[Updated on: 17 Jan, 2022]
If you are into hydroponic gardening, you should understand the importance of using the best pH meter. Only by tracking the pH level of the nutrient solution will you be able to ensure healthy growth and maximum yield of your crops.
Why Is Monitoring pH So Important?
A pH meter allows the growers to determine if the nutrient solution is acidic or alkaline. The pH value ranges from zero to 14 at 25C degrees. For instance, if the pH is less than seven, the solution is acidic; else, it’s basic or alkaline.
An imbalance in pH levels in the nutrient solution leads to the inability of plants to absorb the required elements causing a nutrient deficiency. Therefore, if you are a hydroponic grower, you should constantly measure pH level of the nutrient solution and make adjustments accordingly.
For example, you can balance the pH level from the supply reservoir while using a recirculating system. Alternatively, you can use automatic pH controllers to minimize pH fluctuation; however, it’s certainly an expensive solution.
Lastly, the reverse osmosis system is proven to be an effective solution to reduce water hardness.
Selection of the best pH tester for Hydroponics
Bluelab pH Pen PENPH
Accuracy of +/-0.1 pH
Low battery indicator
Apera pH Pen Tester
Accuracy of +/-0.1 pH
Allows you to replace the probe
VIVOSUN pH and TDS Meter
Accuracy of +/-0.05 ph
Dr.meter pH Tester
Accuracy of +/-0.1 pH
Backlit LCD screen
Bluelab pH Controllet
Accuracy of +/-0.1 pH
Comprehensive pH kit
Automatic temperature compensation
What To Look When Buying Best pH Meter?
Do you often find yourself at the crossroads while selecting a pH meter for the hydroponic garden? Don’t worry; the following section highlights the must-have features to look for while buying the best pH meter.
It’s undoubtedly one of the most significant deciding factors that make or break a pH meter.
A high-quality pH meter has an accuracy of +/-0.01 or +/-0.02. Alternatively, you can also buy affordable handheld meters with a decent accuracy of +/-0.1. However, a pH meter with more accuracy comes with an expensive price tag.
It depends on you to calibrate the pH meter manually or automatically. For instance, you can find two knobs on the meter to select the lowest and highest pH range of the meter to calibrate the pH meter manually.
Alternatively, you can dip the probe inside the buffer solution and press the calibration button, and you are done with the automatic pH meter calibration.
Temperature affects the pH measurement of a solution or a substance. That’s why premium-quality pH meters automatically correct the temperature to ensure accurate readings.
Furthermore, some pH meters come with an automatic or manual temperature correction function. However, in the case of manual temperature correction, you need to record the temperature before measuring the pH of a solution.
The good news is you can buy affordable and accurate pH meters, which you can carry conveniently inside your pocket or bag. Not only that, but you can also find sturdy and waterproof pH testers with replaceable electrodes.
Reviews of Best pH Meters for Hydroponics
Are you ready to buy a digital meter hydroponic pH tester? Read along to learn about the features of the best pH meters.
Bluelab pH Pen PENPH
The Bluelab pH Pen PENPH is one of the best pH meters for hydroponics, featuring a sturdy and waterproof build quality. Not only that, but you can conveniently calibrate the Bluelab pen using the two-point calibration process.
First, you need to immerse the Bluelab pH pen probe in a 7.0 pH solution and press the “Cal” button till you see “Cal” on the LCD. Next, you need to rinse the probe, dip it in 4.0 and 10.0 pH solution, and keep the “Cal” button pressed until you see “Cal” on the screen indicating successful calibration.
Other features of the Bluelab pH pen include an auto shut-off feature to preserve the battery and a low battery indicator to notify about the battery replacement. Additionally, the backlit LCD screen allows you to read and record the pH reading.
Courtesy of the automatic temperature compensation (ATF), you no longer need to worry about inaccurate pH values.
- Portable design that comes with a carrying case
- Offers an accuracy of +/-0.1 pH
- Comes with 12 months Bluelab warranty
- Features an auto-off function
- Includes a low battery indicator
- Not-so-good build quality
- Slow operations
Apera Instruments pH Pen Tester
If you want to buy a featureful and reliable pH tester, the Apera Instruments pH Pen Tester is one of the most advanced pH meters. It’s an advanced handheld meter offering functions, including low battery alarm, automatic power-off, and temperature unit switching from F to C.
In addition to the pH pen tester, the test kit includes a pH 7.0 calibration solution and a 3M KCL storage solution.
Courtesy of the single-button operations, you can measure pH level of the hydroponic system in no time. Not only that, but the waterproof pH pen tester allows you to replace the probe to ensure the longevity of the pH tester.
The auto temperature compensation (ATF) guarantees accurate readings in variant temperatures ranging from zero to 60C degrees. Thanks to auto-calibration with auto-buffer recognition, you don’t need to worry about calibrating the pH meter yourself.
Lastly, the pH probe invalidation reminder notifies you to replace the aged or damaged probe.
- Ensures single-button operation
- Small and portable design
- Allows you to replace the probe
- Features auto calibration and auto temperature compensation (ATC)
- Offers a pH accuracy of +/-0.1 pH
- Not-so-good customer support
VIVOSUN pH and TDS Meter Combo
As the name suggests, the VIVOSUN pH and TDS Meter Combo include pH and TDS digital meter to accurately check the water quality of the hydroponic garden.
The pH meter measures pH levels ranging from zero to 14.0 pH with an accuracy of 0.05 pH and a resolution of 0.01. Additionally, the digital pH meter comes with a battery button, a power button, and an automatic calibration button.
On the other hand, the TDS meter measures conductivity, total dissolved solids (TDS), and temperature.
Not only that, but the meter reads and locks the reading allowing you to record it manually on a paper or laptop. For instance, you can press the HOLD button while removing the meter from the solution to read the results.
Another good news is that the manufacturer calibrates the TDS meter in advance. You can press the shift button to switch between different display modes.
The nine-minute auto shut-off feature successfully conserves the battery of the VIVOSUN pH and TDS meter combo.
- Offers a high accuracy of +/-0.05 ph
- Affordable and durable design
- Three-in-one functionality
- Nine-minute shut off feature
- Features a large and readable LCD
- Some people have complained about pH meter accuracy
Dr.meter pH Tester
The Dr.meter pH Tester is an all-rounder pH meter with 0.01 resolution and higher accuracy. Moreover, you can easily read the pH levels on a backlit LCD screen, even in dim lights.
Furthermore, you can calibrate pH meter multiple times using the 250ml calibration solutions included in the package. For example, you can use 10ml every week to calibrate the pH meter.
The automatic calibration saves your time and effort as the digital pH meter identifies the pH fluid and offers you accurate readings in no time.
Additionally, the temperature can temper the pH readings of the nutrient solution. That’s why the Dr.meter pH meter automatically compensates for the temperature to offer you accurate readings.
Fortunately, you can turn on the nine-minute auto shut-off function to save the battery. Not only that, but you can replace the two AAA batteries when required.
- Ensures three-point automatic calibration
- Features automatic temperature compensation
- Backlit LCD screen
- 15-minute auto shut-off function
- Comes with a 250ml calibration solution
- You need to purchase the 3M KCL storage solution separately
Bluelab BLU8004 pH Controllet
If you want to buy a comprehensive pH kit with advanced features, the Bluelab BLU8004 pH Controllet won’t disappoint you.
The kit includes a replaceable pump, dosing tube, calibration solution, power supply, pH, and temperature probes. As a result, you can measure the pH level of the nutrient solution with a 0.1 pH resolution and an accuracy of +/-0.1 pH.
Additionally, automatic temperature compensation (ATC) offers consistent pH readings irrespective of the temperature variation in the surrounding.
The double junction reference of the probe ensures the longevity of the Bluelab pH probe. Furthermore, the probe comes prefilled with a gel; hence, you no longer need to clean or maintain it.
Made in New Zealand, the Bluelab BLUE8004 pH controller offers a two-year limited warranty to ensure a long-term investment.
A pro tip: It’s recommended to replace the pH probes every 12 months if you use them in the hydroponic solution.
- Comprehensive pH kit
- Offers two-years limited warranty
- Supports different screen display languages
- Features automatic temperature compensation (ATC)
- Includes high and low alarms with control lockouts
- The suction cup that holds the pH probe doesn’t stay stuck
Manual vs Digital pH Meter
You can find two types of pH meters commonly available in the market – manual and digital. A manual pH meter is essentially a water pH testing kit to monitor the pH level of a water pool. That’s why manual pH test strips are relatively cheap compared to a digital meter.
However, accuracy is certainly the biggest concern while using manual pH testing kits to monitor the pH levels of the hydroponic garden. Similarly, you also need to calibrate the pH strips manually. That’s why you end up spending more time and energy using a manual pH meter.
Conversely, a digital meter is an electronic device comprising a glass electrode connected to a probe to test the pH levels of the nutrient solution. Being a hydroponic grower, you should buy a digital pH meter to ensure better accuracy and fast results with automatic calibration.
How to Calibrate a pH Meter?
A grower needs to calibrate the pH meter using a buffer solution, a laboratory-certified standard reference solution for the pH tester. You can follow these steps to calibrate digital and analog meters using the buffer solution.
- First, you need to read the manufacturer’s instructions for the buffer solution to calibrate pH meters. It’s because these instructions vary for analog and digital pH meters. Similarly, you should go through the pH meter manual to check for any changes in the manual calibration process.
- Next, you can place the probe inside the solution and adjust the pH meter reading to match the buffer solution.
- You can also repeat the same process with another buffer solution of different pH to maximize accuracy.
- If you use the pH meter regularly, you should calibrate it once a week. Furthermore, it’s essential to calibrate the pH meter after replacing the sensor for accurate readings.
Wrapping Up with the Best pH Meters
The ultimate goal of a grower is to ensure a constant supply of nutrients and minerals to the plants to maximize the yield.
The key takeaway of the above guide is to highlight the importance of using a pH meter for growers who own a hydroponic garden. If you don’t want your plants to develop a nutrient deficiency, you should buy any pH meters reviewed above.