Best EPIRBs in the Marine Industry 2019

Posted by Rachel Low on


There are many different factors to consider when deciding which brand and model of EPIRB to buy. With the marine safety equipment market growing extensively, customers are now spoiled for choice! To keep things simple, we've boiled it down to a list of 6 key characteristics which we believe are the most important.

Top EPIRB Characteristics (in our view!)

1. User-replaceable battery
Having a user-replaceable battery means that customers won't need to pay extra $$$ to get their EPIRB battery change once the battery life has expired! Simply swap the batteries yourself and you're good to go. Sadly, any commercial vessels regulated by IMO / SOLAS will need to undergo Shore Based Maintenance (SBM) via a service centre to change the batteries. 

2. Battery life
Given that batteries cost nearly 40-50% of the EPIRB itself (+ plus SBM if you're an IMO-regulated vessel), choosing an EPIRB with a longer battery expiration date can actually save you quite a lot of $$$ and reduce your total cost of ownership (TCO)

3. Dangerous goods
Based on customer feedback, this can be a real pain point! If you're blessed to be in a location where EPIRBs are readily available, perfect! However, if you've decided to dock at a relatively remote / under served location, be careful! You might not be able to order a replacement EPIRB to that country due to tightening IATA regulations regarding lithium metal batteries (which are the types of batteries inside EPIRBs)

4. Auto-release mechanism
Category I automatic release 'Float-free' EPIRBs will automatically activate via a hydrostatic release unit (HRU) and send a distress signal if a boat / vessel sinks. We recommend purchasing this safer option (instead of manual release EPIRBs) if you can afford it.

5. GPS
GPS EPIRBs enable rescue services to locate your position much more quickly than via EPIRBs without GPS. From our experience, most customers are migrating to GPS EPIRBs.

6. Price
Last but not least, the price of the product!


As promised, below is a side-by-side comparison of the marine market's leading brands & models of EPIRBs. The EPIRBs that we've analysed are:

Top EPIRB Brands & Models

1. Jotron 40S MkII EPIRB
2. Jotron 60S EPIRB
3. McMurdo SmartFind E8 EPIRB
7. Ocean Signal E100 EPIRB

Product User-replaceable
Battery Life Dangerous
Auto-Release GPS Capability Price (for
Jotron 40S MkII EPIRB No 5 years Non-DG Auto Non-GPS SGD 1,012
Jotron 60S EPIRB No 5 years Non-DG Auto Non-GPS SGD 904
McMurdo SmartFind E8 EPIRB No 10 years DG Auto Non-GPS SGD 822
GME MT403FF EPIRB No 6 years Non-DG Auto Non-GPS SGD 622
GME MT603FG EPIRB No 6 years DG Auto GPS SGD 849
ACR GlobalFIX V4 EPIRB YES 10 years Non-DG Auto GPS SGD 750
Ocean Signal E100 EPIRB YES 5 years Non-DG Auto Non-GPS SGD 716


The clear winner in this analysis is the ACR GlobalFIX V4. It has user-replaceable batteries with a service life of 10 years! It's NOT considered a dangerous good (i.e. you can ship it anywhere!). It's got GPS capabilities and an auto-release mechanism. And it's relatively cheap (SGD 750)!

Its worth bearing in mind that some people may place more importance on certain characteristics than others. Now that you have all this information to hand, you can make up your own mind! If you have any questions at all, please feel free to contact us.

Background: Why have we written this post?

We've recently added a whole range of EPIRBs (Emergency Position-Indicating Radio Beacon) to our online store. In the process, we accumulated lots of important details and knowledge about what makes an EPIRB attractive. From our research, we found lots of very useful articles out there on 'What is an EPIRB?' and 'Should I buy an EPIRB?'.

However, we didn't find an article or review which presented a true side-by-side comparison of the different brands and models of EPIRBs available out there... So we decided to do it ourselves! We hope that the knowledge we share will empower our customers to consider all crucial factors before making any purchasing decisions. 

About BuyNav

BuyNav is the new online store for Marine Navigation and Communication Equipment. The store is managed by Allied eParts, a market-leading marine electronics distributor, with over 20 years of experience in the industry.

We stock a wide range of products including Marine Antennas, Marine Radios, Monitors, Acoustic Beacons, Marine Safety Equipment, Battery Chargers, Batteries, Magnetrons, Recording Charts and Pens & Accessories. Brands we carry include AC Antennas, Actisense, Entel, Crystal, e2v, Hattleland, JRC, McMurdo, Motorola, Novega, RM Young, Samyung, Sartech, Savox, Victron Energy and Yuasa.

Kindly note that the above analysis is our own opinion and based on our own research and analysis. Manufacturers have not verified our analysis of their product. 

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