Best ELD Devices For Owner Operator – 2021 Guide

| Last Updated: June 28, 2021

An ELD device keeps a record of the time spent by a driver using the vehicle and is a replacement for paper logging systems. Lately, there has been an increase in the popularity of ELD devices, especially because of the law set by the government. 

As a result, people are searching for good ELD devices that work long-term for them.  

To make the process easier for you, we have the complete buyer’s guide to the best ELD devices for owner-operators. If you want to learn more about them, keep on reading:

Comparison of the Best ELD Devices For Owner Operator

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Will completely replace paper reports without losing compliance
  • Easy input of fuel reports for better tracking of cost
  • Very easy to install on the vehicle
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  • Easily connect via Bluetooth or USB connection
  • Will store all information your compatible devices
  • Compatible with most mobile devices for easy access
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  • Best for the Money
  • Free app included with the device to keep track of all records
  • Installation and operating of this device will require very little learning
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  • There is no monthly service fee or any hidden fees involved
  • Compatible with most popular mobile devices in use
  • Includes hardware and software as well as the data in the package
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  • Can view up to 6 month's logs in Webportal
  • Uses the standard 9-pin connector for adaptability
  • Compatible with most popular mobile devices in use
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What Makes an ELD Device Great For an Owner Operator?

An ELD device can promise a great number of benefits for an owner-operator. Here is what makes such a device a great purchase for an owner-operator:

Safety

ELDs can be great tools for preventing accidents since they offer GPS tracking, fault code management, efficient route management, etc. They also allow you to identify bad driving behavior so you can deal with it and correct it before anyone gets in trouble.  

No Manual Record-Keeping

ELD devices greatly aid in reducing administrative burden, so one doesn’t have to manually record the hours of service.

This, if done manually, is a daunting task that requires a lot of effort and is time-consuming. Therefore, electronic logging devices can be credited for saving time, cost, and effort.  

Fuel Wastage and Vehicle Diagnostics

Idling is a big cause of fuel wastage, and as ELD devices enable monitoring idle time, you can easily track which driver is idling. By tracking idling and dealing with the drivers responsible, you can prevent fuel wastage. 

Since an ELD device is connected to the diagnostic port, it can also monitor fault codes. Therefore, it contributes to keeping your vehicle maintained. 

ThinAir ELD

What Type of ELD Device Does an Owner Operator Need?

It is important to understand the working conditions to decide the type of ELD device that will suit you. If the owner-operator is working under a contract with a motor carrier, then most likely, the type and brand of the ELD device will be dictated by the carrier. 

However, if the owner-operator is self-employed, they will be required to attain their own FMCSA-compliant ELD. As far as the software and features of a product are concerned, they depend upon whether you have a single truck or a fleet. Fleet management features can be useful in managing single trucks or vehicles; however, they are not required according to regulation. 

Review of the Best Electronic Logs For Owner Operators

There are hundreds of brands manufacturing electronic logs with thousands of available products, which makes it truly daunting to find the right one. We have compiled and reviewed some of the best ones on the market for you. Let’s take a look at them:

Best Overall:
ThinAir ELD

ThinAir ELD - Electronic Logging Device (BYOD - Display Not Included), DOT Compliant, IFTA, DVIR, Light Duty Vehicle (OBDII)

PROS

  • Simple installation process
  • Offers IFTA reporting on demand
  • Easy to use with an intuitive interface 
  • Offers complete DVIR reports in the field
  • Compliant ELD and registered with FMCSA

CONS

  • Requires a subscription
  • Consumers need to go through a registration process in order to switch between vehicles

What Recent Buyers Report

Buyers are happy with this unit. They find that it is equipped with state-of-the-art technology and offers reliable performance. They also applauded it for being easy to use and having an intuitive user interface, which truly makes it consumer-friendly. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

There are several reasons why it captured our interest. Firstly, this unit is intuitive, easy to use, and simple to install. This makes it convenient for people who aren’t tech-savvy or are new to using an ELD device. It only takes a few minutes to install and is ELD-compliant in the US and Canada. 

It can be operated via the ThinAir ELD mobile app, which can automate tasks like one-touch roadside inspection, pre/post/Adhoc inspection (DVIR) with voice dictation, etc. The admin portal allows fleet managers access to logbooks in real-time, plus it lets them see clear violations, inspection reports, etc.

Bottom Line

Overall, there are few units on the market that can top the standard of excellence set by this product. It is not only reliable, but it is also a compliant ELD solution. It certainly is worth checking out.

Runner-up:
Garmin eLog

Garmin eLog, Compliant Electronic Logging Device (ELD), No-Subscription Fees, FMCSA Compliant, Supports 9-pin J1939 and 6-pin J1708 Diagnostic Ports (010-01876-00)

PROS

  • Easy to install 
  • Simple to use
  • Doesn’t have a monthly subscription fee
  • E-log automatically records driver duty time
  • Securely stored ELD records on a compatible smartphone

CONS

  • Offers very limited features
  • Consumers find that the vehicles with Volvo engine and 16-pin J1962 require a separate cable

What Recent Buyers Report

It seems to have garnered largely positive views as it is very hard not to like. It has a simple and basic design, which is a blessing to some, especially those using such a device for the first time. Overall, the unit is easy to use and serves as an excellent means to record HOS and comply with the ELD mandate.  

Why it Stands Out to Us

This unit can be your no-fuss solution to the ELD mandate. It offers the basic features and design to record HOS and complies with the ELD mandate. An excellent feature of this product is that it doesn’t have any hidden costs or monthly subscription fees. 

It requires you to install the free Garlin elog app on a compatible smartphone so you can safely view the recorded data. The data is secured on your phone and not in the cloud, so it can be readily viewed for roadside inspections. 

Bottom Line

Simple, easy to use, and convenient are words that can best describe the design of this unit. It is an excellent unit if you want a no-fuss ELD device that gives you the basic features, operates efficiently, and is reliable.

Best for the Money:
My20 ELD

My20 ELD (Electronic Logging Device) + Truck GPS Tracking

PROS

  • Easy installation
  • FMCSA-approved and DOT-certified
  • Allows IFTA reporting and GPS tracking
  • One of the most affordable options out there
  • Doesn’t require any additional hardware to operate

CONS

  • Doesn’t support a six-pin adaptor 
  • Isn’t equipped with an exterior USB port

What Recent Buyers Report

The My20 ELD seems to be a consumer-favorite, given how affordable it is. It doesn’t require any additional hardware; instead, it can simply be monitored via your smartphone. It offers excellent fleet management features and is overall easy to use. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

A lot of brands require consumers to buy a smartphone or tablet separately that is compatible with the device, plus they have an expensive monthly subscription. This isn’t the case with the My20 ELD. It has an affordable monthly subscription and doesn’t require any additional hardware to work. 

It is completely FMCSA-approved and DOT-certified. This unit is plugged directly into your diagnostics port and then connected via Bluetooth to your smartphone. This FMCSA-compliant solution offers IFTA reporting, GPS tracking, and several other fleet management features. 

Bottom Line

All in all, it’s a pretty decent product. It is a blessing for those looking for a good unit within a limited budget. It is 100% FMCSA-approved and DOT-certified and is certainly worth the investment.

Editor's Pick:
GPSit1000BZL

GPSit1000BZL LTE Vehicle Tracking Device with 1 Year Service, No Contracts, No Monthly Fees, Real Time GPS Tracker, Fleet Tracking, Eld Support, Car Tracking, Monitor Teen Driving, Nationwide Coverage

PROS

  • Easy plug-in installation
  • Offers full ELD compliance
  • Features a one-year hardware warranty
  • Keeps track of trips, mileage, stop time, etc.
  • Offers real-time GPS tracking and live location

CONS

  • Consumers find operating it slightly tricky

What Recent Buyers Report

Buyers seem to be highly impressed with this unit. They find it not only affordable but also efficient and equipped with more than just the bare basics. They did complain that it was slightly tricky to operate if you aren’t running a corporate business, but that isn’t a deal-breaker in any way. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

It’s hard not to like this unit, which is why it is deserving of being on this list. Firstly, it is one of the most affordable options you’ll come across. It is easy to install with its simple plug-in installation. Plus, it offers full ELD compliance. 

It accurately keeps track of your vehicle’s trips, stop time, idle time, mileage, alerts, etc. It offers real-time GPS tracking and turn-by-turn location. It sends location updates every two minutes, too, making it one of the best options to consider for owner-operators. 

Bottom Line

To sum up, this unit truly is a gem. It is an effective and efficient ELD solution that offers multiple features like real-time tracking, stop time, idle time, mileage, etc. It also significantly aids in fleet management.

Honorable Mention:
Rand McNally ELD

Rand McNally ELD50IA 9-PIN Electronic Logging Device Trucking ELD

PROS

  • Easy plug-n-go installation
  • Capable of creating complete DVIRs
  • Doesn’t require additional hardware
  • Uses gauges feature to show current engine stats
  • Enables viewing six-months’ log on the web portal

CONS

  • Doesn’t fit all trucks
  • Better for smaller fleets

What Recent Buyers Report

Users applaud this unit for its simple yet functional design. It is easy to install and use and works as an efficient ELD solution. Even though it is deemed better for smaller fleets, it still seems to be wildly popular amongst consumers, given its incredible features. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

This unit stood out to us for its well-rounded design and high functionality. It offers excellent log retention, stability, etc. Furthermore, it can generate complete DVIRs, certify daily logs, make edits as required, show remaining duty status times, etc.

It allows users to view six months of logs on the web portal and eight days of logs on the app. Overall, it has an easy installation process and a simple-to-use design. 

Bottom Line

Last but certainly not least, this unit works exceptionally well in keeping a record of the HOS and tracking vehicle activity in general. It allows one to edit and make changes to the daily logs as needed. It surely is a great investment.

How Do I Choose an ELD Device for Owner Operator?

Choosing an ELD device is not as easy as it might seem. However, the choice can be made easier by looking out for certain features. These include: 

Log Retention

Log retention essentially implies data storage for an extended time. It’s important to have an ELD device that can store data for a long enough period so you can use it to analyze vehicle and driver performance or generate reports. A great feature that contributes to this is a comprehensive manager dashboard. It can store data for several months to access when needed.  

GPSit1000BZL

Convenience and Support

The device should be easy to install, and it’s even better if it has a simple plug-n-go installation. Furthermore, it should have an intuitive user interface for consumer ease. Having a good after-sales service is crucial. It is important to have good customer service in case the driver runs into any kind of difficulty with the device while on the road. 

Fleet Management

Not all devices come equipped with fleet management service, which is why it is important to check if the one you’re interested in buying does. The service greatly aids in improving the efficiency and productivity of your fleet. Also, ensure that your device is highly configurable and has frequent software updates, so it remains efficient. 

Aspects to Consider Before Buying an ELD Device

There are certain aspects and considerations which need to be kept in mind before buying an ELD device. These will ensure that you have a fruitful experience. Some things to be mindful of include:

Compatibility

This is perhaps one of the most crucial factors when it comes to buying an ELD device. It is a wasted investment to get a device that isn’t necessarily compatible with your vehicle or doesn’t have the right adaptor. Therefore, pay attention and make sure the unit works with your truck model. 

Warranty

It’s always better to have a product that is backed by a warranty. A good warranty service reflects the brand’s trust in its product; thus, it’s good to seek a product with at least a year of warranty. 

Affordability

A lot of times, a unit appears affordable; however, it has several hidden costs like a compatible smartphone, which is sold separately, expensive monthly service, etc. This can cost you a lot in the long turn, and the result may not be worth the investment. Therefore, look for a unit that includes everything and is still affordable. 

Do Owner-Operators Need E-Logs?

Yes, owner-operators are required to have E-logs. The Federal Motor Safety Carrier Administration requires commercial interstate truckers, which includes owner-operators as well as small carriers, to follow the ELD rules. They help run the business smoothly by providing efficiency and greater functionality; therefore, they provide a good return on investment. 

FMCSA Rules on Electronic Logs

The FMCSA rule mandates ELD usage by commercial drivers to prepare the hours of service (HOS) and record of duty (ROD). Furthermore, it sets ELD performance and design standards and also requires them to be FMCSA-certified. They also establish the documents that the drivers and carriers are required to keep. 

Conclusion

Along with many other variables, ELD devices are used to track the hours of service (HOS) of truck and trailer drivers for those who are required to maintain records of duty status. This post takes you through all the necessary information needed to buy a good-quality ELD device and offers some incredible recommendations to consider. Hopefully, it proved to be helpful in finding the right electronic log device for you. 

People Also Ask

When it comes to buying ELD devices, people tend to have many queries. Therefore, we took the liberty of answering your most frequently asked questions to make the process simpler and clarify any confusion.

How Do E Logs Work?

They are essentially an amalgamation of different devices, including a GPS tracker and a communication device that tracks location, speed, mileage, etc., and is located underneath the dashboard. 

Another one is the navigation tracker device mounted on top of the dashboard, which the driver is required to log into to report HOS duty status.

Lastly, the wiring harness connector requires to be integrated into the vehicle, and the elog unit must have a JBUS connection. It transmits telemetric data like oil pressure, water temperature, and trouble codes.

When Does the Electronic Log Mandate Go Into Effect?

December 18th, 2017, was the date from which the usage of electronic logs for carriers and drivers became mandatory. Meanwhile, it became a legal requirement for vehicles that had Automated On-Board Recording Devices (AOBRDs) to replace them with ELDs by December 16th, 2019. 

Who is Exempt From Electronic Logs?

Drivers who maintain RODS (Record of Duty status) for eight days or less in a 30-day rolling period aren’t required to have an ELD. They do need paper logs; however, ELD isn’t itself a legal requirement. 

How Much Does an ELD Device Cost? 

They can cost anything between $160 and $500.

How to Run 2 Log Books

Running two logs is illegal and may subject one to a heavy fine.  

How Can I Tell if My ELD is in Compliance?

Devices connected directly or indirectly to the engine to collect vehicle data and satisfy the ELD mandate requirements are in compliance. If the description fits your ELD, then you’re good to go.  



After spending years on the road, I had a lot of time to think about the hardships that came with the trucking industry. I realized there was an opportunity to lend a hand a create a resource for truckers by truckers. With the help of my tech-savvy son, I built Trucker Geek as a way to show people that becoming a driver doesn’t need to be a stressful headache.