Types of EMF Meters: A Guide to EMF Radiation Measurement

EMF meters are eye opening and will change your perspective on EMFs. It won’t be long before you travel with yours – just a warning!

They’re used for measuring a range of electromagnetic waves, that show you the radiation coming from 5G towers, your cell phone, WiFi router, wiring, and other electronic devices.

The two broad categories we find here are single axis and tri-axis meters. You can get EMF meters that measure 1, 2 or all 3 types of electromagnetic frequencies (Magnetic, Electric, and Radio Frequency/Microwave Fields).

Electromagnetic field meters are growing in popularity as more people want to assess the levels of EMFs they’re being exposed to in their home and office.

These readings help you to know if the actions taken to reduce those readings are working. If you’re looking for a meter recommendations, check out my favorite EMF meters here.

Let’s dive in to the types of meters available to you and see how they all work.

Quick Answer
The main types of EMF meters include single axis and tri-axis meters. Single-axis meters measure one dimension of the field, while tri-axis meters measure all three axes simultaneously, offering more comprehensive measurements.

Radio Frequency (RF) Meters – High Frequency

Most people are concerned with levels of Radiofrequency (RF) radiation since it’s all around us all day long. You can get EMF meters that only measure radiofrequency (RF) or microwave levels. These high frequency waves are typically in the range of 3kHz – 300 GHz, according to the FCC.

Some of the common sources come from:

  • WiFi
  • Cells towers
  • Cell phones
  • Smart Meters
  • Microwaves
  • Bluetooth devices
  • Any devices that transmits signals wirelessly

Here are two great RF meters:

Beginner: Triple-Axis HF-B3G RF meter – This is a reliable RF meter that’s easy to use but has settings for more advanced users too. It measures in the range of 50MHz to 3.5GHz, has a sound alarm if your reading is high/unsafe.

Advanced: Triple-Axis HF-B8G RF meter – A professional triple axis tool that measures RFs between 10MHz ~ 8GHz, can find spy cameras and wireless bugs, measure 5G towers, has an adjustable alarm threshold, and can read in a number of measurement units.

Low Frequency EMF Meters

Low frequency radiation and extremely low frequency radiation (ELF) come from wired sources. The meters can measure magnetic and electric fields from wired sources. Low frequency meters can be single axis or triple axis.

Electric fields are present even when devices are turned off or if nothing is plugged into your outlet because they are produced by live electricity. Magnetic fields are present when a device is turned on and anywhere electricity is flowing.

Low frequency waves are typically in the range of 30 Hz – 300kHz, with ELFs beginning at 1Hz. They usually stay close to the source but with things like power lines they can extend much further.

Some of the common sources of LF radiation come from:

  • Electrical lines – AC
  • Lights and Lamps
  • Phone chargers
  • Laptops
  • TVs and Computer monitors
  • Appliances
  • Fuse boxes
  • Speakers
  • Electrical devices

3 in 1 Meters: Measure Magnetic, Electric and Radio Frequency (RF)

Some of the most popular EMF meters on the market today, and ones I recommend most, are 3 in 1 meaning they can measure all 3 fields; magnetic, electric and radio frequency. I think all measurements are important and can have an effect on you.

Some meters will measure all 3 at once and display the readings on the screen like the GQ EMF-390 where as the Trifield TF2 requires you to toggle between settings and measure one at a time.

Types of EMF Meters

So depending on what you want to measure, you can have a device that reads RF frequencies, low frequencies, or electric, magnetic and RFs. There’s also a difference in how your meter measures. The two main categories of EMF meters are single-axis and tri-axis meters.

These devices are designed to quantify the intensity of electromagnetic radiation in various settings, aiding users in gauging potential exposure levels and identifying sources of electromagnetic pollution.

Single-Axis Meter

Single-axis meters measure the field intensity along a single dimension, typically requiring your meter to be tilted and turned on all three axes to obtain a complete measurement. This can require patience and effort during usage, and a little more advanced knowledge.

Here are some way a single-axis meter can be useful:

  • If you know where the field is coming from and the direction it is going (like the power cord example below), because it’s easy to place the meter is the best position to measure the EMF field
  • If you want to know where a field is coming from
  • If you are trying to figure out where the fields from multiple sources are coming from
  • If you are designing magnetic shielding

Some people make the mistake of assuming that a single axis meter will point in the direction of the field and this isn’t the case. Here is an example to show you what I mean with an extension cord where you know the field is perpendicular to the cord.

But most of the time there are multiple fields going in all directions from multiple sources that exist at the same time. The orientation of the field isn’t obvious like the extension cord example. This makes it very hard to get an accurate reading.

Time Consuming, Complicated and Math Required

To get a correct measurement using a single axis meter you would have to position it in several different directions. It becomes very time consuming and complicated to add them together and calculate them with a complicated formula.

If you want to know the orientation of the field a single-axis meter is the way to go, otherwise I always recommend a tri-axis meter.

Tri-Axis Meters

On the other hand, tri-axis meters have 3 sensors and are equipped to simultaneously measure all three axes. This means that the meter is always aligned correctly. This significantly simplifies the measurement process and you can get EMF results easier and much faster, with little thought and effort!

By using a tri-axis meter you can obtain a complete assessment of the field without having to adjust the sensor’s position repeatedly because the meter does the calculation automatically. Just point or move it around and see what readings you get.

Using the Trifield TF2 or the GQ EMF-390, both tri-axis detectors, will give you accurate readings, surprising data, and the GQ meter can tell you the actual source of the electromagnetic frequencies you’re detecting.

Despite their increased convenience, tri-axis meters generally come with a higher price tag due to their advanced capabilities in providing a comprehensive field measurement. A tri-axis meter will save you a lot of time and effort.

High-Performance Models for Specific Uses

Electromagnetic field (EMF) measurements require the right tools for specific applications, especially for advanced users involved in complex and specialized work. High-performance EMF meters are designed to meet their unique needs.

For most of us, a standard level meter is going to be enough to be able to read our environment and make changes to lower our exposure. There are also high-end professional models that are amazing but cost thousands of dollars to buy. Would I want to own the gold standard meter, sure? But can I justify $4000 for one? Nope.

Frequency Selective Measurements

For certain professionals, frequency selective measurements using a field antenna and a frequency selective receiver or spectrum analyzer are essential. This setup allows them to monitor and analyze specific frequency ranges of interest.

In radio frequency (RF) engineering, where isolating specific frequencies in a crowded spectrum is crucial, these specialized EMF meters are invaluable.

It’s comparable to tuning into your favorite radio station amidst a sea of other signals—the ability to focus on a particular frequency range with precision is highly sought after in industries such as telecommunications, broadcasting, and wireless communications.

Advanced Users and Precise Measurements

These high-performance models are not for casual users; they are tailored for professionals who demand accuracy, precision, and the capability to conduct detailed analyses of electromagnetic fields. With these instruments, advanced users can obtain highly specific readings and insights that cater to their precise application requirements.

Choosing the Best Electromagnetic Frequency Meter for You

There are a handful of EMF meters I recommend, with my favorites being the Trifield TF2 and the GQ EMF-390. The choice between single-axis and tri-axis meters or the frequency measured ultimately depends on factors such as convenience, budget, and your specific requirements.

3-in-1 meters are going to give you the most versatility in reading RFs, like your WiFi router as well as electric and magnetic currents, like dirty electricity. You want a meter that’s accurate, gives quick readings, and that’s easy to use so can start taking measurements right away.. and never stop!