Safety Advice for Electromagnetic Fields

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How To Make a (Poor Man's) Body Voltage Meter

Background

The body voltage meter can be used to measure the voltage difference between one's body and the ground. Body voltage can result from the influence of static electricity, e.g., when shuffling one's feet on the ground, or from AC electricity. The parts of the original body voltage sensor multimeter plug-in from Less EMF do not seem to be readily available, and it may not be sold anymore as a separate body voltage sensor plug-in. (Less EMF has a cost-effective dedicated body voltage instrument, however, for those without the patience to learn about electricity.)

Original body voltage sensor from Less EMF

The following variation of the body voltage sensor also plugs into the multimeter.

Target Goal

At the end, a multimeter, will be put on VAC setting. One end will be connected into the ground. The other end will be connected to a person. The resulting measurement is the body voltage.

Caution

Remember that electricity may be involved, and this can be hazardous if not done properly! If you do not know what you're doing, you may want to ask an electrician to help.

Caveat

The process of measurement may influence the result itself. See references below for more caveats.

Prerequisite

Before starting, you should know some basics about electrical wiring, such as stripping wires. One helpful guide is Stanley's Complete Wiring.

Three Methods

There are 3 ways to connect the body voltage meter to the ground:

  1. Ground one end of the multimeter to the earth outside.
  2. Ground one end of the multimeter to the water pipes using a connector such as a battery clip Caveat: Remember that grounding pipes could potentially carry currents.
  3. Ground one end of the multimeter to the electrical ground via the grounding hole of the outlet. One can either cut the top 2 pins off the 3-pin plug, as in the original Less EMF body voltage sensor. Alternatively, one can strip off the cable sheath of a cable, and cut the hot (usually black) and neutral (usually white) wires at the plug end, leaving only the ground wire (usually green). Caveat is that the electrical ground could potentially carry dangerous voltages, net currents, and intermediate frequencies. Sometimes it may not be properly grounded, so be sure to check that also with an outlet tester. The image below indicates a problem with the grounding of the outlet in question.
    outlet tester
Note and Disclaimer: The author is not an electrician. Please consult your electrician before proceeding! Home Depot electricians are definitely a great resource. The one I met cautioned me against the potential voltages on the electrical ground wire, and helped me cut some copper for a grounding rod, to connect the other side of the body voltage meter to the earth instead of the electrical ground. Grounding in a high-electrical environment could result in more electricity using you as part of the pathway to the ground.

Parts of a Body Voltage Meter

how to make a body voltage meter

Copper Grounding Rod

ground rod

Explanation of Parts:

Alternative Methods for the Grounding Side

Instructions

  1. Cut the ground cable to desired length. Strip both ends. Crimp on the spade terminal to one end.
  2. Fit the spade terminal into one end of the binding post and tighten.
  3. Fit the metal banana plug into the other side of the binding post. You should now have something that looks like the following:

  4. Fit the binding post on the multimeter, using COM. Either way is fine.
  5. The other end of the ground cable can be connected to the grounding rod that will be dug into the earth outside. It can be winded around the grounding rod in several loops.
  6. Turn on the multimeter on the AC setting. When your body touches the metal banana plug of the binding post with the banana plug, then you will be measuring the body voltage.

Exercise caution when measuring your body voltage when turning on and off electricity. This on/off event itself may be harmful to health, especially when you may be electrically connected.

Read the following References to more caveats about the body voltage meter before you are misled by the results.

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