Which One Should You Choose, GPS or Radio Frequency Pet Trackers?
Which One Should You Choose, GPS or Radio Frequency Pet Trackers?
They are actually quite different. Not only do they operate differently, they have very distinct purposes which you want to know about if you love your pets. There’s also much more to the picture which I will reveal for you in a moment.
Here’s the raw reality.
They both have their own advantages. In order to better clarify what I mean by this let me describe to you how they both work. By the time you get to the end of my blog post you should have a fairly strong idea about which one you are going to want to buy.
The Function of a GPS Pet Tracker
You’ve probably seen a GPS (Global Positioning System) before. You can use them on fishing boats to navigate yourself around large lakes, and there may be a more sophisticated model in your car.
Here’s how they work in a nutshell.
Satellites orbiting the earth transmit and receive beams of frequency. Since these frequencies travel in straight lines, they use other satellites to bounce off one another, often across great distances. GPS pet trackers take advantage of a special type of satellite called local positioning satellites.
What your GPS pet tracker does is it transmits data to the satellite which discovers its location in real time. The satellite then passes that information to a receiver station, which could be a cell phone or other handheld device some place.
GPS’s have many functions.
For example, you can use an app on your smart phone or device along with your GPS pet tracker, and get detailed location data. Some can produce a map image of where your pet is, and even offer directions to help you get there as quickly as possible.
Sometimes the companies providing GPS pet trackers do not offer apps, but you can get the same information by logging onto their website. It’s really a matter of convenience.
That is a thumbnail sketch.
We will get into the real advantages of both a GPS and RF pet tracker in a moment. Let’s discuss how a radio frequency pet tracker works before we do that though.
The Function of a Radio Frequency Pet Tracker
We’re actually working backwards in technology here. Sometimes it’s not intelligent to try to reinvent the wheel when what we’re doing already works. If you’ve ever owned wireless walkie-talkies, you pretty much already grasp how they work.
The pet tracker basically transmits a radio signal, and is received by a device just like the one in a car radio. There are some things to note, however.
Radio frequency pet trackers vary. Some have longer ranges than others, but all work within a few hundred feet of a receiver station, on average.
There can be some pitfalls however.
You may live in a large city. If your pet runs off and you live on a farm, you may have trouble finding them depending on the tracker you buy.
Let me explain...
First, you don’t have an exact location. Radio frequency pet trackers work like a compass, where they point you in the direction of your pet. Some pet owners love this feature while others don’t.
Second, your pet may have gone out of range. Without so much as a direction to go in a situation like this, it’s a desperate attempt to find them.
There are good reasons, however, to buy a radio frequency pet tracker over one that uses GPS technology which I’ll delve into below.
The Final Comparison of GPS and Radio Frequency Pet Trackers
The GPS pet tracker has obvious advantages. You have real-time, exact information updates on your pet which is usually accessible within moments, and usually via a Smartphone app or a web browser. This is a real plus. Two very popular GPS trackers I have reviewed called Tractive GPS Pet Tracker and Whistle 3 pet tracker.
But there are some areas of compromise.
First, GPS pet trackers require frequent battery re-charges. Some last longer than others and have smaller, more effective batteries which cost a little extra. There’s no surprise there.
Here is where GPS pet trackers can fall short. If you live in an area where you don’t have the best cellular network coverage they can become unreliable. If you live in a home where you have trouble making or receiving mobile phone calls chances are a GPS pet tracker won’t be the most reliable option for you.
Also if you take your pet camping or hiking where the cellular coverage is also poor then, once again, a pet tracker relying on radio frequency is probably the better option.
Charged radio frequency pet tracker can last for quite a long time – in fact, many, many months. It’s pretty similar to a TV remote. As you’re not constantly gathering large amounts of data from the tracker (as you do with a pet gps tracker) they require less charge and less power.
You really need to decide on this based on your own needs and the area where you live.
If you live in a city, you may want the location of your pet immediately if they venture off.
You could be out on a walk and one of them chases after a car. They could be in serious danger, and you want to be able to find out exactly where they are so you can get them home safely. A GPS pet tracker would make sense in this situation.
On the other hand, you could live in a rural area, where your pet likes to go off and play and has more of a free reign when it comes to exploring.
If your pet doesn’t return home after 24 hours, you know that their tracker has enough charge to point you in their direction. They could just be stuck by the side of the road or at a neighbor’s farm. In this instance, a radio frequency pet tracker might make more sense.
How To Find The Appropriate Pet Tracker For You & Your Pet
As you know, radio frequency pet trackers are quite simple devices. They don’t require satellites, and often are better in areas with heavy above-head obstructions which may block a GPS signal going into space.
But we haven’t covered all of the bases with GPS pet trackers, so let’s discuss them now.
There are some basic questions we can ask to find out which pet tracker is right for you:
1. What size are your pets? GPS pet trackers can be cumbersome for smaller pets, so you want to make sure you choose the appropriate size. They’re generally not a discomfort, but they are definitely for larger/heavier pets.
2. Where do you live? If you live in a rural area, is it flat, without much blockage, or is it a heavily wooded area? This can make a significant difference, as you may want to choose an RF pet tracker instead.
3. How technically savvy are you? Let’s be honest, some technology is hard to figure out and is not something you want to do when your pet is missing. Some pet tracking companies offer reliable customer support, and some don’t offer that type of support. Some pet trackers are easy to start using straight out of the box and have 1-click technology when it comes to finding your pet such as the Marco Polo Pet Monitoring System. Others offer GPS features but require a bit more effort to setup such as the Tagg Pet GPS Plus and the Tractive GPS Pet tracker.
4. How will you be receiving the GPS data? If you’d rather hop on the computer and go to the company’s website than pay a monthly fee for an app service, that’s something you need to know. At the same time, some companies offer free apps with less capabilities, which may provide all the information you need.
You may be wondering, what are some of the best pet trackers out there?
I have reviewed the best of them, and some of them are great and some of them are really quite exceptional. It ultimately comes down to your own needs, the kind of features you want, and the value for money offered. I’ve really simplified the process for you. You can read my Pet Tracker Reviews here.
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