An Introduction to EMF Detectors
EMF detectors measure fluctuations in the electromagnetic (EM) field, which has both electric and magnetic qualities that are generated by natural phenomena, manmade electricity, or paranormal activity.
Have you ever felt the hairs on the back of your neck stand up or the sensation of being watched? These types of experiences can be caused by changes in the EM field around you and sometimes can indicate the presence of a spirit.
The Electromagnetic Theory of Consciousness proposes that the conscious mind produces its own electromagnetic field. The idea is that every time a neuron fires in the brain and produces an electrical impulse, it also generates a disturbance in the surrounding EM field. Basically, the brain’s EM field creates a representation of the information in the neurons, and this representation is thought to carry on even after the person has died.
In the popular TV show Ghost Hunters, EMF detectors are used in nearly every investigation, as the team’s focus is to collect empirical and credible evidence of the paranormal. In scientific terms, an EM field is caused by the movement of an electrically charged object and can be measured objectively, lending credibility to the field of ghost hunting.
This guide will familiarize you with the origins of EMF detectors, how to use them, how to recognize false positives, and how to collect meaningful evidence with them.
What is an EMF Detector?
EMF detectors are handheld devices that are used primarily to diagnose problems with wiring, power lines, and electrical shields, but paranormal investigators use them to add a scientific approach to ghost hunting. These devices light up or make a sound when they encounter a change in the EM field, and they are typically used in conjunction with other ghost hunting tools.
At the beginning of an investigation, team members will perform what is called a “baseline reading,” in which they walk through the building and collect data about each room’s baseline EMF level. Later in the investigation, any EMF activity will be compared to the baseline to determine if it’s a paranormal anomaly.
Also known as trifield meters, EM field meters, or K-II Meters, most EMF devices are analog; however, there are phone apps that have EMF-detecting features that would be considered digital.
A Brief History of EMF Meters
The existence of electric and magnetic fields has been known to man since ancient times.
The term “electricity” is derived from the Greek word “elektron,” coined by Thales of Miletus in 500 B.C. when he first observed the effects of static electricity in amber.
In the 19th century, James Clerk Maxwell invented a system of equations that unified all electric and magnetic phenomena. The “Maxwell’s equations,” as he called them, laid the foundations for a solid understanding of all electromagnetic processes.
It may surprise you that the inventor of the popular K-II Meter, Tim Wilson, actually invented the device as part of his pet training tool kit. K-II Enterprises has been around since 1987 and the company website states that they “manufacture a unique range of products including the Safe Range K-II EMF Meter that can help you measure potentially harmful EM fields and determine the safe range to help reduce exposure.”
Back in the late 90s, physicist Bill Lee invented the first trifield meter. This type of EMF detector is an AC electric field meter and radio power density meter in one. It combines all of the features needed for fast and accurate measurements of electromagnetic fields. In addition to the standard AC measurement modes, a special frequency-weighted mode scales the magnetic and electric measurements to indicate the full magnitude of the currents produced by each type of field.
Nowadays, there is a phone app for nearly everything, including ghost hunting. Several EMF detector apps have emerged, making this paranormal tool more accessible to the public. Computer scientist Aaron Rasmussen has been credited with inventing a phone accessory called “Mr. Ghost.” The attachment looks like an old cordless phone antenna and it’s meant to be plugged into an iPhone, iPad, or iPod headphone jack. It comes with an app that displays EMF spikes and allows users to record the signal so that it can provide documented evidence.
What are EMF Detectors Used for in Paranormal Investigations?
EMF detectors are a basic yet essential ghost hunting tool, as they provide scientific measurements that can back up claims of paranormal activity. The primary use of these devices is to help investigators locate anomalies in the electromagnetic field in order to determine where hot spots might be. When investigating an impossibly large property, it’s extremely helpful to be able to determine where the paranormal hot spots are so that the team can focus on those areas and optimize their chances of capturing evidence.
When team members execute a baseline reading, they may encounter unexplained EMF spikes that indicate the possibility of paranormal activity. When this happens, the investigators will often mark the location by forming an “X” with tape on the ground so that any team member can easily identify these potential hot spots. This is a great way to keep investigations organized, save time, and avoid confusion.
Different EMF detectors have different ways of alerting users to spikes in the EM field. A K-II meter has different color lights ranging from green to red, with red being the highest EMF reading. A trifield meter has a needle that moves on a pivot point to indicate the exact EMF measurement, and some even emit a sound that increases in intensity when the reading is high. There are some multifunctional ghost hunting devices that have built-in EMF detectors that use sound as well, such as the REM Pod, the Mel Meter, and the BooBuddy interactive teddy bear.
When using EMF detectors, it’s important to know what may cause false positives because these devices were not originally designed for ghost hunting. The most common false positive triggers are:
- Electrical currents: The wires hidden in the walls that carry electricity throughout a building will register a high EMF reading, and this can happen even in the middle of a room. The key is to look for consistency. If an unusually high EMF reading stays the same 24/7 then it’s reasonable to conclude that this is due to an environmental factor.
- Motion: EMF detectors, and K-II meters, in particular, are very sensitive to motion. If you shake an EMF detector enough you can get it to light up or spike, so it’s best to set the device on a stationary object or move very slowly.
- Cell phone signals: EM fields are easily affected by cell phone signals, even if the phone is in your pocket or sitting on a table nearby. It’s best to turn cell phones off during investigations or leave them in another room.
- Running water: It is said that running water can alter EM fields to some degree, so if you are investigating near a river or if you suspect a location may have been built over an underground water flow, it’s best to perform additional tests in order to accurately calibrate your readings.
- Wireless devices: Any type of device that has wireless features can set off an EMF detector. This includes battery packs, walkie-talkies, a computer mouse, and anything that can send and receive a signal.
Sometimes investigators use EMF detectors for direct communication by instructing the spirit to cause a spike that indicates a response to a question. It’s extremely important to note that you must first establish what the “yes” and “no” responses are before assuming that you are engaged in an intelligent conversation with the spirit. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that every spike means that the spirit is answering “yes” to a question. EMF detectors are not designed for direct communication, so I strongly recommend using a different device for that task.
The best way to use an EMF detector in a paranormal investigation is to use it in conjunction with other equipment while keeping in mind the false positives and the baseline readings. Capturing something on one device can be an exciting experience, but having multiple different types of equipment register anomalies at the same time is considered real compelling evidence of the paranormal.
Alternative Uses for EMF Detectors
In day-to-day use, EMF detectors are used for safety reasons. High levels of electromagnetic radiation can be harmful to the human body, which has tiny electrical currents that are produced by natural chemical reactions. Electrical fields can alter the arrangement of electric charges on the surface of charged particles, causing a current to flow through the body to the ground. Magnetic fields can also affect the body by inducing circulating currents that could potentially cause stimulation of nerves and muscles or affect other biological processes.
Symptoms of prolonged exposure to high EMFs include headaches, anxiety, depression, paranoia, nausea, fatigue, and loss of libido. In order to prevent or minimize electromagnetic toxicity, EMF detectors are used to inspect buildings and diagnose problems with electrical wiring, power lines, and working appliances. Homeowners and business owners are encouraged to use EMF meters to make sure that their environment is safe, especially in places that have a lot of electrical equipment.
EMF Detectors Are an Essential Tool for Paranormal Investigators
Every paranormal investigator needs an EMF detector to help validate any evidence that they capture during an investigation. Whether you’re investigating a large location with lots of hot spots or a small location with subtle paranormal activity, you need to be able to “read the field.”
With this information, you should now have a solid understanding of how EMF detectors work and the best practices for using them to validate paranormal activity. All that’s left for you to do is grab your own gear and begin your own paranormal journey!