Boating situational awareness is always a good thing, and this is where a radar comes into play. So how do you pick the right radar for the job? I get a lot of calls from dealers asking why you would pick one radar over another.
There are 2 main types of radar for this discussion. Open arrays and closed dome radars. Of these two types each has a purpose. “Biggest is Not Always Best”.
Dome radars in the 18 and 24 inch size range will normally be used on vessels 30′ and less. These are boaters that want a radar just for navigational purposes. We’ve all heard the statement “I don’t want to hit anything.” Of course, you still have to watch where you are going. This class of radars come in Solid State and classic Magnetron radars.
The solid-state dome radars are really good at finding channel markers, some PVC pipes and are very good at painting shorelines. Magnetron radars do almost as well but perform a little better at longer ranges.
Open array radars 4kw up to 25kw are great for navigation. What gets interesting is when someone says, “I want to find birds”. I’ll save that discussion for next month. The open arrays are used for finding targets at a much longer range than a dome radar. What you get with the open array is more energy on target with a narrower beam width. This will paint a better picture than the dome radars. This will help you see more of what is around you.