Mercury Free Batteries and Hearing Aids

My Audie showed me this e-mail that she received from Oticon. I find it interesting reading, and wanted to share it with this forum, as I use the 675 battery, although I have no problems with Zinc Air batteries; I have have read postings where other forum members were having “issues” with their batteries and battery life.

(Please note that this letter Copyrighted by Oticon and its author, Peer Lauritsen)

Please take a moment to review the following statement from the European Hearing Instrument Manufacturers Association.

We are all concerned about preserving our environment, and removing mercury from Zinc-Air batteries is a natural consequence of this concern. In certain market areas all hearing aid batteries soon need to be mercury-free and a voluntary agreement to achieve this by the end of June 2011 has been made among the major battery manufacturers.

The battery industry has already made remarkable progress on this task, but even so there can still be problems when using this new type of battery in hearing aids. Hearing aid users report cut outs, shorter battery life than expected as well as battery low warning tones even when batteries are quite new. These problems are not caused by any fault in the hearing aids as such, but are caused by a low battery voltage that in many cases results from mercury-free battery technology. The user will often experience lower battery capacity. Such problems occur in particular in hearing aids having high current draw from the battery, such as power aids and hearing aids with wireless connectivity, and the incidence of these problems has increased significantly after the introduction of mercury-free batteries.

The hearing aid manufacturers are aware of these challenges and are responding by developing products that can work on lower voltages in order to minimize the likelihood of experiencing battery related problems. There is, however, a large installed base of hearing aids designed to work properly with the voltage levels provided by batteries relying on mercury. These hearing aids need batteries with performance comparable to good batteries using mercury-based battery technology.

We are confident that the battery manufacturers will solve these problems and that they soon will be able to offer batteries with the same performance that has been available in the past from batteries with mercury. In the meantime, we suggest that hearing aid users try alternative battery types when they encounter the above-mentioned problems.

My experience with mercury free batteries is that all the above is true, which is why I’ve gone back to zinc air. It would be nice if they wouldn’t put a product out until it meets up to expectations.

Zinc airs can contain a little mercury. The op was not talking about the old mercury cells.

Thank you … time to buy some new batteries and maybe stop sending my aids in for repairs Dohhhh!!!

Guess I better stock up on the “old” batteries. I’m hoping my new HAs will last a long time and would hate for them to not work properly because of the batteries. :eek:

I use the Rayovac mercury free batteries and had some of the same issues mentioned here. I wanted to keep using them if at all possible and so tried a couple of things. One is to let the batteries breathe for 5 minutes before putting them into use. The other is to remove them from the aids at night before putting them in the Dry N’ Store with the air hole up. This has made the problems less for me.

Zafdor I am well aware of what batteries are being discussed. I have tried the new mercury free batteries that some manufacturers are putting out, such as rayovac, and I agree with the evaluation. They just don’t do the job as well as zinc air, and the public should have been informed of this prior to them being put on sale. The implication was that they were just as good as the zinc air batteries, plus safe for the environment.

AMEN!! I now have new batteries on order from our host and will see how they work as soon as they get home. If they work better than the mercury free ones that we have been buying at Walmart or Target, he’s got a new lifetime customer :smiley:

I’m using the Rayovac MERCURY FREE Proline Advanced Hearing Aid Batteries Size 10/10A that I purchase from Local Battery I get 4-5 days wear time depending on how many hrs each day I use the aids (yesterday was 17 hrs). As I mentioned above they do seem to need a longer breathe time at the beginning of use and are bothered by moisture. I also clean the screen on the aids breathe hole very regularly.

Those are what I use. The problem I experience with them is more static and cut-outs that I thought were the aids failing. But when I look back, the problem does seem to be time related, starting back around when I started using the “green” batteries. That battery study mentions those as symptoms, and Phonak returns them from repair only to experience the same issues. I’ll stick with the tried and true battries, old fashioned non-green that hold their charge, or provide a full charge over a longer period according to the write-ups. As for the “aids breathe hole” … have no idea what you are referring to as there is no hole anywhere near the battery on my aids. And yes, I always take them out before placing the aids in the Dry and Store nightly. As for waiting 5 minutes before using them new, after removing the sealing tab, once they are exposed to air and power up, there shouldn’t be any difference.

Definitely CONFIRMED! Put the new Power One batteries from our host, www.localbattery.com, in my Phonak YES IX’s this morning. The slight crackling noise that was there with the Rayovac Mercury free batteries was GONE! The static wasn’t bad, barely noticeable … but definitely noticeable and a bit annoying. Am I hearing this or not … is it just my tinnitus returning … which hearing aids had previously eliminated, or am I imagining it. NO, it was the Mercury Free batteries, the price one pays for going Green. I choose not to pay that price as it is annoying.

On a side note, I extend my Thank You’s to our host for providing this forum. Without it, I may have gone on cussing Phonak for not fixing the aids I had sent in for repair due to continuing static. A problem that is not so much theirs as that of the battery manufacturers. This forum has just proved itself invaluable to me.

I have used the Power One 312 batteries in my YES IX’s for 5 full days with no static or other issues. As I was going on the road yesterday to visit family and the Huntington Library, I decided to put in fresh batteries yesterday morning, day 6, even though I had not received a low battery warning at the time. The previous batteries I was using, the Rayovac Mercury Free batteries, lasted usually 3 to 4 days, never more than 4. With no plans this weekend, and spare batteries in my desk at my office, I will try to hold off until they actually die this time around. But the mercury-free are definitely more troublesome than the regular batteries … yielding static and a shorter lifespan. One thing I did notice when I started using the Power One batteries is that I heard the full bootup tones. With the mercury free batteries, those tones were shortened, and I didn’t associate the two.

Wow…I have been trying 3 different aids from costco and I hear that static (sizzling bacon) noise in all of them! I am going tomorrow to try the 3rd set of Bernafon again and I will ask the HIS what batteries he uses…I believe Costco uses the Rayovac…maybe this is the answer to this very frustrating problem…I never heard this noise in my Siemen Cielo 2’s…that would be a simple fix…I hope it works! Thanks…Rosie

That is quite possible. Everyone wants to be “green” these days and they are not all aware of the consequences that go along with “green”. Mercury-free batteries are the most common these days. I am very happy with the regular batteries that I purchased from our host here and will be a regular customer now as long as he can provide the regular, full-strength batteries that today’s hearing aids require for their full strength power output.