How do ghosts turn flashlights on and off?

Ghosts and flashlights… they’re an interesting mix. Can ghosts really communicate by turning your flashlight on & off?

Here’s my answer.

Ghosts don’t actually turn the flashlight on and off. Not with a switch or lever, anyway.

Find out how ghosts turn flashlights on & off.The effect comes from a loose contact between the batteries and the light bulb.

A ghost might be able to move the flashlight just enough to make the light blink on for a split second.

Or, ghosts might generate EMF energy. That’s a popular theory. If it’s true, a small amount of energy might reconnect the battery and the light bulb.

Either way, some ghosts and flashlights seem to have a connection (no pun intended). Ghosts might be able to communicate through a loosened flashlight. That’s how it’s looked in tests on TV and in the field.

Fiona's adviceUse the kind of flashlight that turns on and off with a gentle twist of the flashlight case. The Mag lite brand is the most popular.

But, inexpensive clones can work just as well, as long a the flashlight has a metal case, not plastic or resin.

Note: I’ve talked with the staff at Mag lite. They were baffled by my questions. They wouldn’t tell me which metals are in their flashlight cases are proprietary. Still, they insisted that conductivity wasn’t likely.

So, any flashlight may work equally well.

How to get the best results with ghosts and flashlights

Here are steps to use a flashlight to communicate with ghosts.

  1.  Turn the flashlight on.
  2. Twist the case just enough so the flashlight is off.
  3. Gently shake the flashlight. If the light flickers on and off, the setting is right.  (If it won’t flicker easily, adjust the case until it does.)
  4. Place the flashlight on a level surface.
  5. Then, instruct the ghost to reply to questions by briefly turning the light on if the answer is yes. (Or whatever directions you want to give to the ghost. It might be “signal once with the light for yes, and twice for no.”)

This kind of real-time communication can be exciting and produce remarkable results.

Sadly, there’s at least one big problem:  This is far from actual, scientific evidence.

Heavy footsteps, a passing truck, a nearby train, or music with a heavy base can be enough to make the flashlight flicker.

In other words, a blinking flashlight isn’t proof of anything, even if it seems eerily accurate and consistent.

How I begin each flashlight session

Generally, I ask questions with known answers: “Is my name Fiona Broome? Flash the light once for yes.”

Then, “Flash the light once if I’m male, twice if I’m female.”

(I mix things up. I want to be sure the flashlight isn’t responding to footsteps in a nearby room, or infrasound from trucks or an underground stream.)

I’ll continue questioning the ghost for several minutes. (You could think of it as “establishing rapport” rather than commanding the ghost to perform.)

“Are we in [name of location]? Flash once for yes.”

“Did George Washington (or some other impossible name, like Queen Elizabeth II) live here? Flash once for yes, twice for no.”

If the answers aren’t at least 75% accurate, I don’t bother with a flashlight “seance.” The controlled responses must be more accurate than a coin toss.

If the flashlight responds accurately enough, I set up my equipment nearby.

Confirming flashlight responses

My usual tools include EMF detectors, real-time ghost communication devices, and EVP recorders. We set them up and resume our investigation.

We continue to ask questions, and check our other tools for anomalies that happen at the same time as the ghost seems to flicker the flashlight.

Flashlight communication with spirits can be exciting.  However, I believe you need more evidence, collected at the same time.

After our investigation, I look for documented history that supports or refutes what the ghost seemed to tell us via the flashlight.

Unless historical evidence exists, the rest is speculation. It might seem reliable, but I’m looking for more than just a consensus from a loosened flashlight and a few other tools.

I want something on paper that’s independent of any ghost investigations. That means census records, vital records (birth, marriage, or death records), court documents, and so on.

This article wandered far from the flashlight topic. However, “talking” flashlights are such unreliable evidence, they shouldn’t be your only focus in an investigation.

Besides… if the ghost really is that communicative, you might miss other investigative opportunities, like EVP and ghost photos or video.

But yes, flashlight communications can work. And, as part of a pre-investigation visit – or during your regular research – the answers can help you identify your ghost and why he or she haunts.

How much should I budget for ghost hunting gear?

As a beginner, avoid investing in specialized ghost hunting equipment.

First, make sure this will be a long-term interest, hobby, or profession.

With experience, you’ll know what kind of ghost hunting you enjoy. You’ll have seen others’ equipment, and know what works best where you investigate.

But, whether you’re a beginner or a pro, never invest more money than you can afford to lose.

Here’s why..

trees and moonlight in haunted setting– People drop things when they’re startled.  In the dark, you might not find whatever-it-is.

(The problem becomes worse if you drop what you’re carrying, and run away in terror.)

– If you drop a sensitive $5k camera or a $2k heat sensing device, it can break the same as a $40 camera or a $15 digital thermometer.

If you didn’t buy a replacement warranty, or it doesn’t cover that kind of mistake, you may have wasted thousands of dollars.

– Electronic equipment can fail in extremely haunted settings. In fact, many of us use unexplained equipment failure as an indicator of paranormal activity.

Personally, I think EMF spikes are to blame. Many electrical devices will glitch or fail when exposed to intense magnetic energy. That’s reasonable, unless it’s remarkably well shielded.

If your expensive camera or other device won’t work when you’re ghost hunting, you’ve wasted your money. Worse, it can be difficult to return that equipment if it shows any wear, or you can’t demonstrate how it fails.

Instead, focus on just one aspect of ghost hunting.

If you like ghost photography, invest in photographic equipment.

If you like divinatory tools, buy or make specialized dowsing rods or pendulums.

If I were starting fresh, today, I’d probably budget $100 or less.

– I’d start with the camera in my phone. It’s good enough. I wouldn’t bother with a fancy ($$) after-market lens attachment, either.

For many investigations, that’s all you need.

If I were starting out and decided I really liked taking ghost photos, I might get a good camera.

I bought a couple of used, refurbished point-and-shoot digital cameras. They’re great… but they use specialized batteries.

So, I keep going back to my trusty Nikon Coolpix camera. (I talked about that in my article, What’s the best kind of equipment for a beginning ghost hunter.)

For photo-processing software, I’d use GIMP, or something else that’s free. (Today, I use Photoshop, but GIMP and other programs work well enough to tell if you’ve captured an anomaly.)

– I’d make dowsing rods from coat hangers. (If you’re not sure how, see my Homemade Dowsing Rods article at, for instructions.)

– I’d use the voice recorder on my phone, or buy an inexpensive one at an office supply store or warehouse. (Make sure the microphone is omni-directional, so it picks up sounds all around you, not just in one direction.)

– I’d buy an inexpensive flashlight with a metal case. I’d make sure the light bulb housing unscrews easily, to test yes/no responses when the housing is loosened.

– I’d get a good surgical-type mask that protects me from toxins, bacteria, and viruses around me. (Not vice versa. The free masks at doctors’ offices are designed to contain germs inside the mask… not keep bad things out.)

– I’d put all of that in a backpack with lots of pockets (to find things in complete darkness).

My backpack is the basic Amazon one. My cameras, Ovilus, etc., go in the big pocket. Maps, pen & a notebook, small first aid kit, etc., in the next largest. Spare batteries in the outside pocket. And so on.

I’d also add a small, inexpensive first aid kit.

Don’t spread yourself too thin, in terms of learning or financial investment. Set a firm spending limit and do not exceed that.

It’s easy to get carried away.  Keep your ghost hunting expenses low.

Don’t let ghost hunting jeopardize other aspects of your personal, professional, or family life.

When you’re a beginner, see how well you enjoy ghost hunting, before you spend much money.

Do ghost hunting apps work?

I’ve tried several different kinds of ghost hunting apps. Many of them rely on EMF anomalies to produce flashing lights and sometimes spoken words. Some show the direction the energy is coming from.

Initially, I dismissed ghost hunting apps as toys. After all, how could a free or  99-cent app work nearly as well as my $300+ tools?

The lunch that changed my mind

Do Ghost Hunting Apps Work?Several years ago, when I was a speaker at a Canadian ghost hunting event, a few of us went out to lunch.

Once we were seated in the restaurant, one of my companions took out her phone.

It had a ghost app on it. I’m pretty sure it was the Ghost Radar app. (You can download it, free, at, and there are newer -but not free – versions, as well.)

She put the phone – with the app running – on the table where we were eating.

Another companion said that, if the app really worked, she’d like a message from her mother.

The app started “talking.” It said several words, none of which seemed significant to the woman who’d asked the question.

However, as I sat there, nearly every word the app said… it described the mural on the wall, next to us. (At the time, I felt like I was the only one who was putting the words together, and seeing a clear picture… no pun intended.)

My companions didn’t seem interested. They were talking about that night’s scheduled investigation, and how we should prepare for the chilly, windy weather ahead.

After several minutes, I finally interrupted them. I pointed to the mural since the words were a match.

Then I pointed to the signature on the mural, also indicated by the app. (I believe some of the words it said included “word,” “sign,” and “picture.”)

The woman who’d asked the question nearly lost it. The first name of the artist was the exact same, slightly unusual name as the her mother.

(I didn’t know that was her mother’s name when I pointed to it.)

Maybe it was a coincidence, but none of us thought that. Not with the clarity of the indication, once I pointed to the mural.

(To me, it had been obvious after the first three or four words. The app kept “talking” only until my dining companion finally paid attention to it. And, at least 80% of the words were clearly about the signature on the mural.)

So, that was my first experience with a ghost hunting app.

Even if that had been my only experience, it was powerful enough to change my mind in favor of ghost hunting apps.

A second, startling experiment

The second experience was a couple of years later. I was in a NH cemetery with psychics Lesley Marden and Sean Paradis.

We were testing equipment, collectively. That is, each of us was working with some kind of ghost hunting equipment. We wanted to see if the results correlated.

In addition, we drew on Lesley’s psychic skills, since her accuracy rate is high. (Sean’s is good as well, but different. Mine is not as sharp, around 85%.)

Sean was running the Ghost Radar app on his phone, and it indicated an energy form (or ghost) approaching us.

My Ghost Meter Pro was running in “seance” mode.

Lesley was chatting with us when she had the strong impression of a spirit named Jonathan.

Then, the Ghost Radar suggested that the ghostly energy was within 15 feet of us.

At the same time, my Ghost Meter Pro signaled the option of conversation with a spirit.

Lesley was sure the grave of that ghost was outside the enclosure where we were.

That seemed confirmed by both the Ghost Meter Pro (in yes/no terms, anyway) as well as the words “said” by the Ghost Radar.

So, we left that enclosure.

We followed directions given to us by dowsing rods, the Ghost Meter Pro, and the Ghost Radar, plus Lesley’s guidance.

We walked about 60 feet when the Ghost Radar shouted “Pennsylvania.”

We laughed because we were in Concord, New Hampshire, nowhere near Pennsylvania.

However, the Ghost Meter Pro also signaled something nearby. At the same time, the dowsing rods came to a halt, pointing at one very tall monument to the left of us.

When we got there, the grave belonged to a man named Jonathan. He’d been killed at Valley Forge. It’s in Pennsylvania.

There is no way that had been set up by any of us. It also confirmed that ghost hunting tools can work together to refine research results. Mostly, I was very impressed that the Ghost Radar app had been exactly right.

Everything it said was an exact match for the grave marker, in ways we didn’t have to contrive to fit.

So, I’m now a firm believer in the merits of ghost hunting apps.

Do apps like Ghost Radar perform better with certain investigators? Are some people “lightning rods” attracting psychic energy? Does it help if they’re psychic?

At other investigations, some ghost hunting tools have seemed worthless until the right person came along. Then, the devices went from near zero accuracy to at least 70%.

On its own, I’m not sure that the Ghost Radar app is as useful as other, dedicated ghost hunting tools.

Nevertheless, for the price (especially the free version) and convenience, apps may be worth trying.

Here’s a video showing the Ghost Radar app in use. It’s not a thrilling, frightening video, just something that shows what to expect in a typical, “haunted” setting.

This YouTube Ghost Radar app video is at: