The Best pH Meter Reviews and Guide (The 2017 Edition)

Whether you are into hydroponics gardening, own a farm, or you work in a lab, you have to use a high-quality pH meter to determine ph levels because the nutrient intake in plants from the growth medium depends on this factor. The Ph of soil determines when you need to add or reduce soil additives. This guide will help you pick the best equipment.

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Product

Our Rating

Weight

Ph Range

General Hydroponics GH1514

1.5 pounds

4.0 – 8.5

Bluelab pH Pen

4.3 ounces

0 – 14

Oakton EcoTestr

5.6 ounces

0.0 – 14.0

Bluelab Guardian Monitor

7.7 ounces

4.0 & 7.0

Hanna Instruments HI 9813-6N (Editor's Choice)

2 pounds

0.0 – 14.0

Bluelab Combo Meter

5.3 ounces

1 – 14

Bluelab Probe Care Kit

4 ounces

4.0 & 7.0

General Hydroponics

8oz

4.0 & 7.0

Milwaukee Instruments PH55

8.2 ounces

-2 – 16

Hanna Instruments Grochek

4.8 ounces

-2 – 16

Litmus pH Test Strips

0.6 Ounces

1.0 – 14.0


You’ll agree with us that finding the best ph meter is challenging. However, we figured out a way to help you get the best ph meter through this article that covers the best ph meter reviews on the market.

Contents

Manual pH Testing

#1 - General Hydroponics GH1514  – An Affordable General Hydroponics pH Control Kit

Discovering that I didn’t need to own a huge chunk of land for hydroponics gardening has been a life changer in many ways. I no longer have to buy expensive herbs and spices from the grocery store, and I eat fresh vegetables every time. The other important part is that I am making more savings and the icing on the cake; I am beginning to earn a little extra money from the extra harvest.

If you are a gardener like myself, you’ll be rejoicing too. However, there is one thing we all notice within months of gardening, the produce reduces. We may not know the cause at first; I didn’t, but a little digging revealed the problem as pH imbalance which affects the availability of nutrients. In short, control of the pH is essential for plant growth. To know if your plants get all the nutrients they need and if they’re growing in optimum conditions, you need the best pH meter hydroponics.

The design of the General Hydroponics GH1514 General Hydroponics pH Control Kit is specific to hydroponic environments in either soilless mixtures or in soil-grown plants.

Last update on 2017-12-15 at 04:10 PST - Details

Wondering what is in the kit?

There is an 8oz bottle of Ph Up that elevates the Ph level as desired. Then, there is the 8oz PH down that uses food-grade phosphoric acid to love the ph levels as desired.

How do you determine the right pH (level of hydrogen ions)? First, you should note that raising pH equals making the growing environment basic while lowering pH means making the hydroponic environment acidic. The pH scale runs from 0 to 14 and measures alkalinity and acidity. At 7, the Ph is neutral, above seven it is alkaline, and below 7, it is acidic. Plants flourish in the right acidic or basic environments. Incorrect level of hydrogen ions in the soil or the growth medium leads to sickly or stunted plant growth because the nutrients available aren’t absorbed as they should be.

Therefore, this control kit makes it possible for your plants to grow under the right pH where the right nutrients are absorbable and assimilated.

Apart from the ‘up’ and the ‘down’ pH bottles, there also is a Ph test tube which you use. This might be one of the best pH Meters for hydroponics thanks to the fact that it is easy to use. All you need to do is to get put nutrients halfway through the tube then add a few drops of the Ph test indicator. You will then have to observe the color changes in the liquid inside the vial. To monitor the basicity or the acidity of the hydroponics system, you shouldn’t just monitor the changes keenly but also discard and replace the hydroponics solution regularly.​

What we like:

  • It’s reliable and effective
  • It’s easy to use

    What we don't like:

    • If you are colorblind, the color chart will be confusing.

    The Best Digital pH Meters

    #2 - Bluelab pH Pen  – Plant Germination, High Quality, Precise, and Waterproof

    This digital device is just what you need to determine exactly what your growing plants need. It’s ability to monitor pH, and the temperature of the soil or the growing environment makes this among the best pH meters for hydroponics. The reason why every grower needs a deep understanding of pH and testing soil is that plants require the right minerals to grow and for the absorption of the minerals, the conditions should be right.

    The Bluelab pH Pen for Plant Germination measures the alkalinity and the acidity of the soil or the growth medium to help you make the necessary alkalinity or basicity adjustments to the growth medium and soil.

    Besides pH, the temperature of the growth medium or solution determines the root’s health. For optimal growth, temperatures should range between 65, and 73 degrees Fahrenheit and this pen helps you know when the heat is too high or too low. This handy digital Ph meter is important if you’re looking for ways of making crops germinate and have a high yield.

    It is lightweight and uses AAA batteries to work.

    Last update on 2017-12-15 at 02:21 PST - Details

    The downside or the precautionary measure you need to consider is that the pen loses its functionality if stored incorrectly. You should, therefore, keep it in the recommended storage solution at all times – potassium chloride.

    What we like:

    • It has automatic calibration
    • Easy to use
    • Measures Ph and temperature levels

      What we don't like:

      • The cap may be too tight and the storage solution too little

      #3 - Oakton EcoTestr pH 2 Waterproof pH Tester, 0.0 to 14.0 pH Range

      This handheld waterproof hydro pH tester might be the exact thing you need to take accurate pH and temperature readings. You can trust the results from this Oakton EcoTestr pH 2 Waterproof pH Tester with push-button calibration capabilities for a wide range of results.

      This tester is also dustproof and fits your pocket perfectly. It also floats making it safe for use in a large hydroponics system, water treatments, and swimming pools.

      Its Automatic Temperature Compensation (ATC) ranging from 0-50 degrees Fahrenheit makes for accurate readings, especially in fluctuating temperatures. The sensor remains safe from contamination and damage with the transparent protective cap. The cap also keeps the sensor moist as long as it stays upright and you can use it for on-site calibration container or as a container for sensor conditioning. To view the readings quickly, you have the tester’s single-lie LCD screen and the hold function which freezes readings for recordings.

      A common question asked when people are looking for pH testers surrounds the longevity – will the tester last as long as you say it will? Well, you’ll note from this Oakton EcoTestr pH 2 review that this tester has a long life resulting from the long lasting sensor’s Polyvinylidene Flouride reference junction that has a polymer gel. The auto shut-off system extends the batteries life. You need the OAKTON storage solution to keep it in good working condition.

      The only downside to the effectiveness of this pH tester is the fact that you’ll have to purchase the four 1.5V alkaline batteries separately. Fortunately, this is a versatile tester which will help you not just in the garden but also in academic and industrial use making this the best pH meter for laboratory use.

      Pro tip: avoid using a pH tester with deionized, distilled, or RO water because of the absence of ions in the water. Whenever you do this to the Ph tester, ions will leech from the tester into the water rendering your expensive purchase worthless. The reason for this is that ions naturally move from high concentration to low concentration solutions.

      What we like:

      • It’s waterproof
      • Calibration works
      • It works in different liquids and solutions
      • It is easy to use

        What we don't like:

        • The cover is fussy
        • You have to buy the four alkaline batteries separately.

        The Best Digital pH Combo Meters

        #4 - Bluelab Combo Meter for Plant Germination  – pH, EC, & Pressure meter

        Isn’t everyone looking for the best pH meter on the market? What if you need to take more than Ph readings, what do you get then – individual tools for different components or one item that takes more than one reading? Most of us go for the latter, and this is why this might be one of the best digital pH meters on the market thanks to its added ability to measure pH, pressure, centrifugal force, and temperature. This Bluelab Combo Meter for Plant Germination also takes EC readings and pressure readings at either 500 or 700ppm. The pH calibration indicator is trustworthy.

        For temperature and conductivity readings, you do not require calibration. The fact that this meter takes into account conductivity, pressure, centrifugal forces, and conductivity alongside temperature and Ph makes this my favorite pH tester for hydroponics.

        It is lightweight and portable and comes with replaceable double junction pH probe. To save power and to extend its working life, this tester comes with an auto shut-off function. You might also like the fact that the probe is replaceable because, through experience, we know that the probes have a limited lifetime and age. You have to buy the replacement probes though.

        Last update on 2017-12-14 at 21:35 PST - Details

        Soil pH Testers – Are they accurate? This is a relatively accurate tester, but you must connect it to a Bluelab Soil Ph Probe to the combo meter to take direct soil measurements. As long as you clean the probes regularly as directed, then you will get accurate readings.

        The downside of this tester is that the calibration indicator disappears in 30 days. In case you forget about it, you can get in trouble. The other issue – unless you have a Bluelab Soil pH Probe, you cannot use this digital combo for soil testing.

        What we like:

        • Calibration and the readings are accurate
        • It is easy to use and maintain
        • Takes more readings and ideal for hydroponics

          What we don't like:

          • The probe’s design is fragile
          • It is not appropriate for soil use; unless you get a Bluelab Soil Ph Probe.

          #5 - Bluelab Guardian Monitor for Plant Germination  – Great for interior use and is versatile

          Monitoring the ph levels of your garden’s growth medium determines if plants get the nutrients they require or not. This is because the ph, which is the concentration of hydrogen ions in the growth medium enhances or deters absorption of nutrients.

          This monitor takes into account pH, temperature, and conductivity of the reservoir because these are the main components that control the successful growth of the plants. Since parameters change all the time, this monitor lets you know when you need to increase or decrease a factor. It works well as a hydroponics pH tester thanks to its high tolerance to RF and the high electronic interference provided. It is also water resistant, and the nonvolatile memory means that it retains readings in case of a power outage.

          While there could be various Ph meters and monitors on the market, the search is confusing and you’ll wonder, what’s a good Ph meter? It is simple, and a good ph meter gets the work done and lasts long enough to give you back real value for your money.

          Last update on 2017-12-15 at 06:30 PST - Details

          This Bluelab Guardian Monitor for Plant Germination is a favorite for many gardeners etc. You can mount it on a support bar. To use it, all you have to do is to place it into the reservoir as you make adjustments to the pH, the nutrients, and the water levels. The plant-safe green LED simplifies monitoring of readings with its large display.

          Unlike other monitors, you can set high and low alarms making it easier for you to get the appropriate Ph ranges for the medium of plant germination. As long as the medium remains in the reservoir, you’ll have accurate readings. When you reach the expected levels, this monitor will automatically send an alarm.

          What we like:

          • It keeps track of all growth parameters
          • High quality and a long lasting Ph monitor
          • It is accurate
          • The readings are instantaneous
          • Perfect for hydroponic systems

            What we don't like:

            • It is expensive

            #6 - Hanna Instruments HI 9813-6N  – Waterproof and takes readings for pH, Temperature, and TDS

            If you are a grower and have been looking for a tool to make plant growth monitoring easier, this is it. This instrument by Hanna Instruments won’t just take the pH readings go the growth medium, it also gives readings of EC (electroconductivity) and TDS (total dissolved solids) thanks to the portability and the water-resistant features of the set.

            The ability to take pH readings, EC and TDS readings makes this the best instrument for farming, greenhouses, nurseries, and hydroponics.

            To validate the performance of the tester you have the calibration check (Cal-check) function. Also, you don’t have to deal with extra calculations because of the meter’s automatic temperature compensation feature (ATC). The on-screen user plus the calibration guides make it easy for you to use the meter. You’ll also appreciate the alert system which sends a signal when the battery is low or when there is a potential measurement error.

            This HI 9813-6N comes with an HI 1285-6 combination probe with a DIN connector, 9V battery, 1m cable, check solution sachets, cleaning solution sachets and instructions.

            When calibrated, the meter shows “Probe is OK”, but when it needs cleaning, the probes directs you to “Clean Probe and Calibrate”.

            The temperature function works at temperatures ranging from 0.0 to 60.0 degrees Celsius. It has a pH range of between 0.0 and 14.0 (+ or – 0.1). It has a resolution of 0.1, and the EC readings range from 0.00 to 4.00 mS/cm. The TDS ranges from 0-1999ppm and a resolution to 1ppm.

            What we like:

            • Gives reliable readings
            • It is easy to set up and read
            • Professionally designed
            • It gives accurate results
            • Gives readings of pH, temperature, and TDS

              What we don't like:

              • You cannot use it on loose soil – only intended for use in water
              • The cable from the probe to the device is a stiff making use a little difficult.

              #7 - Bluelab Probe Care Kit  - Excellent Care Kit

              If you are looking for a pH test kit, then there is a high chance that you will come across this Bluelab lit. First of all, it is an affordable pH testing kit, and it comes with important testing components which include a meter that might be the best pH meter for growing.

              What is in the kit? With this kit, you will get two 20ml sachets of pH 7.0, pH 4.0 as well as KCl storage solutions. It also comes with a Ph probe cleaner, probe cleaning tool, plastic cups, and full instructions. These are the ideal items for cleaning, hydrating, and pH calibration probes.

              Why do you need these items in your gardening or scientific projects? Well, a clean probe, with the ideal level of hydration, and correct storage settings makes for a good pH tester which yields accurate results. Besides accuracy, it is the only way to maximize or even prolong the life of the Bluelab pH meter, pen, or monitors. Look through water testing kit reviews to find your suitable water pH test kit.

              Last update on 2017-12-15 at 02:21 PST - Details

              What we like:

              • The kit is very convenient and effective
              • It is consistently accurate
              • Works great

                What we don't like:

                • The calibration solution and the storage fluid run out too fast.

                #8 - General Hydroponics Ph 4.01 & Ph 7.0 Calibration Solution Kit, 8 oz  – Excellent and Affordable Calibration Solutions

                Identifying the best pH test kit is a little challenging in a market filled with hydroponics accessories and pH testers or meters. Fortunately, this doesn’t have to be the case for you. This 8oz General Hydroponics pH 4.01 & pH 7.0 Calibration Solution Kit is your ticket to less hydroponics gardening troubles. It comes with two bottles with pH 4.0 and pH 7.0 calibration solutions.

                These solutions use the highest quality of electronic meter reference solutions, and as a grower, you can use the calibration solutions with any brand of pH testers for hydroponics on the market. This versatility makes this a highly sought after calibration solution kit. The kit uses a NaCl scale.

                Last update on 2017-12-15 at 04:10 PST - Details

                What we like:

                • The bottles are deep enough for calibration of pH pens
                • Calibrates Ph sensors well
                • The solutions are reliable
                • Great price

                  What we don't like:

                  • It could be better with a spout. Be ready for spills

                  Options fit needs or budget

                  #9 - Milwaukee Instruments PH55  – 2 Year Manufacturer Warranty

                  This Milwaukee ph meter is what your hydroponics garden needs. It comes with batteries, a protective cap, and 20ml sachets of pH 4.01 and 7.01 calibration solutions.

                  It displays temperature and pH readings on the large dual LCD screen. The display shows readings which extend from a pH of -2 and 16 and -5 to 105.0 degrees Celsius for temperatures. The tester’s stability indicator plus the hold function freezes the display of the readings for easy and accuracy of the pH and temperature readings. Its temperature probe compensates for temperature automatically. Calibration is automatic too.

                  For extended battery life, this pH tester has an auto shut-off feature. This tester also comes with a pH55 temperature sensor which provides for the fast response time. The accuracy of the pH results of the tester further results from the pH electrode’s proximity to the temperature sensor.

                  Replacement of the double-junction electrode is fast and easy thanks to the tester’s modular design.

                  It isn’t the ideal pH tester for soil.

                  Last update on 2017-12-15 at 02:21 PST - Details

                  #10 - Hanna Instruments Grochek LCD pHep 4  | HI98127 – Waterproof and Accurate

                  Even though this isn’t the cheapest Ph meters on the market, it is has a wider pH range of -2 to 16. It also has automatic temperature compensation and calibration; it is waterproof and floats. For ease of use, it has a tactile grip casing.

                  The other features of this Hanna GroCheck pHEP 4 Meter include a protective cap, an electrode removal tool, batteries and an instruction manual.

                  My favorite feature of this meter is the batteries’ long life – it lasts for 300 hours, and if unused for 8 minutes, the auto shut-off feature engages. The meter’s electrode has a stainless steel round connector which means that there are zero pins to bend or break during replacement. The pHEP has a dual-level LCD, a battery level indicator, a replaceable pH electrode cartridge, BEPS, a stability indicator, and an electrode removal tool.

                  These features make this a tough and a very reliable ph tester.

                  Last update on 2017-12-15 at 02:21 PST - Details


                  #11 - Litmus pH Test Strips - Easy to Use and Cheap

                  Litmus pH strips have been used for centuries to test pH, and they continually prove effective. The pH range for the litmus strips ranges from 1-14, and this purchase will give you 200 strips of the best cheap ph meters on the market. The strips are made of premium-grade litmus paper for use in universal applications.

                  It is easy to use a strip, and all you have to do is to dip the strip in the sample solution then observe the color change. The pH color chart tells more about the acidity or the alkalinity of the solution.

                  Unfortunately, the colors may be confusing, and you may not get the exact Ph without a preexisting reference chart.

                  Last update on 2017-12-15 at 02:21 PST - Details


                  Digital or Manual

                  Calibration

                  Hydroponics Use

                  General Hydroponics GH1514

                  Manual

                  No

                  Yes

                  Bluelab pH Pen

                  Digital

                  No

                  No

                  Oakton EcoTestr

                  Digital

                  Yes

                  Yes

                  Bluelab Guardian Monitor

                  Digital

                  Calibration

                  Yes

                  Hanna Instruments HI 9813-6N

                  Digital

                  Yes

                  Yes

                  Bluelab Combo Meter

                  Digital

                  Yes

                  Yes

                  Bluelab Probe Care Kit

                  Digital

                  Yes

                  Yes

                  General Hydroponics

                  Manual

                  Yes

                  Yes

                  Milwaukee Instruments PH55

                  Digital

                  Yes

                  Yes

                  Hanna Instruments Grochek

                  Digital

                  Yes

                  Yes

                  Litmus pH Test Strips

                  Manual

                  No

                  Yes

                  Conclusion

                  Monitoring the ph of a solution is important in making sure that you have happy plants or successful research work. For this, you have to get the right pH measuring tools. Invest in a high-quality meter and don’t go for the cheap ones.

                  The winner of this review is the Hanna Instruments HI 9813-6N. This device is waterproof, reliable, and gives accurate results. Apart from the pH readings, this meter also gives the electroconductivity and the TDS (total dissolved solids) readings. You can, therefore, use it for hydroponics, gardening, general farming, in nurseries and greenhouses. Besides agriculture, you can also use it in aquaculture, water testing and wine-making. Like other Hanna Instruments, this tester comes with electrodes, pH meters, buffer solutions and chemical reagents.​

                  It therefore is, the most recommended Ph tester.

                  Buying Guide

                  What is a pH meter, are you buying the best pH meter and what’s in the best pH meter?

                  A pH meter is a fundamental device that helps you determine the level of hydrogen ions activity in a solution. This is; the alkalinity or the acidity level of the solution. The three most important elements of a pH meter include a responsive electrode, a voltmeter, and a reference (varying electrode).​

                  How does the pH meter take the ph readings?

                  Well, to determine where you place a solution on the 0-14 scale, the ph meter has an electrode that is highly sensitive to hydrogen ions as well as a stable reference electrode. The difference between the two electrode readings gives you the pH of the liquid. The voltmeter is responsible for the deflection of the electrode.​

                  Why use a pH meter?

                  Monitoring pH is important in chemical testing laboratories but even more important in gardening or farming. The level of acidity or alkalinity of your plants’ growth medium determines the availability of nutrients and also the nutrients absorbed. Plants do well within a particular pH range, and you have to provide these conditions for steady growth.

                  In the case of gardening, some pesticides which you use breakdown in water and this breakdown causes alkaline hydrolysis. Since this process affects insecticides, your plants will eventually suffer. The speed of chemical breakdown water is dependent on pH, exposure time and temperature. To ensure that your plants don’t suffer, you have to test the pH levels regularly for healthy growth.​

                  How to measure pH of soil

                  Since the soil sample has to be in solution or liquid form, you have to put a small amount of soil (20ml) in a clean plastic cup then add pure water (40ml). Rinse the pH probe with the same pure water, swirl the sample then take the pH readings after about thirty minutes. Put in the pH meter once everything settles. Handle the pH meter with care for accurate results.

                  What exactly does this measurement take into account?

                  pH readings correspond to the relative amount of hydroxyl and free hydrogen molecules in a liquid. A high level of hydroxyl ions makes a liquid or a solution acidic and vice versa. The pH scale’s readings range from 0-14 with seven as the neutral point and any figures below or above seven acidic or basic.​

                  How to buy the best pH meter​

                  • Manual or digital pH meter
                    A manual pH tester is a simple tester just like a water tester you can use to take the pH of the pool. Manual testers are affordable and easy to care for or maintain. If you are starting out with hydroponics, this is your best ph meter or tester. Unfortunately, they are hard work with, and they take time meaning they aren’t the best for serious gardeners. The accuracy of the readings isn’t dependable either. Litmus paper is an example of a manual pH tester.

                    On the other hand, a digital pH tester is fast, more accurate, and convenient for large-scale growers. They are also long-lasting if stored in the storage solution. The downside of digital pH meters is the fact that you’ll need to take more care of it and calibrate it frequently. You will also pay more for a digital meter.
                  • What can it do?
                    Of course, you are buying a Ph meter to take Ph readings but, is that all that the equipment does? Excellent digital meters take ph, temperature, pressure, or centrifugal force readings.
                  • Range
                    Even though we all now know that a standard Ph meter scale runs from 1-14, other scales are ranging from -2 to 16. Which one do you need? Perhaps you should consider your expected level of accuracy.
                  • The cost
                    Even though the price isn’t always the main guiding principle, it plays a part. A pH test kit is probably a cheap option if you compare that with what it takes to buy calibration solutions and probes individually.

                  How do you calibrate a pH meter?

                  You must be ready to calibrate the ph meter if you buy a digital meter. Calibration is more like fine-tuning an instrument, and you know that fine-tuning is important for a good performance.

                  You need a buffer solution for calibration. Why? A buffer solution is the laboratory standard certified reference point for the pH meter. Get a liquid buffer solution or a powder buffer to mix with distilled water.

                  Follow these steps to calibrate:​

                  • Put the meter in the buffer solution for initial readings then adjust the meter’s readings to match buffer solution and according to the manufacturer’s directions.
                  • Repeat the process for accuracy.
                  • Calibrate the pH meter every week or month depending on your frequency of use.
                  • Whenever you replace the pH sensor, calibrate it. Also, if you feel that you are getting incorrect readings, recalibrate the pH meter. Get the best pH calibration solution on the market for this.

                  How do you make your Ph meter last longer?

                  • Without excellent care, calibration of the ph meter will not work. You have to take care of it in the following ways
                  • Read through the boring instructions
                  • Calibrate it as needed
                  • Store the meter in the storage solution after every use. The cap should be upright for maximum saturation. Swirl the meter in the storage solution lightly to get rid of any air bubbles
                  • Store it away from high humidity or heat and don’t store the sensor in distilled water.
                  • You shouldn’t touch the sensor electrode or the reference cells
                  • Finally, handle it with care.​

                  Don’t your plants or the research you are on need the best pH meter?

                  Amelia
                   

                  Amelia Robinson is a lover of plants and gardens, as well as an educator on this topic. It’s her goal to make sure that you get the chance to learn what you need to about gardening to succeed with your own home garden at the blog RobinsonLovePlants.com. You’re not going to find just a collection of basic articles about gardening here. Instead, she wants to answer the difficult questions for you. She tweets at @robinsonplants

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