Cellular VS Satellite Remote Tank Level Monitoring

Is satellite better than cellular for remote tank level monitoring?It’s a question as old as the Internet. Cellular and Satellite communications have been battling it out for a couple of decades now – which in today’s world of lightning fast technological advancement feels like an eternity. Will one ever supplant the other? Is there a king of communications for remote monitoring technology out there?

Well, sorry to disappoint so soon, but in the world of remote tank level monitoring, there have been no coronation ceremonies. The title of this article was used as a cheap marketing ploy to get you to read it.

To be completely honest, the question can’t be answered superficially. But, while we have your attention, let’s explore some of the pros and cons of each technology so that you can make a more informed decision when you have to make this choice.

Round 1: Coverage

Many tank operators have tanks spread out over wide geographical regions, and some of these tanks are located in remote areas. While cellular coverage has improved over the years, there are still some areas throughout the world, even in North America, that don’t have coverage. Or, while one service provider may cover some areas where tanks are located, you may have to use a different provider for others. As you might expect, using multiple service providers can get complicated and frustrating.

Satellite, on the other hand, covers just about every square foot of land on Earth; and you can get that kind of coverage from a single provider. So as far as coverage goes, Satellite is the clear winner.

Round 2: Data Transmission

This one has more to do with how much the data will cost rather than technological limitations. With satellite, data comes at a premium so if you are running an operation that requires a lot of information from your sensors, get ready to spend a lot. If you are only looking for one level reading per day, the costs for Satellite ends up being pretty comparable to cellular.

However, with cellular, you are not as limited to how much data you can use. Just like the data plan for your smart phone, you can add more data to your plan for your remote tank level operation. The cost for this extra data is not nearly as much as you would end up paying for satellite.

Round 3: Hardware Costs

Again, satellite devices typically cost quite a bit more than cellular modems. Cellular modems typically cost in the lower hundred dollar range while satellite devices are in the upper hundreds. If your budget does not allow for the high cost of satellite, cellular is the better option.

So depending on your application it may be wiser to choose one type of communication technology over the other. For example, if you have a tank farm with all of your tanks covered by cellular networks, then save yourself some money and go the cellular route. But if you have tanks spread out across a continent or all over the world, you may choose a single satellite provider rather than deal with multiple cellular companies.

If you have experience with, or if you have questions about, cellular and satellite communications with tank level monitoring then please, feel free to give us a call. We would love to hear from you.


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