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Old 24-07-2014, 07:04   #1
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EPIRB Thoughts?

Hey guys, the EPIRB on the boat that I just bought waaayyy passed the expiration date, so I'll have to get a new one. Seems they range in price from about $150 bucks up to about a thousand? Anyone have thoughts or input on which to get? Thanks for the help.
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Old 24-07-2014, 07:34   #2
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Re: EPIRB thoughts?

If the legislation allows consider a couple (or more) of PLB's attached to life jacket of each of the crew members as an alternative.

2 PLBs are about the same cost as EPIRB. They work the same as an EPIRB. The only difference is the battery life is about is half. Multiple units provide redundancy and importantly in the event of sudden problem putting on your lifejacket ( if you don't already have it on) means you cannot drop/loose the EPIRB.

Lithium batteries have a very low self discharge so chances are your existing EPIRB will still work, but perhaps for a shorter time. However if its an older model it is likely not to be a GPS model so don't throw it away (unless it is not a 406MHz model)
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Old 24-07-2014, 07:47   #3
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Re: EPIRB thoughts?

Is it the registration that is expired or the service date?

Registration is dead easy, free, and very important (if not properly registered it may do you no good when you need it).

Having an old one serviced requires sending it to a authorized service center and costs about 30-50% the price of a new one. Assuming its an old unit that's past its service date, I would just buy a new one and get updated technology.

It is physically possible to rebuild the old battery pack, but a bit of a PITA (electrical and soldering skills required) and the unit can never again be serviced by an authorized service center because they will destroy it (due to unauthorized repair). I've done this with my old unit. Plan to use it as a backup and order a new unit as primary.
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Old 24-07-2014, 09:11   #4
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Re: EPIRB thoughts?

Check if a battery can be replaced.

Remember to re-register your epirb with new owner data.

If you buy, buy a model that corresponds to your use. Learn how to use it then try never to have to use it.

Cheers,
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Old 24-07-2014, 09:17   #5
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pirate Re: EPIRB thoughts?

Look at the 'Spot3Gen' package.. also their phone seems pretty neat.. it tracked me in real time all the way across the Atlantic this year.. and the distress beacon works the same way.
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Old 24-07-2014, 09:26   #6
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Re: EPIRB thoughts?

Read this link, there are others of course. I have both a Cat 1 EPIRB and a PLB
PLB came from me flying and if activated I guess they will be looking for that airplane in the water, but at least they will be looking.
My opinion is an EPIRB is mandatory, your size boat I'd want a Cat 1, PLB's are up to you, but get a real EPIRB first, don't rely solely on PLB's.

opinions vary of course
http://www.acrartex.com/landing/a-bo...ide-to-epirbs/

On edit, get a EPIRB with the GPS, both work of course, just the one with a GPS sends a fix, one without a GPS has to be triangulated, I think.
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Old 24-07-2014, 10:54   #7
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Re: EPIRB thoughts?

I just bought a new one thats $320 plus shipping...

EPIRB KTI SA1G-INTERNATIONAL GPS 406 MHz MMSI BEACON - SkippersMate
Emergency beacons and marine safety equipment by KTI Australia

Mind you the shipping is from Australia.

Its 10 years, replaceable battery, GPS 406/121 everything you want plus additional transmit time of 3 days instead of 2.

I was a bit pleased to get one thats affordable. As I bought mine in Australia it was $289. A great price. Flying it overseas was easy... Keep it in you cary on cabin luggage, not your checked luggage and have all your documents with it. It was stopped for individual inspection in every airport. But cleared when I explained it,


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Old 24-07-2014, 11:41   #8
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Re: EPIRB thoughts?

If you can change a flat tire or the battery in your watch (Grandpa, did you really need batteries in your watch?!) you can probably also replace the battery in an EPIRB for under $50-75, and if the seals are good and your work is good, there's no risk in that. Even if you decide to replace the whole thing with a more modern one, it can be worth changing the battery in the old one and keeping it aboard as a backup/spare.

Unless, of course, the manufacturer has literally welded the whole thing closed, which ensures better waterproofing but also makes it impossible to easily replace the battery.
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Old 24-07-2014, 11:41   #9
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Re: EPIRB thoughts?

Quote:
Originally Posted by a64pilot View Post
but get a real EPIRB first, don't rely solely on PLB's
Why?

I am happy to be convinced otherwise, but other than the battery life (which is no more than 2PLB's) I can see no advantage in the EPIRB.

On the other hand the small form factor and cheaper cost of the PLB means that you have redundancy. If attached to lifejacket you are more likely to have it available in the event of a rapid sinking.
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Old 24-07-2014, 12:32   #10
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Re: EPIRB thoughts?

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Originally Posted by noelex 77 View Post
Why?

I am happy to be convinced otherwise, but other than the battery life (which is no more than 2PLB's) I can see no advantage in the EPIRB.

On the other hand the small form factor and cheaper cost of the PLB means that you have redundancy. If attached to lifejacket you are more likely to have it available in the event of a rapid sinking.
Most EPIRBs float and keep the antenna oriented correctly, and in the case of a class 1, even if you forget the thing, or something happens quickly and you don't have time to get to it or whatever it's self activated and calling for help without you having to do anything other than buy and mount it.
I do not have any evidence of this, but I think the larger EPIRB is either higher output, or maybe it's the antenna, but it has a better chance of getting a signal out.
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Old 24-07-2014, 12:47   #11
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Re: EPIRB thoughts?

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Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
If you can change a flat tire or the battery in your watch (Grandpa, did you really need batteries in your watch?!) you can probably also replace the battery in an EPIRB for under $50-75, and if the seals are good and your work is good, there's no risk in that. Even if you decide to replace the whole thing with a more modern one, it can be worth changing the battery in the old one and keeping it aboard as a backup/spare.

Unless, of course, the manufacturer has literally welded the whole thing closed, which ensures better waterproofing but also makes it impossible to easily replace the battery.
Ah, I have to find the link, but just yesterday I was reading I believe on NOAA.gov that they don't recommend replacing batteries with any company other than the manufacturer because they have found the after market replacement batteries are unreliable. Ill post the link if I find it.

ETA: NOAA battery warning: http://www.sarsat.noaa.gov/batterywarning.html

Another interesting link about monthly inspections of EPIRBs: http://www.sarsat.noaa.gov/EPIRB_inspecting.pdf


I agree the idea of keeping the old one as a spare is probably a good idea.
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Old 24-07-2014, 12:57   #12
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Re: EPIRB thoughts?

Spleen, there's a lot of counterfeit in the battery industry (as in many others) and a lot of cheap junk period. The AA cells that I can buy for a buck in the dollar store, won't last anywhere near as long as the ones I buy at higher prices in other places--sometimes even from the same brand, but a different "line".

But as with anything else, if you stick to a reputable vendor and a prime manufacturer, there are very few of those actually, and the odds are you'll be using the same quality and same brand that the manufacturer did.

All that NOAA said was "Certain aftermarket replacement battery packs...have been shown to be of inferior quality" and that's true of certain brand names in anything. They are not advising against replacements, just against certain nameless names.

You stick to a brand name, a reputable vendor (not an anonymous eBay seller from China), check the date is current, and you compare the amphour ratings, and you'll be fine.

Some folks buy the cheapest possible oil changes and tires...those folks probably shouldn't be doing any maintenance on their marine safety equipment, either.(G)
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Old 24-07-2014, 12:58   #13
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Re: EPIRB thoughts?

Quote:
Originally Posted by a64pilot View Post
Most EPIRBs float and keep the antenna oriented correctly, and in the case of a class 1, even if you forget the thing, or something happens quickly and you don't have time to get to it or whatever it's self activated and calling for help without you having to do anything other than buy and mount it.
I do not have any evidence of this, but I think the larger EPIRB is either higher output, or maybe it's the antenna, but it has a better chance of getting a signal out.
Many of the PLBs come with a floating neoprene pouch, but if it attached to your lifejacket it is hopefully going to float anyway

The output power is identical.

There is a common misconception that a PLB must have lower output power, or no GPS. In reality they are identical. Most PLB units seem to have better GPS chips (which helps with rapid cold start fixes) than their EPIRB cousins.

I think it is a valid point about the antenna on an EPIRB which is larger and presumably more efficient, but these days with GPS position information rather than relying on triangulation intermittent drop outs should be less of a problem.

The ability to deploy two PLBs (for the same cost as single EPIRB) means redundancy. The signal is more likely to be received and two units provides confidence that it is not a false alarm.

Class 1 float free EPIRB's are ideal for large ships, but it is not what is want on yacht at least as my only EPIRB/PLB.
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Old 24-07-2014, 13:23   #14
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Re: EPIRB thoughts?

I would have thought that the effective radiated power (ERP, the actual power output from the antenna) on all of these was regulated by national or ITU standards. Pretty much restricted to 5-6W ERP the same as other handheld devices in that frequency rage, as a practical matter and as a health concern.

Which would mean a "bigger" antenna was still putting out the same power, just doing so more efficiently?

Anything I find online just seems to indicate PLBs and EPIRBs have the same output on the same frequencies (406 and 121.5 for the final local approach) and that the only differences have to do with deployment/fittings/size and the fact that an EPIRB will trigger a search for a vessel, rather than an individual.

If there are limited SAR assets, I would expect them to deploy looking for vessels before they went looking for individuals though.
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Old 24-07-2014, 13:51   #15
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Re: EPIRB thoughts?

Quote:
Originally Posted by noelex 77 View Post
Class 1 float free EPIRB's are ideal for large ships, but it is not what is want on yacht at least as my only EPIRB/PLB.

What she has comes pretty darn close to qualifying as a ship, compared to what I'm used to
A boat the size of hers I would want a deck mounted auto life raft as well.
She has the capacity of carrying a lot of people.
I am not saying don't get a PLB, just get an EPIRB first. The cost difference between the two is about an hours worth of fuel for a boat this size, some things you need to and should save money on, EPIRBS in my opinion isn't one of those things.
Why would you not want a class one, a class 1 is usually just a class 2 in a different box is all, but it does have to capability of functioning with no input required.
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