Nowadays, pH meter or pH tester has not only surfaced to be of utility for scientific researches, but it has also been employed in various professional fields and households too. It is predominantly used in the agricultural sector for soil measurement, determining the quality of the water, etc.
Moreover, it has also been used in wine or beer brewery, hydroponics, swimming pool, drinking water, etc. And this is amongst several other scientific applications of pH meter. The vast application of a pH meter is unbound, and you can get endless uses out of it if you can comprehend the basic conceptualization and application.
What is pH Meter?
A pH meter is an instrument which is used to measure the hydrogen-ion concentration in a solution. The acronym pH roughly means “power of hydrogen” or “potential of hydrogen”. It indicates how many hydrogen ions are present in a certain quantity of water.
A pH meter or pH probe performs the function of a voltmeter in some cases where it measures the voltage produced by a certain solution. This is so because an acidic solution has more positively charged hydrogen ions that an alkaline solution (which in turn has more negatively charged hydrogen ions), hence it has the potential to produce an electric current.
The pH meter comes in the picture to determine the exact concentration of hydrogen ions in an acidic or an alkali solution. Don’t be baffled by the explanation and get yourself into thinking that genius scientists can only use such an instrument for scientific research and studies because it has a wide range of applications, as I have already mentioned above these are just a few to name.
Can you believe that such an instrument can easily be purchased and can also come at an affordable price? Well, believe me, because it is true. Owing to its assortment of application, it has been very high in demand. Consequently, you can purchase a pH meter even from the internet at a very affordable price. Let’s see the list of top 10 best pH meters that I used for my research purpose.
Top 5 pH Meters : Our Pick
Best pH Meter Reviews in 2021
1. Jellas FBA_JLPH01 - Best pH Meter
Overall Rating - 4.75/5
Jellas FBA_JLPH01 is a highly easy to use pH meter, which can not only be used in labs for important studies but also for determining pH balance in drinking water, swimming pools, water filters, and hydroponics; that's why we recommend it as the best ph meter. It accurately measures the range of 0-14 pH and displays the readings on the LCD quickly.
The usage of this pH pen is easy and does not require an experienced hand for the operation. Jellas digital pH meter just needs to be immersed into the solution whose pH balance you want to test and turn the pH probe on. After a few seconds, the readings will appear on the LCD.
Jellas pH tester is small and lightweight and highly portable, and so you can carry it anywhere you want as it can also be put in a pocket. The glass probe needs to be handled carefully and needs cleaning when you are done using it. Caution must be undertaken while using this pH meter.
2. Lxuemlu LX-TDS1 - Best pH Meter for Hydroponics
Overall Rating - 4.5/5
Lxuemlu LX-TDS1 digital pH meter is easy to use and virtually serves all household needs when it comes to testing the salt concentration in any solution. LX-TDS1 water pH tester can test the purity of a water solution accurately and give the readings on the LCD.
All you have to do is immerse the pH probe in the solution you want to measure and turn it on. The readings will appear shortly. Lxuemlu digital pH tester will automatically turn off under two minutes if you did not turn it off manually to prevent the exhaustion of the battery.
Lxuemlu Water pH Tester has a hold feature, which saves all the previous measurements for weighing and comparison. The pH tester comes with a user manual that answers all the possible queries that may pop up during the learning process.
Apart from measuring the TDS in drinking water, this pH reader works very well for hydroponics. That's the reason for listing this product as the best pH meter for hydroponics.
3. Apera Instruments AI209 - Best pH Meter for Aquarium
Overall Rating - 4.4/5
Apera Instruments AI209 pH value tester renders quick and accurate pH measurements for various water solutions such as drinking water, swimming pools, hydroponics, wine, beer, aquarium. And they can also be employed in various professional fields such as horticulture, environment analysis, laboratories, etc.
The design of this pH meter is an eyecatcher, and the LCD looks very good. It is easy to use pH tester with just on and off buttons. Once you have dipped this pH meter in a solution, press ‘on’, and the readings will appear on the screen shortly.
AI209 pH detector comes with a protective case and lanyard. The battery will last for around 2000 hours, which is significantly more than the other pH meters you will come across. The glass bulb of this pH meter is sensitive, and hence it should be handled with care. You can read the user manual if you are unfamiliar with the use of a pH meter.
4. Dr.meter PH100-V - Best pH Meter for Water
Overall Rating - 4.4/5
Dr.meter water Hh tester is highly accurate which comes with automatic calibration for the user's convenience. Dr.meter pH water tester offers various features that contribute to all over an accurate reading mechanism. Along with Automatic calibration, it has Automatic temperature compensation, which further resolves any problems with inaccuracy leading to spot-on readings.
Dr.meter pH tester for water is highly compact, so you can easily carry it anywhere in your pocket. It can be applied in testing the pH value of drinking water, swimming pool, food processing, wine, beer, or any other beverages.
It comes with an accurate algorithm chip, and so testing quality improves significantly. The operation mainly consists of using just two buttons on and off, and so the operation is very easy. Even people who are unfamiliar with the concept of water pH meter can get hold of its usage.
5. Bluelab PENPH - Best pH Meter for Kombucha
Overall Rating - 4/5
Bluelab PENPH is one of the best handheld h meter that you can get under budget. You can get a clear picture of the components of a liquid solution and know exactly what is in excess and what is missing. This helps in various sectors, such as in an agricultural field or a wind and beer brewery. Bluelab pH reader can also be used in food processing and various household needs.
This pH pen comes with an auto-off function, which saves battery considerably. There is also a low battery indicator, which lets you know that the battery is nearing exhaustion and need replacing. The intel rendered by this pH meter is undoubtedly reliable, and anybody can use it.
6. Apera Instruments SX610 - Best pH Meter for Gardening
Overall Rating - 4/5
The distinguishing feature of this pH meter is that the entire operation is comprised of a single button. It has a pen design, and so it is extremely easy to operate, and it is very compact. It has the auto-calibration feature and Auto Temperature compensation, which guarantees accurate reading no matter the subject under observation.
The pH pen comes with a carrying case where you can place it and be on the go anytime, anywhere. It comes with both the temperature units, Celsius, and Fahrenheit for the convenience of the user. The automatic power-off ensures power saving.
The pH probe of the meter may get damaged over time, and it is important to replace it if you want to continue using it. Hence that needs your utmost attention. A damaged probe may give faulty indications. It also has a low battery indicator which warns you when the battery of the pH meter is nearing its depletion.
7. HM Digital HMDPHM80 - Best pH Tester for Home Use
Overall Rating - 4/5
The low price of this HM digital pH meter allows it to be a regular household commodity. In addition to measuring the pH of water, you can record the temperature with this pH meter.
It is a reliable pH meter that can be used for testing in various sectors such as hydroponics, water purifier, swimming pools, spa, etc. It is lightweight, and the figures on the LCD are highly legible and it comes with the Auto-off function.
8. Apera Instruments SX620 - Best pH Meter for Easy Operation
Overall Rating - 3.9/5
Apera Instruments SX620 pH Meter is one of the smallest pH pen units, the performance of which is al exceptional. It functions well in drinking water, hydroponics, agriculture, beverages, etc. The design of the pH gauge gives you a good handle on the meter.
You can switch between two temperature units of Celsius and Fahrenheit. It comes with a single button operation, which makes it highly easy to use, and you can completely count on it for accurate readings.
9. Bluelab BLU2300E - Best pH ppm Meter
Overall Rating - 3.7/5
Bluelab Metcom Combo Meter measures the pH value, ppm, temperature and EC of a given solution. It is lightweight and portable, and the large display of meter is very easy to read.
It has a low battery indicator, so you’d know beforehand when the battery is about to be exhausted completely. The pH probe is replaceable when damaged. It also has an auto-off function to save the battery.
10. KoolaMo PH Meter B08197LX6H - Best pH Tester for Laboratories
Overall Rating - 3.65/5
Thanks to the versatile application of this digital pH meter, you can now measure the pH value of any solution accurately. It can be used in the household and laboratory use alike.
You can test the pH balance of drinking water, swimming pool, aquarium, spa, etc. It comes with the auto-calibration and automatic temperature compensation. So you can have accurate readings of the necessary heads quickly.
Best pH Tester Buying Guide
Why monitoring pH is so important?
You must be wondering why it is important to monitor the pH levels? What will happen if one loses track of pH levels? Is there anything to worry about? So, it becomes quite important to keep a tab of them when it comes to pH levels. If you don't monitor the pH levels regularly, then a small variation in the levels tends to bring a humungous amount of changes to the acidic nature of the substance.
The pH scale you encounter has logarithmic values, i.e., a small change in pH value can result in large variations. Maintaining the pH levels is not only important for some particular area or industry but also has many applications. The change in pH levels can severely affect the quality and the safety measure of the product that relies entirely on the pH levels. These changes affect not only the producers but also the consumers to a great extent.
There are many applications that show that it is very important to keep an eye on the pH levels. Let's have a glance at some of the applications that severely depend upon the pH levels monitoring.
1. Agriculture industry
The agriculture industry is primarily dependent upon the pH levels of soil. So, if the pH levels of soil are not optimum, it can pose many problems for the agriculture industry. Many things are affected by the pH levels of soil that include microbial activity, availability of nutrients, growth of plant's root, etc.
If the acidic levels are not optimum in the soil, it can release various toxic metals to the soil that can hamper the productivity and growth of plants. If the pH levels are not maintained, various vital nutrients like phosphorus and molybdenum start deteriorating from the overall soil content.
Apart from the acidic conditions, if the alkaline pH nature of the soil is not up to the mark, it can cause a deficiency in minerals like zinc, copper, iron, manganese, phosphorus, etc. So, it becomes imperative to maintain the pH levels of both the acidic and alkaline contents of the soil so that efficient results are produced.
You should not always rely on the fact that a particular pH range needs to be maintained for all kinds of plants because different plants require different pH levels. For instance, if a particular pH level is sufficient for one category of plants, then it might not be enough to provide the required nutrients for another category of plants. You need to be well-versed what is the optimum quality of pH level requirements for a particular set category.
While considering the pH levels, if there is more acidic or alkaline content as per the required pH quantities, you need to add its counterpart to balance the content. You should thoroughly analyze the content levels beforehand to make the most out of it.
2. Aquatic life
Maintaining and monitoring the pH levels is not only essential for soil but also plays a vital role in the survival of aquatic plants and animals. If the pH levels are not maintained to the optimum levels, it can severely hamper aquatic life.
The low pH levels can produce various harmful metals such as aluminum, or it can also increase the number of nitrogen levels in the water that can hamper the survival of the fishes present in the water. If the water faces a pH level of less than 5, it can hamper the reproduction levels of the fish and can even lead to the death of creatures.
On the other hand, if the pH levels exceed the value of 9, then the ammonium ions present in the water start converting to ammonia that can even threaten the life of fishes present in the water. So, it becomes the need of the hour to maintain a stable pH level range in the water.
When considering the pH levels for the aquatic life, you should try maintaining a buffer between the basic and the acidic levels in the water so that the aquatic life can have a sigh of relief.
3. Food Industry
pH level monitoring plays a very crucial role in the food industry. If the food standards are not maintained, it can lead to an increase in microbial activities that can hamper the food quality. Also, it can hamper the shelf life of the food resulting in deterioration in taste and other properties of food items. For instance, you need to maintain the pH at optimum levels because maintaining the pH levels of one thing results in deciding the quality of the product derived from that material.
Keeping an eye on the pH levels for food is an indicator of food quality. If the appropriate levels of pH are not maintained, then it can hamper the food quality. Many food items offer a very narrow range of pH levels. The range is selected in such a way that the food items can be easily preserved for a long time without compromising their quality.
4. Swimming pool maintenance
Swimming pools are an important place that also makes use of pH levels monitoring. In swimming pools, many people will come and go, so it becomes mandatory to treat the water properly.
If the pH level is below a certain required limit, it can invite the growth of algal in the water, resulting in deteriorating the effectiveness of water to fight against viruses and bacteria.
Not keeping an eye on the pH levels of the water in swimming pools can also corrode the metal surfaces. So, you should keep a check on this aspect of pH monitoring as well.
How does a pH meter measure pH?
Once you grab the pH meter for your intended purpose, then one of the most important questions that strike your mind is how to use this meter to measure the pH levels? Is it easy to use? Can a beginner also use this meter? These are a few questions that must be striking in your mind for sure. To get the vivid answers to these questions, keep on reading till the end to make the most out of it and gain confidence in using a pH meter even by being a beginner.
To know more about measuring through the pH meter, we first need to know the parts that collectively make a pH meter. So, let’s have a sneak-peak at the intrinsic parts of the pH meter. A pH meter or pH tester consists of an internal electrode, a reference electrode, and a high impedance input meter.
When we talk about the glass probe, it consists of two electrodes, one is the internal electrode, and the other is the reference electrode. Both these electrodes are made with silver wire covered with silver chloride. The probe experiences a pH of 7 to measure the pH of the solution that the user wants to measure. The pH of the required solution will be measured as the difference between the pH levels of the reference buffer and the sample solution.
The pH meter needs to be calibrated at regular instances to measure the pH value at the optimum levels. If the meter is not calibrated up to the mark, it can rise to fluctuations in readings. To calibrate pH meter, a buffer solution comes to the rescue that makes the calibration much easier.
Manual pH testing vs Digital pH Testing - Which one is Best?
Manual pH Testing
In manual pH testing, one needs to do all the pH testing and calibration manually, unlike digital testing. In manual pH testing, you don’t require any digital meter to measure the pH levels for a particular thing.
Digital pH Testing
A digital pH meter is designed to measure the pH values accurately with the assistance of an electronic device. In the digital pH meter, you will encounter a glass electrode that is further connected with the probe for better results.
Voltage is the main driving force behind digital pH testing. If you are excited to know how digital pH testing works in the true sense, then keep reading further to know the most about it.
If you want to achieve more accurate readings of the pH levels, then the digital pH meter is the best choice. No doubt, even a litmus paper can serve the purpose, but the precision and accuracy observed with these meters are commendable.
Factors need to consider before buying a Digital pH meter
The versatility of pH meters has exceeded expectations and has become a popular instrument for several purposes. Whether it be in a professional field or household proceedings, they can be employed virtually anywhere. They can accurately measure the concentration of hydrogen ions in a solution and aid in your final observations.
Moreover, you can get pH meters at a pocket-friendly price. Several things need to be kept in mind while purchasing a pH meter due to its versatile application. Following are some determinants that will have a significant impact on your final choice.
The purchase of a pH meter is predominantly influenced by its accuracy. Naturally, the accuracy will have a major impact on its price too. The more accurate you want your pH meter to be, the more bucks you’d have to splash. Thus, your need for a pH meter governs the pH meter you should go for.
For research purposes, a pH meter with an accuracy of +/-0.01 is perfect as you get near accuracy with an affordable price tag. On the other hand, if you require a pH tester as a piece of household equipment or for school projects, then a pH meter with an accuracy of +/-0.10 works fine. Nevertheless, decent manufacturers will render accurate readings regardless of the cost.
A perfectly calibrated digital ph meter alone will ensure the accurate readings of the solution, the pH balance you are testing. So, it is not rocket science to realize that this is one of the major determinants. A 3-point calibration meter can be used if your field of work is narrow, while a higher calibrated meter is used for extensive study. However, recently manufactured pH meters can be calibrated easily.
It is to be kept in mind that temperature massively affects the readings. The pH meter's temperature must be the same as the temperature of the solution that is being tested. This will ensure that the results are not hampered.
Several pH meters have this feature of automatic temperature compensation, but those are enhanced for extensive research purposes rather than ordinary household chores; subsequently, they are more pricy.
Electrode is a part of the meter which is dipped in the solution whose pH balance you wish to measure. It is this that fulfills the primary function of a pH meter, that is, to measure the concentration of hydrogen ions in a solution. Electrodes are generally made of glass. However, in some cases, glass probes can prove to be harmful.
For such cases, there are pH meters without a glass probe which you could consider to buy, though they can be heavy on your pocket. The electrodes are very fragile and can be damaged after consistent use. You will then need to replace it.
The durability of the electrode, as well as the cost of replacement, is another thing that needs to be kept in mind. The electrodes of some pH meters cannot be replaced at all. If the electrode gets damaged in this case, you would have to buy a new pH meter altogether.
Thus, it is advisable to purchase a pH meter whose electrode can be replaced after it endures damage. The faulty probe will give faulty readings which will ultimately contaminate your observations.
As said earlier, pH meters are highly versatile instruments that can be employed in household chores or laboratories. Some studies demand your instrument to be handy that you can carry anywhere with you at any time.
Multiple pH meters are now available that can be as portable as it gets. From pocket size pH meters, you can also get pen-sized meters. These are available with a reasonably inexpensive price tag, and the readings are also accurate. You can use them in labs and also easily carry them in fields if needed.
Some of them are waterproof and durable, so you don’t have to worry about them getting damaged easily. Most of them come with protective coverings.
These factors play a significant role in the performance of the pH meter. Not all individuals would pay much heed to spot-on intel, while others are profusely concerned about it. These differences in demands have to be considered while you select the best pH meter for yourself.
There is also the question of durability. People with extensive research in hand would want the pH meter to be much more elaborate and advanced than for, let’s say, a mere school project. Hence, listing out your needs and purchasing a corresponding instrument will help you immensely.
Frequently Asked Questions About pH Meter
1. What is the pH meter used for?
A pH meter is an electronic device used to measure the hydrogen-ion activity, indicating its acidity or basicity. When you immerse the electrode of the pH meter in a solution, the readings regarding the hydrogen activity will be displayed on the meter.
2. How to ensure that your pH meter is accurate?
For accurate measurement of the concentration of hydrogen ions in a solution, the pH meter needs to be calibrated. The steps involved in perfectly calibrating your pH meter are given in the manual, which comes with the meter.
Once calibrated perfectly, you will get accurate readings of the pH balance of the solution. It is necessary to calibrate the meter before using it and always keep it out of harm’s way. If the meter gets damaged, it may show faulty readings and contaminate your overall observation.
3. What can cause a pH meter to give faulty readings?
Poor calibration can be one of the reasons for the pH meter to give faulty readings. Centrally, the meter can provide false readings when the electrode of the meter is broken or damaged in any way.
Probes are generally made of glass and are highly prone to damage due to their fragility. Broken probes may give false readings and contaminate your observations. Most pH meters come with the feature of replaceable probes, so you can replace them when the probe gets damaged.
4. How is Manual temperature compensation different from automatic temperature compensation?
In the case of manual temperature compensation, you would need a separate device to record the temperature of the buffers and the solution. Further, in manual compensation, the temperature needs to be set on the temperature dial of the meter.
On the other hand, automatic temperature compensation will compensate for temperature itself if connected with the temperature probes.
5. How often do I need to calibrate my pH meter?
You would need to calibrate pH meter each time before using it.
6. Are pH meters compact?
Yes, most pH meters are defined by their compactness. These may include pen-sized pH meters that can be carried anywhere. Many experiments require fieldwork, so you would need a pH meter that is light and compact.
While there are some pH meters that you may not like to carry with you from place to place, manufacturers have been focusing on the compactness of the recent pH meters above all. So yes, you can find ample of highly compact and lightweight pH meters in the market.
7. Are cheap pH meters accurate?
Inexpensive pH meters maybe a little off-spot in contrast with expensive ones. However, some manufacturers keep the prices of their products low yet provide exemplary performance in all aspects, including the accuracy of the pH meters.
Although these may prove to have a short life, you can get the full potential out of these meters through reliable readings with easy calibration in whatever short life.
8. Are pH meters durable?
pH meters are very fragile, particularly the electrode, which is generally made of glass. The probe can get damaged easily, and you would need to replace it. Otherwise, your pH meter may give faulty readings. Such pH meters, which have the feature of replaceable electrodes, tend to be highly durable.
Although, you would need to give it proper maintenance owing to its size and inevitable fragility. Virtually all the pH meters come with protective covers, so it is advised to shelter your pH meters into these covers when they are not being used.
The pH meters can be enormously useful if the person understands the range of its application. An ideal pH meter also contributes to the ultimate performance. Ergo, this article intends to help you make the right decision. I hope it was helpful!
About the Author
I am Tim, a weather enthusiast who loves to watch hurricanes and all other harsh weather conditions. I studied B.Sc(Meteorology) at the University of Miami. With excellent knowledge of Weather Forecasting, Meteorology, and Environmental Science, I am currently working in San Francisco as a Meteorologist. Also, I am a member of The Weather Channel and AccuWeather. In this blog, I will write a detailed review of Weather instruments that you need for survival and other activities.