We only assessed emergency alerting devices suitable for use in New Zealand. All EPIRBs and PLBs in our assessment are coded for New Zealand, come with registration paperwork, and have GPS.
We focused primarily on distress alerting and related safety features, and less on non-urgent functions such as the two-way messaging, navigation and weather reports that SENDs commonly have.
Ease of use
For each device, we assessed how easy it is to send a distress alert, including how logical the process is and whether there are clear instructions on the device itself.
For EPIRBs, we also looked at how easy it is to manually deploy them from their mounting brackets and access their lanyards for attaching to a life raft or person.
We took account of what difference having wet, cold or gloved hands would make, particularly for models with small or sliding components.
For all models, we checked the level of protection from accidental activation. We looked at features such as secure alert button covers, a multi-step activation process and any delay before a live signal is sent, allowing cancellation within a short timeframe.
We assessed the convenience of wearing PLBs and SENDs, taking account of their weight and size. We looked at what straps, clips or carabiners are supplied and whether they allow the device to be securely and comfortably attached to a person or their pack straps, lifejacket or belt.
And, for all models, we assessed how easy it is to check the battery status.
We checked whether each device has strobe lighting, any reflective elements, and whether it will float without a float pouch. And we compared levels of water resistance, run time, battery shelf life (EPIRBs and PLBs) and warranty period.