Measuring the pH of your nutrient solutions is one of the more common tasks of hydroponic gardening. Though there are a few different ways to measure the pH of your hydroponic nutrient solution, the easiest and quickest is by using an electronic pH meter. There are several pH meters on the market are various prices and offering different features.
Here’s how to choose the best hydroponic pH meter for hydroponic gardening and some different meters I would recommend.
How To Choose The Best pH Meter For Hobby Hydroponic Gardening
If your nutrient solution isn’t in the correct range your plants will not be able to take in the nutrients from the water. Since pH is so vital, it’s something that should be don’t every other day or so if not every day. With that being said you want to make the process as quick and accurate as possible.
It may seem like pH meter is a pH meter, but all is not the same. It’s important to take a few things into account before making your purchase. Here are a few things to consider when choosing the best pH meter for your setup.
Cost, Reliability, & Maintenance
Starting a hydroponic garden can involve more of a startup cost than traditional gardening. If you’re on a tight budget this may mean you may have to save on some products to afford others.
Any of the pH meters are going to work and be pretty accurate for hydroponics. Spending more money usually gets you a meter that will last longer, is more accurate, and could require less calibration time.
Here are my top pH meters for hobby hydroponic gardening.
Vivosun pH Meter
This was the first type of pH meter that I started with when I began hobby hydroponics. It’s nothing fancy, it only measures pH and is pretty accurate with frequent calibrations.
The Vivosun pH meter comes in a hard case with a couple of packets of pH buffer and a screwdriver for calibration.
The main pro of this pH meter is its price. If you’re looking for the cheapest option to measuring only the pH of your hydroponic nutrient solution, then this meter is for you. It’s a great option for those experimenting with hydroponics to see if the hobby really interests you.
Apera Instruments PH20
Next up is a real quality ph meter by Apera. This pocket-sized pH meter also measures the temperature of your nutrient solutions.
As opposed to the cheaper pH meter this Apera pH meter is waterproof and also floats, so you don’t have to worry if it accidentally drops into your nutrient solutions. This pH meter can have 2000 hours of continuous operation before needing a battery change. It’s powered by 3 AAA batteries as opposed to the coin cell batteries the cheaper pH meters use.
This pH meter has 1-3 point one-button calibration with auto buffer recognition. It comes with a nice carrying case, calibrations solutions, as well as a lanyard.
Apera Instruments AI311 Premium Series
The step up from the Apera PH20 is the AI311 Premium Series pH meter. This hydroponic pH meter offers the same great features as the lower model but with a few extras.
This model pH meter offers a multi-color backlit display indicating different modes. Blue for measurement, green for calibration and turns red for out of range readings. It can also run 20000 hours on one set of batteries and offers an auto-off feature after 8 minutes saves your battery life.
One of the best features of the premium series is its replaceable glass probe. Even with more expensive pH meters, probes only last so long. Being able to replace the probe is a big plus.
Bluelab is one of the top names when it comes to hydroponic testing equipment. The Bluelab PENPH is definitely what I would recommend for those that are truly serious about hydroponic gardening.
This pH pen is waterproof and measures both pH and temperature. The backlit display is always easy to read and the meter has an auto-off function which is nice because for some reason I always forget to turn off my meters. This meter also has a low battery indicator.
Another cool feature of the Buelab PENPH is the 30-day calibration indicator that reminds you when it’s time to calibrate it.
This meter comes with AAA batteries, calibration solutions, and a handy lanyard that fits around your wrist.
Bluelab METCOM Combo Meter
The Bluelab METCOM Combo Meter is a top of the line pH meter combo. If you think of your hydroponic gardens as than more than just a hobby, then this is the meter for you.
In addition to testing the pH and temperature of your hydroponic nutrient solution, it also measures EC (CF, PPM 500, or PPM700). It’s simple 3 button selection and large easy to read backlit display make measuring your nutrient solution quick and painless. Calibration reminders and the low battery indicator make the meter easy to maintain.
The pH probe is easily replaceable when needed and the meter itself comes with a 5-year limited warranty. This is definitely a very high-quality meter.
Considering both how important pH is to your hydroponic garden and how often you’ll need to measure it, purchasing a good pH meter is definitely worth the cost. While we all typically start off with the cheaper hydroponic pH meters when we learn the hobby.
As you continue your hobby hydroponic gardening I think you’ll see the cost-benefit of spending the extra money for one of the more quality pH meters.