BCA frequently gets questions from our ski, snowboard, and snowmobile community about best practices for optimizing battery life when traveling in the mountains. Read here to learn how to maximize battery life in your BCA electronics when traveling in the backcountry.
How Long does the battery last in a Tracker Avalanche Transceiver?
Battery power in a Tracker Avalanche Transceiver will last approximately 250 hours in transmit mode or 50 hours in search mode--and a minimum of one (1) hour in search mode after 200 hours in transmit mode. This is the standard for all avalanche beacons required for North American and European use.
To optimize battery life in your avalanche beacon:
- Remove batteries from a device when not in use - Batteries should be removed during long periods of inactivity. For example, during the summer.
- Clean avalanche transceiver battery enclosure – Open and remove batteries. Then wipe down the battery enclosure and contacts before reinserting batteries. We suggest using a Q-tip with rubbing alcohol.
- Keep batteries warm – Batteries perform better when they’re warm, so turn off your transceivers and bring your avalanche beacons inside with you after a day out (don't leave them in the car). Wearing your avalanche transceiver in the sling underneath your outer layer provides body warmth to your avalanche beacon. Note that cold weather will not affect the functionality or digital display of the Tracker avalanche transceiver. The LED display of the BCA Tracker avalanche transceiver increases efficiency with decreasing temperature, unlike LCDs which can become sluggish in the cold.
- Don't forget to turn your transceiver off when you are done – It sounds obvious, but we've all done it. You wrap up a fun day out and get in your car. It's not until you get home that you realize that you've had your beacon on for the whole car ride.
What happens when the 'Low Battery' (Lb) code comes up on the Tracker display?
When the battery power becomes too low to operate, the transceiver will display the "Lb" sign. When you see “Lb,” replace the batteries before further use.
PRO TIP: As shown in the above video, Use AAA alkaline batteries only. Do not use rechargeable, lithium, Oxyride, PowerPix, or any other non-alkaline battery. Lithium or rechargeable batteries may all lead to an inaccurate battery power indication.
At what battery power percentage should I change my batteries?
We strongly recommend changing batteries before the battery power indicator reaches 40 percent. Keep in mind that mismatched batteries can act unpredictably at various temperatures, and low batteries can die unexpectedly fast. Never mix new and used batteries in your transceiver —batteries of mixed brands.
Visit our Tracker Resources page for more information.
How to optimize battery life in your BC Link Radio:
With proper care, the BC Link Radio batteries should last up to 40 hours in standby mode. If you don’t chatter too much, you should get a solid 3-4 days of use before it needs a charge. While the battery will inevitably become less potent over time, here are some ways to optimize its life:
- Keep your radios warm - batteries perform better when they’re warm, so turn off your BC Link Radios and bring them inside with you after a day out (don't leave them in the car). Note that the radio unit was designed to be used in the cold. That said, you maximize the time between charges by not leaving the radio in your car overnight.
- Try and avoid running the battery until it's dead. For best long-term results, don't let the battery run below 20% percent charge.
- Don't be afraid to "top-off" your radio batteries. A common myth about batteries is that you should wait until the battery is dead to charge it. Instead, experts recommend topping off the radio battery whenever possible. That means to charge your BC Link radio whenever you have the opportunity, regardless of how much power it has.
- Listen for the beep. If your BC link sits for two hours without interaction, it will beep every 35 seconds as a reminder to turn it off.
- Use channels 8-14. These channels only use 0.5 watts, while the other channels all use 1 watt in the BC Link 1.0 radios and 2 watts in the BC Link 2.0 radios. You won’t get as much transmit power, but your battery will last longer. One option is to use a high-power channel on shorter missions and channels 8-14 for shorter missions—or change channels when you need to save power.
- Communicate efficiently! As opposed to avalanche transceivers, transmitting uses more power than receiving. Keep your communications short and tight.
How long does the BC Link Radio Battery last?
BC Link battery life depends on the transmit power you're using and generally how often you transmit (speak) when using the radio. From personal BCA Staff experience, we have seen the BC links work for up to 5 days (without re-charging) using the 1 watt (BC Link 1.0 radios) and 2 watts (BC Link 2.0 radios) GMRS channels under normal usage rates in winter-like temperatures and conditions. With the battery located on the base unit, which is stored inside a pack or pocket away from direct contact with the cold and elements, the battery life does not fluctuate much based on temperature or weather.
How to check the charge level on the BC Link 2.0 Radio:
Press the up and down arrows on your radio simultaneously. The battery charge level will be shown in percentage in the lower right corner of the radio display window. You may also view the battery power icon in the upper left on your radio.