The 8 Best Geiger Counters of 2017

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Best Radiation Detector for the Money
Best Handheld Geiger Counter
Best Geiger Counter for Personal Use

Geiger counters are devices used for measuring the radiation level from a specific object or that given off within a certain area. It makes use of a Geiger-Muller tube that’s capable of responding to ionizing radiation. A Geiger counter is a relatively inexpensive way to measure different kinds of radiation including that from alpha, beta, and gamma particles. As more and more people wish to find out what type of radiation is found in their area, Geiger counters have become more popular and the market is very diverse so making the right purchasing decision can be difficult. You might also be interested in our articles about the best walkie talkies and best laser level.

This article is created as a small guide to help you choose the best Geiger counter for your needs. You will find lots of useful and interesting products that have been selected based on their features, how reliable and cost-effective they are. Making this investment can be costly and if you aren’t aware of certain aspects, you could very well end up with an unreliable radiation detector that’s simply not worth the money.

Before we take a look at what the market has in store for customers, let’s try to understand better what exactly you need to know to get the right detector for you.

1. Detection method

The detection method usually could be either a standard Geiger-Muller tube or a so-called pancake tube which is very similar but has a different shape. When picking a counter you should check the tube type as this has a certain degree of relevance. The pancake tube is better at detecting beta and gamma radiation while it’s not as reliable for alpha radiation.

2. Display

These devices have displays for showing the important measurements so finding one with a bright and clear screen is essential for checking out the data effectively.

3. Specific use

As with other products that you wish to buy, an important question that you have to ask yourself is why do you need a Geiger counter? Are you a hobbyist or simply want it for educational purposes? Does it have to do with your job or, for some reason you are concerned about the radioactivity in your area? The hunting process for the perfect radiation detecting solution has a lot to do with how you answer these questions.

These are pretty much the most important factors to consider when you are looking to buy a Geiger counter. The products on this list have been thoroughly researched and analyzed to make sure that they represent the best value possible. Thanks to a good level of diversity, you can also find the right one for your specific need.

Best Radiation Detector for the Money

1. RADEX RD1503+ w/o dosimeter: High accuracy Geiger counter

The RD1503 from Radex has been one of the best-selling units from the company as it encapsulated everything that a capable radiation detector needs to have. Now, Radex created a better and stronger Geiger counter which builds on the quality features of its predecessor. It’s aptly called RD1503+ and has one of the best performance per price ratios on the market.

Ever since the introduction of the original RD1503, many customers have expressed their desire for improvements. Radex responded in the best way possible with this new model. Let’s see which capabilities have been implemented and what are the improvements for the current features.

One feature that’s been introduced is the graduated change of the threshold signal from a range of 0.10 to 0.90 µSv/h to a 0.10 µSv/h interval. Values of the background dose rate can now be saved even when the unit is turned off. Another interesting addition is the displaying of the difference of the dose rate between two values, the averaged and background ones.

Radex now provides vibration signal and audio alarm for this device, which are both completely adjustable. An animation appears when the command button is pressed as now the icon of the button will start to blink on the screen.

This powerful Geiger counter can quickly check radiation background from many sources including non-edibles, interior premises, and the topsoil. Containing a top-notch detector of ionizing radiation, it seems capable to rival even professional level dosimetric equipment. Thanks to a cylindrical low-voltage tube, the device can reliably detect Beta and Gamma radiation. It works with rechargeable batteries and can function for a long time.

This Geiger counter has been tested by the Japanese Consumer Protection Agency and obtained a solid score on accuracy similarly to the one of a $2000 lab station. At this price point, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better value than this unit. For what it offers, it’s an amazing Geiger counter and it can fit in your pocket with ease.

Key Features:

  • Combined Beta, Gamma, and X-Ray radiation reading
  • Measures in micro Sieverts and mRems
  • Measurement cycle of 40 seconds
  • Calibrated with Cesium-137 isotope
  • Vibration signal and audio alarm

2. Mazur Instruments PRM-9000 Geiger Counter and Nuclear Radiation Detector

Able to handle Alpha, Beta, Gamma, X-Ray detection without problems, the Mazur Instruments PRM-9000 is a very attractive option for a Geiger counter. It has a bigger price than some of the other models in this list but it’s definitely justified considering its superior capabilities.

The main feature that captures the attention is the pancake detector tube which is considered the gold-standard for scanning areas for potentially dangerous ionizing radiation levels and to detect any kind of radioactive contamination of objects, people, and equipment.

Suitable for a wide range of applications, it works well for regulatory inspections as well as for detecting Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material. The detection sensitivity is excellent, a superb level of reliability in part due to the device being made in the USA, created with the best accuracy in mind.

This instrument can collect measurements and statistics in continuous mode for a complete assessment of the environment. Scrolling through the menu is simple and intuitive using a single button. The PRM-9000 is able to display the time and date at which the maximum radiation reading occurred as opposed to conventional counters that require the user to check the meter for such events. Lasting over 4 and a half years under normal usage conditions, the battery life is one of its strong points. Just a single 9-volt lithium battery that is available virtually everywhere can provide the needed energy.

Without needing a PC, the internal data logging memory of 100K can handle thousands of hours of time-stamped measurements. They can also be uploaded later to a PC for analysis. Another handy feature of this Geiger counter is the user-configurable dose rate alarm which sounds a clearly audible alert for the times when the measured radiation level is too high. Support for headphones and external speakers is nice to have and to complete the package for this device, a soft carrying case to protect the Geiger counter during travels.

Taking all that’s been said into account, it’s pretty much a no-brainer to get this detector. The PRM-9000 has been calibrated by an independent lab and offers an impressive level of accuracy. If you can afford this one, it’s definitely worth it as it has some powerful features and abilities for the money.

Key Features:

  • Detects alpha, beta, gamma, and x-radiation
  • Range of 0.001 to 125 mR/hr
  • Internal data logging
  • Dose rate alarm
  • Detects Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials

3. GQ GMC-300E-Plus Digital Geiger Counter Nuclear Radiation Detector

A very portable little device, the GQ GMC-300E-Plus is another good candidate from GQ Electronics that seems to strike a solid balance between features and price. The newer model of GMC-300 series, this one delivers increased quality overall as it has some new additions including a front LED indicator and an audio data port useful for connecting it to a third party device to manage your data.

It’s designed for enhanced portability and convenience. Setting it up as a nuclear radiation detection device is easy. With the help of its built-in audible and visual signals, you can be alerted of any potentially worrying levels of radiation detected. It can be used to monitor both indoor and outdoor and similar environments.

Automatic data recording is possible with this Geiger counter. This function permanently monitors the radiation levels and keeps the recorded data in the internal memory of the unit. Connecting the device to a PC allows for downloading and analyzing the data whenever you want. The software used for managing this data is provided by GQ Electronics and although a bit dated in terms of aesthetics and not very intuitive, it does the job well and that’s all that matters.

The device is powered by an internal rechargeable battery which lasts a decent amount of time and can be charged via a wall adapter or a car charger. One of the advantages is the nice large font of the text of the display which provides a good way to visualize changes. The detection capabilities of this Geiger counter are good, the device is ideal for monitoring radiation levels as it’s reasonably sensitive.

If you want a good Geiger counter for the money that performs well, this one won’t disappoint you. It may not compare to professional equipment as it doesn’t have that level of precision but it works as advertised and can easily give you some peace of mind if you suspect that an object or some area close to you needs to be checked for elevated levels of radiation. All in all the GMC-300E-Plus from GQ Electronics is a highly recommended product.

Key Features:

  • Text, Graphic and Large Font mode
  • USB connection
  • High contrast black/white LCD module
  • Automatic data recording
  • Real-time clock

4. GQ GMC-320-Plus Geiger Counter Nulcear Radiation Detector

This is one of the most interesting Geiger counters on the market as it comes loaded with functions at a very reasonable price. It brings a newly designed digital data recorder for a simpler process of recording your radiation data allowing you to play it back at a later date.

As this represents an improved version of the GMC-300E plus, it comes with certain upgrades. For example, it has a bigger internal flash memory which helps to facilitate the ability of the counter to process data. Other notable additions are the temperature sensor and the electronic gyroscope. GQ Electronics also added LCD contrast control and a front LED indicator as well as a new graphic type and analog data port output.

A highly portable device, the GMC-320-Plus features built-in audible and visual signals and offers automatic data recording. It can monitor the radiation continuously and then log the data with incredible precision for each second. If you connect the Geiger counter to a PC, the GQ software has the ability to download the radiation history data and the user can conveniently analyze it later.

Compared to similar products on the market, it has a few advantages including the unique feature to record data first and then play it back later. For easy application integration, it makes use of an open protocol and another great feature is the visualization of real-time graphs and data logging.

Besides communication with a PC, this counter uses the USB port for power. Its internal battery can be charged through different options including a car adapter. When connected to a power source, you can have the device in continuous data monitoring mode without worrying about data loss from an empty battery. The main board has a real-time clock, useful for data logging purposes related to the current time.

The GMC-320-Plus can be used for many industrial or commercial applications. It can also be used as test equipment for laboratories or for environment evaluation or another kind of scientific research. In case you were wondering, it does make the famous clicking sound from movies and video games and it even speeds up as it gets closer to the source of the radiation. Considering everything about the device, it represents one of the best recommendations for a very reliable and high-quality Geiger counter.

Key Features:

  • Automatic data recording
  • Open communication protocol
  • Temperature sensor
  • Electronic gyroscope
  • Front LED indicator
  • Analog data port output

5. GCA-07W Professional Geiger Counter Nuclear Radiation Detection Monitor

The GCA-07W is a professional Geiger counter from Images SI Inc. There are lots of things to be excited about this powerful instrument including NRC certification which ensures that the readings you get are very accurate. With a solid price, the GCA-07W should be considered as an option for anyone who wants a more technologically advanced detector.

One of the main highlights of this unit is the external wand containing an LND 712 GM tube which makes it much easier to detect radioactivity on materials and surfaces. It can detect Alpha, Beta, X-Rays, and Gamma radiation above certain thresholds.

An LCD display provides a comfortable way to read the digital output. Through a switch selection, the Geiger counter can measure and convert radiation. There’s the possibility to access Counts Per Second or Counts Per Minute modes using the time selection switch. Due to the factory calibration with a NIST traceable source, the measurements are going to be as accurate as possible.

It has a special data jack for outputting Serial Data by default or TTL logic pulse. The serial output is made of the counts per second which are sent via USB cable to the manufacturer’s Geiger Counter Graphing program for Windows to chart and record the measured radioactive values over time. Keep in mind that neither the USB cable or the graphing program are not included in the package.

Other notable features of this instrument are the secondary indicators. Both the audio through clicks and the visual through the LED provide great ways to monitor the radiation levels detected. A headphone jack is also included as well as a power jack used to deliver energy to the device.

For anyone wishing to step up their detecting game, this is the perfect tool for the job. The price is somewhat balanced considering the features of this Geiger tool as well as the efforts that went into calibration and certification to guarantee an accurate device for detecting even fainter traces of radiation in the environment and objects. This is one of the best purchases you can make, useful for a lot of applications.

Key Features:

  • NRC Certificate
  • Detects Alpha, Beta, X-Ray, and Gamma radiation
  • 1 CPM Counting Resolution
  • 10000 CPS Counting Range
  • Nist traceable calibration

Best Handheld Geiger Counter

6. RADEX RD1212 Advanced Radiation Detector / Geiger Counter

Radex offers through the RD1212 a piece of scientifically-tuned equipment that’s calibrated to deliver reliable performance when checking the radioactivity of materials. This little Geiger counter has been designed for common use as it provides simple to use features into a neat package engineered for maximum portability. With a reasonable price, it can satisfyingly evaluate background radioactivity levels around you.

Like any other Geiger counter, accuracy is key. Radex tested these units in Japan so they’re optimized to deliver the best results. The low-voltage SBM-20-1 tube is used for detecting Beta, Gamma, and X-ray radiation and thanks to being calibrated in the lab with a Cesium-137 isotope, it can more accurately inform you about dangerous levels.

There are many radioactive materials that you may stumble upon in consumer products. Some examples include tobacco smoke, natural granite and certain medical procedures like a Thyroid Radiation Treatment. With the help of this handy instrument, you can put all your worries aside after you check for harmful levels of radioactive particles.

This compact Geiger counter is the size of a smartphone and you can comfortably fit it into your pocket. The small size and reduced weight make it easier to handle. Operating it is also a breeze, just press a button and let the device start to measure, there’s no need for any kind of calibration. It seems that Radex has been really thoughtful in designing this radiation detector as it equipped it with a flashlight, a vibrating alarm and five language options.

With the help of a USB to PC or Mac connection, data is transferred straight to the online browser app used for mapping, charting, sharing and saving the recorded radiation data. A nice bonus is the ability to see data collected by other users on the manufacturer’s website.

All things considered, this is a worthy investment. The accuracy, the compact design and simplicity to operate it, every aspect of this instrument has been polished well and the final result is a very high-quality and reliable Geiger counter. Radex is one of the top brands on the market and this is another proof of that. Highly recommended.

Key Features:

  • Pre-calibrated and certified
  • Compact and light
  • Gamma, Beta and X-rays detector
  • 10 seconds measurement cycle
  • Data Recording, Charting and Global Mapping
  • Sensitive detection range

Best Geiger Counter For Personal Use

7. RADEX ONE Personal RAD Safety, High Sensitivity Dosimeter, Geiger Counter, Radiation detector

Designed to accurately measure the ambient ionizing radiation and other potentially harmful radioactive particles from materials and products, the Radex One is the ideal personal detector for everyday life. Coming from a trusted brand with a long experience in the manufacturing of Geiger counters, this is a very cost-effective solution if you need a solid all-around radiation dosimeter.

Perhaps the best feature of this compact instrument is the Accumulative Dose mode which displays the amount of radiation detected over time, and not just instant results. The reason why this matters is that it’s essential to know the prolonged exposure, but most counters usually only focus on immediate levels so accumulative dosage is a rare feature and a very important one to have.

Another aspect about this Beta, Gamma, and X-ray detection device is the ability to provide results very quickly, in just 10 seconds. Ideally, you should wait 30 seconds though. Radex One has been specifically calibrated beforehand to be able to detect and alert about harmful radiation. The tube used for detection is an SMB-20-1 Geiger-Muller model that has low voltage. Under normal conditions, this counter shouldn’t require any additional calibration for many years to come. With a detection range of 0.05~999.0 mcSv/hr, this is a very sensitive Geiger counter.

Thanks to the supplied USB cord, you can establish a PC connection to download all your recorded data. After you get the charting software from the manufacturer’s website, you can analyze the data more efficiently. The weakest point of this model is the construction that feels a bit cheap considering the plastic body but if you take good care of it, the device should last you some good years.

A nice little detector for the cost, the Radex One works about as accurately as you would expect for a Geiger counter found in this price bracket. This is recommended for hobbyists to get a general idea about the level of radiation in their area or in items, but more demanding professionals should probably look elsewhere towards more advanced detectors. A decent buy, all things considered.

Key Features:

  • Pre-calibrated and certified
  • Beta, Gamma and X-ray detection
  • Alerts about dangerous radiation
  • Accumulative Dose mode
  • PC connection via USB cord
  • PC software for analysis

8. Geiger Counter Terra-P Dosimeter Radiometer Radiation Detector MKS-05 IP30

The Ecotest MKS-05 Terra-P is the most popular radiation detection instrument in Ukraine and was designed using the professional MKS-05 TERRA as a base. The device is used by the Ukrainian Army so the Terra-P is expected to be a very capable Geiger counter. For this price point, it actually is an impressive device.

The dosimeter can be a huge help when you want to check the radiation safety of many places including your home or various objects like a car, household items, and mushrooms. Measuring Gamma background level is a breeze for the Terra-P MKS-05 but that’s not all as it’s also capable of calculating the accumulated dose and estimate Beta contamination.

A very simple-to-use instrument, this Geiger counter is operated with just two control buttons and is designed to withstand some powerful shock as it’s constructed in a highly durable yellow housing. Compactness is another interesting aspect to take into consideration. When you turn on the dosimeter, it can automatically enter in monitoring mode for measuring Gamma radiation.

Viewing data with more ease is possible due to the LCD display which shows three independent measuring channels. There are various settings you can customize and configure for the best radioactivity detection experience. For example, you can program the audio alarm threshold level for potentially dangerous dose rates of Gamma radiation. They integrated an audio signaling feature, the clicking sound can be heard whenever the Geiger counter registers Gamma or Beta particles.

Besides the Geiger counter, you will find a leather case and a handy operating manual that does a good job at explaining its core functions. All things considered, it fits nicely into the hands of those who need a very reliable and durable instrument for measuring radiation levels. Bringing a lot of quality for the price, the Ecotest Terra is an excellent choice for a Geiger counter.

Key Features:

  • Measures gamma background level and accumulated dose
  • Designed in a yellow shockproof housing
  • Small weight and size
  • Estimates beta contamination
  • Simple to use