Pulse Induction vs VLF

Pulse Induction vs VLF

Detectorists can choose from various metal detector technologies. This wide range available in the market can make it difficult to decide. Metal detector manufacturers primarily create two types of detectors.

These are VLF detectors, which operate using very low frequency, and PI detectors, which use pulse induction.

If you observe the market, you will see that these two technologies are mainly used in the metal detector industry. Both technologies have strengths and weaknesses.

This article aims to help readers choose between Pulse Induction and VLF technologies.

Difference Between Pulse Induction vs. VLF 

VLF Technology (Very Low Frequency)

VLF detectors are popular with beginners because they are versatile and easy to use. They are built for hobbyists and beginners and are more suitable for gold nuggets, coins, jewelry, and relic hunting. However, these metal detectors are not recommended for detecting highly mineralized soil. 

If you are looking to buy a VLF device find out the best VLF metal detectors.

VLF detectors with a high range frequency are very sensitive machines dedicated to gold nugget hunting. Gold nuggets are naturally occurring small particles of gold in raw form.

These detectors operate at a single frequency. Coins are detected best with lower frequencies. Slightly higher frequencies work for finding small objects, like gold.

PI Technology (Pulse Induction)

Pulse induction technology is usually found in specialty detectors, and they are used to find large objects deep in the ground. They offer greater depth and cover a larger area underground compared to VLF technology.

Pulse induction metal detectors are better than VLF detectors in certain conditions. These conditions include mineralized soil, minimal trash, and saltwater beaches. PI detectors can handle conductive salts and mineralization simultaneously.

Unlike VLF, these detectors remain stable and give accurate results, even when finding buried objects.

Pros And Cons Of Both Technologies

Pros and Cons of VLF Technology


These detectors are affordable, have many features and are suitable for their price. Most beginners invest in VLF detectors, and some people prefer them based on their requirements.

They are good for small-sized target objects. VLF detectors can easily detect small coins or small particles of gold.


These detectors have very limited depth potential, offering only 4 to 5 ft of depth. They are suitable only for detectorists who don’t want to do deep digging, mostly hobbyists who just want to spend some leisure time.

There are some stability issues with VLF technology when operating in highly mineralized grounds. It’s difficult to stabilize them in highly mineralized ground.

Pros and Cons of PI Technology


PI technology offers deeper depth potential and covers a larger area while detecting. Its signal penetration is deeper because it supports large coils, so if you want to detect deeper grounds, it is suitable for that.

PI technology is great for soil with lots of minerals. It works well and doesn’t cause many problems. Plus, it stays steady. Compared to VLF, it quickly observes the soil composition and adjusts accordingly.

PI devices are specifically designed to target large-sized objects underground.


These devices are expensive, so many people cannot afford to buy them. They are usually preferred by professionals.

PI detectors will not be able to detect small target objects such as coins or gold nuggets.

Applications of VLF Metal Detector


VLF technology is used to detect coins. Coins are flattened metallic objects usually used as currency authorized by an authority for use as a trade denomination.

Since coins are small objects, it is very easy for VLF detectors to detect them with high sensitivity. If you use the best metal detector for coins your chances of success will be higher. 

Gold Nuggets

These detectors are manufactured specifically to detect gold nuggets. Gold nuggets are naturally occurring small particles of gold. These particles are smaller in size and can be detected by VLF detectors.


Relics are metallic items that have some historical value and are slightly larger than coins. Relics are things from the past like jewelry, weapons, utensils, statues, or metal decorations. They can be from a specific time, like the Victorian era.

Industrial Applications

Various industries use VLF detectors to find underground cables, pipes, or wires for damage. They also locate manholes.

Applications of PI Metal Detector

In-Depth Hunting

Pulse Induction is used for deep seeking, such as treasure hunts that are buried deep underground.

Industrial Usage It also has industrial usage. This technology is used in various Industrial metal detectors. Such as Food, Pharmaceutical Packaging Metal Detectors.

Best for Mineralized Ground

Another application of PI detectors is in highly mineralized ground where a normal VLF device is not able to work; then PI works better.

PI vs VLF Comparison Chart

Pulse InductionDeeper depth potential and covers a large area while detectingExpensive metal detectors.
Best for highly mineralized soil, and gives efficient and accurate resultsMostly Professional detectorists prefer to buy these detectors, not beginners
It targets large size objectsEasily misses small metal targets equal to or less than the size of a single coin
VLFLess expensive and budget-friendly metal detectorVery limited depth potential, 4 to 5 feet only
Suitable for beginners-level usersStability issues in highly mineralized ground
Efficiently detects small-sized objects such as coins and gold nuggetsDepth is very low, and cannot detect objects present deeper in the ground

Why Should You Choose VLF?

  • If you don’t want to do deep, tiresome digging but just want to find something near the surface, then VLF detectors are a good option.
  • If the budget is limited, choose VLF detectors.

Why Should You Choose PI?

  • If you have searched near the surface and now want to search deeper, then you would prefer PI detectors.
  • If you want to dig deep for bigger objects, then you should choose PI.
  • If your budget allows, you may want to make a one-time purchase to get all the functions in one device.

Conclusion – Pulse Induction vs VLF

Metal detectors come in various forms and sizes, using different technologies. Some models have more specialized features. Selecting the right technology, whether it’s a VLF or PI metal detector, is crucial in maximizing its performance. The most suitable option depends on your requirements and, of course, your budget.

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