Best Digital pH Meters and pH Testers for Hydroponics (Buying Guide)

Although hydroponic gardening has been gaining quite a lot of popularity in recent times, it isn’t exactly a simple procedure. In fact, it can almost feel like an undergraduate-level science class at times! Unlike regular soil-based gardening, the gardener needs to keep track of every tinydetail. You must keep an eye on your water quality and, most importantly, the pH of your nutrient solution. Failure to do so will result in your plants getting damaged and all your hard work ending up futile.

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It is especially important to mention this because a lot of traditional gardeners don’t take water quantity seriously. After all, the only things you need to keep your soil pH at the right level in regular gardening are a box of lime and compost. Hydroponics, however, demands you to remain much more vigilant. Thus, if you’re truly serious about this hobby, then it is in your best interest to invest in the best pH meters presently available.

However, it can be quite tricky to find a good pH meter for hydroponics. Don’t worry; that’s exactly what this article is meant to help you with. We will see the best pH meters and pH test kits that are available online and then understand why exactly it is so important to monitor pH in hydroponics.

Also see: Online pH Calculator

Best pH Meters and Testers

Save 29%
APERA INSTRUMENTS AI209 Value Series PH20 Waterproof pH Tester Kit, ±0.1 pH Accuracy
6,931 Reviews
APERA INSTRUMENTS AI209 Value Series PH20 Waterproof pH Tester Kit, ±0.1 pH Accuracy
  • Easy auto. calibration with buffer recognition; auto. temp. compensation (ATC) ensures accuracy in various temperatures (32 to…
  • Backed by Apera quality pH sensor with low impedance, ensuring high response rate
  • Comes in a rugged carrying case with pH 4&7 buffers and a lanyard
Save 15%
PH Meter for Water Hydroponics Digital PH Tester Pen 0.01 High Accuracy Pocket Size with 0-14 PH Measurement Range for Household Drinking, Pool and Aquarium (Yellow)
6,160 Reviews
PH Meter for Water Hydroponics Digital PH Tester Pen 0.01 High Accuracy Pocket Size with 0-14 PH Measurement Range for Household Drinking, Pool and Aquarium (Yellow)
  • 【How to use calibration】Press CAL for 5 seconds to enter the calibration mode, press in turn to select the powders…
  • 【Mini Size】The mini size ph meter we designed allows you to easily put it in your pocket, so you can take measurements…
  • 【Family Essentials】As a tool to improve the quality of life. Can be used to test drinking water, swimming pools, PH balance in…
pH Meter, Dr.meter Upgraded 0.01 Resolution High Accuracy pH Tester with Backlit Two-Color LCD Display and ATC, 0-14pH Measurement Range with Data Hold Function Digital pH Tester Pen-PH838
2,108 Reviews
pH Meter, Dr.meter Upgraded 0.01 Resolution High Accuracy pH Tester with Backlit Two-Color LCD Display and ATC, 0-14pH Measurement Range with Data Hold Function Digital pH Tester Pen-PH838
  • ▶ 【Notification】Calibrate once per week if you often test solution of PH 10, or once per half month for neutral solutions….
  • ▶ 【Automatic Calibration】 We make your job faster and easier than ever with this convenient PH tester! With the 3-point…
  • ▶ 【Automatic Temperature Compensation】 Temperature can affect reading levels, our PH meter’s automatic temperature…
Save 20%
Bluelab PENPH pH Pen, Digital Meter for Water with Easy Two Point Calibration and Double Junction Probe Test Kit for Hydroponic System and Indoor Plant Grow, White
3,557 Reviews
Bluelab PENPH pH Pen, Digital Meter for Water with Easy Two Point Calibration and Double Junction Probe Test Kit for Hydroponic System and Indoor Plant Grow, White
  • Measures pH in nutrient solution (acid or alkaline) for precise up and down adjustment with lab quality glass probe; General uses…
  • This hydroponics tester has ATC that provides consistent reading regardless of any fluctuations in temperature; Calibration…
  • Double junction electrode has a longer lifespan compared to standard probes due to less contamination and is more accurate and…
Save 20%
VIVOSUN pH and TDS Meter Combo, 0.05ph High Accuracy Pen Type pH Meter ± 2% Readout Accuracy 3-in-1 TDS EC Temperature Meter for Hydroponics, Household Drinking, and Aquarium, UL Certified
18,859 Reviews
VIVOSUN pH and TDS Meter Combo, 0.05ph High Accuracy Pen Type pH Meter ± 2% Readout Accuracy 3-in-1 TDS EC Temperature Meter for Hydroponics, Household Drinking, and Aquarium, UL Certified
  • Application: Great for all home and laboratory TDS & pH testing applications including aquariums, swimming pools
  • PH Meter: Full measurement range of pH 0 – 14, reliable and quick readings
  • 3-in-1 TDS Meter: Measurement Range 0-9990ppm, 0-9990µs/cm; Accuracy ± 2%, 0.1- 80.0°C, 32.0-176.0°F; Note: This meter can’t…
HM Digital PH-80 pH Meter Waterproof PH80 Tester HydroTester
464 Reviews
HM Digital PH-80 pH Meter Waterproof PH80 Tester HydroTester
  • Measures pH and Temperature
  • One-touch automatic digital calibration
  • Water resistant
Oakton AO-35614-30 pH 150 Waterproof Portable Meter with SJ All-in-One Electrode
6 Reviews
Oakton AO-35614-30 pH 150 Waterproof Portable Meter with SJ All-in-One Electrode
  • Product Type: pH meter
  • Meter style: portable
  • Range (pH): -2.00 to 16.00
Save 18%
VIVOSUN Digital PH Meter for Water, 0.05ph High Accuracy Pen Type PH Tester for Hydroponics, Household Drinking, Pool and Aquarium
5,670 Reviews
VIVOSUN Digital PH Meter for Water, 0.05ph High Accuracy Pen Type PH Tester for Hydroponics, Household Drinking, Pool and Aquarium
  • Application: Ideal for residential or commercial use, water, pool, spas, liquid food, laboratory, aquaculture and hydroponics
  • Easy Calibration: Advanced technology makes the test result fast and accurate; LCD screen makes reading clearly
  • Features: Pocket size, lightweight, backlit function, high quality
Save 24%
Apera Instruments AI311 Premium Series PH60 Waterproof pH Pocket Tester Kit, Replaceable Probe, ±0.01 pH Accuracy
2,321 Reviews
Apera Instruments AI311 Premium Series PH60 Waterproof pH Pocket Tester Kit, Replaceable Probe, ±0.01 pH Accuracy
  • NOTE: A few drops of water are added to the electrode cap before the product leaves the factory. This is to maintain the…
  • Accuracy: 0.01 pH; range: -2.00 to 16.00 pH, 32 to 122˚F (0 to 50˚C); Auto. Power-Off: 8 minutes without operation
  • Easy 1-3 points auto. calibration, recognizes 5 types of solutions (1.68, 4.00, 7.00, 10.01, 12.46); Auto Temp. Compensation (ATC)…
Save 15%
PH Meter, 3-in-1 TDS/PH/Temperature Meter with ATC, 0.01 Resolution High Accuracy, Data Lock Function, LCD Display, Lab Ph Meters
409 Reviews
PH Meter, 3-in-1 TDS/PH/Temperature Meter with ATC, 0.01 Resolution High Accuracy, Data Lock Function, LCD Display, Lab Ph Meters
  • 𝟯-𝙞𝙣-𝟭 𝘿𝙞𝙜𝙞𝙩𝙖𝙡 𝙥𝙃 𝙈𝙚𝙩𝙚𝙧 – pH meter has a three-in-one function, you can…
  • 𝘼𝙘𝙘𝙪𝙧𝙖𝙩𝙚 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙎𝙩𝙖𝙗𝙡𝙚 – pH-meter features a high-sensitivity glass probe for…
  • 𝘼𝙪𝙩𝙤 𝘾𝙖𝙡𝙞𝙗𝙧𝙖𝙩𝙞𝙤𝙣 – Supplied with calibration powders pH 4.00, pH 6.86, pH 9.18. Press…
Spmmmner Digital PH Meter, PH Meter 0.01 High-Precision Pocket Water Quality Tester, PH Range 0-14, Suitable for Accurate Testing of Drinking Water, Aquariums, Swimming Pools, Hydroponics yellow
78 Reviews
Spmmmner Digital PH Meter, PH Meter 0.01 High-Precision Pocket Water Quality Tester, PH Range 0-14, Suitable for Accurate Testing of Drinking Water, Aquariums, Swimming Pools, Hydroponics yellow
  • AUTO CALIBRATION: The PH meter has an auto temprature compensation feature that adjusts to water temperatures and water quality to…
  • FAST AND HIGH ACCURACY: Our Digital PH Meter can ensure your pool, general hydroponics ph or even drinking water has a perfect pH…
  • AUTOMATIC TEMPERATURE COMPENSATION: No more need to take care about the temperature of testing liquid, as ph meter has built in…
Apera Instruments Premium-Series PH60S Food pH Pocket Tester Kit, Swiss Spear pH Electrode, ±0.01 pH Accuracy, -2.00-16.00 pH Range (AI313)
178 Reviews
Apera Instruments Premium-Series PH60S Food pH Pocket Tester Kit, Swiss Spear pH Electrode, ±0.01 pH Accuracy, -2.00-16.00 pH Range (AI313)
  • Swiss spear sensor with Long-life reference system (Replaceable), made for cheese, sushi rice, meat, fruit, milk, yogurt, sauce,…
  • Easy auto. calibration with auto. temperature compensation (ATC)
  • Unique high/low value alarm function, instantly reminding you of any results that need your attention with a red backlight
2 in 1 Temperature pH Monitor Meter Tester Sensor Test Kit 0~14 pH Automatic Calibration BNC Electrode Probe for Hydroponics Aquarium Lab Testing Food Drinking Water pH of Saltwater/seawater
493 Reviews
2 in 1 Temperature pH Monitor Meter Tester Sensor Test Kit 0~14 pH Automatic Calibration BNC Electrode Probe for Hydroponics Aquarium Lab Testing Food Drinking Water pH of Saltwater/seawater
  • [Accurate Test] With a sensitive electrode sensor ph tester with 0-14.0 measuring range could read accurate pH level quickly and…
  • [Automatic Temperature] This PH meter has built-in automatic temperature compensation system (ATC) which can accurately determine…
  • [Simple Calibration] Three kinds of pH buffer powder are included for conditions requiring recalibration, such as long period of…
Save 14%
Apera Instruments, LLC-AI501 PH700 Benchtop Lab pH Meter, 0.01 pH Accuracy, 1-3 Points Auto Calibration, 3-in-1 pH/Temp. Electrode
119 Reviews
Apera Instruments, LLC-AI501 PH700 Benchtop Lab pH Meter, 0.01 pH Accuracy, 1-3 Points Auto Calibration, 3-in-1 pH/Temp. Electrode
  • Equipped with 201T-F 3-in-1 combination pH electrode, Auto temp. Compensation, measuring pH and temperature simultaneously
  • Advanced Auto. calibration mode with calibration guide and self-diagnosis
  • Advanced digital processing technology helps generate quick and Stable readings
Extech PH220-C Waterproof Palm pH Meter with Cabled Electrode
50 Reviews
Extech PH220-C Waterproof Palm pH Meter with Cabled Electrode
  • PH220-C Kit to include ATC pH polycarbonate electrode (12 mm diameter) with 39-Inch (1 meter) cable
  • Large LCD displays pH or mV and Temperature simultaneously
  • Microprocessor provides for Automatic Buffer recognition

Why is it important to monitor your pH in hydroponics?

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Scientists have invariably discovered that the pH of any growing system – whether it is hydroponics or regular soil –plays a crucial role in the growth of your plants. It isn’t as simple as some plants preferring more acidic soils and other plants thriving in more alkaline soils; the pH determines the nutrients that are available for your plants to absorb.

Let’s understand it like this – you know how much effort you put in to make sure that your plants get all the essential nutrients that they require. Unfortunately, it’s of no use if your soil’s pH isn’t appropriate. Your plants will only be able to absorb the nutrients if the pH is within the right range, as demonstrated by your test. Otherwise, you will only end up losing your plants and wasting your time, money, and energy.

The relationship between pH and nutrient availability is rather complicated and beyond the scope of this article. However, the important message here is that you need to realize the importance of pH in hydroponics and the need to monitor it.Plants usually do well with a slightly acidic pH of 5.5 to 6.5.There are plants that have more specific requirements, but it is generally advisable to stick to a pH of around 6.2, often referred to as the “sweet spot”.

There’s also another benefit of keeping your medium slightly acidic – a lot of aquatic algae don’t grow well in acidic environments. Since these algae tend to be harmful for plants, it’s an advantageous situation all around.

How does a pH meter measure pH?

You’ve now understood why monitoring the pH is so essential for your hydroponic garden to thrive. Let’s now understand how a pH meter actually works.

A pH meter works by measuring the concentration of hydrogen ions in the water. It is this concentration that indicates the level of acidity or alkalinity of a solution by calculating the difference of the electrical potential between a test electrode and a reference electrode.

The apparatus essentially consists of a glass electrode (test electrode) which is sensitive to hydrogen ions, and a reference electrode which is inert or stable. By finding out the difference of the electrical potential between the two, the meter determines what the pH of the solution is. With the help of this data, you will be able to adjust the constituents of your solution accordingly.

What is better – manual pH testing or digital pH meters?

In the market, you will come across two different kinds of pH meters – manual and digital. If you happen to be a dedicated user of hydroponics, you probably own a digital pH meter already. However, if you’re just getting started, you should carefully go through the advantages and disadvantages of both manual pH testing and digital pH meters that I have enumerated below.

Manual pH testing

For manual pH testing, you just require a simple kit similar to the water pH kits used to test the pH of water bodies such as swimming pools. Not only are manual pH test kits easy to use, but they’re much less expensive than digital pH meters as well. Since manual test kits don’t require any extensive care, you needn’t worry about it getting broken or corroded over time. Thus, they are a great choice for beginners who are just getting acquainted with hydroponics.

However, you will have to put in a lot of time and effort to work with manual pH test strips or pH fluid. This issue of time management can be an irksome issue for experienced growers, especially when compared to the convenience of a digital pH meter.

Also, there’s the issue of accuracy. Reading pH strips can be a tricky thing to do, especially for people who are color blind. As a result, it can lead to incorrect readings which in turn impact your system negatively.

Digital pH meters

If you plan to do a lot of hydroponic growing in the future, then I highly recommend going for digital pH meters. As long as you take good care of them, they are quite likely to last a lifetime. Moreover, if they are properly calibrated, they tend to be much more accurate than manual pH meters and pH test strips. They’re also quite fast and allow you to perform tests quickly and more frequently. As a result, they are much more efficient than manual pH meters.

Unfortunately, digital pH meters have their disadvantages as well. The most important factor here is the price; high quality digital pH meters tend to be much costlier than manual pH meters. Also, they require much more maintenance than the latter. Unless you take good care of the device, it’ll get damaged sooner or later and you will end up wasting the money you invested in it. For digital pH meters to retain their accuracy, you will have to get them calibrated over and over again.

Save 15%
PH Meter for Water Hydroponics Digital PH Tester Pen 0.01 High Accuracy Pocket Size with 0-14 PH Measurement Range for Household Drinking, Pool and Aquarium (Yellow)
6,160 Reviews
PH Meter for Water Hydroponics Digital PH Tester Pen 0.01 High Accuracy Pocket Size with 0-14 PH Measurement Range for Household Drinking, Pool and Aquarium (Yellow)
  • 【How to use calibration】Press CAL for 5 seconds to enter the calibration mode, press in turn to select the powders…
  • 【Mini Size】The mini size ph meter we designed allows you to easily put it in your pocket, so you can take measurements…
  • 【Family Essentials】As a tool to improve the quality of life. Can be used to test drinking water, swimming pools, PH balance in…
Digital PH Meter, PH Meter 0.01 PH High Accuracy Water Quality Tester with 0-14 PH Measurement Range for Household Drinking, Pool and Aquarium Water PH Tester Design with ATC
79 Reviews
Digital PH Meter, PH Meter 0.01 PH High Accuracy Water Quality Tester with 0-14 PH Measurement Range for Household Drinking, Pool and Aquarium Water PH Tester Design with ATC
  • FAST AND HIGH ACCURACY: Our Digital PH Meter can ensure your pool, general hydroponics ph or even drinking water has a perfect pH…
  • MINI SIZE: The mini size ph meter we designed allows you to easily put it in your pocket, so you can take measurements anytime,…
  • AUTOMATIC TEMPERATURE COMPENSATION: There is no need to care about the temperature of the liquid being measured. The PH meter has…
Digital PH Meter,Backlight PH Meter 0.01 High Accuracy Water Quality Tester,PH Range is 0-14,Suitable for Drinking Water Swimming Pool and Aquarium Water PH Tester Design,with ATC
1,763 Reviews
Digital PH Meter,Backlight PH Meter 0.01 High Accuracy Water Quality Tester,PH Range is 0-14,Suitable for Drinking Water Swimming Pool and Aquarium Water PH Tester Design,with ATC
  • 【Wide use】: Very suitable for home or laboratory use. It is suitable for testing the pH balance of drinking water, swimming…
  • 【LCD backlit display】: PH tester bright backlit LCD display, easy to use no matter in the day and night environment, and…
  • 【Automatic temperature compensation】:The pH meter has built-in (ATC) automatic temperature compensation function, so it no…
VIVOSUN PH Meter Digital PH Tester Pen 0.01 High Accuracy Water Quality Tester with 0-14 PH Measurement Range for Household Drinking, Pool and Aquarium, with ATC, Army Green
199 Reviews
VIVOSUN PH Meter Digital PH Tester Pen 0.01 High Accuracy Water Quality Tester with 0-14 PH Measurement Range for Household Drinking, Pool and Aquarium, with ATC, Army Green
  • High Accuarcy: Tester has a sensitive electrode sensor to read accurate PH levels; the included detailed manual will show you how…
  • Easy to Calibrate: Press CAL for 5 seconds to enter the calibration mode, press in turn to select the powders corresponding to…
  • Easy to Carry: Pocket size, lightweight, handheld design for portability and convenience
Save 29%
Digital pH Meter with ATC pH Tester, 3 in 1 pH TDS Temp 0.01 Resolution High Accuracy Pen Type Tester, Water Tester for Water, Wine, Spas and Aquariums
1,144 Reviews
Digital pH Meter with ATC pH Tester, 3 in 1 pH TDS Temp 0.01 Resolution High Accuracy Pen Type Tester, Water Tester for Water, Wine, Spas and Aquariums
  • 【3-in-1 pH Meter】pH meter has a three-in-one function, which can measure PH, TDS and temperature with high precision at the…
  • 【Automatic Calibration pH Tester】With high sensitive glass probe, you can get a full measurement range of 0-14pH, 0.01 pH…
  • 【High Accuracy Water Tester】High-accuracy algorithm chip and electrode of our digital water ph tester ensure accurate and fast…
Save 18%
VIVOSUN Digital PH Meter for Water, 0.05ph High Accuracy Pen Type PH Tester for Hydroponics, Household Drinking, Pool and Aquarium
5,670 Reviews
VIVOSUN Digital PH Meter for Water, 0.05ph High Accuracy Pen Type PH Tester for Hydroponics, Household Drinking, Pool and Aquarium
  • Application: Ideal for residential or commercial use, water, pool, spas, liquid food, laboratory, aquaculture and hydroponics
  • Easy Calibration: Advanced technology makes the test result fast and accurate; LCD screen makes reading clearly
  • Features: Pocket size, lightweight, backlit function, high quality
Save 20%
Bluelab PENPH pH Pen, Digital Meter for Water with Easy Two Point Calibration and Double Junction Probe Test Kit for Hydroponic System and Indoor Plant Grow, White
3,557 Reviews
Bluelab PENPH pH Pen, Digital Meter for Water with Easy Two Point Calibration and Double Junction Probe Test Kit for Hydroponic System and Indoor Plant Grow, White
  • Measures pH in nutrient solution (acid or alkaline) for precise up and down adjustment with lab quality glass probe; General uses…
  • This hydroponics tester has ATC that provides consistent reading regardless of any fluctuations in temperature; Calibration…
  • Double junction electrode has a longer lifespan compared to standard probes due to less contamination and is more accurate and…
pH Meter, Dr.meter Upgraded 0.01 Resolution High Accuracy pH Tester with Backlit Two-Color LCD Display and ATC, 0-14pH Measurement Range with Data Hold Function Digital pH Tester Pen-PH838
2,108 Reviews
pH Meter, Dr.meter Upgraded 0.01 Resolution High Accuracy pH Tester with Backlit Two-Color LCD Display and ATC, 0-14pH Measurement Range with Data Hold Function Digital pH Tester Pen-PH838
  • ▶ 【Notification】Calibrate once per week if you often test solution of PH 10, or once per half month for neutral solutions….
  • ▶ 【Automatic Calibration】 We make your job faster and easier than ever with this convenient PH tester! With the 3-point…
  • ▶ 【Automatic Temperature Compensation】 Temperature can affect reading levels, our PH meter’s automatic temperature…
PH Meter, PH Tester Digital PH Meter for Water Test Pen 0.01 High Accuracy Pocket Size with 0-14 PH Measurement Range Water Meter for Hydroponics Drinking Water Swimming Pool
2,074 Reviews
PH Meter, PH Tester Digital PH Meter for Water Test Pen 0.01 High Accuracy Pocket Size with 0-14 PH Measurement Range Water Meter for Hydroponics Drinking Water Swimming Pool
  • [ 𝗛𝗶𝗴𝗵 𝗔𝗰𝗰𝘂𝗿𝗮𝗰𝘆 ] PH meter for water has high precision pH accuracy, which can test quickly…
  • [ 𝗘𝗮𝘀𝘆 𝘁𝗼 𝗖𝗮𝗹𝗶𝗯𝗿𝗮𝘁𝗲 & 𝗨𝘀𝗲 ] Press CAL for 5 seconds to enter the calibration…
  • [ 𝗪𝗶𝗱𝗲 𝗔𝗽𝗽𝗹𝗶𝗰𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻𝘀 ] General-purpose pH tester, professionally used for pH test…

How to calibrate a pH meter?

If you end up purchasing a digital pH meter like most gardeners do, you must know how to calibrate it as well. It is not very different from tuning a musical instrument to the right key; without it, the entire musical composition will sound jarring.

Before you start out, you will require a buffer solution. In case you don’t know, a buffer solution is essentially a laboratory certified standard reference point for your pH meter. Although these solutions are generally liquid, you can purchase them in powdered form and mix them with water if required.

After your buffer solution is ready, you can calibrate your pH meter using the steps given below:1. Immerse your pH meter in the buffer solution. This will help you get accurate readings.2. According to the instructions provided by the manufacturer, adjust the reading on your meter to match that of the buffer solution. Note that these instructions can differ for analog and digital meters.3. If you want even more accuracy, repeat the process in an additional buffer solution of a different pH.4. If you use the pH meter regularly, try to calibrate it once a week or at least once a month.5. Make sure you always calibrate your pH meter after replacing a sensor for accurate readings.6. Lastly, don’t forget to read the instructions that come with your pH meter before calibrating it. If the steps happen to be different, you will have to change the procedure accordingly.

How to care for your pH meter?

Unless you take good care of your pH meter, calibrating it will be of no use whatsoever. The most important thing to do in this regard is to carefully read the instruction booklet that comes with your device, no matter how boring it is. With the help of these tips from the manufacturer, you will learn how to care well for your pH meter. If the device didn’t come with a manual, call the manufacturer and enquire about the instructions.

You will find some of the basic things to be done for every pH meter below:

  • Read the instructions properly.
  • Keep the device calibrated.
  • Store the device with storage solutions in the cap upright for optimal saturation.
  • Swirl the device lightly in the storage solution to get rid of air bubbles.
  • Avoid touching the sensor electrode and reference cell, because they can be damaged by skin oils. That, in turn, will negatively affect the readings.
  • Avoid storing the sensor in distilled water.
  • Store the device away from intense heat and humidity.
  • Finally, remember to always handle the pH meter with care.

Conclusion

Hydroponics gardening is a wonderful hobby, and a pH meter will help you get an even better experience with it. I hope this article helps you learn all the important facts about pH meters.

Last update on 2022-08-26 using Amazon Product Advertising API

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