Best pH Meter – Review & Buyer’s Guide
The best pH meter comes in handy when you need to make the perfect homebrew, test the pH of water for your hydroponics, or test the pH of the soil in your garden. Knowing the acidity of water of soil can help you grow your plans in the most ideal pH level and achieve the sweetness you need from your coffee.
There are hundreds of pH meter brands on the market. Some test water, others soil, and others are versatile. The precision and ease of use of these digital tools are not the same. Your budget and your needs will determine the pH meter that you should buy. Below is a complete guide on the best meters for you.
Top rated PH Meter – Reviews
- Bluelab PENPH pH Pen; Parameters Measured: pH, conductivity/EC, temperature; pH Accuracy: 0.1 pH; Power Supply: 1 x AAA alkaline battery
- Apera Instruments AI209-T; Parameters Measured: pH and temperature; pH Accuracy: 0.01 pH; Power Supply: 4 AAA batteries
- Apera Instruments AI311; Parameters Measured: pH, temp., mV; pH Accuracy: 0.01 pH; Power Supply: 4 AAA batteries
- Bluelab METCOM Combo pH Meter; Parameters Measured: pH, temperature; pH Accuracy: 0.1 pH; Power Supply: 1 x AAA alkaline battery
- Bluelab MONGUA; Parameters Measured: pH, temperature; pH Accuracy: 0.1 pH; Power Supply: 1 x AAA alkaline battery
Best pH Pen Tester
Bluelab PENPH pH Pen is an ideal pen for testing the pH of water. It is fully waterproof, which means you can immerse it into a solution without the fear that it will blow. With this quality, you can use it to measure the pH of your pool, brewing and growing water, and your hydroponics.
Bluelab PENPH pH Pen has an easy two-point calibration process. This ensures that you never have to guess the preciseness of your pH meter or struggle with a complex calibration process.
To calibrate the unit, you need to press “Cal” when the unit is immersed in a 7.0 pH solution until it shows “cal” on screen. Rinse the probe and dip it into a 4.0 or 10.0 pH solution and long press “Cal” again until it shows on the screen.
Simple Design and Ease of Use
You can bring the Bluelab PENPH pH Pen anywhere you go thanks to its compact design. According to Bluelab, they test each pen meter rigorously before it leaves their premises to ensure the meter is highly accurate.
Further, each unit features a double junction probe that makes it highly precise and reliable. This double junction probe also lengthens the life of the pH meter. Unlike glass bulbs, the double probe doesn’t result in the buildup and this ensures there are consistent readings all the time.
With Bluelab PENPH pH Pen, you will enjoy some convenience features such as a low battery indicator, auto-off feature, and it also reads temperature. When you buy the kit, you get an AAA battery and a calibration kit to get you started.
• Highly portable
• Generous 1-year limited warranty
• Easy to read backlit LCD display
• Easy to calibrate
• The calibration liquid costs you extra money every 30 days
Best pH Soil Tester
Apera Instruments AI209-T is a complete pH meter kit. In the kit is everything you need to start testing solutions or soil. You will find calibration liquids in the set. These have pH 4.00, 7.00, and 10.01 for ease of calibration. You can use the solution for up to 100 times so that you never have to invest in calibration solutions every month. Further, you get a storage solution that lengthens the functional life of your probe.
High Quality pH Sensor
Apera uses a highly sensitive pH meter that ensures you get accurate readings at all times. This sensor has low impedance, ensuring that you get readings fast after dipping the probe in a solution, thanks to the short stabilizing process. There is a sensor shield that protects the glass membrane from damages from impact.
Other Meter Features
It also has other features that enhance its accuracy, including auto off function, auto temperature compensation, and calibration with buffer recognition. On the unit is a large LCD display that shows you reminders for stable meter readings. It also shows you when the calibration process is complete.
Other Items in the Kit
Apera offers you a CalPod solution holder, so you can keep the calibration solutions in the right state for them to last long. Further, you get a probe cleaning brush with ultra-soft bristles to help remove contaminants on the surface of the probe. This ensures there is no damage on the probe, and you get accurate readings consistently. The unit uses four AAA batteries, which come with the package.
At only 16 ounces, you can bring this kit anywhere in your pocket. This makes it ideal for people growing plants away from home or travelers who need to make good quality home brew away from home.
• Highly portable
• Long lasting calibration solutions provided
• Energy efficient with the battery lasting 2000 hours of operation
• Easy to calibrate
• You cannot replace its probes
Best Water pH Tester
The Apera Instruments AI311 works perfectly in testing water solutions. You can, therefore, use it for hydroponics, pools, and spas, making beverages, and water treatment among others. According to Apera, the meter has an accuracy rating of ±0.01 and a range of between -2.00 and 16.00. Further, the pen meter auto calibrates, and you can choose from a choice of five pH buffers.
Apera offers their proprietary glass membrane probe that offers enhanced measurements and a fast response. The probe has a sensor shield at the top to protect the shield in case of an accidental fall. It takes a short time to stabilize, and this ensures you have results within a few moments.
Large Backlit Screen
There are three screen colors available for your unit. The blue screen comes on when the unit is in measurement mode. The green screen shows the meter is in calibration mode and the red screen warns when the pH is out of range. On the screen is a range of settings, including buffer series, backlight time, auto power off, and temperature units.
If you take good care of the pH meter, it will last you up to two years. You can install a replacement probe, which allows you to get an even longer life from your probe. This way, you will save the money you’d have used to replace the entire meter. The meter is IP67 water resistant, which allows you to use it in harsh conditions outside your home. During use, first stir the solution with the probe to remove any bubbles around the probe. This accelerates the stabilization process.
The package comes with calibration buffers to get you started. You will have the PH60 tester, which may have droplets of water on the probe. These droplets ensure the probe remains sensitive. You also get calibration vials with calibration solutions; 4.00, 7.00, and 10.01. The kit also includes a lanyard, a 3M KCL storage solution, and a carrying case. There is a user manual, so you can learn how to use the unit with ease.
• Comes as a complete ready-to-use kit
• It is easy to calibrate with the provided solutions
• Allows you to replace the probe for a longer functional life
• Rugged design to survive a harsh environment
• Provided calibrations solutions only work one time
Best Digital Ph Tester for Versatile Use
The Bluelab METCOM Combo pH Meter is an ideal product when you need versatility. It measures pH, temperature, and conductivity. The unit has a lab-quality glass membrane that you can use to measure the pH of your drinking water, home brew, growing water, and hydroponics. It has a simple box design (unlike the pen meters) with a large display screen.
There are two probes on the meter; a conductivity and temperature probe and a double junction pH probe. The double junction pH probe makes the meter highly accurate by reducing build up for fast readings. This probe also lasts a long time, and you do not need to clean it often. Further, while the temperature probe is permanently fixed on the unit, the pH probe is replaceable, giving you an even longer functional life.
Calibration is easy with this unit. The two-point calibration process allows you to use the meter immediately you get it from the store. You will get a 30-day calibration indicator that you can view on the screen. You only need to calibrate the unit for pH and not for conductivity and temperature.
The double junction probe offers accurate readings at all times. You only need to put the probe in a solution, stir one or twice and get a reading on the screen. The unit is highly portable and only requires AAA batteries to operate. According to Bluelab, the design focuses on ergonomics and ease of use. You can bring the unit to a harsh environment and expect it to survive. Bluelab promises superior customer support so that you have confidence in your meter at all times.
• Versatile design
• Lightweight and highly portable
• Replaceable pH probe
• Low battery indicator
• Doesn’t have a manual off switch
Best Indoor pH Meter
Bluelab MONGUA is another versatile pH meter. It allows you to measure temperature and conductivity besides pH, which makes it ideal for drinking water, brewing, hydroponics, and growing water. You only need to set your ranges for the three measurements and then start monitoring. Its display alerts you when the solution fluctuates from the set range. Once you set the high and low ranges of the parameters, you are good to go.
Fast and Easy Calibration
You only need to press and hold “Cal” in 7.00 solution until “Cal” shows on your screen then press again in 4.00 or 10.01 solution. You will need to calibrate the unit before the first use. After that, calibrate it every 30 days. According to Bluelab, they inspect every monitor by hand to ensure it gives the most accurate readings. You also get the Bluelab superior customer support if your meter develops any technical problems and when you have any questions.
Automatic Temperature Compensation
This unit is ideal for indoor use. You can get accurate readings by hanging the unit on a wall and then putting the probes in a solution. With temperature compensation, you will get an accurate reading even when there are temperature fluctuations. Other features of this meter include auto power off function, large backlit LCD display, and calibration reminders.
The kit features calibration solutions and the AAA batteries you need to start using the meter.
• Plant safe LED display
• Versatile function
• Water resistant construction
• Easy push-button calibration process
• Only ideal for indoor use
Best pH Meter Buyer’s Guide
What is a pH Meter and How Does it Work?
There are pH meters for every budget from a meager $50 to more than $500. These meters measure the acidity or alkalinity of a solution. They are applicable in growing liquids, hydroponics, brewing liquids, and pool water among others. The difference between meters is the range of features that a meter offers, the accuracy, and the quality of the probe.
A pH probe is like an advanced voltmeter. The unit measures the electrical potential that a pH probe produces when you dip it into a solution. To get accurate readings, the meter needs to have a quality analog-digital converter and a good quality amplifier.
Over time, the pH probe wears out due to constant cleaning and constant use. You will need to replace it most times within two years. Some meters do not have a replaceable probe (but these are affordable to replace), but most have a replaceable probe you can easy swap for a new one.
The probe responds to pH linearly. This means that for it to work, it needs an offset and a range. You will set these two factors when you calibrate the unit before use and every 30 days. As your probe ages, the slope of the meter deteriorates and the voltage difference reduces. At this point, you will need to replace the probe.
Which Type of Probe Should You Go For?
Whether you need the best pH tester for hydroponics or for soil, you will have three designs to choose from:
• Pen-style meters
• Handheld meters
• Benchtop meters
All the three meters measure the hydrogen-ion activity, but they differ in design and in functionality. The pen-style meters are compact and highly portable. However, they may not offer the accuracy of benchtop meters. While the standard pH meter measures the pH of a solution, more advanced models monitor the temperature and conductivity of solutions. Most modern models feature LCD displays, but there is a difference in the size and legibility of the screen.
• Pen-Style Meters: These are the most affordable meters and the easiest to use. They have a simple design that allows them to fit in pockets with a small electrode tip to take measurements. Most units are waterproof, which makes them ideal for outdoor use. You only need one hand to use these units.
• Handheld Meters: These units have a large display for better readability. The probe is attached at the end of cables that hang from the meter. Although the unit is still highly portable, you need two hands to use it. One hand will hold the meter and the other will hold the probe that goes into the liquid whose pH you need to measure. The computer in a handheld meter and has more features than that of a pen-style meter. Further, these units may be waterproof and shockproof.
• Benchtop Meters: These meters are more expensive and more accurate. They are ideal for lab work, and you do not need one of these as a small farmer or coffee lover. The meters feature electrodes designed to measure different parameters. You will find their display easy to read, and they are ideal for several tasks. Further, they have the capacity to track your data as you continue with your lab work.
Most pH meters measure the pH of liquids. If you want to measure solids such as cheese or soil, you need a pH meter designed for that purpose. There are also surface pH meters designed for use in the food industry.
Factors to Consider When Buying a pH Meter
Range, Accuracy, and Resolution
When well-calibrated, a pH meter will have an accuracy of ±0.01 or ±0.02. However, some have an accuracy of ±0.1. You need high accuracy if you are to grow your plants right. The accuracy you need depends on the solution you are working on. For instance, measuring the pH of foods and drinks require a higher accuracy of at least ±0.01. You can get this with most handheld meters.
The range of your pH meter should be ideal for the substance you are measuring. Most of the meters can measure pH between 0 and +14. These are ideal for food pH measurements and for hydroponics. If you need a more specialist measure of parameter, you can go for an advanced unit with a range of -2 to 20. The Apera Instruments AI311 has a pH range of between -2 and 16.
Resolution refers to the reading that a pH meter displays on its screen. If the meter has an accuracy of 0.1, then the display on the screen will be in tenths. If the accuracy of the meter is higher, the display may be in hundredths or thousandths as in the case of benchtop meters.
The pH of a substance varies based on its temperature. As such, a pH meter that corrects temperature before measuring the pH gives the most accurate results. With temperature correction, a unit is able to give consistent readings even when the temperature fluctuates within the day.
Meters may have a manual or automatic temperature correction function. The automatic temperature correction function measures the temperature of the solution and adjusts accordingly without your input. For manual temperature correction, you will have to record and enter the temperature of the solution whose pH you need to measure.
If you pick a model without temperature correction (and these are cheaper), you will have to measure the pH of the substance at the same temperature every day if you need consistent results.
You need a large enough display for you to read the pH clearly. Most displays are for pH readings only, but some show other readings such as temperature and conductivity levels. You will not have a problem with most handheld and benchtop units, but you have to be keen when buying a pen-style meter.
Calibration Process and Calibration Points
You can calibrate a pH meter manually or automatically. In manual calibration, the meter features two knobs that you turn to select the low and high range of the meter. It takes some skills to calibrate manually. With automatic calibration, you only need to press the calibration button with the probe inside a calibration solution.
You need to follow the instructions the manufacturer provides to calibrate the meter.
Calibration in most kits is either one-, two- or three-point. The points refer to the number of solutions you use to calibrate the meter. Three-point calibration is the most common where you use buffer solutions at pH 7.00, 4.00, and 10.01. The more the calibration points, the higher the accuracy of the meter.
Features of a pH Meter
There are some features that come in handy when you are using a pH meter. These features include:
Backlight: Backlight in a pH meter enables you to use the meter at night and in bright environments. This ensures that you do not misread the measurements. Most handheld and pen-style meters have this feature.
Additional Measurements: Most meters will gather temperature measurements when switched on. This is common with modern meters that offer automatic temperature correction. In most cases, the temperature measurement comes simultaneously with the pH measurement. On some models, you have to change the mode of the unit to take a different measurement.
Other measurements you can take include:
• Oxidation-reduction potential, ORP
• Total dissolved solids, TDS
Auto-Shut Off Feature: Portable meters use AAA batteries. As such, you have to ensure that you save energy so that it doesn’t switch off during use outdoors. The auto power-off feature is almost standard in most of these meters.
pH Tester – FAQs
- How do you test pH of water without a kit?
- Who makes the best pH and tds meter?
- What is a pH meter?
- How do you store a pH meter?
- How do you clean a pH meter?
How do you test pH of water without a kit?
If you do not have a kit, you can use a red cabbage solution as your pH indicator. Grate a red cabbage, and put it in a glass bowl. Pour two cups of boiled distilled water into the grated cabbage to completely cover the cabbage. Stir the mixture and leave it for about 30 minutes. Strain the cabbage and leave the purple solution to work as your pH indicator. Put the water you need to test in a clear glass bowl. Add a few drops of the indicator in the solution you need to test and watch the color change. You will need a pH indicator color chart to see the level of acidity or alkalinity of the solution.
Who makes the best pH and tds meter?
Apera Instruments and Bluelab have some of the most advanced pH meters in the industry. What makes the meters stand out is the fact that they have a meter for every testing need you have. The meters are highly accurate with Apera Instruments offering meters with 0.01 pH accuracy and Bluelab offering 0.1 pH accuracy. Features such as automatic temperature correction, three-point calibration, auto power off, and double junction probe are common in these meters.
What is a pH meter?
A pH meter is a device that measures the hydrogen-ion activity in solution to show the pH of a solution, a surface, or a solid.
How do you store a pH meter?
Most pH meters come with a storage bag or box. To keep the probe accurate, you need to keep the bulb wet. You can use a solution of pH 4.01 and then add 1 percent part of potassium chloride (KCl). If you do not have KCl, you can use tap water or any other pH buffer. Once you add the solution in the storage bottle provided, secure the cap tightly before storage. Keep the storage bottle away from high heat and high humidity areas. Again, avoid storing it in distilled water.
How do you clean a pH meter?
You wipe other parts of the pH meter with a soft lint-free cloth and the probe with a soft-bristled brush. Rinse the probe with distilled water and place it back in its bottle ready for use.
When buying a pH meter, always look for one that tests the exact solution, surface, or solid you need to measure. You can also pick one that measures different parameters, but ensure it is accurate in the parameter you want to measure. Accuracy is the most important aspect of a pH meter. We recommend that you buy the best meter affordable.