8 Best Soil pH Tester – Don’t Start Your Garden Without Checking The Soil!

Are you wondering why your plants aren’t growing strong and healthy? Have you checked on your soil condition recently? I can't count the number of people that have told me that their plants are withering, but when I ask them about their soil - they're clueless.

Don't be one of them.​​​​

Before you do anything, you have to check your soil. It's the first step anyone should take before starting a garden. A lot of effort, soil and plants (and money!) can go to waste if you ignore this first and simple step, so don't be lazy! Note that different plants and vegetables require different pH levels to thrive.

With the best soil pH meter, you can not only check the pH level of the soil but you can also monitor the moisture and light content of your soil before starting your garden. As always, we'll start with the reviews and later on you'll find a buying guide if you're not sure what you're looking for in a soil tester, as well as answers to some frequently asked questions we've been getting.

Gain Express Soil pH & Moisture Meter - Best pH Soil Tester Overall

This soil pH tester, by Gain Express, comes with a waterproof electrode that’s 295mm long which you just pop into the soil and get a fast and accurate reading.

It's suitable for analyzing pH level and moisture in the soil and can check the soil at a slightly longer range making it suitable for use in the agricultural fields and educational experiments.

It doesn't require batteries or power to operate, so you can use it everywhere at any time.

What’s more, the tool is great for beginners and experienced gardeners alike. It measures pH at a range of 3 to 8 and has an accuracy range of +/- 0.2 pH.

It's fairly compact and lightweight, but don't mistake that for being of a low-quality build. This soil pH meter is the most robust from this list and if I had to wager, I'd say it'd last the longest out of them all. Of course, this comes at a higher price, but it beats going to the store every season to pick up a new one. 

It comes with an extra moisture reader with a range of 10 to 80 percent and is easy to use, as you just insert the probe into the soil and wait for a few minutes for it to pick up a reading.

All of the above make for this to be our pick for the best soil pH tester out there at the moment. 


PROS


CONS

  • Suitable for testing soil pH and moisture level
  • Quality build of both the outside casing and the internal components
  • The long probe enables the tool to reach down the plant’s root to provide accurate and reliable reading levels
  • No batteries required
  • The probe is strong and sturdy
  • Gives quick readings
  • More expensive
  • Display may get foggy in moist conditions

To grow healthy and happy plants, you need to determine whether the soil is at the right pH level and whether it's getting the correct amount of light and water. Although you can get a soil tester to measure the three essential aspects of your plant’s soil conditions separately, a good rule of thumb is to get a tool that measures them all.

That’s why we're reviewing this 3-in-1 soil pH tester capable of testing light, moisture, and soil pH.

The Sonkir MSO2 is one of the best soil pH testers out there, and it's designed for indoor and outdoor soil testing as well.

With this soil pH reader, there is no more guessing. You will tell whether the illumination and humidity content is consistent and optimal so that you can grow your plant in the required soil condition.

What’s more, the tool does not require batteries and it is equipped with the reliable and accurate Premium Double-needle Detection Technology that enables the metal dual probes to analyze the soil condition fast and accurately.

The good thing about this soil tester is that it’s easy to use. You just need to slide the button to switch to the preferred settings then wait for around 10 minutes to get the readings.

The soil pointer should swing to show pH, soil moisture and lighting. If it does not swing, then perhaps the soil is dry or the probes are far away from the plant’s roots. Adjust the position of the probe a little until it starts to swing.

The tester is also lightweight and portable.

One of the noticeable drawbacks of this soil pH meter is that it can only read a range of 3.5 to 8, so if you don't fall under that range, you're better off picking up some other product of off our list of the best soil meters.


PROS


CONS

  • Great for measuring soil pH, moisture, and lighting
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Easy to use
  • Doesn't require batteries
  • Not suitable for hard, rocky or dry soil. The needles are not sturdy to penetrate the soil deeper

This product from Jellas is also another incredible 3-in-1 soil pH tester for testing soil humidity, pH, and sunlight levels. 

As a dedicated gardener, you always need to know all about the current soil condition before planting anything in it. That’s why we think it's not a bad idea to invest in a versatile tool such as this soil pH reader that will tell you whether the soil is getting sufficient lighting, the soil is dry or damp, and whether the pH levels are optimal.

This soil pH meter does not require batteries to operate. It’s also easy to use and gives accurate readings thanks to the reliable and accurate Premium Double-needle Detection Technology.

The technology is meant to improve the speed and accuracy of sensing and evaluating sunlight level, soil moistness, and pH levels to allow you to grow plants in the required soil condition.

What’s more, the soil pH tester comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee and a 12-month warranty. If you aren’t satisfied with how it works, you can request a refund, so there's no harm in picking it up and seeing how you like it.

Make sure you don’t use it in hard or stony soil since the probes may become damaged. Also, don’t use this soil tester to analyze anything other than soil. After using it, clean and wipe the probes with distilled water. For accurate readings, be sure to keep the test kit in the soil for around 10 minutes.


PROS


CONS

  • Lightweight and portable
  • Suitable for indoor and outdoor gardening
  • Quick and accurate readings
  • Versatile soil pH, moisture and lighting tester
  • Its probes aren’t sturdy enough to get deeper into hard soil

Analyze soil pH, moisture, and lighting in just a few minutes with the iKKEGOL soil tester, a 3-in-1 tool designed to help you figure out the soil condition of your garden before planting vegetables, flowers, or any other types of plants.

With this soil test kit, you can tell whether the soil is increasingly acidic, alkaline, wet or dry in just a few minutes. It can also determine the exposure to darkness or brightness of the soil.

iKKEGOL 3-in-1 is one of the best soil pH testers available in the market today. This digital soil pH tester is compact and lightweight. It’s easy to use and requires no batteries.

What’s more, it gives fast readings. In just a few minutes after inserting the probes into the soil, you will be able to tell whether the soil is dry or moist. With this tool, there are no more instances of under watering or over-watering your plants.

The good thing about this soil pH test kit is that it doesn’t require batteries. You just need to use the switch to change between modes (sunlight, pH, or moisture)

The dual probes are long enough (8-inches) and are made out of silver and bronze. The read dial is also crisp and clear.

Another good thing about this soil meter is that is ships with a plant/zone guide (find this at the back of the packaging). It’s also easy to use and can read a pH range of 3.5 to 8, moisture at 1 (very dry) to 10 (very moist) and light at a range from dark (0 lux being low)  to light (2000 lux being brightest).


PROS


CONS

  • Suitable for indoor and outdoor gardening
  • No batteries required
  • Long probes
  • Gives accurate readings on pH, moisture, and light
  • Not suitable for use in water/wet soil
  • Some gardeners complain that the probes aren’t sturdy enough for use in rocky ground

Kelway Soil pH and Moisture Meter Tester - Best Soil pH Tester For Professionals

The soil meter from Kelway is definitely the most professional product on our list, but beginners shouldn't be afraid.

This soil pH reader is made in Japan and is suitable for indoor, home-based, or commercial gardening. This means that you can use this soil tester meter for large farms and small home gardens alike.

The good thing about this tool is that it’s not only incredible for analyzing soil pH but it can also measure the moisture content with an accuracy of ±10%. What’s more, no batteries are required, nor does it need a power source to work.

It’s also easy to use as you just need to select your mode (moisture or pH) and wait for a few minutes to get the reading. It's recommended that you use it in moist soil in order to get an accurate reading, in order for there to be conductivity between the electrodes. 

To get accurate and reliable reading levels, keep the probe in direct contact with the soil. To measure moisture level, press the white button and hold it for around 3 minutes.

The soil test tool comes with a durable casing plus a belt loop, which makes this an excellent tool to carry around your garden. Honestly, you can't go wrong with this product, as it's built to last. The only thing that might scare you off is the price, but if you go with this product, I'm sure you won't be a needing a new one any time soon.


PROS


CONS

  • Lightweight and portable
  • It’s a solid, sturdy, and professional-grade soil pH meter tester
  • Suitable for both home-based gardening and commercial plantations
  • Easy to use
  • Durable
  • Expensive

Alotpower is yet another 3-in-1 soil tester meter on our list. You can use it to measure soil pH, light, and moisture. Alotpower is reputable for the production of the best gardening tools and this one is no exception.

It’s certainly one of the best soil pH testers on the market, which is exactly why it made it on our list. We love the fact that this gadget gives reliable results in just a few minutes. The device can record readings at pH levels from 3.5 to 8 and moisture levels from 1 to 10. It can also record light from dark to bright in the range of 0 to 2000 lux.

What’s more, this soil meter comes with a clear dial you can read with ease. The tool is also compact so you can carry it around your garden hassle-free.

The good thing about this soil reader is that it’s ideal for both indoor and outdoor gardening. As with other products on our list, make sure you insert the probes near the roots of your plants (make sure that two-thirds of the probe is inserted into the soil) to get reliable and accurate readings.


PROS


CONS

  • Suitable for indoor and outdoor gardening
  • Suitable for indoor and outdoor gardening
  • No batteries required
  • Sturdy metal probes
  • Suitable for analyzing soil pH, lighting, and moisture
  • Not suitable for use in hard, rocky or overly wet soil

When caring for your plants, you need to monitor the three important aspects of the soil condition.

If any of these factors is missing, your plant growth will suffer. You need a tool that will tell you when you need to water your plants, when your plants aren’t getting enough sunlight or when the pH level goes higher or lower. That’s why we recommend XLUX Soil Tester Meter, a 3-in-1 gadget capable of monitoring your soil condition and giving you quick and accurate results.

This is perhaps one of the best lawn soil testers out there. It’s easy to use and it doesn’t require batteries. You just select your tester mode (light, moisture or pH) by sliding the button then insert the 7-inch dual probes into the soil, wait for a few minutes and the needle pointer will display the readings.

The tool comes with additional features including:

  • A three-way meter you insert into the soil, wait for a few minutes to get results
  • Light reading ranges from 0 (for low light or dark light) to 2000 lux (for very intense light or bright light)
  • Moisture level ranges from 1 (for dry soil) to 10 (for moist soil)
  • pH levels range between 3.5 (indicating acidic soil) and 8 (for alkaline soil)


PROS


CONS

  • Versatile soil tester meter (can be used to measure pH levels, light, and moisture content).
  • No batteries required
  • Suitable for beginners and experienced gardeners
  • Easy to use
  • Not suitable for use in hard, rocky or overly wet soil

Closing out our list of the best soil pH testers of 2020 is Covery’s 3-in-1 soil tester, a gadget designed with 3 sensors for sunlight, pH, and humidity.

You need to make sure the soil is rich in nutrients and minerals to keep your plants growing healthy and happy. This means that the pH level needs to be optimal, the moisture and sunlight also needs to be at the right range. For this reason, you need a tool that can monitor all these factors accurately and fast and Covery's soil meter is just that.

The model has a plug-and-read functionality making it easy to use. You just insert the probes into the soil and wait for less than 10 minutes; it will display a clear reading. A pH scale of 3.5 to 6.5 indicates the soil is acidic while 7 to 8 is alkaline.

The good thing about this tester is that it does not require batteries to operate. It’s also easy to use for both indoor and outdoor gardening. Make sure you insert the 7.1-inch long probe around 2-4 inches deep inside the soil to get reliable and accurate reading levels.


PROS


CONS

  • No batteries required
  • Durable
  • Easy to use
  • Suitable for indoor and outdoor gardening
  • Measures moisture, lighting and pH levels
  • Display is smaller than average

How to Choose the Best Soil pH Tester - A Detailed Buying Guide

A detailed buying guide for finding the best soil pH tester.

As a rule, before you grow anything in your garden, you must make sure the soil is fit for the types of plants you want to grow. In our other articles we've gone over topics such as the best soil for succulents, tomatoes and raised beds, but that doesn't mean you can just buy the soil and you're done. Generally, you always want to control the pH level of your soil, because it may change as time goes by.

Ideally, if the soil is adequate, plants will grow healthy. To keep the soil healthy, you must monitor the pH levels, moistness, light, and other soil factors.

You cannot achieve all this if you don’t have a good soil pH tester. Besides, not all soil pH readers are the same. Some are versatile while some are single-purpose. Always clean and wipe the probes thoroughly with distilled water after using them. Also, some models have probes that need regular replacements.

But, before we dive into the factors that can influence your decision, let's take a look at the very basics.

What Is Soil pH?

Soil pH, also known as soil reaction is the level of acidity or alkalinity of the soil and is measured in pH units.

Usually, the pH scale ranges from 0 to 14. A scale of 7 is considered neutral. That means the soil is neither alkaline nor acidic.

When the soil is more acidic, it means it contains more hydrogen ions thus the soil pH is low. When the scale ranges from 7 to 0, the soil is more acidic. When it is from pH 7 to 14, the soil is more basic or alkaline.

Most plants thrive in soils with pH levels between 5.5 and 7.0 but some will flourish at levels outside this range.

Why Is Soil pH Important?

Why is soil pH important

Soil pH is important in that it helps to determine whether the soil contains the required nutrients for plants to thrive.

As mentioned above, different plants have different pH requirements although most will grow well at a balanced pH of 6.5. However, tuning your soil's pH precisely to the plant's requirements will yield optimal harvest and plant health.

A decrease in pH level makes the soil acidic and important nutrients such as phosphorus becomes less available.

Alkaline soil denies plants the required nutrients such as manganese, zinc, iron, phosphorus, and copper. With a good soil pH tester, there is no more guessing. It will tell you everything about your soil so that you can grow healthy and happy plants.

Types of the Testers

Ideally, soil pH tester meters come in different types. Some are designed for testing the soil pH level while others are versatile and can test soil pH, lighting, and moisture level. Our list of the best soil pH testers contains a bunch of 3-in-1 solutions (moisture, pH and light) for testing your soil, so it comes down to personal preference. You may also notice that most of these testers are similar in both their design and their functionality, so you really can't go wrong with any from this list.

Durability 

For the tester to detect the pH level properly and provide accurate and reliable results, it needs to be inserted deep into the soil. The tool needs to be durable, the probes should be strong and sturdy enough to withstand wear and tear, and rust. Soil that has moisture will cause rusting on the probes. But if the probes are made with durable and strong material they will last longer before they start to show signs of corrosion.

Some probes cannot penetrate the soil even if it’s not hard or rocky (make sure you are using your device on the soil it is designed for).

You need to make sure you buy a gadget with strong probes that can be pushed inside the soil without a problem. Luckily, most of the tools from our list have sturdy probes, that are suited for the average soil. The most durable being the Gain Express Soil pH & Moisture Meterwhich is bound to last you a long time and which will serve you well even if your soil is harder and rockier.

Portability 

Since you will be carrying your soil pH tester with you around your garden, it needs to be compact and lightweight. We've used that as a requirement when making our picks for the best soil tester, so you'll notice that all the products are fairly lightweight and compact. 

Accuracy

soil pH tester accuracy

When testing the soil, you need an accurate tool that can detect and provide accurate soil pH levels, temperature, and moisture.

Some pH testers can measure pH at a range from 3.5 to 8 while others have a range larger than or small than this. We've noted in the individual reviews the reading range of each product.

Usually, to get accurate measurements, the probes need to go about 2 to 4 inches deep into the soil and close enough to the roots. The closer the needlepoint is to the roots, the faster it will detect and provide accurate reading levels.

Probe length 

Soil pH meters come either with single or dual probes that are made of copper, silver, aluminum or a combination of these metals.

Well, the material used to make the probe doesn’t matter when it comes to the accuracy of the soil reading, but the probe length matters a lot.  A longer probe will go deeper into the soil hence giving you an idea of the soil rather than just giving you readings of the top layer of the soil. Trust me, these two layers can be widely different, so going for a product with a longer probe is recommended and a safe choice.

Soil that has moisture will cause rusting on the probes. But if the probes are made with durable and strong material they will stay longer before they can start to show signs of corrosion.

Read display

Digital soil pH testers have a display with a dial that is marked to indicate pH levels. The read display should be clear and easy to understand.

Size

If you intend to use the soil reader indoors, then you should choose a small and compact device. Note that even though the tester should be small, it should be sturdy.

Power source

The latest soil pH testers don’t require batteries so you can use them everywhere at any time.

FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions about finding the best soil pH tester and soil pH testers in general.

Are soil pH testers accurate?

The accuracy of the tester depends on its quality. Some have long probes that allow them to go deeper into the soil so they can provide more accurate readings of the soil structure, while others have shorter probes that are placed close to the plant’s roots to analyze the soil directly in contact with the plant. Naturally, the best soil pH meter will be the most accurate one, but the ones on our list are all a safe choice.


What methods are used to measure pH?

pH is measured in three ways namely:

Beginner - The use of a paper strip coated in a pH indicator dye.

Intermediate - The use of pH testing tool for liquids.

Advanced - The use of a digital pH tester meter for a more accurate reading of the pH level.

How to alter the pH of soil?

Tested your soil and found that it’s too acidic? Don’t worry; you can raise the pH by adding a base. Usually, to raise the pH of the soil, you need to use material made from powdered lime.

What is the range of soil ​pH?

pH levels range from 0 to 14. A pH scale of 7 indicates neutral whereas a scale below 7 indicates acidic while above 7 is alkaline.

Most plants have an optimal pH range from 5.5 to 7.0 but some plants can thrive outside this range.

What happens if soil ​pH is too low?

When the soil pH rises, the plants cannot absorb the required nutrients to thrive. Some plants’ leaves may start to turn yellow as an indication that they lack iron, although lack of iron in the soil is not the main cause of yellowing of leaves. Don't let this happen to you and grab any of the best soil pH meters from our list.

What is a high ​ pH level in the soil?

A pH scale of 7.0 indicates the soil is neutral. Below 7.0 indicates the acidic soil. The lower the pH scale the more acidic the soil is. A pH scale above 7.0 indicates shows that the soil is alkaline. The higher the pH scale the more basic the soil is.

Which is more accurate between a ​pH paper or ​pH meter?

When it comes to the accuracy of the soil pH, pH meters are more accurate than pH papers. A pH meter will tell you the degree of acidity or alkalinity of the soil while a pH paper will not.

Can these testers be used in water or other solutions?

None of these soil pH testers should be used on water or other solutions. Use them for testing soil only.

How far deep should the probes go into the soil?

To get reliable and accurate readings, you need to insert the probes anywhere between 2 to 4 inches. Most digital soil testers can go to this depth.

What is the Best Soil pH Tester?

The Gain Express Soil pH & Moisture Meter is definitely the best soil pH tester out there. This tester provides accurate pH readings and checks for moisture levels as well.

So, now that you know the answer, there's no reason for you to waste time. Grab one of these babies and go analyze your soil. Trust me, your plants will thank you for it!

Let us know what you think of our list in the comments below!