Proper installation plays a big role in maximizing the performance of marine radar domes. So, if you’re considering installing a new solid-state dome radar aboard your boat or checking out the install aboard a boat you are buying, keep these factors in mind.
To perform effectively, mount the radar dome high enough to give it an unfettered, level and full-circle view of the horizon, but not so high as to be adversely affected by the boat’s pitching and rolling. The most common way of achieving this elevation on center console, express cruiser and walkaround cuddy models is to install the dome on a hardtop or T-top. On runabouts, mounting the dome on a radar arch fills the bill. The higher the elevation, the greater the radar range, but too much elevation can hamper close-in performance because the beam will shoot over targets rather than at them.
The radar should be installed so that it’s level while the boat is underway. The bow angle is often greater when the boat is running at speed than when it’s at rest. So, if you mount the dome level with the boat at rest, the radar beam will be aimed upward while underway. To find the correct angle, use an inclinometer or app such as TiltMeter to determine the average bow angle at cruising speed for your boat. Use a wedge adapter to tilt the forward portion of the dome downward to compensate for bow rise. Seaview offers wedges of 2, 4 and 6 degrees ($59.50, iboats.com).
Today’s solid-state marine radars are so sensitive, they can detect objects that are just an arm’s length away, including onboard elements such as the outer edges of your hardtop. Either install the dome near the forward edge of the top or mount the dome on a pedestal such as the Edson Vision Series 6-inch radar mount ($180.95, starmarinedepot.com) or the Scanstrut 6-inch PowerTower ($199.52, hodgesmarine.com). Note: You might need a taller pedestal for extra-wide hardtops.
Avoid mounting your new dome radar on the same horizontal plane as a second radar scanner, as the two radars systems can interfere with each other; a conventional-type magnetron radar can actually damage a solid-state scanner in this configuration. The same holds true for a GPS antenna — it should not be within the horizontal beam width of the radar scanner. Mount the GPS antenna so that it’s either below or above the beam. It’s best to check the owner’s manual and call the manufacturer before drilling holes.
Solid-State Dome Radar Models
Here are six examples of today’s compact, solid-state dome radar models. Check the manufacturers’ websites for compatible displays.
Brand/Model | Diameter (in.) | Weight (lb.) | Max Range (nm) | Price
Furuno DRS4D-NXT Doppler | 24 | 16.1 | 36 | $2,095.00
Garmin Fantom 18 MotionScope Doppler | 18 | 12.3 | 48 | $1,999.99
Humminbird HB2124 Chirp Wireless | 21 | 12.3 | 24 | $1,799.99
Lowrance 4G Broadband | 19.3 | 16.3 | 36 | $1,899.00
Raymarine Quantum Chirp Wireless | 18 | 12.3 | 24 | $1,699.99
Simrad 4G Broadband | 19.3 | 16.3 | 36 | $1,999.00