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This article describes low-cost RF, EMF or ELF electromagnetic field survey measurement instruments useful for performing electromagnetic field (EMF) or electro-magnetic radiation EMR measurements either by engaging a professional or by consumers using low-cost instruments which measure EMF exposure levels in gauss or milligauss.
We review and make suggestions for using several low-cost EMF measurement devices to determine the instantaneous electromagnetic field exposure.
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Before buying an EMF or RF test instrument, in order to make sure that the device you are buying is the right one for the hazard you are trying to measure, see EMF RF FIELD & FREQUENCY DEFINITIONS for a simple explanation of different types of radio frequency (RF) and electromagnetic frequency (EMF) types and where they are found.
The information provided here is for research and study purposes. The author makes no representation of unique expertise on this topic, other than having field experience in EMF measurement, having studied technical literature and having conversed with other experts and authors in the field for a number of years. This information is has not been sanctioned nor technically reviewed by the American Society of Home Inspectors nor the American Industrial Hygiene Association - AIHA. Use it at your own risk.
Below we provide comments, specifications, photos and descriptions of several of the many readily available EMF measuring instruments on the market today.
The devices listed just below are for low frequency EMF detection and measurement. For higher frequency RF or radio frequency detection and measurement, Radio Frequency RF Detection Meters.
Shown at left is the TriField® meter capable of measuring electromagnetic fields. This device sells for about $150.
The TriField EMF meter is produced by AlphaLab and measures both electrical field and magnetic field strength in the ELF and VLF ranges. This meter is reported to be sensitive to and to indicate more sources of EMF than some other devices.
The TriField meter can also measure microwave field strength.
Do not confuse microwave radiation, radio wave radiation, and Electromagnetic Field (EMF) radiation.
The exposures and health effects of electromagnetic fields and the studies that examine them make critical distinctions between these different types of energy sources and frequencies.
The F.W. Bell Model 4060 ELF digital EMF Meter is a small hand-held instrument that like the Walker above, has been designed and calibrated to measure low level 50Hz or 60Hz electromagnetic fields generated by power lines, TV sets, video display terminals (VDT's), home appliances, industrial machinery, and similar devices.
This is a pocket-sized instrument that is lightweight and will easily fit into a shirt or jacket pocket.
The company describes the instrument as designed to detect magnetic fields radiated by T.V. sets, computer terminals, power lines, home appliances, machinery, electric blankets, etc.
F.W. Bell is located in Orlando, FL.
The Reed EMF 822A EMF tester measures electromagnetic radiation levels from video terminals, fans, faulty wiring, power lines and other equipment. Here are some specifications:
Used in its "C" or "ELF" range to screen an area for magnetic fields typically generated by power transmission lines, secondary lines, power transformers, and household wiring (Extremely Low Frequency, or ELF) our test instrument measures magnetic field strength across seven scales from .3 milligauss to 302 milligauss.
Used in its "A" or "VLF" range to screen an area for magnetic fields typically generated by televisions and computers (Very Low Frequency, or VLF) our test instrument measures from .12 microgauss to 8312 microgauss. 1000 microgauss = 1 milligauss = 80 milliamps per meter.
The accuracy of this instrument itself is
Measurements of ELF (around 60 Hz) will be confounded if there is nearby VLF (such as from a TV or Computer). We attempt to discover and will record the presence of such devices if seen, but we cannot guarantee that there were no such devices operating in or around the property being examined at the time of our tests.
Generally such devices create a measurement problem only if they are within 15-20 feet of our instrument. We verify that a suspect high reading is not coming from a TV or computer by flipping from the "C" to "A" range - if the reading does not change significantly then there is VLF interference from a TV or Computer.
The Safe Meter™ is manufactured by Safe Computing CO., 368 Hillside Ave., Needham, MA 02194 800/222-3003.
The Walker Scientific ELF-50™ Digital EMF Meter is a portable handheld instrument designed and calibrated to measure low level 50Hz or 60Hz electromagnetic fields generated by power lines, TV sets, video display terminals (VDT's), home appliances, industrial machinery, and similar devices.
The low-range instrument setting measures field measurements from 1 to 20 milligauss.
This is the range in which most measurements are performed and it is the range within which current literature on this topic discusses possible health effects. The high-range instrument setting is used to measure fields from 10 milligauss to 20 gauss.
As with our analog instrument, the readings obtained with this device depend on the position with which it is held in the field being measured as well as the field strength.
The manufacturer provides a certificate of test and calibration certifying that the instrument has been tested to meet or exceed its published specifications. A copy of this certification is available for your inspection.
This instrument is manufactured by Walker Scientific, Inc., Rockdale St., Worcester, MA 01606 508-852-3674 / 853-3232 / 800-962-4638 / 508-856-9931 FAX.
How & Why to Make Your Own EMF Field Survey & Exposure Measurements
Instead of contacting us with a request to perform EMF Electromagnetic Field Strength measurements, in most cases it is more economical and convenient for a property owner to purchase their own instrument, making measurements under varying conditions. In this series of articles we describe how to make measurements using a consistent approach and using good documentation.
Following good procedure and using instruments properly are two steps towards making accurate, repeatable EMF measurements.
But because the signal transmission for RF sources such as radio, TV, or cell towers, the load on a power transmission line is not under control of an individual property owner, and because the EMF strength varies as the power transmission line load varies, it is important to have an idea of that condition as well when attempting to characterize EMF exposure at a specific location. In contrast, EMF measurements are quite accurate and repeatable at other EMF sources such as close to electrical appliances and service entry cables.
Where to Buy EMF Electromagnetic Field Exposure or Strength Monitoring/Measuring Equipment
At InspectApedia we do not sell anything. To do so would be a conflict of interest for this website. These devices are readily available from the manufacturers and product sources listed in this article and from many electrical equipment and home inspection equipment suppliers.
Portable Electromocardiography Instruments & Applications Research
Reader question: where can I find a portable device to measure the hunan cardiac electromagnetic field?
Greetings and PEACE! I'm doing a dissertation proposal concerning the human cardiac electromagnetic field. Heartmath Institute has done studies demonstrating that the field can be measure up to 12 ft. away. What I'm interested in is a portable device that could both detect the field as well as the changes caused by emotions at 5-10 ft. Any ideas? - J.S. 2/25/2014
Reply: Portable Electromocardiography research citations describe both static and portable approaches
J.S. that's beyond my expertise, and certainly the typical handheld EMF instruments are not suitable. One needs to know the EMF frequency range first (which any cardiology instrument maker knows), then the field strength. That would permit assessing instruments.
Here are some research citations of interest, as I'll bet one of these authors would be interested and can answer more directly. BTW I saw no evidence of actual scholarly research at the source you cited except a self citation:
While this Wikipedia entry suggests that you're on a futile quest, and that the instrumentation used is large, requires a special environment, and so hardly looks portable
Despite the implications of that Wikipedia article's view, there are some citations for portable magnetocardiography:
Zhang describes using a portable device in an unshielded environment - important for your question.
Continue reading at EMF ELECTROMAGNETIC FIELDS & HUMAN EXPOSURE or select a topic from the More Reading links shown below.
Suggested citation for this web page
Green link shows where you are in this article series.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Our area utility company (DTE) is currently pushing "Smart Meter" installation in our communities. Can 1 measuring devise mesure both EMF's from High Voltage and the type from "Smart Meters"? If so does this devise have a specific name or identification? - D.N. 1/22/2014
Certainly D.N. there are plenty of low-cost measuring devices for electromagnetic fields. But one can be confused among measuring low frequency electromagnetic fields such as those found at and around 120V and 240V home power systems, wiring, equipment, and electrical meters, and higher frequency radio, TV, and cellphone transmissions.
The type of instrument you want is described along with some sources - where to buy EMF meters - at
But I have some additional advice. Particularly as you want your measurements to be credible it is important to understand both the fundamental nature of electromagnetic fields and the relationship between field strength and distance from the source, and to understand that field strength varies depending on load on the power system. Omitting consideration of these variables would mean that your measurements had little repeatability and thus would be very difficult to interpret.
At EMF MEASUREMENT BASICS we explain these issues and make recommendations.
EMF SURVEY PROCEDURE - makes some recommendations for making measurements
EMF WORKSHEET for EMF MEASUREMENTS gives you a worksheet you can use to record data
Questions & answers or comments about where to buy an EMF meter, comparisons of low cost devices and how to use them.
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