The responses of electronic dose rate meters were investigated in a large volume radon chamber at PTB in a wide range of radon activity concentrations. The measurements were conducted under controlled laboratory conditions and measured dose rate data are compared with Monte-Carlo simulations. Consequences concerning environmental monitoring are described. A further result is that the direct measurement of the dose rates produced by radon progeny in air is hardly possible in radon atmospheres with high activity concentrations, because the major contribution of measured dose rates is produced by radon progeny on the housing of the dose rate instruments. The latter effect largely depends on the ability of surfaces to absorb radon progeny. The Monte-Carlo simulations revealed quantitative results on the height of the single contributions to the total dose rate measured in the radon chamber. When environmental dose rate measurements are performed, the plate-out on detectors can be neglected.