The 10 Best Refractometers

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This wiki has been updated 30 times since it was first published in September of 2015. Aquarium owners, brewers, and beekeepers know how important accurate testing tools are, which is exactly what we have here. These refractometers will help you measure the salinity and specific gravity of tank water, the sugar content of a brew before fermentation, or the amount of water in honey. We have included industrial-quality and budget-friendly models to suit every need. When users buy our independently chosen editorial choices, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.

1. Sper Scientific 300003C

2. Ade Advanced Optics BCBI9177

3. Atago 3810 PAL-1

Editor's Notes

September 05, 2019:

Refractometers have a variety of uses, but individual units are more limited. For example, one that is intended for testing the moisture content of honey, won't be able to be used for checking the salinity of aquarium water. Because of this, it is important that you buy a model specifically intended for your needs.

The Sper Scientific 300003C is the most versatile model on our list and has a very high Brix range of 0 to 80%. This makes it a good choice for testing liquids with an unknown sugar content, whether that be wort, jams and jellies, or even industrial cutting oils. The Atago 3810 PAL-1 is another versatile model, with a Brix range of 0 to 53%. This unit has the added bonus of being digital, taking all the guesswork out of readings.

Those looking specifically to measure the moisture content of honey, molasses, or maple syrup can look to the Atago 4422 PAL-22S and Aichose SR0016. The former is a lab-quality model suitable for commercial use, and the latter is a budget-friendly option that is good for the casual hobbyist.

For testing aquarium salinity, or that of ocean water, we have the Misco AQUAR-H2O, Milwaukee MA887, and Ade Advanced Optics SSA0010. The Ade Advanced Optics SSA0010 is affordable, but suffers from a low-quality build, so its longevity is questionable, though its accuracy is not. On the other hand, the Misco AQUAR-H2O and Milwaukee MA887 are both extremely well-made. They are also both digital and capable of multiple measurements.

The Vee Gee BTX-1 and Ade Advanced Optics BCBI9177 have a 0 to 32 percent Brix range, which makes them ideal for testing wort, so if you are setting up your home brew kit, these will be your best two options.

Special Honors

Laxco Digital Benchtop A lab-quality unit, the Laxco Digital utilizes a premium CMOS sensor to ensure you get accurate and consistent measurements. Its testing surface is made from sapphire, which is harder than glass and more resistant to scratches, and it can be switched between Celsius and Fahrenheit as needed. Additionally, it offers Bluetooth connectivity to export and track data.

Vee Gee Abbe Model C10 The Model C10 can be used to test the refractive index of liquids, glass, plastic, and film. It is a benchtop model that provides a digital analysis and readout of prism temperature, and can be connected to an external circulator to control that temperature as needed. It features a color compensator dial and features a stainless steel housing over the vital components to ensure a long service life.

4. Atago 4422 PAL-22S

5. Vee Gee BTX-1

6. Misco AQUAR-H2O

7. Milwaukee MA887

8. Extech RF40

9. Ade Advanced Optics SSA0010

10. Aichose SR0016

Brett Dvoretz
Last updated by Brett Dvoretz

A wandering writer who spends as much time on the road as in front of a laptop screen, Brett can either be found hacking away furiously 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 has been a professional chef, a dog trainer, and a travel correspondent for a well-known Southeast Asian guidebook. He also holds a business degree and has spent more time than he cares to admit in boring office jobs. He has an odd obsession for playing with the latest gadgets and working on motorcycles and old Jeeps. His expertise, honed over years of experience, is in the areas of computers, electronics, travel gear, pet products, and kitchen, office and automotive equipment.

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