do not boast new digital and wireless technology, zinc air hearing aid batteries could last anywhere between one to two weeks, which meant binaural hearing aid wearers used, on average, 100 zinc air batteries a year. nnHowever, with the higher energy usage of wireless technology, zinc air batters last one to two days, on average. This means that 150 billion zinc air hearing aid batteries are disposed of annually. nnObviously, this comes at a cost to both the hearing aid wearer and the environment. Depending on usage, some hearing aid wearers estimate spending approximately $150 a year on hearing aid batteries. Additionally, zinc air batteries are not good for the environment u2013 because they are not recyclable. As they land in landfills, zinc air batteries become an environmental hazard, which run the risk of seeping lead and acid into underground water supplies. nnThis begs the questions: how do we efficiently and responsibly power our new, advanced hearing aids with extraordinary features while ensuring limited battery waste?n
Rechargeable hearing solutions
Rechargeable hearing aid battery solutions have existed for a few decades, but until recently, they were not commonly used. Nowadays, rechargeable battery technology has improved in terms of battery life as well as varietals of battery size. These major improvements in rechargeable technology has led to solutions that benefit both the hearing aid wearer and the environment. At Green Tree Audiology, we offer several rechargeable hearing aid battery options for hearing aids in St. Louis.
Sivantos Group, the parent company of Siemens and Signia, offers the eCharger. The eCharger is compatible with several Siemens and Signia hearing aid models: Carat and Pure (both receiver-in-canal), as well as Motion (behind-the-ear).The eCharger is a simple device and easy to use: hearing aid wearers simply place their Siemens/Signia hearing aids into a chamber overnight (at least 6 hours) and wake up to fully charged batteries. The eCharger also functions simultaneously as a dehumidifier. Siemens and Signia rechargeable hearing aids require one pair of rechargeable batteries per year.
Starkey Hearing Technology’s VFusion Rechargeable Battery System has revolutionized the way batteries are charged. VFusion is a USB device that charges special batteries produced by Starkey. A single charge gives batteries 18+ hours of power, which then gives Starkey hearing aid wearers a level of confidence in their hearing aids as they make their way through the day. To use VFusion, simply place batteries into a USB thumb-drive (which holds two batteries). You could even use your computer to charge these batteries through the USB drive! The VFusion costs $130 upfront, but it’s a great investment, as hearing aid wearers only need to purchase two pairs of rechargeable VFusion batteries annually.
Phonak Audeo B-R
Phonak’s Audeo B-R is the company’s first hearing aid with a rechargeable battery system. The Audeo B-R is a receiver-in-canal hearing aid that is powered by a new lithium-ion rechargeable battery. Along with brand-new features with the Belong Processing Platform, the Audeo B-R is the first hearing aid with a built-in lithium-ion rechargeable battery that provides 2 hours of hearing. Additionally, the Phonak B-R offers the fastest charging time, for the longest lasting battery power.Phonak B-R wearers only need to charge their batteries for 30 minutes, which gives 6 hours of immediate use. A longer charging time yields longer battery life. Phonak B-R hearing aids are charged with the new Phonak Charger Case, and the lithium-ion battery lasts through the lifetime of the hearing aid, which means wearers will no longer need to buy batteries!
ZPower is an independent battery company that is not affiliated with any hearing aid manufacturer. ZPower offers a silver-zinc (AgZn) rechargeable battery, which consists of three parts: a rechargeable battery, a charger, and a new battery door custom made for selected hearing aids. nnZPower batteries last 24 hours on a single charge. It requires that a new battery door is custom-fitted on your existing hearing aids. ZPower AgZN batteries need to be replaced once a year. If you are curious as to whether your current hearing aids may be adapted to the ZPower system, ask us at Green Tree Audiology.