Radar Detector Guide

Radar Detector Guide


Confuse about the different speed detection technologies and unsure which radar/laser detector to get? In this Radar Detector Guide 101, we’ll be looking at the different features you need to consider when selecting a radar/laser detector.

Before we go into understanding these features, we need to understand the basics of radar detection first.

What is RADAR detection? 

The term RADAR is an acronym for RAdio Detection And Ranging. Radar technology has been used by law enforcement for speed detection since the 1950s.

A radar detector sends out high frequency waves and measures the time it takes the reflected waves to return to the device. The radar device uses this time measurement to determine how far away an object is. Radar devices can also detect if the frequency of the reflected wave has changed, which allows the radar devices to determine the speed of the object. The reflection and change in frequency of waves is called Doppler shift. Radar detector signals operate in four main frequency ranges, called bands. The common bands used in speed detection are X, K, Ka, and Ku Band radar.

  • X Band – 10.5 to 10.55 GHz
  • K Band – 24.05 to 24.24 GHz
  • Ka Band – 34.2 to 35.2 GHz (covers Ka, Ka Wide-Band, and Ka Super Wide-Band)
  • Ku Band – 12 to 18GHz (used mostly in Europe but many models have Ku Band coverage)

Passport 8500 X50 Review

The X, K and Ka bands are the primary bands used in speed detection devices in the United States.

  • Diminishing X Band Use – X band is used less frequently, as newer speed detection equipment is mostly K or Ka band. However Ohio, Indiana, North Carolina, and New Jersey still utilize X band equipment.

Radar Detector Guide – POP Radar Mode

Some police radar systems feature ‘POP mode’ speed detection.

In POP mode, police radar emits a short burst of energy to quickly estimate the vehicle’s speed. The radar then goes into standby mode, which does not emit any radar signal, making it harder to detect.

The POP mode burst lasts between 16 and 67 milliseconds, which prevents a radar detector without POP mode detection from giving the driver any warning.

POP mode radar only obtains an estimate of a vehicle’s speed so it is not 100% accurate. Most law enforcement radar systems must still switch to normal mode to obtain the exact speed, which can take 2-3 seconds.

Editor’s Note: Click Here to view a list of best-selling and popular radar detectors currently available in the market.

Laser Detection

LASER is an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. Laser detection is also called LIDAR, which is an acronym for LIght Detection And Ranging. LASER and LIDAR mean the same thing in the context of speed detection technology.

Laser Used in Speed Detection – 904 nanometer, 33MHz bandwidth

A laser is a highly focused beam of light, which makes speed detection very difficult at close range. The width of the laser beam expands to about 3 feet wide at a range of 1,000 feet, making it easier to capture the speed of a vehicle when aimed at its front bumper.

Harder for Drivers to Detect – Since laser speed detection devices are better utilized at a long distances (1,000 ft is about 1/5th mile), the operator is often not visible to the driver. Laser can be the most difficult signal to detect in time to warn the driver. Positioning of the radar/laser detector so that it faces forward and is not obstructed by the dashboard or rearview mirror is imperative to get the best detection performance from a radar/laser detector.

Radar Detector Guide – Expectations of Radar Detectors

All radar detectors have technical and performance limitations. Consider the following when researching radar detector products:

  • Front and Rear Coverage – The location of the radar detector within the vehicle will affect the detector’s ability to detect radar signals. Radar detectors positioned with the radar path facing forward will provide only front coverage. Consider a radar detector with front and rear coverage to warn you about speed detection devices approaching from behind the vehicle.
  • False Alerts– Radar detectors are sometimes triggered by non-speed detection devices that use the same frequencies as radar (usually the X radar band). Radar detectors with sensitive coverage without GPS or low speed bypass features are more likely to provide false alerts. To reduce the number of false alerts, consider a radar detector with the ability to disable individual bands or GPS functionality that ‘remember’ false alert locations.
  • Detection Warning-Each radar detector uses a different method to indicate a speed detection device is in range. Some radar detectors show the driver if the signal is coming from the front or the rear of the vehicle and the strength of the radar signal. Some models also differentiate between various radar bands or laser detection.

Features to Consider

Passport 9500ix review

Many radar detectors use special features to address specific situations encountered when driving.

  • Safety Warning System (SWS) – This is a unique audible warning made when safety related issues are present, such as hazardous road conditions, highway construction, accidents, or railroad crossings. SWS messages operate on K Band. Detectors without SWS functionality may show a normal K Band alert instead.
  • Emergency Vehicle Warning – This allows the radar detector to make a unique audible or visual warning when emergency vehicles (fire, police, or medical) are approaching. This is a valuable feature if the vehicle has an upgraded audio system and it is difficult to hear outside noises.
  • Red Light Camera Database – Also called a ‘Safety Camera Database’, this uses GPS coordinates of red light cameras throughout North America to warn the driver of the presence of cameras at an approaching intersection. Radar detector models that are Internet-ready can connect to a Windows-based computer to update this database. Many models come with the database already loaded.
  • City/Highway Modes – This reduces the sensitivity of the X band mode, which triggers most false alerts. City mode makes X band less sensitive whereas Highway mode allows more sensitivity.
  • Voice Alerts– Many radar detectors offer the option of spoken warnings rather than audible beeps and buzzers.
  • Automated Volume – While most radar detectors have a volume adjustment, some offer an environment compensating volume function based on the ambient noise in the vehicle. This is useful then the audio system is playing loud and the unit displays or speaks a warning.
  • Radar Detector Detector (RDD) Blocking – These are detectors of radar detectors (also called VG-2 and Spectre). Some radar detectors have the ability to block RDD devices from detecting the presence of the radar detector.
  • GPS or Accelerometer Logic – Some radar detectors have the ability to mute or disable audible warnings when the vehicle is not moving or is moving very slowly. This can be done with a GPS receiver chip or with an accelerometer. Red Light Database uses the internal GPS receiver to acquire the vehicle’s position and then identify and warn the driver of camera locations that are close by.
  • GPS based False Signal Rejection – Some models offer the ability to identify and remember locations where a false warning occurred, so the unit learns (based on GPS location) to ignore that specific signal at that location. This is great for X band false alerts that often occur near retail stores, banks, and airports.

Escort Passport 9500ix radar reviews

Know the Limits, Know the Laws

No radar detector can eliminate the chance of a speeding violation. Excessive speeding is unsafe and unlawful. Radar and laser speed detection offer reasonable warning and opportunity to avoid tickets. It is important to avoid excessive speed, understand the capability of the radar detector, and properly place the unit in the vehicle.

End of Radar Detector Guide.

Incoming search terms:

  • radar detector

A sample text widget

Etiam pulvinar consectetur dolor sed malesuada. Ut convallis euismod dolor nec pretium. Nunc ut tristique massa.

Nam sodales mi vitae dolor ullamcorper et vulputate enim accumsan. Morbi orci magna, tincidunt vitae molestie nec, molestie at mi. Nulla nulla lorem, suscipit in posuere in, interdum non magna.