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#273833 - 01/22/15 07:01 AM 406 beacon one vs other
frediver Offline

Registered: 05/17/04
Posts: 213
Loc: N.Cal.
I know squat about these beacons other than they are Sat. Service.
What I am questioning is what are the main differences between models.
IE if I have a personal beacon on my life vest or on my belt, why would I want a physically
larger model on my boat?
Sure the larger models might float and mark where my boat sank but I might be bobbing around a couple miles from that position.
Is the major difference just the run time, strobe lights attached ?
I would have one on me 24/7 why should my boat have a second?

#273834 - 01/22/15 08:35 AM Re: 406 beacon one vs other [Re: frediver]
Tjin Offline

Registered: 04/08/02
Posts: 1776
PLB is for personal use (manually activated), does not always float and shorter battery life. Registered to a person.

Boat models are called a EPIRB (automatic activated by water with manual activation as option), they float and have longer batterylife. Registered by vessel.

Most people on a vessel do not carry an PLB, so a vessel based automaticly deployed beacon can be pretty handy.

#273839 - 01/22/15 03:13 PM Re: 406 beacon one vs other [Re: Tjin]
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 7324
Loc: southern Cal
What about other people on the boat? The EPIRB might come in handy for them.
Geezer in Chief

#273840 - 01/22/15 03:32 PM Re: 406 beacon one vs other [Re: frediver]
Russ Offline

Registered: 06/02/06
Posts: 5338
If your boat is of a certain length having an EPIRB is not optional. My neighbor's fishing boat did not meet the requirement so when I upgraded to an ACR ResQLink, he got my McMurdo. Personally, if I had a boat with enough length to require an EPIRB, I'd prolly have enough $$ to carry a PLB as a back-up. Maybe one on person, one in the life-raft.

I have this thing about floating around in cold water with no one having a clue there's a problem. Back-ups are a good thing, cheap insurance.

#273895 - 01/24/15 05:10 AM Re: 406 beacon one vs other [Re: frediver]
AKSAR Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 08/31/11
Posts: 1195
Loc: Alaska
EPIRBs (for vessels), ELTs (for aircraft) and PLBs (for individual people) are all distress radio beacons, and all use the International Cospas-Sarsat satellites.

As others have noted, one difference between an EPIRB and a PLB is that the EPIRB has longer battery life. A trade off is that they are much bigger than a PLB.

None of these devices can successfully transmit unless the antenna is out of the water. EPIRBs are designed to float, in a position with the antenna up out of the water. Many PLBs do not float, and even if clipped to your PFD, you would somehow need to make sure the antenna stays up and out of the water. There are some PLBs designed with a flotation cover, but they are larger.

EPIRBs (likewise ELTs) can be activated automatically. This is both an advantage and a disadvantage. If your boat sinks, it is obviously nice that it it will deploy and activate automatically. However, this feature leads to a high rate of accidental activation and false alarms. A PLB requires a deliberate conscious sequence of actions to activate, and there is a much lower rate of accidental unintended alerts.

Awhile back I had a conversation with someone who stands watches at the Alaska 11th Rescue Coordination Center. He said that when a PLB alert comes in, they are likely to immediately alert the appropriate agency to launch a rescue. When an EPIRB or ELT alert comes in, depending on where it is, they will sometimes take a bit of time to try to verify that it is a real emergency rather than a false alarm.
"Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas any more."
-Dorothy, in The Wizard of Oz

#273940 - 01/26/15 02:18 AM Re: 406 beacon one vs other [Re: frediver]
BruceZed Offline

Registered: 01/06/08
Posts: 317
Loc: Canada
PLB are also much cheaper, my McMurdo FastFind cost me under $225 (Canadian), it is also very small and easy to take with me in my pack or life jacket
Bruce Zawalsky
Chief Instructor
Boreal Wilderness Institute


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