How to Buy a Police Scanner

Scanners give you a live feed of the public safety activity in your area, granted you have the ability to hear police reports, EMS calls, firefighter activity, weather alerts, and more.

 

Police scanners are one of the best worst-kept secrets in the history of modern technology.

 

Scanners a powerful means of keeping tabs on all public agencies in your city. They are relatively simple to obtain, use, and set up.

 

Most people use police scanners to monitor the law enforcement, fire, and EMS activity in their local area, as well as stay up-to-date on severe weather or emergency alerts.

 

In the olden days of scanning, this was as easy as switching on an analog (or Crystal) scanner and waiting for the calls to roll in.

 

However, as Bob Dylan famously said, things have changed.

 

Advances in radio technology and digital systems have made finding the right scanner for your area is slightly more complicated than it used to be.

 

The good news is we're here to help!

 

This guide was designed to guide you through picking the best police scanner for your specific area and needs.

 


Step 1 - Find the Correct Scanner Format

Choosing the correct format is the most important (& confusing) part of buying a police scanner.

 

To help with this, watch our "How to Buy a Police Scanner" video below:

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Format types:  

What Format Do I Need?

 

Where you live & what you want to listen to are the main determinates of what format you need.

 

Additionally, every county, state, agency & business is different. To add to the confusion—these change without much notice. 

Format Facts

  • All communication is moving to digital.
  • Encrypted signals cannot be picked up on any scanner.
  • Some scanner formats can pick up more than one format (See chart below).
  • Digital scanners can pick up all formats (phase 2, phase 1, trunked & analog), trunked scanners can pick up (trunked & analog), analog scanners can only pick up analog.

How-to-Buy-A-Police-Scanner-Radio-Frequency-Chart-for-all-Scanner-Types

 


Step 2 - Choose Police Scanner Type

There are 2 types of police scanners. Click below to view all police scanners for that type.   

 

This is all based on personal preference, and how and where you will use the device.

 

Most people favor the convenience of a portable handheld scanner, but some like to have their radio anchored in one spot or in their vehicles.

 

Below is a map of the states that prohibit police scanner use while driving:


States That Restrict Police Scanner Use While Driving

 


Step 3 - Compare & Choose A Police Scanner

Now that you've narrowed your search by format & type, you can compare scanners.

 

There is a side-by-side comparison on each scanner page under Compare. There is no shortage of things to compare on scanners. Some of the most popular considerations are:

 


Step 4 - What To Buy With Your Police Scanner

Which accessories you buy will vary greatly based on what scanner you buy.

 

On each product page under Included, all accessories for that particular scanner that come with your purchase are listed.

 

Under the Options section on the righthand side of all of our product pages, we provide a list of popular add-ons that many customers add to their purchase.

 

You can save some cash by purchasing the package options for the Uniden SDS100 and Whistler TRX-1.

 


Step 5 - Buy & Enjoy Scanning

Now the fun part - listening to your scanner!  

Why Zip Scanners?

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*Outside of Minnesota