How to Choose the Best Rechargeable Hearing Aids in 2021
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.
Rechargeable Hearing Aids FAQs
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?
Our research shows that 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.
Rechargeable Hearing Aids Review
The editors at Health looked at some of the most popular rechargeable hearing aids currently on the market. We considered several factors, including:
- Technology and features
- Brand reputation and customer service
- Price and warranty
- Customer reviews
Based on our research, the following rechargeable hearing aids should be at the top of your list when you're ready to shop.
Audicus is an online hearing aid company, which means you can complete a hearing test and buy and fit your hearing aids without ever leaving home.
The Clara is a slim receiver-in-canal hearing aid with adaptive technology that automatically adjusts to your hearing needs and environment. It has two directional microphones and advanced noise reduction, as well as feedback cancellation technology. It's available with 16 or 20 channels and a power receiver suitable for those with moderate to severe hearing loss. Bluetooth connectivity for audio streaming is optional, as is a Bluetooth remote.
Cost: $699 and up, depending on options, with a free 12-month manufacturer's warranty. A full coverage protection plan including replacement of lost devices is also available for a monthly subscription fee.
See our full review of Audicus hearing aids here.
To buy: Audicus.com or call 1-833-766-4780
Eargo Neo and Neo HiFi
Eargo is an award-winning online hearing aid company known for its nearly invisible rechargeable hearing aids. Both the Neo and Neo HiFi have advanced noise reduction, feedback cancellation, and wind reduction technology. The hearing aids are compatible with the Eargo app, which enables precision adjustment and a customized fit.
Eargo offers a quick-charge carrying case that provides three hours of use with a 15-minute charge. If you're an active adult on the go, we think you'll especially love this feature. The company is also known for its generous warranty program that covers everything from manufacturer defects to lost or damaged hearing aids. Eargo also offers unlimited phone and video support for as long as you own your hearing aids.
Cost: The Neo sells for $2,350 per pair, and the Neo HiFi costs $2,950 per pair, although discounts are occasionally available. The comprehensive warranty is free and lasts for 12 months for the Neo and 24 months for the Neo HiFi.
See our full review of Eargo hearing aids here.
To buy: Eargo.com, $400 off Neo Hifi for a limited time
Lively Rechargeable Hearing Aids
Lively is an online hearing aid company that gets rave reviews from customers. It sells a nearly invisible BTE hearing aid available with either rechargeable or disposable batteries. Lively offers best-in-class performance with up to 30 hours of use on a three-hour charge and eight hours of use on a 30-minute charge. It also offers Bluetooth connectivity for effortless streaming. The Lively app makes hearing aid adjustments simple and discreet. Lively earned our Editor's Choice award for best hearing aids in 2021.
We especially love the multiple color options they offer. You can choose one that matches your hair color if you're concerned about people noticing you wear hearing aids.
Lively also offers excellent on-demand support from licensed audiologists through the app. The hearing aids come with three full years of personal support, which can save hundreds of dollars on office visits.
Cost: Rechargeable hearing aids cost $2,250, which includes a three-year warranty against loss, damage, and manufacturer defects.
See our in-depth review of Lively here.
To buy: ListenLively.com
MDHearingAid is a pioneer in the online hearing aid market. It sells value-priced hearing aids with the most popular features and technology. The VOLT+ has advanced audio quality and noise reduction technology for optimal listening in even the noisiest environments.
If you're an outdoor adventurer or spend a lot of time at the gym, we think you'll especially love the VOLT+'s waterproof coating, which protects your hearing aids from sweat, occasional downpours, or even an accidental dip in the pool or hot tub. Although the VOLT+ lacks some customization options, its preset audio profiles work for roughly 94% of all hearing issues according to the company.
Cost: Although the cost is $600 each, the company offers frequent buy-one-get-one sales to get a pair for just $600. Price includes a 90-day warranty against manufacturer defects, and a comprehensive protection plan is available for an extra fee.
Read our full MDHearingAid review here.
To buy: MDHearingAid.com
Phonak is a well-known hearing aid manufacturer and the first to offer lithium-ion rechargeable batteries. The Audeo is a "smart" hearing aid that senses your surroundings and adjusts automatically to allow you to hear well in every situation.
There are multiple versions of the Audeo, including the B-Direct, which connects to any Bluetooth phone. The Audeo promises a full day of use on a single charge, even with unlimited streaming. Phonak rechargeable hearing aids are known for their durability. Many customers have their hearing aids for six years without ever having to replace the batteries. Phonak also offers various accessories, such as a TV connector to stream audio directly from your TV and the ComPilot Air that connects to MP3 players, tablets, and laptop computers.
Cost: Prices range from $2,698 per pair to $4,798 per pair depending on the rechargeable version you choose.
The Widex Moment is billed as the "world's first smart hearing aid." It continually learns and adapts to your preferences and surroundings. It uses advanced technology and an interactive app to let you customize your experience. The app makes it easy to get service and support remotely, which is a real plus for those wanting to avoid COVID-19 exposure at hearing centers.
The Widex Moment is available in several models and is suitable for mild to profound hearing loss. It has Bluetooth connectivity so you can stream from any Bluetooth device. The Moment has a waterproof coating to protect against damage from moisture and comes in 13 colors to match your personal style.
Cost: Prices range from $2,798 per pair to $4,598 per pair depending on the rechargeable version you choose.
Rechargeable Hearing Aids: The Bottom Line
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.
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.