ZPower problems?


#61

Thanks for the suggestions, Richfamus1. For sure the first thing I will be doing is to check for the firmware version and do an update if necessary. If it has a firmware update already, then I’d be less worried as it’s an indication that it’s probably from a newer batch after they had worked out all the kinks.

Are you saying that your older charger didn’t have shiny contact points and the new charger you got has shiny contact points, indicating that they replaced/improved the contact points in the new charger? And if my contact points are not shiny, then most likely I was sold an older, not yet improved, charger?

Or are you just saying that make sure the contact points look clean? Thanks.


#62

@Volusiano, I can’t say for sure that the contact points were part of the problem in the past. However, I did notice that the contact points on my new battery doors were much shinier than they were on the original doors (i.e., no tarnish). It could be coincidence. And, I was advised by ZPower to make sure the contact points within the charger were not impeded by dust or dirt. I do think the fix may have had something to do with the way the contact points on the doors met the contact points in the charger, and also how tight the batteries fit inside the battery doors themselves. There were some complaints in the past that the rechargeable batteries seemed to wiggle around too much within the former battery doors and would fall out easily if the doors were opened. I can’t say for sure, but I think Oticon and ZPower may have addressed this. Just speculation on my part. Maybe one of the audiologists on the forum knows more and will chime in.


#63

OK thanks. I also read somewhere that you don’t want to put the hearing aids inside the charger if the charger is not plugged in, as this will not only NOT charge the batteries up, it will also actually drain the battery juice as well.

Normally it shouldn’t be an issue because you’d want to confirm and see the blinking green lights before you walk away. But if there’s a power outage overnight, it can become an issue. I’m not too concerned from the stand point that we can always use disposable batteries the next day anyway. I’m more concerned if it’ll drain the batteries down too low as to cause the life span of the batteries to be shortened.


#64

I received my ZPower system for the OPN today. Took a while because they sent the wrong set that didn’t fit in the OPN so they had to resend.

Anyway, I put the retrofitted OPNs in the charger to let them charge and took a nap and about an hour later when I woke up, I noticed that the blinking green lights became solid green lights, indicating that the charging was done.

Out of curiosity, I took the OPNs out of the charger and put them back into the charger again, expecting that maybe after a couple of minutes, the blinking green would turn solid again because the batteries are now already fully charged. But I left the OPNs in the charger for a good 5 or 10 minutes, and the green lights still blink, indicates that it’s still charging, even though it was done charging just a while ago and I haven’t started using the OPN yet.

I’m not too worried because it’s entirely possible that the charging software may have been programmed to keep the charging going on for a “good long while” even if the batteries are already fully charged. I’m just curious if anyone would know what this “good long while” would be?

I don’t know what the state of my batteries was when they arrived in the mail. Apparently it stopped charging some time during that hour or so that I took a nap, so they could have been already fully charged, or maybe they were close to fully charged but still a little bit depleted, since a full charge for completely depleted batteries would take up to 7 hours.

The other thing I notice is that when I removed the OPNs from the charger and put them on, I hear the boot up chime. I always wondered before if the charging process removes the power being applied to the hearing aid, even though the battery connections are still intact. Apparently power is not applied to the hearing aid during charging, which is good, I suppose I wouldn’t want the OPNs to stay powered on all the times, even when I’m not wearing them and they sit in the charger.


#65

@Volusiano, you are experiencing some of the same concerns I have had about the ZPower charger in terms of lights continuing to blink after you think that the hearing aids are fully charged. I was able to have a discussion with a ZPower rep, and I learned that when the hearing aids are removed from the charger and immediately placed back in it for any reason, the charger goes through a series of “internal engineering checks,” which starts the lights blinking again, even though the batteries are fully charged. This can be confusing to the user. I believe that ZPower is now aware that this is confusing to users, and that it could possibly be construed as a design flaw. ZPower may eventually release an updated charger (ZPower 2.0 ?) with improvements to the indicator lights and “internal engineering checks,” so that the lights will stay solid green and not start blinking again when the batteries are fully charged.

However, since many of the hearing aid manufacturers seem to be going with LI batteries now, I don’t know how that will impact marketing of the ZPower system and silver-zinc batteries moving forward. My assumption is that Oticon may not be offering the ZPower rechargeable option with any of their future generations of hearing aids, but that is just speculation on my part (no insider knowledge).

In any event, I was told to keep the hearing aids in the charger for a minimum of 7 hours to assure a full charge, and that the ZPower batteries should last one year.

As for “auto boot-up” on removing the hearing aids from the ZPower charger, I believe that is standard. As far as I know, the hearing aids shut off automatically when they are placed in the charger and turn on automatically when they are removed. I was told that they will never “overcharge,” so when they are not in your ears, they should be placed in the charger. I hope this helps. :slight_smile:


#66

Thanks for the detailed response, Richfamus1! It’s really helpful information to me. It’s consistent with my guess that they’re not trying to recharge already fully-charged batteries, but they need to do some kind of evaluation of the condition of the batteries before they can decide whether the batteries need to be charged up anymore or not. Who knows? Maybe they have internal cycles in the charging process to evaluate how full (or empty) the batteries are, then apply a charging dose if necessary, then re-evaluate, then apply another charging dose if necessary, and so on, until this process stops.

As for the viability of the ZPower battery’s future against the competition from the Lithium Ion battery, I’m not quite ready to count it out yet. The ZPower system does have some important advantage over the Lithium-ion model.

The most significant one is that it allows people to use disposable batteries so that they don’t become totally dependent on the reliability of the Lithium-ion system, or even the reliability of the user to remember to consistently remember to charge every night, or the reliability of the power company to not have power failure overnight.

It also gives people the freedom to be spontaneous like falling asleep watching TV on the couch, or deciding to stay overnight at a friend’s last minute even if they didn’t bring the charger with them. ZPower users probably stock spare disposable batteries with them everywhere, like in their cars. bags, wallets, etc.

Secondly, there’s an advantage to being able to just switch out the rechargeable batteries to new ones after they no longer last a full day, hopefully after a full year of use. There’d be no downtime to have to send your hearing aids back to the manufacturer to have the batteries replaced like with the Lithium-ion built-in version.

I have no idea whether paying for 3 or 4 sets of the Silver Zinc ZPower batteries is economically more advantageous to sending your lithium-ion based hearing aids back to the manufacturer every 3 or 4 years to replace or not. But even if it’s not cheaper, it doesn’t seem like it’d be more expensive. At least we know for sure that with the ZPower, there’s no cost to ship back and forth the hearing aids, and there’s no service cost to take it apart and replace the old with the new batteries.

And what if the HA mfg no longer provides support for that version of the Lithium-ion based HA because it’s already too old? How are you going to get your Lithium-ion batteries replaced then? With the ZPower, at least as long as the company is in business and sell the battery replacement, lack of support due to model obsolescence is not a worry.

Thirdly, I see a possibility of it co-existing with the Lithium-ion based system, simply because it can easily be retrofitted to almost any non-rechargeable hearing aid brand/model. So people who know they want the Lithium-ion based hearing aids up front can go for that (assuming that it’s available). But people who are not sure (or can’t afford) the Lithium-ion based version can opt to go for the ZPower option later on if they want, simply by swapping out the doors. There should be no reason why HA mfgs wouldn’t want to offer both options, as long as all the reliability issues get worked out and resolved for the ZPower system after the initial releases.

Finally, this factor may not be a big deal to some people, but Lithium-ion batteries have had a stigma of being unsafe, from the Samsung Note 7 fire scandal and other laptop batteries burning up and exploding if the charging system or the battery itself is faulty. With the Silver Zinc Zpower battery being non-toxic, environmental friendly, and safer to use, I’d feel a little safer with something right behind my ear not having any possibility to catch fire. Although with the Lithium-ion being so ubiquitous in so many products, this issue may not be a big deal to many people.


#67

@Volusiano, I totally agree with all the “pro” points you listed for ZPower vs lithium-ion batteries. I also like that sliver-zinc (ZPower) rechargeable batteries are safe to use and dispose of, and that they can be swapped out for regular batteries when needed.They have many positive attributes. In fact, I found it very interesting to learn that the ZPower batteries came about because of work done by NASA.

My speculation about whether the ZPower rechargeable batteries will be used in future generations of Oticon hearing aids stems from the fact that Oticon has not announced a ZPower option for the upcoming OPN-S. It seems that Oticon has decided to offer a lithium-ion rechargeable version of OPN-S instead. It just made me wonder why they seem to be abandoning the ZPower option with their next generaton of OPN.


#68

If my understanding of the OPN S is correct, I assume that it only comes in a rechargeable version. At least I haven’t seen any announcement about battery size option on the S for disposable batteries.

There’s a possibility that the Velox S platform developed for the OPN S requires so much processing power that it has to come in a Lithium-ion platform in order to deliver enough power to last at least a whole day (and maybe longer). Maybe the Silver Zinc chemistry of the ZPower doesn’t cut it all day for the OPN S anymore, as we all know that the Silver Zinc barely cuts it all day for the current hearing aids as it is, especially if there’s a lot of streaming. Maybe that’s why the ZPower is not a viable option anymore in the release of the OPN S.

If this is the case, it’s not going to be just the ZPower option that’s becoming obsolete. It’s also going to be the disposable battery option becoming obsolete. I think the fate of the ZPower system and the disposable batteries will go hand in hand because its biggest advantage is the ability to substitute in disposable batteries if necessary. If the disposable batteries are going to start lasting only 2-3 days before replacement (currently 4 days for my OPN), the Lithium-ion option becomes more and more attractive.


#69

Excellent points, @Volusiano! Thanks.


#70

Just a note to everyone that Richnfamus1 found some OPN literature that shows that there are versions of the OPN S running regular disposable batteries. So my theory/assumption was wrong that the OPN S only comes in rechargeable.


#71

Just to clarify, I found the OPN-S info right here on the hearingtracker Web site. Here’s the page:

However, the footnote on that page says that the details may or may not be accurate, and to check with the manufacturer (Oticon). Since Oticon doesn’t have a lot of OPN-S info on their corporate Web page yet, I don’t know if they will have a 312 disposable battery version of OPN-S or not. I guess they will release more specs about the different models when the products are officially launched in the USA.


#72

Well, a little update about my battery doors:

Finally got the replacement door!, exchange process was quite easy with the removal tool:

Interesting fact is that the damaged door was already an “improved design” one (Oticon RC underlined).
image

Happily, after replacement, HA started to charge and work again with Silver-Zinc batteries! :slight_smile:
image


#73

I just looked at the Genie 2019.1 What’s New documentation and from what you can see below, while there’s a Lithium-ion version of the OPN S, indeed there are disposable battery versions at well. So it seems pretty official from the company itself, and not just the other source from Hearing Tracker.


#74

If you read at the bottom of the mid part of the screen shot I showed above, it mentioned that the Lithium-ion rechargeable battery can be easily replaced by the provider. If that’s true, then I think that’d be an industry-first for Lithium-ion rechargeable hearing aids.


#75

Thanks for this info, @Volusiano. I’m just wondering if it will be possible to retrofit the OPN-S 312 with the ZPower charging system doors. If so, Oticon could break ground by by offering consumers a range of choices–i.e., either standard 312/disposable batteries, ZPower rechargeable/disposable, or lithium-ion rechargeable. I hope they will offer all options.


#76

The OPN S from the picture in another thread seems ever so slightly larger than the older OPN. I don’t really know if the original ZPower kit for the older OPN would fit in the OPN S or not. Or if it would require a different kit for the S. I wonder if anybody who’s upgrading from an older OPN R set would be curious enough to try their battery door module out on the OPN S or not?

You’d think if they decided to offer the ZPower on the OPN S, they would have announced it at the same release already. But I can see how they may opt not to just to avoid the confusion of offering two different rechargeable options and undermine their own newly released rechargeable option.


#77

My thoughts exactly, which is why I’m thinking they probably won’t offer the ZPower option, but who knows.


#78

Glad you got a fix, @vpreatoni. Can you share what went wrong with the doors you had to replace (seeing as how they were supposedly the updated version from Oticon)? Did you just lose the ability to charge, were the battery doors loose or poor fitting, were the charging points tarnished, or…? Thanks.


#79

The one thing I notice is that every time I open and close the battery door module, my Silver Zinc battery suffers a scratch when it comes into contact of the metal connector. For disposables you don’t really care because they get disposed of in a few days. For rechargeables like the Silver Zinc already, I wonder if having too many scratch marks over time is going to present a problem of being able to make good contacts with the hearing aid.

I know that you should rarely have to open and close the battery door module in practice, as long as you only rarely swap them out for the disposables once in a while. But I’m still curious if this is going to be an issue over time.


#80

It was just one door that failed.
-HA stopped charging (no blinking green light).

  • I swapped with a fully charged Silver-Zinc battery, but HA didn’t start up (at first I thought HA was dead!! :open_mouth:)
  • Finally, I swapped with a normal Zinc-air battery, and HA started to work perfectly. So clearly the problem was on the internal door electronics.

I tried cleaning battery door contacts and charging points with a soft cloth till make them bright again, but it didn’t help.
Problem started during hot and humid summer… not sure if the battery door electronics complies with IP68 as the HA themselves.