Since installing the ELD (Electronic Logging Device) is mandatory for any long-haul commercial motor vehicles operating across the United States, many owner-operators, drivers, and fleet managers look for affordable options. Consequently, more and more companies are entering the ELD market. The companies have launched their ELDs with no monthly fees so that the owners can comply with the FMCSA’s ELD rule at a low cost.
ELDs with no monthly fees help small fleet managers and owner-operators become compliant without incurring a lot of costs on the logging and navigation. You will be required to incur the initial cost for purchasing the device, but that is a one-time expense. You won’t have to pay any monthly fee after that. But before buying these ELDs you should ensure that these are FMCSA approved.
What is the Meaning of FMCSA-Approved ELD?
There are many ELDs available in the market but you should install the ones that are FMCSA approved. FMCSA-approved ELD means that the Electronic Logging Device should be compliant with the ELD rules. The ELDs maintain the HoS (Hours of Service) and drivers’ duty timings and facilitate the owners.
The ELD manufacturing companies make sure that their devices meet the technical standards set by FMCSA. If the ELD stands by all the ELD rules, then it is approved and registered with the FMCSA. They have to self-clarify their devices and register them on the FMCSA website. After the inspection, It is clarified whether their ELD is approved or not. FMCSA has a list of registered ELDs that buyers can check before buying.
If you use an unapproved ELD that fails to comply, then you will have to bear the loss of steep fines and penalties.
Benefits of Using ELDs with No Monthly Fees
The ELDs with no monthly fees have solved many issues for small fleet managers and owner-operators, especially in monetary terms. They are unable to afford the ELDs with a high monthly subscription. Using these ELDs is a smart choice for the managers, owner-operators, and drivers who work seasonally. Here are the benefits of the ELDs with no monthly fee for owner-operators.
Lower the Total Cost
If you are on a tight budget, looking for the options to manage your fleet vehicle, and staying compliant with the FMCSA rule, then buying an ELD with no monthly commitments is the best option. Many companies don’t even charge you the upfront cost for the device.
ELD with monthly fees charges you around $15 to $40 per month. This will reach up to approximately $200 in a year, which is the price of the average ELD. So, if you choose an ELD with no monthly fees you will save your money from unnecessary expenses.
Suitable for Seasonal Companies
Many fleet companies, owner-operators, and drivers operate seasonally. They have the option of choosing the ELDs that offer seasonal plans but waiting for a relevant offer doesn’t always work and is not a good option. If you opt for the ELDs with no monthly fees, you can take a break from the fleet operations without paying for it.
Applicable for All Types of Fleets and Owners
Whether you own a small business of commercial vehicles or manage large fleets, choosing the ELDs with no monthly fees is going to be beneficial for you. However, you may need some prominent features to manage a large fleet that is only available in some high-priced ELD with a monthly subscription. You can use the ELDs with no monthly fees as far as compliance is concerned.
Diverse Fleet Tracking
If you constantly switch your fleet between short and long haul, choosing the ELD solutions with no monthly fees can work for you very well. Usually, you have to incur the cost of a monthly subscription regardless of your requirement. When running your fleet in short-haul, you don’t need compliance. An ELD with no monthly fee will allow you to switch to longer haul freight whenever you need it.
Many companies have understood the issues of small owner-operators, who are unable to pay the high price for ELD with premium features. Therefore, they came up with the ELDs with no monthly fees. These ELDs come with all the basic features that will help them to manage their drivers and stay compliant with the FMCSA mandate at a reasonable rate.
Fleet or the drivers using the ELDs (free or paid) are safer than the ones that don’t use them. As they follow the HoS (Hours of Service) to stay compliant, they remain safe and are more likely to stay away from any mishap. Furthermore, ELDs can help in GPS tracking, route management, driver staying active, and identification of bad driving, therefore preventing numerous accidents.
Top 5 ELDs with No Monthly Fees [Reviewed]
While choosing ELDs with no monthly fees you have to analyze a few basic requisites it should be providing. No subscription fees save your investment, but sometimes devices don’t satisfy you with their features and functioning. Therefore, we have curated a list of the top 5 ELDs with no monthly fees available in the market. The list below provides the price and basic comparison of the top ELDs for owner-operators with no monthly fees.
Matrack has successfully excelled at providing ELD solutions to the industries such as construction, food & beverages, vehicle rental, government services, HVAC, courier & delivery services, etc. The Matrack ELD is one of the best ELDs available in the current market at a low subscription cost, no contracts, and a lifetime warranty. It is a compact ELD with loaded features including real-time GPS location tracking, Bluetooth, and a user-friendly interface.
Matrack provides you with an easy-to-install device that will require a few simple steps. The ELD connects with the vehicle’s OBD II port and does not require any technical expertise. You need to plug the device into the vehicle port with a 9-pin cable. A 16-pin adapter can also work to connect the device. It has red and green LED lights that indicate power, GPS detection, and device registration. The light is either flashing or remains solid. Each light activity has a different indication so you can easily operate the device.
The app for Matrack ELD is very easy to use and can help the drivers as well as the manager monitor and access the data in a user-friendly way. The ELD logbook app is very intuitive and provides you with voice-based status-changing options. The app also assists fleet managers by providing tools to optimize loading and unloading operations. The app is available for any Android or iOS device.
This ELD is in complete compliance with FMCSA standards, therefore it is preferred by all the owners, drivers, fleet managers. The Matrack ELD is available free of cost with a low subscription fee of $14.95 per month. There is no contract fee and you can cancel the subscription anytime without any extra charges. It also comes with a lifetime warranty and a 30-day return policy. The company provides 24×7 customer support.
- The Matrack app is very user-friendly. The user interface of the Matrack ELD app is comparatively easier than any other available in the market.
- Good customer support.
- Easy-to-install device.
- It can be challenging to understand the red and green LED indications while setting up the device.
Garmin is a well-known company but a newcomer to the trucking market with ELD solutions. Although being new in the market, they have designed their ELD with all the necessary features that can comply with FMCSA rules. The Garmin eLog ELD is a simple and efficient tracking device that makes sure your HoS logs comply with FMCSA ELD mandates.
Drivers can track driving time, log time off, duty status, and share their logs. It automatically records the data and you can check the remaining driving hours per day or week. The records are stored on your smartphone and not in cloud storage. These records are easily accessible through a USB flash drive or via Bluetooth. This ELD provides you with all the eLog solutions regardless of your fleet size.
The Garmin eLog Compliant ELD is an easy-to-install device that is compatible with both 9-pin J1939 and 6-pin J1708 diagnostic ports. You just need to plug in the ELD to the port and connect it with the app to start the device. This ELD is not compatible with the OBDII port. If you want to connect the device with a 16-pin J1962 port, that is generally available in Volvo trucks.
The eLog is smooth and accurate for navigation. It is compatible with the Garmin navigator and allows you to integrate GPS and routing with ELD. Using Garmin eLog also has some drawbacks. Drivers have issues with using the mobile app. They have complained that the app suddenly crashes while using. This can be frustrating and may take your extra time. Consequently, it drains the battery of your phone without being productive.
This ELD is a one-time purchase product available at the price of $249.99 with no subscription fee. For further details, you can check out our detailed review of Garmin ELog ELD.
- The Garmin eLog is a ready-to-use device. It takes no time in setting up and does not require any special expertise.
- Provides you with a GPS navigator that is compatible with the device.
- It’s a one-time purchase device.
- Not suitable for Volvo trucks.
The Blue Ink Technology (BIT) ELD is one of the pioneers of cost-efficient ELDs in the market. When it comes to simplicity, Blue Ink is a great consideration for ELD solutions. Be it the robust design, functionality, or value for money, it has made its mark in all the areas for an ideal ELD in the market. It is one of those unconventional devices with a lot of functionality that helps small fleet managers and owner-operators who are struggling with the high monthly fees of ELDs.
The BIT ELD has all the basic features that you need to comply with FMCSA’s ELD rule for your truck. It records VIN (Vehicle Identification Number), engine hours, Odometer mileage, Engine On & Off, and In-motion status. The fleet managers can edit logbook errors. The mobile app to monitor and access the device is free to download on both Google Play Store and Apple App Store.
This ELD will give you no pain while installing it on your vehicle. It is compatible with 9-pin / j1939 and 6-pin / j1708 diagnostic ports, and it is not compatible with vehicles with an OBDII port. If you want to use an adapter splitter or have an OBDII connection in your vehicle, you will have to buy the connector separately. This connector will not be provided by the company, in the box. Moreover, you need to pay an additional $40 for this connector.
You will have to incur a one-time cost to get this ELD and access to the Blue Ink portal. It is available at the price of about $295. However, you don’t have to pay any monthly fee to comply with FMCSA ELD regulations. This device is approved and registered with FMCSA.
You can pay for an optional premium subscription to get premium features available for $30 per month. The premium features include keeping a track of IFTA fuel tax, monitoring the air pressure of tires, etc. You can also get air pressure monitors for tires. Additionally, you can choose air scales. These are all suitable for owner-operators and small fleets.
- Requires only one-time payment to use the device.
- Air scale and tire pressure sensor.
- Includes IFTA reporting.
- On paying for premium subscriptions, they are not providing enough features.
The National Carrier Exchange (NCX) ELD solves the problems of many owner-operators and fleet managers who don’t require extra features. These can be the features that are not applicable in their business. It helps them in providing them simple ELD solutions that comply with the FMCSA standards. This ELD is one of the lowest-cost ELDs with no monthly subscriptions. With just $175 and no monthly subscription, you get the hardware, the mobile app, GPS, driver loading management, and load management tools.
The NCX provides you all the basic functions of an ELD. It includes recording vehicle data, driver login information, driving behavior, equipment faults, and professional invoicing. It also provides tracking numbers and load tracking with the app.
This device is designed to meet the DOT certification and is connected to the engine of the vehicle. It has 4 types of interfaces to simplify the connection. It can connect through a 4P interface, 10P interface, Micro USB interface, and sim interface. The OBDII connector is also included for the vehicle with the OBDII port.
- Suitable for small size fleets.
- Durable device.
- Easy to set up.
- Limited telematic features.
- There can be a connection issue sometimes.
The Switchboard ELD is amongst the best no-monthly subscription ELDs. It has all the necessary features at an affordable price and no monthly cost. The device includes features like DVIRs (Digital Vehicle Inspection Records), driving time, email/fax of logs, and IFTA. It also has a rare feature that comes with an integrated tablet. It is suitable for small fleet owners who don't want to pressurize their drivers to use their phones for compliance. There is also a free mobile app available for Android phones and tablets.
Switchboard ELD is very easy to use and takes only a few minutes for installation. You just have to plug it into the OBDII or JBUS port of your vehicle. It draws the power from the diagnostic port. You can choose the 6-pin, 9-pin, heavy-duty, or light-duty cable for connecting the device.
Your Switchboard tablet or your smartphone is required to connect to the engine module of your vehicle via Bluetooth.
- Intuitive User-friendly design.
- Suitable for small fleet managers and owner-operators.
- FMCSA certified.
- Supports HoS rules for the US and Canada.
- Issues with clunky carrier logs.
Having an ELD without a monthly subscription can save you money and let you stay compliant with the FMCSA standards. The ELDs with no monthly fees are particularly helpful for the drivers and owner-operators who are on a tight budget.
All the ELDs mentioned in the above-curated list are running successfully in the current market. You can choose the ELD that matches your budget and requirements. You can go through their price and the features and analyze their usage that suits your business. While choosing ELDs with no monthly fees, you should check all the factors including the reliable brand, service provider, durability, and basic features.