Knowing the Factors: Finding the Best Lightning Detector

Lightning is a serious concern. Each year, there are several lives ended because of this weather phenomenon. Lightning is one of the hardest things to protect against because it is unpredictable, and it cannot be stopped. Modern technology, however, is greatly decreasing this predictability gap through devices such as lightning detectors. These devices can save lives and serve as a warning system in moments of treacherous weather. Because of this, more and more individuals are considering buying these detectors for their own personal use. The following outlines what you need to know before buying.

The Categories

Like so many different products, lightning detectors do not come in a singular group or type. Instead, there are three distinct categories. Read on to learn more about each.

  1. The Mobile Option: One option that you will have when choosing a lightning detector is the mobile lightning detector. This system utilizes a detection system via an antenna. This system is utilized in moving objects such as a plane and detects the lightning by what is called attenuation. Because this is not a triangulated device, it sometimes miscalculates the flash and overestimates the intensity of the lightning.
  2. On the Ground: Ground based lightning detectors are one of the first detectors that you are likely to hear about. These devices are stationary and utilize antennas to search for lightning. Typically, there are three different antennas to search out the light that is caused by lightning. Then, using a radio-like system, these devices triangulate to locate lightning in the area. Then an alert is given to notify the user. These devices are utilized by major weather companies and national weather services.
  3. Space Based: The other option that is available in lightning detectors is what is known as a space-determined or based detector. This system utilizes manufactured satellites to detect lightning flashes. It can determine the distance and the intensity of these flashes. But, because it is neither mobile or ground-based, the data comes in more slowly. As such, by the time the user get it, the information may be older and less useful.

What to Consider

Knowing the categories of lightning detectors is important. Each has its strengths and weaknesses. But, the journey to identifying does not stop there. There are are also several other factors to consider when buying including:

  1. The Distance: Of course, you will want to consider the distance that a detector is going to evaluate for you. You want to know if it is going to be only localized information or allow for analysis of a greater distance. Those with larger ranges are perfect for those that do not live in areas with a great deal of storm activity. But, if you do live in an area where storms are a problem, you may want to consider a detector with more range and distance.


  1. The Type: You will have to decide when buying what type you want to buy. There are two distinct types of devices. One is the personal lightning detector. This option is often powered by batteries and can be highly mobile. It is great for those who want to take their lightning detectors on the go. The other is the professional quality device. This option is higher in quality but can be more expensive. It does, however, have more advanced features, which is perfect for a professional or someone who will use it often.
  2. The Features: You will also want to consider the features that are available on the device before buying. You will want to consider if you want a radio frequency detector. These are great at finding the overall direction and how far away lightning is. Electric mill detectors are more advanced and can actually report overall changes and the range of the storm. They do not, however, have the distance capabilities of other devices. Inferometers are extremely advanced but require a skilled user. They will give you data like strike frequency and voltage for researching ends. Hybrid options are a combination of many different detectors. Because they utilize a lot of different features and technologies, they are among the most accurate an in-depth. Finally, you will want to consider the optical option. This does not measure ground to sky but cloud to cloud.
  3. The Strength of Design: When buying any item, you will want to consider how great the design is and how durable it will be. For some, this becomes more important. Ergonomic options, for instance, are great for those that will be using the device often and in outdoor settings. For those that want something more casual, though, a lesser advanced model can work well. Think about how you will be using it and where before choosing a model.
  4. The Warnings: There are several different alert and warning systems that are equipped in lightning detectors. You will want to consider these differences when buying. Do you want a loud alert or a silent option? Do you want multiple different warning capabilities or singular? Do you want LED lighting when an alert goes off or are you okay with only an audible one? The decision is up to you in this area but you will want to consider your options and make an informed choice.
  5. The Cost: Of course, cost is going to matter for many buyers. There are very expensive options and more cost-effective. The former will likely have more features and higher effectiveness, but the latter will not break the bank. Consider the features you want and prioritize based upon your budget. Also, consider if the device has a warranty or not which can add to its overall value. Remember, these devices can range from under one hundred to thousands of dollars.
  6. The Extras: Finally, you will want to consider the extras that are equipped on each device. This can help you to better identify your cost-effectiveness. You will want to consider whether there is adequate lighting features if you are using outside. You will want to consider if the device can be connected to a computer. You will also want to consider how it is powered and if it has a long battery life. These features should be labelled on the box or easily accessible to help you make a better decision.

Putting it Together

Lightning detectors are an important and often forgotten part of home preparedness. Storms can come at any time in many areas and can lead to deadly consequences. Therefore, whether you are a weather fan, researcher, or simply looking for a way to make your family, consider the above when buying your device.