A Complete Buying Guide on Choosing a Radar Detector | Buyers Guide

Nowadays, radar detectors seem to have become a pretty important component for all the drivers out there. They seem to be providing the much needed relief from worrying about the police ahead, ready and waiting to hand over to you a speeding ticket.

However, let’s first learn a bit about what radar detectors are and the purpose they serve. Keeping the technical stuff aside, radar detectors are simply objects that help you stay informed of the cops ahead while driving, who are looking for people driving at a speed higher than they are allowed to. This is actually the sole purpose they are used for. They simply give you the freedom to drive, and a sense of relaxation while driving.

However, with the increased popularity comes more options to choose from, and the story is no different when it comes to radar detectors. We have different types of radar detectors to suit different needs, though the sole purpose they intend to serve is pretty much the same.

So let’s look deeper into the different types of radar detectors as well as the factors you need to keep in mind while choosing one. If you are looking for a police detector with is good for the money check our best radar detector under 200 dollars article and if your looking for a cheap radar detector our best radar detector under 100 dollars will suite your needs.

Corded radar detectors

These are probably the typical type of radar detectors. They also seem to be offering the best range of detection though. However, there are also a few drawbacks of going for corded radar detectors. Firstly, it will be clearly visible to everyone. Some people don’t want others to know that they are using a radar detector. Also, these radar detectors are placed on the windshield, and hence almost everyone will come to know that you’re using them. However, the other more serious problem with them is that they are pretty much unusable in areas where putting anything on the windshield is illegal. Hence, you might want to check what the rules are in your area before deciding to go with them.

Lastly, they are usually fit for using only in one vehicle. It will obviously be quite inconvenient to use them in multiple vehicles, as you can’t go removing from one vehicle and placing on another. They are also usually a bit difficult to install.

Cordless radar detectors

As the name suggests, they are cordless devices. They come with an easy installation, and the freedom to move conveniently across multiple vehicles. So, if you are planning to use your radar detector in multiple vehicles, this may turn out to be the better option.

Remote-mount detectors

Remote-mount detectors are permanently mounted on your vehicle, and hence obviously something you can’t go moving to your other vehicles. In other words, they can only be used in one vehicle, and the installation is permanent. The installation is also a bit challenging though, but as you would probably have to do it just once, it shouldn’t be much of a problem.

What more, despite the fact that they are restricted to being able to be used only in one vehicle, they boast of being hidden devices. They are pretty much out of sight, and hence a good choice for those who don’t want to reveal that they are using such devices.

The factors involved

Now, after having understood what the different types of radar detectors are all about, let’s move on to discover the important factors involved while choosing a particular radar detector.

Sensing the frequency bandwidths

Well, basically, the sole purpose of using such radar detectors is to get to know about the cops ahead, who are using a particular type of radar to check who’s driving at a speed higher than what’s allowed. However, such radars come in three different types too, and each one of them sends different types of frequency waves at your vehicles to get the required information.

X-band radars

Coming to the first type of such radars, the ones based on the X-band frequency bandwidths, they are actually the oldest ones. Introduced in the 1950s, they still seem to be used in a lot of areas. However, the X-band frequency bandwidth is very low. What’s actually problematic about this low frequency is that quite a few other devices too, come with a similar frequency bandwidth. So, if you want your radar detector to be able to detect frequency waves coming from a radar based on the X-band, it will also have to take care of filtering out the frequency waves coming from devices ranging from motion detectors to even garage door openers. This isn’t exactly an easy task even for some of the most of the basic radar detectors out there, and hence you might want to do a little bit more research if you want to go for such a radar detector.

If you get a general one that isn’t capable of recognizing the difference between a radar and devices such as a garage door openers, it will keep throwing false positives, making driving a quite annoying and troublesome experience for you.

K-band radars

Let’s move on to the other type of radars now, the ones based on the K-band. These are first introduced in the 1970s, and have found a great deal of acceptance from cops across a number of places. Hence, it seems that it’s tremendously important for a radar detector to be able to detect these radars as they are being used on such a wide scale. If your radar detector is incapable of detecting the radars based on the K-band, they would probably be pretty much useless, unless if you are completely sure that the radars used by the cops in your areas aren’t based on the K-band.

Also, another thing to note about these types of radars is that some of them seem to be coming with the ability to deceive your radar detector, through their “instant on” feature. Hence, you might want to look into that too, while deciding on a particular radar detector.

Ka-band radars

The last types of radars are based on the Ka-band. It’s usually used by automated photo-enforcement systems. However, some of such devices, named as the “super wide” Ka-band radars, are capable of using the entire Ka band.

They were started to be used back in the 1987, when the FCC thought that the two other bands are not enough, and the police radars need to be assigned another one. They work at 34.3 GHz and come with an automated camera. So, whenever the radar detects a vehicle driving at a speed higher than the one set in it, it uses the camera to click its photo. The vehicle’s front part, driver’s face, the license plate, as well as a few other things are shown in the photo. The vehicle, however, isn’t stopped at that time. Instead, the information is processed and the offenders are sent a mail with the details, as well as the amount they need to pay as fine, or have to appear in the court. The general frequency range for this type of radars was 34.2 – 35.2 GHz.

However, the FCC didn’t stop just there. It went on to decide that the radars can use a frequency anywhere between 33.4 GHz to 36.0 GHz. This led to the emergence of these so called super wide Ka-band radars. Their introduction also increased the probability to be caught considerably, as not all radars can detect them. This includes even those who can detect the X and K band, as well as the photo radar. In other words, this move of the FCC challenged even the radar detectors which could seemingly detect almost everything, until these super wide Ka-band radars were introduced.

However, a relieving thing for drivers in the US is that such radars are mostly use in the European countries, and not so much in the US. Despite this, some radar detector manufacturers have gone on to introduce devices that can detect these type of radars as well. It’s also probably noting that the frequency of such radars in the US is 13.45 GHz.

A word of caution

After having a look at what the different types of radars are all about, you must now be pretty well informed about how all this works, making it much easier for you to go with a radar detector that may turn out to be the perfect fit for you.

However, you also need to keep a simple point in mind. Though rather basic, it’s quite important.

There are quite a few radar detectors that are capable of sensing one, or two types of frequency waves. However, if you go with something that manages to detect only one particular type of frequency, which is different from what the cops in your area usually use, it will be useless and won’t be able to detect it. 

Ensuring complete protection

Hence, in order to ensure that you stay completely safe from all the types of radars, regardless of the frequency waves they send, you need to consider going for something that can detect all of them.

However, such radar detectors may cost significantly more. Also, this is just a general idea. In some particular areas, there may only be a single type of radars, and hence the final decision may come down to what exactly the situation is in your area or the areas you usually travel in is. Check out Beltronics radar detectors for some great products.

Radar detector features

After understanding almost everything about what a radar detector’s sole purpose and use is, it’s also probably worth looking into their other features. In fact, sometimes, some of the features they come with may make a huge difference while using them regularly.

Features can be subjective

Firstly, let’s understand the fact that the features radar detectors come with can be subjective. They may be different for different areas, driving habits, your specific situation, and so on. Hence, it would also probably be a good idea to keep all these requirements in mind so that you don’t miss taking into account some of the most useful features you actually need in your radar detector.

The city driving mode

If you’re someone who needs to drive a lot in the city areas, the city driving mode feature will probably come in very handy for you. The reason for it is the fact that in cities, there can be a lot of activity of various radar bands. So, if your radar detector doesn’t come with such a feature, it will keep throwing false positives. Setting the city driving mode on in such situations will help you deal with such situations.

Audible warnings

A seemingly common issue associated with some of the traditionally designed radar detectors is that they don’t come with audible warnings or alerts. Now though some people may still be completely fine with them, it’s not always a good idea to take your eyes off the road, especially if you’re driving in a high traffic area. Hence, you might also want to consider going for a radar detector that can provide you with a spoken warning, so that you don’t even have to take your eyes off the road.


In some areas, devices known as LIDAR detectors may be in use. It’s not possible to detect such devices using the usual radar detectors. Some people consider going for another radar detector that comes with the ability to detect such LIDAR detectors as well, but a wiser idea seems to be going for something that comes with both the usual detection features as well as the ability to detect such LIDAR detectors.

Dealing with the “instant-on” systems

As mentioned before, the “instant-on” devices may turn out to be your ultimate nightmare, as there doesn’t really seem to be a way to detect it. After all, they usually start working at the very last moment, and suddenly hit the target vehicles with their frequency waves.

However, there are still some radar detectors that try to protect you partly against such radars. What they exactly do is alert you when a vehicle in front of you gets hit by such radars, so that you can avoid falling into the trap.

Avoiding detection

In some particular areas, the cops also seem to be using devices to find out whether a particular vehicle is carrying such radar detecting devices. Hence, you will also find some radar detecting devices that come with an automatic shutdown option, or a similar feature which alerts you when it senses that there is a RDD system in place in the surrounding area.

A final word

Well, pretty much of everything you would probably need to know about radar detectors have been listed here. You can now have a clear idea of what you exactly need, and what exactly to look for.

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