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Old 28-09-2014, 06:33   #1
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EPIRB Lithium Battery Life Expectancy

My EPIRB is 13 years old. The packaging says it expires in 2006. I just took it apart. The battery pack is made up of three 3-volt lithium battery cells for 9 volt output. I put a tester on it and it reads 8.98 volts. This seems pretty good but I know lithium batteries are a different animal. Do you think it is still worth hanging on to or is the test I did not a good indicator?


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Old 28-09-2014, 09:10   #2
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Re: EPIRB Lithium Battery Life Expectancy

I would send it back the manufacturer to get the batteries replaced and have the unit serviced.

Other than that, EPIRBS have come a long way since it was made. They are not that expensive compared to other boat investments and not something I would skimp on.

I personally would send it in, but if I had the money, I'd just get a new one and go enjoy.
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Old 28-09-2014, 09:34   #3
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Re: EPIRB Lithium Battery Life Expectancy

EPIRB battery life is 5 years per most sources. Yes this gives a big safety margin... but you want as big a safety margin as possible when you need it. Remember... its not just voltage that you need... its enough voltage over as long a period of time as possible. Even though an old battery may read a decent voltage on the meter, it may only be able to deliver that voltage for a few minutes under load.
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Old 29-09-2014, 16:41   #4
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Re: EPIRB Lithium Battery Life Expectancy

I think I answered my own question... I found the data sheet on the battery cells. According to the data sheet, the amp hours don't drop off dramatically until voltage reaches 2.5 volts. So at 2.9+ volts per cell, I have a lot of life left.

I also have a backup PLB and we are coastal cruisers so the EPIRB does not need to last 48 hours.


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Old 29-09-2014, 22:39   #5
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Re: EPIRB Lithium Battery Life Expectancy

That is under a load, at rest the voltage will not tell you much.
Why not just replace them if you have it apart?

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I think I answered my own question... I found the data sheet on the battery cells. According to the data sheet, the amp hours don't drop off dramatically until voltage reaches 2.5 volts. So at 2.9+ volts per cell, I have a lot of life left.

I also have a backup PLB and we are coastal cruisers so the EPIRB does not need to last 48 hours.


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Old 30-09-2014, 04:22   #6
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Re: EPIRB Lithium Battery Life Expectancy

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That is under a load, at rest the voltage will not tell you much.
Why not just replace them if you have it apart?
Wot he said.

To drive home the point, when the open circuit voltage is close to the original design cell voltage it tells you almost nothing of the remaining capacity of the battery.

Stick new cells in, you already have had 8+ years of "free life".
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Old 30-09-2014, 04:37   #7
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Re: EPIRB Lithium Battery Life Expectancy

At 13 yrs old, I'd just replace the EPIRB with a new one.
Dont know your location, but there is an outfit in the UK which part ex's EPIRB's, send them the old one, and you get a new one for about the cost of battery replacement, test and service
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Old 30-09-2014, 06:00   #8
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Re: EPIRB Lithium Battery Life Expectancy

I would replace the batteries at this age. I have seen batts read OK before loading then drop off dramatically once load applied for some time. Not sure how this applies to lithium ones though.

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Old 30-09-2014, 08:01   #9
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Re: EPIRB Lithium Battery Life Expectancy

This reminds me of the first time I used a nice digital volt-meter doing house wiring. We spend a long time trying to figure out why we couldn't cut the power to a wire in a length of conduit. No matter what we did - light switch off, breaker off, etc, the meter read 110AC volts. We were sure we had somehow mis-identified the wire.

Turned out the 120 volts was just induced voltage from another live wire in the same conduit length. The fancy volt-meter was sensitive enough to detect it.

Bottom line, a voltage reading doesn't necessarily mean much, you'll want to check the load capacity too.
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Old 30-09-2014, 09:35   #10
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Re: EPIRB Lithium Battery Life Expectancy

Why are boat owners so cheap? buy a new battery or new ebirb. Is your life not worth a few hundred dollars? If you can't afford to maintain safety equipment then sell the boat.
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