The 10 Best pH Testers

Updated January 01, 2018 by Brett Dvoretz

10 Best pH Testers
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 37 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top picks for this wiki. Knowing the pH levels of your water is vital to getting the results you are looking for. These testers have a vast range of applications, from agriculture to gardening to pool maintenance to food quality. Our selection of meters includes something for most possible uses at a range of price points from economical to professional. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best ph tester on Amazon.

10. Dr. Meter pH100

The Dr. Meter pH100 is engineered for lab quality readings, and offers a wide range of pH testing levels, all the way up to 14.0. It can be used to test any liquid, no matter the viscosity or acid levels, and provides accurate results within ±0.01 pH.
  • comes with 6 calibration packets
  • housing isn't waterproof
  • readings take a while to stabilize
Brand Dr.meter
Model pending
Weight 8.8 ounces
Rating 5.0 / 5.0

9. Diliss 001

The Diliss 001 has a very sensitive electrode that takes readings quickly and accurately, so you can go about your business without wasting any time. It is small enough to fit in a pocket and comes with a mini screwdriver for calibration.
  • can be used for beer making
  • well-placed on-off switch
  • needs to be calibrated before use
Model PH-001-Diliss
Weight 2.4 ounces
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

8. Covery 3-in-1

The Covery 3-in-1 is designed for use in soil, so if you have potted plants or want to test your backyard dirt, this is the model for you. It also comes in at a nice low price, making it ideal for the average consumer who just needs a basic understanding of their levels.
  • measures soil sunlight intensity
  • doesn't require any batteries
  • probe can bend easily
Model pending
Weight 2.4 ounces
Rating 3.7 / 5.0

7. Apera SX610

The Apera SX610 has a low power indicator and a very thin probe that can fit inside test tubes, so you can use it in laboratory settings and rest easy that your measurements are always accurate. For added convenience, it will float if dropped in water.
  • auto compensates for temperature
  • simple one-button operation
  • displays in f or c
Brand Apera Instruments, LLC
Model AI221
Weight 7.2 ounces
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

6. Apera Instruments AI209

The Apera Instruments AI209 is accurate in temperatures from 32 to 122 degrees Fahrenheit, so you can use it in most conditions. The included carrying case is quite durable and does a good job of protecting it as you transport the unit from testing site to testing site.
  • completely waterproof and dustproof
  • high-contrast display
  • runs 200 hours per set of batteries
Brand Apera Instruments, LLC
Model AI209
Weight 1 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

5. 7Pros pH Pen

With just two buttons to worry about, an on-off button and a calibration button, the 7Pros pH Pen is extremely easy to use for beginners, but accurate enough for experienced growers. It also makes a great pool water tester for homeowners.
  • consistent results test after test
  • arrives factory calibrated
  • results appear in seconds
Brand 7Pros
Model pending
Weight 3.2 ounces
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

4. HM Digital pH-80

The HM Digital pH-80 has one-touch auto calibration, so you don't have to hunt for a screwdriver when it is time to zero in the accuracy. It also gives a temperature reading while testing pH levels, so you can stay on top of every aspect of your growing environment.
  • water-resistant housing
  • low battery indicator
  • includes a ph buffer pack
Brand HM Digital
Model PH-80
Weight 3.2 ounces
Rating 5.0 / 5.0

3. Bluelab Combo

The Bluelab Combo may be overkill for home use, but is invaluable in commercial settings. It has a replaceable dual-junction probe and measures every important water variable for plant growth and seed germination. An auto-off feature ensures you don't waste the batteries.
  • lets you know when to calibrate it
  • long probe cables
  • includes detailed instructions
Brand Bluelab
Model 716441
Weight 1.1 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

2. Risantec Digital

The Risantec Digital can be used with one hand for quick and convenient readings, while you use the other hand to move covers and other things out of the way. It's low-priced, making it a good choice for kids' science projects, too.
  • 100-percent satisfaction guarantee
  • detailed calibration instructions
  • plastic carrying case
Brand Risantec
Model PH-02
Weight 0.3 ounces
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

1. Apera Instruments PC60

The Apera Instruments PC60 is a lab-quality five-in-one device that can test pH, TDS, salinity, conductivity, and temperature, making it suitable for almost any application. Its probe is replaceable, so you don't need to buy a new tester if it is ever damaged.
  • can auto hold stable readings
  • three backlighting colors
  • displays two measurements at once
Brand Apera Instruments, LLC
Model AI316
Weight 1.6 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

What Exactly Is pH And How Is It Measured?

pH is a measurement of the relative amount of hydroxyl and free hydrogen molecules in a liquid. Liquids with higher levels of hydroxyl are considered basic or alkaline, while a liquid that has a higher level of free hydrogen ions is considered acidic. Pure water at 25 degrees Celsius has a pH of 7.0 and is considered neutral. This means it has an equal amount of hydroxyl and free hydrogen atoms. All other measurements are based against the 7.0 neutral standard. Acids and bases can be used to counteract each other in a liquid until a neutral balance is achieved.

The pH scale ranges from 0.0 to 14.0. The lower the measurement, the more acidic a solution, and the higher the measurement, the more alkaline. A measurement of 6.0, would be considered slightly acidic, while a measurement of 2.0 would be considered extremely acidic. The best way of comparing acid in a solution is by finding out "how many times as acidic" one liquid is versus the other. The easiest way to do this is by using a logarithm. The pH scale is based on a logarithm that gives us a standard for how many times as acidic a solution is against neutral. Each 1 point step up means a liquid is 10 times more alkaline, and each 1 point step down means a liquid is 10 times more acidic.

Temperature can also play a role in pH measurements. At warmer temperatures, a neutral pH will be lower than 7.0. This is because the forward reaction of the autodissociation of water is endothermically favored and the rate of ionization in water increases at warmer temperatures. The increased rate of ionization increases the concentration of hydrogen atoms, which decreases the pH level. This means that at 40 degrees Celsius, a neutral pH level would be 6.77 instead of 7.0.

The Importance Of pH

Whether we are looking at pH levels in relation to plant growth or upkeeping an aquarium, the optimal level can be the difference between success or failure.

In agricultural applications, pH levels will affect everything from root development and the availability of usable nutrients in a growing medium to the prevention of fungi growth and plant disease. While many plants can survive in a variety of conditions and some plants may thrive in more acidic or more basic soils, the majority of plants prefer a neutral to slightly acidic growing medium. The ideal range for most plants is between 6.0 and 6.5. When growing mediums are highly acidic, manganese and and aluminum levels can become toxic to a plant. At levels of 7.0 or higher, minerals like magnesium, phosphorus and calcium can become unavailable.

In aquariums, maintaining the proper pH range can help your fish thrive. If you have a saltwater aquarium, a slightly alkaline water in the 8.1 to 8.4 range can offer your fish a natural antiseptic effect and help them resist bacteria and illnesses. It can also slow down the rate at which coral calcifies. Observing changes in your water's pH can even give you an early warning sign that your marine environment is undergoing other dangerous changes.

Common Methods For Measuring pH

There are three main methods for measuring the pH of a solution: the hydrogen paper method, the colorimetric method, and the electrode method.

The hydrogen paper method relies on special type of test paper called litmus paper. Litmus paper is a simple filter paper that has been treated with a mixture of natural dyes derived from a variety of lichens. These dyes change color in response to exposure to acidic and basic solutions, typically red when exposed to acid and blue when exposed to a base. The hydrogen paper method is the oldest form of testing pH levels and litmus has been used as far back as 1300 AD. Unfortunately, while it can tell us if a solution is acidic or basic, it doesn't give us a precise numerical measurement.

The colorimetric method is similar to the hydrogen paper method as it uses the natural color changing reaction of chemicals when exposed to acids and bases to determine pH levels. In this case, indicator reagents like phenol red and bromthymol blue are used to produce the color. Instead of dipping a piece of paper into the solution and having the paper change color as with the hydrogen paper method, these indicator reagents are dropped into a small sampling of the liquid to be measured, and the sample changes color. It is slightly more precise than the hydrogen paper method as the liquid's color and intensity can be compared to a color graph to obtain a numerical pH level.

Currently the most common and most accurate way for measuring pH in home and laboratory settings is the electrode method. This method makes use of a probe and a meter, which must be calibrated before use in a pH buffer solution. The meter measures minuscule voltage differences between a reference electrode and the measuring electrode, and then converts these measurements into a numerical pH reading.

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Last updated on January 01, 2018 by Brett Dvoretz

A wandering writer who spends as much time on the road as behind the computer screen, Brett can either be found hacking furiously away at the keyboard or perhaps enjoying a whiskey and coke on some exotic beach, sometimes both simultaneously, usually with a four-legged companion by his side. He hopes to one day become a modern day renaissance man.

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