Best Lightning Detector on the Market in 2020 [TOP 5 REVIEWS]
OutdoorChief.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. As an Amazon Associate this site earns from qualifying purchases.
Choosing a reliable and accurate lightning detector is no easy task. There’s a number of brands on the market right now, with differing technology, sensitivity range, and features.
To help narrow down the options we have selected 5 top-rated detectors across a range of type (personal and professional use), strike distance ability, alert systems and more. Our aim is to bring you the definitive low down on what lightning detection device you should buy in 2020.
For our findings at a glance, just head to the table below. For detailed reviews of each of our picks, plus a comprehensive buyer’s guide, keep on reading.
Top 5 Best Lightning Detectors
TOP PICK: StrikeAlert HD Personal Lightning Detector Pager
2. Xtreme Research Skyscan Lightning/Storm Detector
For individuals looking for more detailed data from their lightening detection system, the Xtreme Research may well be a preferred pick over the top pick StrikeAlert.
Similarly, the unit can detect lightening up to 40 miles away.
The SkyScan features patented technology that is able to determine the approach of a problematic storm, with the display indicator providing 4 ranges:
and 20-40 miles.
Each time the unit detects a lightning strike within 40 miles it will emit a warning and then the appropriate distance indicator will be illuminated.
There’s also a severe storm warning alert system built in that will create a 15-second alarm alert should a particularly ferocious weather system be on the approach.
The manufacturers state that the Skyscan Lightning/Storm Detector is accurate to within 1 to 2 miles 97 percent of the time. This is impressive by the standard of today’s personal detection systems.
One issue that buyers should be made aware of is that the SkyScan is designed to operate in a vertical position.
In other words unlike the page that can be worn and will operate easily while on the move, the Skyscan case should be placed on a flat, stable surface in order to detect properly.
This makes the unit more appropriate for Little League teams, golf courses, and recreational organizations that require an alert system rather than individual hikers, etc.
The machine is powered by two 9V batteries. In order to save power, the Skyscan will automatically shut-off after five hours of continuous operation.
Pros of the Xtreme Research Skyscan Lightning/Storm Detector
40-mile range with a distance indicator
Special Alert for serious storm warnings
Accurate to within 1 to 2 miles 97 percent of the time
Robust ABS plastic case
More expensive than our top pick
Picks up cloud to cloud lightning that isn’t so relevant for the outdoorsman.
Loss of accuracy if not held in the vertical position.
If you’re looking for a reliable detection system for little league games or as a lightening warning alert for a golf course, the Xtreme Research Skyscan Lightning/Storm Detector is a recommended choice.
However, due to its lack of true portability it is not suitable as a individual, personal lightening detector.
If you are looking for an ultra budget solution to your detection needs, Robic have come up trumps with this mini, portable lightening alert system.
This palm-sized device can detect lightning strikes within the same range as the previous 2 units reviewed above, a useful 40 mile’s distance.
However, the data is less specific than what you will enjoy from a more premium unit. That being said, you will be made aware whether the strike has occurred within six miles, six-to-12 miles, 12-to-24 miles, and 24-to-40 miles.
All of which gives you plenty of time to react if you need to clear the golf course, and start retreating to safety during your hike.
The device delivers the warning via an audible alarm and the LED indicator alerting you to the distance range that the strike falls into.
The unit is extremely portable and can clip to your belt, golf bag or backpack with little fuss.
Power consumption is okay with the two AAA batteries providing 100hrs of battery life, (this is debatable however as some users have suggested that the unit is good for a day on the golf course, but requires a change of batteries afterward).
Ease of operation is a benefit with the Robic too. Simply depress the power button in order to check the lightning strike distance. This button will also provide you with data on storm direction and current battery life.
To add to this top pick budget option, the manufacturers also include a 1-year warranty.
Pros of the Strike Alert Personal Lightning Detector
Ultra-portable can clip to your bag or belt
See distance and movement of the storm via a press of a button
Includes limited one-year manufacturer’s warranty
Questionable battery life
Some users have stated that the device lacks accuracy and can provide false positives
If you are looking for an easy to use, ultra-portable and affordable lightning detection solution the Robic personal lightning detector is the unit to buy.
However, for more detailed data plus higher quality overall design and accuracy we would recommend the StrikeAlert HD pager over this.
Users looking for a professional level device should look no further than the Skyscan EWS PRO.
This lightning detector, the early warning system has a host of features that places it above the other units to make our top 5. The price tag is also indicative of that, however.
That being said, with its accurate digital microprocessor (complete with patented dual antenna receiving system); this machine can detect lightning strikes up to 40 miles away and will provide a loud 95 dB alert horn to ensure that everyone in the vicinity is made aware of the approaching front.
The antenna receiver and alert system do require more power to function. To keep the Skyscan EWS PRO online, requires an in-built 12 volt rechargeable power source.
The good news is that a single charge will allow the unit to run for up to 7 days.
Should you be leaving the device outside against the elements, the robust, weather-resistant case will help keep everything safe, intact and running as it should.
The EWS PRO has an LED warning alert too, depicting 4 distance ranges that strikes fall into, as well as data on whether the storm is moving towards, away, or parallel to your current position.
Pros of the Skyscan EWS PRO Professional Lightning Detector
The patent dual antenna detection system
Ultra loud 95db alert
40-mile detection range
Robust, all-weather condition case
Long-running time on a single charge
By far the most expensive lightning detector in our top 5
Overall, the Skyscan EWS PRO is a well built and accurate, early storm detection system.
If you have individuals under your care where lightening and storm protection is an issue, the Skyscan EWS PRO is our recommended choice for 2020.
Whether you are looking for a lightning detector to take fishing or hiking, or you’re in charge of a little league club or golf course and need to ensure that members stay safe, a reliable and accurate device is a must.
However, there’s a number of issues you will need to think about in order to purchase the correct detector for your needs.
Let’s take a look at some of them now.
Personal or Pro Use?
The first, most relevant question to ask yourself is for what purpose are you going to be using the detector.
In fact, we alluded to this in the introduction of the buyer’s guide. If you are looking to stay safe while fishing, hiking or some other outdoor pursuit where a severe storm could put you at risk; a small, personal lightning detector is the most appropriate.
These are more affordable than pro use units and in most cases can be easily stored in your backpack or even clipped to your belt.
The disadvantage of this technology is that they can be prone to interference, and on cheaper models (as expressed in the reviews above) can give you false positives or inaccurate readings in terms of strike distance.
The pro use lightning detector will offer better performance and accuracy, however, these are bulkier in design.
As with the top premium pick above, a 12V battery is required and the unit comes in a large, robust carry case.
The pro use storm detector is best used in scenarios where an early warning system is vital; i.e where a number of people will be reliant on knowing when and where a storm is approaching so that a safe evacuation can be made.
Golf courses and other types of recreational sports grounds would be a good example of where a professional lightning detector could be necessary.
The advantage here is the advanced features such as enhanced sensitivity, improved Intracloud lightning detection, early warning alerts, and storm approach tracking.
As you will have seen from the above reviews, the standard range across the majority of available detectors is 40 miles.
This is a more than adequate distance in order to provide safe early warning.
Avoid any device that does not provide data on just how far the strike is away from your location.
All the units in our top 5 and some form of indicator to at least inform of you of the possible range, (0 – 10, 10 – 20 miles etc).
Devices that provide this information will also tell you if the storm is approaching or moving further away based on which range the strike falls within.
All the lightning detection accuracy in the world is no good if the alert system is not up to scratch.
An audible alarm system is a must. An additional vibration system on personal devices is also preferred as in situations where the device might be buried in your rucksack, or there’s a lot of ambient sounds, you will be able to feel the alert instead.
Most units will also have an LED flash, and this same indicator will reveal data such as distance and frequency.
On professional detectors, you may also have a high DB alert system, and in some cases extended audible alerts (up to 15 seconds in duration), to bring your attention to severe storm fronts.