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Old 15-06-2017, 15:45   #1
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Epirb Batteries

Well after my Saft batteries have finally retired 11/05 I started looking for replacements. It seems every tom dick and harry have them in the US but try buying them in SE asia and its cheaper buying a new Epirb. Reason is after the Samsung phone issue nobody wants to ship them anymore... Any ideas ?
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Old 16-06-2017, 13:41   #2
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Re: Epirb Batteries

Emmalina-
Those SAFT batteries are technicaly "lithium primary cells" or lithium metal cells, I believe. The hazmat regulations for them will usually be different from the regs for rechargable cells, and each carrier and postal system will have different restrictions on both types. Here in the US, I have found that no one, private carrier or USPS, gives a consistent answer about what is prohibited or allowed, so you need to check actual regulations and then see who will work with you.
It is indeed possible that there's just no economical way to get what you want, where you want it.
OTOH, the big reason behind those batteries was their unique stable 10-year shelf life. These days all the major battery companies (Eveready, Duracell, Rayovac) are making alkaline batteries with the same shelf life though. It would be a kludge, and you'd have to match voltage and capacity, but it might be very possible to build up a 6-cell holder with C cells and use that until you can get the correct replacement.
Or have someone in the US (or other location) get the correct pack & forward it on to you, in some place where the regulations allow the lithium primary cells to be shipped. Crazy as it sounds, that also depends on whether the battery is "installed in the device" or whether it is not installed. No easy answer, but the ten-year life on the newer alkalines versus the problems with lithium really has to make you wonder.
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Old 18-06-2017, 14:07   #3
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Re: Epirb Batteries

I purchased exact replacement lithium cells for my Epirb on E-Bay or Amazon (forget which) a couple of years ago. They came via normal UPS/FedEx/USPS (again, forget which) without a problem. Maybe the shipper lied on the shipping documents, who knows? All I know is I had no issues.

All that said, it was all US domestic shipping, not international. However, the original source of the batteries was China (of course), so it is not inconceivable that you could have a similar experience.

All that said, let me point out that the process of swapping out the batteries in an Epirb is NOT trivial. There are a number of components (heat cutouts, diodes, etc) soldered between and among the individual cells, so very careful attention to details while disassembling and reassembling the battery pack is essential.
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Old 18-06-2017, 14:31   #4
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Re: Epirb Batteries

" the process of swapping out the batteries in an Epirb is NOT trivial."
Perhaps in some, but I've done two where you could literally buy a pack of three calls, prewired together with simple ordinary strapping and a "cordless phone" type plug on the end. Just as simple, literally, as changing the battery pack in a cordless phone or other consumer appliance.
And then one that totally stymied me, the "replaceable" batteries were actually potted in place very solidly.
Attention to the o-ring or other waterproof sealing is more likely to be critical.

Amazon has a funny policy about hazmat. They manage to ship all sorts of things (pressurized paint cans, lithium primary and secondary batteries, etc.) that are subject to varying hazmat rules, and somehow, always just ship them unlabeled and by all carriers. If you need to RETURN any of those items, all of a sudden they say "That's hazmat, just keep it, no charge." Or the return label will have a hazmat warning, in the case of embedded lithium ion batteries, powering devices.

The domestic US rules for hazmat vary with the carrier. Change from year to year. And are widely ignored by private sellers on all services. The last couple of 18650 cells that I got (from a domestic seller) just showed up in first class mail, no label. I know that's illegal, they can be shipped that way in a device--but not on their own. This goes on all the time, except with corporate businesses that have learned the hard way what a violation can cost them.

Generally the loosest rules apply to domestic US shipping IF the shipment is also restricted to GROUND shipping. Which pretty much is why it is domestic only. Although I've heard there are some ice road truckers waiting for hell to freeze over, so they can deliver to China.(G)
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Old 21-06-2017, 03:10   #5
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Re: Epirb Batteries

Just bought 6 18650 cells from china arrived after a week no problem and no duty. The batteries are not in a pack just loosely soldered. Saft only seem to make that model in the US. A friend just got some saft cells from the UK declared them at customs and they didn't pay any attention.
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Old 21-06-2017, 06:38   #6
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Re: Epirb Batteries

The 18650 cells are rechargeable cells, lithium-ion type.
The SAFT cells for EPIRBs are (perhaps lithium-metal) primary cells.

Comparing them is like saying table salt and Chlorox are the same thing, because they both contain chlorine.

Totally different criteria for everything including shipping.

Although I can tell you, puncturing one of either type can still make for an exciting moment.
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Old 28-06-2017, 15:06   #7
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Re: Epirb Batteries

Point being if I buy a new epirb they will ship it anywhere with the batteries in it. As nearly all epirbs use lithium sulphur dioxide batteries I find it strange that they can't just ship new cells. The reference to 18650 was regarding shipping as the last 4 I purchased from the states and had to be shipped in 2 packages as there is a max of 2 cells per shipment
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Old 21-07-2017, 12:44   #8
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Re: Epirb Batteries

Ignorance is bliss. We just carried our ACR 406 EPIRB home in checked luggage from Spain to Canada in order to get new batteries installed and have it checked. We had no problems, but didn't declare it either as it didn't occur to either of us that it might be a problem.

I'm wondering how the OP made out bringing his unit into the US?

Upon speaking to the authorized rep here, they told us that replacing the battery would be $544 CAD (about $388 for the battery, plus $125 minimum 1-hr. shop fee, plus environmental fee), plus of course our 15% sales tax. They told us the cost of the battery is so high because it is deemed to be dangerous goods, and as such are very expensive to transport. They were surprised we had managed to get the EPIRB back in our luggage.

They advised that ACR have recently been purchased by Ocean Signal, and recommended that rather than updating the old ACR, that we purchase a new Ocean Signal SeaSafe Cat 2 EPIRB which are equipped with a new type of battery. Ocean Signal's new EPIRBs "are equipped with a non-hazardous user changeable battery" so we would have no problem transporting the EPIRB, and could change the battery ourselves when it becomes due after, I think it was 7 years. You do not have to take the unit into a service facility to have the battery changed; just buy a new one for $195 and screw it in. These EPIRBs are available here for $547 CAD without integrated GPS, or for $812 with GPS. The obvious thing to do is to buy the new EPIRB.

FYI.

(also posted on the Thread "Can I take my EPIRB on the plane?")
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Old 22-07-2017, 22:46   #9
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Re: Epirb Batteries

"just buy a new one for $195 and screw it in. "
How very white of them. Try to see just what it is. Another forum member sent me an old EPIRB they were getting rid of. It had been recommended by PS and others because it had a 'user replaceable battery'. Well, not quite. The batteries were potted into the bottom of the unit, and a whole new bottom had to be ordered. A proprietary assembly--and the company went belly up so they were simply no longer available, much less replaceable.
$195 for an assembly when the prime battery makers (like SAFT) will sell you replacement batteries for $60...Yeah, very generous. Almost as good as the extortionate price of replacing your current batteries.
Take a look inside, ACR used to just plug in battery packs that you can still buy from SAFT and others. Dirt cheap as a backup, even if you do decide to buy a new unit.
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