Radar detectors are electronic devices that determine if law enforcement is using equipment to monitor your speed nearby. With so many options on the market, it can be tricky to find the best radar detector for the money. That's why we've put together these budget radar detector reviews. Our top choices will perform the way you would expect and save you more.


Preview

Product

Radar Signal

Detection Range

Check Price

Cobra RAD 250 Laser Radar Detector - Long...

Cobra RAD 250

X, K, Ka, Laser, VG-2

Long

Uniden DFR1 Long Range Laser and Radar...

Uniden DFR1

X, K, Ka, Laser

Long

Uniden DFR3 Long Range Laser/Radar Detector...

Uniden DFR3

X, K, Ka, Laser

Extended Long

Cobra RAD 350 Laser Radar Detector - Long...

Cobra RAD 350

X, K, Ka, Laser, VG-2

Long

Whistler CR90 High Performance Laser Radar...

Whistler CR65

X, K, Ka, Laser

Long


Why Use a Radar Detector?

If you never speed, you might wonder what the benefit is to using the best cheap radar detector. Consider this. Where do most cops sit?

Typically at the bottom of a hill or where the speed quickly changes. The reason for this is to catch unsuspecting drivers who don't even know they are speeding. With a cheap radar detector, you head off this situation and protect yourself from a costly ticket.


Expectations of Cheaper Models

You might wonder if a cheap cordless radar detector is even going to work, but our affordable radar detector options prove that they do. While you won't get every bell and whistle with these models, you will gain enough functionality to protect yourself from a speeding ticket.

Look for a model that has a good range and some features, such as separate modes and audible alerts. All of these functions are available, even on many budget radar detector models.


Choosing a Quality Affordable Radar Detector

Speed Receptiveness

Look for cheap radar detectors that work to detect laser 360-degrees, all around the vehicle. This increases the sensitivity and allows you the time needed to adjust your speed. In addition, you want a model that's going to pick up the signal sent out by the high-tech guns used by some police departments.

Detection Range

Even with cheap Cobra radar detectors, you want to look for an extensive detection range. K-Band is commonly used with handheld radar guns, but the Ka-Band is slightly more popular. X-Band catches all radar around you, including that from the local grocery store's automatic doors and traffic sensors. It can also pick up collision avoidance systems from nearby cars.

Display

Most cheap police radar detector models look the same and feature a similar display. You will likely purchase a detector that is black or silver and has a user-friendly display. If you want to upgrade the display or add a model with intuitive buttons, you must expect a higher price tag in exchange.

Updated Database

Do cheap radar detectors work? Yes, but it's essential that it contains updated locations. Otherwise, it isn't going to do its job properly. When you are looking for a device, buy from a reputable brand name, and ensure that an extensive database is included, as well as updated. Some of the cheap Escort radar detectors might not offer this.

Mounting Style/Location

If you buy the best cheap police radar detector, it should also include a mounting option. Many of the top models include mounting hardware to make it easy, while others make you purchase it separately. You can typically mount your radar system on the windshield or on the dash.

Features

  • Voice Alerts
    With voice alerts, you can easily tell what's going on without taking your eyes off the road. It's considered a valuable safety feature on the best budget radar detector.
  • Indicators
    Look at the various indicators available on your good cheap radar detector. You might find a light or sound button that changes the intensity for complete customization.
  • City/Highway Mode
    When you adjust these modes, you alter the sensitivity. Using the City Mode allows you to operate on the lower end, while the Highway Mode is on the higher end.
  • VG-2 Alert & VG-2 Non Detection 
    VG-2 detection is used by police officers to find out who is using a radar detector. With non-detection, your radar blocks itself from being found out.
  • Laser Detection
    The LIDAR detector finds infrared emissions that come from law enforcements' speed devices. Not all agencies use these as they are more expensive, but laser detection keeps you protected.

Warranty

What is the best radar detector for your money? It's the one that's low-cost but also offers a warranty. After all, it does you no good to save money on the cheap Escort Redline radar detector if it doesn't come with the protection you need. Stick to buying from a company that offers at least a one-year warranty.


5 Best Budget Radar Detectors Reviewed

1. Cobra RAD 250

Product Specifications

Radar Signal

X, K, Ka, Laser, VG-2

Detection Range

Long

Display

Band identification, signal strength meter

Modes

City/Highway

Warranty

Yes, 1-year

Cobra is a leader in radar detection technology, but you don't need to spend a fortune to get a good model. The RAD 250 offers everything you need in a compact, low-cost package. Cobra adds an IVT Filter system to provide fewer false alerts than other companies. This system is patented, making it difficult for other manufacturers to compete. It also detects signals from every direction of the vehicle. The advanced laser eye sensor scans all around you. It also works with X, K and Ka bands, along with laser and VG-2 signals.

With the varying audible signal strengths, you can adjust the tones to your liking. Keep your eyes on the road, and stay safe while listening to the notifications you need. If you prefer to look at the display, you will find that it is simple to read. The display offers band identification icons and the signal strength meter so that you can remain informed.

This long-range detector is simple to mount and comes with exceptional customer reviews. The company also provides a one-year warranty, so you have peace of mind about the purchase. It's no wonder that drivers continue to trust Cobra with their radar detection needs.

Pros

  • Simple to mount
  • Reasonable price
  • Includes IVT Filter system
  • Reputable brand

Cons

  • Can be difficult to hear

2. Uniden DFR1

Product Specifications

Radar Signal

X, K, Ka, Laser

Detection Range

Long

Display

Icon

Modes

City/Highway

Warranty

Yes, 1-year

This super cheap model from Uniden offers you the barebones functions you need on the road. It is a long-range laser detector with an easy-to-read icon display. You can quickly see the signal strength meter bars and reduce your speed as needed. Even though it is a cheap radar detector, it still provides 360-degree protection for your drive. It also offers both the city and highway modes for adjustability.

This model proves that you don't need to spend a lot to get reliable radar or laser detection. It will work with X, K, Ka, and laser bands. While the reviews are superior, they don't quite hold up side-by-side with Cobra. However, for the lower price, this might be something you can deal with. In fact, the majority of customers found this model easy to use and mount.

The biggest complaints were about false alerts. Of course, this happens because the system doesn't have the same technology that the Cobra models do. If you have more to spend, you might think about upgrading slightly to receive fewer false alerts. However, you will still gain access to a one-year warranty. You can't ask for much more when you consider the small price you will pay to get this in your car.

Pros

  • Cheap
  • Simple to use
  • City/Highway modes
  • Good reviews

Cons

  • Gives off false alerts

3. Uniden DFR3

Product Specifications

Radar Signal

X, K, Ka, Laser

Detection Range

Extended Long

Display

Icon, Numeric signal strength

Modes

City/Highway

Warranty

Yes, 1-year

This model from Uniden is an upgrade from the last model, but that comes at a higher price. It detects radar and laser to keep you protected from those dreaded speeding tickets. It also sends out an audio alert that helps you keep your eyes on the road. This model works with several bands and uses modes for highway or city travel. Overall, you should experience fewer false alerts with this higher-priced detector.

It also contains an easy-to-read display featuring both icons and numeric signal strength. This offers all of the information you need to change your driving habits quickly. The dash-mounted radar detector takes just minutes to set up, plus the company includes your first round of batteries.

Uniden is a leader in electronics equipment, most known for cordless phones and walkie talkies. However, you don't want to underestimate what this company provides in other areas. If you are on the fence, one look through the customer reviews should quickly change your mind. Most people can't stop singing the product's praises. Plus, you get a one-year warranty with this unit. If you want to avoid speeding tickets, it's time to protect yourself with a highly rated Uniden radar detector. 

Pros

  • Quick installation
  • Audible signals
  • City/Highway modes
  • Highly rated

Cons

  • On the pricier side

4. Cobra RAD 350

Product Specifications

Radar Signal

X, K, Ka, Laser, VG-2

Detection Range

Long

Display

Icon, Numeric signal strength

Modes

City/Highway

Warranty

Yes, 1-year

Another one on the higher end of the price point is this upgrade from the Cobra RAD 250 we talked about earlier. Of course, this model also comes with that specialized IVT Filter system that's going to reduce the number of false alerts you receive. If you are passing a vehicle with a collision avoidance system or traffic sign, you have less of a chance of dealing with an alert than from many other models.

This model works in a 360-degree fashion to keep you protected from every angle. It also detects signals from the X-, K- and Ka-band, as well as laser and VG-2. If you want to adjust the audible signal strength, that shouldn't be an issue either. Keep your eyes on the road and listen to the signals to know when you should slow down. However, if you want to look at the display, it has a lot to offer. It comes with a seven-segment color display with numeric signs and icons for quick information.

One peek into the customer reviews shows why you should consider this radar detector. After all, Cobra doesn't make junk. The company even backs up its equipment with a one year warranty, so you have nothing to worry about. This will pay for itself if it saves you from one speeding ticket.

Pros

  • IVT Filter system
  • Easy-to-read display
  • City/Highway modes
  • Customers love it

Cons

  • More expensive

5. Whistler CR65

Product Specifications

Radar Signal

X, K, Ka, Laser

Detection Range

Long

Display

Icon

Modes

City/Highway

Warranty

Yes, 1-year

There's no reason to pay a premium price if you want a simple radar detector. Whistler is another top choice on the market, and this model shows why. The CR65 is on the lower end of the company's scale but helps you save the most money. Even though it is cheap, it still comes with plenty of features and capabilities. It even offers 360-degrees of perimeter protection, allowing you to get notified about signals in the rear, front, or on the sides.

This model comes complete with the windshield bracket kit and a 12V power cord for super-fast installation. It provides protection against any type of radar gun, including X, K, Ka, and Laser. It will also work with Laser Atlanta Stealth mode, LTI Truspeed S, and Laser Ally. With the POP model, you get advanced speed detection that occurs from the cops using a brief burst of radar. Plus, the Traffic Flow Signal Rejection helps to eliminate those pesky false alarms that come off of the traffic monitoring systems. 

If this particular model doesn't suit your needs, browse the other options on the product page. Whistler offers ten various models to pick from, all with exceptional customer reviews. Plus, you can take advantage of the one-year warranty.

Pros

  • Includes everything for installation
  • 360-degree protection
  • Traffic Flow Signal Rejection
  • Low price

Cons

  • Higher-priced models might work better

Types of Radar Detectors

You can purchase several types of radar detectors.

  • Dash/Window Mounted
    This is the most common type, as it is also the cheapest. This model will simply be placed on your windshield or on your dash. You can run it from batteries, plug it in or hardwire it to the vehicle.
  • Remote/Custom-installed 
    If you want a device that is hidden, you want to have a professionally installed unit instead. These are not considered the best affordable radar detector options but work well.

Bands Used by Radar Detectors

As you look for a good radar detector for the money, you want to pay attention to the band detection. The K-Band is used by many handheld radar guns, but Ka-Band tends to be more popular. There is also an X-Band, but that will catch everything around you emitting radar. You might get false signals from collision avoidance systems, traffic signs, and more.

Here's a helpful video describing the bands in-depth.


Setting Up & Mounting a Radar Detector

It isn't difficult to set up a radar detector and doesn't require special tools. Start by reading the detector's owner's manual. Then, you want to power it with batteries or by plugging it in. You can also hardwire it into the vehicle's battery. Mount the detector on the windshield or dash.

If you want to see a visual example of how to set up and use a radar detector, this video showcases the Uniden R3. Just keep in mind that all models have different features, which is why you should read the manual.


People Also Ask (FAQs)

Do radar detectors actually work?

Even if you buy the best Escort radar detector for the money, you will find that the device is good at picking up some signals. How well it works depends on the range and features.

How far do radar detectors detect?

Radar detector range varies based on the model you choose, but some can reach up to four miles.

Are radar detectors legal in the United States?

It's legal to use a radar detector in most states. They must be used in light trucks and passenger vehicles only. Plus, you wouldn't want to get caught with one in Virginia, Washington D.C., or on military bases.

What does laser alert mean on a radar detector?

A laser alert tells you that LIDAR has been seen. This happens when the cop points a LIDAR gun in your direction and pulls the trigger. Unfortunately, it might also mean that your speed has been measured.

What are false alerts on a radar detector?

False detection alerts occur for many reasons. You might have passed a speed sign, automatic door, or vehicle equipped with collision avoidance. If you want to lessen the occurrence, just adjust the unit's sensitivity.

Is it worth buying radar detectors under $50?

Of course! Our best cheap radar detectors reviews have shown you several models that save you money and work well. It's possible to buy radar detectors super cheap and still get superior functionality. The main difference between a cheap radar detector vs. expensive is the range and features included.


Conclusion

What is the best radar detector for the money? Most people that read our cheap radar detector reviews find that the Cobra RAD 250 suits all of their needs while making it possible to save money. All that's left to do is avoid those speeding tickets and save even more.

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