Looking for the best radar detectors under $100? You’re in the right place.
How many times have you been on your daily commute and encountered an officer pointing a radar at your vehicle? All of a sudden, you have to pay a $150 speeding ticket just because you wanted to get home a few minutes sooner.
I know exactly how it feels, so I decided to look for an affordable, quality radar detector that would save me from future trouble. Right off the bat, here are the top 3 picks:
Best Radar Detectors Under $100
Here are the five best radar detectors under $100 that are accurate, precise, and reliable.
Best Overall: Cobra RAD 380 Laser Radar Detector
- Adjustable sensitivity and the IVT filter will minimize false alerts
- Digital Signal Processing alerts the driver reliably and on time
- Excellent product at a very affordable price tag
- The LCD display is lackluster and difficult to use
- The Cobra RAD 380 might be quiet for some people
The Cobra RAD 380 is just amazing. Digital Signal Processing helps the device pick up on signals very early, from a great distance. Once you adjust the sensitivity, false alerts happen very rarely, but they do happen once in a while.
Radar Detectors that filter out false signals very well are usually over-filtered and prone to missing a police radar. The Cobra Rad 380, however, picks up radars without missing.
The LCD display leaves to be desired. Cobra might as well have made the RAD 380 without the digital screen.
All in all, Cobra Rad 380 is properly filtered, affordable, and a very accurate radar detector from an excellent distance.
The majority of people that purchased the Cobra Rad 380 were very pleased with the device. There were, of course, those who disliked it, but the general notion about the Cobra Rad 380 is that it’s an accurate detector with excellent filtering; even in the cities. A few customers complained that it’s too quiet.
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Runner-Up: Whistler CR73 High Performance Laser Radar Detector
- The Whistler CR73 detects every radar signal in a 360-degree perimeter
- Traffic Flow Signal Rejection filters signals from traffic monitoring devices
- POP mode responds to brief bursts of radar signal
- You will have to read the manual and configure the detector
- You cannot manually filter false alarms and mute the radar detector
The Whistler CR73 is a really good radar detector with a few minor downsides. The device will definitely alert you of a radar without an issue. However, unless you take the time and read the manual the detector will be useless.
Although the Whistler CR73 has plug-and-play installation and a Traffic Flow Signal Rejection system, you’ll still have to adjust the settings and mitigate false alerts. Since you can’t manually teach the device to filter out certain signals, driving will be quite annoying if the Whistler CR73 isn’t properly set up.
Overall, this is a very affordable, quality radar detector that will take a slight effort to set up.
Customers are very pleased with the Whistler CR73 radar detector, claiming that it performed way above its price. It just goes to show that an expensive radar detector doesn’t have to perform better than a cheap one. A few customers complained about the inability to manually filter false alarms, and those who didn’t read the manual hated the device.
Budget Friendly: Uniden DFR1 Long Range Laser and Radar Detection
- A very affordable radar detector that works well
- Excellent features that even much pricier detectors lack
- This detector can pick up signals from a decent range
- The detector picks up random signals from time to time
- The device might rattle internally
Instead of $100, why not spend half of that and still get a great radar detector? Besides its affordability, this radar detector is quite accurate, but it does pick up false signals sometimes. The device has a pretty decent front range, and enough back and sides range to offer 360-degree protection.
The Uniden DFR1 comes with an LCD screen that presents information perfectly. As for other features, you’re getting three modes, highway, city, and city 1, as well as invisibility to certain radar detector detectors.
This radar detector might not be perfect, but it’s close, and you’re definitely getting excellent value for money.
Customers were very impressed by the Uniden DFR1, and pleasantly surprised since they didn’t expect much considering the price. A few customers mentioned range and the ability to detect radars even behind mountains as an excellent selling point for this device. The only reason some customers were displeased was because of the internal rattle.
Solar Powered: Whistler XTR-195 Laser Radar Detector
- The Whistler XTR-195 is a cordless radar detector
- Clear warnings even on low volume
- Comes with very useful features such as city mode and dark mode
- The screen is dull during the day (it’s bright enough during the night)
- It will not work very accurately on low battery life
The Whistler XTR-195 performs incredibly well when its batteries are fully charged, so you’ll have to make sure that they’re at least above 25% at all times. If the battery has less than 25% of its full charge, the detector won’t be very accurate. However, since the batteries can be solar powered you won’t have to worry as long as you live in a sunny state.
There are quite a few useful features on the Whistler XTR-195 such as city mode, quiet mode, and dark mode. If you have to travel to a state where radar detectors are illegal, this cordless device will be difficult to detect.
Besides the fact that you have to worry about battery life, this is an excellent radar detector.
Customers also noticed that the Whistler XTR-195 worked very well when it was fully charged. There are complaints about minor characteristics such as poor battery quality and display brightness during the day, but the detector was also praised for its clear alerts. — The feedback from customers is mixed.
Entry Level: Whistler XTR-330 Laser/Radar Detector
- This is a very user-friendly radar detector
- Clear and understandable voice alerts with a quiet mode
- VG-2 cloaking technology for radar detector detectors
- The mounting hardware quality is rather poor
- This device could have a better false alert filtering system
Although the Whistler XTR-330 could have come with a better filtering system, it is, by far, the most user-friendly radar detector on the market. The voice alerts, as well as the display screen, will be understood by anyone.
This radar detector can pick up POP mode radar signals, it can be put on quiet and dark mode. Combined with patented VG-2 cloaking technology, this radar detector will be hard to detect.
The mounting hardware will not last for long, but the biggest concern about this device is poor false alert filtering. Overall, a solid radar detector.
The feedback from customers was mixed. Some people praised the device for being very user-friendly and easy to install, while others criticized it for picking up signals from other vehicles. A few people also noticed that the detector had difficulty detecting radars on hills. However, most customers claimed that the device saved them many times, meaning that it’s reliable.
TL;DR Best Radar Detectors Under $100
|Signal Pick-up Range||False Alert Filtering||GPS||Front and Rear Detection||Speed Camera Alert||Warranty|
|Cobra RAD 380||2 miles in open road conditions||IVT Filter and sensitivity adjustment||Doesn’t have a GPS||Detects radars from the front and back||Cannot detect speed cameras||1-year manufacturer warranty|
|Whistler CR73||1 mile in open road conditions||Traffic Flow Signal Rejection||Doesn’t have a GPS||360-degree radar detection||Cannot detect speed cameras||1-year manufacturer warranty|
|Uniden DFR1||1-1.5 miles in open road conditions||False Alert Filtering technology||Doesn’t have a GPS||360-degree radar detection||Cannot detect speed cameras||1-year manufacturer warranty|
|Whistler XTR-195||1 mile in open road conditions||Standard radar detector filtering||Doesn’t have a GPS||360-degree radar detection||Cannot detect speed cameras||1-year manufacturer warranty|
|Whistler XTR-330||1 mile in open road conditions||Poor radar detector filtering||Doesn’t have a GPS||360-degree radar detection||Cannot detect speed cameras||1-year manufacturer warranty|
How Do Police Radars Work?
Before I could separate the wheat from the chaff, I had to understand how radars worked.
For stationary operations, officers use a hand-held radar gun, but they also utilize dash-mount versions that can be used while driving. A radar pointed at another vehicle sends out radio signals, hits the tracked vehicle, and returns to the radar for analysis. The signal is then converted into a speed read-out for the officer to see.
However, the majority of the signals sent out continue traveling in the pointed direction, and that’s how radar detectors work. A radar gun picks up the signals from the nearest vehicle, while a radar detector detects the signals from a greater range.
The main radar frequencies are X, K, KA, as well as Laser, and other than radar guns, these frequencies are used for automatic doors, collision avoidance systems, and speed display signs.
A poorly filtered radar detector will trigger way more often than it should, and I don’t think anyone wants to deal with that, so I looked at some of the features that a properly filtered, high-quality radar detector should have.
What Should You Look For in a Radar Detector?
Throughout my research, I found out that radar detectors can have an abundance of features, from audio programming to low voltage warning, but I wanted something practical and accurate, so I looked only at key radar detector features.
Necessary Radar Detector Features
Signal frequency coverage – We established that there are four main frequencies used to detect speed (X, K, KA, Laser), so purchasing a radar detector that can’t detect those frequencies would almost be pointless.
False alert filtering – Without an adequate way to filter out false signals, the radar detector would get pretty annoying pretty quickly. A detector should have a filtering system that’s decently pre-programmed from the manufacturer and a way for the user to adjust the device.
Range of the radar detector – A detector would be completely useless if it couldn’t pick up signals from a decent range. Surprisingly, most devices have very similar, if not the same range, and what’s even more surprising is that some high-end radar detectors with too much false alarm filtering sometimes don’t even pick up the radar signal at all.
Useful Radar Detector Features
Warranty and Support – Warranty is something you look at to determine whether or not the manufacturer believes in the quality of their product, and customer support lets you know just how much the manufacturer really cares about their customer base. Needless to say that both are important.
Speed camera detection – Most speed cameras are located in the city, and since the majority of people don’t usually speed in the city, this isn’t an absolutely necessary feature. However, speed camera detection can save you from a ticket that you would otherwise have to pay, so it’s definitely useful!
GPS – GPS is a very useful feature to have because it helps with false alert filtering. The location of stationary objects such as speed signs and automatic doors will be learned by the GPS and the detector will filter them out.
Frequently Asked Questions
During my research, I noticed that there’s a lot of confusion about radar detectors. And since I already did the research, I decided to save you some effort, clear up the confusion, and answer frequently asked questions about radar detectors!
Can Cops Find a Radar Detector?
Cops can find out if you have a radar detector in two different ways. Police can find out if you have a radar detector with a radar detector detector (RDD), and if you permit the officer to search your vehicle. However, unless you’re using a detector in a state where it’s illegal, you shouldn’t worry!
How to Fix a Radar Detector False Alarm?
The best way to fix radar detector false alarms is to purchase a quality device. The next best thing you can do is improve and correct the settings, either by yourself or with customer support’s help. Other than that, regularly update the radar detector and it should work properly.
Are Radar Detectors Illegal?
Radar detectors are legal in most US states. They are only illegal in Virginia and the District of Columbia. Radar detectors are also legal in most states outside of the USA, however, you should definitely check your own state’s law to be certain.
Do Radar Detectors Still Work?
Radar detectors do still work. Radar manufacturers have improved their technology over the years, but so have radar detector manufacturers. As long as you purchase a quality device, it will definitely work.
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Jed LehmanJed Lehman is a born gearhead who has been working on cars since he could crawl. He inherited his love for auto from his grandfather who owned a maintenance shop in Carlsbad, California. Jed is the driver behind Gearshift, and started this site to provide straightforward, helpful automobile information. From maintenance tips to product reviews, you can find it all here.
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