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Author Topic:   RADAR: Raymarine vs. Lowrance
Frank O posted 11-06-2006 02:54 PM ET (US)   Profile for Frank O   Send Email to Frank O  
When I bought my 1995 Outrage 21' about five months ago, it came with a Raymarine RL9 radar that's probably about 10 years old. Although it appears to work, the contrast/backlighting and range buttons don't, so it's almost impossible to get a usable picture, night or day. Raymarine tells me they are no longer willing to try to fix this unit. Though I haven't been in a situation yet where I really depended on radar, it'd be helpful during night runs -- and it does occasionally fog up out of nowhere locally.

If I get another radar, one option would be a newer Raymarine. The upside is that I get the impression that Raymarine is an industry leader for radar. One downside is that there's no room for a radar unit on my console, so it would have to be mounted in the electronics box tucked up under the T-top. My neck would thank me for not putting it there.

As an alternative, I recently upgraded the boat's sonar/GPS to a Lowrance LCX-25C. This is one of a few recent Lowrance units that accept a connection from a Lowrance radar (for example an LRA-1000 or LRA-1500). The radome would sit on the T-top and a processing unit would sit in the electronics box, and a cable would run to the LCX-25C for display. As far as I can determine, this is a Lowrance-specific proprietary connection (not NMEA 2000), so it wouldn't accept another manufacturer's radar (at least I think -- if I'm wrong, that'd be good to know). The upsides here are that I could get a new radar for under $1,000, and the display is already where I'd prefer it on the console. The possible downside is that I don't know Lowrance's track record in radar.

Any advice or other input? Is anyone using a Lowrance radar with a unit like the LCX-25C? Thanks for any thoughts.

andygere posted 11-06-2006 05:04 PM ET (US)     Profile for andygere  Send Email to andygere     
I have a seperate radar (Furuno), GPS and sonar on my Outrage. I think there are some very nice advantages to having just one display to manage and look at. I think if the radar image can be overlayed on the gps map, It's a no-brainer to simply add the dome and be on your way.
Frank O posted 11-06-2006 10:44 PM ET (US)     Profile for Frank O  Send Email to Frank O     
Thanks Andy, makes sense to me.

Supposing I went with a Lowrance radar -- I see they have five models. The top two are pretty obviously more than I need for my boat. The other three, from low to high, are described as:

-- LRA-1000: 2 kW, 1-foot radome module, 7-degree horizontal beamwidth, 25-degree vertical beamwidth, up to 16 nm range

-- LRA-1500: 2 kW, 1.5-foot radome module, 4.7-degree horizontal beamwidth, 25-degree vertical beamwidth, up to 24 nm range

-- LRA-2000: 4 kW, 2-foot radome module, 4-degree horizontal beamwidth, 25-degree vertical beamwidth, up to 36 nm range

Obviously as you spend more you get better resolution, and the highest of these three also puts out twice as much power. But I'm wondering what other reasoning process one might apply to choosing one of these for a given boat.

Is it really relevant to see out to 36 nm? I'd think I'd usually be looking a couple of miles ahead at most. For what it's worth, nearly all of my boating so far has been near-shore along the mainland within about 10 miles of my marina, but in time I may be venturing offshore to islands 25 miles or more off the mainland.

My gut sense would be to go with "one up from the bottom-of-the-line model," meaning the LRA-1500, but is there some other logic to apply here?

pglein posted 11-08-2006 01:28 PM ET (US)     Profile for pglein  Send Email to pglein     
If it wasn't for the fact that you already have the Lowrance unit, I would recommend Raymarine. But the value of having it all in one display (and the cost savings), makes it an easy decision.

By the way, there are usually a number of used HSB2 series Raymarine RADARs, Chartplotters, and sounders available on eBay for a fraction of what they originally retailed for, as people are upgrading to the new C and E series units. We picked up an RL70C for just $700 about a year ago. That unit retailed for over $2,000 at the time. It was like brand new and has worked flawlessly for us. When I can find another one for less than $500, I'm going to pick one up to mount in the cockpit for use while fishing (bringing our total displays to four).

swist posted 11-09-2006 08:15 AM ET (US)     Profile for swist  Send Email to swist     
You need to see if you can find a boat with a Lowrance radar and take a look at it if you can't get firsthand info here. I had a Raytheon RL72 on my last boat which was only 24', and in addition had the radome mounted on a tower that had more sway than it should have for keeping the radome stable (never let anyone talk you into putting a radar anywhere other than on a hardtop or an arch). I was simply amazed at how the Raytheon unit managed come up with a clear picture in those conditions. The target echo resolution was just so good, and false returns minimal. It would take a lot to talk me out of a RayMarine radar.

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