Having the cheap eld devices installed in your truck will just not help ensure that you continue to remain FMCSA compliant; it will also end up giving you access to a variety of unique features to keep track of your Hours of service (HOS) and improve your CSA score.
Are there any free eld devices available on the market?
Some EDL providers require upfront payment and monthly subscriptions, some require leasing, installation fees, access fees, and system time charges. Many offer free eld devices but come with monthly subscriptions, while others provide one-time payment with no additional cost.
Although there are many ELD devices available in the market today, it may be challenging to choose the right e-log for an owner operator. So, while shopping for the right one, you also need to take into consideration aspects such as cost, features, type of ELD and approval of FMCSA.
Focus on quality over price
There are many reasons why you need to be careful choosing electronic logging devices based on price; some brands are cheap due to the lack of great features and the quality of the device. Considering the features and customer support they provide, the main difference between a cheap ELD and a costly one can be night and day.
The cash you actually think that you’re “saving” by getting the cheap eld devices could cost you in the long run in lost time trying to fix it. This may mean that during the repair timeframe, truckers will be stuck using paper logs until they’ll get it fixed or get a replacement device.
And then they will lose more time by uploading the paper log info into the device afterwards…that´s only if the device even allows for that option. If you can´t input the info afterwards, then you are out of luck.
Just think about how painless your daily life would be if you spend your money in an ELD that doesn’t break every other week.
ELD service providers seem to have no hardware malfunction control since a third party provides the hardware. And this means that an ELD’s simple fix can aggravate the communication feedback loops.
Cheap ELD devices May come from Shady Provider
If you browse cheap eld devices from companies that are just started in the United States Transport industry space, you should be very careful.
Because of the FMCSA ELD popular mandate, some other companies have appeared out of nowhere in the past few years, trying to offer a multitude of identical ELDs, just at low selling prices.
All of these are companies that only want to make a quick profit knowing fully well that truckers/drivers seem to have no choice but to follow the legal mandate of the ELD as a reality. If you eventually find any ELD service provider and free eld devices is the only product they provide, try to avoid them and never look back.
Consider choosing companies with tested and proven industry track records and provide other services such as fleet management, order management, etc.
Cheap ELD Devices May Lack New Features & Updates
Because many companies offering cheap electronic logging devices prices may be working to make a quick buck, they will also not invest the money made from selling their cheap eld devices into their e-logs solution. In the first place, they seem to have enough money to do that, but weeks, months or years down the line updates and support may be non existent.
Their e-logs apps may also lack any new features that the FMCSA mandate specifically require. The features of geofencing, driver scorecards, automated IFTA reporting may never be experienced … The list goes on.
So, while all your competitors continue to enjoy the fantastic features of their e-logs solutions and other benefits they eventually bring to their fleets, you will be trapped with a featureless e-logs app that could never be updated.
Now, let’s look at a few reliable, cheap eld devices providers that have spent a few years in the market.
BIT ELD by Blue Ink
The BIT ELD device is one of those few eld devices that implement an unconventional pricing model which you can quickly find on the market today with no ongoing monthly fees.
You only buy the $ 295 BIT ELD that's it.
You will never have to pay any extra charges for monthly or yearly service. There is no legally binding contract to which you must also abide. This is a very fantastic electronic logging device for many of those independent truck drivers and small fleets.
If you're seeking to avoid the ongoing monthly/yearly subscription plans, most electronic log vendors require, BIT ELD will definitely be the best for you. You can just plug in the device and literally activate it within minutes and without the assistance of truck mechanics or special tools being used.
Features of Blue Ink BIT ELD
- IFTA information
- Hours of service logs
- Driver Vehicle Inspection Report (DVIR)
The device was developed specifically for commercial road truck drivers. BIT ELD is a very affordable, easy-to-use device (even when you don't have ELD experience). As with all other ELD devices, it doesn't have many extra features, but it's a very cost-effective and credible ELD.
The reasonably low cost of owning the BIT ELD made it worth looking for anyone, particularly smaller operations wishing to get compliant without spending much money without compromising quality. This device is a reasonable choice for small fleets who do not need many features for their truck drivers.
- 9-pin and 6-pin diagnostic ports
- No monthly fees or contracts
- Plug-and-play operation
- Easy to use the app
- Limited extra features
- VDO RoadLog ELD
VDO RoadLog ELD
Continental AG, one of Europe's leading auto manufacturing companies, produces the VDO RoadLog. This ELD involves tools for IRP and IFTA mileage reporting, data archiving, driver logbook automation for fleet software.
Though this may sound a bit complicated, that's what you get with this product. Also, this stand-alone device provides compliance reporting plug and plays solution. Vehicle inputs are merged with GPS data to create a digital log that can be printed or downloaded by drivers.
But remember that the RoadLog VDO is not just an ELD device for logging. It is designed as an all - in - one tool for fleet management – a tool for communication, tracking device, e-log, and printer. Anything otherwise, a data connection, program, tablet or smartphone would have to be purchased separately.
This system's main features include:
- Installation - Plug and Play (PnP)
- Inbuilt printer for quick roadside inspections
- Capability to update software to comply with regulations
- Compatibility with VDO fleet management software for compliance with FMCSA
Cost & Fees
Perhaps one of the most attractive things about VDO RoadLog is that there are no monthly fees. Users who love small monthly payments may choose to spread this system's cost over 36 months. And this is possible if you prefer to select the so-called FlexPay program and device is going to be yours after 36 months (3 years).
- No monthly fees
- Highly accurate
- Fast and reliable
- Reasonably priced
- Great tech support
- Easy to set up and use
- Excellent printer function
- Exceptional ELD functionality
- Some users are reporting slow inputs and reactions
- Driver key could go wrong for some other reason, so you will find it difficult to synchronize it with the program
Garmin eLog ELD
Are you particularly concerned about law violations or weary of manual logs for managing, tracking, and sharing hours of ELD compliance service records? The ELD App compliant with Garmin eLog can be the perfect solution you really need.
This ELD app officially registered with FMCSA is a totally free subscription service that currently works with the Garmin eLog. The device fits most semi-trucks nicely and works best with 9-pin J1939 and 6-pin J1708 diagnostic ports.
Plug in the device, download and install the app, and you're ready to go. The app documents driver-duty status, driving time and clearly shows how many other working hours you have. For easy and quick retrieval when inspections take place, use a USB flash drive.
The Garmin eLog app keeps all your information where they can be easily accessible, not in the cloud. Avoid trouble by tracking your on-and off-duty hours of service automatically. This app enables you to track and run multiple shipments and streamline your business throughout the day.
- Many Garmin dezl GPS truck navigators are compatible
- Appears to work with many smartphones
- Eliminates HOS manual logging
- No monthly fees
- ELD compliant
- Inaccurate data (time or mileage)
- May affect cell phone battery life
- Not suitable for Mack and Volvo trucks
- Software glitches create freezes or disconnections
- The devices not compatible with OBD2 protocol vehicles (SAE J1979)
Switchboard is another company that helped create an ELD app that is truly top-shelf. This EDL device is so straightforward and easy to use. The UI is very intuitive and easy for both the carrier web portal and the driver app and necessitates almost no training.
However, the Switchboard ELD is indeed remarkably full of stuff to make things easier for drivers and fleet managers, despite the simplicity. And this is an instantaneously appealing option for fleets who want a solid, simple ELD that doesn't break the bank, combined with very lower prices.
In short, with a lot to offer, Switchboard has designed and built a much smoother, user - friendly ELD. The brand is also somewhat new, so some functionalities still need to be added, and some areas need to be improved.
And yet it still features pretty solid hardware, useful software, and a perfectly respectable functionality list at a lovely price point. Switchboard will be pretty hard to beat for those interested in keeping down costs while still getting a driver-friendly, high - quality ELD.
Switchboard has a remarkably good range of additional features despite strong focus hours of service logs. Some essential features not yet supported include the engine diagnostics (fault codes), built-in navigation, the capture of documents and speed/harsh braking alerts.
Almost all of these features are in the works, however, will be fully available in future updates. Furthermore, Switchboard now has some functions less common that truck drivers and managers might find helpful.
The previously released weight station bypass system will allow truck drivers with better safety scores to occasionally skip the scale house. Managers may also choose to start sharing a specific vehicle's GPS location with an outside party (for a limited amount of time).
A fleet manager, for example, can share a link to a customer allowing them to track their load on a map during the next 48 hours straight until delivery. Switchboard appears to offer a well-rounded toolbox between the standard, unique, and "coming soon" features, particularly considering the price tag.
Consumers can consider buying an optional $ 250 Switchboard tablet or have to use their smartphone. It’s optional to access the web portal of the Switchboard, and often, individual truck drivers can do without it, as they have no monthly costs.
Data plan not included as drivers can use their own device's data plan, or use one for $ 15/month on the Switchboard tablet.
- Support for Canada and US HOS rules
- Great device design and user-friendly
- Good Bluetooth connection
- And inexpensive
- Clunky Carrier log edits
- improvement needed in the Unidentified Driving tools
Without monthly fees, using cheap eld devices would save you a lot of money over the long term. The free eld devices are especially suitable for anyone on a limited income who also want to act per the ELD rule and remain on top of things.
Any of the ELD mentioned above solutions share some common bond: they enable full compliance with ELD but without monthly charges. And this tends to make them particularly appealing to small fleets. Owner-operators can, however, take advantage of all of these solutions.
It is essential to keep in mind that all these free eld devices go far beyond compliance alone. They also enable you to start recording and edit HOS, easily transfer and store logs, capture the diagnosis of your vehicle, and more.
Try to take advantage of these capabilities and keep on track. And finally, know the different expenses associated with all of these electronic logging devices prices. There might be system time charges, purchase or lease expenses, access fees, ongoing support fees, and installation expenses to name a few.
Be careful when trying to compare cheap eld devices brands, and make a good decision based on what is the most affordable option but offers the highest value.
If you need help in finding what is best for you to ensure ELD compliance while saving your money, just take a few minutes to fill out our quote form and we will help you to easily track down the best ELD-compliant fleet management system.