How Often Do Defibrillators Need to be Replaced?

Defibrillators should be typically replaced every eight years and their pads and batteries every four years depending on use and conditions. Find out more.

Defibrillators must be maintained and fully operational to deliver a potentially lifesaving shock. This means that from time to time, defibrillator devices, batteries, pads, and other components need replacing to ensure the apparatus works properly and effectively in an emergency.

Looking after your defibrillator is essential for its safety and functionality. This is especially true of public access Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs or PADs) situated in outdoor locations where batteries drain quicker in extreme temperatures.

But how often do defibrillators need to be replaced? And how long do defibrillator batteries and pad batteries last? This article will explain how to care for your defibrillator and when to replace it.

Why is it important to check my defibrillators (AED)?

Defibrillators deliver an electric shock when a casualty suffers a cardiac arrest, so it’s crucial to understand the status of the device, batteries, and pads and replace them when necessary.

Checking your defibrillator will reveal if there’s a fault or the battery has expired, whether the device has been used, and whether the electrode pads need replacing. All these can have a negative impact on the defibrillator’s performance.

Every defibrillator includes a manual or written guide explaining how to maintain and look after it. You can also register a defibrillator on The Circuit which is the national defibrillator network. When registered, you’ll receive regular maintenance reminders and notifications when electrode pads need replacing, so your device will always be fully functional. That way you’ll know precisely when it’s time to replace your defibrillator, the batteries, or the pads.

How do I check my defibrillator (AED)?

The lifespan of a defibrillator, the batteries, and pads vary between manufacturers and models, so it’s important to consult the manual when examining your device.

You can also follow these four basic steps when checking your defibrillator:

Defibrillator checklist

  1. Defibrillators and AEDs provide visual signs that tell you when something is wrong. The LED on the front of the device should be lit up green when the defibrillator is in full working order. If it isn’t lit up, it’s time to replace the whole unit or at least the batteries and pads. The colour and location of the LED will vary from devices, so please always check your devices manual.
  2. Examine the defibrillator or AED and look for signs of damage or use.
  3. Check the expiry date on the pads and replace if necessary. To do this, you may be required to open the cabinet or case that stores the defibrillator. If you do, you can safely ignore the audible prompts and instructions for how to use the defibrillator while you’re checking the device. The defibrillator will switch off automatically the next time you close the cabinet or case.
  4. Finally, look to see if essential support items are still there. This includes scissors, a razor, and a face shield for use when performing CPR.

If the green light is still on and the checks have been made, you can defibrillator is ready to be returned to its original storage location and is ready for use when required.

When do I need to replace my defibrillator (AED)?

Most defibrillators self-test on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. When there’s a problem such as a low battery or unconnected pads, you’ll see a flashing light or hear an audible warning.

Even though defibrillators self-test each time they’re activated, they should also be inspected regularly to check the battery hasn’t expired and the pads are in date. You’ll often find battery and pad expiry dates appear next to an egg timer showing when they should be replaced.

For HeartSine AEDs, the following recommended advice applies regarding the replacement of the main unit and the electrode Pad-Pak™ pads:

Item When to replace
HeartSine AED main unit Every 8 years
Pad-Pak™ pads Every 4 years, or after each use
Defibrillator batteries Every 4 years

All new HeartSine defibrillators come with a Gateway function which allows a device and its parts to be remotely monitored. This means AED managers can check single or multiple devices all at once and keep track of maintenance, expiry dates, and any operating issues. This will ensure your defibrillator is in full working order should an emergency arise, and you’re required to use one on a patient in sudden cardiac arrest.

How long do defibrillator batteries last?

Defibrillator batteries installed in a device typically last three to five years before they need replacing. However, the actual life expectancy of defibrillator batteries depends on several factors such as temperature, humidity, short-circuits, and whether the battery has been installed.

It’s always critical to renew defibrillator batteries and/or electrode pads with direct replacements from the same manufacturer. This will ensure all elements are compatible with the model you have. Using batteries from a different manufacturer can invalidate your defibrillator guarantee, affect its functionality, and put casualties at risk.

What factors affect the life of defibrillator batteries?

Defibrillator batteries drain more quickly in colder temperatures which may cause malfunctions and prevent them from operating. Therefore, the way you store your defibrillator has a significant impact on its ability to function in an emergency.

Manufacturers list the optimal operating temperature for their defibrillators, and this information should be clearly displayed in the manual. In general, ideal working temperatures range between 32F/0°C and 122F/50°C.

As most public access defibrillators are stored outdoors, they should be kept in an all-weather protective cabinet to prolong the longevity of the device, pads, and batteries. As is the case with all defibrillators, the health of the device’s batteries and pads should also be regularly checked and replaced when necessary.

How do you check battery expiry dates on a defibrillator?

Defibrillator batteries typically last anywhere from two to seven years and should always be replaced before they expire. Three methods are typically used to check defibrillator battery expiration dates depending on the device and model you have.

Date of manufacture

Most defibrillator batteries have a manufactured date printed on the label. This makes it easier to calculate the health status of a battery if it expires after three years installed or five years uninstalled. To achieve the maximum ‘installed’ battery life, the battery should generally be installed in the device within the first year of manufacture.

‘Install by’ date

Some defibrillator batteries have an ‘install by’ date instead of a date of expiry. Batteries installed by this date should work for the full installed battery life.

Shelf life

Defibrillator batteries have a shelf life. This refers to the date after which the battery’s efficiency begins to diminish. Defibrillator batteries should always be replaced before the end of their shelf life as any delay can affect the performance of a device and put patients in danger.

How long do defibrillator electrode pads last?

Defibrillator electrode pads like these Adult Pad-Pak™ options also expire as the conductive gel gradually dries out. When this happens, they are no longer efficient at conducting electricity and need replacing.

You should typically replace electrode pads every two to five years even if the defibrillator hasn’t been used, and this should be done before the pads expire.

What should I do after my defibrillator has been used?

Once your defibrillator has been used, it will need replacing. With a HeartSine defibrillator you may only need to replace the PadPak™, but this may depend on the age of the device.

Always speak to the manufacturer or company you bought the defibrillator from, as some companies and manufacturers offer free or reduced cost for defibrillators that have been used in an emergency situation.

Importantly, when you register your defibrillator with The Circuit you’ll receive an automated notification or email if the device has been used by the emergency services or member of the public.

Do you need help with replacing your defibrillator?

At Aero Healthcare, our defibrillators include advanced, in-built technology that warn users when the device, batteries, or pads have expired and need replacing. For more information about our range of defibrillators and accessories, contact us today. You can also download our AED maintenance checklist.