How to Choose the Best Rechargeable Hearing Aids in 2022
When shopping for hearing aids, you have a choice between those that use replaceable button batteries (the type that look like tiny, round discs varying in size) or newer alternatives that offer rechargeable batteries.
"The batteries inside hearing aids are small and often difficult for people with poor dexterity to change. Additionally, button batteries are very dangerous if accidentally ingested. They are also the same shape and size as many of our pills, which can lead to confusion when eyesight is a concern," says Jorgensen.
"The advantage of rechargeable hearing aid batteries is that there is not a battery to change. Patients put the devices into a case every night and the hearing aid charges—much like a cell phone."
If you're considering rechargeable hearing aids, you have dozens of options to choose from. Our Health editors compiled everything you need to know about rechargeable battery technology, the pros and cons of rechargeable hearing aids, and what to look for when you're ready to buy.
Pros and cons of rechargeable hearing aids
Most manufacturers now offer at least one rechargeable hearing aid model. Popular online hearing aid brands like Eargo only make rechargeable hearing aids.
While rechargeable devices have many benefits, they may not be right for everyone. Here are some pros and cons to consider:
- Easy to use: There's no fiddling with tiny batteries, which makes them ideal for people with dexterity or vision issues.
- Convenience: Charging the hearing aids is as simple as dropping them into the charging case each night. "By having to put the hearing aids in the charger, people are more likely to know where the hearing aids are in the morning when they go to put them in their ears," says Jorgensen.
- Durability: The battery is sealed inside the hearing aid. This makes it impervious to moisture and dust. Also, you have less of a chance of breaking or damaging the hearing aid because you aren't continually opening and closing the battery door.
- Excellent battery life: Today's lithium-ion batteries last for four to six years before they need to be replaced.
- Long-lasting performance: Lithium-ion rechargeable hearing aids last for up to 30 hours between charges. Even if you stream audio for several hours a day, most batteries last at least 12 to 18 hours before they need to be recharged.
- Better for the environment: Rechargeable hearing aids create minimal waste compared to disposable batteries. You can go through 100 batteries a year with a pair of regular hearing aids, and most people fail to recycle them.
- Kid- and pet-friendly: Disposable batteries are dangerous to pets and children if they are swallowed. Rechargeable hearing aids eliminate that hazard.
- Charger dependency: Your hearing aids are useless if they can't be charged. If something happens to your charger or charger cord, you could be without the use of your hearing aid until it's able to be repaired. You'll also need to take care to pack your charger whenever you travel.
- Battery life: Lithium ion batteries lose total charge capacity over time meaning that throughout the life of the battery, the length of time that the charge lasts will decrease. "Most patients do not notice a significant difference throughout the life of the battery; however, this is why it is recommended that the battery be changed every four to seven years," explains Jorgensen.
- Fewer hearing aid style options: Although new rechargeable models are being introduced constantly, there are still more models with disposable batteries on the market to choose from today.
In the past, nearly all rechargeable hearing aids were behind-the-ear (BTE) models, but that's no longer the case. Phonak, Eargo, and Starkey, among others, sell nearly invisible in-the-canal rechargeable hearing aids.
It's clear that rechargeable hearing aids are here to stay. As they fit seamlessly with connected, plug-and-play lifestyles, it's not surprising that all major manufacturers and online hearing aid makers offer rechargeable hearing aids. Finding the best one for you is a matter of weighing the features you want against the price you can afford to pay.
The good news is direct-to-consumer hearing aids have put rechargeable technology within reach of almost every budget. Most manufacturers offer low or no-interest financing, and you can get a pair of rechargeable hearing aids with advanced features and Bluetooth connectivity for as little as $50 a month.
With the current generation of lithium-ion batteries, you won't have to worry about battery replacement costs for at least four or five years. The wide range of manufacturers and models means that everyone can find a pair of rechargeable hearing aids that work with their type of hearing impairment and lifestyle.
How we chose the best rechargeable hearing aids
We chose the best rechargeable hearing aids a based on the following criteria:
- Comfort and fit
- Model variability
- Battery life and durability
- Company reputation
- Customer satisfaction reviews
- Special features such as waterproof capability
Frequently asked questions
Do rechargeable hearing aids cost more?
Some online reviews mention cost as a disadvantage of rechargeable hearing aids. That may be true if you're comparing disposable versus rechargeable models offered by major hearing center brands like Costco.
However, with the launch of new direct-to-consumer online hearing aid brands like MDHearingAid, Eargo, and Audicus, it's possible to buy rechargeable hearing aids at a fraction of the cost of traditional brands.
MDHearingAid's rechargeable model, for example, sells for $600 each, and Eargo's high-tech rechargeable hearing aids cost between $1,850 and $2,950 per pair.
While it's true that upfront costs may be slightly higher with some rechargeable models, it's important to factor in the cost of disposable batteries. You can easily spend $200 to $300 every three years on hearing aid batteries. In the end, the costs are fairly equal overall.
How long do rechargeable hearing aids last?
Most people average around five years of use before replacing their rechargeable hearing aids. In many cases, wearers choose to upgrade older rechargeable hearing aids with the latest technology rather than replace the batteries in their existing devices.
"Most manufacturers are reporting that their rechargeable batteries last four to seven years, so patients may want to consider replacing the battery at the end of their warranty cycle. A patient may also want to consider how the rechargeable hearing aid battery is changed out—in the office or at the manufacturer," says Jorgensen.
Can I switch out the batteries in rechargeable hearing aids?
Older rechargeable hearing aids that use silver-zinc batteries may have a battery door so you can switch out your batteries. With newer models, however, the batteries are sealed inside the devices and can only be replaced by the manufacturer or authorized service center.
If your hearing aids use disposable batteries, you can't replace them with rechargeable batteries.
Which hearing aid brands are rechargeable?
Most hearing aid manufacturers now offer at least one line of rechargeable hearing aids. Whether you buy hearing aids online or from an audiologist or hearing center, you should have several rechargeable options to choose from.
"Most rechargeable hearing aids use the same lithium-ion battery, so there is not much difference between the rechargeable options," says Jorgensen.
How long does it take to charge rechargeable hearing aids?
Most rechargeable hearing aids charge overnight while you sleep, but some charge in as few as three hours. Lively, for example, offers hearing aids that provide 30 hours of use on a three-hour charge.
Several manufacturers also offer hearing aids with a quick-charge option. Eargo hearing aids get three hours of use from a 15-minute charge, and Lively promises eight hours on a 30-minute charge.
Sheila Olson has over two decades of experience writing about Medicare, health, and personal finance. Her work has been featured on sites such as Investopedia, The Motley Fool, and Boomer Benefits. Sheila holds a MPH (Master of Public Health) from Northern Arizona University.