Friday, August 18, 2017
Purchasing or Hiring a Beacon

What to look for when buying or hiring a beacon

Why you should not buy a distress beacon from overseas

Where can I buy a distress beacon?

Where can I hire a distress beacon?

What do I need to know when I hire a beacon?


What to look for when buying or hiring a beacon

406 MHz distress beacons are highly sophisticated pieces of electronic engineering designed to save lives.  

Understanding how they and the global safety system works is not only interesting but might also assist in determining what sort of devices would best suit your particular outdoor activity.  

It is recommended that distress beacon owners and potential owners or users of beacons familiarise themselves with regulations and recommendations regarding the carrying of ELTs, EPIRBs or PLBs relevant to their particular outdoor activity and the steps required to ensure the beacon is registered with the Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand.

The major consideration when purchasing a beacon is normally whether to purchase an EPIRB or a PLB, as an ELT is normally purchased and installed as a Civil Aviation Authority requirement.  

PLBs are typically cheaper and smaller and from an electronic perspective are exactly the same as an EPIRB.  Both transmit the same burst of half second data at exactly the same power output at exactly the same time intervals, both transmit a constant 0.25 watt homing signal and both are required to be waterproof.  But that is where the similarity ends. 

It is important to understand the differences between an EPIRB and a PLB, these are:

  • EPIRB standards require all EPIRBs to float the right way up when in the water and that they have an operating battery life of at least 48 hours. 
  • PLB standards have no requirement to float the right way up when in the water and only require an operating battery life of at least 24 hours. 

Before purchasing or hiring a beacon it is important to consider a number of factors

  • the purpose for which the beacon is being purchased or hired
  • regulations concerning the type of beacon to be carried
  • the technical capability of the beacon to not only alert but also locate 
  • the method of deployment and activation

It is important to understand why you should not give in to temptation and purchase your distress beacon overseas at a considerable discount  to the price from a local retailer. 

  • A 406 MHz distress beacon purchased from an overseas supplier may not comply with New Zealand and Pacific standards.  
  • A beacon purchased from an overseas supplier is unlikely to have a New Zealand or Pacific Hex ID or UIN code.  This is a problem because, unless the beacon is re-coded, it cannot be registered with RCCNZ.
                           

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Where can I buy a distress beacon?

The expanding list below names many of the retail suppliers of New Zealand and Pacific coded distress beacons.  Click on the regional name to see a list of local businesses in the area who supply EPIRBs and PLBs.

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Where can I hire a distress beacon?

The expanding list below names many of the lenders of New Zealand and Pacific coded distress beacons. Click on the regional name to see a list of local lenders in the area who rent EPIRBs and PLBs on a short term hire agreement.

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What do I need to know when I hire a beacon? 

In most cases the hire company will hold your trip details and make them available to RCCNZ as necessary for search and rescue purposes.

When you hire a 406 MHz distress beacon the beacon will be registered to the hire organisation with their contact details.  

When you arrange rental of a distress beacon, ensure that they will keep details of your trip available for the Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand in the event the beacon is activated.

Make sure that you give as much detail as possible about your plans to enable an efficient search and rescue effort should the need arise.

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