How to Get the Most From Your Hearing Aid Batteries
How long should my hearing aid battery last? This is one of the most common questions clients ask our Audiologists. The interesting thing is that hearing aid battery life is different for everyone and depends on a number of factors such as battery size, your hearing loss, the features of the hearing aid, how often you use it and how you look after the batteries.
When discussing hearing aids, your helpful Attune Audiologist will give you information on the different battery options to help decide which one is right for you.
The Different Types of Hearing Aid Batteries
1. Disposable Hearing Aid Batteries
There are four different disposable hearing aid battery sizes available:
- Size 10 – Used in discreet hearing aids, such as completely-in-canal and receiver-in-canal, this battery is the smallest of the types.
- Size 312 – This battery is found in most in-the-canal, behind-the-ear and receiver-in-canal hearing aids.
- Size 13 – This battery is found in larger behind-the-ear and in-the-ear hearing aids.
- Size 675 – Mainly used for high-power behind-the-ear hearing aids and cochlear implants, this battery is the largest of all the types.
Your Attune Audiologist will advise you which battery size and type you have when you are fitted with your hearing aid/s. However, battery information can also be found in the documentation provided in the hearing aid case.
Like with most things, the hearing aid battery size affects the battery life. The larger the battery size, the more charge it holds. Therefore, smaller batteries will run out of power before larger batteries. The compromise for smaller sized hearing aids is the shorter battery life.
Disposable hearing aid batteries are different to standard button batteries, in that they are zinc-air type batteries. Zinc-air batteries are powered by oxygen from the air mixing with zinc in the battery. Your Audiologist may have shown that you need to peel a sticker off the battery when you remove it from the packet. If you look closely at the battery, there are small air holes on top. Peeling off the sticker essentially activates the battery, so for this reason, stickers should be left on until needed in the hearing aids. Once exposed to oxygen, the hearing aid battery will only last a few weeks. If left unopened in the packet, they should last for several years (the expiration date will be on the back of the packet).
Your Audiologist will show you the best way to insert and remove your batteries. Battery manufacturer Power One advises that when handling disposable batteries, it’s important not to handle it too much as oil from your skin can prevent the battery from operating properly. In addition, it’s important not to have loose batteries in your pocket or bag, as contact with metal such as keys can cause the battery to short-circuit.
Once the sticker has been peeled off, it takes approximately ten seconds for the battery to be activated. The battery door of the hearing aid should not be closed before this for optimal operation. The way you store your batteries is also important – don’t put them in the fridge! The optimal storage temperature is between 10-30° Celsius. Excessive heat, such as leaving in a hot car, can shorten the life of the battery.
2. Rechargeable Hearing Aid Batteries
Over the last few years, rechargeable hearing aid batteries have become more common due to convenience and the negative environmental impact of disposable batteries. As there are many different brands of hearing aids, there are also many types of rechargeable batteries. Some are built-in to the hearing aid and some can be removed and swapped with disposable batteries. All rechargeable hearing aids, no matter the type, need to be charged every night.
Lithium-ion batteries are the most common in-built rechargeable battery. These batteries have a high capacity and no memory effect, so they don’t need to be flat before being charged. In fact, it is better not to run them down as this can affect their ability to retain charge. A good rule of thumb is that if you take your hearing aids out, place them back in the charger. When used correctly like this, lithium-ion batteries should last many years. Hearing aid manufacturer Signia advises that when used correctly, a lithium-ion battery should retain up to 80% of capacity after two years of use.
The two most common types of rechargeable hearing aid batteries that are removable and interchangeable with disposable batteries are zinc and nickel metal hydride. The advantage of being able to interchange the batteries means that if you don’t have access to power, you can swap to a disposable battery. These two types of hearing aid batteries are the same size as disposable batteries, so it’s important you keep track of which battery you are using.
There will usually be no air holes in the rechargeable models, and sometimes they can be a different colour. Typically, these batteries will only last 6-12 months before needing to be replaced.
The ‘Contact Lens’ Hearing Aid
The only hearing aid that does not have a battery that needs to be changed or charged is Phonak Lyric™, a completely invisible hearing aid worn 24 hours a day. Placed deep inside your ear canal, the Phonak Lyric™ hearing aid can last anywhere from five weeks to three months and works until the in-built battery goes flat. The battery life depends on your hearing loss and the amount of moisture present in your ear canal. Once the battery life goes flat, you can visit your local Audiologist to have it replaced.
Factors That Influence Battery Life
1. Hearing levels
Did you know that your hearing levels have a direct impact on how long your hearing aid battery will last? The volume of the hearing aid is based on your audiogram, the graph obtained during your hearing test. A mild hearing loss only requires slight volume and minimal power. However, a severe hearing loss will use more battery power as it has a higher volume. If your ears have similar hearing, you should roughly get the same battery life for both hearing aids. If one ear is much worse than the other, then the battery in the severe ear will go flat first.
2. Hearing aid usage
How much you use your hearing aids will also influence how long the batteries last. For a size 312 battery with a mild to moderate hearing loss worn 3-4 hours a day, you may get 7-10 days of battery life. However, if you wear it 12 hours per day, you may get 4-7 days of battery life. Your Audiologist will recommend you wear the hearing aid as much as possible for the best hearing outcome. It’s not recommended to save batteries by not using your hearing aids.
3. Turning off your hearing aid
Another way you can save the life of your hearing aid battery is by turning off your hearing aids when you aren’t wearing them. For disposable batteries, this is done by opening the battery door to turn the hearing aid off, and closing it again to turn it on. Rechargeable batteries will usually turn off automatically when placed in the charger. However, every hearing aid is different, so make sure to ask one of our friendly Audiologists at Attune if you aren’t sure.
4. Using Bluetooth
Using Bluetooth or streaming audio to your hearing aids will also influence the battery life. Many newer hearing aids have built-in Bluetooth, while others connect to Bluetooth via an external accessory. However, the same rule applies: Using Bluetooth will drain the batteries faster. If the connection is active but not being used, it will only minimally affect battery life. However, if you stream phone calls and media for a few hours per day, the battery will drain faster. You can manually connect and disconnect your smart devices to the hearing aids – your Audiologist can show you how to manage this in your smart device settings.
To Sum It Up
While there are many factors that influence battery life, getting the most out of your hearing aid batteries comes down to good management.
Regularly cleaning your hearing aids, including wiping off moisture after use, turning them off at night, disconnecting from Bluetooth when you aren’t using it, and looking after spare batteries carefully are the main factors in getting the most out of your batteries.