Frequently Asked Questions about AEDs and AED Superstore

We’ve compiled the most common questions we get about AEDs, accessories, buying a defibrillator and proper usage and maintenance. If you can’t find your question or don’t see the info you’re looking for, click here to ask your question and we’ll get back to you right away! For an in-depth, comprehensive guide to purchasing an AED, download our Ultimate AED Buyer’s Guide.

How To Maintain and Use an AED

How To Maintain and Use an AED

The date shown on an AED battery can be a manufactured date, install-by date, or expiration date.

Batteries that contain an expiration date should be used and properly disposed of on or before the expiration date listed.

Batteries that contain a manufactured or install-by date should provide power to your AED for a specific number of years (which varies by brand) from the date the battery was installed in your device.

Helpful hint: For batteries that use a manufactured date or install by date, use a permanent marker to write the date when you installed the battery into the AED. Doing this will allow you to later cross-reference the estimated expiration date and not be forced to remember when you installed the battery years after the fact. Contact us to learn more about how we can use software to help track all of the important expiration dates for your AED program or if you’d like to get answers to your unique situation.

Depending on the manufacturer, electrode pads have a shelf life of between one and five years. Check the expiration date on the outside of the electrode pads for the actual expiration date. Check out our AED electrode pad FAQs for more on electrode pads for your AED.

When it comes time to replace your AED’s battery, the unit may:

  • Beep
  • Fail self-checks
  • Have a failing status indicator (red light or mark)
  • Not have enough power to operate

These indicate the battery may need replacement.

Most AEDs include a status indicator that allows you to visually determine whether your AED is functioning properly. The status indicator is usually a check mark or flashing light signifying the AED has passed its self-check. All AEDs run self-checks (some daily, some weekly, some monthly), which automatically make sure your AED is functioning properly. Because the AED is performing this automatic self-check, you do not need to turn the device on and off to make sure it’s working. In fact, manually turning the AED unit on and off to check its status will drain the battery, thus reducing its useful life.

Electrode Pads: Expired or used electrode pads can be safely disposed of simply by placing them in the regular trash.

Batteries: When disposing of AED batteries, we recommend you contact a local recycling center in your area to make sure they are disposed of correctly. For more information on recycling rechargeable batteries, visit the AED Superstore Battery Recycling page.

Yes, your AED battery should be in the AED at all times so your AED can run self-checks and verify the AED will be ready in a rescue. In the case of an emergency, every second counts. Finding and inserting the battery into an AED takes up valuable life-saving time.

Since each make and model of AED is slightly different, the most important thing you should do first is read the instruction manual. It will walk you through your AED’s particular setup and first self-test. Some AEDs come with a DVD which will walk you through setup as well.

AED electrode pads contain an adhesive, a metal electrode, and a conductive gel. All three must be uncompromised in order for the AED to work effectively. Over time, the gel which helps conduct the electricity in the electrode pads can cause the metal electrode to break down, and manufacturers cannot guarantee the AED will be fully effective if this happens. This is why they put expiration dates on the packaging to ensure the AED will work as it should. Most AED electrode pads have an 18 to 24 month expiration date, although some manufacturers offer electrode pads which will last 4-5 years. Once used, the electrode pads must be disposed of and cannot be reused.

When available, infant/child or pediatric electrode pads (or an infant/child key) should be used when performing a rescue on children under 55lbs. If no pediatric options are available, use adult electrode pads instead (and, if necessary to avoid having the electrode pads touch each other, use the alternate front and back electrode pad placement for infants).

Ideally, defibrillation should be performed on a dry surface. Bystanders not involved in the rescue should move as far off the wet surface as possible. If the patient cannot be safely and quickly moved to a dry surface, rescuers which must be on the wet surface should avoid direct contact with the patient, and should avoid contact between their body (especially the upper body) and the wet surface if they can.

See the section on using a defibrillator on a wet surface. Additionally, before placing the electrode pads on the patient’s chest, use a clean, dry towel (usually provided in a rescue kit attached to the AED) or any other clean, dry clothing or fabric to dry the skin. Proper adhesion of the electrode pads is critical to an AED working properly and water can interfere with the stickiness of the electrode pads’ adhesive.

No. AED electrode pads are one-time use and must be disposed of afterward. They can be placed in a standard trash receptacle as they are non-toxic. Replace used AED electrode pads as soon as possible with a fresh set so your AED is ready for a sudden cardiac emergency at all times.

No. Each manufacturer has their own proprietary means of attaching AED electrode pads to their AED devices and they are not interchangeable. Purchase only manufacturer-approved electrode pads designed for your make and model AED.

All AED units on the market today perform self-checks to report the operability of the device. If the device “fails” a self-check this will be reported visually and audibly in most cases. If the device is completely out of batteries the AED unit won’t be able to perform a self-check at all and the status indicator will be blank (i.e. there won’t be enough power to indicate that it has failed). We recommend that you IMMEDIATELY contact us at (800) 544-0048 and we’ll help assess the status of your AED and offer remediation options to ensure your AED gets back into legal compliance and is fully operational.

Every five years the American Heart Association reviews the latest research and updates their emergency cardiac care guidelines. Sometimes, after a review, AED units need to be re-programmed with the latest software. The most recent guideline update was in 2015. To learn more about whether or not your AED offers the latest standards, how to check the version and status of your unit’s software, and make any necessary updates, contact our customer care department at (800) 544-0048.

First of all, congratulations! No matter the outcome of the event, you should be proud that you did everything you could to help prevent unnecessary death due to cardiac arrest. We sell AEDs, provide CPR training, and help manage AED programs to save lives, not so that AEDs just sit on the wall.

There are a number of steps you should take, including buying new AED electrode pads, checking the battery life, and potentially involving one of our medical directors to review the details of the event. Call our customer care department at (800) 544-0048 to learn more about the steps we recommend following after an AED is used and how we can help.

The cabinet alarm is intended to sound when the cabinet door is opened. This indicates there is an emergency and someone is removing the AED to respond. The alarm could also indicate the AED may have been accessed by someone not responding to an emergency.

If the alarm switch is in the “on” position, it is armed and will sound if the cabinet door is opened. If the alarm switch is in the off position, the alarm will not sound when the door is opened. The alarm switch should only be left in the off position while the AED is being serviced (replacing pads, battery, etc.) or if it is being inspected (checking supplies, status indicator, etc.).

When turning the alarm switch off for service or inspection, remember to turn it back on once the service or inspection has finished and the cabinet door has been closed.

Buying an AED

If you’d like to talk to a person, we are here to help! Our trained customer care representatives can provide assistance to help you determine which AED is right for your specific needs. No pressure sales, no gimmicks, just the help you need. Call us at (800) 544-0048. You can also check out our Buyer’s Guide which provides tons of information to help you make an educated choice.

Some states have laws requiring certain businesses have an AED based on type of business, size of facility, or number of patrons seen on a daily basis. Even if you are not required to have an AED on site, there are several reasons you may want to consider placing an AED at your business location. Is the safety of your customers, staff, and/or clients is important to you? Do you own a business which sees a wide cross-section of the population come through its doors on a regular basis? Are your customers, staff, or clients at a higher risk for sudden cardiac arrest (such as the elderly, or persons with compromised health in a health-oriented business)? Do your patrons engage in activities involving physical strain such as a fitness-oriented business? If you answered yes to any of these questions you may want to consider having an AED available. Keep in mind sudden cardiac arrest can happen to anyone, anytime, regardless of age, gender, or physical fitness.

If you or a member of your household has been diagnosed with a heart-related condition or suffered previous heart-related events, you may consider purchasing an AED for home use. It should be noted if you live alone, or have minimal contact with other persons on a daily basis, having an AED may prove fruitless as it requires another person to administer CPR and use the AED properly.

In a nutshell, an AED is a medical device which uses specialty electronic components to accurately analyze heart rhythms in order to effectively save someone’s life. The amount of research and development that goes into these units is extensive and they are rigorously tested to ensure they will work when called upon to perform. Consider the impact an AED can have on someone’s life!

Unfortunately, no. Sometimes, the damage to a patient’s heart, which caused the sudden cardiac arrest, is too extensive and therefore the heart cannot recover. Sometimes a patient is found too late in the cardiac arrest process to be brought back. The longer the delay before CPR and defibrillation are administered, the less likely their chances of survival. Ideally, CPR should begin immediately upon collapse and defibrillation should occur no more than 3-5 minutes after collapse. For every minute which passes from drop to shock, a patient’s likelihood of recovery diminishes by 10%. CPR is critical to keep blood flowing to the brain during cardiac arrest because without it, the brain begins to die within 4-6 minutes of collapse.

Most likely not. If you have an existing cardiac condition which increases your risk of sudden cardiac arrest which is supported by your physician, your insurance might cover the cost depending on the condition and your coverage. It never hurts to check with your insurance company before purchasing an AED.

At the AED Superstore, we pride ourselves on keeping a full inventory of “fresh” supplies in stock and ready to ship on the day orders are received. In most cases, this translates to your order being picked, packed, scanned, and shipped, minutes after we receive your order with a box containing the full useful life you can expect from the AED manufacturer. Rarely, AED manufacturers and other suppliers go on nationwide backorders and we’re unable to fulfill your order as quickly as we’d prefer.

When we receive an order that can’t be shipped on the same day it’s received, we’ll let you know right away by offering you the most up-to-date lead time possible. Since we’re the largest supplier of products for most of the AED manufacturers, we have fantastic relationships with each group and keep our finger on the pulse of the latest news and information. With any backordered products, we’re always in full contact and communication with you so you know where your order stands. If there is an extended backorder, we make regular calls to share what we know so that you’re as informed as possible.

While we strive to answer this question before you ever have to ask, whenever you’d like an update on an order you’ve placed, please feel free to email or call our customer care department at (800) 544-0048. To help us answer your question as quickly as possible, please be prepared to share your order number or account number.

Absolutely! Please email a request to and include a copy of your order number (found in the upper-right of your packing slip).

Hmmm, until drones are allowed to ship packages, unfortunately, same-day shipping means that we’ll ship the order we receive on the same day that it’s received. But, don’t worry, we offer affordable expedited shipping, so if you need your order tomorrow, it can be there in most cases.

Sure! Contact our customer care department to learn more about our credit approval process or please feel free to download, complete, and submit our credit application to us by fax (888.364.2377) or email ( to get a jumpstart on the approval process. You can find it here. We’d love to try to make your ordering and purchase process as easy as possible.

Yes, we require a copy of your purchase order in order to offer you credit terms. Please send a copy to us by fax (888.364.2377), email ( or call us at (800) 544-0048 to learn more.

You bet! We accept all major credit cards.

Yes and no. We ship some products internationally, however, others are only available to be shipped within the United States by AED Superstore and all other US-based AED distributors. Contact us at (800) 544-0048 to learn more about any specific products you might be interested in and our ability to fulfill your request.

All orders are charged when they’re shipped and invoices are automatically generated and sent to you by email as well as traditional mail. If you need another copy, no problem. Please send your request to and include the order number for which you’d like the invoice.

General Information About AEDs

An AED (automated external defibrillator) is a portable device designed to read the heart rhythm of a person in sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) and deliver a potentially life-saving shock. All AEDs on the market today are intuitive, easy-to-use, and can save a life.

Although it is not always necessary, we strongly suggest it. Training is required by a number of state and local governments. Even though AEDs are designed for easy use by untrained laypersons, we recommend formal training in their operation, along with CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) techniques outlined by the American Heart Association (AHA) or the American Red Cross (ARC).  Training courses can help potential responders learn of the signs and symptoms of cardiac arrest and, therefore, what to do before, during, and after an emergency situation. The AED Superstore offers CPR/AED training courses and other training classes that follow the AHA’s guidelines. Contact us to learn how we can come to your facility to train your team!

An AED will only deliver a shock if the electrode pads are applied and the AED detects a shockable heart rhythm in a patient. AED Superstore only sells FDA (Food and Drug Administration) cleared defibrillators, and as such they are designed so it’s impossible to accidentally shock yourself or someone else. To learn more about how the heart operates, what can go wrong, and the type of rhythms that an AED unit assesses, visit our resource center.

All AEDs are regulated by the FDA, and most AEDs require a prescription to purchase. AED Superstore provides the prescription at no charge with the purchase of any AED unit that requires a prescription.

Yes, AED Superstore provides replacement parts (electrode pads and batteries) and accessories for all AEDs approved for sale in the United States.

An AED is a portable device which is very simple to operate. At a very basic level, you turn it on and follow the verbal instructions. Once turned on and the electrode pads are placed on the victim, the AED performs the first step of analyzing the victim’s heart rhythm to determine if one of the two heart rhythms it can treat are present. The two heart rhythms the AED looks for are Ventricular Fibrillation (pulseless, chaotic quivering of the heart, also called v-fib) and Ventricular Tachycardia (life-threatening rapid heartbeat, also called v-tach). If the AED identifies one of these two rhythms, it will instruct the rescuer a shock is advised and charge the AED. When the shock is administered, either automatically by the AED (in a fully-automatic AED) or after the rescuer pushes the shock button when instructed by the AED (in a semi-automatic AED), an effective electrical charge will flow between the electrode pads on the victim’s chest and into the victim’s heart. This electric shock stops the chaotic rhythm and then, because the heart has its own built-in pacemakers, the heart will start to beat on its own.

An AED works in conjunction with cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Both are critical components in the Chain of Survival. CPR keeps oxygenated blood flowing to the brain and vital organs, and an AED provides an electrical shock to help the heart reset itself to its natural rhythm.

Yes, AEDs are safe to use on anyone. Children under age 8 and 55 lbs do require special pads or a special AED accessory to “dial down” the power to levels appropriate to their size. An AED will not shock unless it detects a shockable heart rhythm (Ventricular Fibrillation or Ventricular Tachycardia).

Anyone who can follow the directions on the AED can use it. All AEDs use both visual and vocal prompts to walk a user through a rescue. It requires no strength or stamina – even a child can deliver a shock. (It should be noted some strength and stamina is required for CPR, however.)

AEDs should be placed in an easily-accessible, highly visible location within 1½ – 2 minutes of any possible sudden cardiac arrest event. NEVER place an AED in a locked cabinet or in any location which isn’t freely accessible.

  • On an adult: Adult AED electrode pads ALWAYS have a diagram showing where to place them on the body. For adults, one electrode pad goes on the upper right chest, and the other electrode pad is placed on the left side just below the armpit on the rib cage.
  • On a child: Pediatric AED electrode pads ALWAYS have a diagram showing where to place them on the body. In the case of a pediatric attenuating accessory (pediatric key), you would use adult electrode pads in the configuration shown on the item.
  • On an infant: (See child notes) – on an infant, the electrode pads should be placed on the middle of the chest and in the middle of the back according to the diagram on the electrode pad packaging.

Advanced Life Support (ALS) defibrillators like the LIFEPAK 15 are used by healthcare professionals in hospitals and ambulances. These devices allow professionals to monitor the patient rhythm and manually intervene if it is determined that a shock is required. In addition, most of these units offer an Advisory or AED function in which waveform analysis and shock recommendations are made based upon sophisticated algorithms contained within the device. ALS units can be used with either paddles or electrode pads ALS defibrillators are meant for use by trained medical professionals only.

An AED is considered a public access device designed to be used by anyone, whether they are trained or not. The device walks the user through the rescue until EMS arrives or the person is revived. It analyzes the heart rhythm to determine if a shock is needed and will not shock unless it detects a shockable rhythm, no matter how many times you press the shock button. It uses disposable adhesive electrode pads that deliver shocks at a set level of energy (measured in joules). Some AEDs use escalating energy (higher joules) for additional shocks on the same victim.

Manual defibrillation allows the rescuer to adjust the level of energy delivered to the patient, as well as when a shock should be delivered. Advanced life support (ALS) defibrillators which offer this feature are designed for use by trained medical professionals. EMS, EMTs, and Paramedics will sometimes have these devices for use in the field. Hospital defibrillators also usually support manual defibrillation.

An AED is considered a public access device designed to be used by anyone, whether they are trained or not. The device walks the user through the rescue until EMS arrives or the person is revived. It analyzes the heart rhythm to determine if a shock is needed and will not shock unless it detects a shockable rhythm, no matter how many times you press the shock button. It uses disposable adhesive electrode pads that deliver shocks at a set level of energy (measured in joules ). Some AEDs use escalating energy (higher joules) for additional shocks on the same victim.

An AED will prompt a rescuer when to begin CPR and, depending on the make and model of the AED, will provide a metronome or beeps to keep you on track for the rate of compressions, while some AEDs can provide real-time feedback on the rate and/or depth of compressions. The AED will prompt when to stop compressions for analysis and shock, if needed.

Information About AED Superstore

For the budget-conscious lifesaver, refurbished AEDs are available at


V797D-50533 (expires February 14, 2021).

Absolutely! Our packages are designed to make it easy and affordable to get everything you need to safely implement an AED program. Feel free to select whichever package best suits your needs.

No. We do not sell locking AED cabinets. Many cabinets include an alarm to notify others the cabinet is being opened and keys to disable the alarm when opening the cabinet in a non-rescue situation. We encourage customers to purchase an alarm and strobe with their cabinet to deter theft, but DO NOT recommend locking AED cabinets, because valuable life-saving time would be lost trying to locate a key.

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S. Joanne Dames - MD, MPH

Updated: 10/30/2018