What To Look For In A Police Radar Detector
Installing a radar detector in your car can help to provide you with a more stress-free driving experience by allowing you to focus on the road and worry less about hidden speed traps. Radar detectors can be complex devices, however, and if you've spent any amount of time looking at product pages or reviews, then you've likely come across a wide range of terms that you may not be familiar with. Conducting research before making your purchase is a good idea since these devices can vary so much in capability and effectiveness.
Know What Features Are Available
A basic radar detector performs a fairly straightforward function: it alerts you when it detects the particular bands that are used by police radar guns. This alerts if you a radar gun is in use nearby, hopefully providing you with enough time to check your speed. At one time, this was all that a radar detector was really useful for, but modern detectors are available with many more features. Although not all radar detectors will have them, you can expect to find the following features on modern devices:
- "Instant-On" detection, which attempts to alert you when an instant-on detector is used on a car in front of you
- Smartphone compatibility that allows you to pair the device with your phone and even receive alerts and notifications on your phone rather than the device itself
- GPS capability to improve detection and help to avoid repeat false alarms
- Both audio and visual alerts
- A variety of mounting designs, including both windshield and dash mounts
Before you even begin looking for reviews or narrowing your search, be sure that you know which features are critical to you. If you don't want or need smartphone connectivity, for instance, then you can rule out many more expensive models that might not offer any additional functionality that is useful to you.
Band Sensitivity Is the Most Important Feature
While extra features are always nice, the most important feature in a radar detector is its band sensitive. The three bands most commonly used on radar guns are X, K, and Ka frequency bands. Any detector that you consider should be sensitive to all three of these bands. Of particular importance is the Ka band, which is more modern and now used by many law enforcement agencies.
For each radar detector that you are considering, carefully research its ability to detect usage on these bands as well as its ability to filter out false alarms. Since many law enforcement agencies are now using laser guns instead of radar guns, a higher-end device that can perform laser detection is worth seriously considering as well.
What About Instant-On Detection?
Instant-on radar guns do not broadcast continuously but are instead targeted at specific vehicles. Radar from these devices can only be detected once your speed has already been measured, so a radar detector cannot easily warn you of their presence. Instead, radar detectors with instant-on detection attempt to determine if an instant-on radar detector is being used on other vehicles up ahead. This can give you some warning, but it still will not help you if your vehicle is targeted directly.
Read police radar detector product reviews to learn more.