Do I need a new PLB or just a new battery?
QHaving purchased a firstgeneration PLB several years ago, I now need to replace my battery for the second time. This is an expensive business. As replacing the battery is so costly and having seen that the new generation of PLBS are infinitely smaller, I am wondering whether it is more sensible to buy a new model? I was impressed by how compact the ones I have seen are, but there don’t appear to be any obvious developments in the technology on offer in terms of getting me rescued should the worst happen. How long will it be until I can buy a combined AIS and PLB device? And is there any advantage in upgrading now aside from the smaller size of the unit? Sean Mccrystal from beacon manufacturer Mcmurdo replies:
In relation to PLBS, owners should consider a number of aspects in their re-battery / replace debate. Firstly, reputable manufacturers recommend marine safety electronics are inspected by a trained professional and the cost of the five-year battery swap-out includes the chance to review the impact of the marine environment on a unit that can mean the difference between life and death.
Secondly, when considering features, reduced size is not necessarily a functional benefit as buoyancy and level of impact resistance can be impacted by the reduced size. Device users may want to consider if their sailing activity has changed since their original purchase. Are other elements, such as the localised alert and recovery or automatic activation features associated with the AIS MOB, such as the Smartfind S20, now more attractive than international access to search and rescue professionals from 406 PLBS? In relation to future-proofing your purchase, the hotly anticipated Return Link Service should be operational in 2019, with the prospect of a combined AIS/406MHZ unit getting ever closer, since the successful launch of the Smartfind G8 AIS EPIRB.
Device costs have reduced in the last five years and still offer amazing value over the lifetime of the product. Our advice is that the key to survival is having the ability to alert someone to your situation and, old or new, a PLB will save your life.
A PLB or EPIRB could save your life, but it needs to be in date