Telematics Guides | Is It Worth Investing In A Self-Install Telematics Device?

Is It Worth Investing In A Self-Install Telematics Device?

Self-install telematic devices are some of the most affordable and best tracking tools on the market. These devices can be fitted all by yourself, no professional help needed! That saves you plenty of time of waiting for the installer to come to you, plus no installation costs.

Telematics devices benefit your business in many ways. Mostly, these black boxes let you keep track of your vehicles and drivers’ behaviour.

(Updated Fri, 9 December 2022)

Vehicle dashboard

Using vehicle tracking is a great way for businesses to manage their vehicle fleet more efficiently. You can track the productivity of each driver. Using a self-install vehicle-tracking device can be a cost-effective way of doing it.

But it’s not as simple as saying fitting the system yourself is better, just because it might save you some money! You need to compare how much information you need from your vehicle tracking system. That’s what we’re here for.

Our vehicle tracking experts have looked at these GPS trackers. Our guide gives you the information you need to decide if a self-install tracker is likely to meet your needs.

How does a self-install telematics device work?

It sends a signal 24/7 to a cloud server, that then displays the vehicle location to you on a map. This means you can see where all your vehicles are, at any time. New to the wonders of telematics and vehicle tracking? Check out our 5 minute guide to telematics.

For some types of business, it’s useful to know who is the nearest driver is to send to the next job. For some fleets, it’s important to double-check if drivers really are where they say they are.

The telematics device stores away the journey history. Fleet managers can check back on your driver’s stops and times. Here, you get to see totals of all the breaks they’ve taken during each day or week.

Your self-install device has even more handy features. The device makes timesheets for each driver. These update in almost real-time and are downloadable whenever you want them.

This means you can make sure your car or van drivers are being efficient and sticking to agreed break times. Bonus! You can check that the mileage they have clocked up was all work for your company.

What does a self-install telematics device do?

A self-installed vehicle tracking device is a GPS tracker. To install it, wire it onto the vehicle battery. After that, connect it to your account in the provider’s cloud-based software.

They can be fitted to any moving vehicle with a battery, including cars, vans, caravans, tractors and even boats!

Here are just a few things these magical little trackers can do:

Set up geofences in the software

Imagine a line drawn around an area on a map like around your local pub. This is a geofence.

You can get app alerts or emails when any car, van or lorry driver enters or leaves a geofence area. This makes it easy to manage your fleet without being stuck to a screen all day.

When a vehicle leaves a depot at a time it shouldn’t, you will get an alert. If the driver is doing a job on the side, you can work out how much of your diesel they’ve used.

Improve vehicle recovery odds

If the vehicle gets stolen, you can see where it is. Sadly, professional vehicle thieves know how to remove self-install vehicle-tracking devices. A telematics device is not fool proof, but it does improve your odds!

Opportunistic amateurs can’t tell if a tracker is installed. If the tracker gets removed from a vehicle, an alert goes to you immediately to let you know.

Use telematics to boost your fleet management

Vehicle Tracking can give you a bird’s eye view of your fleet at all times. That makes it way quicker and easier to manage all your drivers.

You can deal with breakdowns or accidents immediately. Managers, you can even check the driver’s dashcam footage or speeding incidents from your mobile phone.

A self install telematics device

Credit: Kinesisfleet

As a free comparison site, iCompario can help you find the right system for the right price.

Should I get a professionally installed telematics device instead?

Self-install devices are nifty gadgets that are perfect for small businesses and those on a budget. But bigger fleets will need a bigger solution. Mechanic-installed devices might suit you better.

Here’s what a professionally installed telematics device can do for you.

  • Professionally installed vehicle tracking devices are not just GPS trackers, but can also have accelerometers.
  • They are wired to the vehicle ignition and other components of the engine and braking system.
  • These telematics devices can track and record driver behaviour.

What is the difference between sell-install and professionally installed devices?

Other than who’s installing them, the two do have different features. Self install devices can only do so much! Here’s what self install devices can’t do.

Self install table

How do professionally installed devices work?

These devices have between three and twelve wires connected to electric circuits in the vehicle. How many wires depends on what information you need.

You need a professional to install them! If you connect the wires the wrong way, the system will give you bad data.

Professionally installed systems do all the stuff a self-install device does, but with even more added extras!

What are the features of professionally installed telematics devices?

On top of all the features of self install telematics devices, professionally installed systems can do even more. These are some of the top features you need to know about.

Get a professionally installed device to track behaviour

Vehicle-tracking devices record driving behaviours that cause damage over time to your vehicle. These bad habits make accidents more likely and waste fuel. The system that tracks this is an in-vehicle monitoring system, or IVMS, as it evaluates the driver.

The data collected includes how fast your driver goes. That includes if they go over the speed limit. Behaviours like breaking harshly and speeding around corners get recorded too.

See when your driver’s are idling with a telematics device

Most systems will also tell you if the engine is left idling when the vehicle is stopped. Putting an end to this bad habit can save a small fortune on fuel.

iCompario tip:

Professionally installed systems can improve driving standards and mean you make fewer insurance claims. You pay less for your fleet insurance and have less time with your vehicles off the road for repairs. The savings can be huge, so for many companies, these systems can easily pay for themselves many times over.

How much does it cost to buy and use a self-install vehicle-tracking device?

Parked vans

Credit: Piqsels

Vehicle-tracking systems are normally priced with an initial cost for the device, and an ongoing monthly subscription to use the software and see your data.

The cost of having your hardware devices installed by a professional is generally included in the initial start-up price, rather than as a standalone fee.

The other cost to check is the monthly or yearly subscription fee to the software. A vehicle tracker is useless without the software that it sends the data to, and the cost of using this interface is usually scaled depending on the amount of information the installed device can provide you.

Some self-install vehicle tracking systems can cost a lot less than £100 to get started and just a few pounds per month to use.

iCompario tip:

With some providers, the device remains the property of the provider and you pay for using it while you subscribe to their system. It will then be removed if you stop using their service. Check the details of this when comparing providers.

Use our free comparison tool to find the right telematics system for the right price.

How do I install a vehicle-tracking device myself?

Self-install vehicle-tracking boxes can often be fitted to your vehicle in a matter of minutes. Indeed, the process requires few tools and technical knowledge., Even brand-new drivers should be able to fit their GPS tracker pretty quickly!

Many providers will send you a video showing you exactly how to do it, as well as written instructions.

You can install a vehicle-tracking device yourself in little time and with a minimal amount of mechanical experience. There are two wires to connect to the vehicle battery from which it takes its power and a means of sticking it onto the battery to stop it slipping.

When is self-installing a vehicle-tracking device worth it?

Self install telematics devices are best suited only for some businesses. They’re not a perfect solution! But there are times when they are the best device for you.

This is why a self install device could be just what your business needs to speed up your business:

Save money on installation costs

Self-installing a vehicle-tracker is worthwhile because it’s a quick job that can be carried out with minimal experience. This can save you a significant amount, as it won’t cost much of your time and the price of a professional installation is often considerably higher.

Avoid time off the road with self-installation

You will also save the cost of having your car, van, caravan or other asset off the road for several hours while a mechanic comes to fit a device for you.

See where your vehicles are in real time

You gain the benefit of seeing where your vehicles are in real-time, taking greater control of your fleet.

With vehicle tracking, you can keep a close eye on new drivers. You can also ensure your vehicles are more secure — for example, by seeing immediately if they’re leaving your depot when they shouldn’t.

Great for small companies or low-mileage fleets

Self-install van trackers and car trackers are ideal for certain business types. We highly recommend self-installing for:

  • Smaller companies
  • For businesses whose drivers aren’t on the road all day
  • Fleet managers who realistically don’t have the time or need to focus on reducing their insurance and vehicle maintenance costs.
  • Perfect to try vehicle-tracking for the first time (H3)

If you’ve never used vehicle-tracking before, the self-fitted approach is the ideal way to give it a try without spending too much cash.

How do I install a vehicle-tracking device myself?

Self-install vehicle-tracking boxes can often be fitted to your vehicle in a matter of minutes. Indeed, the process requires few tools and technical knowledge, meaning that inexperienced drivers should be able to fit their GPS tracker pretty quickly.

Many providers supply a video showing you exactly how to do it, as well as written instructions.

You can install a vehicle-tracking device yourself in little time and with a minimal amount of mechanical experience. There are two wires to connect to the vehicle battery from which it takes its power and a means of sticking it onto the battery to stop it slipping.

When self-installing a vehicle-tracking device is worthwhile

Save money

Self-installing a vehicle-tracker is worthwhile because it’s a quick job that can be carried out with minimal experience. This can save you a significant amount, as it won’t cost much of your time and the price of a professional installation is often considerably higher.

Avoid time off the road

You will also save the cost of having your car, van, caravan or other asset off the road for several hours while a mechanic comes to fit a device for you.

See where your vehicles are in real time

You gain the benefit of seeing where your vehicles are in real-time, taking greater control of your fleet. You can keep a close eye on new drivers. You can also ensure your vehicles are more secure — for example, by seeing immediately if they’re leaving your depot when they shouldn’t.

Great for small companies or low-mileage fleets

Self-install van trackers and car trackers are ideal for smaller companies, for businesses whose drivers aren’t on the road all day, and for fleet managers who realistically don’t have the time or need to focus on reducing their insurance and vehicle maintenance costs.

Perfect to try vehicle-tracking for the first time

If you’ve never used vehicle-tracking before, the self-fitted approach is the ideal way to give it a try without spending too much cash.

When is self-installing a vehicle-tracking device not worth it?

Sometimes you’ll need a more high-grade device to get the job done. In these cases, take a stiff upper lip and pay those extra pounds. It’s well worth it in the end. But do you need to?

Here’s when a professionally installed device will be better for your business or fleet.

You need more information for your reports

Professionally installed devices give more information. A self-install vehicle tracking system isn’t worthwhile if you really need more detailed data.

More data can get you driver behaviour metrics to help you achieve better driving and fewer insurance claims or vehicle repairs.

You want to reduce your insurance costs

Self-install devices can’t help you reduce insurance costs.

You can reduce your fleet insurance premiums quite impressively if you can reduce your number of fault-claims. In this case, a self-install vehicle tracker will not help you – you will need the driver-monitoring functionality of a professionally installed device.

These devices measure three driving behaviours that affect insurance premiums. These are whether vehicles are driven by night, or only in the daytime; whether drivers mostly use motorways or often travel on small roads; and the driver’s safety score from the in-vehicle monitoring system (IVMS).

Table of vehicle insurance cost factors

Professionally installed devices can help you save more money on fuel

If your drivers are on the roads full time, or if you operate large vans that consume a lot of diesel, it makes sense to ensure they are driven economically. Cutting your fuel costs can be a big money saving, especially for fleets. Self install devices can’t do a lot to help you here.

If you want to reduce fuel consumption by monitoring which drivers are wasteful a self-install tracker will not help. But a professionally installed device gives you the details you need to kick bad habits to the curb.

Did you know that you can save a whole tank of fuel every month with just one change? All you have to do is have your drivers turn off the engine when they stop. Idling is one of the biggest fuel wasters! Anything longer than ten seconds stationary, and it saves fuel to turn off then restart.

Self-install vehicle trackers can’t help you save money on repairs and parts

A professionally installed vehicle-tracking device can give data on driving standards. Send this data to your drivers in reports to boost their performance. You can use this data to incentivise your drivers to drive carefully and cut habits that harm the working parts of your vehicles.

How to get self-install telematic devices

Try iCompario’s vehicle-tracking self-installation comparison tool.

We’ve given you all the information you need to make an informed decision about whether you wish to get a professionally fitted vehicle-tracking device or a simpler self-install option.

To get up-to-date prices for either option, you can enter your details in a quick form and get a quote from iCompario.

iCompario is the free online marketplace for business products and services, where managers and owners can research and rapidly compare fuel cards, vehicle tracking systems, insurance, telecoms and other essentials. The team follows up online queries by telephone so every site visitor finds their ideal, future-proof product at the best price possible.

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