It doesn’t matter who you are; we all are prone to having a ‘LEAD FOOT’ every once in a while, right?
However, avoid getting into trouble with the police if you speed often; get yourself a reliable radar detector today.
Speed traps are a nightmare to motorists wishing to test how fast their rides can go. The best radar detector will warn you way before you approach a speed trap (Source).
This gives you ample time to adjust your speed accordingly, hence avoid getting a speeding ticket. A good radar detector should be able to balance sensitivity and filtering (commonly referred to as signal rejection).
Radars can’t see over corners or through hills. They also can’t see you if you’re behind another car. When you’re in the open, how strongly your vehicle reflects will depend on the distance of the radar from your car, as well as your vehicle’s size (Source).
If you are looking for additional tools consider buying a bidirectional scan tool as it reads the error codes on your engine that cause the check engine light to come up. The real power of the bidirectional tool comes from the fact that it can send directional commands to the module in your car.
Ideally, one should buy a radar detector with sensitive radio, tuned precisely to frequency bands used by all traffic radars; X band, K band, and KA band.
Are Radar Detectors Legal for Use?
Table of Contents
- 1 Are Radar Detectors Legal for Use?
- 2 1. Valentine One – The Best Radar Detector for the Money
- 3 2. Escort Passport 9500 iX – All-Round Performer for City and Highway Driving
- 4 3. Uniden R3 – Extreme Range & Coverage
- 5 4. Escort Max 360 – Record Response Time & Great Value for the Money
- 6 5. Beltronics GT-7 – Several Driving Modes & Easy to Use
- 7 6. Radenso XP Radar & Laser Detector – The Best Radar Detector Under $400
- 8 7. Cobra Electronics RAD 350 Radar – Best Radar Detector Under $100
- 9 8. Beltronics RX65 Red Professional Series – Best Radar Detector Under $200
- 10 9. Beltronics STI Magnum – Simple Design, Yet Effective
- 11 10. Whistler CR93 – Great Combo Radar/Laser Detector
- 12 1. The Type of Detector
- 13 2. Reputable Brands
- 14 3. Range and Distance
- 15 4. Coverage
- 16 5. Usability
- 17 6. What Can It Detect?
- 18 7. Additional Features
- 19 FAQ About Radar Detectors
- 19.1 Q: How do radar detectors work?
- 19.2 Q: How do radar guns work?
- 19.3 Q: How do laser guns work?
- 19.4 Q: How do radar detectors differ from radar jammers?
- 19.5 Q: How do laser detectors differ from laser jammers?
- 19.6 Q: Why doesn’t my radar detector go off sometimes when I drive past a cop?
- 19.7 Q: Does a radar detector work if the cop car is moving?
- 19.8 Q: Can police officers read my speed if I am behind their car?
- 19.9 Q: Where is the optimal place to position a radar detector?
- 19.10 Q: When driving on the highway sometimes, why does my detector go off when I don’t see a cop?
- 19.11 Q: What is selectivity and how does it differ from sensitivity?
- 19.12 Q: Are there false alerts and what to do against them?
- 19.13 Related Posts
Radar detectors are legal in passenger vehicles in most states across the USA, except in Washington D.C and Virginia. In Canada, it’s legal to use a radar detector on public roads in Saskatchewan, British Columbia, and Alberta.
One may ask: What will happen if I’m caught in Virginia? The times when they have confiscated radar detectors are now gone as the law has been relaxed in recent years. Instead, they just write down the serial number of your detector.
Furthermore, radar detectors aren’t legal on military bases. They are also not allowed in commercial trucks that weigh over 10,000 pounds regardless of the location.
Want to know more on radar detector whether it is legal or not in USA, check out the review here.
Comparing the Best Radar Detectors
|Escort Passport 9500 iX|
|Escort Max 360|
|Radenso XP Radar & Laser Detector|
|Cobra Electronics RAD 350|
|Beltronics RX65 Red Professional Series|
|Beltronics STI Magnum|
1. Valentine One – The Best Radar Detector for the MoneyThe Valentine One is one of the best radar detectors for vehicles today. The effectiveness and performance of this gadget may be attributed to the fact that it is equipped with two antennae.
As a matter of fact, the only other competitor to the Valentine One that has two antennae is the Bel STi Driver. As opposed to the Bel STi Driver, the antennae in the Valentine One detector face different directions. How is this relevant, you must be wondering?
Having the antennae facing different directions not only allows the detector to offer the best rear detection; it also enhances the accuracy of the device.
This being the case, the Valentine One detector can accurately pinpoint the direction the detected signal is coming from. This is made possible by the directional arrows fitted on the device. It is these arrows that turn and point to the direction the threat signal is coming from.
Why The Valentine One Is Our Top Pick
The objective of Mike Valentine while founding the company was to produce the only radar detectors motorists would have to buy. To make this a reality, the company offers a continuous upgrade path for both the firmware and the hardware on the Valentine One detector. Although it is still the best detector today, the Valentine 1 detector has retained the same price tag for about 27 years now.
Over the years, the manufacturer has applied various upgrades to this model methodically. Hence, this detector can pick up an array of signals, including X, Ka, K, Super Wideband Ka, and Ku band signals. Similarly, this gadget features a 360-degrees protection against the various laser types, too.
2. Escort Passport 9500 iX – All-Round Performer for City and Highway DrivingAlthough the 9500 iX is an outgoing model in the Escort iX series, its place in the industry is still unshakable. Based on several research findings, the Passport 9500 iX is still the best selling unit of all times.
Rather than focusing on a specific feature, the manufacturer designed an all-round performer with the passport 9500 iX radar detector. In this regard, this gadget is equipped with the essential features to make it one of the best detectors for city and highway driving today.
Owing to its impeccable anti-falsing capabilities, the 9500 iX does not require the “all-digital” processing technology being used by the manufacturer on its Max series detectors.
Even without All-Digital signal filtering, the 9500 iX detector is a decent performer, with regards to filtering out K-band false alarms. The K-band false alarms are commonly produced by automotive collision avoidance systems being used in cars today.
Reviewing the Escort Passport 9500 iX Further
One of the things you will love this gadget for is its built-in GPS. According to leading experts, the GPS system being used in this model is still the best and most capable in the industry.
This being the case, this Escort radar detector offers reliable GPS satellite connections and precise geo-positioning. Like the Valentine one detector, this detector can also be Ka-band segmented. Additionally, this gadget offers quick response. As such, it is capable of detecting the rather elusive instant-on radar signals.
Being the all-round performer that is, this device is specifically designed to balance advanced filtering with sheer sensitivity and signal rejection. This detector comes with a quick-release magnate mount, which enhances its convenience.
3. Uniden R3 – Extreme Range & CoverageThe Uniden radar manufacturing company is fairly new in the industry. Since its introduction to the market, the company has taken the industry by a storm with two innovative and functional products; the Uniden R1 and of course the Uniden R3.
Regardless of the odds, Uniden has succeeded in producing a high-performance product with the Uniden R3. As a matter of fact, the performance of this product may be compared to that of the costlier options, such as the Escort Redline radar detector.
As such, you do not need to spend a lot of money to get a high performance and effective radar detector today. In order to achieve this, the model is packed with an array of features. This includes a dedicated filtering system for K-band signals, and an OLED display that is brighter than costlier displays. This unit can literally pick up K and KA signals from miles away.
Why We Absolutely Love the Uniden R3
The Uniden R3 gives you the option to lockout false signals. That way, you don’t have to keep pushing the mute button as you would with other detectors. What we really love about this detector though, is its extreme accuracy. Whether you’re on the highway, on open terrains, or local roads, expect this unit to perform.
Firmware updates are free on the Uniden website, as they are constantly improving with timely updates. If you end up purchasing this unit, make sure to stay up-to-date.
Other features you will love in this gadget include the 360-degree digital signal processor, an inbuilt GPS that offers red light camera alerts as well and free updates for GPS databases.
If you want to reduce false positives and enjoy literally one of the best radar detectors on the market, this is for you. It is quite, full of features, and most importantly, very accurate.
4. Escort Max 360 – Record Response Time & Great Value for the MoneyThe Escort radar detector manufacturer has raised the bar a notch higher again with the new Max 36 radar detector. The new gadget in the Max 360 series is a true marvel for motorists across the country.
To begin with, the new model features the renowned directional indication by the manufacturer. Additionally, the gadget offers record response time, extended range. Such capabilities, coupled with the precise directional alert display make the new Max 360 one of the best detectors for the price.
However, the Escort Max 360 is not just a detector with arrows; it is a gadget full of convenience and performance features. Having been equipped with one of the best GPS systems, this device boasts of an exceptional photo enforcement database in the industry today.
The Escort Max 360 Offers Several Features
The new model is also fitted with built-in Bluetooth, which allows you to pair the device with your Smartphone. As such, the new Escort Max 360 allows for custom, App-based filtering
Additionally, this also allows you to tether your Max 360 detector with the Escort Live crowd-sourcing application by Escort. The exclusive processing performance offered by this gadget may be attributed to the fully digital signal processing technology by the manufacturer.
According to the manufacturer, this technology allows the gadget to filter out most of the K-band signals.
5. Beltronics GT-7 – Several Driving Modes & Easy to UseThe GT-7 Beltronics is one of the few radar detectors you can find today that features an appealing design. As you can see from the image, the exterior construction of the radar detector is solid and aesthetically appealing.
However, the aesthetics of a detector should not be the sole consideration, how does the GT-7 performed when compared to similar gadgets? In addition to the attention-grabbing exterior construction and color scheme, this detector is one of the best performance detectors you can get, within this price range. One of the GT-7 aspects you will like is its ease of use.
In this regard, the gadget is fitted with buttons that are easy to access. The five buttons mounted on top of this radar may be used to control the operation of the unit. You can easily control such aspects as power, volume, SEN, BRT and MRK, using these buttons.
The alert system used on this device is comparatively fast. Again, the alerts given out by the unit are audible, but not too loud to disturb your driving. If you find the alerts a bit irritating, you can use the mute button to silence them.
Why We Love the Beltronics GT-7
This Beltronics radar detector prides itself over a comparatively effective alert system. In this regard, the detector delivers all the information you need, including the signal quality, strength and type.
To make things a bit easier for you, this model is fitted with 3 driving modes, the Auto NO X, Highway and Auto modes. As such, you do not need to adjust the various properties individually, which could be cumbersome and time-consuming.
All you have to do is preset the device to the mode you want with a single push of a button. For instance, you can set your unit to the Auto NO X, if you want it to automatically block false signals caused by x-band signals.
6. Radenso XP Radar & Laser Detector – The Best Radar Detector Under $400Do you need a radar detector that offers the quietest performance and features top-flight sensitivity? If you are in need of such a gadget, the Radenso XP radar and laser detector is a great choice.
What I love most about this gadget is its ability to remember false alarms along the routes you frequent and forget them in future. As a result, you won’t have to put up with the same false alerts as you drive along the same route the second time. This is really innovative of the manufacture, don’t you think?
The Radenso XP Rader and Laser detector may not offer the best sensitivity in the range, but guarantees you a quieter ride. This may be attributed to its effective K-band collision avoidance system.
Also, the fact that it can remember the false alarms along a route you have used before. Again, this gadget is very effective at detecting police radar even when used in a vehicle with a considerable amount of k-band signal pollution.
More on the Radenso XP Radar Detector
The Radenso XP detector is also GPS enabled. As such, it offers better sensitivity, as compared to other detectors in the category, such as the Radenso Pro SE. The latest XP Detector model can also be Ka segmented, which improves its performance exponentially.
The performance of this gadget is backed by a two-year warranty by the manufacturer. It is such reliability, performance and capabilities that make this detector your ideal speeding-ticket protection guarantee.
7. Cobra Electronics RAD 350 Radar – Best Radar Detector Under $100Are you working on a limited budget, but still want to buy a radar detector that offers performance and coverage? Your options may be limited, but the Cobra Electronics RAD 350 is just what you are looking for.
One of the fascinating things about this detector is the fact that it is lightweight, thanks to its black anodized aluminum construction. Additionally, the model is easy to install, adjustable and comparatively durable.
In this regard, the RAD 350 comes with an installation guide as well as the required installation hardware. This device is compatible with most Japanese and American vehicles.
Other reasons that make this unit great
What we love about it is that it detects all radar signals, it is instant-on ready, and automatically reduces false alerts. It has an attractive color display with 7 segments, and a bright display you can see in almost any light situation.
The filtering is pretty good with this detector, and we believe that it has surpassed user expectations, especially for the money. The only drawback we found is that it doesn’t announce the frequency it displays by voice, but that’s not major drawback.
While it is not the best radar detector on the market, it is definitely a phenomenal budget option, being that it is priced just under $100.
8. Beltronics RX65 Red Professional Series – Best Radar Detector Under $200If you are a beginner to radar detectors and are looking for an affordable gadget, this is one of the few detectors you should consider.
Instead of a fancy display, the RX65 only has a few buttons that may be used to control its 3 sensitivity settings. This being the case, the gadget is comparatively easy to control. It is one of the first detectors to have twin forward facing radar antenna. As it has low noise amplifiers, this radar has considerable range.
The Beltronics RX 65 is equipped with 3 main sensitivity settings that are easy to calibrate. These are the City, AutoScan and Highway modes. If you set your unit to the Highway setting, all the filters will be turned off.
As a result, the gadget will only be able to alert you of speed guns that are within a distance of 2 to 4 miles. The AutoScan mode, on the other hand, initiates an internal computer. This computer then applies digital signature processing to differentiate between real and false alerts.
Further Reviewing the Beltronics RX65
A great addition to this device is the audio jack that can be connected to an external speaker, which can be helpful if you are operating a noisy commercial vehicle. This detector is a big favorite among truck drivers. This is mainly because it can overcome most police technology that aims to detect illegal radars.
While this detector is quite affordable, it can also detect laser radars. All in all, the RX 65 features a compact design and is packed with beneficial features. However, the detector does not have GPS, which is a key disadvantage, when compared to similar detectors in the market.
9. Beltronics STI Magnum – Simple Design, Yet EffectiveMany motorists today love this radar detector for its simplicity. It features a compact and portable design. This radar detector has been on the market for over 20 years, and still a favorite by some.
Just like some of the well renowned performance detectors today, the STI Magnum features two antennae. This being the case, the STI Magnum delivers one of the longest detection ranges possible in the industry today.
In addition to the extended range, this gadget is also very sensitive to the various police radar signals. What’s more, the gadget is fitted with sensitivity settings.
These allow you to calibrate a few things, hence boost the sensitivity of your STI Magnum radar detector. With regards to usability, the device has a rather simple display that includes a few buttons. The only downside of this detector is that it lacks GPS.
More on the STI Magnum
Just like the RX65 detector, the STI Magnum is equipped with three sensitivity settings, the Auto No X, Auto and Highway settings. The functioning of these settings is similar to that of the RX 65 settings discussed above.
All in all, this older model is not the best radar out by Beltronics, but it’s definitely a seasoned choice.
10. Whistler CR93 – Great Combo Radar/Laser DetectorIf affordability is your key concern, here is another radar detector you should consider. Although the Whistler CR93 detector is priced below $200, it is radar and laser detector you can rely on.
Currently, Whistler is among the leading manufacturers of detectors. The manufacturer is renowned for producing effective, easy to use, high performance and affordable units. This being the case, buying the CR93 guarantees you a great value for your money.
In addition to the outstanding radar detection capability, this device also features impressive laser detection capabilities. Just as is the case with many other Whistler models, the CR93 can also display police pulse rates. The detector is also fast and capable of detecting police instant-on signals.
More reasons to love this product
This radar detector has a crisp blue display, with beautiful LED lights at the top of the unit. Even in direct sunlight, you should be able to see the display clearly. The voice alert is pretty neat too and not annoying like some other detectors.
Perhaps the best feature about this radar detector is its integrated GPS feature, with a lifetime subscription at no cost to you. Users of this detector experienced a few false readings here and there, but you can simply press the mute button to ignore them. What we do love about this radar is that it gives you lots of time to react to real threats, such as speed cameras and red light cams.
In a recent test, we found that the Whistler CR93 gives you a warning about 20 seconds before you a threat emerges, so you can start slowing down. All in all, it is a big fan favorite.
Things You Must Know Before Buying a Radar Detector
A few years ago, the best radar detector was simply the one that could detect police radar from the farthest distance. However, a lot has changed in traffic enforcement as well as in the radar detector industry over the years.
Owing to technological advancements in the industry, modern radar detectors offer reliable sensitivity. The best radar detectors are capable of detecting and alerting you of police radar at a considerable distance. This will give you ample time to react to the warning; hence avoid being caught over speeding.
Back in the days, the best radar detector was the one that could detect police radar from the farthest distance away. Over the years, a lot has changed in law enforcement as well as in the radar detector industry.
Not only are modern detectors more sensitive, they also offer a vast array of convenience features. This being the case, choosing the right radar detector for your car is not easy.
To ensure that you buy nothing, short of the best, these are some of the aspects you need to consider while choosing one:
1. The Type of Detector
There are two main types of detectors being used in these gadgets today, based on what they can detect. When radar detectors were first unveiled, they were available in only one type, the radar detectors.
To help you choose the right type, here is what you need to know about the two detector types:
These are the basic type of radar detectors today. They are meant to detect and alert you whenever you are approaching a radar gun. Radar guns are commonly used by the police to net speeding motorists. The most basic of the radar detectors are compact in size and do not offer additional features.
If you do not speed a lot, a simple radar detector will help you avoid radar guns. However, such detectors cannot detect the modern speed traps (which are technologically advanced) being used by police today. While this is the case, these are comparatively affordable; hence a good choice for drivers working on a limited budget.
In recent months, there has been an increase in the use of laser speed guns by the police; in an effort to catch speeding drivers. To avoid these, you will need a detector that can actually detect them.
Currently, an increased number of drivers are going for the combination radar/laser in a bid to stay in line with the latest technology speed guns. Such a detector may be a bit expensive, but will help you avoid both the radar as well as the laser speed guns.
Remote, Wired, or Cordless
While choosing between the two types, you may need to know these gadgets may be remote, wired or cordless. The remote type of detectors is permanently mounted on your car, which makes it hard to steal.
However, you will not be able to use it in another car, should you decide to change cars. There are some wired radar detectors that are highly-efficient, regardless of the weather condition. These are commonly attached to the windscreen of the car.
If you are looking for a more mobile option, you should consider buying a wireless unit. The latter is the best choice if you have several cars and do not want to buy a detector for each of them.
Is driving your everyday job? And you feel like constant backache, stiff neck, shoulder muscle tension, and numb bum feeling. It is time to give yourself that much-needed relief by getting a good car seat massager. The car seat massager should be durable, cover your entire back, and reach your focus area.
2. Reputable Brands
Just as is the case as with any other gadget today, there are certain radar detector manufacturers that are renowned for quality and performance.
With so many radar detector brands in the market to choose from, you will find some that offer minimal features on their detectors and others that offer you a decent value for your money.
This is not to say that there can never be a brand better than these; however, the following are some of the leading manufacturers of radar detectors today:
This is one of the most popular radar detector manufacturers today, when it comes to producing some of the high-performance, effective and reliable detectors. As a matter of fact, different detector models by the manufacturer dominate almost every price range for these gadgets today.
Most of the detectors by this manufacturer are a great buy, having been tried and liked by many drivers across the globe.
Whistler is another brand we cannot afford to ignore while reviewing the most popular radar detector manufacturers today. The manufacturer is particularly known for equipping its gadgets with an array of beneficial features. As a result, whistler detectors are some of the most preferred detectors by many drivers today.
This is another reputable brand you should consider when shopping for the best radar detector. Depending on your budget, beatronics offers some of the best detectors, equipped with performance features.
3. Range and Distance
Since you are looking for a gadget that can warn you of speed traps, you should get one that allows you enough time to adjust to the warning.
It will not be of any use to get a warning of an upcoming speed gun, when it is just a few feet away, don’t you think?
Therefore, the range offered by your preferred detector model is important. The various detector models available today offer varying ranges.
For instance, there are some that will warn you of radars that are hundreds of feet away and others that only have a range of a few feet. Basically, the more the range and distance a detector has to offer, the better.
Radar detector models that have one lens can only cover one direction. When looking for a detector, you should prioritize the ones that offer 360 degrees coverage. Police are known to use concealed techniques to catch speeding motorists today. As such, you should get a gadget that can detect the radar from any angle interception.
With regards to ease of use, you should insist in buying a unit that is easy to operate and interpreted. Most of the high-end radar detectors today come with visible LCD, touch-enabled screens. Such detectors are often the easiest to operate.
There are some affordable radar detectors that are also easy to use. A detector that can give you updated and detailed data at all times will be the best option, in this case.
6. What Can It Detect?
To understand what your preferred radar detector can actually detect, you first need to know how the police use their radars.
A reliable gadget should be able to detect the speed gun, regardless of how it is being used.
Provided that the radar is within range, it should be able to pick the following radar scenarios:
In this case, the police officer will wait with the speed radar gun off until the target vehicle is in sight. In other words, the police officer will only use the radar gun to transmit when he or she sees your car. Unless yours is the first car to be targeted within the detector range, the detector you opt for should be able to detect such a transmission and warn you in time.
This is a case where the police officer leaves the radar gun on all the time to catch any overspending vehicle on the road. It is comparatively easier for radar detectors to pick such a transmission because the gun is constantly transmitting. Actually, almost all the available radar detectors today can pick such a transmission at a safe distance.
This mode of radar gun transmission type is similar to the ‘instant on ‘scenario described above. However, the police officer turns the gun on and then off very fast, in this case. Police officers today are using this trick to beat your detector.
In this case, the gun is turned on and then off in an effort to be faster than the detector. However, this should not be a cause of concern, provided that you have bought a highly sensitive radar detector.
This is one of the most advanced tricks cops use to beat radar detectors. The pop trick is similar to the Quick Trigger one described above, but comparatively faster. In this case, the speed gun is turned on and then off within a radar frequency burst of 67 milliseconds.
While most of the available radar detectors can pick pop transmission, it is advisable to turn the POP detection capability off. This is because the Pop radar has been proven to be very inaccurate, hence will give you many false alerts. Turning this feature off will improve the performance of your detector.
7. Additional Features
In addition to the radar and laser detection capabilities, almost all the detectors available today come with additional features.
This makes it even harder for drivers to choose the right detector. This is because most of the users do not know what features are essential and which features to ignore.
Radar detector features you should consider:
- Digital Signal Processing (DSP) – a considerable number of radar detectors today use microchip technology as well as DSP. Not only does this technology reduce false alarms; it also magnifies the range of the gadget considerably.
- Multi-Sensor Laser Protection – As mentioned earlier in this guide, it is advisable to buy a detector that has several sensors. The use of several sensors enables the device to pick up beams that are off the axis. However, multi-sensor laser protection technology often requires the use of laser jammers to be able to give laser alerts in time.
- Dual-antenna Design – Some of the best radar detector models today, such as the Escort Max 360 and the Valentine One detectors have a second antenna, which protrudes in the forward direction. Various tests have proven that the use of a second antenna on these gadgets boosts performance. The second antenna faces forward so as to allow the LED arrows in the device to pinpoint the direction of the threat more accurately.
- TotalShield – Ever heard of the radar detector-detectors (RDDs)? These are devices that are used to tell whether a vehicle is fitted with a radar detector. TotalShield is among the leading technologies, with regards to making these gadgets invincible to RDDs. This is important as nobody will be able to tell whether you are using a detector, unless you tell them.
- Strobe Alert – This feature makes these gadgets more versatile. In addition to helping you detect speed gun radars, such a detector also helps keep you safe on the road. The device will produce the strobe alert to notify you of an emergency vehicle that is approaching head on and is within a point-blank range of the radar detector.
- Expert Meter – Conventional radar detectors get confused whenever two or more microwave signals are detected simultaneously. To help the detector tell which signal to alert first, manufacturers have prioritized signals, with the laser signals being the most critical. These are followed by Ka, K and then X band signals in the order of priority.
However, some of the best detectors today use the Expert Meter as the innovative solution to this dilemma. This technology allows the device to display up to nine signals, along with their strengths simultaneously.
While there are numerous features to consider while shopping for the right radar detector, only a few will add value to the gadget. Therefore, you should not just opt for a model simply because it has more features to offer.
Instead, you need to ensure that it offers the features you need and the ones that will add value to your driving experience.
FAQ About Radar Detectors
Q: How do radar detectors work?
A: Radar detectors are designed to warn users when there’s a nearby laser/radar speed gun. Similar to scanners, modern radar detectors act as superheterodyne receivers. They receive the radar signal with the use of microwave horn antennas.
When it reaches the first mixer stage, the radar signal gets mixed with a local oscillator to generate an intermediate frequency (IF). Depending on the design, the initial IF may pass on to a few mixers and stages. Once the signal is detected, it is handled by the control as well as processing circuitry to create visual and/or audible alerts.
Note that radar detectors are not supposed to “jam” signals emitted by police radar guns. These devices only provide a warning in the form of an icon display, tone, or voice alert. That means you won’t have to look at the unit while driving.
Q: How do radar guns work?
A: It’s all about the Doppler principle. In fact, radar guns transmit radio waves all the while at microwave frequencies.
When striking a moving object, these waves go back to the radar gun, but at a little different frequency. After mixing the originally transmitted signal with reflected signal, radar guns end up with a middle value.
That is actually the difference in frequency. It helps the radars to determine your speed.
Q: How do laser guns work?
A: Instead of utilizing the Doppler principle, laser guns use Time of Arrival (ToA) and Time Difference of Arrival (TDoA).
After sending out a pulse, the laser gun measures the “time of flight.” This represents how much time the pulse needs to reflect back to the radar. It helps in calculating the distance between a laser gun and its target.
By taking and comparing multiple distance measurements, the laser gun determines the speed of a targeted object – your car.
Q: How do radar detectors differ from radar jammers?
A: As its name suggests, the radar detector is meant to identify radars ahead of you on the road. That way it gives you time to slow down or adjust your speed.
Radar jammers work by jamming and impeding police radar guns. The goal is to prevent radar guns from getting a reading.
Unlike radar detectors, jammers are illegal for use, meaning they put you at risk of getting significant financial penalties.
Q: How do laser detectors differ from laser jammers?
A: When it comes to police lasers, you do not get any timely warning. In this case, the police officers specifically target your vehicle so that your laser equipment is highly likely to go off.
While radar detectors come with built-in laser sensors, they are basically only ticket notifiers. Since the laser beams are very thin, the laser detectors don’t go off when getting shot.
That’s where laser jammers come in handy. They fire jamming pulses back at the police lasers when you are being shot. This prevents police officers from taking a reading.
Q: Why doesn’t my radar detector go off sometimes when I drive past a cop?
A: Radar detectors pick up the signal of another radar, not police vehicles. If your radar didn’t go off, there’s a good chance the police car was equipped with a radar detector (90% chance).
At times, police officers have their radars turned off when not in the vehicle, or they have in instant-on mode. Since their radar is off, there’s nothing to detect and so your radar doesn’t go off.
Q: Does a radar detector work if the cop car is moving?
A: The answer is yes, and a moving radar is far more effective than a stationary radar. Radars on the move often have an antenna in the front and the back, equipping them with front-rear coverage. Also, such radars have the ability to track vehicles moving in the same direction, whether they are in front or behind the cruiser.
Many of these radars can also lock in the fastest moving vehicle in a group, making it nearly impossible to try and blend it behind slower vehicles. In most cases, a moving radar meets an oncoming speeding vehicle. As that vehicle passes, the officer normally makes a U-turn and comes up behind you, just to pull you over. When that happens, you’re pretty much caught red handed.
Q: Can police officers read my speed if I am behind their car?
A: Yes, they can. Dual antenna radars – both rear and front – are used by many police officers these days. Let’s say you’re driving toward a cop car and pass it at one point. They can switch antennas at the press of a button and proceed to track you after passing their car.
Q: Where is the optimal place to position a radar detector?
A: You are advised to mount your detector up high by the rearview mirror. That would ensure the perfect view of the road as well as the best performance. Moreover, it will enable your detector to see radars over other vehicles and over hills alike.
Still, the range of a radar detector cannot be improved by mounting it a few feet higher than it was before. On quite rare situations, an extra 50 plus feet may make a difference.
However, a radar detector is mannered more closely by orientation than height. If you wish to maximize its range, keep it level and pointed down the center-line of your car.
A tint strip is a good place to hide your detector since it is less noticeable from the outside. Plus, it allows for a clean install when hardwiring the detector. However, keep in mind that it takes a little more effort and work to mount the detector initially.
Consider Mounting in the Grill or on Windshield
You may also mount your radar detector somewhere on the windshield or in the grill. In this case, you will get a cleaner and more hidden install.
Mounting in the windshield center would make your radar detector more accessible. On the downside, it will block your visibility and be visible to thieves. That will also mean compromised position for both laser and radar detection.
Some people prefer remote-mount radar detectors that are custom installed somewhere in the grill area of their cars. It is a more expensive option that requires a professional installation. However, when done properly, it provides a clean looking install.
Q: When driving on the highway sometimes, why does my detector go off when I don’t see a cop?
A: In the event that it’s an X- or K-band alert going off, it could be just an automatic door opener triggering it. Some radars are very sensitive and can trigger such alerts from a quarter mile away. A short K-band signal may simply be from Blind Spot Monitoring radar in a vehicle nearby.
And, if it’s a Ka-band alert going off, it’s almost certainly instant-on radar triggering cars in traffic ahead of you. When the radar is on hold, the police officer activates it right away at close range, picking up a speed almost at once.
Q: What is selectivity and how does it differ from sensitivity?
A: Selectivity relates to the ability of a detector to detect police radars while ignoring devices, such as microwaves and garage door openers, that operate on neighboring frequencies.
Sensitivity, on the other hand, refers to how well a detector picks up different radar signals. The highly sensitive detectors will give you timely warnings all the time.
A good radar detector is the one that features an ideal balance between high sensitivity and high selectivity.
Q: Are there false alerts and what to do against them?
A: False alarms usually occur in case the radar frequencies generated by a door opener fall into the range of your radar detector.
You can reduce this effect and address the problem with help of a filter and a mute function. These are available in most radar detectors.
Our Final Review
Even with these considerations in mind, you will realize that you still have many units to choose from.
To save you the time and hassle of having to test each of the models, we have reviewed 10 of the best radar detectors today.
These are the models we found to be the most effective, with regards to range, sensitivity and signal filtration. As such, you can rest assured any of these radars will get the job done.
What’s your favorite radar detector? Share with us below!