Whether you want to have SiriusXM access, primarily plan to use with Foreflight, or are under a tight budget, there is an ADS-B receiver for you.
Best ADS-B Receivers
- Top Pick: Stratux ADS-B, “You’ll struggle to find a pilot who has a bad word to say about the Stratux ADS-B”
- Runner-Up: Garmin GDL 50, “Comes with more features than any other ADS-B receiver”
- Budget Pick: Scout Dual-Band, “No GPS or backup attitude, but very compact, aircraft powered, and great for pilots on a budget”
- Best for SiriusXM: Garmin GDL 52, “If you want a receiver with SiriusXM, look no further than the Garmin GDL 52”
- Best for ForeFlight: Sentry ADS-B, “Designed specifically with the ForeFlight in mind, the Sentry has a 12-hour battery life, plenty of features and even a CO monitor”
In This Article
5 Top-Rated ADS-B Receivers
Top Pick: Stratux ADS-B
A very popular receiver which is almost unanimously praised by pilots for everything from its reliability and features to the company's customer service$239.99 USD
You’ll struggle to find a pilot who has a bad word to say about the Stratux ADS-B Dual Band Receiver. It is one of the most inexpensive options but also manages to be one of the best. Customer support is also excellent.
Optimized for 978 MHz and 1090 MHz, you are able to receive and display air-to-air traffic, data, and FIS-B weather including animated regional and CONUS NEXRAD, METARs, TAFs, AIR/SIGMETs, PIREPs, winds and temps aloft, TFRs, NOTAMs, and SUA information.
It is compatible with pretty much everything out there, including ForeFlight, FlyQ EFB, Navigator, AvNav, WingX, Avare EFB, FltPlan Go, DroidEFB, AerovieReports, Avplan EFB, iFly GPS, DroidEFB, OzRunways EFB.
ADS-B traffic and weather information, and navigation GPS position using internal GPYes WAAS GPS receiver are all provided. Multiple devices are also supported when connected via WiFi, including iPhones, iPads and Android tablets.
Stratux ADS-B Key Features
- High-gain dmurray14 antennas optimized for 978 MHz and 1090 MHz
- Extensive EFB compatibility
- Wide Area Augmentation (WAAS) GPS, subscription-free ADS-B weather and air-to-air traffic
Runner-Up: Garmin GDL 50
The GDL-50 is one of the more expensive options but comes with more features than any other ADS-B receiver$749.00 USD
Compatible with a wide range of apps, the Garmin GDL 50 is designed to let you access the subscription-free ADS-B weather and traffic services available in the U.S. — all while providing GPS position, speed and altitude information as well as backup attitude reference. You can display animated graphical weather plus METARs, TAFs, winds and temperatures aloft, PIREPs, NOTAMs.
The TerminalTraffic feature is a great addition that shows which aircraft trajectories are most likely to converge with your own. As is being able to receive ADS-B position reports directly from other aircraft in your vicinity. Traffic targets are announced both audibly and visually.
The GDL 50 uses a rechargeable built-in lithium-ion battery that provides up to 8 hours of continuous operation.
Garmin GDL-50 Key Features
- Receive subscription-free animated U.S. datalink weather
- TargetTrend and TerminalTraffic technology
- 8 hours of continuous operation
- Provides GPS position data, backup altitude
- Compatible with Garmin Pilot, Garmin GPSs, ForeFlight, FltPlan Go
Budget Pick: Scout Dual-Band
No GPS or backup attitude, but very compact, aircraft powered, and great for pilots on a budget$199.00 USD
The Scout Dual-Band is the best budget ADS-B receiver. Due to its low price point it does lack a couple of features. But if you’re looking to save some money and do not need GPS data nor backup attitude (AHRS), it’s the smart choice.
You are able to receive and display ADS-B traffic and weather on the ForeFlight Mobile app, as well as FIS-B weather and data.
Contributing to its very compact size, there is no internal battery, so you will need to connect it to any external portable 5V USB battery or existing USB power source in your aircraft for operation.
Scout Dual-Band Key Features
- Connects to any external portable 5V USB battery or existing USB power source in your aircraft
- Integrated Wi-Fi supports up to 4 iOS devices
- Very compact
Best for SiriusXM: Garmin GDL 52
If you want a receiver with SiriusXM, look no further than the Garmin GDL 52$1,199.00 USD
The main reason to choose the Garmin GDL 52 over the GDL 50 or any other receiver is down to its support of SiriusXM – something that many pilots just won’t go without. Besides this, it has all the features one has come to love from the GDL 50.
Best for ForeFlight: Sentry ADS-B
Designed specifically with the ForeFlight in mind, the Sentry has a 12-hour battery life, plenty of features and even a CO monitor$499.00 USD
Designed specifically for ForeFlight, the Sentry ADS-B Receiver packs a lot of punch for its size and price, allowing you to receive and display ADS-B traffic, weather, and flight information in the ForeFlight Mobile app.
It is compact – no larger than a deck of cards in fact, and a single charge provides 12 hours of continuous operation. The onboard memory can support up to 30 minutes of FIS-B data and saves important information such as animated radar and other weather data.
The built-in carbon monoxide sensor and alarming system is a nice addition and certainly a unique feature in an ADS-B receiver. The LED indicator provides a visual indication of CO levels, and when hazardous levels are reached you are warned with an audio and in-app alert.
Sentry ADS-B Key Features
- Integrated CO monitor and alarm
- 12 hours of continuous battery life
- Built-in WAAS GPS, Backup Altitude (AHRS), Barometer
- Weather replay and cockpit sharing
Who Should Buy an ADS-B Receiver
If you want to receive and display GPS position, subscription-free weather, ADS-B traffic and optional backup attitude information an ADS B receiver is a must. These compact devices are therefore considered an indispensable accessory for any pilot to make their journey more straightforward.
Important Features to Consider
- EFB Compatibility
Some ADS-B receivers are specifically designed for ForeFlight, while others aren’t as limited and are compatible with a very wide of EFB’s. It’s therefore a good idea to know for sure the compatibility you will need. It is often better to start with compatibility in mind instead of working backwards, especially as some receivers are designed specifically for use with a certain EFB.
- Battery Life
There are two factors to consider when it comes to batteries: mode of operation and battery life. If you would prefer to cut down on the number of wires in your cockpit or need a backup receiver, one that is powered by the aircraft is the right choice. If not, consider how many hours of continuous operation you want before having to recharge.
All ADS-B receivers are relatively compact, but if you want a truly lightweight pocket-sized device there are only a couple you should consider.
Just like aviation headsets, one of the largest factors in your decision will come down to price. The Stratux is an exceptional receiver for the money and we don’t suggest you go much lower than this. Conversely, there isn’t necessarily always a whole lot to be gained if you spend into the thousands.
- Additional Features
Some receivers have more practical additional features like a carbon monoxide detector, while others are more focused on entertainment. The Sentry, for example, has the former while the Garmin GDL 52 has the latter with its SiriusXM support.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is an ADS-B receiver and what does it stand for?
ADS-B stands for automatic dependent surveillance – broadcast. These receivers do exactly what they say on the tin. They are automatic because no pilot or external input is required. They are dependent in the sense that they depend on data from the aircraft’s navigation system. And this surveillance is broadcast to aircraft and ATC.
What is the difference between ADS-B In and ADS-B Out?
ADS-B Out is used for tracking aircraft. Your aircraft’s position, velocity and altitude are reported and received by ATC and nearby aircraft.
ADS-B In allows an aircraft to receive transmissions from ADS-B ground stations and other aircraft. There is no mandate for In receivers, but there is for Out.
Does ABS-B replace radar?
While ADS-B may replace a number of secondary radars it is still unable to replace all of them. When it comes to primary radar ADS-B neither does nor will not replace it.
Does ADS-B Work on the Ground?
Yes, ADS-B works on the ground – but only to an extent. An ADS-B receiver may work just like any other GPS receiver, but you probably won’t be able to get the weather unless you have a clear line of sight.
Do drones need ADS-B?
While all aircraft in the USA and Canada will be required to have ADS-B by 2020 this does not apply to drones. This is direct from the FAA
Do you need WAAS for ADS-B?
WAAS is not required for ADS-B but it is good to have for practical purposes. It is considered to be more precise than GPS due to its better accuracy and integrity of position estimates.
What is the coverage range of ADS-B receivers like?
While the range is largely dependent on your altitude and how good your line of sight is, you can typically expect a range of approximately 150 miles according to the FAA.
What’s the difference between 1090 MHz and 978 MHz?
Due to concerns about frequency congestion, 1090 MHz and 978 MHz frequencies must be used to meet ADS-B requirements.
The main thing to consider is whether you fly outside the US and/on above 18,000 feet. If the answer is yes to etiher, 1090 MHz is mandatory.