Magnetic Fields: Test Meter Recommendations
Magnetic fields are the EMF component most often linked to serious health effects in the scientific research literature – for example, childhood leukemia from power lines. Magnetic fields are emitted from power lines, building wiring, lights, appliances — virtually everything that runs on regular electricity in your home or office. (Michael Neuert at the EMF Center)
Magnetic Field Test Meters
The meters that measure magnetic fields are called “gaussmeters”. For magnetic fields, we usually recommend a gaussmeter that detects a wide range of frequencies — including the ELF and VLF frequency ranges. ELF includes the common 60 Hz frequency fields from power lines, wiring, refrigerators, transformers, lights, appliances — everything that runs on regular electrical power. VLF includes higher frequencies in the range of 10,000 Hz and more, that often come from televisions, computers, electronics, LEDs, fluorescent lights, light dimmers, etc.
A triple-axis meter allows you to hold the test meter once in any orientation, and get an easy and accurate three-dimensional reading. For magnetic fields, a single-axis meter requires you to move the meter around in all possible directions to find the highest field strength, or take three readings in orthogonal directions and do a math calculation. People will usually under-measure the magnetic fields if they use a single-axis meter, because it is so easy to miss the strongest field direction and thus underestimate the true field strength.
Our Recommendation for Most People
For most people, we recommend the Alpha UHS2 gaussmeter. For more details, please click here to go to our Alpha UHS2 page.
Before You Buy or Rent a Home
If you want to test a new home or apartment before you decide to buy or rent it — the most important EMF to test is typically the magnetic fields from nearby power lines and wiring inside the home. The second priority might be the RF/microwave fields from nearby cell towers and TV/radio stations as well as the equipment from nearby neighbors. For more information on how to measure a new home before you buy or rent it, please click here.
Lower Cost Alternatives
If you are looking for a gaussmeter at a lower cost — we recommend the Trifield TF2 meter for measuring magnetic fields – as long as you are not trying to measure relatively weak signals too precisely. For example, if you are committed to finding a very “clean” magnetic environment, the TF2 may lead you to believe that there are no measurable magnetic fields in a particular location, while a higher cost/quality meter would offer a much better assessment of the lower levels (e.g., below 0.4 milligauss). And for stronger magnetic fields, the TF2 performance is also limited, but it is still a great value considering its price for all that it does (measures 3 kinds of EMFs, and standard and weighted modes of measurement). Please click here to go to our TriField TF2 page.
Meters to Avoid
While the quality of meters varies greatly, most EMF test meters under $200 – especially the combination meters that measure more than one type EMF in the same instrument – often have serious accuracy and quality issues. Therefore we generally don’t recommend them.
Though we don’t recommend it for magnetic fields, the TriField 100XE meter (older TriField model) can offer some useful magnetic field measurements, but they are often not very accurate. In many cases, the readings are much higher than a more accurate standard gaussmeter would produce.
Regardless of the cost — and even for some of the professional meters — we generally don’t recommend any gaussmeter that has only a single-axis antenna, because the user will often under-measure the magnetic field strength with a single-axis gaussmeter.
For more information on the meters, please refer to the individual links above for each meter.