Buying an Auto Belay: A Quick Comparison
All auto belays are not created equal. When evaluating an auto belay device for purchase, consider the following important product considerations.
Did you know that auto belays are not governed by the same standards as other climbing industry equipment? In fact, there is no climbing industry standard pertaining to auto belay devices. TRUBLUE is the only auto belay device engineered to meet the same international safety standards pertaining to other climbing gear. You wouldn't climb with a harness that wasn't designed for safety - why take your chances with an auto belay?
Modular or Stationary?
Modular auto belays are compact, easy to install and move as needed, and can be used with any climbing wall. They give you flexibility to move your auto belay devices to accommodate a class, birthday party or other group programming.
Stationary auto belays are much larger and heavier and are permanently mounted behind the climbing wall, often requiring professional installation. Permanently mounted auto belay devices cannot be shipped back to the manufacturer for maintenance or re-certification. Accessing these stationary auto belays for required inspections can be difficult and lighting is often poor, resulting in missed or incomplete inspections.
What Type of Technology?
- Magnetic: With a non-contacting, self-regulating magnetic braking system with no wearing parts there is no limit to the number of climbing cycles between annual certification inspections, and annual re-certifications are inexpensive
- Friction Brake Pad: Brake pad system have expensive, wearing parts and low limits on the number of climbing cycles before servicing is required; servicing is more expensive
- Hydraulic: Pressurized air/oil hydraulic systems have a potential for messy hydraulic fluid leaks and need to re-pressurize; installation and access can be challenging and factory service and re-certification is generally not possible
Cable or Webbing?
Cable-based systems can cause damage to climbing walls if the cable contacts the wall. Webbing-based systems like the TRUBLUE will not damage walls, plus climbers prefer webbing due to its more natural feel. In the case of the TRUBLUE, the webbing can be easily replaced in the field.
Maintenance and Servicing
The price of an auto belay is only a piece of the overall cost of owning the unit. Maintenance requirements and servicing costs can vary greatly by product. Cable replacement in cable-based systems is expensive, and costs for site visits by servicing technicians for stationary/fixed auto belays can be high as well. The webbing replacement for the TRUBLUE auto belay is a minimal expense, and annual servicing costs are a fraction of on-site service visit costs.