Beacon care

Testing and battery check

To test your beacon, follow the beacon manufacturer’s guidance and only use the test button. 

Conducting more frequent tests will unnecessarily reduce your battery’s lifespan. 

Live testing of your beacon is prohibited.


Distress beacon batteries last from 5 to 10 years depending on make and model. The expiry date for your battery will be noted on the beacon.

Before your beacon battery expires:

  • Contact the manufacturer to order a battery replacement and have your beacon serviced; or
  • Buy a new GPS capable distress beacon.

We strongly recommend you purchase replacement batteries from your beacon manufacturer. Third-party batteries may not enable the beacon to function as designed.

If your beacon battery is replaced or serviced by a non-certified service centre then the beacon is non-compliant for carriage requirements under NZ law and there is a risk the beacon may not function correctly.

  • The Australian/New Zealand standard 4280.1 (EPIRB) and 4280.2 (PLB) states that beacons shall be returned to a manufacturer’s approved service centre when repairs or battery replacement are required.

  • If a beacon is required to meet carriage requirements under Maritime or Civil Aviation Authority regulations, the beacon must be complaint with current AS-NZ standard.

Servicing and battery replacement

Distress beacons are complex radio transmitting devices that require proper maintenance as per your manufacturer’s instructions. In addition to following the manufacturer's schedule of inspections, servicing and beacon self-tests, it is important to regularly inspect your beacon yourself to check for physical damage like cracks or corrosion.

Who can service/replace the battery for your beacon?

Your beacon can only be serviced by the manufacturer who is identified on the side of the beacon.


GME Auckland

09 274 0955

McMurdo / Orolia

Absolute Marine

09 273 9273

Kannad / McMurdo / Orolia

Aviation Safety

07 543 0075

ACR / Artex

Wilco Marine Services

09 308 9165

Ocean Signal

Lusty & Blundell

09 415 8303


KTI Australia


Carrying/Installation of your beacon

Make sure it is easily accessible

Keep your beacon away from:

  • equipment that may accidentally knock the activation switch
  • magnetic sources, such as microphones and radio speakers (some beacons are activated by a magnetic on/off switch)
  • high water pressure
  • children who may accidentally turn it on
  • electric fences


ELTs are usually hard wired into the aircraft and mounted in a rack.  It is a legal requirement to have an ELT installed in an aircraft. The installation and testing is also governed by the Civil Aviation Rules, see (Parts 91 and 43).


If your EPIRB comes with a mounting bracket, place it where it is visible and easy to access in an emergency. If the EPIRB and mount have a magnetic activated mounting switch ensure that the two magnets are "face to face". Make sure the EPIRB stays dry and keep it locked away when nobody is on board.

If you have a float free EPIRB ensure it is mounted where it will clear rigging or vessel structure when the vessel is submerged.

If you have an inflatable life raft on board, an additional beacon can be stored inside the raft.

On person

Your Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) should be physically carried on your person rather than in your pack in case you are separated from it. If you are using a vehicle, stow it in a glove box or other safe and accessible compartment until you leave the vehicle and then carry it on your person.