GPS Tracking: Finding the Balance Between Tracking Intervals and Battery Life

GPS Tracking: Finding the Balance Between Tracking Intervals and Battery Life

GPS trackers are designed to transmit the location of the tracking device, in real-time, by using satellite signals to identify their exact coordinates. Although these devices are pretty old-school, as far as science and tech goes, their usability remains extremely relevant to modern-day tracking uses. Plus, there are modern upgrades that super-power GPS tracking, such as monitoring locations via smartphone, and more!

A GPS tracking device can be used to monitor the whereabouts of people - under ethical circumstances - but are mostly used to track assets, such as vehicles and valuables. For example, fleets of trucks, such as delivery vehicles, are often equipped with GPS trackers that allow managers to not only ensure their cargo’s location, but also monitor the speeds being driven and the safety of the areas being navigated. When monitoring employees, GPS trackers are useful in keeping an eye on the object’s personal safety, as well as their daily performance.

GPS trackers come in all shapes, sizes, and variations of quality, depending on what they’re intended for. When selecting a device from the many options available, you’ll want to consider the demands that will be placed on your tracker, which includes the fine-line balance between tracking intervals and battery life. Finding the sweet spot between these two factors will help you get the very best out of your GPS tracking unit, for years to come.

Wait. What’s a GPS tracking interval?

It stands to reason that the object that you are tracking is a mobile object. If it were fixed, you wouldn’t need to track it - it wouldn’t be going anywhere. That said, a GPS tracking unit will send out a signal to inform those monitoring its location. Within a predetermined time, the unit will send out another signal. In this way, the device’s location is constantly updated, and this is how a tracker essentially works in “real time.”

The predetermined time between the device turning on to send a signal is what we call a “tracking interval,” and this can be set at any time frame from every 10 seconds to every 5 minutes, or as little as once per day, depending on your needs. A GPS unit with a longer tracking interval, such as 5 minutes, will naturally have a longer battery life, while the shorter tracking intervals will drain a battery far quicker.

On the other hand, some GPS tracking units don’t even make use of tracking intervals - they only switch on and send a signal when prompted to do so by an external location request. This kind of tracker is often used to track the location of a VIP individual with high levels of security, or to monitor the whereabouts of children. As these devices turn on a lot less, these GPS tracking units will obviously have a much longer battery life.

However, in the former case, managing the battery longevity of a GPS tracker that makes use of regular tracking intervals can be a challenge, and finding the right dynamic between tracking intervals and battery life is crucial to overall satisfaction with the device.

BrickHouse Security produces two notable, battery-operated devices to address these challenges, namely, the Spark Nano, and the EON.

EON vs. Spark Nano - Battery longevity with frequent tracking intervals

Irrespective of the device’s usage and tracking interval, the BrickHouse Security EON device is the “father” of battery-operated GPS trackers, and will always have a longer battery life than the Spark Nano.

In the case of the EON, when set to its shortest tracking interval of 5 seconds, the powerful batteries will last up to 40 days. However the Spark Nano, set to the same tracking interval, will drain its battery life within 8 days.

If one extends the tracking intervals to a 5-minute span, the EON’s battery life jumps to an impressive 140 days, while the Spark Nano will offer approximately 21 days of power.

It’s clear to be seen that the EON is far more suitable to heavy-duty tracking requirements, especially where travel into remote areas for extended periods of time are concerned. The Spark Nano, however modest it may seem, still remains an incredibly useful device for less demanding tracking intervals.

Priorities: Tracking Intervals vs. Battery Life

Only you will know what you need, in terms of real-time GPS tracking. While one might consider extending the tracking interval to as long as possible to conserve battery life, there are industries in which more regular tracking data is imperative to the job at hand, or to the safety of an object of person.

On the other hand, if the device is travelling to a place with inconsistent access to a power source in order to recharge, the user might want to preserve battery life by making some sacrifice on tracking intervals.

There is no right or wrong answer! As the leader in your own industry, the final decision will lie with you - however, at BrickHouse Security, we understand the performance of these units better than anyone else. Get in touch with us and tell us about your specific GPS tracking requirements and let us make a thoughtful recommendation to suit your needs.

Crystal Kamm