There are a few questions that we hear a lot, and one of them is “what kind of batteries should I use?” If you’ve ever asked yourself this question, here’s some information about cochlear implant batteries to help you decide which ones are right for you.
Zinc-Air, Silver-Oxide, Alkaline, Rechargeable: What’s the Difference?
There are lots of different batteries out there, so why would you choose a specific one for your cochlear implant’s audio processor? It’s because there are subtle differences between each style. The two main differences are battery size and cell type.
The size is what indicates if a battery will fit in your audio processor, and is named with a letter or number. The most common battery size for cochlear implants is 675. The batteries that we talk about in this article are all available in size 675, excepting the custom-made MED-EL DaCapo battery.
The cell type is another name for what fuel the battery uses, and common cell types include zinc-air, silver-oxide, alkaline, and rechargeable.
Zinc-air batteries pack a lot of power in a small size and are relatively inexpensive to produce. This makes them a good choice for general use when you want a single set of batteries to last a long time. However, they need to be in constant contact with oxygen to provide power and will start working as soon as you pull off the little tab, and will keep working as long as. When the zinc in the battery has completely oxidized it will stop producing power and the battery will need to be replaced. Depending on which audio processor and battery pack you use, a set of zinc-air batteries will last for approximately 60—90 hours.
Silver-oxide and alkaline batteries also work with cochlear implants. Both of these are powered by a chemical reaction inside the battery and therefore don’t need air to function. Individual batteries might be cheaper than their zinc-air equivalents, but they won’t last as long and have a lifetime of approximately 6—8 hours per set depending on your audio processor and battery pack.
Rechargeable batteries are also available in size 675. These batteries don’t need air to work and can be recharged multiple times. Current rechargeable 675 batteries will last approximately 6—8 hours per charge, again depending on your processor and battery pack.
Another type of rechargeable battery is the MED-EL DaCapo. It has its own battery pack that can be used with the OPUS 2 or RONDO and provides up to 16 hours of battery life.
SONNET users have two rechargeable battery options: the Standard and Micro battery packs. These lithium-ion batteries provide up to 10 or 7 hours of battery life, respectively.
How Much Power is Enough Power?
A battery’s power is measured in a few different ways: voltage, current, and capacity. You can think of it by imagining water flowing through a garden hose: voltage is like the water pressure, and it is measured in volts (V); current is like the volume of water going through the hose, and it is measured in amperes (A); capacity is how much water there is to go through the hose, and it is measured in milliampere hours (mAh). Depending on their size and cell type, different batteries provide different amounts of power.
Cochlear implants work best when used with high-power batteries, because high-powered batteries can give more current especially over a long period of time. If you’ve worn hearing aids before and are used to buying “hearing aid batteries”, know that these might not be powerful enough for a cochlear implant.
Lots of different battery brands offer high-power batteries but one brand’s “high-power” might not necessarily be the same power as another brand’s “high-power”. So, the best thing to do is look for batteries that say they are specifically designed for cochlear implants.
So, What Batteries Should I Get?
Ultimately it depends on your specific situation. Do you live where disposable batteries are expensive or not easily available? Then rechargeable batteries might work for you. Do you want batteries that will last a long time so you don’t have to change them as frequently? Then zinc-air batteries might be for you. Do you not have access to zinc-air batteries, or need batteries that work without air? Then rechargeable, silver-oxide, or alkaline batteries might work for you. And, depending on where you live some insurance plans include battery subscriptions so you don’t have to choose.
If you use WaterWear, you’ll also need to use batteries that work without air because it creates an airtight and watertight seal around your audio processor. Rechargeable, silver-oxide, or alkaline batteries all work well with WaterWear.
So while we don’t recommend a specific battery brand, there are a few different brands of batteries for cochlear implants that you can choose depending on the type of battery you want.
- Zinc-air: PowerOne, ZeniPower, Rayovac
- Alkaline: Duracell
- Silver-oxide: VARTA
- Rechargeable 675: PowerOne
A good idea would be to test out a few different battery brands and types to find out the ones that work best for your specific situation.