Can Ghosts Drain Batteries?
This article is more than two years old.
It's not uncommon to hear investigators on ghost hunts report that their equipment has mysteriously died, despite the fact they'd put new batteries in at the start of the investigation. There are also stories of certain allegedly haunted places that are known for causing instantaneous loss of battery charge.
In the 2019 series, 'Ghost Nation', starring Jason Hawes, Steve Gonsalves and Dave Tango, they investigate an old farmhouse in a small town called White Pine outside Knoxville. One of the reported phenomenon is that batteries mysteriously drain. The team actively tested this claim by placing a fully charged battery in the location for 48 hours and recorded its voltage before and after.
Most often the reported battery issues seem to effect cameras. In the most recent series of 'Help! My House Is Haunted' the team encountered issues with their camera's power at one point during the investigation. Similarly, when 'Most Haunted' were filming at Ripon Prison & Police Museum in Yorkshire, they encountered problems with batteries inexplicably draining in their cameras and lights throughout filming.
Ghost hunters who have experienced the phenomenon generally say that lithium-ion batteries are the type which is the most commonly effected, but nickel cadmium batteries like the common AA or AAA are also said to be susceptible to draining.
The reason some paranormal investigators think that ghosts might be after the energy stored in our batteries is because they believe that when a soul leaves the body after death, it becomes a form of spirit energy. It's claimed that spirits draw on any source of energy in order to replenish themselves. As well as batteries, this could also include feeding on the energy from our bodies, the electrical wiring in a building, and even the energy discharged during a thunderstorm.
The belief is that they use any source of energy they can absorb in order to build up their energy to manifest themselves or perform tasks like communicating with an investigator, or moving an object. In fact, poltergeists are said to obtain the energy they need to move objects around by feeding on the negative energy of those living in the homes they haunt.
Grant Wilson, an investigator from the US paranormal show, 'Ghost Hunters', posted a short blog post in 2001 on the phenomenon. He wrote, "ghosts take a lot of energy to manifest themselves either through sight, sound or touch. They can't make this energy, they need to gather it from somewhere in order to get your attention. So, why not target your conveniently packaged power cells?"
He adds, "that's exactly what they do. In fact, after an intense night of hunting you'll tend to feel that even your very self is drained and extremely tired. This is due to the energy those ghosties have been pulling out of YOU all night long."
Although those investigators affected by battery drain will swear that they charged the device before the investigation or put fresh batteries in before getting started, there are of course other reasons why batteries could spontaneously drain at a haunted location.
The life cycle of a battery can vary dramatically based on various factors, including the air temperature and how much power is being pulled from the battery. Since a lot of ghost hunts take place in abandoned buildings late at night, it's not uncommon for it to be very cold. Low temperatures can instantly stop a battery from providing power, even if it was fully charged just moments before. Low temperatures can even slow down the rate at which li-ion batteries charge and once charged can increase degradation if stored in poor conditions.
Certain types of batteries, like the common rechargeable nickel–metal hydride AA and AAA batteries, and older lithium batteries can develop a "memory" as they age. No matter how much you charge that battery, its life will become much shorter than it was when the battery was new, despite the charger indicating that it is fully charged.
It's more likely that your device has turned on in your bag, or that it has been left in standby mode and drained the battery than the likelihood that ghosts are involved. It's even possible that the equipment has developed a fault that caused it to consume more power than it should. It's also possible that the battery is old, or has expired - be sure to check the expiry date on the battery if you experience a power drain. Although rare, you might have even picked up a pack from the store with a duff battery in it.
In our modern world, it's hard to escape the buzz of energy all around us, so why do ghosts need to rely on batteries to get their power anyway? When an electrical current is flowing, the cables and circuits radiate an electromagnetic field - pure energy. Logic dictates that it should be much easier for a spirit to feed on this energy that is already radiating than try to pull power from a battery, which releases its energy slowly due to a chemical reaction taking place inside.
Some paranormal teams actually use a device called an EM Pump to help feed ghosts. It produces a constant electromagnetic field that spirits are said to be able to use. Plasma balls are sometimes used for the same purpose.
There are also countless other sources of EM radiation around the home, they're produced by all sorts of appliances including mobile phones, WiFi routers, and Bluetooth devices. Even heaters and open fires are kicking out raw energy.
However, all of these sources and even a pocket full of batteries would pale in comparison to the natural energy that's around us all the time. Around half of the radiation we are exposed to comes from background radiation, which is made up of cosmic rays hitting Earth from space, and environmental radioactivity coming naturally from the Earth itself.
One of the most obvious sources of energy that we see every day is the Sun. The energy that reaches the Earth's surface from the Sun is powerful enough to heat the ground and even power electrical equipment through solar panels. Is this not a viable source of power for a ghost? If so, why aren't there more ghost sightings at noon when the Sun is at its strongest?
There is one possibility. Maybe the spirits intentionally drain the batteries. Perhaps shy ghosts choose to drain camera batteries so that they can't be captured on camera or be detected by ghost hunting gadgets.
If you do regularly experience batteries draining at a haunted location you investigate, then take a scientific approach to investigating the phenomenon. First of all, be extra sure that you are using brand new or fully charged batteries at the start of every investigation. If using non-rechargeable batteries, be sure to check the expiry date.
You may also want to use a battery tester at the start of the investigation to check the batteries are fully charged to begin with. A battery should normally be 1 or 2 volts over its rated voltage when it is new. If you find that a battery dies at any point, then test it again to see what its voltage is. A battery which has naturally discharged through use will normally be a couple of volts under its rated voltage.
You may also consider placing a fully charged battery in the location as a test object. Check the battery before and after the investigation to see if there is any change in its charge. Keeping an identical battery at home or outside the property will allow you to eliminate the possibility that the drain is normal for the type of battery and that it is caused by something in the location.
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