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Old 08-21-2008, 06:20 AM   #1
Keith's Avatar
Vessel Name: Anastasia III
Vessel Model: Krogen 42
Join Date: Oct 2007
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Need the battery replaced on mine, so went to their web site today to look for a replacement center. Came across their new "useful life" policy. Seems after 12 years, they won't service a product at all, saying it's no longer reliable. That means with a battery replacement schedule of every five years, you better not get behind! You'll get 15 years max use out of the thing. Also keep this in mind if you purchase a used model, or buy a boat that has one.

Oh yea, when I brought the EPIRB home, the yellow "rubber ducky" antenna on top crumbled at the bottom, exposing SS braid inside. This EPIRB is a bit older than five years, and is mounted inside my pilothouse, where it is shielded from direct sun most of the time, and climate controlled. I don't know if this would affect it's use, but I suggest you bend yours just to see if it cracks like mine did. The yellow covering is very brittle, and it shouldn't be at this age with this lack of exposure.

ACR Electronics Useful Life Policy:
Products Affected: This policy applies to safety electronic products including, SARTs, EPIRBs, and VHF Radios manufactured by ACR Electronics in Fort Lauderdale, FL, hereinafter referred to as Products.
Preamble: Safety electronics, unlike other types of electronics, cannot be used until they fail. Their only use is in an emergency when they must work. Given the unknown nature of the cumulate effect of extremes in usage, storage and handling that safety electronics can be subjected to over time we feel it is important to establish an interval after which these products cannot be safely relied upon to perform as required in an emergency. While it can vary based on many unknowable factors, we believe the typical useful life of a well maintained safety electronic product is no more than 17 years. After which the product's useful life will have expired and it should be permanently removed from the beacon population or relegated to back-up status.
These products require regular service every 5 years. In addition to battery replacement, this service extends the operating life of the Products by replacing critical components and those that can under certain circumstances degrade more quickly; such as o'rings, activation seals, etc. Products that are not serviced at regular intervals of 5-years, +/- 6 months, may not perform as expected if needed. A lack of service or improper service can cause a beacons useful life to expire prematurely.
Policy: The typical service life of a properly maintained Product is limited to 12 years from date of manufacture. Products that are 12 years and 1 month or older from date of manufacture will not be serviced by ACR or our Battery Replacement Centers. A Product that is 12 or less years old from date of manufacture will be serviced as long as the unit appears fit to be placed back into its final operational cycle. Service includes the replacement of those items that must be replaced at service intervals and the verification that the device appears to be in good mechanical and electrical working condition by an ACR authorized service technician.
Disclaimer: ACR and our Battery Replacement Centers reserve the right to refuse to service any Product for no reason. ACR products are designed to withstand repeated exposure to sun, humidity, temperature extremes and salt fog. However, while ACR can choose to repair/replace any product at our discretion, ACR is not obligated to service Products that have been abused or subjected to excessively abusive environments such that the mechanical or electrical integrity of the unit appears to have been compromised. ACR retains the sole right to determine if a product has been abused.
Effective Date: This policy goes into effect immediately and applies to all Products being sold at this time and those that are in the field.

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Old 08-21-2008, 01:56 PM   #2
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If its an old VHF unit , just discard it or mount it on the wall of your outhouse.

In feb 09 the old VHF civilan 121.5 or 243 military Guard will no longer be monitored by anyone for boaters.

Get a sat set , or a good survival mirror.

-- Edited by FF at 15:58, 2008-08-21

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Old 08-21-2008, 02:26 PM   #3
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As I said, it's a bit over 5 years old, a 409 MHz GPIRB.
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Old 08-22-2008, 08:24 PM   #4
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Two reasons for the policy - neither totally unreasonable.

ACR wants/needs to limit its liability "tail" - so that a unit that supposedly doesn't work right in 25 years doesn't leave them open to a multi-gajillion dollar lawsuit. This lets them say in their defense, this is an obsolete product that we told the owner not to use any more.

From a practical standpoint, electronics don't last forever. Even in the protected space of your pilothouse, there's a daily temperature cycle. Metal leads on ICs expand with temperature at a slightly different rate than the plastic case. After enough years, this can cause enough stress for their to be a tiny separation. Once humidity gets into the guts of the device, it's all over. And if you're on the water, there's humidity.

The solution is to use ceramic packaging instead of plastic - but that's incredibly expensive. Military electronics use a lot of ceramic packages... cost not being so much of an object.

Newer electronics are less prone than old because the packages are so much smaller (less distance for the expansion to take place). But transmitter power amplifiers still take relatively large packages.

You may well be able to continue to get batteries from third party manufacturers. In the aviation world, I've been able to get batteries for Narco ELTs (EPIRBs for airplanes) years after Narco discontinued supporting them.

In the end, it comes down to how mission critical the EPIRB is to your boating. If you feel it's potentially a life-or-death thing to have, you should not only replace every 12 years but have multiple (redundant) units (say several personal devices, plus one in a life raft, plus one for the boat).

If, on the other hand, you're willing to have 95% reliability on a device that you have a .01% chance of ever needing, keep it as long as you can find someone with a battery for it. I kept using the old Narco ELT in the airplane because I figured it was mostly a convenience for the people coming to recover my body (plus I'm a cheap, cynical SOB).
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