Hard-Wired Devices: How long will my back-up battery last?

Hard-wired GPS trackers have been on the market for a long time, and are a great choice for installing in a vehicle, where a power source is readily available. But we know that this is not always the case. We might want to track an asset that has no power source available (like a container or bin).
Or we simply can't wire to the power source. It might not be our asset, there might be regulatory hoops to jump through, or it might just be too much effort and we'd rather go to the beach.

We manufacture a wide range of world leading battery powered devices just for this reason! However despite the exceptional battery life on offer (up to 10 years on some models) - there are ultimately limitations to a battery powered unit. 

  • The battery will eventually run out. Usually that is after long enough that it's not a problem. Hard-wired devices are more 'set and forget' as we know we should always have power. 
  • We can't track highly aggressively on battery power. Our hard-wired vehicle trackers will keep their GPS and modem on constantly while on the move - providing 'live updates' - this isn't feasible on battery powered devices, which must wake up periodically to get a position.
  • Some features like accident/rollover detection and harsh driving events only make sense on hard-wired devices.

So for this reason, some applications will require a hard-wired device. These devices should be installed with a constant power source. However, they are fitted with rechargeable Lithium Polymer back up batteries. The back up batteries means that the device can remain powered if external power is disconnected, and send an alert that this has happened. Additionally it allows for tracking for some time after a device has been removed/tampered with. 

Some users might want to install a device in a situation where external power is only provided part of the time, for example:

  • Installing a device inside trailer lights - picking up power when the trailer is connected. 
  • Installing a device in combination with a solar panel - which only provides power during daylight hours. 

In general, we don't recommend this, as it can't be guaranteed that the device will stay powered. The Falcon has the ability to be powered by line power and have 3 x AA batteries installed. It will fall back to these if the line power is cut - this can be a good option, or the Remora2 has stacks of battery power!

But if you want to do it anyway, it is handy to know how long the back up batteries will last to see if an application is feasible. It also just helps to know anyway in case of device tampering, so we know for how long the device will still track after being unplugged. 


Dart2

Back Up Battery Size200mAh
Power usage - heartbeat upload~0.5mAh per upload
Power usage - GPS Freshen ~15-30mAh
The device wakes every 2hrs and freshens it's GPS data. This uses up to 30mAh daily
Current draw - in trip and tracking (GPS + Modem on)~25-50mA draw 

Battery Life

So taking the upper end of these approximate values. We can give a few estimates:

Maximum Life
Device sitting still, we have adjusted the default parameters and set it to only heartbeat once daily. Per day we would use around 30mAh - so we would get around 6 and a half day's life, from full charge.

Defaults - Sitting Still:
With hourly heartbeats but the device is stationary, this becomes 42mAh daily, so just under 5 days life.

On the move:
When constantly driving, we would get 4-8hrs until the internal battery goes flat.


G62 and G120

Back Up Battery Size1100mAh
Power usage - heartbeat upload~0.5mAh per upload
Power usage - GPS Freshen~15-30mAh
The device wakes every 2hrs and freshens it's GPS data. This uses up to 30mAh daily
Current draw - in trip and tracking (GPS + Modem on)~25-50mA draw 

Battery Life

Maximum Life:
Device stationary with 1 daily heartbeat. Approx 1 month of life.

Defaults - sitting still
With hourly heartbeats - we should see around 25 days life.

On the move:
Constantly driving, we would get around 1 day of tracking before the internal battery goes flat.

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