Originally Posted by newhaul
Don't know initial cost of ais unit but once installed only expense would be what's spent to generate the power to recharge batteries they are available for 12 volt installations
VHF Radio with AIS (receive only with built in display) about cheapest $250 US
AIS transmit/receive transponder cheapest $550 US. Requires an antenna (can share with your VHF antenna) and a display. Baseline cheap laptop maybe $400 US, baseline chart plotter maybe $1,000 US.
AIS units do transmit frequently so they do provide a load for the batteries but the load is inconsequential compared to the load from a laptop or chart plotter.
I expect that someone will come out with an integrated transmit/receive AIS in the very near future. I expect they already exist and are only waiting on FCC approval.