Ghost Hunting Equipment

The basic ghost hunting equipment you'll need for your investigations

You don't want to go ghost hunting un-armed, do you? Here's a list of some of the basic equipment that experienced ghost research groups use on their investigations. You might not need all of this gear, and you certainly don't need to go out and buy it all at once. Start slowly with what you can afford, then slowly build up you inventory. Choose the equipment you'll most want to use first and learn how to use it properly. Then you can head out into those haunted house with confidence.

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Digital camera

Canon's The Big Moment with the New York City Ballet
Brian Ach/Stringer/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

A camera is the piece of equipment that most beginner ghost hunters start with because in most cases they already have one. You don't need to have an expensive digital camera, but you should use one with as high a resolution as you can afford. A 5 megapixel camera is the minimum resolution. The better the resolution you have, the more detail you'll be able to see in your images.

Cell phone cameras are not adequate, even if they have a 5 megapixel or higher resolution, because the image sensors in cell phones are too small and the lenses are not very good.

Get as good a camera as you can afford from a name manufacterer. Point-and-shoot cameras are fine, but digital SLRs with good lenses are better.

(See How To Photograph Ghosts)

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Digital recorder

EVP recorder
EVP recorder. Stephen Wagner

A good digital recorder is needed to record electronic voice phenomena (EVP). Digital recorders are preferred over cassette recorders by most investigators because they have no moving parts; you don't want motor noise in your recordings.

Digital recorders from such manufacturers as Olympus, SONY, and RCA range in price from about $30 into the hundreds of dollars. Again, get the best one you can afford because the higher the price, the better the quality. You'll want a model that can record high-quality sound. Some of the more expensive models record in uncompressed modes, which gives you the best fidelity.

With less expensive recorders, you might also want to add an external omnidirectional microphone.

(See How to Record EVP)

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Pen and paper

Paper and pencil
Paper and pencil.

Not everything in the ghost hunter's arsenal is high-tech or requires batteries. A simple pen and paper are just as important on any investigation.

More specifically, you should have a small pad of paper or notebook and at least two reliable pens or mechanical pencils (they don't need sharpening). You'll need these to keep a log of what you're doing, where and when. Your digital voice recorder can help noting the same information, but what if the batteries run out or there's some other kind of malfunction?

Keep notes about the readings of your other equipment, your experiences, and even your feelings.

Some ghost hunting groups have pre-printed forms on which to note times, readings and experiences.

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LED flashlight
LED flashlight. CyberTech

Oddly, many beginner ghost hunters forget about taking along this basic piece of equipment. Did you forget you're going to be prowling around in the dark?

Get a small but powerful flashlight, one that easily slips into a pocket. These days you can get a small 5- or 6-inch LED flashlight that emits a very good beam of light. LEDs are a smart choice because you don't have to worry about replacing bulbs; the LEDs last a long time.

And don't forget to bring along extra, fresh alkaline batteries.

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Extra batteries

Batteries. Duracell

This is something else that is easy to forget about, but none of your other equipment (except the pen and paper) is going to work without good batteries. Most of your equipment is going to require AA or AAA type batteries. Make note of what size you need and be sure to bring along extra alkalines that are fresh.

If some equipment, such as your camera, have rechargeable batteries, make sure they are fully charged before the ghost hunt. You might even consider getting extra batteries and charging them as well.

Many ghost hunters have noted (and have been frustrated by the fact) that haunted places tend to drain batteries; even fresh batteries seem to go dead quickly. So this is even more reason to make sure you have planty on hand.

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EMF meter

EMF meter
EMF meter.

Meters for detecting electromagnetic fields (EMF) are also popular with ghost hunters on the theory that the presence or movement of ghosts might distrupt or otherwise affect this field. There are a number of models to choose from, one of the more popular being the K-II meter.

The ghost hunter must be careful when using an EMF detector because many things in a house or building can affect it, such as wiring, power sources and other electronic equipment. Just because you see a spike on the EMF meter doesn't necessarily mean you've detected a ghost.

Take base readings throughout the area you are investigating and make note of the numbers. This will help in detecting legitimate spikes and anomalies.

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Thermal scanner

Thermal scanner
Thermal scanner.

Paranormal investigators use thermal scanners to detect "cold spots" on the theory that the presence of ghosts drains the ambient air of energy or warmth.

These gadgets, also known as infrared (IR) thermometers use an infrared beam to read temperature from a distance. Some "dual IR" meters can read distance temperature and the temperature near you. With this tool you can get the temperature of a spot across the room.

Again, just because you detect a cold spot does not mean you have necessarily detected a ghost; cold spots can have all sorts of causes. You should take and record baseline temperature readings throughout the area you are investigating, and then see if you are detecting any abnormal drops or anomalies.

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Motion sensor

Motion sensor
Motion sensor. The GhostHunter Store

How do you hunt something that's usually invisble? You can try to detect its movement with a motion detector. These gadgets are often used for home security, but the ghost hunter can set them up to possibly detect the movement of something that the eye cannot see.

Motion sensors are actually detecting heat signatures. When something enters its field of coverage that is above the ambient temperature (in this case, it is assuming that the ghost gives off heat, like a person), the sensor will sound an alarm. Some models are equipped with cameras and will snap a picture.

These sensors are calibrated so that the object must be somewhat sizable to set it off -- a mouse or a bug passing by won't trigger it.

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Video camera

Video camera
Video camera. Canon

Video is great to have, too, either to carry with you or to set up on a tripod and let it run in hopes of catching something anomalous. Make sure the video camera is equipped with some kind of night vision (such as SONY's Nightshot) so it can record images in minimal light.

The choices with video these days is amazing. Again, get the best one you can afford. High-definition video has become quite affordable, and it's advantageous to get a camera that has either an internal hard drive or that records on memory cards. These allow you to easily transfer your video to a computer for editing and analysis.

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Dowsing rods

Dowsing rods
Dowsing rods.

Although dowsing rods are not considered useful by all paranormal research groups, many have members who do use them on a regular basis. And they're cheap; in fact, you can make them yourself.

Those who use them say that their movement can help detect the presence of ghosts or can answer questions to ghosts (like a Ouija board?). For example, the user holds the rods out straight then asks the ghost to move them apart for "yes" or together for "no" to a question. The controversy is: Is it really the ghost who is moving the rods, or is it the user moving them unconsciously?