Radar Detector Buying Guide

When you have a hard time keeping your car under the speed limit, or you just spend a lot of time on the road, radar detectors can come in handy. These little electronic devices fit right on your dashboard and monitor the area around you to look for law enforcement. Radar detectors emit a warning alarm to let you know when you're in the presence of police.

Types of Radar Detectors

Radar detectors automatically monitor radar frequencies found near your vehicle to let you know beforehand that you might run into a police officer. The most common type of detector used by drivers in their personal vehicles is a corded detector. These come with cords that you need to plug into available ports and outlets in your vehicle. Many also come with suction cups that let you mount the detector on your dashboard or windshield.

Moving a corded radar detector between vehicles is hard because you need to unplug everything, remove the suction cups and then install the detector in your second vehicle. Cordless radar detectors, also known as wireless radar detectors, are a suitable alternative. These radar detectors provide all the help that you need without requiring any cords.

Depending on where you live and where you drive, you might opt for a remote mounted radar detector. Unlike other models that you can unplug and take with you, companies permanently mount these models right inside your car. You can usually mount one underneath your console or in another out of the way spot that burglars cannot see from outside your car. Some companies also offer custom models that let you pick all the features you want and where you want the detector installed in your vehicle.

Pay Attention to

Sensitivity and range

A radar detector that can only monitor the 100 feet surrounding your car will not provide you with as much help as you need. You should look for one that offers more sensitivity and a higher or larger range. This forces the detector to search for frequencies within 1,000 feet or more from your vehicle and to detect lighter frequencies that some police departments use.

Band detection

Police departments across the country used the X-band for a number of years, but many law enforcement officials now use the Ka-band or the K-band. You should choose a radar detector that can monitor and search for all three types of bands. Some newer designs will even monitor for the bands used by police in other countries.

City and noise modes

City and noise modes are new features that come on some models. The city mode automatically filters out any city noises and sounds that might otherwise pop up as an alert. A noise mode will automatically turn off the radio in your car to let you hear the alert coming through.

GPS

If you have a hard time keeping your speed under the posted limit, you might consider a combination radar detector and GPS unit. These devices function in the same way as both devices do. You can enter directions when traveling or driving to a new destination, but the device will also inform you of frequencies it detects and monitor your current speed. Some even let you know when you go faster than the posted speed limit.

Voice alerts

While many models feature LCD screens that help you better see alerts and warnings both during the day and at night, other models now come with voice alerts. Those alerts inform you of any frequencies it detects or problems it sees without requiring that you look at the screen.

Price

Finding a radar detector that fits your budget is easier than you might guess. The price range on these units is between $50 and more than $500. More expensive models often come with more features and are easier to use. Custom models cost even more.

Top Brands and Product Lines

Escort

Escort is the manufacturer behind the Passport line of radar detectors. Unlike other models that you must install and then download software before using, the Passport is a line of plug and play radar detectors. You simply plug in the included cords before taking off down the open road. Escort also makes the Solo line, which includes radar detectors that work without any wires or cords.

Whistler

Keep track of traffic and police officers on the road with radar detectors from Whistler. The company makes a number of devices that include features like a green screen that helps you see the information provided easier, software that automatically detects any frequencies that other detectors might identify as police and designs that can identify the signals and frequencies used by police departments in other countries.

Cobra

Some of the newest radar detectors released by Cobra now let you connect your smartphone to your radar detector for ease of use while on vacation. The SPX Series includes the most expensive models, but that line incorporates extra features like a camera detector, full color LCD screen and voice alerts. Cobra makes and sells more affordable models under its ESD line.

Beltronics

With decades of experience making radar detectors for customers, Beltronics is one of the most popular brands around. The devices that it makes fit right on your dashboard or windshield and are up to 60% more accurate than the detectors released by other companies. Many come with features like brightness settings, voice alerts and mute options that adjust the volume to keep you aware of police vehicles ahead.