Bench-top vs Handheld vs Pen-tester: which pH meter style is best for you?

Bench-top vs Handheld vs Pen-tester: which pH meter style is best for you?

pH meters come in three main styles: Bench top meters, Handheld meters and Pen testers. Each style has their own advantages and disadvantages and below we will go through these three styles and who they’re best suited to.

What will we cover?

- The main types of pH meter
- The advantages and disadvantages of each type
- Who each type is best suited to
- Our favourite choice for each type

Benchtop pH meters:
Bench top pH meters are typically the largest pH meters and are designed to be mounted on a laboratory desk or bench. 

- Generally highest accuracy and precision
- Wide choice of electrodes
- Models with electrode arms make it easy to measure lots of samples with less effort
- May have software, datalogging, or other features to make laboratory work easier
- Well suited to tricky applications

- Least mobile
- Higher priced than pen testers
-       They often will have an electrode holding arm which makes it easy to keep in place in a sample for   hands free measurements

Best for: QA labs, wine labs, titrations, food processing, university labs, biological samples

Instrument Choice favourite model:IC860031 - Benchtop pH / MV Meter
Figure 1: The popular IC860031 setup and in use

Handheld pH meters:
Handheld pH meters are portable units which have a display and a pH electrode on a cable. They are designed for use in the field so they may be waterproof, or shock protected.

- Portable
- Similar accuracy and functionality to bench top meters
- Robust options available
- May have datalogging to make field work easier

- Not as well suited to laboratory work
- Choice of electrode may be limited compared to bench top meters
- Generally require two handed operation

Best for: Agriculture, environmental officers, field technicians, university field studies, oceanographers, wastewater treatment plants, aquaculture

Instrument Choice favourite model:EC-PHWP450-02K - Waterproof pH 450 meter kit
Figure 2: The EC-PHWP450-02K, a very popular handheld unit for a range of applications

Pen-tester pH meters:
Pocket tester or pen-tester pH meters are the smallest of all the pH meters. They are small enough to fit in a pocket so are very portable. The electrode is generally on the bottom tip of the unit with a small display at the top.

- Highly portable
- Waterproof options available
- Single handed operation
- More cost effective

- Electrode may not be replaceable
- Very limited electrode choice

Best for: Pools & spas, Aquariums, Hydroponics, Agriculture, Schools, Construction, Wastewater, Food processing

Instrument Choice favourite model:pH22 - Pocket pH-mV meter with +-0.01 pH accuracy
Figure 3: The pH22, its most popular use to date has been for food testing due to its unique flat sensor

If you would like to discuss pH meters further or have any further questions please feel free to contact one of our friendly Scientists via email or phone on 1300 737 871.

Contact our expert scientists now to get the right meter or data logger to suit your needs and discuss your project. 

Phone: 1300 737 871
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