Imagine paying a fine, having points deducted from your license, and being cited and summoned to a traffic court because of a speeding ticket. That sucks, right? What if we told you even the most careful drivers could be found guilty of exceeding the speed limit of certain places, would you believe us? Probably no, but it’s quite true. Most people exceed speed limits simply because they are not conscious of them while driving. So, to avoid the drama and embarrassment that comes with being issued a speeding ticket, it’s best to get a radar detector to keep you in check.
What is a radar detector? It’s an electronic device that can help motorists control their speed, detect if they’re being monitored by any form of law enforcement agents, and alert them accordingly. How does it work? When the band emitted by the radar gun
being used by the police or other agents hits a moving object and returns with a different frequency, the police can tell the speed of that object, based on the difference in frequency. So, the radar detector allows you to know the band being transmitted and the distance between you and the band. With such information, the speed can be adjusted immediately before reaching the radar source.
Before purchasing a radar detector, you should know there are different types with varying features and most times, the type and number of features determines the cost. There are also some technologies that may affect the price of the detector. While the importance of a standalone GPS Navigation System
while driving may be often debated, the presence of the global positioning system (GPS) technology in a radar detector automatically increases its functionality and application. Other technologies include smartphone
integration and Bluetooth connectivity.
Although often described as expensive, a radar detector is one device that will become valuable and pay for itself over time. Before choosing one, consider your budget and determine which features are most essential. If installed and used properly, a radar detector can drastically reduce your chances of getting a speeding ticket, give you the freedom and confidence to drive better and – most importantly – reduce the risk of accidents due to dangerous intersections or approaching emergency vehicles.
If you’ve decided to buy a radar detector, then you need one that ultimately gives you the driving confidence and relaxation you desire. However, this may mean spending some of your hard-earned money. The cost of a good radar detector varies and depends on the type, design and features present. For example, remote radar detectors are more expensive than those mounted on the dash board. Those with the latest technology such as GPS and smartphone integration are also usually costlier than those without them.
However, it’s all dependent on how much you're willing to spend at the end of the day. A good radar detector with an ergonomic design and important features should cost between $700 and $150. It could also cost less, but we decided not to include these cheap radar detectors because most times, they aren’t sensitive enough and wouldn’t offer the convenient protection required in the first place.
To simplify the buying process for you, here are the important features to look out for before purchasing a radar detector:
- Detector Yype – corded, cordless, remote-mount
- Technology – GPS, smartphone integration, Bluetooth connectivity
- Detection - of K, X, XA and laser bands
- Alert Type – digital voice alert, tone alert
- Extra Features – city mode, carrying case, mounting kit
Construction and Design
There are 3 basic types of radar detectors and they include the corded radar detector, the cordless radar detector and the remote-mount radar detector. A corded radar detector can be mounted on the dashboard or windshield. Because of its mounting location, it’s known to deliver a stronger range of detection when compared to the others. If you have more than one vehicle, the cordless model is a good option because of the ease of transferring it from one vehicle to another. The remote-mount radar detector cannot be transferred because it is permanently attached to the vehicle. It is usually mount behind the car’s grill and the controls are situated beneath the dashboard. While it also offers good range of detection, it’s important to note this type is more expensive than the rest and requires professional installation. However, when compared to the rest, it’s the least prone to theft.
A good radar detector can detect KA, K and X bands. Some of the best models have dual antennas that allow the radar to detect different radio frequencies around the car. While those bands are mostly used by the police and law enforcement agents, another important band a good radar detector should be able to detect is the laser band. For the detector to detect it successfully, it should have at least one laser sensor. For laser detection in multiple directions (3600), a detector with two sensors is ideal. Note, however, that a radar detector with 360-degree radar/laser detection is quite expensive.
One of the most important technologies incorporated in radar detectors is GPS (global positioning system). Once programmed properly, it can increase the functionality of the radar detector by calculating the location and speed of the user and alerting them to speed limits, speed cameras or speed traps. It can also give you access to a database of law enforcement locations that can be downloaded and programmed to pre-alert you. Another technology is the Spectre or VG-2 protection which can be described as shielding technologies. It alerts you to the presence of law enforcement agents making use of radar (RDD) and allows you activate stealth mode or invisible mode. Other times, it prompts the detector to shut itself off to prevent discovery. The presence of this technology is important for places where radar detectors are illegal and often lead to an increase in the cost of the detector.
Performance and Ease of Use
After detecting a radar or band, the next step should be alerting you to the presence of the band. There are different alert systems and the type of alert that communicates the detection is largely dependent on the brand and model of the radar detector. While some alerts use indication lights, others use sound or both. No matter your choice, it’s important for the radar detector to have a visual display that’s good and strong and either a volume or mute button that can be used to adjust the sound settings. For those with digital voice alerts, the audio provided should be easy to understand and clear.
Extra features of a good radar detector include personalized user settings which enable the user to customize detection to suit driving expectations and a wider range with false alarm trigger. While these extra features may invariable lead to an increase in cost, a sophisticated detector means confidence and relaxation while driving.
Also, there are some accessories that may accompany the radar detector. These accessories include mounting kits for dashboard or windshield mount, extra power cords, travel cases in the case of cordless detectors and a remote control. If you're purchasing a remote-mount detector, ensure the kit necessary for professional installation is added. If not, it may need to be purchased separately.
Most radar detectors differ in features and functions. While some only detect radar, others detect traffic cameras or notify you of dangerous intersections ahead of you. If you’ve read this buying guide properly, selecting the radar detector that works best for you should be quite easy. Let’s look at our recommended radar detectors and what features made them stand out.
While nothing is better than safe driving, the fact is sometimes we do drive over the speed limit and need a reminder to slow down and avoid a ticket. There will be times when you’re thankful you have a radar detector. Better to be safe than sorry, so make your purchase today!