Laser alerts are a feature that most modern radon detectors incorporate. Till today, detectors have had X, K, Ka, or Ku band alerts. However, these are now better and smarter. Modern-day detector designs incorporate numerous settings to keep up with contemporary enforcement technologies.
It might seem a little overwhelming to try and understand all of it. But once you get the hang of the basics, it will be far easier to interpret these signals and make the best of any radar detector that you invest in.
So before we dive deep into the world of laser speed detection techniques, it is essential to understand other bands as well. Law enforcement authorities also make use of these, besides laser detection.
Table of Contents
What Do Laser Alerts Signify On Your Radar Detector?
Different Bands Used by Police Officials
Here is an overview of the five different bands in which police radar guns operate. It is essential to understand these bands so you can comprehend various alerts that your detector signals. So without wasting any more time, let us get right into it.
1. What Is An X Band?
X-band radar waves are the foremost allocated frequencies for police radar systems. These came into use in the 1950s becoming the oldest licensed frequencies today. The X band falls between 8.0 GHz and 12 GHz, whereas law enforcement radar guns universally operate at 10.5 – 10.55 GHz frequency.
X band today is barely in practice. However, it is the easiest to detect due to a high power output but a lower frequency. Besides police radar, garage or supermarket doors, burglary alarms, microwave towers, and microwave intrusion alarms also emit X-band waves.
For this reason, a lot of people prefer turning off the X-band detection in their radar detectors to avoid frequent false alerts. But no matter what, we always suggest our users enable X band frequency as some of the older police radar guns still operate on it in several areas. These may not be as widely employed compared to other bands but are in use, particularly in rural areas.
Many police officials use the X band on purpose to catch speed violators as they know people often turn the X band alerts off. So unless you are driving around well-known areas, we will not advise you to disable the X band radar alerts, no matter what other people may urge you to.
Based on the temperature, humidity, and terrain, X band radar frequency is easy to detect from 2 to 4 miles. But it can take precise readings only from a distance of half a mile or less. Moreover, the X band is less affected by poor weather conditions. And this very plus point outweighs the significant cons that come along the X band. The X-band radar guns require a larger antenna. The instrument is bulky and frustrating to use. And radar detectors very quickly pick up the X-band frequency even at longer distances. However, today the technology is so advanced that false alerts can be sophisticatedly filtered out without disturbing your driving experience.
2. What Is The K Band?
K band first made its appearance in the year 1978. Back then, it was only capable of being used from a stationary, hand-held position. Later, it underwent a redesign and police could use it even from a moving vehicle. After the introduction of the X band, police radar guns also started identifying K band frequency. This change was incorporated only a decade after, but the frequency proved itself as a high-performance alternative to the X band.
Today, the most frequently used radar frequency is the K band, and it ranges between 18 GHz and 27 GHz. Since it operates on high frequency, low power output, the K band is still today harder to detect from longer distances. These radar waves have smaller wavelengths. However, law enforcement radar guns operate from 24.05 to 24.25 GHz because of which, the K band is easily identifiable from about 1/4 mile to 2 miles.
In earlier times, the K band was quite a reliable frequency until other high-end everyday equipment also started operating on K band waves. This led to corruption and radar bands gave out too many distractions. However, high-quality radar detectors from Escort, Radenso, and other such premium brands are powerful and brilliant enough to allow superior-level false alert filtering. Police officials continue to operate the K-band along with the Ka-band for enhanced efficiency. But modern detectors reasonably neutralize and inform about the frequency.
One of the crucial things to keep in mind is that many people disable K-band alerts on their radar detectors; however, we do not recommend doing this. False alarms can easily trigger low-quality detectors as these make the detector pop even due to frequency that emits from blind spots or sources like automatic doors. Invest in a premium detector, and it will reduce these annoying false alerts. Also, the K band is so widely spread across The States that it is not a good idea to disable K band alerts, even the X band in some cases. It’s safe and will not let you fall into a trap!
3. What Is The Ka-Band?
Introduced in the year 1983 by FCC, this frequency on the Ka-band is the most high-tech law enforcement radar band that is currently allowed to be used. With a frequency range of 33.4 GHz and 36.0 GHz, Ka-band is slightly more tricky for detectors with the ability to identify only X and K band waves.
With the Ka-band, photo-cop, a photo radar, was also introduced. It combines the radar gun with an automated camera. What doubled up the stakes in the detection section was the introduction of a stalker radon gun, which can be licensed by the FCC for any frequency between 33.4 GHz to 36.0 GHz.
This is why, if your detector is obsolete, it may not be able to alert you of the presence of Ka waves so quickly. As X and K bands operate on just a single or dual frequency, the Ka-band operates the Ka-band itself along with the Ka wide-band, as well as Ka super wide-band.
Law enforcement officials in almost half the country prefer using speed radar guns like Stalker functioning on Ka-band. Therefore, you must invest in a detector that is capable of determining these advanced threats. Due to a narrower beam pattern and low power output, the Ka-band is quite challenging to detect from longer distances. Plus, not too many non-law enforcement radar sources emit Ka frequencies today as opposed to the X band and K band.
This is why buying a class-leading detector must be your priority. Older and cheaper detectors do not possess enough sensitivity to improve your on-road experience or alert you of any legitimate threat ahead of behind.
Ka-band has the reputation of giving out minimal false alerts and is also the most dangerous type. When it was first introduced in the market, Ka-band was a nasty threat even then. But to fend off the risks, deploying adequate protection is the first step even before you step out on the roads with your vehicle.
Manufacturers have developed top-rated radar detectors that operate on the super wide band, which saves you even from the sneakiest officer. These provide continuous protection against X, K, and photo radar, which is essentially what you require.
4. What Is Ku Band?
The Federal Communications Commission allocated the 13.45 GHz frequency on a band different from X, K, and Ka – the Ku band. This band ranges from 12 to 18 GHz; however, 13.45 GHz is standardized for radar enforcement agencies.
The catch is, the Ku band is not typical in the United States. It is very recently that the Ku band has been introduced to the US for speed detection. Ku radars have never been sold or used in the US. Several countries in the Middle East and Europe use the Ku band primarily for satellite communications, but it is also useful in traffic radars.
In 2006, Cobra Electronics introduced a new line of radar detectors at the Consumer Electronics Show. Amongst these, Ku band detectors also made their first appearance in The States. None of the domestic manufacturers had ever produced a product suitable for the Ku frequency.
Competitors were then left scratching their heads as nobody was aware of this new type, nor they knew of its arrival. However, it works somewhat in between the X-band and K-band frequencies. It has a long-known history but very fewer implications in real-time for speed detection.
The US market is so full of X, K, and Ka-band detectors. These remain to be the only US-authorized frequencies for police radar.
5. What Is Laser Band?
Unlike the most prevalent brands in the US, laser speed guns, also referred to as LIDAR, make use of light to determine the speed of moving vehicles. Light Detection and Ranging speed guns are high-tech and have made their way into the whole of The States and local law enforcement agencies for traffic enforcement.
LIDAR produces a far narrower beam than radar to make it easier for police officials to target a speeding vehicle. This enables accurate pinpointing, reducing the capturing time to less than half a second as opposed to 2 to 3 seconds with radar. Also known as Light Imaging, Detection, And Ranging, the laser band has compelling advantages.
However, knowing the drawbacks is equally important. LIDAR speed guns are expensive, and accurate aiming demands a steady hand or a tripod for enhanced efficiency. However, modern-day detectors can detect the laser beam, despite the initial claims that the laser gun is undetectable. As the beam moves away from the weapon, it is easy to distinguish. Where vehicles are measured at around one-fifth of a mile, the laser beam at that distance is over 3 feet wide.
Since LIDAR is a new and better technology, here we try and explain to you more of its specifics.
What Do Laser Alerts Mean On Radar Detectors?
Now that you are aware of the different frequencies police speed guns transmit, you can better understand how radar detectors pick up LIDAR.
LIDAR, unlike traffic radar, can be cast-off only in the instant-on mode. This means that when the officer clocks the trigger, only then can radar detectors identify LIDAR – that too when the target vehicle is nearby. But then what does the laser alert signify on your radar detector? How does it alert you ahead of time?
Laser alert is simply a feature to signal the driver when it perceives LIDAR frequencies. Your radar detector gives you a laser alert when a LIDAR gun is aiming at your vehicle. This indicates that you are too late to take action or slow down. Your speed would have already been measured. Moreover, laser detectors with laser sensors are expensive, and they also cannot detect behind you. These detect beams right in front of you. Some of the costlier models consisting of two laser sensors are a better bet. These detect laser pulses from the sides as well as the back.
Making The Most Out Of Laser Alerts
For radar detectors, it is challenging to perform 100% when it comes to the lightning-fast speed of LIDA guns. Having a laser alert on the detector still makes more sense than nothing at all. LIDAR is relatively new but is certainly gaining more traction. However, it may not be so efficient on its own. You will have to couple it with a few other technologies, constant vigilance, and appropriate strategy to gain maximum benefit.
1. Laser Jammers
These are, in the true sense, practical defenses against lasers. Jammers confuse the police speed guns by transmitting light on the same wavelength but at a higher intensity. However, several states in the USA prohibit using laser jammers due to security reasons. So look up your state laws before directly switching on to jammers.
2. Info-Sharing Apps
What info-sharing apps like iRadar from Cobra do is tag GPS locations of the active presence of speed traps. This helps you stay more secure and informed while driving. These are community apps where people share information belonging to their particular communities for the convenience of other radar detector users. So this way, you get accurate data on where active lasers have been tagged.
Causes of False Laser Alerts
Even in the case of LIDAR, your detector can give out false alerts. The beam may not always be coming from the police radar guns. A few other things pointing to similar frequencies may include LED taillights, bright lights, laser-based vehicular systems, the latest smartphones, navigation devices, and even areas like airports. Laser alert on your radar detector can either be picked up by a police speed gun or from something other than that. In the case of the first instance, you must act immediately to mitigate the possible risk.
Staying up to date on the information of info-sharing apps, using the jammer within precise timing, and concentrating on the road will maximize the efficacy of a laser alert. If it is the second case, apply your discretion and assume it is a false alert, especially if you see no patrols around.
In Conclusion …
With an understanding of what X, K, Ka, and Laser bands indicate on your radar detectors, you can now take informed and speedy actions.
We hope this article answers your queries regarding the different alerts that keep prompting on your radar detector.
So, have a safe and informed driving journey. Also, do not forget to share this article with someone you think might find this useful.