There are two basic types of hearing aid batteries: rechargeable and disposable. While the majority of behind-the-ear and receiver-in-the-ear hearing aids have switched to rechargeable batteries, there are still many hearing aids that use disposable batteries. Most custom in-the-ear hearing aids and some behind-the-ear hearing aids still use disposable batteries, so it is important to know how to properly use them in order to get the most life out of each battery.
How long should a hearing aid battery last?
Hearing aid batteries can last anywhere from 3 days to 2 weeks. The length of time that a hearing aid battery lasts depends on several factors:
- Battery Size: There are four different sizes of batteries and each size has a number and a color associated with it. From largest to smallest they are 675 (blue), 13 (orange), 312 (brown), and 10 (yellow). The larger the battery, the longer it lasts. Size 675 batteries fit the largest behind-the-ear hearing aids and can last up to 2 weeks. Size 13 batteries fit standard behind-the-ear and full-shell in-the-ear hearing aids. They last 1-2 weeks. Size 312 is the most common battery size as it fits some behind-the-ear hearing aids, most receiver-in-the-ear hearing aids, half-shell in-the-ear hearing aids, and in-the-canal hearing aids. Size 312 batteries can last 1-2 weeks. Size 10 batteries are the smallest and fit completely-in-the-canal hearing aids and invisible-in-the-canal hearing aids. They usually last 3-5 days.
- Hearing Loss: More severe hearing losses require more amplification which requires more power from the battery. This increased power drains the battery faster. So the greater the hearing loss, the more often the battery will need to be replaced.
- Hearing Aid Usage: The number of hours that the hearing aids are worn each day will affect how long the batteries last. People who wear their hearing aids for 16 hours per day will need to replace the batteries more often than people who only wear their hearing aids for 4 hours per day. (Note: This is NOT a reason to wear your hearing aids fewer hours each day. People who wear their hearing aids during all waking hours tend to be much more successful and happy with them.) Because hearing aid usage varies so much, it is more accurate to describe batteries by how many hours they last instead of how many days they last.
- Wireless Streaming: The vast majority of today’s hearing aids have wireless streaming capabilities. This means that phone calls, music, podcasts, and any other media can be wirelessly streamed to the hearing aids. While this is a wonderful feature, it also takes a lot of power and makes hearing aid batteries drain faster. So people who do lots of streaming may have to change their batteries much more often. (Note: This is not usually an issue for hearing aids with rechargeable batteries since they receive a full charge every night while the user is sleeping.)
- Environmental Conditions: Too much humidity or extra dry conditions can both decrease the life of hearing aid batteries. Cold temperatures and high altitudes can also reduce battery life.
- Background Noise: Very noisy environments require the hearing aids to do more advanced processing which takes more battery power and can make the batteries drain faster.
Tips to Extend Life of Hearing Aid Batteries
Disposable batteries are powered by a mixture of zinc and air. They have a small tab on the back of them. When that tab is removed, air enters it, mixes with the zinc, and activates the battery. It is important to keep the tab on the battery until you are ready to use it. For this reason, you want to avoid anything that could make the tab come off before that.
- Don’t store the batteries in a moist environment like the bathroom. The moisture can cause part of the tab to lift and air to leak into the battery which will activate it before you are ready to use it.
- Don’t store your batteries loose in your hearing aid case. When batteries bounce around and knock into each other this can cause a short or cause the tabs to lift from the batteries. Keep them in their package until you are ready to use them.
It takes up to 2 minutes for the zinc and air to mix and fully charge the battery. When you are ready to change your battery, remove the tab and let the battery sit on the table, tab side up, for 2 minutes. If you don’t have time to wait the full 2 minutes your battery will still work, but it might not last quite as long.
Store the batteries at room temperature. Never put them in the refrigerator as this can cause condensation to build up on them and the tabs to come off prematurely. I’ve seen entire cases of batteries be ruined because they were stored in a refrigerator.
Always open the battery doors on your hearing aids when you are not wearing them. If you won’t be using your hearing aids for an extended amount of time, remove the batteries completely. Once the tab has been removed from a battery, it will slowly drain regardless of whether you are wearing your hearing aids or not, so don’t try to “save” batteries. Putting the tab back on will not help, as the air has already mixed with the zinc and the battery will continue to drain.
Always throw away (or recycle) used batteries. Don’t store them in your hearing aid case where they could get mixed up with new batteries. The batteries should either be in the battery package, in the hearing aids, or in the trash. Some of my patients like to keep all of their old batteries in a jar and then take that jar to a recycling center when it is full.
If you put your hearing aids in a dehumidifier at night, be sure to remove the batteries first. Dehumidifiers can cause batteries to drain more quickly, especially if you are already in a dry climate.
Check the expiration date on the battery package to make sure you are buying fresh batteries. Choose batteries that have an expiration date at least 2 years from when you are buying them.
The #1 Enemy of Hearing Aid Batteries
Environmental conditions, like too much moisture or too much dryness, can cause batteries to drain faster. If you are in a humid climate or perspire heavily, use a dehumidifier every night to keep the hearing aids dry. Remove the batteries before putting the hearing aids in the dehumidifier because batteries can drain faster if they are placed in an environment that is too dry.
Many hearing aids still use disposable zinc air batteries. Your audiologist will tell you which battery size is needed for your particular hearing aids, and how long that battery should last. Proper care and use of the batteries will make them last longer and power your hearing aids more effectively. How long batteries last depends on the size of the battery, how many hours per day the hearing aids are worn, the severity of hearing loss, wireless streaming behaviors, and environmental conditions. It’s important to store hearing aid batteries at room temperature and avoid extreme humidity or extreme dryness. In order to determine how long your hearing aid batteries will last, you should do your own experiment. If you have a paper planner or wall calendar, use this to track when you change your batteries. I tell my patients to put the sticky tab on the calendar on the day that they change the battery and write “L” or “R” on it for right and left. This way you can start to predict how long your batteries will last and even change them proactively before they die so that you aren’t left with a dead battery in the middle of an important meeting! Be sure to have extra batteries with you at all times so you’re always prepared.