Which pH meters are best?
There are numerous reasons you may want a pH meter. Maybe you just bought a new hot tub, plan on starting a hydroponic garden or want to test your drinking water to ensure it isn’t caustic. Whatever your reason, it’s essential that you choose a pH meter that can handle the job since overly caustic water can harm plants, animals and humans. If you’ve found yourself in need of a pH meter, the Bluelab pH Pen is an excellent choice, as it features automatic temperature compensation for improved accuracy.
What to know before you buy a pH meter
How pH meters work
Water contains more positively charged hydrogen ions when it’s acidic. When you insert a pH meter’s probes into the water, they interpret the number of positively charged hydrogen ions. The pH meter uses this number to determine the water’s pH.
Why know a water’s pH
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), acidic foods and drinks contribute to tooth decay. For that reason, it’s a good idea to know your drinking water’s average pH level. Water pH that is too alkaline or too acidic may also impact your gut bacteria.
Soil and water pH is vital for plant growth as well. If a plant’s soil is too acidic or alkaline, it can lead to nutrient leaching or non-beneficial plant bacteria.
- Benchtop pH meter: Benchtop pH meters are mainly used in lab settings and are often the most accurate. These models are suited for various tasks but are considerably more expensive than other types of pH meters.
- Handheld pH meter: Handheld pH meters are portable, although many require two hands to use. These meters have a display that’s connected to an electrode via a wire. These meters can be more accurate than pen-style meters but aren’t as easy to use.
- Pen-style pH meter: Pen-style pH meters are typically small enough to fit in your pocket and often waterproof. These inexpensive pH meters are among the most commonly used. Although pen-style pH meters are less accurate than benchtop and handheld models, they’re more than accurate enough for most users.
What to look for in a quality pH meter
When using a pH meter, it’s essential to consider how accurate the meter is. Depending on what you’re using the device for, an accuracy of about +/- 0.01 is usually more than enough. Many pricey pH meters have an accuracy of around +/- 0.001, although it’s unlikely you’ll need your measurements to be that precise.
Ease of calibration
Most pH meters are calibrated automatically by pressing a button on the device. Some pH meters have to be calibrated manually, which can be time-consuming. Still, manually calibrated pH meters tend to be more accurate than automatically calibrated meters.
The pH meters feature one-point, two-point or three-point calibration, with three-point being the most accurate. Many advanced handheld pH meters have intuitive two-point and three-point calibration features.
The temperature of the liquid you’re testing will impact your pH meter’s reading. Some pH meters are equipped with special electrodes that measure the liquid’s temperature and correct the reading accordingly. Temperature correction isn’t necessarily required, but if you decide to buy a model that doesn’t have this feature, it’s a good idea to measure your liquid at the same temperature each time.
How much you can expect to spend on a pH meter
Pen-style pH meters will cost you about $25-$50. Handheld pH meters can cost up to $250, and many benchtop models are around $250-$500.
pH meter FAQ
How often should you calibrate your pH meter?
A. You’ll want to calibrate your pH meter before its first use. Aside from that, calibration can vary from one device to another, so it’s a good idea to refer to your device’s instructions.
What’s the difference between a double-junction and single-junction electrode?
A. Double-junction electrodes are less likely to become clogged than single-junction electrodes.
What’s the best pH meter to buy?
Top benchtop pH meter
What you need to know: This highly accurate pH meter is relatively affordable compared to other benchtop models.
What you’ll love: Although this model only features a single-junction electrode, the readings are accurate and quick. This pH meter is easy to clean and calibrate. The PH700’s automatic temperature compensation ensures accurate readings, no matter the temperature of your substance.
What you should consider: This device is expensive compared to pen-style pH meters.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top handheld pH meter
What you need to know: This advanced handheld pH meter by Bluelab can measure pH, nutrients and temperature.
What you’ll love: Calibrating and using this device is simple. This meter features two-point calibration for accurate readings. It can be used with liquid or soil, making it perfect for gardeners. This unit features an auto-off feature and multiple units for temperature readings.
What you should consider: Replacing the pH probe on this model can be expensive.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top pen-style pH meter
What you need to know: This capable pH meter is easy to use and features an intuitive two-point calibration.
What you’ll love: The pH Pen is a breeze to calibrate and is incredibly accurate. This model features automatic temperature correction to ensure you get the best possible readings. This meter’s double-junction electrode is less likely to get dirty or clogged than a single-junction electrode. The display has an indicator to let you know when it needs to be recalibrated.
What you should consider: There are numerous reports of buyers receiving defective units.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Cody Stewart writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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