Hearing Aid Batteries – How Long Do They Really Last?

Published by Dr. O'Boyle on

Hearing aid batteries are an important consideration for anyone looking to purchase a new pair of hearing aids. If you are new to the world of hearing aids, you’re probably asking yourself the following questions:

  • How long can you expect hearing aid batteries to last?
  • How much will hearing aid batteries cost?
  • Are some hearing aids better than others when it comes to battery life?
  • Does wireless audio streaming impact battery life?

Hearing Tracker recently surveyed over 500 hearing aid users to help get a better idea of how long hearing aid batteries really last. We asked participants about their battery size, their hearing aid style, what brand of hearing aids they use, and whether they use streaming technologies, etc.

Background: Hearing Aid Battery Current Drain

Hearing aid manufacturers have long provided information about their products’ battery usage in the “datasheets” that cover the technical specifications of each hearing aid. As an example, Resound’s datasheet for the Resound LiNX2 LS61 shows that the hearing aid (which uses a size 312 battery) drains 1.3 milli-Amps (mA) from the battery when tested in “test mode” via the ANSI S3.22 standard.
In theory, it should be easy to estimate the expected battery life of the hearing aid. Given that a size 312 battery has a capacity of 145 milli-Amp-hours (mAh), one merely divides 145 mAh by 1.3 mA to arrive at an estimated battery life of 111.5 hours.
Battery Life Formula
According to our survey (details below), the average receiver-in-canal (RIC) hearing aid user reports 82 hours of total use-time per battery. Considering that the average hearing aid user reports wearing their hearing aids 13 hours per day, this would give you an expected 6.3 days of battery life. By comparison, Resound’s datasheet suggests the user will receive 8.5 days per battery, assuming the same daily usage.
The problem with calculating these estimates? 
Yep, you guessed it. Estimating your battery life based on battery current drain is notoriously difficult. When battery current drain is measured hearing aids are put into “test mode,” which often disables advanced processing technologies such as feedback cancellation and digital noise reduction. Wireless connectivity is also disabled in test mode.
What about estimates provided by hearing aid manufacturers?
Hearing aid manufacturers often provide estimates of battery life (in hours) along with their products. While this is certainly an improvement over battery current drain figures, we encourage caution when reading manufacturer provided estimates. Manufacturers often overestimate battery life, and due to the individual factors involved (such as your lifestyle, the hearing aid’s configuration, and whether wireless streaming is used), it’s hard to estimate battery life until you are wearing the hearing aids yourself.
Another problem with manufacturer estimates is that estimates are not standardized. Some hearing aid manufacturers may use a higher capacity (mAh) battery, leading to an inflated estimate vs a manufacturer using a standard capacity battery of the same size.
For more technical background on hearing aid batteries, check out this excellent article: Performance analysis of ten brands of batteries for hearing aids.

Hearing Aid Battery Capacity By Brand

For your convenience we have created this table to summarize the the mAh capacity of major hearing aid brands. We also searched Amazon to find some of the more reputable sellers who are offering decent pricing. The links provided in the table will bring you to the Amazon pages for that specific battery size and brand. If you run across a broken link please let us know so we can update or remove it.

Battery Brand Size 10 Size 312 Size 13 Size 675
Duracell Activair Zinc Air 100 ($0.30/cell) 180 ($0.32/cell) 310 ($0.32/cell) 650 ($0.37/cell)
Energizer Zinc Air Battery 91 160 280 620
iCellTech Zinc Air Battery 105 ($0.25/cell) 180 310 630
NEXcell Zinc Air Battery 100 180 300 630
Panasonic Zinc Air Battery 75 170 300 605
Power One Zinc Air Battery 100 180 ($0.25/cell) 310 ($0.25/cell) 650 ($0.26/cell)
Sony Zinc Air Battery 75 170 300 605
ZeniPower Zinc Air Battery 100 180 300 630
Average mAh 93.25 mAh 175 mAh 301.25 mAh 627.5 mAh
Update June 7, 2016: Costco offers hearing aid batteries of all sizes at the price of 17.7¢ per battery. Remember you do need to be a Costco member to be eligible to shop there.

Taking Hearing Tracker’s Battery Life Survey

Rather than try to explain the process in painstaking detail, we decided to just show you instead. Here’s a quick YouTube video showing the process.

Haven’t taken the survey yet? Take it now! We’ll be recompiling the results on a regular basis to keep this article fresh.

Hearing Aid Battery Life Survey: Results

We’ve got a ton of data to share, and some findings which may actually surprise you. Let’s take it one step at a time and start with the number of survey submissions. The current count sits at 513 total survey respondents. We are leaving the survey open, so we hope for that number to increase in the future.
Respondents came from a total of 36 countries, with the top 3 countries being the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada. Here’s a map showing the location of respondents. Darker blue means more respondents:
Geo Survey Completion
The first question on the survey, “What size hearing aid batteries do you use?” As you can see from the image below, size 312 batteries were the most popular hearing aid batteries, followed by size 13, size 675 and finally size 10.
Hearing Aid Battery Sizes
As an audiologist, I am suspicious that our sample of hearing aid users is slightly skewed to the more severe to profound hearing loss population. I was surprised to see the larger size 675 hearing aid batteries ahead of the more common, smaller size 10 batteries.

Hearing Aid Styles

In our survey, we asked participants about their hearing aid style. Most respondents use some form of behind-the-ear hearing aid with Receiver-In-Canal (RIC) the most popular style. Custom in-the-ear style hearing aids were less common, with only 10% of respondents indicating CIC, ITC, ITE or IIC:
Hearing Aid Styles

Audio Streaming

Our survey results showed that 59% of respondents do not stream audio to their hearing aids from their phone, TV, or other devices.
Streaming Audio to Hearing Aids

Hearing Aid Brands

Phonak was the most popular hearing aid brand in our survey with more than one-quarter of participants reporting Phonak as their hearing aid brand. Following behind was Oticon, then Resound, Widex, Starkey, Unitron, and Siemens:
Survey Results by BrandUpdate June 7, 2016: We were just asked why Costco hearing aids weren’t included in our survey. We want to clarify that Costco does not manufacture hearing aids, but rather sells hearing aids manufactured by companies like Resound under their brand Kirkland Signature™. We actually grouped the Costco hearing aids in with the relevant hearing aid manufacturers when compiling the results of this survey.

How Long Do Hearing Aid Batteries Last, On Average

It should be no surprise that hearing aid batteries last longer if they have a higher capacity. As you’ll recall from our hearing aid battery brand comparison table the average tiny size 10 battery has ~93 mAh capacity while the the much larger size 675 battery has ~627 mAh capacity.
How long do hearing aid batteries last

How Long Do Hearing Aid Batteries Last With Audio Streaming

As has been documented in the past, audio streaming to hearing aids can use up an awful lot of batteries. Our survey respondents seem to confirm this. We were somewhat surprised that the difference wasn’t larger! I suppose some respondents may have included telecoil audio streaming or other forms of less battery intensive audio streaming.
Battery Life with Streaming

How Long Do Hearing Aid Batteries Last Across Hearing Aid Brands

Our survey also asked participants about which hearing aid brands they use. As you can see Oticon, Widex, and Siemens were the highest rated on this measure. However we do want to draw attention to the fact that our sample size is likely too small to draw any firm conclusions from.
Hearing Aid Brands and Battery Use

How Long Do Hearing Aid Batteries Last in Various Hearing Aid Styles

The chart below shows that hearing aid batteries last the longest in power behind-the-ear (BTE-P) hearing aids and the shortest in completely-in-canal (CIC) hearing aids. This information is predictable given that smaller hearing aids (like the CIC) use smaller batteries, which carry smaller mAh capacity. However, we thought it would be useful for educational reasons to include the chart!

How Much Does Actual Hearing Aid Battery Life Impact Satisfaction with Battery Life

We were extremely surprised to find the following result. As you can see there is a relatively narrow range of satisfaction reported by the average user (between ~3-4 on a 5 point scale). Almost tripling the battery life only leads to a marginal increase in satisfaction with battery life. We reason that this is likely due to the expectations of battery life driven by patient counseling about battery life at the audiologist’s office.

Article by  and reprinted in its entirety from HearingTracker.com