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Old 10-01-2010, 06:45 PM   #1
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Default pH Meter Suggestions?

I am looking at investing in a pH meter. I've been doing some reading on various models but would like some input from those of you who already own one. It looks like there are a few models out there under $100. Can anyone provide input on what I should be looking for? wet/dry storage, calibration needs, temperature adjustment, resolution and margin for error, etc?

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Old 10-01-2010, 07:47 PM   #2
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I'm not an expert but know about the two I have:
cheapo $30 one (don't know the name off hand but it's yellow with a black cap) read out: X.X similar to this one
A bench top one made by (or for) Corning It has a hand wand on a ~two foot wire, it would have likely cost a few hundred dollars (long story, but I payed five bucks) read out: X.XX looks like this one
Both need to be calibrated with a solution. The cheap one can only be calibrated to one point (I use 7). It seems to be right on at 4 after this calibration though.
The fancy one needs to be calibrated to 4, 7, and 10. This is a PITA because it is a rather complicated device with too many functions. Once it is set up, it gives a accurate read out much faster, that is to say; the numbers stabilize quicker. I almost never use this one, due to the complication of using it, and fear I will break it.

I'm quite happy with my cheap one, and if I drop it in a mash, i won't be that upset. So I would recommend finding a cheap one (maybe used) on ebay. I think that most of them are listed in home and garden for use in hydroponic plant growing. If you really feel you need to see .01 resolution there are some $100 hand held ones that claim to be water proof

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Old 10-01-2010, 07:53 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DrJerryrigger View Post
I'm not an expert but know about the two I have:
cheapo $30 one (don't know the name off hand but it's yellow with a black cap) read out: X.X similar to this one
A bench top one made by (or for) Corning It has a hand wand on a ~two foot wire, it would have likely cost a few hundred dollars (long story, but I payed five bucks) read out: X.XX looks like this one
Both need to be calibrated with a solution. The cheap one can only be calibrated to one point (I use 7). It seems to be right on at 4 after this calibration though.
The fancy one needs to be calibrated to 4, 7, and 10. This is a PITA because it is a rather complicated device with too many functions. Once it is set up, it gives a accurate read out much faster, that is to say; the numbers stabilize quicker. I almost never use this one, due to the complication of using it, and fear I will break it.

I'm quite happy with my cheap one, and if I drop it in a mash, i won't be that upset. So I would recommend finding a cheap one (maybe used) on ebay. I think that most of them are listed in home and garden for use in hydroponic plant growing. If you really feel you need to see .01 resolution there are some $100 hand held ones that claim to be water proof
Probably a good point in that the cheaper one may be better than nothing and still as accurate as the strips.
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Old 10-01-2010, 07:54 PM   #4
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oh, I didn't mention temp. It's one of those things; do you want to know your PH so that you know the beta & alpha amylase can do there thing, or do you want to know more information that you could possibly use because your nerdy like that (a good thing in my book). If that latter is true, get a snazzy one, if not get a junk one.

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Old 10-01-2010, 08:08 PM   #5
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I'm in between. I have been delving more deeply into the water chemistry and mash pH end of brewing with decent results so far. I have been using the test strips with a margin for error large enough that it's really tough to see the true results of my water ion tinkering. I am actually leaning toward this one.

It has a read-out to .01 pH, but it does look like you have to do a 2 point calibration. From what I have read, the margin for error is a little narrower (but not a whole lot) than the test strips. But it least it operates in a larger range and provides a closer resolution than the strips. Certainly worth $40 new.

It also lists an operating range up to 122F, which makes me think I could easily draw a sample of my mash and bring it to an acceptable temperature quickly for testing.

How does calibration work? Do you have to do it every time you use it? It looks like those packets of calibration solution could get expensive if you had to use 2 every time you brewed

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Old 10-01-2010, 08:21 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by winvarin View Post
I'm in between. I have been delving more deeply into the water chemistry and mash pH end of brewing with decent results so far. I have been using the test strips with a margin for error large enough that it's really tough to see the true results of my water ion tinkering. I am actually leaning toward this one.

It has a read-out to .01 pH, but it does look like you have to do a 2 point calibration. From what I have read, the margin for error is a little narrower (but not a whole lot) than the test strips. But it least it operates in a larger range and provides a closer resolution than the strips. Certainly worth $40 new.

It also lists an operating range up to 122F, which makes me think I could easily draw a sample of my mash and bring it to an acceptable temperature quickly for testing.

How does calibration work? Do you have to do it every time you use it? It looks like those packets of calibration solution could get expensive if you had to use 2 every time you brewed
I like the $26 in accessory fluids to make your $40 meter last longer. I was checking some out on ebay that come with bottles of calibration fluid. Not sure about the cleaning, storage solution. Not sure the storage solution is different than the 7.01 calibration fluid from the write up.
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Old 10-01-2010, 09:36 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by winvarin View Post
I'm in between. I have been delving more deeply into the water chemistry and mash pH end of brewing with decent results so far. I have been using the test strips with a margin for error large enough that it's really tough to see the true results of my water ion tinkering. I am actually leaning toward this one.

It has a read-out to .01 pH, but it does look like you have to do a 2 point calibration. From what I have read, the margin for error is a little narrower (but not a whole lot) than the test strips. But it least it operates in a larger range and provides a closer resolution than the strips. Certainly worth $40 new.

It also lists an operating range up to 122F, which makes me think I could easily draw a sample of my mash and bring it to an acceptable temperature quickly for testing.

How does calibration work? Do you have to do it every time you use it? It looks like those packets of calibration solution could get expensive if you had to use 2 every time you brewed
There are a number of reasons not to measure mash pH at 122. One is that pH is always reported in the literature at reference temperature, the other is that it will wreck your probe much faster.

The phep5 is around $80 and works well for me (though I am thinking of upgrading). Morebeer sells that one and a more robust milwaukee meter at around $120.

Calibration solution as one time use powder packets is fairly cheap.
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Old 10-01-2010, 10:14 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by winvarin View Post
It has a read-out to .01 pH, but it does look like you have to do a 2 point calibration. From what I have read, the margin for error is a little narrower (but not a whole lot) than the test strips. But it least it operates in a larger range and provides a closer resolution than the strips. Certainly worth $40 new.
It should certainly be better than the strips. A meter that can measure temperature to better than 0.5°C and voltage to better than 0.5 mV is capable of accuracy of about 0.02 pH when used in a 2 point calibration with buffers which are good to ±0.02 pH (as are most of the technical NIST tied buffers sold). The strips generally have patches separated by 0.3 pH and are reported to be biased by 0.3 pH.


Quote:
Originally Posted by winvarin View Post
How does calibration work? Do you have to do it every time you use it? It looks like those packets of calibration solution could get expensive if you had to use 2 every time you brewed
It varies a bit from meter to meter but in general you put the meter in cal mode, rinse the storage solution off the electrode and blot, stick it in one of the buffers and wait for the meter to beep at which time you rinse and blot again and then go into the second buffer, wait until it beeps, then indicate that you are only doing a 2 buffer cal at which point the meter tells you the slope and offset of the electrode and asks if you want to accept the cal. You press a key to tell it you do and you are ready to roll. Note: most modern meters can tell which buffer you are in. Some may ask you to enter the pH of the buffer.

Calibration should be done each day you use the meter. I was absolutely floored when a relatively new electrode I bought held cal for 2 months! Don't count on that.
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Old 10-01-2010, 11:26 PM   #9
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Thanks AJ. Did you happen to follow the link I posted as to the meter I am considering? Would you consider that a good "starter" meter? You've not steered me wrong so far. I would be interested in your impression of that meter.

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Old 10-01-2010, 11:44 PM   #10
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Does anyone know the pros/cons of the non-glass ISFET sensor vs. the traditional glass one?

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