The 10 Best pH Testers

Updated November 30, 2017 by Brett Dvoretz

10 Best pH Testers
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
These pH testers have a vast range of applications, from agriculture to gardening to pool maintenance and food quality testing. 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 S30

The Dr. Meter S30 is designed for use in drier applications, like when you want to measure soil or sand pH. It also offers multiple other readings, like moisture levels and environment sunlight intensity of soil, so you can ensure your plants are well cared for.
  • doesn't require any batteries
  • long probe for a deep reach
  • probe can bend easily
Brand Dr.Meter
Model S20
Weight 8 ounces
Rating 3.6 / 5.0

9. CoZroom Pocket Meter

The CoZroom Pocket Meter has a bright backlit LCD screen, so you can test your levels during night cycles without disturbing plants. It's also smartly built, with a well placed on/off switch located on the top that you won't accidentally hit while using it.
  • affordable and accurate
  • great for spas and aquariums too
  • doesn't come calibrated
Brand CoZroom
Model pending
Weight 2.4 ounces
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

8. HDE Grower's Toolbox

The HDE Grower's Toolbox is an affordable way to get a a TDS meter and pH tester in two separate dedicated devices. While they do start off accurate, they tend to need calibration more often than many of the higher end models.
  • easy to use for non-techie people
  • require a screwdriver to calibrate
  • doesn't include calibration fluid
Brand HDE
Model pending
Weight 6.4 ounces
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

7. MoonCity PH90

Whether you are looking for a pH tester for your hydroponic garden, your pool, or your pond, the MoonCity PH90 fits the bill and doesn't cost an arm and a leg. It also comes with detailed instructions, just in case you've never used a digital pH tester before.
  • digital auto calibration
  • backed by a 12-month warranty
  • doesn't measure tds
Brand MoonCity
Model PH90
Weight 3.2 ounces
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

6. HM Digital TDS-EZ

You'll be hard pressed to find an accurate pH tester that also tests total dissolved solids in a similar price range as the HM Digital TDS-EZ. It uses an advanced microprocessor to ensure consistent readings and it displays them nearly instantaneously.
  • auto-off feature
  • large easy to see lcd screen
  • measures tds in 1ppm increments
Brand HM Digital
Model TDS-EZ
Weight 2.4 ounces
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

5. 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
  • includes a plastic carrying case
Brand Risantec
Model PH-02
Weight 0.3 ounces
Rating 4.1 / 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 4.4 / 5.0

3. 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.
  • auto temperature compensation
  • comes with 6 calibration packets
  • measures temperature too
Brand Dr.Meter
Model pending
Weight 8.8 ounces
Rating 5.0 / 5.0

2. 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

1. Oakton EcoTestr

The Oakton EcoTestr is a durable, pocket-sized tester that is dust and waterproof to prevent misreadings from contamination. It has simple push button calibration, and a cap to keep the test kit safe and moist at all times.
  • floats if dropped in water
  • hold function to freeze readings
  • large single-line lcd screen
Brand Oakton
Model WD-35423-10
Weight 4.8 ounces
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 November 30, 2017 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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