The most common task in hydroponic gardening is measuring the pH level of nutrient solutions and water quality. Failure to keep track of these details leads to weak plants. A pH meter helps you to keep track of the plant germination and the growth process.
Your hydroponic plants require minerals and adequate temperature levels for healthy growth. This device can assist you in examining the pH levels and temperature. Therefore, purchase the best pH meter for hydroponics to check the values.
Table of Contents
- Comparison Table
- The Importance of Monitoring the pH levels
- The Best pH Meter for Hydroponics
- How to Measure pH Using pH Meter?
- How to Find Suitable pH Meters for Hydroponics
- How to Calibrate a pH Meter
- How to Maintain the Accurate pH Levels in Hydroponics?
- How to Care for pH Meter
- Tips for Correct pH Testing
Bluelab pH Pen Pocket Tester for Plant Germination
| - Brand: Bluelab|
- Package Dimensions: 8 x 2.16 x 0.98 inches
- Item Weight: 4.3 ounces
- Accuracy: 0.1 EC, 1 CF, 50 PPM (PPM 500 TDS), 70 PPM (PPM 700), 1°C/2°F
- Parameters measured: Conductivity/EC, temperature
- Backlit LCD screen
- Power supply: 1 x AAA alkaline battery
- Popular for: Hydroponic nutrient density measuring
|Check Latest Price|
Apera (AI311) Premium pH Test Kit
| - Brand: Apera Instruments, LLC|
- Product Dimensions: 7 x 1.6 x 1.6 inches
- Item Weight: 4.62 Ounces
- Material: Polycarbonate (PC) , Glass
- 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
- 1 to 3 points auto. calibration with a choice of 5 pH buffers (1.68, 4.00, 7.00, 10.01, 12.45)
|Check Latest Price|
Membrane Solutions pH Meter Kit
| - Brand: Membrane Solutions|
- Package Dimensions: 6.29 x 2.38 x 1.89 inches
- Item Weight: 7.83 Ounces
- Color: PH meter & TDS meter
- PH meter features:
+ Measuring range: pH 0.00-14.00
+ Resolution: 0.01 pH
+ Accuracy：±0.01 pH
+ ATC Function: 32-140℉/0-60℃
+ Battery: 2 x 1.5 V (LR44 Button cell)
+ Weight.: 1.70 oz, Size: 6.1-inch*1.2-inch*0.7-inch
- TDS meter feature:
+ Dimensions: 2.08 inch* 1.18 inch*0.55inch, Weight: 1.94 ounce
+ Battery: 1 x 3 V (Cr2032 Button cell)
+ Conductivity: 0-9999 us/cm, TDS: 0-9999 ppm
+ Degrees Celsius: 0.1-80.0℃, Degrees Fahrenheit: 32.0-176.0℉
- Water pH Value: 6.5-7.5; TDS value below 50
- Auto Temp Compensation
- Auto shut-down
|Check Latest Price|
Apera (AI209) pH Tester
| - Brand: Apera Instruments, LLC|
- Item Dimensions LxWxH: 7.01 x 1.61 x 1.18 inches
- Item Weight: 3.9 Ounces
- Accuracy: ±0.1 pH
- Measuring Parameter(s): pH, temp.
- Calibration Points: 4.00, 7.00, 10.01
- Probe Type: Regular glass bulb
- Auto. recognition and reminder (a smiley face) of stable readings
- Up to 2000 hours' operation powered by AAA alkaline batteries
- Measuring Range: 0 to 14. 0 pH
- Up to 3 points of Auto. calibration and 0 to 50˚C Auto temperature compensation (ATC)
- Low battery alarm; Auto. power off if no operation for 8 minutes
- Supports switch of pH standard series (USA or NIST) and temperature unit (˚F or ˚C)
|Check Latest Price|
Vivosun pH Meter
| - Brand: VIVOSUN|
- Item Dimensions LxWxH: 7.9 x 2.8 x 3.8 inches
- Item Weight: 11.2 ounces
- Full measurement range: 0-14 pH
- 3-in-1 TDS meter: Measurement Range 0-9990ppm, 0-9990µs/cm
- Accuracy: ± 2%, 0.1- 80.0°C, 32.0-176.0°F
- Design for testing soil ONLY. Do not be used to test pure water or other liquid
|Check Latest Price|
The Importance of Monitoring the pH levels
Monitoring the pH of the hydroponic system plays a significant role in the growth of your plants. It determines the availability of nutrients for your plants. A high alkaline can inhibit the plants from absorbing required nutrients, resulting in deficiencies.
The deficiency of iron in plants results in yellow or pale leaves, while calcium deficiency causes tip burn and leaf cupping. Calcium can form salts leading to white deposits on hydroponic reservoir walls. Plants grown hydroponically require various pH levels than those grown in soil.
Without using soil in the hydroponic system, plants cannot benefit from organic matter, essential microorganisms, and proper interaction between minerals and water regulating the pH level. Most plants grown hydroponically do well with a pH range of 5.5 to 6.5.
Therefore, the gardener should adjust the pH levels regularly. Ensure you apply its recommendations for hydroponically grown plants. You should also keep your hydroponic system slightly acidic to eliminate waterborne algae.
The Best pH Meter for Hydroponics
Choosing the best pH meter is very hectic. There are several of them in the market, but few are accurate and reliable. Not all of them can provide you with appropriate results. Therefore, to ensure you are buying the best meter, check the listed products below:
1. Bluelab pH Pen Pocket Tester for Plant Germination
The Bluelab PENPH can help you determine the pH levels, which is significant in measuring the mineral condition. This is because plants obtain their nutrition from minerals. The Bluelab is a famous brand for manufacturing different types of pH meters.
The most popular pH product is the PENPH. It measures pH conditions for both alkaline and acid solutions. It has easy two-point calibration and automatic temperature compensation (ATC) hence making it useful. It has a backlit LCD light display and calibration.
The double junction probe enhances reliability, accuracy, and lifespan. It is more accurate than other test strips and pH testing techniques. It has a one-year customer warranty.
2. Apera (AI311) Premium pH Test Kit
Apera pH meter has several incredible features. This device can give you accurate readings up to 0.01 ph. It has an auto temperature compensation for about 0 to 50 degrees Celsius. It has a replaceable glass probe to test different kinds of solutions without compromising their accuracy.
This device has an LCD light display, dual pH displays, and calibration reminders that enable you to use it in low conditions. A stable smiley icon is displayed when measuring any solution and when the reading becomes accurate and stable.
3. Membrane Solutions pH Meter Kit
Membrane Solutions is widely used in residential and commercials to test the water, hydroponic, and other solutions. It has a measuring range of 0-14 pH levels. This device is lightweight; thus, it is portable with a weight of 2 ounces.
Both TDS tester and pH meter have automatic temperature compensation (ATC) function. This device gives quick results because the TDS tester has a sensitive temperature tester and the meter has an electrode sensor.
It goes off automatically with 5 minutes of non-use to prolong battery life. The hold function in the TDS pen gives you convenient recording and reading.
4. Apera (AI209) pH Tester
This is one of the best pH meters for hydroponics manufactured by Apera Instruments. Its battery has a long lifespan that can last for about 2000 hours. It has a self-diagnosis option that gives an automatic alarm in case of the wrong calibration.
This device can adjust the temperature automatically, thus enabling you to get accurate readings. A highly sensitive glass bulb allows quick responses; therefore, it makes your tasks much easier. It has a probe cleaning brush to cleanse the probe, thus preventing contamination and providing accurate readings.
It comes with a callbox for keeping your device and measuring components. The calibration kit also comes with about 8 oz. solutions to calibrate the device for precise readings.
5. Vivosun pH Meter
This device measures pH level and provides accurate readings with regular calibrations. It comes in a hard case with a screwdriver and various packets of pH buffers to enhance calibration. The full range of this pH meter is from 0-14, which is highly reliable and quick.
It has a 3-in-1 TDS meter. It tests soil pH and moisture using a plant moisture sensor meter. This tester is suitable for experimenting with hydroponics.
How to Measure pH Using pH Meter?
The main function of the pH meter is to regulate the concentration of hydrogen-ion of water. The concentration is an indication that the solution can either be acidic or alkaline. This can be determined by the difference in electrical potential between the test and reference electrode.
pH meter is a glass electrode which is highly sensitive to hydrogen ions and a stable reference electrode. An acidic solution has positively charged hydrogen ions than an alkaline solution. Therefore, it can produce massive voltage.
So, the pH meter works like a voltmeter; it measures the electrical potential (voltage) in the solution to determine its acidity. It is then compared with the voltage produced by the known solution.
The difference between the two solutions is known as the potential difference used to calculate the pH level. This enables you to adjust your solution appropriately.
How to Find Suitable pH Meters for Hydroponics
All meters have the same objective of identifying and revealing the pH levels. But, they provide you with different functionalities. Therefore, it is imperative to consider a few factors when purchasing the best one:
- Accuracy: All the meters reviewed are highly accurate, but they have a different precision level. Some can be accurate down to 1/10th unit while others can manage up to 1/100th unit. Therefore, you can narrow down your choices depending on your desired level of accuracy.
- Price range: What is your pH meter price range? This question can help you narrow down your choices. Their price range always varies. Therefore, consider the amount you want to spend before acquiring your preferred device.
- Mobility and convenience: You can have the most accurate device, but it might be irritating when you have to reinstall and uninstall every time you move to a different hydroponic site. Consequently, a handheld pH meter unit cannot measure the entire hydroponic system. Therefore, you buy a reliable, convenient, and mobile pH meter.
- Maintenance of temperature and pH levels: You should purchase a device that can maintain your hydroponic system and adjust the temperature automatically. So check for a pH meter to manage your system and maintain both the pH and temperature levels.
How to Calibrate a pH Meter
If you decide to use digital pH meters, you should know how to calibrate them. Before you begin the calibration process, you need to have a buffer solution. What is a buffer solution? It is a laboratory-certified standard reference point for a pH meter.
Most of the buffer solutions are in liquid form. Once you have acquired it, follow the steps below to calibrate your device:
- Put your meter in a buffer solution to get the correct readings.
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and adjust the pH meter readings to match with that of the buffer solution.
- If necessary, repeat the process in an extra buffer solution with different pH for high accuracy level.
- If you are using your pH meter frequently, calibrate it at least once a week or twice during the month.
- Calibrate it regularly if you are replacing a sensor for correct readings.
- pH meters always come with the manufacturer’s instructions. Always read them carefully before you calibrate them.
How to Maintain the Accurate pH Levels in Hydroponics?
Testing is the initial step of maintaining correct pH levels in your hydroponics. You can use test strips and liquid test kits because they are quite cheap. But digital pH meters are the most accurate, and they give you repeatable readings.
Test the pH level of your hydroponic plants regularly with your preferred testing equipment. Regulate the level according to your test results from the supply reservoir using a growing recirculating system. It changes when the nutrient solution moves out from the supply reservoir through a growing base.
Therefore, you should adjust your pH levels depending on the pH of leachate. You can also maintain the right levels using commercially prepared pH products. You can buy them in both liquid and powder form and use them according to the instructions.
Apart from the pH meters, you can use automatic pH controllers to keep the level consistent. This system works best in the hydroponic system to prevent pH deterioration when feeding your plants.
In case you are using hard water, the buffering effect on minerals increases the pH levels. Therefore, to reduce water’s hardness, use a reverse osmosis technique because it is quite efficient and affordable.
How to Care for pH Meter
The first thing to do after purchasing your meter is to go through the user manual carefully. The manual tells you how you can care for it. You should know the following things after acquiring your device:
- Carefully read the user manual.
- Use the storage solutions to store your meter in a cap in an upright position to reach optimum saturation.
- Never use distilled water to store your sensor.
- Swirl your device in a storage solution to eliminate air bubbles.
- Never touch the reference cell or sensor electrode with oil to avoid damaging the sensor and readings.
Tips for Correct pH Testing
Hydroponic plants are sensitive to pH conditions. To get optimum results, the plants should get the correct pH level. So, how do you know you are doing it right when it comes to pH testing? The tips below ensure that your testing is highly accurate:
- Choose the right meter for the testing: pH testing is important in hydroponic gardening. The meters used are digital and can give you dependable readings, and most of them affordable.
- Acquire the right electrode: Electrode is the sensor and comes in contact with the growing solution. It is made of glass and ensures the one you choose is the most reliable for testing your plant’s growing conditions.
- Know the pH level for the types of hydroponic plants you are growing: Hydroponics enable gardeners to determine the readings to create optimal conditions for the plants. Therefore, carefully research suitable levels for your plants.
- Keep your electrode clean: Never wipe your electrodes because it can alter the charge sensor, instead rinse it in filtered water. Store them appropriately between uses. Don’t touch the glass bulb with oily fingers.
It is a challenge to run a hydroponic system; therefore, consider the factors mentioned above to build and maintain the system. The best pH meter for hydroponics reviewed above can help determine the amount of water and nutrient solution needed by your plant. The good thing about the hydroponic system is that you can monitor and adjust all variables for maximum plant growth.