PLB vs GPS Tracking Devices

There is always some confusion when new technology presents itself. In most cases there are trivial differences between the new version and the old version. Sometimes the differences are more complex and difficult to understand, but normally it is something that can be mastered in a matter of minutes. There are, however, some cases where an intimate knowledge about your new gadget could be the difference between life and death.

GPS Tracking Devices

Tracking devices come in a few different varieties – Spot Messenger, Spot Connect, SpiderTracks, and Delorme, to name a few. These products are fantastic and do exactly what they were designed to do, but the users must be aware of the limitations and requirements for these devices. These units are best thought of as tracking devices with a rescue feature.

Things to consider about GPS Tracking devices:

  • Requires a subscription
  • Satellite based communication only
  • Allows accurate tracking
  • Can send simple messages, both preprogrammed or free form
  • Small and lightweight
  • User replaceable batteries

PLBs (Personal Locator Beacons)

PLBs operate on a government-monitored frequency range. Most use 121.5Mhz and 406Mhz. There are several brands of PLBs including the Revere FastFind, ACR Res-Q-Link, and Aqualink. These devices must be registered to the user or owner. They use GPS to send the exact location in the case of an emergency. Recently these devices have dramatically reduced in size. PLBs are best thought of as rescue devices with a tracking feature.

Things to consider about PLBs:

  • Subscriptions are not mandatory (may be required to text message)
  • Operates using land-based frequency and satellite signals
  • Provides accurate location to rescue teams
  • Must be registered to an individual
  • Must be serviced by manufacturer for battery replacement

These products are often grouped into one device type. It is important to remember they are two different things. If you want to track progress and see your path from a web browser and are primarily interested in sending messages when out of cell phone range, then the GPS devices are most likely all you need. If you are operating in an environment where the primary use for such a device is for the potential need for rescue, then the PLB is for you. Of course, you could carry both and get the best of each device without compromise. There are many detailed features that each of these devices offer.

If you have any questions please give us a call 1-888-525-3247.