Radar and Laser Speed Camera Detector Buyer's Guide

Radar and laser speed camera detectors warn drivers when they are approaching 'LIVE' in-use radar and laser based speed cameras, typically mobile speed camera locations. They achieve this by detecting the various bands and beams that are emitted when Police and road safety team operators are using their radar and laser guns.

While mobile cameras can and do use radar or laser technology, the vast majority of mobile speed cameras these days are laser based. Laser is the preferred method as the operating range is far greater, typically up 1 mile away, rather than that of radar which operates over a distance - typically 200-300yards.

Radar, however is used in all live in-use Gatso speed cameras, so it is possible when using a radar detector to tell you if a Gatso camera at the roadside is live or not.

It is worth noting that when using a radar detector on UK roads, you may receive a lot of false alerts from various sources. These include automatic shop doorway sensors - found at supermarkets and petrol station forecourts, traffic lights and traffic signals and even from other vehicles using adaptive automotive cruise control. However, to limit these false alerts it is possible to turn off radar bands/frequencies on detectors that feature radar detection.


What are the limitations of a radar and laser detector?

Ten to fifteen years ago Gatso speed cameras were the number one speed enforcement camera in use in the UK and having a radar detector was therefore extremely useful.

These days however, and with advances in technology, the latest speed enforcement devices are NOT using radar detection. For example SPECS and VECTOR 'Average Speed Check' cameras use digital time stamped photos at two different points on a section of road to compare your average speed between them.

While a radar and laser detector will alert you to mobile speed camera locations, it will not warn you to every fixed speed camera in use in the UK.

When buying a speed camera detector you need to consider whether you want to receive alerts to speed cameras that do not use radar and laser. Speed cameras that are undetectable via a radar/laser detector include Truvelo, SPECS, VECTOR, HADECS 3 and Truvelo D-Cam.

If you want to detect all speed cameras (fixed and mobile) via a dedicated speed camera detector you will need to buy a device that incorporates a GPS database within the device; the best speed camera detector to offer full-protection (GPS, radar and laser) is the Snooper 3ZERO.

Another speed camera detector you should also consider is the Road Angel Gem+ (pictured left) which features GPS and laser detection. There is no radar detection built-in to Gem+ which also means no false alerts from other sources at the road side e.g. shop door way sensors. The Gem+ also has the added feature of LIVE updates thanks to a built-in GPRS connectivity. At the press of a button in-use mobile sites can be added and shared with all other Road Angel Gem+ users in seconds!

Alternatively, if you already own and use a sat nav with a speed camera database subscription, then you could consider adding a radar and laser only detector to your sat nav. You would then have effectively the same warnings to speed cameras as a dedicated speed camera detector.


What Radar and Laser detectors are there to buy?

We sell a selection of radar and laser detectors including the Snooper 3ZERO, Valentines One and Snooper Cobra iRadar. The Snooper Laser Pod is the only speed camera detector that is just laser detector and makes it a good addition to a sat nav device.

Pictured right the Valentine One G3 radar detector can detect radar guns pointing at both the front of your car and the back of it. A bright red LED arrow then illuminates to illustrate which direction the radar gun is pointing at you from. To view/buy the Valentine One click here.

The Snooper 3ZERO (pictured left) is a great radar and laser detector. In addition you can optionally use the Snooper 3ZERO as a GPS detector by registering the product with the manufacturer and subscribing to their speed camera GPS database. The Snooper 3ZERO does not require subscription to work; it will detect radar and laser bands without paying any subscription fee. To view/buy the Snooper 3ZERO click here.

The benefit of buying a dedicated radar and laser detector is the detection range will be superior to other devices. For example, if you do not need or want to use a GPS database of speed camera locations, the Valentine One G3 radar and laser detector is better than the Snooper 3ZERO in terms of the radar and laser warning range and capabilities. If you have a TomTom or Garmin satnav with GPS speed camera warnings then you could add a radar and laser detector to your car to then have complete speed camera protection.

If you would like to use your mobile phones' GPS capabilities to warn you of speed cameras you should consider buying the Snooper Cobra iRadar (pictured right). This detector provides compatible Apple and Android Smartphones with a leading GPS speed camera database. Plus the Cobra iRadar will detect via radar and laser by installing the supplied detection device under your cars' bonnet.

We sell Radar and Laser detectors here at SpeedCamerasUK.com. Click here to view our shop. To view a comparison table that compares the three different radar and laser detectors we sell please click here.


How does a Laser Detector work?

Laser speed camera detectors warn drivers when they are approaching Laser based speed cameras. Laser usage in the UK is generally limited to mobile handheld devices, that the Police use on the roadside or from bridges. In 2007 Arrive Alive speed cameras in north Wales caught 55,704 offenders. Another 5,610 were caught by officers with hand-held laser devices.

A Laser speed camera emits a narrow, focused Laser beam consisting of a series of pulses which are reflected back from the target vehicle. The times for these pulses to return are measured and from these the speed of vehicle can be calculated.

The Snooper Laser Pod (pictured right) is a laser only speed camera detector. This Snooper product is a good addition to a SatNav. The Snooper will clip onto most satnavs conveniently and provide power to some sat navs.


How does a Radar speed camera work?

Gatso speed cameras and Radar guns operate by emitting a radio signal at a set frequency (e.g. K Band) which is then reflected by the target vehicle. The reflected signal frequency is shifted in direct proportion to the vehicles speed and this shift is used by the Radar equipment to calculate the vehicles exact speed.

There are several radar bands that are used in the UK and Europe, these are:

‣X Band
‣K Band
‣Ka Band
‣Ku Band


How does a Radar Detector work?

A radar signal is conical in shape much like a torch beam. At 200yards, the normal operation range of a radar gun, the signal is a wide as a dual carriageway. Most of the signal therefore, goes past the target and on up the road - reflecting off trees and houses etc eventually becoming 'radar scatter'. Radar detectors are extremely sensitive radio receivers tuned to these frequencies and can detect very small particles of 'radar scatter' at up to two miles away.


Are Radar and Laser Detectors Legal?

It is 100% legal (June 2015) to use a Radar and/or Laser speed camera detector in the United Kingdom to warn of all speed camera locations - fixed and mobile.

However the legality differs from country to country in Europe. For example it is understood to be illegal in France, where the Gendarmerie (French Police) have been known to make motorists drive over their Radar and Laser detectors!

For further information please visit our Speed Camera Detector legal page.

Last updated: 22nd July 2015