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Do cheap pH meters work? Answered

I have seen $10-20 pH meters for testing soil in garden stores, home improvement/hardware stores. I was wondering do these give accurate readings? I am looking for a cheap and accurate way to test pH. Any suggestions even for other ph testing methods are appreciated. Thanks!


The cheap garden type meters or kits for $20 are not of much use. For a more in depth discussion visit


I've tried three ranging from $10 to $20 and none of them even budge even when I follow the instructions to the letter and put the tips in white vinegar.

I found an expensive one which looks good, but what you're really asking is "how accurate?"
I'd say "not very", if you want high-accuracy you'll need to spend much more.


Guessing a bit here, but I would think that the cheap soil pH meters work by measuring the conductivity of the soil rather than the pH. The conductivity will be higher with a lower pH i.e. more acid.
If it's soil you're testing, you may be better off with a litmus based test kit such as THIS which also tests for nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus which are instrumental to plant growth.

.  How accurate is accurate enough? What range are you measuring? What kinds of chemicals are involved?
.  Most of the cheapies I've seen worked well for their intended use, but definitely are not "laboratory grade" units.