Hearing Aid Batteries: An Overview
Whether you are buying hearing aids online or through a hearing professional after taking a hearing test, these hearing devices require batteries to operate properly. Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all with hearing aid batteries. Some hearing devices operate on disposable batteries while others use rechargeable ones.
Regardless of which battery type your hearing aids take, if you experience any level of hearing loss, hearing aids offer many benefits. “Some of the greatest benefits are that they reduce loneliness, delay dementia, and improve overall quality of life,” said Philipp Orso, founder of Makehear.
Understanding the various types of batteries that are used by different hearing aids can help you choose the best hearing aids for your lifestyle.
Here, we provide an in-depth look at hearing aid batteries, including types, sizes, life span, typical styles, and most popular brands.
Rechargeable Hearing Aid Batteries
There are currently three different types of rechargeable hearing aid batteries:
- Nickel-metal Hydride
All major hearing aids use lithium-ion batteries. For example, this type of battery powers smartphones, laptops, and other electronics. These batteries are more expensive than disposable batteries, but they only need to be replaced about once every five years. One drawback is that they need to be charged about once every 16 hours or so.
Some popular rechargeable hearing aid brands include:
- Jabra Enhance
Disposable Hearing Aid Batteries
Disposable batteries were the standard in most hearing aids until about a decade ago, when technology made rechargeable batteries more reliable and longer lasting. There are, however, still many hearing aids on the market with disposable batteries. The majority use zinc-air batteries. These tiny, button-shaped batteries are powered by oxidizing zinc with oxygen from the air. They’re also relatively inexpensive to make.
There are four common sizes of disposable hearing aid batteries—10, 312, 13, and 675. All are smaller than a dime. Very rarely, hearing aids will use other sizes of batteries, such as the size 5 battery. These batteries are color-coded red and are the smallest type of hearing aid battery available. They are also harder to come by.
Some of the best-rated hearing aid batteries include:
- Duracell hearing aid batteries
- Rayovac hearing aid batteries
- Power One hearing aid batteries
- Panasonic hearing aid batteries
“I tell patients to buy a name brand and not a store brand because the store brand batteries typically don’t last as long,” said Rachel Magann Faivre, Au.D., an audiologist and owner of Oklahoma City-based ASH Audiology. “Batteries also have expiration dates, so it’s important to look at that before purchasing—although batteries do last for two to three years, so the expiration date lasts a while.”
Hearing Aid Batteries: Size 10
Another small type of battery is the size 10 (sometimes listed as 230), which measures 5.8 millimeters by 1.6 millimeters. These batteries also tend to have the shortest battery life among disposable hearing aid batteries, with a range of just three to five days. Size 10 hearing aid batteries usually power completely-in-canal (CIC), in-the-canal (ITC), and receiver-in-the-ear (RITE) hearing aid models.
- Diameter: 5.8 millimeters
- Height: 1.6 millimeters
- Color code: Yellow
- Typical uses: RITE, CIC, ITC
- Size 10 battery life: Three to five days
- Popular brands: Audicus Aura
Hearing Aid Batteries: Size 312
The most common size hearing aid battery is the size 312, measuring 7.9 millimeters by 3.6 millimeters. These batteries power RITE, as well as some ITE and behind-the-ear (BTE) models.
- Diameter: 7.9 millimeters
- Height: 3.6 millimeters
- Color code: Brown
- Typical uses: BTE, RITE, ITC
- Size 312 battery life: Three to seven days
- Popular brands: Lively 2 Lite; Audicus Dia, Dia II, Clara, Canto, Wave; ReSound Quattro
Hearing Aid Batteries: Size 13
Similar in diameter but slightly larger in height is hearing aid battery size 13. These batteries, measuring 7.9 millimeters by 5.4 millimeters, can last a week or two before needing to be replaced, depending on usage. Size 13 batteries are best for BTE and ITE hearing aids.
- Diameter: 7.9 millimeters
- Height: 5.4 millimeters
- Color code: Orange
- Typical uses: BTE, ITE
- Size 13 battery life: Six to 14 days
- Popular brands: MDHearingAid PRO, AIR, CONTROL
Hearing Aid Battery: Size 675
At 11.6 millimeters by 5.4 millimeters in size, the 675 battery is the largest hearing aid battery among the four most common disposable batteries. It also has the potential to last the longest—up to 20 days—depending on usage. These batteries are used mainly with power hearing aids, which are hearing aids that are designed to treat severe to profound hearing loss.
- Diameter: 11.6 millimeters
- Height: 5.4 millimeters
- Color code: Blue
- Typical uses: BTE
- Size 675 battery life: Nine to 20 days
- Popular brands: ReSound LiNX Quattro
Standard Hearing Aid Batteries vs. Rechargeable Hearing Aid Batteries
When deciding between standard hearing aids and rechargeable ones, there are certain factors that need to be considered, according to Gareth Mahon, CEO of The CareSide, a home care and nursing service for the elderly and disabled in Australia. For example, one’s physical abilities, memory, and personal perception of convenience are among factors that are worthy of consideration.
“Rechargeable hearing aids are easier to manage in hand which is great for people who have dexterity issues,” Mahon said. “Some people might have trouble remembering to charge their hearing aids and might prefer to change a battery after several days, whereas the reverse could be true for others. This also ties into perceptions of convenience, and it may be preferable to have hearing aids that can be charged each day and guaranteed to work as opposed to being unsure of when your disposable battery might stop working.”
Dr. Magann Faivre agreed: “Typically memory care patients do better with disposable where a caretaker (especially in senior living facilities) can just change the battery every XX days rather than charging them every night. In the end, it’s what’s most convenient for the caretaker rather than the patient.”
Another factor to be considered is cost. Consumers want the best cheap hearing aids they can find, and those tend to be powered by standard batteries. “When people go for battery powered hearing aids, it’s mostly because of the price. Battery-powered hearing aids are still way cheaper than rechargeable ones,” Orso said. However, that cost tends to balance out over time with the number of disposable batteries purchased in the three to five years before rechargeable batteries need to be replaced.
“There’s also some ecological thinking involved,” Orso added. “For example, rechargeable hearing aids reduce waste from disposable batteries.”
How to Extend the Life of Hearing Aid Batteries
The lifespan of both standard and rechargeable hearing aid batteries depends on the battery size, the user’s level of hearing loss, and how the hearing aids are used (even the best Bluetooth hearing aids can cause battery drain). The good news is that there are some tips you can use to help extend the life of your hearing aid batteries.
“Probably the best thing is to open the battery door of the hearing aid when not using it,” Orso said. This minimizes battery drain and blocks corrosion. Only charge batteries in a dry place away from excess heat. Also remove dead batteries immediately. A completely discharged battery may swell and corrode and damage the battery compartment.”
Mahon also offered a suggestion: “For disposable batteries, you can follow the ‘5-minute rule’ of waiting five minutes after removing the protective tab from the battery before putting it into your hearing aid.” You also shouldn’t remove the protective seal until you’re ready to use the batteries, as doing so activates the battery.
Another good tip? Don’t store hearing aid batteries near metal objects (or in extreme heat or cold) because doing so can adversely affect the performance of the batteries. Finally, if you have an old battery, toss it. Even batteries that have been kept in the packaging can age over time, so opting for a new battery is always the safest bet.
Hearing Aid Battery Safety
Lithium-ion batteries that are used in most rechargeable hearing aids are generally safe. However, if they become damaged or begin to fail, they may present a fire or explosion hazard. You may recall hearing or reading reports of lithium-ion batteries catching fire on airplanes beginning in the early 1990s. While this is unlikely to occur with hearing aids, in 2018, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission released its Status Report on High Energy Density Batteries Project which reported more than 25,000 overheating or fire incidents involving more than 400 types of lithium battery-powered consumer products within a five-year period.
As a precaution, if you suspect the rechargeable batteries in your hearing aids are damaged or acting up, it may be a good idea to replace them.
Disposable batteries, including the zinc-air batteries used in most standard battery-charged hearing aids, may also pose health hazards, especially if they become damaged and the acid within them leaks out. Health issues that could arise in such a situation include respiratory irritation, skin irritation, or chemical burns. If this occurs, rinse the affected area with water for 15 minutes, and call your doctor if the skin begins to discolor or if your respiration or eyes are affected.
Another serious safety issue with small, button batteries is that they can be accidentally swallowed by children, pets, and even adults. According to the Poison Control Center, more than 3,500 Americans of all ages swallow button batteries every year. If this happens, you should seek medical attention immediately, as these tiny batteries can cause a chemical reaction that can severely burn the esophagus in as little as two hours. Some children have even suffered permanent damage or death after ingesting lithium-ion batteries.
There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to hearing aid batteries. One of the most important questions to ask when choosing a hearing aid is what type of battery best suits your or your loved one’s lifestyle. Rechargeable batteries are convenient because they only need to be replaced about every five years or so, whereas disposable hearing aid batteries will need to be changed every three days to two weeks.
This is more than just a convenience factor, as it’s also about practicality. For example, tiny button batteries used in hearing aids can be difficult to handle for people with dexterity issues or memory problems. If dexterity and memory are not an issue, standard battery-charged hearing aids offer more style choices. They are also more affordable in the short-term. Disposable hearing aid batteries may be far less expensive than rechargeable batteries but considering the fact that disposable batteries need to be changed every three days to two weeks, the cost benefit compared to rechargeable hearing aid batteries evens out over a matter of years.
Additionally, when choosing standard battery-charged hearing aids, be sure the batteries you need are readily available for purchase. Most hearing aids use one of four sizes of batteries—size 10, 312, 13, or 675. If you’re considering a hearing aid that uses a special size battery, such as a size 5, you may have more difficulty locating replacement batteries.