If you’re a metal-detecting enthusiast, you may want to share your passion with someone you care about. However, you’ll probably find this difficult if you both want to use metal detectors simultaneously.
Metal detectors do interfere with each other because one detector will pick up the electrical activity of the other detector, resulting in electrical interference. You can solve this problem by keeping metal detectors at least seven feet apart.
In the rest of this article, I’ll discuss everything you need to know about metal detecting and electrical interference, including how to stop metal detectors from interfering with each other. Let’s get to it!
How To Stop Metal Detectors From Interfering With Each Other
You can stop metal detectors from interfering with each other by keeping the devices at least seven feet apart. You can also try adjusting the sensitivity and the discrimination settings.
If you’ve ever tried to use two metal detectors close to one another, you probably started noticing symptoms of electrical interference. Any machine or device that emits radio waves, electromagnetic fields, or vibrations can interfere with your metal detector and cause false signals and other unwanted behavior, which means that another metal detector will interfere with the functionality of a nearby metal detector.
Metal detectors work with electromagnetic signals, and the field of these signals can easily extend to another detector if it is in use close by. The signals from the two machines will interact with one another and ultimately cause them both to chatter and lose their usefulness.
The most effective way to stop metal detectors from interfering with each other is to keep detectors far enough away from each other so they don’t interfere with the electromagnetism of the other device. Usually, this distance is, at a minimum, seven feet apart, and you may even require more distance depending on your metal detector type.
Newer and higher-quality detectors have higher sensitivity, which means they’ll pick up on the signals from a nearby detector more often than older or lower-quality models.
You can also adjust the sensitivity of the metal detector. Many detectors have a sensitivity control or a gain that you can change to make the detector less sensitive to electric signals, thereby reducing interference.
The sensitivity setting controls how deeply underground your detector can find an object and the necessary size of that object. Suppose you need to change the sensitivity to prevent a metal detector from interfering with another detector. In that case, you risk losing some of your depth and missing out on some objects buried deeper underground. The higher your sensitivity, the smaller and deeper objects you’ll be able to find.
However, I wouldn’t worry too much about what you’ll lose with lower sensitivity. Chances are you’ll spend more time annoyed by the unwanted pings from other electric sources, including other metal detectors, than detecting.
If you have an automatic sensitivity setting, turn the dial until you receive accurate signals. Finding the right setting will take time and practice if you’re a beginner.
Some metal detectors have an auto-sensitivity setting. If you choose this route, your metal detector will automatically set the sensitivity to the highest stable setting. However, the auto setting doesn’t usually consider nearby metal detectors when making these adjustments, so you may need to tweak it a little bit manually.
You can also try adjusting your discrimination. Discrimination settings on metal detectors allow you to choose certain items and materials to look for and eliminate the signals from unwanted items. This is a useful setting, but unfortunately, electrical interference is often less controllable in this mode than in the all-metals mode.
Suppose you don’t want to use the all-metals mode. In that case, I suggest turning your discrimination level to the foil region. The foil setting typically reduces electrical interference issues, including the problems that arise from being close to another metal detector.
Metal detectors send currents through the search coil, which transmits a frequency into the ground. If that frequency hits metal, it will communicate with the coil and produce a sound. Discrimination works by intervening before the coil communicates with the alert device in the detector.
Many beginners find discrimination difficult to understand and adjust to, but with practice and time, you’ll get used to it. I’ve also written a complete guide on how to level up your metal detecting skills and become an expert. You’ll find a road map that’ll help turn your hobby into an expertise: How to Become a Metal Detection Expert
Symptoms of Electrical Interference in a Metal Detector
If you’re having problems with your metal detector while another detector is in use close by, you’re probably experiencing symptoms of electrical interference. Here’s what to look out for:
- Spontaneous and unexplained noises, or “chattering.” If your metal detector suddenly seems to be a lot noisier than before, or if it starts going off all the time, this is a sign of electrical interference. The coil sends signals to the alert system for something other than an object in the ground, causing the machine to be noisy.
- Loss of sensitivity. Sometimes electrical interference causes the machine to get overwhelmed by all the signals it’s receiving and lose its sensitivity.
- Waves of unexplained sound. The additional sound caused by electrical interference will occasionally sound less like chattering and more like consistent waves of unexplained or spontaneous sound.
- Audio wobbles. In some cases, you’ll notice that the sounds from your metal detector seem slightly different or wobblier. This condition can be another sign of electrical interference, especially if you’re close to another metal detector.
These symptoms vary depending on what kind of metal detector you have. Some metal detectors are more sensitive to electrical interference than others. These symptoms can get better or worse depending on your metal detector sensitivity and discrimination settings. Typically, metal detectors set to a lower sensitivity and on the all-metals discrimination settings are more capable of handling electrical interference, so these symptoms won’t be as noticeable.
Other Causes of Electrical Interference
Another metal detector isn’t the only thing that can cause symptoms of electrical interference. Here are other things to look out for if you start having problems with your detector:
- Electric power lines
- Cell phones
- Telephone lines
- Electric motors
- Any metal digging objects you might have on you to dig up your finds
- Electric fences
- Any metal accents on clothing, accessories, or footwear
- Fluorescent lighting
- Old televisions
- VLF-UHF wireless communication systems such as Bluetooth and WiFi
- Jewelry you’re wearing, such as a watch or rings
It’s almost impossible to avoid electrical interference while completely you’re out and about metal-detecting. Therefore, it is important to know what may be causing the problem so that you can adjust your position accordingly.
Other Causes of Metal Detector Problems
If you’re experiencing problems or symptoms of electrical interference but you’re nowhere near another metal detector, it may be time to consider what else it could be. Here are some possibilities:
- You have a problem with a search coil. Search coils are the part of your metal detector that generate a magnetic field and sense metallic objects in the surrounding environment. If your search coil goes bad, you’ll probably experience all sorts of noise and inconsistent behavior from your metal detector. For more guidance, I recommend reading my full guide on metal detector search coils: How to Tell If Your Metal Detector Coil is Bad (4 Signs)
- There’s something wrong with the search coil cover. Many metal detector manufacturers protect the search coil by covering it with a scuff plate. However, if this plate gets too dirty, it may start to interfere with the search coil and cause it to make noises and get false signals. Therefore, you should clean your search coil cover regularly.
- Your settings are wrong. If your discrimination, mode, or sensitivity settings differ from what you expect them to be, you may experience more sounds and signals than expected. I recommend checking your settings before you start detecting so you don’t get confused.
- There’s something stuck in the conveyor. Sometimes pieces of metal get stuck in the conveyor system. If this happens in your metal detector, the detector will receive signals from that piece of metal instead of from pieces in the ground.
- Your calibration is off. Sometimes the internal calibration in metal detectors just gets a little wonky. This problem can be a software issue, or the detector may be experiencing symptoms of old age.
Being near another metal detector is one cause of electrical interference and, therefore, metal detection issues. However, numerous other things can influence a metal detector’s performance that has nothing to do with the presence of another detector nearby.
Metal detectors interfere with each other because the machines work with electromagnetic signals that cause electrical interference with other detectors when they are too close together. You can stop the detectors from interfering by using the detectors at least seven feet apart, adjusting the sensitivity, or changing the discrimination settings. Other problems may cause symptoms of electrical interference, such as a faulty search coil or a calibration issue.