Best ELD Devices For Owner Operators in 2020

Some people are confused as to whether owner operators are exempt from the ELD mandate or not. The fact is there is no such exemption and owner operators must use ELD devices if they are required to keep Records of Duty Status (RODS).

KeepTruckin ELD Device

Score: 9.6/10

The most popular ELD out there is also one of the most affordable, making KeepTruckin ELD an ideal choice for owner-operators. It is perfect for owner-operators because of its low cost and user-friendliness.

Garmin ELD Device

Score: 9.4/10

The most popular ELD out there is also one of the most affordable, making KeepTruckin ELD an ideal choice for owner-operators. It is perfect for owner-operators because of its low cost and user-friendliness.

Rand McNally ELD

Score: 9.0/10

The most popular ELD out there is also one of the most affordable, making KeepTruckin ELD an ideal choice for owner-operators. It is perfect for owner-operators because of its low cost and user-friendliness.

Some people are confused as to whether owner-operators are exempt from the ELD mandate or not. The fact is there is no such exemption, and owner-operators must use ELD devices if they are required to keep Records of Duty Status (RODS).

The best Owner Operator devices should help you meet compliance and meet the needs of your fleet. ELD devices can give an owner operator a business edge even if they are not required to install one in their vehicles.

An owner's decision on what device to get depends on factors like budget and whether they're required to keep Records of Duty Status (RODS) or not.

Despite a few exemptions from the ELD mandate, only very few operators meet the requirements for exemption, so it's most likely you'll need to install a device to meet the requirements of the ELD mandate.

This guide reviews the best ELD devices for owner-operators and help you find the right device for your needs.

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Factors to Consider in Choosing an Owner Operator ELD Device

Budget

It’s likely that you don’t have the big budgets of large fleets, so finding an affordable device is essential. It is, therefore, important to consider the price of the whole package (device cost, installation, activation, monthly service charges, etc.) before settling for one.

Some providers will charge you a one-time fee for their devices while others offer you a subscription package. Other providers offer a combination of both.

Is The Device Reliable?

Owner-operators face needs that differ from companies with large fleets. This is why it’s important to know what to consider when buying an e-log service for your vehicles.

The three most important factors are cost, accuracy or reliability, and the user-friendliness of the device. Let’s take a look at some of the other factors that owner-operators should consider before buying an ELD device.

Other Factors to Consider

Owner-operators face needs that differ from companies with large fleets. This is why it’s important to know what to consider when buying an e-log service for your vehicles.

The three most important factors are cost, accuracy or reliability, and the user-friendliness of the device. Let’s take a look at some of the other factors that owner-operators should consider before buying an ELD device.

Cost

Some of the objections to installing an ELD from owner-operators are about the costs involved. Some owner-operators find it expensive, although most of the ELD solutions on the market today are affordable.

The cost of an e-log for owner-operators may depend on any of the following factors.

Upfront Costs

ELDs providers can charge pretty high prices for their solutions, even though most of the technology beneath the device is very simple. In addition, such expensive devices may not be the best solution for an owner-operator.

Cost of Installing The Device

Most devices can be easily installed in minutes by the owner or driver. However, some devices require an expert to install.

We recommend that owner-operators should only consider buying devices that they can install themselves. E-Logs for owner-operators should not cost you extra to install.

If you opt for a device that requires an expert to install, find providers that offer free installation to their clients.

Save on costs by opting for devices you can easily install yourself.

Some providers offer financing for their devices, so it may be an excellent option to consider if you want to get a solution with expensive upfront costs. This will significantly lift the burden of paying for the high-end solutions. Monthly fees are often affordable, even for owner-operators.

Monthly Costs

Almost every provider charges a monthly fee for the use of their device or the electronic logbook and other services. Some will require you to commit to a multi-year contract while others just let you pay monthly without tying you to a contract.

The monthly cost usually covers the use of their logging software (which is required to comply with the ELD mandate, a dashboard for managers and other office staff, and features that help optimize your business.

Monthly subscription fees can range from $15 to over $100 per vehicle. As an owner-operator, you need a provider that charges reasonably for the most useful features.

Is The Device Approved by The FMCSA?

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has a set of guidelines that devices must meet to comply with the ELD mandate. Devices must connect to the vehicle’s engine and automatically log HOS (Hours of Service) records to be in full compliance.

The FMCSA maintains a list of approved devices, so it’s essential to check if your selected device is on the list.

You don’t want to be in a situation where you have to replace a non-compliant device and incur additional costs and possible severe punishments.

Should You Opt For an All-in-one or a BYOD Device?

All-In-One devices come with the device that connects with your vehicle’s engine and a monitor that already has the logging software installed. They don’t require additional devices and often come with a data plan.

BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) ELD solutions come with just the device that connects to your truck’s engine. You’ll then need to bring your own smartphone or tablet to pair with the device to record and transmit logs. Your mobile device usually connects to the ELD via Bluetooth or USB, and the service may require the use of your own data plan to transmit data.

It’ll be up to you to decide which one of these solutions is the best for your owner-operator fleet.

All-in-one ELDs

This type of device typically comes with all that you need to comply with the ELD mandate. You get a device with a monitor (integrated or mobile device), an electronic logbook, and some fleet management features.

Dedicated ELD devices like this tend to cost more than BYOD devices. However, a lot of providers provide this type of device for free with zero upfront costs and only require you to commit to a monthly subscription contract to use their service. It’s like when you get an expensive smartphone for free upfront but have to commit to a monthly payment plan.

Some dedicated ELDs have limited features that don’t go much further than logging to comply with the mandate. You should determine what your business needs are and find a solution with features that meet those needs.

BYOD ELDs

As the name suggests, BYOD solutions require the driver or owner to provide their own device to pair with the ELD device for compliance with the mandate. A BYOD device only comes with a device that connects to the vehicle’s engine but does not include a monitor to record and display information to the driver.

The driver has to pair their own mobile device (smartphone or tablet) to the ELD device via Bluetooth or USB to meet the requirements of the mandate.

BYOD devices are becoming the most popular type of ELD for owner-operators because they are cheaper, and pretty much everyone has a mobile device.

Drivers often download an e-log app onto their mobile device, which lets them log in to their account with the provider and record their HOS for the trip.

Some BYOD devices come with an integrated cellular solution and plan, so you don’t have to provide your own data plan.

What Features Should The Device Have?

The best ELDs are not just for logging RODS but also give owner-operators additional useful features to help run their business efficiently. We recommended selecting a provider that gives you these extra tools at no additional costs to bring down expenses.

The features you need will mostly depend on the size of your fleet. An owner-operator who has only a single vehicle may not need an ELD solution with GPS tracking and messaging features.

The owner dashboard is also an important feature to have. It is the place that all data collected from your vehicles are transmitted to. You should be able to see in near real-time the location of each vehicle, the driver’s HOS status, and other information like fuel consumption. Some providers provide features that help you automatically calculate IFTA (International Fuel Tax Agreement) and generate reports for regulations compliance.

The following is a list of some of the features you may want you ELD provider to offer:

  • Automatic Hours of Duty Logging
  • Clear and easily readable HOS status on the in-cab display.
  • Messaging feature if you have to communicate with drivers
  • Navigation to help you avoid obstacles on the route and save fuel
  • Document Scanning
  • Vehicle Tracking
  • Dashcams (preferably Smart Dashcams)
  • Driver Vehicle Inspection Reports
  • Log auditing
  • Diagnostics and maintenance alerts.
  • Violation alerts

The 5 Best E-Logs and ELD Devices For Owner Operators

Device Name

Logo

Device Cost

Service Fees (Per Vehicle Per Month)

Rating (Out of 10)

KeepTruckin ELD

keeptruckin eld

$149.99

$20 or $35

9.6

Garmin ELD

Garmin logo

$250

From $0

9.4

Rand McNally ELD

rand mcnally logo

$150

From $15

8.8

Konexial MY20

Konexial Logo

$45

$300 (On a Yearly
Lease)

8.9

VDO RoadLog ELD

VDO Roadlog Logo

$300

$20

8.7

KEEPTRUCKIN ELD DEVICE

KeepTruckin ELD

The most popular ELD out there is also one of the most affordable, making KeepTruckin ELD an ideal choice for owner-operators.

It is perfect for owner-operators because of its low cost and user-friendliness. KeepTruckin also has plenty of useful features that will help make your business better.

The KeepTruckin ELD is a small device that plugs into the diagnostics port of the vehicle. It is a BYOD device, so you’ll have to pair a smartphone or tablet with the device via Bluetooth or USB.

What makes it one of the best ELD devices is that it is useful for fleets of all sizes. The device and its companion electronic logging App provide several tools that can manage small and large fleets. This means you’ll not need to upgrade to a new ELD system if your fleet grows.

Read our comprehensive KeepTruckin ELD review for more details.

Pros

  • Comes with tons of useful features like GPS tracking, fuel monitoring, IFTA reporting, etc.
  • Integrated comprehensive messaging system
  • Low monthly costs
  • Vehicle diagnostics
  • Excellent customer support

Cons

  • None we can think of

GARMIN ELD DEVICE

Garmin ELD Device

This is an easy-to-use, easy-to-install ELD device that helps cut down on your costs while also complying with the ELD mandate. It’s a plug-n-play BYOD ELD that comes with an integrated data subscription plan.

The device connects to your vehicle’s engine via a 6-pin or 9-pin port to log data and pairs with your smartphone or tablet to display and transmit this data.

Pros

  • A highly reputable brand
  • No monthly subscription required
  • Low upfront costs
  • Works with most vehicles

Cons

  • Limited features
  • Adapter required to install on some vehicles

RAND MCNALLY ELD E-LOG DEVICE

Rand McNally ELD

Owner-operators need a device they can install and operate easily. The Rand McNally ELD e-log is an inexpensive solution that fits that requirement perfectly.

The device connects to your vehicle’s engine via the diagnostics port. The Rand McNally device provides you with full ELD mandate compliance and has several features that help you run your business smoothly.

Features include standard electronic RODS logging, IFTA & DVIR reporting, and some fleet management capabilities.

Rand McNally ELD even works when you enter an area with no cellular coverage and also when you’ve not paired it with your smartphone or tablet. Up to two days’ worth of logs will continue to be logged and saved on the ELD’s internal memory and sent to the e-log app once you pair it with your smartphone or tablet.

Pros

  • DVIR and IFTA reporting
  • Vehicle diagnostics
  • Can be easily installed by owner or driver
  • Lots of useful features
  • User-friendly

Cons

  • Unsatisfactory customer support
  • Not compatible with some older smartphones
  • Not compatible with some vehicles

KONEXIAL MY20 ELD DEVICE

Konexial MY20 ELD Device

The My20 ELD is an excellent choice for owner-operators looking for an affordable ELD solution. You can lease the device and pay a monthly installment.

This device is an affordable way to keep all required electronic logs and comes with features that help your business run smoothly.

The App contains several tools designed to help optimize your entire operation to run efficiently and increase profits.
The service costs $15 or $25, depending on the features you want.

Pros

  • Can be installed by owner or driver in minutes
  • User-friendly interface
  • Fully compliant with the ELD mandate
  • DOT compliant
  • Fuel optimization
  • IFTA reporting

Cons

  • Not compatible with 6-pin ports
  • Bluetooth Connection only

VDO ROADLOG ELD DEVICE

VDO Roadlog ELD Device

This is a fully integrated ELD solution with full fleet management capabilities. It is ideal for both owner-operators and companies with large fleets.

VDO RoadLog does not require that the driver bring their own device to pair with the ELD. It comes with its own screen and a stand to mount on your vehicle’s dashboard.

The device is fully compliant and will help you stay compliant with several regulations by automatically logging data and generating useful reports. You can print reports directly from the device using the built-in thermal printer.

The VDO RoadLog is one of the best ELDs for owner-operators on the market today.

Pros

  • Excellent technical support
  • Log thermal printer built into the device
  • No need to pair the device with a smartphone or tablet
  • Built-in cellular data
  • Affordable costs
  • Fully compliant with the ELD mandate

Cons

  • Limited features
  • Not the fastest device
  • Cost to replace printer paper

Guide to Buying an ELD Device for Owner-Operators

There are a few things to consider before deciding on which ELD device to buy for your owner-operator company.

You want a device that is affordable and comes with features that meet the needs of your fleet. You also want a user-friendly device you can install yourself.

In addition, owner-operators want an e-log that does not require additional training for their drivers. You want the driver to learn how to use the device fast to comply with the regulations at all times.

And most importantly, you want to buy a device that is fully compliant with the requirements of the ELD mandate and other regulations. You don’t want to be cited for non-compliance, as this can have serious consequences.

Some providers will guarantee compliance, giving drivers confidence that they are compliant at all times on the road.

Here are a few things to consider before deciding on which device to get for your business.

Customer Support

A 24/7 technical support is essential to drivers if they ever run into difficulties with their devices when on the road. You want a provider with excellent technical support to quickly help the driver resolve the issue and be back on the road.

You don’t want a situation where drivers have to go back to recording their HOS logs manually. This does not comply with the mandate and also wastes time that could be spent doing something more productive.

This is why we recommend going for a device that has been proven to be reliable at all times.

Log Retention

Ideally, you want to get an ELD that can store data for an extended period. You do not want the device to replace data after just a few days. In addition, you don’t want a device that stops recording logs because it is out of storage space.

You need historical data to generate regulatory reports and analyze the performance of your vehicles and drivers.

This is why you need an e log that has a comprehensive manager dashboard. The device will transmit all data from all vehicles to the dashboard, where the data can be stored for several months or years.

The manager’s or office dashboard gives you instant access to what your drivers are up to on the road, allows you to generate relevant reports, and help you identify areas of your business that need improving.

Must Have Features of the Best E-logs for Owner Operators

Different devices have different advanced features. The fleet owner decides which features are relevant to the operation of their business and select a device with the right features.

Compatibility

The device should be compatible with your vehicle’s ports. In some instances, owners may have to buy a compatible adapter to install the device in their vehicle.

It is important to know beforehand if the provider requires you to buy an adapter or other accessories to install the device.

You also need to consider the device’s compatibility with your smartphone or tablet. While it is rare, some devices might only work with an Android device or an iOS (Apple) device. Most devices will work with both, but you must check before buying.

In addition, some devices are incompatible with older model smartphones and tablets, so check that it will work with your and your driver’s smartphones or tablets before selecting an ELD.

You may find yourself having to buy new smartphones or tablets for your drivers if you pick a device that isn’t compatible with what they currently use, and you don’t want to incur that extra expense.

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Warranty and Policies

Some providers give you a warranty that guarantees compliance with the ELD mandate. In addition to this, you should also find out if the provider will replace the device or take it back if you don’t want it. You should get this information from their return policy.

You need this, so you don’t incur additional costs if the device doesn’t work with your vehicles, or the provider has an e-log that is not compatible with your mobile devices.

Final Thoughts

No device is perfect, but a few come close to perfection, which is why we include them on our list. Owner-operators that need to comply with the ELD mandate need a device that makes it easy to stay compliant and help you meet the needs of your fleet. For those with medium to large fleets, you may want to consider getting an ELD-mandate-compliant fleet management system like GPS Insight or Verizon Connect (previously Fleetmatics Reveal).

Some providers have solutions that are more suitable to small or large fleets, and some have solutions suited for both. It is up to you to determine your fleet’s needs and get a suitable solution.

We hope our review of the best ELD devices for owner-operators will help you pick a device that will help your company stay compliant and grow your revenue whiles cutting costs.

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