Spending time on your boat away from densely populated areas is a great way to relax and recharge. However, you can’t expect the weather to be in sync with you and be beautiful and sunny every time you sail. For days when clouds accumulate quickly, and storms start to rage, you need a marine radar to help you navigate your way back.
The same goes for fishers who like to practice their hobby at night. Investing in the best boat radar provides an extra layer of safety.
We have prepared some marine radar reviews and a buying to lessen your burden of searching for a good product. There are some key points and features to consider before making a purchase, and you will find them here. Just keep reading.
Best Boat Radars Comparison Chart
Raymarine Quantum Radom
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Furuno LCD Radar
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Lowrance 4G Radar Kit
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Best Boat Radars Reviews – (Editors’ Choice)
We have compiled our list with no particular order in mind. So without further ado, please take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of the products we tested.
1. Raymarine Quantum Radom
This product from Raymarine weighs about 50% less than an average magnetron radar. The Quantum Radom’s weight is only about 17 pounds. Furthermore, thanks to its safe emission feature, this product consumes less power. Thus it has lower emissions than other radars. This system transmits only 17 watts when working and only 7 watts on standby. The maximum range of this product is up to 24 nautical miles and also has an excellent short-range detection of 18 feet.
Everything you need to install this system is included in the box. It comes with a power and a data cable, bolts and spring washers, plus the documentation.
- This unit has extended battery life.
- It loads in seconds, so you don’t have to wait long.
- You can use this radar wireless or with a cable.
- The radar can identify small targets with ease, even if they are near larger ones.
- No considerable disadvantages.
2. Furuno LCD Radar
This product is an entire radar system from Furuno. You get an 8,4-inch color LCD monitor and a 19-inch antenna. The maximum range of this unit is up to 36 nautical miles, which is decent for small boats and crafts for which this product is recommended.
The power consumption of this radar system is about 38W. That is more than other products on our list, but it’s still considered low power consumption. A 33-foot cable comes with the radar, but if you need it longer or shorter, you can contact the seller, and they’ll send you whichever you need. Thus, you will get the ideal setting for your radar installation.
- The monitor has swiveling brackets so you can adjust the angle.
- A feature called True Trail mode allows you to track the movements of other vessels.
- Storms and fogs do not disturb the signal, and it produces clear images.
- The display is waterproof as well as the antennae so you can install it externally.
- No disadvantages.
3. Garmin Radome
Our next product is an 18-inch radar from Garmin with 4 kW transmit power and power consumption of 33,5 watts. With this unit, you can see up to 36 nm ahead of your boat. You need to have a compatible Garmin chart plotter to use this radar. Also, you may use an Android tablet, but you need to get the right app so you can connect the two.
The unit comes with cables to connect it to the chart plotter and the battery. Plus, in the package, you’ll find all nuts, studs, and washers. However, depending on where you want to set it up, you may need to purchase mounting brackets.
- Dynamic auto gain and sea filters allow the system to adjust to the surrounding automatically.
- Harsh weather conditions do not disturb the radar’s work.
- You can track up to ten targets with this Garmin radar.
- None that we could find.
4. Lowrance 4G Radar Kit
Lowrance’s 4G radar kit comes with everything you need for a straightforward installation. However, it depends on the location, whether you’ll need anything additional to set this system up. The item is small and lightweight. Its dimensions are 25 x 15 x 22 inches, and the weight is about 26 pounds. This radar kit is recommended for small boats. You can use see small objects or targets from up to 200 yards.
Overall, this radar is easy to set up and integrate with a display and a GPS. It has a beam sharpening feature that makes target separation a breeze. Plus, the images this system produces are sharp and clear.
- You can follow up to ten targets with this radar.
- It can pick up non-typical targets.
- The radar is instantly on when you set it up, no need to wait for it to warm up and load.
- Low power consumption – only about 1 APM/hour.
- An Ethernet cable isn’t included in the package.
What Boat Radar Do You Need
Whether you need a simpler model or one with many features depends on the frequency and time of your sailing. Ask yourself the following questions: Do you sail at night time? Do you spend long hours or days on your boat? Do you go fishing in unfamiliar areas? Do you use your boat for whale watching? Do you sail in an area that is prone to fogs?
If you answered with “No” to these questions, then you need a radar with just the essential features. However, if you answered positive, then you need a multi-functioning unit for more security.
Using a radar provides an essential layer of safety when sailing. It gives you awareness about your surroundings and other moving objects near you.
Every sailor dreams and hopes for clear skies and excellent visibility, but that isn’t always the case. Good boat radar is your best chance at navigating through a thick fog, at night, or in another situation where your visibility has decreased.
What is Marine Radar? How Does it Work?
The word ‘radar’ is actually an acronym. It stands for Radio Detection and Ranging. Similar to the sound-wave principle, boat radars have a specific principle. Each has an antenna that spins and emits a signal and listens back for it. When the signal reaches an object, it bounces back and reaches the radar. That’s when the radar indicates to you where the object is but not what it is.
Every unit has a different range and target capacity. Some models can detect objects with as much as forty miles or more. Others are better at identifying what is around your boat. Also, some can show only about three or four targets, while others can detect ten or more.
What to Look for When Choosing Marine Radar
Here are the things to consider and features to look out for when deciding on marine radars:
- Size and weight are essential for the size of the boat. When you dedicate a place on your ship for radar and all its parts, make sure the product you buy fits those dimensions. Furthermore, some units can be quite heavy and should be installed on a surface that will support their weight.
- The power of marine radar is the distance you can use it on and how much it can focus on targets. With a powerful enough radar, you are able to see small things from further away. Furthermore, such a unit will not be affected by light weather changes such as rain, fog, drizzle, etc. The standard power consumption for boat radars is from 4 kW to 25 kW. You need to take your battery into account when choosing a radar. For more information about boat batteries, see our guide on marine battery charges and some product reviews.
- Beamwidth is crucial to choosing the right radar for your boat. Most units have a broadcast range between 1 and 6 degrees. The width of the beam correlates to the minimum target width. That means that the narrower the beam is, the restricted the visibility in close quarters is. It also means better target differentiation and more precise bearings.
- Mounting and installing a radar is simple in most cases. You should follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer and get all of the required hardware and cables before you begin. Finding the ideal place to do set up the unit depends on the size and weight of the model. The antenna should be installed as high as your boat allows. If you have any concerns about the process, you can hire a professional technician.
- Usage is crucial when buying a boat radar. You should think well about what you’re going to use the unit for before completing a purchase. Like we said at the beginning of our guide, you should determine whether you need stand-alone or multi-function radar. The former is suitable for small boats and if you sail in good weather and familiar areas. The latter is a good fit for larger vessels, long trips, or night fishing.
- New and old models use different technologies. The more traditional technology is using microwave signals, while the modern units use broadband radars. This new technology is more optimized and doesn’t emit radiation. Plus, it delivers high-resolution images and doesn’t require a warm-up period when turning on the radar.
- The waterproof rating is also essential, and naturally, all marine units must have it. That being said, they have different ratings. Some are ok to use with light splashes of water only, while others can withstand heavy rains.
Difference between a Radar and a Chartplotter
They can and should be used together because they serve different purposes. Radars detect what objects are around you – fixed and moving – and show you each of them. They also detect other vessels, fish, birds, etc.
A chart plotter, just like a GPS, shows you what should be around you at all times. It can indicate to you where buoys and land are. If you want to read more about GPS chart plotters, be sure to check our post on types and benefits of marine chart plotters and some product reviews.
Using both devices in combination provides you with a full image of your surroundings.
Benefits of Using a Boat Radar
We will only list the benefits here since there are actually no drawbacks of using this type of technology on your boat. New style radars are light years ahead of their old ancestors, and each model has more and more features to offer.
- Radars come on instantly. It is also a considerable improvement in the latest models. They turn on instantaneously, and you don’t have to wait until it loads.
- They use less power. Many of the products we’ve reviewed above and the new radars use less energy than their old counterparts. That is one of the top features to look for in boat radar.
- Their signals can present better images. Combine your radar with a high-quality monitor, and you can have a clear picture of your surrounding areas.
- Emergency features. Last but not least, you can get а boat radar with an emergency feature, like SOS or GPS.
- They emit little to no dangerous radiation. What is better than that? Low emissions technologies are rising in demand and popularity so you can easily find such a unit.
Frequently Asked Questions about Radars
It is natural that you would have additional and more specific questions about these products. We have prepared answers to some of the most commonly asked ones. You can also read about other marine supplies, equipment, and products by checking out our designated boat accessories page.
What Can Boat Radars Detect?
Marine radars can detect various static and moving objects, such as other boats or ships, buoys, fish, birds, and more. The range of the radar depends on the model that you’re using.
Are Radars Dangerous?
The answer is no. Some people have concerns over the radio signals which marine radars use, but they do not cause any health issues to humans or fish. It is just a common misconception.
Will Rain Affect the Radar?
It is possible for rain to interfere with the signal. Rain could also reflect the signal and mask some smaller or faraway objects. However, the bigger or the closer an object is, the rain shouldn’t be a problem. Also, the higher-quality the radar is, the less chance there is to be affected by rain.
How Should I Maintain My Boat Radar?
Radar maintenance is simple. Most if not all, models of marine radars are built from durable materials that are intended to use near water. They should be fine in various harsh weather conditions. You also don’t have to worry about corrosion because they are made from marine-grade materials.
What is more, some products even have displays which can be used outdoors. So, to keep your radar up and running, you should just include its maintenance in your boat cleaning routine. Rinsing it with fresh water and wiping down impurities or bird droppings should be enough to maintain its performance. However, if you notice the radar is acting strangely, you should contact the manufacturer and discuss that and maybe postpone your night fishing.
What Does the Radar Come With?
There is no one answer to this question as it depends on the manufacturer and the seller. Some radars have all mounting hardware included in the package. Others have different cables that come with the radar. You can also find kits that include the antenna, a display, or other accessories. Of course, you can also find stand-alone radar without the additional parts.
Now that you’ve reached our guide’s end, we are sure that you know what the best boat radar for you is. As you see, we try to provide you with relevant and helpful information so that you can make an informed decision before purchasing. After all, it is our job and we love helping people.
You can feel free to share your thoughts and feedback. Do you want to see more boat radar reviews? You can take a look at our other guides and marine product reviews. We promise to keep you updated, so come back soon for more information on boat-related accessories.
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