Choosing between SpotOn and Invisible Fence for your dog can be a difficult decision. Both are wireless, GPS-based systems that allow you to set up custom, dog-proof boundaries around your property without installing physical fences. However, there are some key differences when it comes to technology, cost, convenience, and more.
This comprehensive guide will compare the pros and cons of SpotOn and Invisible Fence to help you determine which wireless dog fence system is the right choice for you and your pup.
A Quick Overview of SpotOn and Invisible Fence
Before diving into the details, let’s do a quick comparison overview of these two leading wireless dog fence systems:
- Uses GPS location tracking and geofencing technology
- Boundaries set up via mobile app on your smartphone
- Collar uses tones and static correction
- Rechargeable collar battery
- Multiple collars can use same boundary
- Can track dogs outside of yard boundaries
- Uses buried wire emitting radio signal to mark boundaries
- Professional installation required to bury wire
- Collar uses tones and static correction
- Proprietary non-rechargeable battery
- Multiple collars can use same boundary
- Cannot track dogs if they leave the boundary
Now let’s look at the key differences and similarities in more depth.
How They Work: GPS vs Buried Wire Technology
The most significant difference between SpotOn and Invisible Fence is the underlying technology they use to establish boundaries and correct dogs that cross them.
SpotOn Relies on GPS and Geofencing
With advanced GPS and geofencing technology, SpotOn allows you to establish customizable boundaries anywhere, like setting up a temporary virtual fence at the park. The rechargeable SpotOn collar has a built-in GPS receiver, similar to those found in smart collars like the Whistle GPS Pet Tracker.
After syncing the collar with the SpotOn mobile app, you can use the app to walk the perimeter you want to set as the “fence”. The collar maps the GPS coordinates as you walk. This allows you to establish irregular, customized boundaries instead of just simple circles.
Once the virtual boundary is set, the collar uses real-time GPS tracking to monitor the dog’s location. As the dog approaches the edge of the designated zone, the collar first gives an audible tone warning. If the dog continues, it administers a mild static correction to deter them from crossing the line.
You can also use the mobile app to see your dog’s current location in real-time, even when outside of the yard’s boundaries. This allows you to track them down if they ever do wander off or escape.
Invisible Fence Uses a Buried Wire
The Invisible Fence brand relies on a physical wire emitting a radio signal, like some GPS collars for hunting dogs. The wire is buried around the perimeter you want to set as the boundary, requiring professional installation.
The wire emits a radio signal of a certain frequency. The Invisible Fence collar worn by the dog has a receiver tuned to pick up that specific signal frequency.
When the dog reaches the buried cable, the collar first gives them an audible tone warning. If they continue past the line, the collar delivers a mild static correction.
This means there is a distinct, physical barrier line that the dogs learn they cannot cross. However, it requires professional installation to bury the wire in a continuous loop around your property.
Boundary Flexibility and Adjustments
A key advantage of SpotOn’s GPS geofencing system is the ability to easily adjust boundaries and set up “fences” in multiple locations.
Because it relies purely on technology built into the collar, you can change the size and shape of your yard’s boundaries at any time through the mobile app. You can also save and quickly switch between boundaries for different areas, like your home yard, a vacation property, the park, etc.
With Invisible Fence, changing the size or shape of your boundary requires digging up the wire and re-burying it along the new perimeter. While professional installers can handle this, it does involve an extra service call and fee.
The buried wire also makes it difficult to establish temporary boundaries in other locations the way you can with SpotOn. Overall, SpotOn provides a much more flexible and customizable experience.
Correction Methods: Tones and Static Stimulation
Both SpotOn and Invisible Fence use a combination of audible tones and static correction to train dogs to remain in the designated zone.
In both systems, the first warning a dog receives when approaching the boundary is an audible tone from the collar. This tone gets more high-pitched the closer they get to the boundary line.
This allows the dog to learn over time where the warning sound means they are getting too close to the edge. With consistency, they learn to retreat when they hear the tone before ever needing the static correction.
If the audible tone is ignored, both collars deliver a mild static stimulation similar to a static shock you might get from shuffling your feet on carpet.
The stimulation level can be adjusted to the minimum needed to get your dog’s attention, similar to settings on collars like the SportDOG Brand Training Collars.
Both systems have features to automatically stop correcting a dog after the initial stimulation if they retreat back into the safe zone. This prevents repeatedly shocking your dog once they learn to turn around.
Overall, Invisible Fence and SpotOn take very similar approaches to making the boundaries known through warning tones and progressive static levels. Both are designed to be humane, just mildly unpleasant enough to teach your dog proper limits.
Battery Life and Charging
One advantage of the SpotOn system is its rechargeable lithium-ion battery, like those found in devices such as the Tile Bluetooth Tracker.
The SpotOn collar battery typically lasts anywhere from 2-7 days on a single charge depending on usage. When it runs low, you simply remove the battery pack and plug it into any USB charging cable.
By comparison, Invisible Fence uses a proprietary non-rechargeable battery pack that must be professionally replaced. These batteries tend to last about 2-3 months before needing replacement.
Recharging the SpotOn collar as needed is much more convenient and cost effective than buying replacement batteries every couple of months. However, Invisible Fence users report the convenience of not having to regularly remove and charge a separate collar battery.
Initial Cost and Installation
One of the biggest differences between SpotOn vs Invisible Fence is the process of getting set up with the system initially:
- Collar kit starts at $1495
- DIY installation
- Set boundaries through mobile app
- No buried wires or transmitters
- Professionally installed starting at $1200
- Installer buries wire loop and sets up transmitter
- Installation cost varies based on property size
The cost of the Invisible Fence equipment itself is actually a bit cheaper than SpotOn’s upfront price. However, you must also factor in the cost of professional installation.
This involves a certified Invisible Fence dealer coming to your property to assess the layout, bury the wire around the perimeter, and set up the transmitter box. Installation costs vary based on the size of the area being enclosed and other factors, but often add $500-$1000+ to the total initial investment.
Invisible Fence installation also takes 1-2 days with workers digging trenches around your property. The installers can work around gardens and landscaping, but it does involve a minor disruption.
With SpotOn, the collar kit itself contains everything you need get started. You simply charge up the included collar, use the mobile app to map out your boundary, and begin training your dog. For DIY homeowners, this convenience factor may be worth the higher equipment cost.
Expandability and Additional Collars
A nice benefit of both SpotOn and Invisible Fence is that the initial investment covers the complete system for your property. No additional equipment is needed to expand the system down the road.
If you get an additional dog, you simply buy a new collar and sync it to your existing boundary setup. All dogs will be contained by the same wireless fence perimeter you establish.
For Invisible Fence, this means buying a new collar and having the stimulation level calibrated by an installer to fit that dog.
SpotOn allows you to adjust static levels yourself through the mobile app. But for both, you get the convenience of adding more pets to your system without added construction or wires.
Monitoring and Tracking Capabilities
A key distinction between SpotOn vs Invisible Fence is what happens if your dog does wander past the boundary or escape the yard.
SpotOn uses real-time GPS tracking to continuously monitor your dog’s location. If your dog leaves the designated zone, you will receive alerts on your mobile device thanks to the GPS in the collar.
You can then open the app and view your dog’s current location to know exactly where to go recover them. The mobile app also shows your dog’s location history over the past 24 hours so you can retrace their steps.
Invisible Fence relies entirely on the buried wire perimeter to contain your dog in the yard. If your dog leaves the yard, the system cannot track or locate them like SpotOn can. You will need to rely on sight, hearing, or other tracking methods to hunt them down.
For dogs that are determined escape artists, the GPS tracking capability SpotOn provides can offer valuable peace of mind that you can find your pet if they outsmart the system.
Professional Monitoring Service
Both SpotOn and Invisible Fence offer optional 24/7 professional monitoring services for an additional monthly subscription fee.
With professional monitoring activated, designated contacts will be alerted by phone if your dog leaves the designated zone. This provides an extra layer of protection beyond just relying on the mobile app alerts.
Some key differences in the monitoring service:
- SpotOn: $9.95/month, uses GPS to track location
- Invisible Fence: $10-$30/month, can only confirm dog left boundary
The GPS tracking again gives SpotOn an advantage here – professional monitors can provide more detailed updates and insights compared to Invisible Fence’s boundary-based alerts.
However, both offer helpful extra support and supervision for extremely determined escape artists or families who travel frequently.
Choosing the Right System for Your Dog
While SpotOn and Invisible Fence work very similarly in terms of static correction methods, there are some important differences to consider based on your specific needs and situation.
When SpotOn is the Better Choice
- You want total flexibility to adjust boundary shape and size
- You travel frequently between multiple properties
- Your yard has an irregular shape
- Your dog is an escape artist
- You want to be able to track your dog’s location
When Invisible Fence is the Better Choice
- You want a professional installation with buried wire
- You need a perfectly circular boundary
- Your yard is small with little extra room to spare
- Your dog respects boundaries well already
- Upfront cost is a significant factor
For most homeowners, SpotOn provides the most customizable experience and useful features like GPS tracking. But Invisible Fence can also be a “set it and forget it” solution, especially for dogs unlikely to test the boundaries.
Key Takeaways from Our SpotOn and Invisible Fence Comparison
- SpotOn uses GPS technology while Invisible Fence relies on a buried wire perimeter.
- SpotOn boundaries are flexible, customizable and portable while Invisible Fence requires professional installation.
- Both use progressive tones and static correction to train dogs to stay within set limits.
- SpotOn offers convenient rechargeable batteries while Invisible Fence has replaceable proprietary batteries.
- SpotOn costs more upfront but requires no installation; Invisible Fence has lower equipment cost but installation fees apply.
- Both allow expanding the system with additional collars without added construction or wires.
- SpotOn can track your dog’s location if they escape; Invisible Fence cannot.
- Optional professional monitoring is available with both systems for an additional monthly subscription cost.
Frequently Asked Questions
How big of a yard do you need for wireless fences?
Both SpotOn and Invisible Fence can accommodate properties of any size, although very small urban yards under 1/4 acre will limit the roaming space. The ideal setup is a 1/2 acre or larger.
Are wireless dog fences humane?
When used properly following training guidelines, wireless fences like these are considered extremely humane. The static correction is mild and designed to get your dog’s attention, not harm them. It is paired with audible warnings to teach boundaries.
How accurate is the GPS technology?
SpotOn boasts accuracy similar to trackers like the LandAirSea 54 GPS Tracker, within 2-3 feet using advanced dual band GPS. Invisible Fence depends on the buried wire location rather than live GPS.
Can the collars get wet?
Both SpotOn and Invisible Fence collars are waterproof and can be worn while swimming or in the rain. The electrical components are protected inside the durable outer shell.
What happens if the power goes out?
With Invisible Fence, a power outage results in the wire no longer emitting a signal, so dogs would be able to cross with no correction. SpotOn’s GPS technology continues working despite power outages. Backup batteries are available.
Can the collar be used for more than one dog?
No – each dog needs their own collar programmed and fitted to them. Sharing one collar risks the static correction being ineffective or ignoring warning tones.
How long does training take?
Training varies per dog, but most show significant improvement within 2-4 weeks of consistent daily training sessions following the program guidelines. Stubborn dogs may take longer.
The Bottom Line
While both provide an effective “invisible barrier” around your yard, SpotOn’s technology ultimately provides more flexibility, customization, and control through real-time GPS tracking.
However, Invisible Fence can also work very well, especially for low-risk dogs or small, simple properties. Take time to consider your unique needs and challenges to decide if the latest GPS technology or a professionally-installed physical perimeter is right for your pet.
Whichever containment system you choose, be sure to properly train your dog using the included guidelines so they can enjoy safe, pleasant freedom in your wireless backyard oasis.