How to Buy a Used Metal Detector on eBay

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How to Buy a Used Metal Detector on eBay

Metal detectors are used by hobbyists and experts alike. They are used to find metal items that may have been buried purposely or may have been lost and submersed by the elements. Metal detectors find their specific targets by using a coil that creates a magnetic field. This magnetic field picks up on any metal in its vicinity (depending on the strength of the metal detector) and sends a signal to the user of the metal detector.

Metal detectors can be found at high prices due to their varying degree of effectiveness and for this reason it may be best to purchase one that is pre-owned.  This guide will show how to purchase one on eBay, and at an affordable price.

Components of a Metal Detector

There are many different components that make up the metal detector as an entire piece of equipment. These various elements all provide an important function in the finding of metal objects in an efficient and accurate manner.

It is important to know the various components of a metal detector, especially when purchasing one as used from the likes of eBay. This is due to the fact that certain parts may need replacing or may be faulty. If one understands the function and purpose of the fundamental components of a metal detector, one can replace or repair these parts whilst purchasing a metal detector at a sensible price.

Below is a table, listing the main components of a metal detector:

Metal Detector Components


Arm Cuff

Starting from the top of the metal detector, the arm cuff is a strap or a brace that can be fitted to the arm of the user of the metal detector. The purpose of the arm cuff is to allow a comfortable holding of the metal detector, especially as some can be heavy to hold. The arm cuff allows for a greater weight distribution, meaning that heavier metal detectors can be used for extended periods of time.


The handle performs a similar function to that of the arm cuff in that it is the part of the metal detector that is controlled by the user. Handles on metal detectors will often have certain production values to allow for a comfortable and secure holding, such as a rubber casing or ridges.

Control Centre

Whilst the more simple metal detectors available on the market will only having a control centre that may merely consist of a volume control, more advanced metal detectors will have control centres that can provide details about the size, depth and other various useful information on the metal object that has been detected. The power source, usually batteries, will be stored within the control centre. Usually, control centres will have a headphone jack fitted to allow for users to hear detections better, as well as to cater for other people that may be within the area of use.


The shaft of the metal detector is the longest component. It allows for the user of the metal detector to detect objects without having to bend over or get closer to the ground. There are metal detectors available with adjustable shafts, so as to cater for different heights and arm lengths. The cord that provides the electrical current that is required to power the magnetic field will usually run down the side of the shaft.


The coil is the part of the metal detector that will actually detect the metal. Within the coil section of the metal detector there are two coils. The first coil emits the magnetic field, whilst the other detects the ‘eddy’ current that rebounds from the metal object detected. Metal detector coils can be purchased individually. However, their fitting is complex for those who are inexperienced at assembling metal detectors.

Types of Metal Detector

Whether one is buying new or used, it is vital to know which type of metal detector is being purchased. 

There are three main types of metal detector available, all of which detect metals in various different ways. They also hold various benefits over each other and are used to detect at different levels of accuracy. They are available at differing price ranges:

Beat Frequency Oscillators

· Beat frequency oscillators are frequently known as BFO metal detectors.

· They are used mainly by beginners and are a traditional, simple form of detector.

· They work by using two radio frequency oscillators that are tuned to close frequencies. One is referred to as the reference oscillator, and the other is a search oscillator.

· The search oscillator shifts in frequency when an object is detected and will then produce a frequency that is audible to the user.

· High quality BFO detectors are hard to find as new, but can be purchased on the likes of eBay as used. However, they can be found at a very basic level of detection.

· They are generally considered to be the least accurate of the three main types of metal detector.

Very Low Frequency

· Very low frequency metal detectors are commonly referred to as VLF detectors.

· They are appreciated for their ability to find a variety of different metallic objects.

· VLF detectors also use two coils that emit frequencies. There is an outer coil that is used as a transmitter. This uses a current to produce a magnetic field that recognises metal objects. The other coil is an inner coil, which responds to the recognition of metal and is converted to an audio tone, so that the user is alerted to detection.

· VLF detectors are fitted with demodulators that serve as a means of determining the type of object that has been detected.

Pulse Induction

· Much like VLF and BFO metal detectors, Pulse Induction detectors are commonly referred to by the initials of their name and are known as PI metal detectors.

· They work by the distribution of recurring electrical pulses to a search coil, which in turn creates a magnetic field. This pulse is transmitted towards the search area, which then returns a pulse at a frequency that deters whether there are any metallic objects within distance.

· Pulse induction metal detectors are recommended for use where there is little known debris and metal, as they are unable to determine certain metals and are extremely responsive to iron.

· With this in mind, PI detectors are best used on beaches, especially as they are designed to ignore metal conducting salts, something that VLF and BFO detectors cannot do.

Buying a Used Metal Detector

When buying a used metal detector, there are certain things that need to be taken into consideration:

-   Condition: The condition of the metal detector is something that needs to be thought about. This is important, as the price that is to be paid for a used metal detector must be determined by its condition.

-   Spare Parts: If a metal detector is being sold with faulty parts and it is available at a reasonable price, be sure that replacement parts can be acquired that make the overall purchase a cost-effective one.

-   Experience: Some metal detectors are only recommended for use by those with a high level of metal detection experience. If one is a beginner, a used BFO metal detector may be recommended. If one is experienced and wishes to find certain metals, a VLF or PI detector may be more appropriate.

Buying a Used Metal Detector on eBay

Used metal detectors are easy to come by on eBay. Simply visit the Electronics page, before heading to the Gadgets section and selecting the Metal Detectors tab. One can then select the Used filter tab to find listings of used metal detectors.

If a product is found that is desirable, one should read the product description thoroughly before finalising the purchase. This is no truer than for used metal detectors, as it is important to know and understand the condition of the detector before settling for a price that may not be representative of its quality.

Once the product and seller has been found to be appropriate, one can place a Bid, make a Best Offer, or use the Buy It Now option to acquire a metal detector that is sensibly and suitably priced. It may also be a wise idea to check out the Deals section of the site, as affordable electronic products are often found in this area.


When buying a used metal detector, the condition of the product is one of, if not the most important thing to look out for. This is because the price that is paid should be faithful to the quality that the detector is being sold in.

Furthermore, to ensure a sensible purchase, know the type of metal detector that is required before finalising a transaction.

Finally, if spare parts are required, be aware of their availability and cost to ensure a level headed and rational purchase takes place on eBay.

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