How Radar Detectors Work

Written by Dallas Smith
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If you've ever wondered how radar detectors work, you might be surprised when you learn of the relative simplicity of the technology. In effect, detectors function as simple radio receivers, and transmit no signals themselves--an important distinction that allows for full compliance with FCC regulations. As receivers, they are programmed to detect the very specific frequency bands emitted by law enforcement targeting devices, and though law enforcement agencies occasionally expand their techniques, manufacturers of detectors are always ready to stay on top of new targeting technologies.

How Radar Detectors Work: A Quick Primer

Understanding just how radar detectors work goes back to the unit's construction as a receiver. A typical detector is simply programmed to be receptive to certain radar frequencies--in industry terms, these are known as X,K, and Ka band frequencies, with additional technologies known as Instant-On and POP radar. Additionally, in recent years, detectors have been adapted to search out laser emissions from special "lidar" targeting units that use lasers to detect target speed.

Critical to all detection devices are how fast they can detect these emissions, and from how far away. After all, it is of no use to you if a detector is only effective once you have already been targeted! To that end, if you're considering purchasing a detector, it's important to look for detectors that make accurate claims about early and effective detection of all known targeting methods. Settling for a detector that is only effective against older targeting technologies is like giving yourself only a 50 percent chance of early notification, when 100 percent is available--it just doesn't add up.

Taking the Extra Step

If you are going to purchase a radar detector, settling for that 50 percent chance could end up costing you down the road in three-figure speeding ticket amounts. Avoid such a scenario altogether by putting forth a little extra money from the get-go to ensure that you have the most current system that you can find. That extra amount can be your insurance today against paying well in excess of that initial amount in the future.

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