To test your soil pH, you can either use a digital meter, testing strips, or chemical dyes. Any good quality meter will be accurate, but which one is the best soil pH tester on the market today?
How to Choose a Good pH Meter
When choosing a good soil pH tester, you want to consider the following features:
- A long probe: Taking a soil pH measurement at a deeper depth makes sure you get a more accurate measurement. Plant roots grow deeper and if you do not amend the soil properly to the right pH, you can easily see the plants suffering ill-health due to varying pH levels within the soil structure.
- Accuracy: How accurate is the measurement? Some meters only give a range, but others are accurate to the actual pH reading. I always prefer soil pH testers that give an accurate reading. Keep in mind that these are usually a little more pricey than meters that give general acidic or basic pH reading.
- pH range: Since pH can be read on a scale that goes up to 14, a good soil pH tester should provide measurements that are as wide as that. That way, it is easy to nail down the actual pH that’s required for the plants you’re growing.
- Multiple functionalities: Apart from measuring the pH of your soil, what else can the meter do? Great pH testers can also test moisture content, light level, and nutrient (NPK) levels.
That said, let’s dive into the best pH meters I tested and reviewed.
8 Best Soil pH Testers – Reviews
Here’s a quick comparison table of the top 3 soil pH meters to choose from:
Having helped neighbors and fellow gardeners test their soil pH before planting anything, I’ve seen and used different types and brands of pH meters. My favorite are electronic soil pH meters, but there are other kits that produce reliable results.
Pro tip: when choosing, consider multiple functions, accuracy score, pH range, and power source (for digital meters).
1. Sonkir Soil pH Meter, MS02 3-in-1
- 3-in-1 tester for pH, moisture + light level.
- Reliably accurate for 3.5-8 pH ranges.
- Deep 7.2-inch probe for better soil profile tests.
- Small size is great for indoor gardens, lawns, yards etc.
- Doesn’t need batteries to work.
- Easy to use and read.
Like any top-rated soil pH tester, the Sonkir meter can take 3 tests including moisture level, sunlight level, and pH. These are the most essential readings you need to get from your soil.
But is it accurate? The double-needle technology makes this electronic meter a very accurate and reliable meter for measuring soil pH. It is highly accurate to a scientific grade at least going by the tests I did with it and comparing with a few other meters I tested.
The probes work really well and are sensitive. However, you might want to water the ground or planter (for the case of indoor plants) in order to get the best reading. Do not place it in a liquid though. It won’t work.
Review Verdict: The Sonkir Soil pH Meter, MS02 3-in-1 reviews are great – plenty and positive. Overall, it is a great soil pH tester especially for the very low price it goes for. It’s a bargain.
2. Atree Soil pH Meter, 3-in-1 Soil Tester Kit
- Clear acidic and alkaline readings from pH 3.5 to 8
- Scientifically accurate data.
- Helps gardeners know the right time to water their plants.
- Multifunctional meter for pH, light, and moisture.
- Very easy to use – probe-and-read operation.
- No need for batteries.
Atree is a major and highly reputable brand when it comes to soil test kits and meters. Like our top pick, it is a 3-in-1 soil measurement kit, meaning you get more utility than just testing soil pH in your garden.
How accurate is the Atree Soil pH Meter? This soil pH tester will only tell you if your soil is acidic or alkaline. The reading indicates a range of 3.5 to 7 for acidic pH and 7 to 8 for alkaline (basic) pH.
This is great for most DIY gardeners because most backyard gardens are common with plants that require either slightly acidic or slightly alkaline soils.
My verdict: The Atree Soil pH Meter, 3-in-1 Soil Tester Kit is one of the best meters for non-professional pH testing. For its low price, it provides great value in terms of measuring pH, moisture, and light.
Even so, as a professional, I found that general range to be a disadvantage because I prefer pH scales that are accurate to the decimal. I do a lot of seedling care, so a highly accurate soil pH tester is best for me (but not for general gardening).
Note that, if you want to use this meter to test the light intensity of indoor plants grown under grow lights, you might get deceiving results. The misreading occurs because most light bulbs do not produce the full spectral range similar to that of sunlight.
3. Rapitest Digital Soil Test Kit 1605 for pH, N, P and K
- 4.5 to 7.5 pH digital readings.
- Accurate results from multiple samples.
- Comes with a pH preference guide for over 450 plants.
- Also includes NPK fertilizer guidelines.
- Great value for money – 1 kit performs up to 25 tests (10 for pH)
For the best digital soil pH tester, Rapitest Digital Soil Test Kit 1605 scored high in my tests. Being a digital meter, it is much easier to read than the top two analog meters and provides a unique set of benefits you might want to check out.
With this tester, you’ll get to know nutrient levels in your garden or lawn in order to customize your feeding program for much more successful gardening. This digital meter analyzes pH as well as the nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium levels in your soil.
Though it utilizes optical technology to read colors in your soil samples, it produces accurate results and is very easy to use (clear instructions provided with the kit).
The Rapitest Digital Soil Test Kit 1605 is the best digital soil pH tester despite being priced slightly higher than the analog kits. For a digital meter, you get quicker, more accurate results and up to 25 soil sample tests total, which is a lot for any general gardener.
4. Yoyomax Soil Test Kit pH Moisture Meter
- 3 in 1 tester for soil moisture, pH, and light
- pH reading range 3.5 to 8
- 12 months warranty included
- 30 days money-back guarantee
- This meter does not require batteries to work.
Another great multipurpose meter for testing soil pH, the yoyomax test is an essential tool for taking soil readings for moisture level, how much light your plants are getting, and the pH level.
By now, these three soil aspects are becoming a standard in just about every other pH meter in the market today.
From the tests I conducted with this little meter, it just works – no fuss, no stories. The pH scale accuracy is good enough for anyone who wants to know whether their soil is acidic or alkaline.
The range, 3.5pH to 8pH is great for simplicity for any gardener since most plants will do great in either slightly acidic or slightly alkaline soil. So, if you are planning to choose plants for your garden, this is a great tool to start with.
My verdict: This meter is very much similar to the Sonkir and Atree meters I’ve reviewed above. It has the same functions and is accurate enough for gardening use. I like the fact that it comes with the bonus of 30-day moneyback guarantee and 12 months of warranty.
5. Environmental Concepts 1662 Professional Soil Test Kit
- Enough tests to analyze pH, N/P/K for 10 soil samples.
- Suitable pH guide for different plants included.
- pH range 4.5 to 7.5.
- Not suitable as a consumer-grade pH tester for soil.
The Environmental Concepts 1662 is the type of kit for professionals who want to test soil for nutrient levels and pH balance. It is one of the best liquid dye soil pH testers I would recommend anyone looking for something with more specifics in their tests.
Apart from coming with enough test kits, you also get a great pH guide that will help you alter your soil’s pH the right way for the type of plants you want to grow in your indoor and outdoor gardens.
I must say this kit is not suitable for any lay gardener. You might find it a bit too much to use. In short, it is quite complicated, which is why I would still recommend the digital pH scale or the analogue meters reviewed above this one.
I would recommend this kit for students, science teachers, and professional gardeners. You will also find it to be the best soil pH tester if you already have a digital meter or normal strips because it gives NPK nutrient analysis advantage.
6. VIVOSUN Soil Tester 3-in-1 Plant Moisture Meter Light and pH Tester
- pH range 3.5 – 8
- 3-in-1 meter for light, pH, and moisture.
- No need for batteries.
- Easy to use – just probe and read the meter.
- Moisture meter with dry, normal, and wet readings.
What I like about the VIVOSUN Soil Tester is that it has a great pH range of up to 8. My preference for the best pH tester for soil is a meter that ranges up to 9, but this one will do just fine as a consumer unit.
The moisture meter is accurate just like the acidity and alkalinity meter. You’ll know whether your soil is acidic or basic with certainty, and you can also test for too much watering or too little watering or drought in your garden or planters.
Although my kit worked just fine, taking readings almost instantly, I have seen customer reviews with a few complaints in them. Some users were not able to get the pH tester to work, others needed to let it sit in the soil for about 10 minutes to obtain the correct readings.
This is basically enough for most needs in a consumer soil test kit, except for temperature of course. It does rate highly for price though, going for much less than the top-rated competitors above.
7. Gain Express Soil pH & Moisture Meter
- pH measuring range of 3 – 8
- Very accurate to ± 0.2 pH
- Long electrode (295mm) for deeper probing.
- Self-powered tester.
- Also tests moisture level to a high degree of accuracy.
If you’re shopping for an accurate pH tester, the Gain Express Soil pH & Moisture Meter is one of the best I would recommend. It’s accuracy comes as close as ± 0.2 pH, so the reading you’ll get within its range will be a reliable one.
The long electrode is waterproof and can go deep enough in your soil to test for acidity and moisture levels at different depths. This is great especially if you want to water the soil deep enough to provide adequate moisture when preparing to do some seeding or transplanting after a drought.
Unlike most pH testing kits for soil on this list, the Gain Express Soil pH & Moisture Meter does not analyze sunlight your plants are receiving. This might be a disadvantage especially if you want to check light intensity in your outdoor gardens.
However, for indoor plants grown under light bulbs, it is a great pick since most light meters do not get accurate readings with such bulbs.
8. Garden Tutor Soil pH Test Strips Kit (3.5-9 Range)
- Calibrated specifically for soil pH testing.
- Enough strips for 100 samples.
- Full color pH testing handbook included
- Accurate and reliable results.
For the best soil pH test strips, the Garden Tutor pH Strips are a great choice I would recommend.
These are accurate enough so they’ll do a great job if you know how to use them. The good thing with this strip kit is that it is calibrated specifically for testing soil.
The difference with the other electronic meters is that these strips do not provide further value beyond pH testing. The advantage the Garden Tutor Soil pH Test Strips Kit has over analogue meters is that it has a wider pH range (3-9), meaning you’ll get more reliable results especially on the alkaline side.
Guide: What Makes a Good Soil pH Test Kit?
How accurate is the pH test kit? That’s a very important question especially if you’re at a seeding stage. For big plants, you can go with a soil test meter that does not provide to the decimal accuracy, but for seedlings, you want to make sure you get the accuracy right.
Some of the best soil pH test kits have double needles to enhance the accuracy of the test results. I always prefer looking at such features when shopping for a good pH testing kit for soil.
Keep the following in mind when choosing the most accurate soil pH testing meter:
- pH test strips are better than litmus papers because they have multiple color spots along the strips, so they are fairly more accurate. However, strips with a pH range between 5.0 and 8.0 are more accurate than those with a range between 0.0 to 14.0.
- Test strips for soil pH with more color variables are more accurate than those with fewer color indicators because they nail the reading down to a near exact number.
- Chemical colored dyes are the least accurate because they use a sample of soil mixed with water. They come with a pH chart for matching with color results from your test sample.
- Electronic soil pH meters are also available in the market. They come with a probe that you insert into the soil and then read the display for pH level. To get a more accurate reading from digital soil pH meters, you may need to make the soil wet, or make a soil-water mixture and use as your sample.
Most gardens and lawns have plants that do well in slightly acidic or slightly alkaline soil. For this reason, you may not need a 100% accurate pH reading to be able to do successful gardening.
pH is the measure of acidity indicated with a numerical value between 0.0 and 14.0. pH 7.0 is acidic while that above 7.0 is alkaline. A value of 7.0 is neutral. Since pH is measured on a logarithmic scale, a pH of 5.0 is 10 times more acidic than a pH of 6.0. Based on this reason, the values need to be measured to one decimal place to be of any good value. None of the consumer pH testers on the market provide this kind of accuracy.
Most meters measure soil pH between the range of 3 to 8. This is great for most plants and especially for any DIY gardener. You’ll find these soil testers satisfactory especially if you’re taking readings for mature plants.
However, for professional use, your best soil pH tester kit should give you a full-range reading of 0-14.
This will come in handy when you’re planting seedlings or repotting your indoor plants. It helps prevent transplant shock. When planting seedlings, you also want to get the right nutrients and pH levels in your soil for proper germination and root development.
Other than measuring the soil pH, what else can the meter you’re buying do? We gardeners take a lot of soil readings that are useful for successful gardening.
In order to buy the best soil pH tester, check if it also measures any two or more of the following besides acidity or alkalinity levels:
- Soil temperature
- Soil moisture level
- Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium (nutrient) levels
- Sunlight level
Most of the top rated digital soil pH meters are capable of measuring at least 3 factors, mostly pH, temperature and moisture level.
Professional electronic meters can do a lot more, including reading sunlight level and even nutrient levels accurately.
Does it need batteries?
It would occur to you that any good electronic soil pH meter uses a set of batteries to function. That might be true for some testing meters, but others do not need this.
It might seem a small issue to deal with, but if you have one of those sensors you leave in the garden or yard, you might want to keep changing batteries every now and then to keep it powered and working properly.
My favorite electronic soil pH meter doesn’t need any batteries or charging yet it is digital. A great pick that doesn’t need batteries is the Atree Soil pH Meter with 3-in-1 utility.