Updated November 2021
How Does an EMF Detector Work and What Are The Applications?
An EMF detector measures magnetic fields, electric fields and RF radiation through sensors. An EMF detector that measures these quantities will have three sensors, one for each of the type of field being measured. The accuracy of the sensors depends on their sensitivity: the higher the sensitivity the higher will be the accuracy of the measurement.
EMF meters have a wide variety of applications. They can measure
- RF radiation and the amount of RF power emitted by mobile phones, cell phone towers, WiFi routers and Bluetooth devices.
- Magnetic fields around AC power lines and transformers.
- Electric fields around electrical and electronic appliances such as refrigerators and laptops.
Table of Contents
Best EMF Meter – Trifield – TF2
After extensively researching EMF detectors, we think the Trifield® – EMF Meter Model TF2 is the best EMF meter available on the market today. This instrument provides fast and accurate measurements for magnetic and electric fields and for radio frequency (RF) radiation. The meter also supports a special frequency weighted mode: this mode allows accurate measurements of currents inside the human body which are produced by magnetic / electric fields and by RF radiation.
The EMF Meter Model TF2 is easy to use and comes with a large LCD display with adjustable backlight. The unit is powered by a 9 Volt alkaline battery which gives up to 20 hours of run time. The TF2 offers an economical package which can be used for accurately measuring the three main types of electromagnetic pollution.
This product measures all three types of electromagnetic fields of interest: AC magnetic fields, AC electric fields, and RF radiation. In AC magnetic mode it covers 40 Hz to 100 kHz over 0.1 to 100 milligauss range. The meter uses a 3-axis magnetic sensor which enables accurate measurements regardless of the direction the meter is being pointed at. In AC electric mode it covers 40 Hz to 100 kHz over 1 to 1000 V/m range. In RF mode it covers 20 MHz to 6 GHz in 0.001 to 19.999 mW/m2 range. The meter comes with an audio output to help locate EMF radiation sources. However the field strength displayed on the meter LCD will still need to be used for actual EMF radiation levels. Another plus is the weighted mode which is designed to enable measurement of effects of EMF radiation on the human body.
Flaws but not deal breakers
- Both the audio and backlight buttons can be accessed only after removing the battery cover which can be a bit frustrating. However keeping the audio and backlight buttons off the front of the meter does help to give it a cleaner and simpler look.
- Some users may find the weighted mode a bit confusing. The basic recommendation is to use only the standard mode. Only after reading the documentation and getting a good understanding of the purpose of the weighted mode should it be used.
The Runner Up – GQ EMF-390/RF Meter
Our pick for runner up is the GQ EMF-390/RF meter. Like our top pick, this meter measures the three main types of EMF. It is able to display a large amount of data while taking measurements: magnetic field, electric field and RF radiation readings can all be displayed at the same time. This might be a bit overwhelming for some users but pros will love it! The GQ EMF-390 does support a classic display mode too which displays data for only one type of field measurement at a time. The data can be stored on on-board flash memory and later transferred to a PC. A great feature of the meter is “safety suggestion” which displays danger based on current measurements. These features can be used by the average user to determine if a location has harmful levels of electromagnetic radiation.
The Best Budget EMF Detector – ERICKHILL EMF Meter
Our pick for best budget EMF detector is the ERICKHILL EMF Meter. This meter can measure electric and magnetic fields. However it cannot measure RF radiation, which is understandable given the low price of the meter. The ERICKHILL EMF Meter is a compact meter and is really easy to use. It needs to be pointed directly at the radiation source for accurate readings. Users looking to get familiar with EMF meters without spending too much cash can get started with this product. After using it they can make better decisions regarding the need to upgrade to an advanced meter with additional features.
Notable mention – Acoustimeter RF-10
The Acoustimeter RF-10 is one of the best RF meters available on the market. It measures only RF radiation. It is accurate and is easy to use. This meter has very good directional sensitivity which allows location of the direction from which RF radiation is being emitted. The Acoustimeter RF-10 can measure frequencies up to 8 GHz. The meter also has an audio port to help with locating sources of RF. The Acoustimeter RF-10 is a bit costly though, and costs about double our top pick.
How we picked the best EMF detector
We surveyed a wide range of EMF detectors. The main criteria we selected for choosing our top pick are types of EMF radiation measured, accuracy, ease of use, and cost.
Types of EMF radiation measured
A useful EMF meter should be able to measure all three types of EMF radiation, namely, magnetic fields, electric fields and radio frequency (RF) radiation. Furthermore, since many health conscious users are interested in knowing about the effect of these fields on the human body, an EMF meter that can give accurate indications of the effects that these fields have on the human body becomes much more useful.
Decisions are made on the basis of accurate information. If we use EMF meters to make important decisions, then the decision can be only as good as the information we get from the EMF meter. The accuracy of the EMF meter depends on the accuracy and sensitivity of the sensors used for making measurements about the electromagnetic fields.
Ease of Use
Not everyone has a PhD in Electrical Engineering. But everyone is interested in knowing about the effects of harmful radiation around us. A tool that is very difficult to use will not be a tool: it will become a hindrance. On the other hand an EMF meter that is easy to use will become an important part of its user’s life.
If a tool is prohibitively expensive then only a select few people will be able to afford it. For something to be generally useful it has to be reasonably priced.
The Future of EMF Detectors
Sources of EMF radiation are growing constantly: the number of WiFi routers, cell phone towers, IoT devices, smart speakers and other wireless devices keep growing exponentially. The electromagnetic fields emitted by these sources DO affect the human body. Warnings about these effects are sometimes written in very, very small print deep inside the device documentation. Up until now most manufacturers of electronic and wireless products have denied the harmful effects of radiation. But every now and then we come across someone who is suffering from a real medical condition suspected to be due to overuse of cellphones or because of sustained exposure to high levels of EMF. As humans we are responsible for our health, and we cannot make good decisions until we have accurate information about the levels of EMF present around us. EMF meters offer a cost-effective way of getting this information. As awareness grows about the detrimental effects of EMF on human health, EMF detectors will only grow in popularity and will help us in determining the amount of EMF around us and will hopefully enable us to take measures to reduce it.
Sources of EMF in our surroundings continue to grow with every passing day. EMF might not affect us in the short term, but there is a very high probability that the long-term effects of EMF are harmful to the human body. As responsible citizens, it is our duty to take steps to ensure our good health, the health of our loved ones and the health of our communities. EMF detectors offer a means of obtaining an accurate estimate of environmental conditions. We have surveyed a number of products and we offer you our best recommendations. We found that the Trifield® – EMF Meter Model TF2 is the best EMF meter available on the market today.