How would you define the best soil PH tester? Are there specific features and attributes you look for before you buy? It is essential to ask these questions since they ensure you don’t go wrong with your purchase.
Looking at the features is undoubtedly an excellent way to gauge the device’s abilities. With regard to soil PH testers, we look into the measurement range, probe length, operating temperature, accuracy, and more. These are the attributes you will depend on when you get to your garden and want to get your soil pH values. However, you have to remember that the best soil PH tester is relative to the person using it. After all, even the soil samples that you are using will be different from those of your neighbor.
Most people looking for a pH tester want one that is reasonably affordable device, as well as one that is accurate. With regards to the first requirement, the Gain Express Soil Ph & Moisture Meter ticks that box. This is because it was priced at slightly under $60 at the time of this review. For the money, you cannot fault the quality of the device.
Also, this tool is for simple farmers who want to know whether the pH is too high or too low. Where PH values are concerned, the measurement range provided by this tool is somewhat limited. With the neutral value being seven, you will easily see if the soil is too acidic. This is because the values between 3 and 7 indicate high acidity.
Worth noting is that too much alkalinity will affect plant growth negatively, just as is the case with elevated acidity. As such, this tool does disappoint in that it can’t provide readings past 8 on the PH scale.
Accuracy is another area for the tool to perform exceptionally. The maximum disparity will be ± 0.2 pH, which is likely not to affect the verdict on whether you need to rectify the soil pH.
Also, the probe length is about 11.5 inches. Again, this length is ideal for home gardens since most of the roots for your vegetables will not go past 11 inches below ground. It also allows you to test the soil at different depths within this range.
Additionally, no special skills are required for you to operate the device. The user plugs the tool into the soil and takes the reading displayed. It also helps that the device works without needing batteries or an external power source. Nonetheless, the product becomes practically useless in winter since it cannot be used effectively in temperatures below 41°F.
If you have a limitless budget for the purchase of your digital soil PH meter, the Bluelab METCOM Combo Meter is an ideal purchase. The tool is lightweight but well made. Also, if you know that your plants have deep roots, this tool is worth purchasing. This is because the probe length reaches a maximum of 6.5 ft.
If you can change the Ph composition of your soil up to 6.5 ft, you are guaranteed the best harvest results. The measurement range is very impressive as well. In fact, you get the full PH range of between 0 and 14. This way, you will know just how much effort you need to put in to return the soil PH to a baseline of 6.5 or 7. With an accuracy rating of ± 0.1pH (at 77 °F), you cannot go wrong with this purchase.
Additionally, this tool can be used for taking other readings apart from PH. These include temperature and total dissolved solids in water. Due to this, the tool ranks highly on the versatility meter. As a result, the invention can be used to take measurements in a variety of scenarios, not just in the soil. Two examples include taking readings in pools and drinking water.
The LCD provided gives an easy way to take these readings. As well, once you are familiar with the tool, calibration will become second nature. Before that happens, the calibration reminders might be helpful.
The manufacturer ships every unit with a set of AAA batteries to make sure you hit the ground running. This tool also gives a low battery reminder so that you can purchase a spare set in time. Additionally, with the auto-off function, you don’t have to worry about needing new batteries every two weeks since it helps conserve energy.
Another significant benefit of owning this tool is that with proof of purchase, you get a 5-year warranty.
Other features: easy auto-calibration, up to 2000 hours of operation
If the Bluelab options don’t appeal to you, the Apera Instruments AI209 Value Series PH20 Tester Kit is available. Despite looking simple, this is a rather advanced device. More than that, it can all but guarantee accurate readings in the temperature range of between 32-122°F.
Given that its weight is only 3.9 oz, most people can carry this in their pockets as they go about their other farming duties. Unlike the Gain Express Soil Ph & Moisture Meter, this invention is not limited in its pH measuring range. It features the whole spectrum of 0 to 14.
If you are keen on the image we have provided, you will notice that the tool offers temperature readings as well. This information, of course, shows up on the LCD. Also, with the low impudence on the pH sensor, it’s no wonder the response rate is as high as it is.
You may need to buy AAA batteries from time to time to use with the device. Nonetheless, a set can squeeze out up to 2000 hours of continuous operation. The tool as well, features auto-calibration. Of course, this is one of its more impressive features. Nevertheless, if you do not use the device for more than 8 minutes, it powers off on its own and, as a result, saves on energy.
Also, a low battery alarm is included just in case you need a reminder when the batteries are running low. A carrying case is as well provided by the manufacturer.
Other features: includes a pH pen and conductivity pen, fully waterproof, 1-year warranty
The Bluelab PENGTB Grower’s Toolbox is another digital soil PH meter to think about purchasing. Seeing as though this is a toolbox, there are a couple of components that come with the purchase. These include a pH pen, conductivity pen, and more. As such, the package may turn out to be a little heavier than most.
Since this tool is fully waterproof, you don’t have to worry about water damage even if you put it in damp soil. One disadvantage of the device is that it doesn’t have a sizeable probe. Nevertheless, it will still get you the readings you require from your garden.
Among the advantages of the invention is the fact that you can measure temperature in addition to the pH. Also, if you paid attention to the naming, you will realize that the tool is from the same manufacturer as the Bluelab METCOM Combo Meter. Additionally, with the LCD on the device, viewing readings should be a piece of cake.
Accuracy on the device has a margin of error of about 0.2. This is whether you measure pH or temperature. Also, construction includes lab-quality glass. This means you can use the tool not only in the soil but also for pools, hydroponics, and drinking water as well.
Some essential accessories included in the box include a probe care kit, calibration solution, batteries, and more. Also, just like its predecessor from the same manufacturer, this tool will notify you when batteries are running on low. You thus get sufficient preparation time to get replacements.
The tool we deem to have the most value is the Sonkir MS02 Soil pH Meter. It has a 7.9” probe, which should easily sink into the ground. Of course, it is easy to use since the only thing you need to do is stick it in the farming ground and wait for results.
The fact that it doesn’t require batteries to work is immensely beneficial. As such, the maintenance cost of this tool is zero. Also, it uses double needle detection technology, which is why you see two probes in the image provided.
Given its weight, even if you carry it around all day long, it is unlikely that it will weigh you down. Also worth noting is that this tool will measure three things: the pH, moisture, and sunlight level, which is why it is referred to as a 3-in-1 device.
Additionally, you need to realize that if the soil is too dry, you might not get accurate results. This necessitates that you water your plants before using the device.
The Kelway Soil pHD Soil Acidity Test is another high-quality PH measuring device. You poke this tool into the soil using the probe and wait for your PH readings. This is similar to the way the Gain Express Soil Ph & Moisture Meter works.
Another similarity between the two devices is that neither requires batteries to operate. There are also several differences. The measurement range, for instance, is far superior to that of the editor’s choice. You have at your fingertips the entire PH range allowing you to get accurate readings.
Of course, you have to allow for a margin of error, which is 0.2 of the reading. You should still be able to decide on whether you need to reduce or increase the PH of your soil. Also, for such a small device, this tool is quite heavy. Nonetheless, you shouldn’t have any problems with single-handed operation.
One distinct advantage the editor’s choice has over this product is the probe length. After all, this model can only reach two inches into the soil while its predecessor is capable of checking the PH even at 11 inches deep.
The LaMotte Garden Kit is different from the above models in the way that it works. As such, you will need some knowledge if you want to use this kit. It includes 30 pH soil tests, which means that at some point, you will need to purchase another set.
Also, seeing as though there are rapid test procedures incorporated, you shouldn’t have to wait too long before you get your results. Once you receive your package, you will be glad to know that you have diagrammed instructions. Additionally, the laminated color charts are what you use to determine the pH of the soil you are testing.
Other features: 10 tests for each of pH, N, P, and K; patented color comparator system
You can also get soil pH results in a relatively short time from the Luster Leaf 1601 Rapitest Test Kit. This whole kit weighs 4 oz, which isn’t much. As seen above, this tool contains ten tests for pH, Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and potassium. Consequently, this totals to 40 tests that allow you to make pH and nutrient adjustments so that your plants can grow better.
Of course, for you to understand the results, you will need to understand the color comparator system, which is provided with the purchase. Also, once you get used to it, getting the correct results should be a piece of cake.
Of course, making the right purchase decision is not all that easy. You need to be careful since you might get caught up in marketing gimmicks and purchase a product that is not right for you. Most of all you need the right information which we have provided in the buying guide below. As such, read and reread the information below as it might come in handy when you log onto Amazon to make the purchase.
Soil pH does affect how the overall plant will turn out. For example, if the soil is too acidic or alkaline, the plant will have a hard time taking in all the nutrients from the ground. This can severely stunt the growth of the plants. Also, it can affect the presence and workings of certain microorganisms available in the soil. These, of course, are necessary for the growth of the plants as well.
Once you measure the pH and find it is not in the optimum range, you can choose a variety of measures to correct the anomaly.
If the soil has more hydrogen ions, it is considered to be more acidic. It will also be easier for such soil to conduct electricity. This is what the tool relies on to get pH readings. The tester has both a glass electrode and a reference electrode. However, these two electrodes are not connected; hence the circuit is incomplete. Since soil conducts electricity, it acts to complete the circuit.
You should note that the reference electrode is more stable than its counterpart. This being the case, it acts as a buffer. Also, it provides a reference for comparison with the other electrode. The glass electrode does its part by attracting the hydrogen ions in the soil. As a result, a small voltage is created here. This provides data for a voltage comparison between the reference and glass electrodes.
The difference is then transmitted as a signal to the indicator, which translates the readings to you as a pH value. Worth noting is that pH readings may be affected by temperature.
As you have seen, the features vary a lot from pH tester to pH tester. This is from the probe length to the measurement range and more. This means it might be challenging to choose from the various options. However, with the right information on all these features, you will be better suited to pick a model. As such, use the information we have provided below to choose what tester you should purchase.
As you have seen above, there are three types of pH testers. They include pH strips, dyes with colors, and the electronic tester.
For a pH strip to work, you need to soak it in a soil solution. After that, you remove the strip and allow it to dry. There should be color changes that can be used in conjunction with a color chart to deduce the pH.
Dyes work almost the same way. Mixing these with soil will bring about different color changes, which can then be checked against a color chart for the reading.
Size, of course, also matters with regards to transporting the device. Some pH measuring devices are small enough to fit in pockets, and that makes them more portable.
Tools like the Kelway Soil pHD Soil Acidity Test are quite easy to use. Just make sure the device is in contact with the soil whose pH you are trying to measure. On the other hand, a kit like the LaMotte Garden Kit may be a little tricky. It involves collecting soil samples and using test tubes to figure out the pH.
Both of these products will still give you results. However, while we do recommend finding a device that is easy to use, there is nothing wrong with using the latter. As such, if you feel you don’t mind the testing process, no one can stop you from making the purchase.
Of course, if you measure something, you want the most accurate results possible. In this case, we would go with a tool like the Apera Instruments AI209 Value Series PH20 Tester Kit since there can only be a 0.1 discrepancy. Nevertheless, those with a 0.2 variance like the Bluelab PENGTB Grower’s Toolbox are not bad either.
If the plants you are growing have deep roots, it means they will try to absorb nutrients from much deeper in the ground. This necessitates that you be aware of pH levels there as well. The problem with having a small probe is that it is not easy to reach deep soil to measure the pH.
One area that we feel the editor’s choice could have done better is in the measurement range. It offers a range of between 3 and 8. However, the entire pH chart goes from 0 to 14. This means some values are not accounted for. With a full measure range, you will be able to get much more accurate results. As such, the effort you need to put in to rectify the situation will be more apparent.
The Kelway Soil pHD Soil Acidity Test doesn’t need any power source to give readings. All it needs is that you put it in the soil, and it will do the rest. In contrast, the Bluelab PENGTB Grower’s Toolbox requires AAA batteries. The problem with these, of course, is the fact that they can’t last forever. As such, you have the occasional extra cost of purchasing batteries.
This is again a matter of preference whereby if you feel you have the money and don’t mind buying batteries, you can choose the latter. If, however, you feel like you don’t want to purchase batteries now and then you can buy the former or any other device like it.
Soil pH testers are necessary purchases if you want to get high yields from your plants. Nevertheless, no one enjoys having to buy the same piece of equipment over and over again. Even the time spent looking at the various options could be spent on more productive exploits.
This being the case, you would best be served by a product that lasts a long time. As such, you need to check for durable construction in the pH testers you consider purchasing. If you find one that fits the criteria, you can make the purchase. However, do not forget to consider the other features mentioned above and below.
The Apera Instruments AI209 Value Series PH20 Tester Kit measures soil pH, sunlight, and soil moisture. The Luster Leaf 1601 Rapitest Test Kit, on the other hand, measures potassium, Nitrogen, and phosphorus in addition to the pH. As you can see, both these products give more value since they are checking more than just soil pH. Also, don’t forget that these extra readings can help your farming one way or the other. If you feel that you need extra usability, do not hesitate to make the purchase.
Always check if the product you are thinking of purchasing has a warranty. This is especially true if it is expensive. This way, you don’t suffer huge losses if it suffers from manufacturing defects or gets damaged within a certain amount of time. On our list, the Bluelab METCOM Combo Meter is the clear winner in this category with its five-year coverage.
Extra features are not always available. However, if you find a device with a few, you should look into them to see if it is worth purchasing. Something like being waterproof could be immensely helpful in ensuring the tool lasts a long time. After all, it is likely to come into contact with water a lot in your garden.
Since you are probably not going to buy all the items in the list above, it would do you some good to pick a few favorites. Ours are the Gain Express Soil Ph & Moisture Meter, Bluelab METCOM Combo Meter, and the Apera Instruments AI209 Value Series PH20 Tester Kit.
Each of these is impressive in their own right. One example is that for a home garden, the Gain Express Soil Ph & Moisture Meter has enough probe length and accuracy to give you good results. It also isn’t the most expensive and doesn’t need batteries to function.
Its competition is the Bluelab METCOM Combo Meter. It can measure the pH and temperature of soil as well as that of water. This versatility is one of its key selling points. Another accurate and versatile tool is the Apera Instruments AI209 Value Series PH20 Tester Kit. It as well promises long battery life for the AAA batteries you purchase.
Picking a few favorites based on merit and the information provided above will guarantee you the best pH tester for your needs. When you do eventually get to buy the tool you choose, comment below and tell us about your experience.