MMH Malta Triq Xatt il-Mollijiet Marsa, MRS 1152
+356 2134-6320 / 2134-1953

PLB vs EPIRB? What To Choose

PLB vs EPIRB? What To Choose


For marine users, there are two options to choose between, an EPIRB or a PLB. Each work on the same frequency, and they send the same signal, but there are differences between the two that will help you make your decision about whether you need an EPIRB, a PLB, or both.


EPIRBs are the biggest out of the two options, and normally they offer the option of having a manual or an automatic bracket. With a manual bracket, the beacon must be removed by the user manually. The other option is an automatic bracket which has a HRU (Hydrostatic Release Unit) that will release the EPIRB upon reaching a certain depth and the water switch will automatically activate the beacon.


For example, Ocean Signal’s EPIRB1 PRO comes equipped with a Automatic Release Housing (ARH) which ensures that the EPIRB is automatically deployed from the bracket by the internal Hydrostatic Release Unit, and then also automatically activates and floats to the surface to send your distress message to the satellite network.


EPIRBs are registered with the particulars of the vessel rather than with information about the person. They are generally bulkier than a PLB, and they will transmit for longer periods due to their large, embedded battery.


PLBs are essentially a small-sized, pocket EPIRBs. They are registered to a person, and will transmit for a shorter period due to their smaller battery. One of the main differences between a PLB and an EPIRB is that 406MHz PLBs can only be manually activated by the individual.


Another big difference is that PLBs can be used both on the water, and on land so are used by a large variety of people from sailors to kayakers, to mountaineers. They are especially important for solo-activities in remote places where mobile phones and other modes of contact cannot be relied upon. Once activated, a PLB sends the same distress signal as an EPIRB, using COSPAS-SARSAT via the 406MHz frequency.


  1. The type of boating/activity you do e.g., offshore sailing, kayaking, fishing, mountaineering, or flying etc.
  2. Size of your crew – do you have a large crew, or do you travel solo?
  3. Size of your vessel – there are certain regulations to follow depending on the size
  4. How far you travel from shore – the further you are, the longer battery life you will need
  5. What type of activation is required – manual or automatic?

Made your decision on what to buy? Click here to find out how to register your emergency distress beacon in Malta!

You can contact Camilleri Marine for any queries:

Telephone: (+356) 2134 6320 / (+356) 2134 1953


Address: MMH Malta Triq Xatt il-Mollijiet Marsa, MRS 1152, Malta.

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Ellcee Nautical Supplies Co. Ltd. has been trading as Camilleri Marine serving the maritime industry since 1979. Located on the seafront right in the hub of the Maltese yachting centre, we aim to provide our customers with a number of essential supplies and services.

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MMH Malta Triq Xatt il-Mollijiet Marsa, MRS 1152
+356 2134-6320 / 2134-1953

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