Choosing a GPS Tracking Device
Without spending a fortune
We hear from people all the time that are in searching for the “right” GPS Tracking Device but are left confused and unsure of which option is right for their situation. Most GPS vehicle tracker companies have developed units that are small, efficient and able to track almost anything in real time. This has caused a huge spike in the number of tracking device options on the market. Along with the 3G / 4G cellular confusion, the decision to add a GPS tracking device to your asset can be scary, but necessary. We we will discuss some gps trackers with live google maps. I hope to share some information with you today that will help inform you and make your decision making process a bit easier.
To break this down into the simplest forms, lets start off talking about how a Vehicle Tracker actually works. Every asset tracking device available on the market will require a subscription of some sort. Companies may claim that no subscription is required, which may be the case, however the subscription price has been bundled into the price of the tracker. The reason for the subscription is simple. Each GPS tracker has a small “cell phone” inside. This cellular “modem” is used to send the trackers location information back to a central server that collects and stores your GPS info. Just as you pay a monthly subscription phone bill, a GPS tracker is similar, however much cheaper.
As time goes by and vehicle tracking technology improves, everyone upgrades there cell phone to the latest technology. Today, we are in the prime of 4G LTE and starting to see cellular companies offer 5G phone service. With each advancement in cellular technology, new features are added such as speed or coverage area. The same goes for a GPS tracking device. Remember, it also has a small cellular modem inside which is affected by the 3G / 4G LTE technology changes. All cellular carriers, except for T-Mobile, have shut down their 2G networks. 3G is approaching what the industry calls “sunsetting”, or the shutdown of a technology. If you are considering a GPS tracking device, the first thing you need to look for is 4G LTE. If the device is anything but 4G LTE, don’t purchase it.
Next up, let’s talk about coverage and cellular carriers. In the US, there are a handful of cell phone carriers, such as AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, Verizon, etc. As you know, they each have a very unique pricing structure along with unique coverage areas. All of us have experienced times where our phone will cut out or we have no bars at all. Well, GPS tracking devices use the same towers and experience the same coverage problems that our phones have. As you explore the many GPS companies, look into whom they use for their cellular carrier. Many use a T-Mobile SIM card because of their lower price point, but along with the low price comes poor coverage in certain areas. Take a look at where you drive the most and make sure there is good cellular coverage in that area. Few companies, such as our own, have relationships with more than one carrier. This means, if you purchase a tracker from LoneStar Tracking, our SIM card will operate on AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon and Sprint.
Now we have the basics down so lets switch over to the hardware, the GPS tracking device itself. There are generally 3 types of trackers to choose from. Wired, Battery Powered and OBD II.
First up is Wired. If you are looking for a tracking device that that is semi-permanent, then this is the tracker for you. Wired trackers require a power source, such as your car battery to power the device. They can be hidden inside the dash or placed under the hood. Professional installation is not required, but it is the most complex type of tracker to install. They are generally sold as a 3-wire or 2-wire install. The first wire is the positive, second wire is the negative and the third wire is an ignition wire. See if the tracking company can supply the device in a 2-wire config so you only need to connect a positive and negative. One of the great things is you never have to worry about the battery life.
Next up is the Battery Powered tracking device. These units are super simple and work on anything from a vehicle to a generator. They don’t have any wires and run on their own internal battery. Because of this, they are usually limited to reporting their location less frequently than a wired tracking device. As technology improves and battery technology gets better, these gps tracking devices are seeing lifetimes of 5 or more years! LoneStar Tracking carries several battery powered trackers that have 5 minute updates and can last for 5 or more years. We recommend looking at rechargeable battery powered gps tracking devices such as our RetrieverLTE or something like the OysterLTE. Keep in mind that Battery Powered trackers generally do not monitor driving habits and are designed for assets.
Lastly is the OBD-II tracking devices. These units are Plug-n-Play for most 1997 or newer vehicles. On most cars, under the steering wheel is a small diagnostic plug that auto mechanics will use to help troubleshoot your car. OBD II GPS tracking devices can plug into this port also and provide you with valuable informaiton such as location, RPM, fuel level, engine temperature and check engine (DTC) codes. Anyone can install one however anyone can also remove one. This type of tracker is very common and most people that are familiar with GPS Tracking technology will look under the dash and can remove the tracker if they don’t want to be tracked.
Hopefully I have given you some valuable information to assist you in your journey to purchase a GPS tracking device for your vehicle or asset. Be sure to do your research on the tracking devices and review each of the points we covered above. If you have any questions, feel free to send me an email or use the chat box at the bottom of our website.