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Old 07-16-2017, 11:28 PM   #1
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FLIR vs Radar

Looking for experience with FLIR vs Radar for avoiding stuff in the water, night or fog running.

I've got a "fair" radar (old C80 kind), that is somewhat useful and considering FLIR to complement it and would like to get some comments.

The entry level prices for FLIR have come down, and even the one with side and up and down scanning are pretty reasonable, in the $3K range.

A good radar is probably a bit less, and my just bite the bullet and get both, but not sure at this point.

Use would mainly be for night operation, but occasional fog. And using it on a loop trip.
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Old 07-16-2017, 11:57 PM   #2
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I'm old skool, I'd go with radar over FLIR if I had to limit myself to one. A radar will:
  • Works in fog, rain and snow. Night or day.
  • Excellent collision avoidance tool.
  • Can be used for navigation on near coastal and inland waters.
  • Range is limited primarily by antenna height.
  • Most can be tied in with AIS and chart plotter.
But, then again, I've never used a FLIR.....
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Old 07-17-2017, 01:23 AM   #3
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Flir is a nice addition, but it will not replace a RADAR.

Flir is also unidirectional, where RADAR detetct objects in all 360 degrees.

Flir also detects heat, where RADAR detects objects that reflect radio waves.
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Old 07-17-2017, 02:26 AM   #4
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If I were starting over and given FLIR current pricing, I'd go FLIR instead of Radar so long as I also had an AIS transponder (which I do). We have fog only very rarely here, so principal use would be at night. I've been v impressed with the FLIR imaging I've seen on others' boats.
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Old 07-17-2017, 06:31 AM   #5
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I've got a bunch of time operating both the FLIR and RADAR.

Each has their own advantages but the RADAR is the most useful. FLIR cannot "see" through fog or clouds as the thickness of the moisture and changes in temperature can obscure what you are looking at. You also cannot accurately range items with it.
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Old 07-17-2017, 07:37 AM   #6
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They are two very different pieces of equipment and I can't see saying Radar or Flir. The answer is both as preferable. Then it depends on how much night boating you do. I would never be without Radar. If you don't do night boating, you can live without FLIR.
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Old 07-17-2017, 09:38 AM   #7
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Radar is a longer range tool, flir seems limited in range
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Old 07-17-2017, 09:48 AM   #8
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FLIR will pick up stuff -- day or night (since it operates on temperature differentials) that radar will miss. Ours is always on when we are underway at night, and on during the day when we are fishing (looking for kelp paddies, which may be a west coast thing). Flir will pick up the vast majority of semi-submerged objects, if someone is looking carefully. Scanning sonar also helps, depending on sea conditions.
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Old 07-17-2017, 09:58 AM   #9
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Good posts and a lot of good ideas.....

My goal for the device is the same.... to avoid objects that I can't see (night or fog), or night and fog. The bulk of the scanning on either unit would be 1/2 mile or less. I have little use for long range radar, and would require a much more expensive unit.

While they are totally different technologies, they do similar jobs. To avoid something.

From what I see, the radar will show things with much better distance accuracy. The radar "may" require a bit more skill to operate, but not a huge deal. FLIR might pick up a few things that radar may not, and easier to identify them.

I would keep my old C80 radar with a new FLIR unit as an option... if I could tweak the radar for a bit better presentation. It works, but has a lot of clutter I don't like. The new radars are really nice, and not that expensive. Might do both, but collecting info for an intelligent (well, maybe) decision.
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Old 07-17-2017, 10:07 AM   #10
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Quote:
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Good posts and a lot of good ideas.....

My goal for the device is the same.... to avoid objects that I can't see (night or fog), or night and fog. The bulk of the scanning on either unit would be 1/2 mile or less.
If I could not have both, I would have radar. BTW, FLIR is no good in fog and doesn't have anywhere near a half mile range for the kind of targets your radar will miss.
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Old 07-17-2017, 10:12 AM   #11
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Absolutely radar. As with anything, you get what you pay for, but radar is the better choice all the way around.
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Old 07-17-2017, 10:23 AM   #12
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Flir doesn't do ranges or bearings so is useless for navigation at night. On our unit I find the display is also too bright on moonless nights to the point that its use actually defeats its purpose with respect to any night vision developed in the pilot house. For a MOB situation I would say it's most helpful other than that stick with radar.
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Old 07-17-2017, 10:39 AM   #13
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Flir doesn't do ranges or bearings so is useless for navigation at night. On our unit I find the display is also too bright on moonless nights to the point that its use actually defeats its purpose with respect to any night vision developed in the pilot house. For a MOB situation I would say it's most helpful other than that stick with radar.
FLIR useless at night? FLIR is extremely helpful at night, especially if approaching a marina or in a narrow area. FLIR allows you to visually navigate at night. Should be a way to dim your display.

We use Radar, FLIR and Sonar and they all provide a benefit, all different.
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Old 07-17-2017, 11:21 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Portage_Bay View Post
I'm old skool, I'd go with radar over FLIR if I had to limit myself to one. A radar will:
  • Works in fog, rain and snow. Night or day.
  • Excellent collision avoidance tool.
  • Can be used for navigation on near coastal and inland waters.
  • Range is limited primarily by antenna height.
  • Most can be tied in with AIS and chart plotter.
But, then again, I've never used a FLIR.....
My thoughts, exactly although I've never used Flir.
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Old 07-17-2017, 03:46 PM   #15
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Given I don't have fog challenges, for me it is all about being able to "see" at night, particularly entering/leaving an anchorage or marina, running through a canal, avoiding fish floats, etc.. It seems to me FLIR is much better for those purposes & a lot easier to use/read. To those posters who have noted radar's range finding ability (FLIR shows bearings) what purpose are you making of range/distance -taking when underway over and above the use you are making of a modern chartplotter? I agree Radar has a big range advantage....but at night in particular I have my quality Furuno 4kw digital radar wound in to under 500m anyway.
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Old 07-17-2017, 03:51 PM   #16
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BTW to the original poster: surely in practice you would go get FLIR and keep your current radar while you evaluate your needs. After a while you would know if you need radar at all; if your current radar is adequate given the additional view FLIR brings; or if a further upgrade, this time to a much better radar, is warranted. Good situation to be in I think!
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Old 07-17-2017, 03:52 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BandB View Post
FLIR useless at night? FLIR is extremely helpful at night, especially if approaching a marina or in a narrow area. FLIR allows you to visually navigate at night. Should be a way to dim your display.

We use Radar, FLIR and Sonar and they all provide a benefit, all different.
agree here. We had to stop all nightime bahamas crossings when the stream became littered with low height Cuban boat/rafts. FLIR, if you really stayed on it, would have been very helpful in those days. A lot of bizzare stuff I've had to avoid. I remember coming up on a huge inverted tree, with just a 1' diameter trunk visible when the waves receded. That would have hurt and not sure about any radar target there.
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Old 07-17-2017, 04:37 PM   #18
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I do not have any of those as I do not plan to go on "open water" or drive at night. I remeber ( from time when I was a truck driver) we had VORAD. It was mounted on the bumper and alarmed me of any object on the road in 400 feet ahead. It was very helpful at dense fog. I know that 400 feet is not much, but could detect any floating debris.
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Old 07-17-2017, 04:59 PM   #19
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If you haven't already, check out the "new" broadband radars. Far lower power requirement. But they will even pick up your own boat's wake...or a small buoy, low dock. I think the close-in images show up around 1/32nd of a mile....less than 200 feet.
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Old 07-17-2017, 05:40 PM   #20
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I've had a FLIR on my last 2 ships. Maybe because it is mounted so high, but I don't find them to be useful. My radars paint a better target. Radar with a chart plotter is the way to go.
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