Frequency and cost of replacing rechargeable hearing aid batteries

Replacing Li-ion batteries out-of-warranty yourself sounds like a dicey proposition that might have the danger of a very small fire or small explosion if you didn’t get a well-made replacement. If it turns out that OEM replacement batteries also last at least three years, rather than having to buy new HA’s, you’ll be getting at least three more years of use for just $167/year. I guess someone always has to be a pioneer and find out what works and what doesn’t but you might buy yourself a lot of peace of mind for that $167/year. It would be interesting to know if you pay for an out-of-warranty OEM replacement battery (the $500 ones) what sort of warranty they come with, if any. If they came with a three-year warranty that might make it a better deal but I’d bet the warranty on a replacement is going to be no more than a year.

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This is sad because I am ready for a new set and wear mine 24/7
I need to hear in the night so there’s no time for recharging.
If I take them out my standard poodles will find them! I have four chewed up aides as proof!

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I for one have never liked to ship aids to some unknown location for some simple repair. And replacing rechargeable battery should be simple. There’s always a risk an aid can be damaged in shipping (coming or going), though if packed properly slight. There’s always a chance the repair technician is under trained or shall we just say “not competent”. Then there’s always the time factor to get your aids back. I’ve had some Audi’s get aids back to me in a week, while other take two/three weeks. Huge difference. Sometimes I think aid manufacturers intentionally design aids so that they have to shipped for simple repair, so they can make more $$$ on service charge.

In any case if you have the right tools and proper battery in hand, you would think it would be fairly straight forward to replace a rechargeable battery. If not - more reason to go disposable and save your hard earned money.

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I have had my OPNS1 rechargeable now for about 7 months, I am seeing no drop in battery life at all. The cost of the aids or the batteries I cannot say. I get my aids from the VA and as long as the VA see them as useable for my needs the VA will take care of the aids.

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I don’t think they repair the aids, even for ‘battery exchange’. They just give you new shell. troubleshooting is too expensive in man hours. Also, most of those ‘repairs’ are free for you while aids are under warranty.

Also, check on youtube video about phonak’s manufacturing process. Interesting to get the idea. Also, to be aware that they’re produces in germany/swiss, so price for salary per hour is significant.

Also, find a fitter which will give you replacement aid if you don’t already have a pile of old aids around :smiley:

I don’t consider micro-soldering as a fairly straight forward. Not to mention ensuring the water related seal after opening it.
I had my tablet repaired, micro usb port exchanged, ‘black market’ price of 50 eur. Because it’s tricky.
And tablet has big parts.

I can’t recall from the video, but I think no soldering is done by hands, only inspections.

No disagreement Blacky. I just feel when you pay say $2000 plus for a HA, you don’t want to be nickle and dime to death down the road. Again my thoughts relate to the very low costs of disposable batteries versus high replacement cost of rechargeable batteries. There has also been a ton of posts about HA accessories/devices that have battery connections that are micro-soldered, so (again) you are forced to send that accessory/device to shop for battery replacement. In many cases not under warranty.

After 2 years, plus 4 months, my ReSound Quattros were starting to lose their charge more quickly. I listen to audiobooks quite a lot. Streaming 4-6 hours a day is common. My audie sent my aids back to ReSound to have new batteries installed. This was warranty work. I got them back in one week. I was surprised how quick they were.

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Certainly everyone should replace rechargeable batteries (for free) before aid warranty expires. But in your case Noreen it appears roughly two years from now you will have to decide to pay out of pocket for new recharge batteries (again) or go shopping for a new aid(s). And your current aid(s) will only be four plus years old. Maybe not the end of the world but with disposable batteries that problem never rises.

How long rechargeables last is not just a function of the manufacturer’s product but also how a user employs the product. Perhaps Noreen was letting her batteries go down close to 0% and charging to 100% starting in the evening every day and not stopping 'til morning.

Elon Musk makes a battery for Tesla cars that can supposedly be recharged the equivalent of 4,500 full charges. Tesla warranties the battery for 500,000 miles and they’re working on a battery that will be warrantied for a MILLION miles.

So the problem is basically that HA manufacturers aren’t motivated/financed/capable of achieving the same level of technology and battery management. I think when Tesla type batteries and battery management software and perhaps OTA wireless charging make it into HA Li-ion batteries the myopic view of “Li-ion batteries just aren’t usable technology” will be an uninformed conclusion.

BTW, 4,500 full charges / 365.25 days/year is 12.3 years of charging.

I only stream ~1.5 hours a day but my right Quattro still lasts > 6 hours on a 20% charge (~= 30 hours on a full charge). It still has close to its original battery capacity and mine is about the same age as Noreen’s. So that suggests the way Noreen charges or handles her HA might have something to do with the battery lifespan.

For rechargeables to be useful in your case, you should have 4 appliances. 2 for wearing during the day and 2 for the night. But it is too expensive for most for now.

When I put them in the charger at night, there’s typically 3 lights lit on the right one and 4 on the left one. I do leave them in until morning. But I believe this is a smart charger that stops at the recommended charge. What started happening is that at about 8 in the evening, I was getting the “da-da-da-dum” chimes. I didn’t think to check what the charge was on those occasions.

The lights mean that your right HA had 60% to 80% charge left when you started charging it, the left had 80% or more charge, which is consistent with your audiogram showing your right needs more amplification, i.e., more charge consumption than your left. The fact that your HA’s were not much discharged means that they probably quickly reached 100% charge and remained at that level as you slept throughout the night. Apple has recognized that having Li-ion batteries sit around at 100% charge is not so great as they have introduced “optimized charging,” which is AI-driven and holds off charging your iPhone, etc., fully until just before the AI figures you’re going to start using your phone again - so it will charge the device to 80%, hold it through the night at 80%, and a sufficient number of hours before it figures you usually get up, charge fully, just before you get up.

They say if you don’t charge over 80%, you DOUBLE the lifetime of the Li-ion battery. Even though you’re streaming 5 hours a day or so, you were consuming less than 40% of your total charge in your daily usage. Perhaps you could replenish the 40% charge consumed in as little as 30 minutes of charging in the morning when you get up, i.e., charge from 40% to 80% each day, and at the end of the day, you’d still have 40% spare charge (12 hours) left in your right HA after discharging during your day’s use. That way, your HA’s would last 4 years, 8 months, instead of 2 years, 4 months (because you’re not going over 80% charge).

If you could program that into your charger so that it did that charging routine to 80% instead of 100% automatically for each HA, even if you put the HA’s into the charger when you went to sleep, things would work great.

That’s what I mean the HA OEM’s are dunderingly behind the times. HP and Lenovo laptops, I’ve heard, have the ability to control the extent to which their batteries are charged and so do electric vehicles. HA OEM’s would rather sell you new batteries when your warranty runs out …

Edit_Update: Exposure to undue heat can also shorten the lifespan of Li-ion batteries. I take it as a follower of the forum that you would not be drying your HA’s in a heated dryer. Leaving them inside a closed up car on summer days would be bad (temp can go up to 135 deg C++ inside a closed car) or in a suitcase in the trunk of a car on a hot summer day in a hot parking lot or sitting on a window sill exposed to direct sunlight, etc. If it’s hot where you live during the summer (as in Texas, Arizona, the Great Inland Empire in S. Cal) wearing the HA’s outside when it’s 100++ deg F for prolonged periods might not be good, either. If it’s just popping in and out of air-conditioned spaces, that’s not going to be a problem.

If you always have your charging case plugged in and charged to 100%, that’s likely to suffer a similar early demise, too. I always use my charging case between 1 light on(just dropping below 2) and 2 lights on (just going to 3rd light coming on), i.e. between ~33% and ~67% charge. It usually lasts me 4 to 5 days before I charge it up again from ~33% to ~67% charge. Usually takes somewhere around 40 min charging the case. You may not want to go to this trouble but I don’t find it a bothersome routine.

What annoys me is the manufacturer claim of 6 years of lifetime.

And we keep seeing advices of sending for exchange before warranty expires and so on. So, it’s nowhere near those 6, let alone ‘6 years of full day usage’.

Not to mention that with some accessories there is no option to exchange battery even with manufacturer, forgot who was the culprit, maybe some oticon connection device?

But you know, batteries are goods that lose their capacity with time. So, every consumer should be aware of that and ask how they can be replaced before buying, if that concerns them. For some people, buying new replacement gadgets (eg phone) is a norm, so they don’t have such issues. For us who have, we have to ask.

Times changed and they don’t allow us to remove battery on our own. Ok. However, that means that if we want ability for replacement, and manufacturer doesn’t offer it - we have a choice of not buying it. Or accepting that fact when calculating the costs.

Eg, stop counting on assumed 10 years of service, but start with 2.

For my phonak select, based on read on the forum, I asked my fitter to get the info from phonak if they offer battery replacement. They do. Don’t know the price. Can’t be more than a new one. So, I decided I’ll use it only as a mic, and not as tv connector, and I hope it will cover me for at least 3 years. Then I’ll see what is cheaper, battery exchange or new device.
But yes, I’m aware that my 1000 eur for that device is 2-3 years worth of usage, not 10+.

Also, that was one of my main reasons to decide against R aids. 1000 eur every 3 years is acceptable for me, for new device if manufacturer declines battery exchange / repairs, but additional 6000 for pair of aids isn’t (under same assumption, that they refuse to exchange battery, no matter who is paying). I want my aids to live at least 5-6 years and even after that as my backups.

R aids cannot be simple backups either, because battery will degrade significantly with sitting unused, especially if you don’t charge it properly for the hibernation, which many people won’t do, me included) simply because I can bet that in 4 years I’d forget this discussion and importance of properly conservation of the battery for hibernation, especially since I’ll be neck deep in finding out stuff about my new aids)

All of this is under ‘common usage of R batteries - charge to the max, leave overnight, use until empty or not needed for the day’. Which is what 99% people do and IMO manufacturers should take that into the account when selling us their estimates for R lifetime. Which they obviously don’t do.

Somebody has a problem with their particular HA’s and that’s reason to claim in general that rechargeables can’t last 6 years? As I said above, Tesla batteries last 4,500 rechargings with battery management and the latest and greatest battery chemistry. That’s 12.3 years of use if you went through the equivalent of one full recharging a day but Quattro’s actually can hold about 2 days of use in a full charge so with good battery management and Tesla quality battery chemistry, rechargeable HA batteries might last 25 years.

My Surface Pro 2 will soon be 8 years old. It has 92% of its battery capacity left, at least, and will be good for at least another 8 years. It’s using 2013 battery technology.

To successfully store Li-ion batteries and not have to think about it, you just apply battery management software in storage, too. You plug in the charger and put the HA’s in the charger but the software is smart enough to maintain both any charger battery and any HA’s with a narrow range of optimum charge, e.g., the charging case and the HA’s in storage, let’s say, are kept between 40% and 50% charge while not being used. If one had wireless OTA charging, you wouldn’t have to plug anything in.

You would have to live in a reasonably controlled temperature (and humidity environment) but most Westerners prefer to live in the 70 deg to 80 deg F (21.1 to 26.7 deg C). (Elon Musk is said to have joked that a Tesla battery will never die in Alaska!). For a relative perspective, here’s a 2019 article on Tesla’s Battery Management System(BMS), which mentions phone battery management in comparison (and surface-to-volume ratio and passive conductive cooling): Why do Tesla batteries not overheat? Tesla’s battery cooling system. - Easy Electric Cars

And someone goes out and buys Phonak Paradise HA’s and a Roger Select, etc., then complains that any modest additional cost for rechargeable HA’s is killing them?! Or first, they try Marvels and then have to have the latest and greatest and switch to Paradise’s? Too bad for folks whose wallets are so fat an expensive Paradise HA and Roger Select is no problem but a little bit more cash for a rechargeable is the end of the world. :rofl:

The real problem is lack of inventiveness and resourcefulness on the part of HA OEM’s. They don’t have the technological umphh to get down to 5 nm processes, for example, nor do they put the thought into rechargeable battery management software (e.g., Apple’s optimized recharging protocol is a bridge too far for them…). A three-year HA warranty is not exactly the 500,000 mile warranty that you get with a Tesla vehicle. So maybe the HA industry just needs its own Elon Musk? When the smartphone industry is pushing 5 nm processes, look how backward the HA industry is in preserving a super-expensive behind the times oligopoly with political lobbying to try to discourage release of OTC HA’s. When NuHeara can sell a pair of HA’s for $600 and it’s said the wholesale price of the average premium HA is actually around $300 to $400, HA OEM’s could afford to offer 2 to 3 pairs of HA’s to a user during a 6-year use period for a $4,700 average cost for a premium HA pair (even more pairs if you’re paying $6 to $7K - and with generous trialing and replacement policies during the warranty, perhaps we’re already paying for those extra pairs in the initial purchase cost???).

I think the problem is not specifically rechargeables. It’s the HA industry in general as a fat-cat medically-restricted device industry that makes everything super-expensive and not easily replaceable because of the costs involved. Samsung can sell you its Galaxy Buds Pro with charging case for $150. Misuse of ear buds could damage your ears for sure. And, of course, crummy product manufacturer that Samsung is, it spends $0 on product research and development! C’mon, lawmakers, we need to regulate the earbud industry to make it super-expensive and slow down the pace of earbud development enough that HA OEM’s could get in on that game, too… Consider by comparison all the tech that you get in an Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max for $1,400. If the HA industry could operate on the global scale of an Apple or a Samsung or Huawei, maybe we’d have less expensive devices with the latest technology in every part of the devices.

You can’t expect a tiny single lithium-based cell in a hearing aid to perform like a Tesla battery with the active temperature control and other features that aren’t really possible in the small form factor of the hearing aid. Most electric cars have systems to actively cool or heat the battery (using battery or charger power) to maintain the battery temperature within the limits of reasonable performance for discharge and charge (the charger powers the cooling system during charge). Many also have capacity that is not used in the standard usage profile so the battery is larger than the rating. Tesla also throttles performance if the battery is too warm, etc.

That said, the HA manufacturers could probably increase the battery size and use a more optimized charge/discharge profile to maximize the rechargeable battery lifetime but the tradeoff would probably be a larger hearing aid.

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There’s also a surface to volume ratio. Very small objects radiate heat much better than large, voluminous objects. My iPhone 6S has an aluminum body. It radiates heat like crazy. So battery packaging could make a big difference, too.

So that’s a consideration you’re overlooking. In a small device, there won’t be as much heat build up.

Edit_Update: Example for sphere. Surface area of sphere is 4* Pi* r^2, where r is radius. Volume of sphere is 4/3* Pi* r^3. Surface to volume ratio, when you divide first formula by second is 3/r. That means if you decrease r by a factor of 1/2, the relative surface-to-volume ratio increase is a factor of 6! So a sphere 1/2 the size radiates heat 6x better with the same material. Similarly, for a cube, it’s surface area is 6* x^2. It’s volume is x^3. Ratio is 6/x. Decrease its size by 1/2, it radiates heat 12x better (I may have screwed up in my math, but you get the idea). The difference between a Tesla battery and a HA battery is a lot more than a factor of 2!

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Psst - Don’t tell any one but in reality HA manufactures really want you to replace your aids every three, four years. Thus the limited three year warranty. Furthermore who really knows what it cost to make an aid (?) and the actual mark up percentage (?). Yea I know the standard line (which I heard a million times) which is “the reason aids are so expensive is because not everyone wears one”. Well not everyone wear glasses, yet the cost of glasses is manageable. HA manufacturers have a window open now with “baby boomer” reaching their golden years, thus pushing overall hearing aid sales up. If they don’t all die from Coronavirus first. Yet have prices dropped over the last several years due to more aids being purchased by baby boomers? NOPE. In fact I think the exact opposite has happened and aid prices have risen.

In any case it’s time for some company like (Apple) to reinvent wheel - and come out with hearing aids that don’t cost an arm and a leg, don’t need replacement parts (battery included) for five years and understand the meaning behind “consumer support” - versus don’t call us, we’ll call your. Or more likely a continual busy signal when you call and request aid service.

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Yeah, not in every country. Here default is one year (and I have it for select). For aids my fitter has a deal where he gets 2 years. That’s it.
Insurances here cover basic models every 6 years, or in my case, I get 700 eur deduction every 6 years, for one ear only.

I know they count on us changing every 4 years.
Then it would be more honest to make battery which really can endure 4 years of common ways of usage plus load. And not bs about 6 years and fitters advicing for replacing before warranty ends and manufactures doing the replacements no questions asked.

Even phone manufacturers don’t promise 6 years, and some of them even manufacture own batteries.

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Sealed-in batteries are merely a ‘planned obsolescence’ forcing you to buy new HA’s or send them back for expensive replacement. Originally, cell phones had replaceable lithium batteries but most now are sealed. Millions of old cell phones now end up in the waste stream. Replaceable lithium batteries are still common in cameras and many other devices so you know manufacturers can do it if they needed or wanted to. I think it’s criminal that these companies force us to throw away perfectly functional devices. Pretty well wipes out the used market too. A double win for big business. What a waste of Earth’s resources!

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Apple can replace batteries in ~all of its devices except for the Apple Watch, usually for $50 to $80. My wife had her iPhone 6S battery replaced at an Apple Store while she waited < 30 min. Perhaps there’s a critical small size limit below which such operations are too finicky but it would be great, just as Apple’s come up with tools for in-store use, if HA manufacturers could come up with a relatively inexpensive tool to automate the replacement of HA Li-ion batteries by your HCP where all the mechanics would be taken care by operating the tool. I think with Apple, there’s the risk your iPhone or iPad might be irreversibly damaged in the process but the risk is low enough, they offer to give you an equivalent replacement device if things get screwed up. Perhaps HA OEM’s through their HCP’s could operate on the same plan?

Edit_Update: Actually, iPad battery replacement is very expensive if it’s out-of-warranty - probably better to buy a new iPad. Inexpensive if in-warranty or you’ve been buying Apple Care, which adds up in $$$. iPad battery replacement cannot be done in-store, either. Batteries - Service and Recycling - Apple And for the Apple Watch, several years ago an Apple Store support person told me that the Watch replacement service is just a new watch (still true?).

Dumb idea for changing HA rechargeable: Tool like Cerustop wax guards - pop open HA body shell. Stab out/pry out old battery, flip tool, and stab in new battery. Just as how wax guard is locked in place by inserting receiver into mold again, closing up the HA body shell would lock the battery in place within the shell - problem with this stupid scheme is battery might have a defined rigid shape, unless it were a floppy container with all the rigidity just in a connector end through which the tool does the removal of the old, the insertion of the new, like unplugging from and replugging a bag into an electrical outlet via a plug on one end of the bag. HA OEM’s have probably considered all such possibilities but maybe somewhere there’s a nasty old new Steve Jobs who screams, “Don’t tell me it can’t be done! Just go back and do it!”.