Radars are the greatest collision avoidance system made for recreational or commercial boaters. We know that there are so many options available that it can be confusing to understand which radar you need to provide safe navigation.

That's what we're here for. 



Marine radars allow you to navigate through darkness, fog and choppy weather conditions. Today, radars are compact units that draw minimal electricity and fit boats as small as 18' in length. Radar can be a real life saver when paired with the best electronics package. Consider the following questions when browsing for a radar:

1. What are you using your radar for and how often you will use it? 

If you are new to Radar and will be casually using radar, not leaving the dock before dawn or staying overnight, the basic radar system is perfect for you. If you are a fair weather boater and get yourself caught in fog or unknown storms, then the entry level radar syatem will help you navigate through or find your way home in the dark. If you are the type of boater than is often out at night and don't mind going out in sticky weather situation you will want more features and capabilities from your radar system including doppler, bird mode, Chirp etc. 


2. Are your electronics compatible with Radar? 

Compatibility is a key question when upgrading your chartplotter if you're also considering adding radar. Most multifunction displays can operate a radar system however there are combos, specifically for inland fishing, that cannot. A few models that do not support radar include Garmin echoMAP, Lowrance Elite TI, Raymarine Dragonfly, and Simrad Cruise.


3. How far do you need to see?

Installing your radar using a lift mount increases the maximum range for seeing surface targets, but also limits what you can see around your boat. If your primary use is looking for groups of vessels or birds, you will wants a lot of range. If your main use in adding radar is to see close in pilings or rocks in fog you will want better short range performance. Radar range can vary from 36nm to Alot of people ask, "Why do I need a radar with a range of 48nm?", the reason for the longer range is to see weather in the approaching distance.


4. Open Array vs. Dome Radar

Unlike display resolution, which measures the pixels in an LCD display, radar resolution is the ability to display radar targets which are close together. There are two contributing factors to understand radar resolution, bearing and range. Bearing resolution is the radar's ability to separate targets at the same range, close together, measured by the horizontal beamwidth. The wider the array, the narrower the horizontal beamwidth, the better the resolution. The horizontal beamwidth ranges from .75 to 5 degrees and the vertical beamwidth from 20-25 degrees. An open array has a much wider antenna than a dome which will make it always have a better radar image than a dome, no matter what technology it is. 


The second factor, range, measures the pulse length of the radar. A short pulse length gives better resolution than a long pulse length. You want to use short pulse length on short ranges and a longer pulse length for longer range detection.


5. Traditional Radar with Magnatron vs Solid State vs Doppler 

Traditional Marine Radar uses a magnetron vacuum tube to generate and transmit short high power pulses. A solid state radar can't generate high power pulses so it makes the pulse longer to ratain comparable energy per pulse. This introduces pulse compression which deliveres a chirp-like pulse to the radar receiver, creating a short, strong echo on the screen. This leads you to doppler technology. Doppler technology measures the shift on returning echoes. These radars will tell you whether a target is approaching you (in red) or moving away from you (in green). An example of use would be picking out a boat under a fixed bridge, normally you cannot see a boat masked by a fixed object, with Doppler technology, you can. 


6. What is your budget?

For many, radar is a huge investment and the final determination of whether you will add radar or not. Adding a standard radar to a compatible multifunction display can be done for around $1,200. Without overpaying for features you will rarely use, you also want to make sure you aren't underspending on features that you would soon wish you had.



Simrad

Dome or Array

Power Output

Doppler 

Dual Range

Rotation Speed (RPM)

Range (nm)

Horizontal Beamwidth

Price

Halo 6

Array

6ft   

6kW Solid State with Pulse Compression Yes with add on Yes 48 72 1.2 degrees $6,499.00

Halo 4

Array

4ft   

6kW Solid State with Pulse Compression Yes with add on Yes 48 64 1.8 degrees $5,999.00

Halo 3

Array

3 ft   

6kW Solid State with Pulse Compression Yes with add on Yes 48 48 2.4 degrees $5,499.00

Halo 24

Dome

24 inch

25W Pulse Compression Yes Yes 20-60 48 3.9 degrees $2,799.00
Halo 20+

Dome

20 inch

25W Pulse Compression Yes Yes 20-60 36 4.9 degrees $2,199.00
Halo 20

Dome

20 inch

6W Pulse Compression No No 24 24 4.9 degrees $1,699.00

Garmin Dome or Array Power Output Doppler  Dual Range Rotation Speed (RPM) Range (nm) Horizontal Beamwidth Price
GMR 2526 xHD2 Array | 6ft 25kW No Yes 24 and 48 96 1.1 degrees $8,999.99
 Fantom 126 Array | 6ft 120W Yes Yes 24 and 48 96 1.25 degrees $8,499.99
GMR 2524 xHD2 Array | 4ft 25kW No Yes 24 and 48 96 1.8 degrees $8,199.99
 Fantom 124 Array | 4ft 120W Yes Yes 24 and 48 96 1.8 degrees $7,999.99
GMR 1226 XHD2 Array | 6ft 12kW No Yes 24 and 48 72 1.1 degrees $6,599.99
 Fantom 56 Array | 6ft 50W Solid State Yes Yes 24 and 48 72 1.25 degrees $6,499.99
 Fantom 54 Array | 4ft 50W Solid State Yes Yes 24 and 48 72 1.8 degrees $5,999.99
GMR 1224 xHD2 Array | 6 ft 12kW No Yes 24 and 48 72 1.8 degrees $5,799.99
GMR 424 xHD2 Array | 4ft 4kW No Yes 24 and 48 72 1.8 degrees $3,999.99
Fantom 24 Dome | 24 inch 40W Solid State Yes Yes

24/48 rpm (dual rotation)

48 3.7 degrees $2,799.99
GMR 24 xHD Dome | 24 inch 4kW No Yes

24/48 rpm (dual rotation)

48 3.7 degrees $1,979.99
Fantom 18 Dome | 18 inch 40W Solid State Yes Yes

24/48 rpm (dual rotation)

48 5.2 degrees $1,999.99
GMR 18 xHD Dome | 18 inch 4kW  No Yes

24/48 rmp (dual rotation)

48 5.2 degrees $1,319.99
GMR 18 HD+ Dome | 18 inch 4kW No No 24  36 5.2 degrees $1,072.49