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PLB & EPIRB Buying Guide

EPIRB PLB Buying Guide

We have several emergency beacons for a number of different applications available on our site, but it may not be immediately obvious which one is right for you.

If you are looking for advice on whether a PLB or EPIRB will meet your requirements, our buying guide will assist you with the most frequently asked questions.

If you are unsure of what model is for you or need any other advice before buying please call us on 0800 112 3919 to discuss your requirements.


What do EPIRBs and PLBs do?

PLBs/EPIRBs vs Satellite/GSM Trackers

Do I need an EPIRB or PLB?

Which model is best for me? 

What do EPIRBs and PLBs do?

PLBs (Personal Locator Beacon) and EPIRBs (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon) are devices designed with a single purpose: to act as a lifeline in the event of an emergency. Both types of device are simply operated and, once activated, will consistently transmit a radio signal with your coordinates to assist in your rescue.


PLBs/EPIRBs vs Satellite/GSM Trackers

McMurdo Fast Find Ranger

PLBs and EPIRBs are very singular in purpose; they can only send an emergency signal once activated and have no additional features to speak of.  If you are looking for a device which can be tracked online or show your movements then an emergency beacon would not be suitable.

Many of our trackers can also send messages out to mobiles or emails, making them a low cost means of communication, depending on the subscription package.

However, if you do simply want a device to be used as an “in case of emergency” last resort, then they are ideal, with a low initial cost, no subscription*, and no complicated set up beyond registering the device online. If the device is used certain providers will replace it free of charge.


Do I need an EPIRB or PLB?

There are a number of reasons why you might want either of these devices, but the key difference is that an EPIRB is generally tied to a vessel and more used in the event of a shipwreck or similar emergency. PLBs are less specialised and are paired with a specific individual rather than a vessel.


Which model is best for me?

We currently offer three models of PLB and two EPIRBS from ACR and McMurdo.

ACR McMurdo Logos



If you are only interested in land usage, then the McMurdo Fast Find Ranger is the best option, a low-cost device with no unnecessary marine features. If you want a device for use at sea for personal use, then the ResQLink or AquaLink would be better suited, with their additional safety features such as buoyancy and being watertight for up to an hour at a depth of 5 metres.

If you need an emergency device for your vessel then you will need an EPIRB. The category 1 GlobalFix is a higher price, but will activate automatically upon immersion in water even in the event of a shipwreck, while the category 2 is a manual only activation. Both come with housing to connect them to your vessel in an easily accessible location.  


*the device does need to be checked and battery replaced every 5 years to ensure it is in full working condition.  

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