How to Choose the Right Radar Detector for your Needs

Let’s face it, some people are still blinded by the idea that the best radar detector they should buy for themselves are only those with the most intense radar detecting capabilities. We get the point—people mainly get a radar detector to actually monitor if there’s any police radar nearby. But the thing about detectors with intensely high detecting capabilities (and no significant way to control it) is that they tend to alert the driver every single time they come across a signal even remotely related to police radar. Soon, users realize that they get alerted for the most insignificant things: automatic doors, burglar alarms, blind spot monitors, and parking sensors.

So, instead of just looking for one that has the best detecting capabilities, you have to know how to choose the right radar detector for your needs. Depending on the frequency of use, common areas of passage and other factors, there are main features and functions to consider when choosing the best radar detector for you.

Laser Detection

The detection game has expanded to include laser in the recent years. Most police and traffic enforcement officers have ditched radar guns and started using laser (lidar) enforcement. Some new radar detectors have the capacity to detect laser—some even offer 360 degrees of protection, detecting laser beams from all sides, front and back, and side-to-side. Hence, the lack of laser detection can be a real deal breaker when one’s deciding what to get for a detector. Make sure to get yourself one that has a laser feature, to ensure your detection capabilities are up-to-date.

Detection Accuracy

With the recently manufactured cars bearing blind spot monitors, many of the old-time radar detectors would go crazy detecting all the signals coming from many vehicles on the road. Hence, it is truly important to get a detector that has a hawk-like filtering process and top notch accuracy that’s able to distinguish fake threats from real ones. Some advanced ones can even store the unique “fingerprint” of sensor systems from every car manufacturer and can match up signals so it could just ignore false alerts. With an accurate device, no one has to get annoyed listening to countless false alerts while driving.

Smartphone Compatibility

In a world where smartphones have become a major necessity, not to mention gadgets containing apps that assist people’s day-to-day lives, it’s just logical to have a radar detector that can be easily connected with one’s smartphone. Through radar detector applications that offer live updates, better accuracy and up-to-date warnings, one can maximize the functions of radar detectors.

Visual and Voice Alerts

This may be a basic component of any radar detector but it is a key feature in any purposive assistive device for driving. Alerts matter to any driver, and when alerts aren’t clear or accurate, it can cause certain difficulties or disturbance in the driving experience. The display screen of a radar detector must have a prompt, readable, and clear visuals, or else it may result in eye strain or worst case scenario, accidents. The voice and audio alerts should also have clear indications, as they can be easily missed if they are too short or soft, or they can be too distracting when they are too strong and loud. Again, simple as that may sound, alerts and notifications matter, as they are the main communicator to the driver about what the detector picks up along the way.


A lot of radar detectors nowadays wow people with impressive features and advanced technologies, yet some of them can just complicate the driving experience. Accessories should be considered carefully when looking for a radar detector that best suits your needs. Some of the most common accessories that would improve any detection experience are the following:

  • Mounting device – Most radar detectors come with their mounting device, yet not all of them assure the most comfortable mounting position of the detector. Drivers can choose between a sticky cup mount that attaches the device to the windshield, a rear view mount that attaches the detector to the stem of the rear view mirror, or even a clip mount that allows you to attach your device to the sun visor. For motorcycle users, a handlebar mount is available on the market for your hassle-free rides, too.
  • Auxiliary speaker – This accessory is meant for radar detectors that don’t have the best audio in terms of loudness. You wouldn’t miss an alert with a louder speaker notifying you of threats along the way.
  • Fuse holders and direct wire power cord – These two accessories allow you to do direct wiring of your radar detector. After successful direct wiring, you can free up you cigarette lighter and minimize the clutter of wires that could be a potential eyesore in your car.
  • Earphones – Earphones come in handy when you are driving with people, especially with kids. When others get annoyed with the alerts, you can isolate the notifications exclusively for your ears only, which makes the ride safer and more peaceful for everyone.

Where to buy radar detectors

After all your personal research (a step you shouldn’t skip) and finally determining the best radar detector for your needs, your next question is “Where is the best place to buy this?” You have two major options between buying a radar detector in an actual store or online, and here’s our tip: assess your situation and think of the pros & cons.

Of course if you are located in a fairly remote place, it would be more convenient to do the detector shopping online. However, great scrutiny is needed before you hit that purchase button. First, look for the official online sites of radar detector brands and find the official link to their online store. This way you won’t get fake detectors. But if what you’re eyeing is only available to huge e-commerce sites like Amazon or eBay, then proper background check on the seller and item reviews are definitely necessary.

If you’re one who wants guaranteed quality purchase, then going directly to big box stores would be your best bet. By doing this, you can learn more about your detector directly from a sales person who is knowledgeable about it. But the downside in this one, aside from requiring more effort, is that you aren’t guaranteed of the availability of the radar detector you want. So, to avoid making an effort for nothing, call in advance to check the availability of the model you want to purchase.

If you would take into consideration the main points above, we’re pretty sure your driving experience will be much better. And what fun would it be to have no worries of speeding tickets while you’re enjoying your driving experience, right?


William Johnson is a radar detector enthusiast and the founder of the Rated Radar Detector Blog where he posts informative radar detector-related articles regularly. He can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

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2 Responses to “How to Choose the Right Radar Detector for your Needs”

  1. Tom McCarey says:

    Two things:

    1. Will a detector warn of a photo RADAR location?

    2. Can some inventive techie make a detector to read one of the many electronic signals eminating from a police cruiser, so we could know when a cop is in the immediate vicinity (probably running a speed trap)?

    Tom McCarey

  2. Mitch says:

    Do radar and LIDAR detectors actually work well anymore? With all the modern tech, I am not sure they will pickup many of the trickery being used by the cops or the photo cameras. On the other extreme, nobody wants false alarms all the time.

    The days of real cops using stationary radar that transmits continuously are over. There is also much interference now.