Are you a hydroponics gardener looking for an easy, accurate, and dependable way to test the pH of your nutrient solutions? With so many options, knowing which pH tester is suitable for you can be tricky.
That’s why I’ve done my research and compiled 21 of the best on the market – they will make your job easier while ensuring that your plants have access to all the nutrients they need!
Many of these products come with a range of advanced features, including temperature compensation, backlit displays, data logging capabilities, and more.
This means no matter what kind of garden you’re running or how much experience you have – you’ll find something that suits your needs perfectly and gives an accurate reading every time.
Check out my list now to find the perfect pH tester for your hydroponic garden!
What is the best pH tester?
When it comes to testing the pH of your water, you have a few different options – from economical strips and pens to more expensive digital meters.
While the cheaper versions may save money in the short run, they often will only last for a year due to inaccurate calibrations or breakable probes that can’t be replaced.
Investing in higher quality units will give you better accuracy, reliability, and dependability; plus, with replaceable electrode probes they are worth every penny!
Here are some of the top-rated testers to consider when choosing the best pH tester for your hydroponic garden:
BEST OVERALL PICK
The Bluelab Combo Meter is the go-to choice for growers. It’s feature packed with an unbeatable combination of pH, temperature, and PPM/EC/ monitoring – no wonder it tops everyone’s must-have list!
Plus, I’ve gotten lots of positive feedback from people who have used this meter in their hydroponics gardens.
Bluelab Combo Meter
This meter will monitor up to three parameters in your water: conductivity level, pH, and temperature.
The advanced Automatic Temp Compensation (ATC) feature ensures consistent readings regardless of any fluctuations in temp.
The conductivity scales come equipped with EC, PPM, and CF options for maximum versatility and accurate results in tracking your plants’ progress.
Automatic Temperature Compensation
If you’re a hydroponic gardener, having the right tools is critical. My go-to Bluelab Combo Meter has been my trusty sidekick for years – but one thing it could be better at?
Preventing that pesky glass probe from getting broken; but that’s why I love this particular model – because of its replaceable probe feature; no more stressing over breakages here!
pH DROPS and TEST STRIPS
General Hydroponics pH Drops
Unlike an expensive digital meter, an easy-to-use pH test kit makes it simple to measure the pH level of your water in just minutes.
All you have to do is fill a test tube halfway and add a few specialized pH Test drops.
After just a few moments, you can observe the coloration of the liquid in the test vial and quickly assess the pH.
Easy to use
Some people start with pH drops when they first start growing plants without soil (hydroponic).
However, if you can’t see colors well, this isn’t a suitable method for you because you need to be able to compare the color of your water to a chart.
Also, these drops won’t help if your water is already discolored from nutrients. The water must be clear for the drops to work.
Lab Aider pH Test Strips
Keep a check on the acidity of your water with LabAider Test Paper.
This inexpensive option is perfect for anyone looking for reliable quality measurements without breaking the bank.
With just a few dollars, you’ll get 240 test strips that can quickly and accurately identify the pH of any liquid solution.
Therefore all you have to do is dip the strip into the solution – it will change colors within seconds, indicating whether your water is acidic or alkaline.
- Easy To Use
Unlike with the pH drops, the water does not have to be clear for these to work, making these the cheapest and best option for testing hydroponic nutrient reservoirs.
SJ Wave Strips
The SJ Wave 16-In-1 Water Test Kit is the perfect solution for new gardeners who want to understand their water source!
With over 100 test strips, it’s incredibly user-friendly and efficient. Just fill up the provided test tube with your water sample and insert one of these color-changing strips.
Afterward you can quickly know 16 different factors in the water you are using, such as pH, hardness, iron, copper, nitrate, and more!
With this product at your disposal, you will be expertly informed of your current water situation and make your gardening experience easier.
- Tests For 16 Different Parameters
You get a lot more than just a pH reading from these strips. It’s helpful to get an idea of what’s in your water before giving it to your plants.
While less accurate as a lab-tested sample, it’s still informative at a tiny fraction of the cost.
This ph tester makes it easy to measure liquid pH levels without making an enormous investment, making it the ideal tool for ph testing on a budget.
It’s perfect for trying out a digital ph meter before committing to a larger investment in this kind of device.
Good Battery Life
These cheaper models don’t tend to last as long as their more expensive counterparts.
The Ruolan pH Meter offers precision without breaking your budget; with just over $10 you can test your water quality in no time.
Although it may not be as long-lasting as pricier models, this is a great choice if you only need occasional tests or don’t need the extra features in higher-end products.
Cheaper models tend to slowly drift out of calibration over time because their readings will not be as accurate as more expensive models.
Dr. Meter pH838
This versatile tester will tell you exactly what’s going on with your home hydroponic system’s temperature and pH levels.
It has a wide range that can detect temperatures from 32 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
Includes Carrying Case
This one doesn’t have a replaceable probe so be careful!
The Milwaukee pH600-AQ LED Economical Pocket pH Tester features 0.0 to 14.0 pH, +/-0.1 pH accuracy, and 0.1 pH resolution; this compact and convenient tester offers exceptional performance and reliability at a competitive price.
With its LED indicator for rapid test results, you can be sure that measurements are accurate with every use.
- Includes Carrying Case
Milwaukee makes some very good testing equipment, but this is one of their low-end models.
The Apera Instruments A1209 digital pocket pH meter has a large, easily readable display that gives the user quick and reliable results every time, no matter the conditions.
Calibration with the included calibration solution is straightforward, ensuring consistently accurate readings over time.
2000 Hours Of Battery Life
Includes Carrying Case
Includes Calibration Kit
Protective Shield For Glass Membrane
The Apera Instruments A1209 comes with a handy self-diagnosis feature that helps to warn of any incorrect buffer solutions or calibrations.
Also it has a sensor shield which is designed to protect the glass probe from damage while in use.
Unfortunately, one downside is that it does not come with a backlight on the screen, meaning that visibility may be difficult in low light conditions.
With its longer electrode length than most pocket testers, this product provides the flexibility you need to reach those test solutions that are hard to access.
The Hanna Instruments HI98103 has an extra large display, meaning your results will be easy to read and interpret correctly.
Battery life is expected to be over 3,000 hours – making it ideal for prolonged use.
Extra Long Electrode
Low Power Demand
If you ever need to test a liquid solution in a beaker or test tube then this is the meter for you.
HM Digital PH-200
HM Digital’s PH-200 is a durable waterproof pH meter designed to make accurate and reliable measurements for all pH testing needs.
It features ultra-fast response times and provides exacting results that are perfect for scientific professionals and hobbyists.
Includes Storage Solution
Includes Sponge Embedded In Storage Cap
I like that this meter includes a proper storage solution for the probe. Most people don’t realize that you shouldn’t use tap or distilled water for storage.
Hard water can cause damage to the sensitive electrode.
The Apera Instruments SX620 pH tester has a slim design with a narrow probe for easy testing of test tubes and large reservoirs.
Additionally, It includes the whole kit needed to calibrate so that you don’t have to worry about added sourcing of materials.
Reminds You To Replace The Probe
Includes Carrying Case
Some of the reviews of this product claim that this tester is sometimes slow to respond and requires constant calibrating.
The Apera A1311 pH Meter is part of the leading selection of pH meters from Apera Instruments, making it a top choice for any setting that requires precise measurements.
Includes Complete Kitfor calibrating
Replaceable Glass Probe
Reviews for this product say it has a slow response time for pH testing.
Bluelab pH Pen
Bluelab makes one of the best pH pens out there. This pen includes a lab-quality glass probe that offers unbeatable precision.
Also,thanks to a dual junction electrode with enhanced protection against contamination, this pen has a longer lifespan than standard probes and is even more reliable than other pens.
In Cap Sponge To Prevent Probe Drying Out
The Bluelab pH pen is an excellent choice for precision and lasting quality.
On top of accurate readings, you’ll receive alerts when it’s time to recalibrate or check your battery life so you can ensure optimal performance at all times!
The Apera Instruments PC60-Z Smart Multi-parameter Pocket Tester is the ideal choice for experts in the water test industry. It measures pH, conductivity, TDS, salinity, resistivity, and temp.
With an added Bluetooth connection to your smartphone, the tester allows easy access to a cloud-based data management system so you can easily record, manage, and share test data.
It can be used as a classic tester without connecting to a smartphone
Includes Carrying Case
Cloud-Based Data Management System
4 Types Of Measurement Display Modes
Data collection can be an invaluable tool when it comes to gardening.
Looking back on your successes and failures in the context of numbers helps gardeners refine their approach and improve their results over time.
The Oakton EcoTestr pH Tester has a large display allowing for easy viewing, with indicators such as battery life and readiness.
You can view both parameter and temp reads at the same time. And best of all, forget about lost caps – this tester conveniently attaches the cap to the top of the device when not used.
4 Digit Dual Line Display
pH and Temp
I’ve had my pH pen for so long that I’ve lost count of the times I’ve gone looking for the cap.
It may sound like a minor annoyance, but it’s critical to ensure the pen’s accuracy and longevity – because if that glass probe dries out, the pen isn’t much use anymore.
The caps are so small, but they’re vital; if you let your pH pen run out of protection, it’ll cost you in the long run – trust me!
That said, $200 is a bit pricey for a meter that only tests pH and water temperature.
DIGITAL pH METERS
The Milwaukee MW102 pH/Temperature Meter is ideal for accurate water testing.
With its microprocessor technology, extended range, and automatic temp compensation, you can ensure top-of-the-line performance with each use.
The meter is also supplied with an SE220 pH electrode, MA830R stainless steel temp probe, pH 4.01 and pH 7.01 20 mL sachets of calibration solution, 9V battery, and instructions to streamline setup and maintenance.
Replaceable pH and Temp Probes
pH Probe Cap
Extended Range (-2.00 to 16.00 pH)
This meter comes with a solution to store your electrode properly. I can’t stress how important this is regarding the life of the electrode.
The Milwaukee MW801 has Automatic Temp Compensation (ATC), manual one-point calibration via dials, a reliable single-line LCD display, an MA850 combination amplified double junction gel probe with incorporated EC/TDS functionality and integrated temp sensor, as well as a corrosion-resistant mounting kit and insert holder.
Manual calibration dials for quick custom settings
Single-line LCD screen for ease of viewing
Reads pH, EC, TDS, and Temp
If you ever need a custom calibration, manual calibration through the front panel dials can provide a fast and easy solution!
No extra equipment or complicated instructions are required, just a trusty pair of hands.
This is a wonderful feature for those who want maximum control over their equipment and don’t have time to spend hours trying to figure out complex operations.
The Hanna HI 9813-6N waterproof multi-meter is perfect for hydroponics or greenhouse gardening as it measures pH, electro-conductivity (EC), TDS, and temp.
It comes with a combination probe and cable, a starter set of calibration solution and cleaning sachets, a check solution sachet, and instructions to help you get going.
This meter features a check function (Cal-Check) that confirms the precision of your measurements, while the LCD screen offers guidance and clarity during use.
Low battery alert system
On-screen user and calibration guides
Taking care of your pH meter is essential for accurate readings, but it’s all too easy to forget.
Thankfully, this Hanna Instruments meter provides a reminder. It makes your life easier and helps keep you on top of essential upkeep tasks. So don’t worry -this pH meter has got your back!
This specialized meter is designed efficiently, combining three sensors into one pre-amplified probe – pH, EC, and TDS (ppm).
It features a polypropylene body, a cloth junction, and an integrated temp sensor – perfect for more reliable measurements.
Plus, its Quick CAL mode makes it easier to get started fast with its single-point calibration – ensuring your results are accurate and reliable every time.
A single probe combines three sensors
It’s unfortunate that for this price point they wouldn’t have a backlit display. It’s a bit difficult to read in a low-light situation.
Bluelab’s Guardian is the perfect monitoring solution to take your growing operation to the next level. This combo meter is ideal for serious and experienced growers with a large budget.
It’s always on and constantly watching your garden, allowing you to set alarms and be notified if one or more parameters stray away from the ideal.
The Guardian can measure both temp and pH, as well as conductivity and TDS, with round-the-clock precision.
2-Year limited warranty
Plant-safe green LED displays
By having instantaneous updates on the status of your crops, you can promptly take corrective actions and ensure that your plants stay in their ideal environment.
So if you’re looking for a fool-proof monitoring tool, the Bluelab Guardian Monitor is definitely recommended!
What is a pH Tester?
pH testers are essential tools for measuring the acidity or alkalinity of substances.
They come in two main types: portable meters(often handheld) and benchtop models, some with internal sensors that can be placed inside containers to measure pH levels.
From laboratories to aquaculture farms and wine-making workshops to production facilities – they’re used across a wide range of environments by scientists, hobbyists, and manufacturers.
Some high-tech testers have even been designed to do double duty – monitoring additional parameters such as dissolved oxygen (DO), conductivity/electro-conductivity (EC), water temperature, total dissolved solids, salinity resistivity & ORP.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I check my pH without a meter?
If you don’t have access to a pH meter but need to check the pH of a substance, there are a couple of methods you can try.
- The most common way is using litmus paper,a particular type of acid-base indicator. Litmus paper will change color depending on the solution’s acidity, and the color can be compared to a chart to get an approximate pH value.
You can also purchase a universal indicator solution(pH drops) and use it in conjunction with a standard color chart to determine the pH of your sample.
How accurate are pH testers?
This can vary depending on the model. Generally speaking, handheld meters have a precision range of ±0.3 to 0.5 pH units when properly maintained with regular calibrations.
Benchtop models are usually more accurate, offering a range of 0.01 – 0.02 pH units with regular calibration schedules and proper maintenance.
If a tester doesn’t receive regular calibrations, precision can significantly decrease and lead to inaccurate readings.
Regular cleaning is also essential, as dirt or buildup on the electrodes can affect accuracy.
What to look for when buying a pH meter?
When shopping for a pH meter, there are several key features you should look out for.
Firstly, consider the type of meter you need – most handheld meters are suitable for basic pH testing, whereas benchtop models offer more advanced capabilities and higher precision.
Secondly, check the accuracy range and calibrations – most models require regular calibrations to ensure top performance and results.
Additionally, consider whether additional features, such as temp sensors or built-in alarms, would benefit.
Finally, budget is always an essential factor to keep in mind when making your selection!
With these considerations in mind, you can find the right model that meets your needs and fits within your budget.
How do I adjust the pH level?
Once the pH of your hydroponic system has been tested, you may need to adjust it if it is outside of the desired range.
The best way to do this is using a chemical buffer solution, like pH Up & pH Down from General Hydroponics, which will help raise or lower the pH depending on the need.
First, use a calibrated pH meter to measure the current pH levels, then slowly add small amounts of either an acidic or basic solution until you reach the desired result.
Additionally, always ensure you wear protective gear when handling hazardous chemicals and carefully follow all safety instructions.
Why is monitoring pH so important?
Monitoring pH levels is an essential part of hydroponic gardening as it can affect the health and growth of most plants and the overall efficiency of your hydroponic system.
If the pH level is too high or too low, nutrients will not be adequately absorbed by your plants, and they won’t be able to perform optimally.
Not only that, but a change in pH could cause an imbalance of beneficial bacteria in your system, which could cause additional problems such as root diseases.
By regularly measuring and adjusting the pH with quality meters, you can ensure your crops are getting access to all the nutrient they need for healthy growth and development!
Why do I have to calibrate my pH tester?
Calibrating your pH tester is essential to ensure precision and reliable readings.
Over time, the electrodes in the meter can become contaminated or drift out of calibration, so regular calibrations are necessary to restore optimal performance.
Different models will require different calibration methods – some may require full calibrations with buffer solutions, while others may be self-calibrating.
Additionally, most meters should be calibrated at least once a month or between measurements for best results.
By following the manufacturer’s instructions for your specific model and regularly maintaining your pH tester, you can guarantee accurate results every time!
A pH tester is one of those absolute must-have tools if you want your hydroponics system to thrive.
Monitoring the pH of your water with such a device makes all the difference when it comes to achieving optimal growth for plants in that environment.
The good news is this equipment doesn’t have to break the bank – invest wisely and watch as greens flourish year-round!
Jesh is the founder of jeshuascheumack.com. He was born in Stockholm, Sweden, and raised in the American South and the foothills of Northern California. He loves to grow all things, including as much of his own food as possible. He also loves to read and geek out on board games.