Higher failure rate for more highly-featured marine radios? How has yours held up?

How has your more highly-featured location-sending marine radio held up? Recently two different kayakers complained to me that their newer, more featured radios are failing earlier and more frequently than their older lesser-featured radios did.

I have noticed that the failure rate for many new “smart” appliances has increased over tried-and-true older appliances, likely due to greater complexity (software bugs, need for software updates, and more parts = more failure points).

I cannot answer but have read threads elsewhere that the DSC radios drain power much more quickly and might not be as hardy. Google search will bring you to North Shore Paddlers and a couple of other boating threads.

Thank you for sharing that. I’m referring to newer DSC radios, but didn’t use the term “DSC” as many aren’t familiar with it. I’ve hear this now from two kayakers, but a sample of two doesn’t make a reliable study. Anyone else here experience early failure or rapid battery drain with DSC radios?

And does anyone here use a hybrid solution combining a good quality basic marine radio together with a satellite communicator, such as a non-DSC marine radio + a Pro Zoleo Satellite Communicator or Garmin inReach Mini 2?

I asked this here about 5 months ago. Didn’t get many responses. I have an inReach and it wouldn’t be my 1st choice b/c at least with text messages there can be a 20 min delay depending on cloud cover etc. If you’re in trouble that’s a long time. If I buy a non DSC radio I’d pair it with a personal locator like the ACR or Ocean Signal. But now that’s a fair amount of 'electronics to stuff into you PFD.

The Ocean Signal PLB is tiny and takes up very little real estate. Mine fits in the pocket of my Astral YTV. On the other hand, my DSC radio is chunky. But it still works.

Zero problems with my Standard Horizon radios from 750 series 10+ years ago to the newest one available now. I have 5 SH at the moment.

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Found an iCom VHF radio that is about 20 years old, plus or minus a few. Been packed away in a box since 2013, or earlier; charged it & seems as good as new.

@PaddleDog52 that’s good to hear. I take it you prefer them over ICOM.

Which marine radio makers do you think are the gold standard? I’ve only used ICOM.

DSC radios being potentially more problematic is something I’ve only heard anecdotally, but it could make sense given the more complex electronics - more to fail.

Never had anything but Standard Horizons radios. ICOM my be fine also. Electronics get more complicated every day. No problems on my radios. Cars in a few years are said to have double the chips they have now.

I’ve been using a Uniden 290 for many years, mainly for weather reports. Where I paddle, there’s almost always boats or repeaters around, so it’s a worthy emergency device.

Last week, it didn’t turn on. At home, I removed the battery and found that one of the wires had become disconnected. Why? How? As it turns out, the battery compartment is slightly larger than the LI-Ion battery to accommodate a housing that holds AA batteries. I keep the radio in my PFD permanently, except for the rare removal to charge it, and the PFD gets tossed around a fair bit. So, the battery moves in the compartment and over time, the wire became disconnected.

In my search for a replacement battery, I finally found one, after literally weeks of googling and calling. Here’s the rub–it’ll cost me almost $CDN 70.

I like the radio because it’s simple (70 channels, submersible, rechargeable, 6W if needed) and replacing it with a new one will cost $CDN 125 or just under $CDN 100 (with a battery of unknown charge hold). So, I’m gonna bite the bullet and spend the cash on the replacement battery.

Otherwise, the radio has been great.

I would have dumped it instead of replacing the battery for that price for a new one.

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I have a 12-year-old Icom that I replaced the battery on it is still working I have the newer smaller Standard Horizone without DSC that is 2 years old. The older Icom goes sailing with me while the smaller SH goes kayaking with me these days. I plan on eventually getting one with DSC.

I have not yet bought the battery. Why do you make this suggestion?

Cost of the battery vs. a new radio does not seem like a decision I’d go with. New radio 3 year warranty. New battery you have an old radio & no warranty. It could be your life at stake.

Keep in mind that the gaskets in the radio will deteriorate with age. Maybe faster or slower depending on storage conditions, but it will happen. Other parts will as well, but probably not as fast.

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I bought a Standard Horizon HX460S around 1999 and had it for 15 years with the original battery until it was tragically lost when I launched with it on my rear deck one day. I now have a HX870 with DSC that is about 7 years old. My wife has a HX500S that was bought in 2006. That radio got new battery pack a couple of years ago and a new antenna this week after the rubber coating cracked.

All radios were worn on a PFD every time we’ve gone out with no additional case. All have been submerged multiple times with no problems. We generally paddle in salt water.

Standard Horizon warranties most of their waterproof portable vhf radios for 3 years including for water damage. If a radio fails out of warranty they have a flat rate repair charge assuming the radio was not abused. Flat rate depends on product and when it was purchased.