Disposable vs. Rechargeable Hearing Aid Batteries

By
Dr. Mandi Solat
Audiologist and Owner of Audiology Services & Hearing Aid Center

It is well known that the power source for hearing aids are batteries.  A patient recently ran out of batteries and asked us to mail some to their house. We sent them, only to realize we sent the usual disposable tabbed batteries and not rechargeable batteries! How embarrassing! We did not think to look if the patient was using disposable, rechargeable, or Z-Power batteries.  We only looked at the battery size they needed.

Since we have been in this business hearing aids have been powered by disposable batteries. We have only replaced a handful of rechargeable batteries, but that is all changing!  Now, the first rechargeable batteries that we fit years ago are starting to need replacement.  We need to train our brains to remember this! 

Many newer hearing aids come with rechargeable batteries.  What is the difference between disposal batteries and rechargeable batteries?  Let us take a quick look at a few pros and cons about each kind. When deciding between disposable or rechargeable batteries most decisions are based on what is best for your lifestyle. 

A little bit of info about disposable batteries and rechargeable:

Disposable batteries are made of Zinc-air.  This means they are air-activated.  Disposables start working when the colored tab is removed.  This allows the air (oxygen) to enter the battery.  It is recommended that after the tab is removed, we wait for a minute before inserting the battery into the hearing aid door.  This allows for a longer battery life. 

There are four battery sizes, with different color tabs: Yellow, Brown, Orange, and Blue.  Do you recognize your battery size/tab below?

Rechargeable batteries will need to be replaced every two or three years.  There are special guidelines when sending rechargeable batteries through the mail, and it’s best to come into our office for this quick change. Rechargeable batteries are made of lithium-Ion.  This is the same type of rechargeable battery also used in laptops and cell phones.  

Which is easier? Disposables need to be changed every four to ten days and are not recyclable.  That might be unappealing to many folks who have ecological concerns, dexterity issues, or even those who do not want to deal with the hassle of changing batteries weekly. This decision is different for everyone.   

Below are a few pros and cons of each type of battery:

Life of the rechargeable battery: Two to three years. Dependent on manufacturer, and hearing aid.  Replacement battery prices range from $65.00--$80.00 currently.

Life of the disposable battery is about four days to one week and can range from $.60-1.50/each.   

You must charge your rechargeable battery every night.  There is no other power source for these hearing aids.  If you travel a lot and are without access to electricity, we recommend disposables.

If you forget to bring your charger on vacation or travel you will be disappointed because your rechargeable hearing aids will lose their power.  That’s when the old back-up disposables come in handy!

If you forget your hearing aid disposable batteries, they can easily be located at most drug stores, grocery stores, or convenience stores.  Always check the expiration date when purchasing hearing aid batteries. The date is usually located on the lower back of the pack.  

Rechargeable batteries are so much easier than disposables for insertion/removal of batteries.  There is no weekly battery insertion or removal!   

No more dirty battery contacts or rusting doors with rechargeable.

Rechargeable hearing aids are a slight bit heavier than hearing aids that use disposables.

Our office has received positive feedback about rechargeable hearing aids from patients.  Previous users are incredibly happy to be finished with changing their disposable batteries every week. 

Z-Power Battery Replacement Options

Lastly, we want to mention that when rechargeable batteries made their introduction into our market in 2016/2017.  Many hearing aid companies utilized a battery built/constructed by a company called Z-Power.  Z-Power was the first battery line to offer rechargeable hearing aid batteries for hearing aids that use disposable batteries.  The hearing aid industry was incredibly optimistic towards Z-Power as we had been waiting for this for a long time.  Unfortunately, Z-Power filed for voluntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection March 17th, 2020, in the Northern District of Texas.  

To our industries disappointment, we are not able to purchase Z-Power batteries any longer. Luckily, there is the ability to replace the Z-Power battery with a disposable battery.  If you purchased Z-Power rechargeable batteries, we did some research and listed below what each hearing aid company is offering their customers who purchased the Z-Power battery.  

Oticon’s offering for Z-Power Battery Replacements
  • Regular disposable batteries through the end of the warranty.
  • A buy one, get one upgrade on the new current MORE rechargeable hearing aid.  Rest assured the OPN S and MORE hearing aid rechargeable lithium-Ion batteries are working fine with no issues. 
  • Expiration for exchange is July 31st, 2021
Starkey’s offering for Z-Power Battery Replacements
  • Will replace hearing aids with a comparable model charging $99.00 for the charging case.
Widex and Unitron offering for Z-Power Battery Replacements
  • Widex offered programs for exchanging. This offer has expired. 
ReSound’s offering for Z-Power Battery Replacements
  • Free batteries for the remainder of their warranty period.
  • Exchange offering has expired.

Phonak and Signia never offered Z-Power.  Their batteries were lithium-ion from the start.

Contact our Audiology practice with any questions.

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Thank you for considering our practice for your purchase of Oticon accessories. Please submit the form with your accessory selections and we will contact you for next steps. Thank you!
Dr. Mandi Solat
Audiologist, Co-Owner
“Being an Audiologist is a calling. I am passionate about what I do because hearing loss has had a profound effect on my life. Any life changed through the gift of hearing is a personal success.”
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