Does GPS Emit EMF Radiation? 5 Simple Answers (In Plain English)

I am horrible at finding my way around cities and streets so I depend largely on GPS data and whenever I’m going anywhere. This can be a problem sometimes because I want my cellphone to be turned off when I’m inside my car (we’ll get back to that).

Do GPS Signals Emit EMF Radiation?
GPS chips receive signals from satellites in order to pinpoint your location. They do not communicate back to the satellites and therefore don’t send out waves that could contain EMF radiation. It’a one-way communication as opposed to 4G and Bluetooth technologies.

Here’s a quick guide to teach you some basic stuff so you will have a MUCH better time learning about these things.

Abbreviations used in this article:
EMF: Electromagnetic Fields (All types of radiation)
RF: Radio Frequencies (Radiation from wifi, cell towers, and other wireless technologies
V/m: Volts over meters (How we measure RF radiation)

Do GPS Devices Emit Radiation?

GPS signal and EMF radiation

The very short answer here is most of our GPS devices do emit radiation. But the EMF radiation does not come from the GPS chip communication.

The radiation levels from only using the GPS inside your smartphone or smart device are very little and you can therefore typically use your GPS without worrying about EMF.


Most of us are using our smartphones as GPS these days. This also means that you need to pay close attention to your settings if you want to use the GPS without EMF exposure. We show you exactly how to do that in the next section.

But what about the amount of radiation from a GPS? Not talking about phones here but the Garmin and TomTom GPS device that does nothing else than being a GPS. How much EMF radiation is to be expected from using these devices?

Let’s find out.

GPS devices receive information from satellites but they do not communicate back to the satellites. They only receive the signals in order to pinpoint your location. This also means that the GPS system does not send out any waves that could (and would!) contain radiation.

So there’s the main difference between your cellphone and a GPS device like one you can get from TomTom, Garmin, Nuvi, Magellan, etc.

Since we are talking about a one-way communication between the satellites and your GPS we don’t have the problem with EMF radiation.

But if you are using your phone or tablet as GPS you will be exposed to EMF unless you follow our little trick below.

How To Use GPS Without EMF Radiation

When you are inside your car or other vehicles built around a metal frame, you should always limit your use of cell phone and Bluetooth signals. If you care about EMF radiation.

This is important because your car is like a giant tin can that bounces the radiation waves around.

This is something I found out when we started to use our RV in the countryside. I quickly realize that it was almost impossible to get a decent Wi-Fi signal inside the RV. We had a hard time connecting our laptops and phones to the wifi signal on the campgrounds (this was years before I learned about EMF).

This is because the walls are made of metals and you are basically sitting inside a giant tin can. The same goes for your car.

In other words, whenever you emit radiation inside your car or inside your camper the radiation will bounce around and expose yourself to many times more EMFs that when you are doing so outside in the open (or even inside your home).

So here is how are you can use GPS on your cell phone without even having the cellphone (or Bluetooth) signal turned on.

You can actually use the GPS with your smartphone while it’s on flight mode.

  1. Type in the destination in Google Maps (or whatever app you use for GPS)
  2. Wait for the app to locate the route
  3. Turn the phone to flight mode.
  4. Start driving
The reason why this works is that the chip for the GPS signal is separated from the main cellular signal on the phone as well as the Bluetooth signal. The GPS chip is physically separated from the Bluetooth and the cellular chip in the phone.

It’s a separate signal.

I used my GPS this morning in order to get my car to the repair shop without having the phone connected to the cell towers (or Bluetooth) and it worked perfectly. Just like it always does.

You can see a little video here where Nickolas Pineault shows exactly how it is done:

But be aware that whenever you take a wrong turn and get off the route that has been calculated for you-you will need to turn the cellular data back on in order for the phone to calculate a new route for you.

This should be no problem really. You just pull over to the side and press “Stop” and “Start” on the navigation, and you are back on track again.

Make Sure Wifi & Bluetooth Is Turned Off

But you should always remember that you need to proactively turn off the Bluetooth signal as well as the wifi and the mobile data signal. When you set your smartphone to flight mode you need to pay close attention to the other icons because they will sometimes be active even when your phone is set to flight mode.

As you can see below, it’s perfectly possible to turn your flight mode on while allowing either wifi or Bluetooth signals to emit radiation (or both for that matter!)

You need to make sure you have all the other icons pressed so they turn dark grey. If they are blue they will be active even though you have the flight mode turned on. The only signal you cannot turn on when the mobile is set to flight mode is the mobile data communication with the cell towers.

Your GPS signal will also be active on flight mode which is why the trick above actually works.

FLight mode without EMF radiation

If you want to turn off the GPS signal on the phone (for whatever reason) you will have to go to this menu:

Settings > Privacy > Location Services

Inside this menu, you can turn off the GPS tracking. You can either do it for everything on the phone or you can do it per app individually. But you should be aware that this doesn’t affect the amount of radiation the device will emit as we looked at up at the beginning of this article.

If you don’t get these setting right your smartphone (or tablet) will definitely send out EMF radiation of the RF type (Radio Frequencies) because you haven’t deactivated the wifi and/or Bluetooth.

Even though the GPS chip doesn’t the mobile data to know where you are it might connect to Google Maps (and similar data) in order to calculate details about your route. Every time you stray away from the calculated route it will re-calculate using cell phone data which definitely emits radiation.

For privacy reasons I always advise people to check the GPS communication settings per app. Because why would you have a “currency calculator app” have constant access to your location, even when you are not using the app? It might make sense for some apps when the app is being used, but for most apps, I just switch it to “off”.

It makes perfect sense for GPS apps to have access to your chip in order to work properly but not all apps should have access, in my opinion.

I hope you found the answer you were looking for. If you want to learn more about the type of EMF radiation we get from cellphones and tablets you can read this guide that explains the relation between EMF and RF radiation. Many people confuse these two terms but they are actually pretty simple to understand when you know the basics.

Good luck and happy travels!

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