Trifield Meter TF2 – What are it’s strengths and weaknesses for the EMF concerned amateur?
The old Trifield meter (model 100XE) has been around for a long time and has worked its way into being a synonym for term ‘gauss meter’. The big seller 100XE has boldly been taking off production with immediate effect and its creators are hoping the new model will just ‘take over’ even though it looks so different.
We’ll investigate our early experience with the new TF2 Trifield Meter in this article to give you a, as much as we can, balanced view of its strengths and weaknesses as a EMF meter for the lay person.
The old Trifield meter 100XE was easily recognised and sold many units. Many EMF consultants have to admit that their journey of discovery started with a Trifield meter. The 100XE wasn’t perfect though, but you have to see reality and realise you’re never going to get comparable readings, accuracy and sensitivity out of a meter that costs under $200, when compared with meters around $500, $1000 or $3000. It is what it is… or it was what it was I should say.
Magnetic fields and the old Trifield meter
The 100XE came in a weighted and a flat response model. Traditionally it was the weighted model that sold the largest numbers. Weighted means that frequencies higher than the normal 50/60Hz of the power grid, or multiple fields, would weigh in heavier in the indicated value it displayed. This meant that the 100XE was a good problem finder as it raised the warning signs early and enthusiastically, but you couldn’t see if it had inflated the reading and so you were never quite sure if the numbers shown related to health research warnings or if they were exaggerated. When a weighted Trifield 100XE raised concern about magnetic field exposure, it was sometimes met by a sigh of relief when a professional consultant came to check the readings on their instruments. Thats not to say most homes don’t need mitigation, most do, but that is mostly for electric field and radio frequency radiation (RF).
The flat response model didn’t have this habit and was more in line with the professional meters. In line-up of gauss meters from the same manufacturer, the UHS2 is much more considered a base professional meter but it only assessed magnetic fields.
Electric fields and Radio frequency radiation on the old Trifield meter
This was never considered its strong suit. 95% of bedrooms we enter has excessive electric fields in the bedroom (bed) but the Trifield meter often insisted nothing was there, giving a false sense of security to the user. Also RF was typically understated and rarely raised the alarm when it came to a ‘room’. It was cute to find devices that produce RF by going close to it, or testing a microwave over door, but not much beyond that.
This let the Trifield meter down and was a cause of friction with Geobiologists and building biologists because we often had to explain that there was concerning exposure in those radiation types. I’m sure many people would have also thought their home was fine the way it was and failed to have their home investigated or mitigated, unless the seller of the meter honestly explained this shortcoming to them when it was purchased.
The TF2 Trifield meter is a big improvement on all fronts
Having taken the TF2 on an extensive field trip to put it through its paces, I have to say I’m delighted to see what they have done with it. It still has some short comings but it is a better buy than the old unit and will a much smaller chance of under-playing the situation for the lay person.
Magnetic field readings are much closer to the professional meters, RF is now more likely over-stated and even though electric fields are understated, it does now react more to a normal bedroom environment.
These are the changes found in the TF2 Trifield meter compared with its predecessors:
- Digital display
- Peak hold indicator
- Battery indicator always visible
- ‘Digital’ needle indicator
- Selector for Standard or Weighted measurement methods
- Improved accuracy on magnetic fields (promoted as: +/- 4% on MF, 5% on EF and 20% on RF)
- Backlight with 3 stages and off
- Gentle warning sound on/off
- Accessible battery compartment without the need for screw driver
- Smaller size and more robust design
- Battery life 20 to 12 hours depending on use of light and sound
Use of the TF2 Trifield meter in the field
Maybe it was unfair to compare the TF2 against much more expensive gauss meters, but I just wanted to know how it compared. So, out we went and we put a number of new gauss meters (TF2s, 100XEs, UHS2s, NFAs) in a camera equipped tray and took it for a field trip around town. The video you can view here:
MAGNETIC FIELDS ON THE TF2
Comparing the different gauss meters it quickly became clear that the TF2 was keeping up well with the others especially in the lower values around 0.3, 1 and 1.3 mG (milliGauss). These exposure levels are most important as its the area where you make decisions about your exposure. Anything over 2mG basically means the same to me… bad news! So to me it is not that important that it has to be super accurate in the higher levels.
It was the PEAK HOLD value that lined up nicely between the other high caliber meters. The big numbers in the display of the TF2 seemed to read lower but the PEAK HOLD was the way to go in my opinion.
The ‘needle-like’ part of the display is a fun connection to the old design, but has little functional value as scale goes from zero to ten and does not indicate what any ‘needle’ position between these markers is meaning.
ELECTRIC FIELDS ON THE TF2
The lowest value the TF2 indicates is 1 V/m. Being an air measuring instrument, which is what professionally our consultants don’t use (we assess the body of the client instead), this is a level at which concern is already indicated. In that line of thought the TF2 then become unable to show you when the exposure is low enough to not be of concern. If the reading was able to go to 0.1 V/m it would have been so much more useful.
Comparing the TF2 with the NFA1000 for electric fields, the TF2 seemed to under read a lot. Its reading was typically about 25% of what the NFA1000 was indicating. – The most important thing with a meter, is that it can tell you when an exposure is too high. As the lowest value it can indicate is too large, it is not that useful for electric field assessment in our line of work.
Please note it is normal for the reading in electric fields to go higher when you are holding it within a building. Electric fields are attracted to your body and so you’ll increase the reading if you hold it. Electric field meters that don’t measure the body are therefore typically placed somewhere and read from a short distance.
RADIO FREQUENCY RADIATION ON THE TF2
The TF2 reads in milliwatts per square meter (mW/M2). The lowest value that can be indicated is 0.1 mW/M2 which equals 100 microwatt per square meter (uW/M2). GEOVITAL doesn’t tend to attach much value on air measurements because we have discovered more meaning in the assessment of the body for RF radiation. Within building biology though the ‘severe concern’ range starts with indications of 10 uW/M2 and higher. Even levels above 0.1 uW/M2 can effect health and are ideally avoided. So a minimal measurement on the TF2 of 100 uW/M2 (0.1 mW/M2) would always indicate that shielding health is affected and shielding is indicated. This value is simply too coarse as well.
This makes the TF2 ok for investigating sources of RF by going to appliances etc. but not to evaluate if a bedroom needs shielding for example.
Conclusion on the new TF2 Trifield meter
As before, magnetic field assessment is the strength of the Trifield meter. Compared with the previous model this has improved quite a lot for this price point and is to be applauded. I think its a good meter for the amateur to assess their magnetic field exposure for potential home buying, renting or relocation concerns. – For electric fields and RF, the sensitivity and accuracy seems to lack, reducing the value of these functions to ‘just for fun’.
I think for its price, the Trifield TF2 gives amateurs access to a good gauss meter for magnetic fields in comparison with other ‘cheap’ meters I’ve seen. The Trifield meter saga continues with a meter that will be respected for its magnetic field assessment capabilities.
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This article and the videos where created in respect to the Trifield meters long history and standing as an iconic tool in our industry. GEOVITAL offices don’t necessarily have this instrument available for sale.