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Best ELD Devices

November 8, 2018

9:46 am

Electronic Logging Devices, or ELDs, track a drivers’ Hours of Service in real time. Drivers won’t have the option to forget or misplace their paperwork, since it will be automatically collected straight from their vehicle’s engine.

Depending on the ELD provider, a fleet can even benefit from additional features, like fuel tracking or two-way messaging functionality. Or, if the operation is focused on reducing spend, it can opt for a stripped down provider that delivers the basics at a cost-efficient price point. Either way, the best ELD devices will help a fleet manager start work in the morning completely confident that a routine roadside inspection won’t derail their operation.

As of December 2017, the U.S. government requires ELDs for most commercial motor vehicles operating across the nation. It’s tough to find a better reason than that to ensure your fleet makes the leap to ELDs.

This guide details TechCo’s top picks for the best ELD devices in the market today before covering the benefits of a full fleet management system and answering any frequently asked ELD questions managers might have. Let’s dive in.


In This Guide:

Best ELD devices

Choosing the best ELD solution

Continue scrolling for more detailed reviews of each ELD provider, or click on the links above to jump directly to a provider or part you’re most interested in.


Best ELD by KeepTruckin

1. KeepTruckin ELD

Best all around

Editor Rating: 5 stars Starts at: $20/month (no initial cost)

KeepTruckin offers an ELD solution for any size vehicle, and offers a basic plan that includes ELD compliant logs, two-way messaging, GPS location tracking and customizable vehicle inspection features that include vehicle histories and automated alerts. It’s a raft of features that sums up everything you could reasonably expect from an ELD, and it’s a lot more than most offer.

KeepTruckin hardware units are free to lease for the duration of your one-year contract. Light and medium duty vehicle units can be hardwired to the OBDII port, while heavy duty vehicle units can be installed via 6-pin and 9-pin diagnostic ports. The ELD-compliant plan starts at $20/month/vehicle, billed annually, and additional features are available for $30/month/vehicle, including IFTA fuel tracking, vehicle diagnostics, and driver safety scorecards.

Key Features

  • Intuitive interface
  • Two-way messaging
  • Vehicle inspections

Extras

  • Free Version
  • 24/7 Support
  • Serves all fleet sizes
Garmin eLog ELD unit

2. Garmin eLog

Best for long term investment

Editor Rating: 5 stars Starts at: $250 initial (no monthly cost)

The fist-sized Garmin eLog offers ELD compliant logs, which can be locally accessed via USB and Bluetooth for roadside inspections. A free-to-download mobile app allows drivers to enter their on-duty status manually and easily see their remaining available hours. IFTA fuel tracking is also a supported feature. The units can be installed in 6-pin and 9-pin ports, but not in OBDII ports.

.

Key Features

  • No ongoing costs
  • Fuel tracking
  • Data backed up on mobile app

Extras

  • Free mobile app
  • 24/7 Support
  • Serves all fleet sizes
Omnitracs IVG Nav display

3. Omnitracs ELD

Best for variety of features

Editor Rating: 5 stars Starts at: $23/month (initial cost varies)

Omnitracs offers two ELD-compliance oriented units (in addition to a Omnitracts FMS unit, which we won’t cover here). The Omnitracs XRS device is a plug-and-play unit, while the Omnitracs IVG unit must be hardwired into the vehicle. Both offer a similar range of features, including automatically recorded data for HOS, IFTA fuel tracking, and DVIR, as well as vehicle tracking, safety reporting, two-way messaging, driver monitoring, Bluetooth support, and proof of delivery. There’s no initial cost for the XRS if it is leased; Leases are available for the IVG unit as well, but it’ll cost a pricey $800 if bought outright.

Key Features

  • Fuel tracking
  • Safety reporting
  • Driver monitoring

Extras

  • Free Trial
  • 24/7 Support
  • Serves all fleet sizes
Gorilla Safety ELD device

4. Gorilla Safety ELD

Best for document management

Editor Rating: 5 stars Starts at: $7 initial + $12/month

Gorilla Safety offers a unique feature: Through the app, drivers can switch on document tracking as they drive, allowing them to scan and digitally file documents to different categories, including sections specific to the driver, the truck, or the company. According to Gorilla Safety, this makes them the “only company to offer a fully automated ELD document feature,” and this ability can help businesses do paperless that much faster. Location tracking is accurate to within one mile when the driver is on duty. In addition, the service offers communication abilities that can help aid driver-mechanic communication or help drivers record photos and take notes in the event of collision. Each ELD unit costs $175 if bought to own, but just $7 each if leased.

Key Features

  • Document management
  • Mechanic inspections
  • Low cost

Extras

  • Free Trial
  • Support during business hours
  • Serves all fleet sizes
DriveELD software

5. DriveELD

Best for the basics

Editor Rating: 5 stars Starts at: $99/year (no initial cost)

DriveELD offers a stripped down ELD-compliance service for an unbeatable price: Just $99 per vehicle for a full year of service, with no initial cost for the hardware unit or installation. The DriveELD mobile app is available free for download, and supports iOS and Android devices. Driving time is stored in the cloud and logged in the app automatically, and drivers can update their on-duty status manually, also via the app. Drivers can add a co-driver for the trip in the app’s Trip Configuration settings, if needed.

Key Features

  • Cloud-based storage
  • Easy Installation
  • 30-Day Money Back Guarantee

Extras

  • Free Trial
  • Phone and email support
  • Serves all fleet sizes
Samsara ELD tracking

6. Samsara

Best for fleet management features

Editor Rating: 5 stars Starts at: $99 initial + $30/month

Samara’s ELD solution is a unit that plugs directly into a vehicle engine via its OBD port, and is paired with a mobile app that a driver can use to track and log their vehicle data in real time. In addition, dispatchers can use Samsara’s dashboard to see the HOS for all of their drivers in a central location. The devices are easy to connect and set up, and managers can easily upgrade to Samsara’s full fleet management service while retaining the ELD-specific software’s dashboard and app infrastructure.

Key Features

  • Intuitive Interface
  • Easy Installation
  • Upgrading to FMS is simple

Extras

  • Free Trial
  • 24/7 Support
  • Serves all fleet sizes
Rand McNally ELD 50

7. Rand McNally ELD 50

Best for easy set up

Editor Rating: 4.5 stars Starts at: $150 initial + $20/month

The Rand McNally ELD 50 plug-and-play unit offers an easy installation, though some drivers find the interface difficult to navigate. Managers can subscribe to a $19.99/month Compliance plan in order to get ELD compliant HOS, DVIR, real-time location tracking, and two-way messaging capabilities. A $24.99/month Core plan is also available and offers IFTA fuel tracking and workflow reporting features.

Key Features

  • Easy installation
  • Two-way messaging
  • Location tracking

Extras

  • Free Trial
  • 24/7 Support
  • Serves all fleet sizes

What’s Better Than the Best ELD?


What beats the features of the best ELD? A fleet management system, which is designed to serve the same needs and do a whole lot more.

All of the best fleet management software providers offer data tracking that maintains ELD compliance. Granted, an FMS will cost more per vehicle than an ELD will. But an FMS pays for itself over time, thanks to its many money-saving features.

An FMS can be worth adapting early, too, given the infrastructure it offers. A simple ELD such as the Garmin eLog doesn’t come with a central dashboard supporting a manager’s routing and dispatch management. If a small fleet starts to grow, its need for better routing features will grow, too. Avoiding an upgrade to a full FMS means that a fleet will miss out on chances to improve routing efficiency — and will miss out on the financial savings that would result.

Here’s a look at the feature-overlap to expect between the two fleet-oriented services.

ELD vs. FMS

Typical ELD Typical FMS
Per-vehicle monthly costs start at $15-20 $30-50
Ensures legal compliance
Yes
Yes
Contract length 1 year 1-3 years
Installation Plug-and-play or hardwired Plug-and-play or hardwired
Tracks fuel Depends on vendor
Yes
Routing and dispatch No
Yes
Route optimization No
Yes
Vehicle diagnostics  No
Yes
Safety alerts Depends on vendor
Yes
Geofencing No
Yes
Inventory management No
Yes
Asset tracking No Depends on vendor

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Best ELD Devices With Fleet Management Included

If you’re open to exploring fleet management companies, these are the top ELD-compliant choices to consider.

Verizon Connect

Verizon Connect Review- FM softwareThe biggest of the FMS options, Verizon Connect offers a fleet management system that tracks IFTA, DVIR, and ELD data. As an FMS, however, the service offers far more ways to save fuel than just tracking IFTA data: Route optimization finds the best routes, real-time route updates avoid bad traffic, and unneeded idle times and fuel card fraud are tracked and deterred. Additional features include work order delivery, engine diagnostics, and weather alerts.

Fleets that need to track high-value assets can opt for Verizon Connect Asset Tracking, which lets managers locate non-vehicle assets in real time through a desktop or mobile interface, in order to deter theft and further boost efficiency. Field service management software can also be added to the central dashboard.

For more on features, pricing, and support, check out TechCo’s full Verizon Connect review.

Samsara

samsara route trackingAs mentioned above, Samsara’s ELD service can be upgraded smoothly to an FMS service, retaining the same dashboard but adding features, including routing and dispatch, driver safety, vehicle diagnostics, improved fuel tracking, and asset tracking.

The easy-to-use interface and 24/7 support options make Samsara FMS an attractive option and one that’s easy to adapt if your fleet doesn’t need a full FMS yet, but plans to use one in the future.

Read TechCo’s full review of Samsara FMS for more details on its features, support options, and pricing

Teletrac Navman

Teletrac Navman Satellite DashboardTeletrac Navman offers a middle ground: It provides more features than a high-end ELD, but at a lower cost than a typical FMS. If you’ve read this far, you’ll likely recognize its ELD compliance, GPS fleet tracking, two-way messaging, and safety alert features. In addition, Teletrac tracks drivers’ fuel usage, idle times, vehicle authorization, harsh turning, rapid acceleration, or instances of speeding, any of which can be set to automatically send alerts to managers when triggered.

A customizable dashboard allow managers to decide which KPIs are the most important, and whether they’d prefer to see their fleet in real time via the satellite view, a GPS map, list of vehicles or even a street-level camera.

Check out TechCo’s full Teletrac Navman review for more details on these features, pricing, and support.

These three FMS systems are far from your only options, of course: Check out TechCo’s comparison of the best fleet management systems for a more detailed breakdown.


ELD Tracking FAQS

What will happen if I don’t install ELDs?

Without an ELD, a fleet won’t be able to record HOS data needed to pass a roadside inspection. The ELD mandate initially went into effect on December 18, 2017. Any fleets that were already operating with AOBRDs were grandfathered into the law, but still need to upgrade to ELDs by December 16, 2019. After that date, all commercial motor vehicles operating in the U.S., with few exceptions, will need ELDs in order to avoid fines.

Failure to provide a record of duty status can result in a vehicle being placed out of service for ten hours, and the violation will be registered on that operation’s Safety Measurement System scores.

Do ELDs infringe on drivers’ privacy?

No, ELDs are not designed to infringe on privacy. However, they are designed to log HOS in an airtight manner, removing the possibility of driver interference or negligence.

Drivers won’t be held to any standards higher than the already existing regulation regarding on-duty statuses. In some cases, drivers will benefit, as ELD data provides a record that helps ensure that fleet managers cannot harass drivers to work beyond their legal hours of service.

Will ELDs contact the government after a HOS violation?

No, ELDs do not directly contact law enforcement. Any HOS violations logged during the previous six months can be accessed by any officers during a roadside inspection, but they will not be proactively sent to any regulatory agencies.

How do I choose the best ELD system for my company?

In order to determine which ELD service is best for your operation, you’ll need to be well-versed in several areas:

  • The requirements of the federal ELD mandate — TechCo’s guide to the ELD mandate covers this
  • The features your fleet requires — ELD compliance is a must, but fuel tracking, two-way messaging, and even the maintenance or safety features of a full FMS may be useful as well
  • The features offered by each ELD service — This guide covers the key features offered by each of the top ELD vendors
  • The price range your operation needs — You’ll need to balance the long term benefits of adopting a feature-rich ELD against the short term financial burden that the upfront costs represent

Once you have all four of these factors at the front of your mind, you’ll be ready to pick the best ELD for your needs.

How reliable are ELDs in real time?

ELDs typically depend on cell service or WiFi hotspots to relay data to a centralized dashboard, so in some cases a fleet manager may not receive data in real time. The unit might maintain its own cell service or simply be a GPS device that relies on the driver’s smartphone connection. However, the data remains stored on the device and won’t be lost due to a lack of connection.

How long will I need to store ELD data?

All motor carriers must retain their ELD’s record of duty status data for at least six months, according to the federal mandate. They’ll also need to store a backup copy of the same data in a secondary location for the same length of time.

Find the Best ELD Tracking Software for Your Business

The vendor-specific costs listed in our guide are intended as guidelines: Prices in the ELD industry are rarely public knowledge and are always subject to change. Once you know which vendors you are interested in, you should always reach out for a quote. If you operate a large enough fleet, the vendor may offer you a boutique quote aimed specifically at your needs.

To find the best prices to ensure ELD compliance while saving your operation money in the long term, you’ll need to find and compare prices tailored to you. It’s not as complicated as it sounds, though: Just take a couple minutes to fill out Tech.Co’s handy quote comparison, and you can easily track down the best ELD-compliant fleet management system for your business.

Upgrade your fleet today with ELD-compliant
fleet tracking and management software

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Adam is a writer with an interest in a variety of mediums, from podcasts to comic books to video essays to novels to blogging — too many, basically. He's based out of Seattle, and remains a staunch defender of his state's slogan: "sayWA." In his spare time, he recommends articles about science fiction on Twitter, @AdamRRowe

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