How to Choose a GPS Tracker

BrickHouse offers the widest selection of GPS tracking devices on the web. Here's how to choose the one that's right for you

What is GPS?

Developed by the U.S. government, the Global Positioning System (GPS for short) consists of 24 satellites in orbit above the Earth. GPS trackers receive signals from these satellites and use them to pinpoint and track the location of the device, generally within a few yards under optimal conditions. Trackers use multiple satellites to triangulate their position, so the more satellites the device can "see," the more accurate it will be in pinpointing its location.

What Can You Do With a GPS Tracker?

Use GPS to instantly locate anything that matters to you. Get the instant answers and peace of mind you need -- all in real time.

  • Track your family members, your nanny, your valuables or any car in seconds. And get real-time location information via text or email to any computer or smartphone.

  • Know when your 5th-grader leaves his school -- and when he gets home -- automatically and in real time. "Geofence" alerts instantly notify you via text or email when a person, vehicle or object enters or leaves any area you select.

  • Get the locations of a single car—or an entire fleet of vehicles. Find out in seconds where a car or truck is right now, where it's been and where it's headed.

  • Worried that your teen is driving too fast? Get an instant message when her car exceeds a speed limit you've selected in advance. And if she's in trouble, she can just press the built-in panic button and help will be on the way in seconds.

  • Track any object that has personal or professional value to you, from works of art to jewelry to business inventory of all kinds. Any "asset" you need to monitor can be instantly tracked with GPS. Get text or email alerts when an object moves — and follow its path wherever it goes via BrickHouse's powerful GPS monitoring platform.

  • Get real-time and historical location information anywhere you have Internet access — including any computer, tablet or mobile device.

    How to Choose the Tracker That’s Right for You

  • The type of tracker you choose depends on what you need to do. If you need to track more than one car, or if you want to monitor something else — like a person or an object — you'll need a portable GPS tracker

    Portable, battery powered trackers like our Spark Nano can be easily moved among multiple locations. They're so compact you can use them almost anywhere. Drop one in your pre-schooler's backpack on Monday, your spouse's briefcase on Tuesday or your teen's car on Wednesday. Optional magnetic mount cases are also available; they allow you to mount a portable tracker under a vehicle when you don't want the driver to know it's there.

    Battery life varies among trackers, and calculating how much time you'll get between charges is something of an inexact science. Most units will work for at least a week without a recharge during what is considered average use (about 2 hours of driving or walking per day). Some portable, battery powered trackers have a built-in motion sensor, so they use only minimal power when they're not moving. For example, the Spark Nano 3.0 can last up to 30 days without recharging if it's in use for about an hour a day. You can also choose an extended battery life kit, which gives you up to six months of use between charges.

    Battery life is also affected by how often a GPS tracking device reports its information, For example, setting the unit to report its location information every 5 minutes rather than every 15 minutes will give you less time between charges.

    If you know you only need to monitor one car, a hardwired vehicle tracking system is your best choice. Hardwired GPS trackers like our HCT Hidden Car Tracker get their power from your car's electrical system, so there are no batteries to charge. They require a quick, relatively simple installation and they're completely invisible inside your car; the driver will only know it's there if you choose to tell him.

    If you're comfortable with basic automotive electrical work, you should be able to install a hardwired GPS tracker yourself. If not, your local car stereo shop or mechanic can usually do the job in less than a half-hour.

    Like hardwired systems, Plug and Play GPS trackers get their power from your vehicle's electrical system, so they don't require batteries either. But there's no need for professional installation. For example, BrickHouse's new TrackPort plugs directly into the diagnostic port located on or below your vehicle's dashboard, and it's compatible with almost any car manufactured after 1996.

    Because they're connected to your car's onboard computer, Plug and Play GPS tracking devices also let you access some cool optional features as they become available in the software. For example, you can get engine diagnostics (vehicle speed, distance driven, maintenance reports, etc.) and even immobilize your car remotely if it's been stolen. Real-time GPS trackers like the Spark Nano, the HCT Pro Plus and the TrackPort report immediately from almost anywhere. To access their real-time information on your computer or mobile device, a small monthly fee is required. But don't worry; you can pay as you go. There are no annual contracts or long-term commitments to sign. Some people are interested in tracking a specific event that lasts only a short time — a spouse's business trip, for example. That's why BrickHouse offers the convenience of paying monthly without an annual commitment on every GPS tracker we sell.

    If you don't need real-time reporting, you can get all the tracking power of real-time GPS without the monthly fee. With a GPS data logger, you'll know exactly where the device has been. You just won't be able to track the action as it happens. GPS loggers like our iTrail deliver the same location information as real-time trackers. But the data is provided as historical information. Just retrieve the logger and plug it into your computer to download the information you need.