One of the most common questions I hear is “How do I measure EMF from power lines?”.

It’s a good question. It’s also timely if you are looking to rent or buy a new home.

There are two external (i.e. potentially beyond your control) sources of EMF to be aware of when house-hunting: cell towers or power lines in close proximity to the home.

Today let’s talk about power lines.

Your best option is to hire a Building Biologist to perform a risk assessment and an analysis of the property. Find an expert in your area here.

However, I meet many people (particularly here in the San Francisco Bay Area) who view dozens of homes before finding the right one.

In this case, you can buy a consumer-grade EMF meter that will provide an indication of whether or not there are high levels of EMF emitted from nearby power lines.

I recommend the Alpha Lab UHS2 3 Axis Gaussmeter (use discount code SAGELIVING5). There are cheaper meters available but they tend to be single axis (instead of 3 axis) which may not provide a complete, and therefore, accurate measurement of the field strength.

– measure at different times of the day if possible (measurements will vary based on electrical usage in the neighborhood).
– be sure to measure around 6:00pm during peak electrical usage. The higher the usage, the higher the field strength coming from the power lines.
– the goal is to be under 1 milligauss (mG) and ideally as close to 0.2 mG as possible when you are outside of the home (see Building Biology guidelines for AC Magnetic Fields here). This is the ambient level. There are other factors inside the home (like wiring errors, etc.) that also cause high readings, so measure outside to understand the impact from the power lines.
– the readings are usually highest directly under the power lines and will diminish in a gradient as you move away from them. For example, if the power lines are in the front yard, start underneath them and capture the readings as you move toward the front door of the home. The readings should decrease as you walk away from the power lines. If you are well above 1mG at the front door, I would move on to the next home.
– measure ALL power lines adjacent to the property. High voltage transmission lines (see photo) and  neighborhood distribution lines are both found in residential areas.
– use Satellite view in Google Maps as a tool to look for power lines before you preview a home.

NOTE: this is general advice based on my experience. Every situation is unique and I highly recommend hiring a professional for a detailed inspection if you have concerns or questions before signing a contract.


Good luck on your home search!