If you’re a commercial trucker or small-time fleet manager, chances are you’re familiar with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s requirements to install an electronic logging device in your vehicle(s). However, you may not be familiar with the best ELD devices for small fleets. After all, there are tons of devices on the market, many packed so full of bells and whistles they make your head spin.
How’s a trucker—or a fleet manager—to choose? Let’s start with the components of a good ELD.
What makes a good ELD?
An ELD is a combination of hardware and software that records driving time for big rigs and commercial vehicles. They must satisfy specific requirements by law, such as tracking:
- HOS (hours of service)
- RODs (records of duty service)
- Vehicle drive time
However, many ELDs go above and beyond these requirements. Some include GPS tracking, fuel efficiency, and diagnostic checks complete with driver walk-throughs. Many of the best ELD devices can even alert drivers when they violate rules in real time.
The sheer number of options means that it can be difficult to parse which ELD is right for your fleet. In fact, what makes a good ELD depends upon a fleet’s needs, as all FMCSA-registered devices meet compliance standards. Thus, it’s up to you to decide what you really need versus what you want in an ELD system.
But you’re not alone in choosing. To help discerning truckers and fleet managers make the right decision, we’ve put together a list of five of the best ELD devices on the market today.
If you’re curious about other options, check out the FreightWaves Ratings website for more reviews on the best ELDs for a variety of needs.
5 best ELDs for small fleets
BigRoad DashLink ELD: All-around best ELD device for small fleets
Cost: $25 per user, per month ($300 per user, per year for fleets with fewer than 10 vehicles)
If you’re looking for the best ELD devices for small fleets, it doesn’t get much better than BigRoad’s Dashlink. This device is easy-to-use, certified with the FMCSA, and fully compliant with ELD standards. It connects to a vehicle’s diagnostic port in 15 minutes to make for easy installation. In addition to tracking HOS and service status, this ELD includes:
- Bluetooth connectivity
- Live traffic display
- Fuel tracking
- Real-time violation alerts
Drivers can do all this from their Android or iOS devices via the BigRoad mobile app. Alternatively, users can take advantage of BigRoad’s Plug ‘N’ Play hardware unit, which is available at no additional cost.
DriveELD: Best inexpensive ELD device for small fleets
Cost: $15 per truck, per month
DriveELD is a great choice for small fleets seeking a no-frills device at no-frills cost. This device covers the basics to ensure ELD mandate compliance—no more and no less. Some of its premier features include:
- Tracking compliant with ELD requirements
- No additional hardware costs
- A 30-day money-back guarantee
- Cloud-based storage
- iOS and Android apps
To get started, drivers can install DriveELD’s easy-to-use hardware. Users can also take advantage of the iOS and Android apps, which are free to download. Essential functions include logging drive time in the app, manual on-duty status updates, and co-driver capabilities.
Blue Ink Technology: Best free ELD
Cost: Free via app and web portal
Blue Ink Technology (BIT) is an unusual ELD on the market in that it comes with no monthly fees or contracts if you use its mobile app or website dashboard. The free version includes such online services as:
- Electronic logging
- Web portal access
- International Fuel Tax Association Fuel Tax reporting
- Paperless driver vehicle inspection reports
- Fleet visibility from the back end
Of course, there are a few catches. For instance, your devices must be able to connect to the internet in the event of a roadside stop or inspection. Plus, if you want full functionality and ELD compliance, you’ll have to upgrade to its hardware. Prices for medium-weight truck units start at a one-time purchase of $295.
GPS Trackit ELD: Best ELD to avoid contracts
Cost: Contact GPS Trackit for a custom quote
If you’re a small fleet looking to grow, or if you want to avoid getting bogged down in yet anothercontract, GPS Trackit may be for you. With this service, you can take advantage of its plug-and-play hardware units, complete with robust software that:
- Tracks HOS
- Sends customizable alerts to drivers
- Generates and transmits reports
- Walks drivers through maintenance checklists
Installing these devices is quick and easy for most drivers. But, if you require assistance, GPS Trackit will also connect you with an installation specialist to get you on the road. Users can also download the GPS Trackit app on their Android or iOS devices. And no matter which option you select, the company includes free—and unlimited—software training anytime, anywhere, for all employees.
Garmin eLog: Best ELD to avoid ongoing costs
Cost: One-time payment of $250 (currently on sale for $99.99)
Garmin eLog is an ELD that comes with a steep learning curve to set up and use. On its face, it also comes with a steep price tag. But once your drivers get the hang of it, this is one of the best ELD devices for small fleets on the market. And with no ongoing costs to use the device or access data, companies can save thousands every month.
The Garmin eLog system is fully ELD compliant and includes a robust array of features, including:
- Data backup via the free mobile app
- 24/7 customer support
- IFTA fuel tracking
- USB and Bluetooth access for roadside inspections
Plus, many Garmin dezl GPS navigators work with the app, so all you have to do is install your ELD. The installation itself is easy; merely plug your device into a 6-pin or 9-pin port, download the app, and drive. (Note that Garmin eLog is notcompatible with OBD II ports).
These are some of the best ELD devices for small fleets on the market, but each still has its specialty. As a driver or fleet manager, it’s up to you to determine what you need—or don’t—from your devices.
If you’re seeking a robust option to grow with you, the BigRoad Dashlink ELD may be a great place to start. If cost is your determining factor, Blue Ink Technology and DriveELD are reliable options that cut through the clutter to provide dependable service at low prices. Alternatively, those looking to avoid contracts may find GPS Trackit or Garmin eLog to be both affordable and freeing.
There are many ELD solutions on the market today serving fleets of all shapes and sizes. If these options don’t fit your needs, check out our full list of ELD reviews.