Do you prefer a PH meter over Ph test drops?

What benefits do you guys see to warrant the expense?

After a long while, going through several pens, calibrating, taking care of them and double checking with GH Ph drops just in case.
Best I had was the Hanna Combo meter. Constant monitoring, being able to see Ph and EC at a glance, so nice. Did eventually break that probe too, bumped it against the res a little too hard.
The thing is, Ph probes are sensitive animals, Ive dropped and broken so many, had them start drifting, being unreliable.
After a while I couldn’t see the point in having that 0.1 accuracy, I still checked with drops to make sure nothing was wrong.
Now its, GHE Ph drops, adjust Ph until dark yellow.
A bottle lasts a long time, 1 drop in 1-2ml of nutrient.
Bought 3 bottles 4y ago, just finished off the first one last week.


Nice post. :slightly_smiling_face:

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Well it definitely depends on the meter. I have both drops and a meter. My issue is color blindness so I have trouble matching the colors with the scale using the drops


That there is a really good reason.
Have you managed to break or mess up countless probes or is it just me?
Found a good one?


Well the first meter I bought was your run at the mill pos meter…you know the one on Amazon that is always yellow or blue just rebranded a 100 times for like 15 bucks…well you get what you pay for when you spend 15 bucks. It was just all over the place on readings so then I ordered the Dr. Meter for 30 bucks. This one is solid. It is built strong and solid it just doesn’t feel cheap like the crappy ones that feel like a cheap plastic toy. I recalibrate every few weeks or so jjst to make sure it stays on point but I love this meter. Even with the drops I kean I can get close but there are just certain shades I have real trouble with when it comes to being too much of a base in the orange and then transisitions into yellow…ibalways have to get a second opinion and thats no way to live lol so I just stick to a meter and then if I suspect something is off I always have the drops as a back up…sorry for the super long response lol


Oh and I didn’t even answer your question lol…na i haven’t messed up a probe myself but I know it’s common. I’m surprised I haven’t tho because I’ve banged it up pretty good a few times. Just been lucky so far…*knock on wood

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That is a really good price, I bought sone Hanna meters in the past, 60-130$, 30 sounds much more reasonable.


I managed to break the more expensive of my two ph readers. Go figure the cheaper one still works have had to recalibrate it a cpl times also have the drops for back up.


Well for me it is all about bang for the buck. I mean for 30 bucks you can’t beat the dr. Meter. I thought about going all in and getting something in that range you know around a bill. But gave this one a shot first. Been using it for about 7 months i guess no issues. Keep it in mind if you have to get a new meter in the future. I stand by it


Will do, being addicted to tech will likely see me buy it, even if I dont need it :slight_smile:


Ever since I learned about PH for plants I’ve been using the drops. For me it’s more affordable and it’s reliable as long as I don’t have to dial the PH into a exact number, I’ve read to much bad even about the expensive meters to want to try those, as long as I don’t have issues using drops I’ll likely stick to them.


About four years with a Bluelab portable PH pen. I’ve had no problems with those and it stays calibrated for much longer than I would’ve expected initially. If forget how much the kit cost for a probe and EC pen, somewhere around $100 USD from the local grow store.

Many of the common issues with the probes have to do with keeping them hydrated and clean while in storage. Occasionally check the calibration. Once done using a probe for the day, a quick rinse with tap water and then store the probe tip in a bit a fresh storage solution (built into the cap of the Bluelabs pens). They are precision tools. Don’t let them dry out. Don’t shake them wildly. Don’t throw them at the television. :slight_smile:

That said, PH with strips or drops is perfectly acceptable and will accomplish the same end-goal. In fact, some of the scientific spectrophotometers use the same technique to measure PH along with being able to measure nutrient concentrations.

I do have strips that I keep as a backup and sometimes as a verification but my goto for portable measurement are the probes. If one wants to increase automation and data collection, probes are really the only way. You can literally see when unexpected problems start to occur in real-time. Yes, you have to maintain them, they cost more, and they can be fragile. Collecting traceable data, want a certain level of precision, building for automation … probes.

There is a good discussion on the various PH probes, cost vs quality, maintenance, etc over here:


I’d prefer drop but I use a meter most times because the drops are hard to read when testing brown water from worm and bat shit lol


Cheap pens are crap and more lightly to ruin your grow than be of any help, drops are way better.
Decent pens can be handy but they have downsides too.
They are expensive.
You also need to buy 2 bottles of calibration fluid and a bottle of storage solution.
If you let the bulb dry out it’s scrap.
You need to keep it calibrated or it’s pointless.
They are fragile.
They can become an obsession with growers who are constantly chasing their swinging ph. Unless you get the feed level spot on the ph will swing all over the place so pay attention to the plants. If you closely follow a nutrient manufacturers schedule you are probably overfeeding which will burn them and cause ph swings.


Where is the PH Pens Anonymous thread?

I could blame it on coco.

I have learned to take good care of them to prevent problems.

If I were on a budget, I would start with 2 of the dr units.

Don’t look at my tds pen hack. :wink:


I’ll say that the drops don’t lie. :grin:
And on the flips side the pens are awesome when they work .


Coco is blameless, even if its crap coco, then its on the grower :grin:
I fear you may have developed a pen fetish while endlessly chasing ph swings. You are far from alone. A pen pal might be of help with this, i bet you could find one on here no prob…

I just gave up measuring the outgoing ph, that helped big time. Nowadays i hardly ever feed to runoff, that means no runoff to measure and a surprising bonus is i get disgustingly healthy plants. I do flush then feed plain water for the last week when they are finishing. I don’t even bother checking the ingoing ph of this water because the plants don’t care either way at that point cos they are dying anyway.

I have (almost) fully reformed now and just use the test drops when mixing . I don’t even own a ph pen anymore although i do admit to using a CF pen. Only the one mind :laughing:


okay see so I’ve read several people saying they don’t worry about ph when growing in coco…could you explain a bit? I’m getting an additional tent kit and it comes with fabric pots and I decided I’m going to give coco a shot but I am not familiar at all.


Coco is hydroponics so you need to feed (fertigate) every day for best results or you wont see any real benefit over using compost. You have to make sure the ph of your nutrient mix is in range. You also need to make sure the nutrient strength is in range for the plants stage of growth. Go for low to mid strength mixes, never try to use the nutrient manufacturers stated maximum.
You just need to feed them enough nutrient mix to get through 24hrs until you feed again. This might be a tiny amount when they are small.
Try to never let the coco dry out or the nutrient it contains will burn the roots and the ph will swing badly. You just need to keep the stuff damp. Try not to saturate the coco as it will take too long to dry out again and the oxygen level will drop. This is the main cause of root root.
If the pot/container is still heavy next day you have feed them too much. You still need to feed them but just a tiny amount until the coco dries down a bit.
If the container is light and the coco dry next day you need to increase the amount you give them.

Coco is great stuff when you get the hang of it and when plants get big and completely fill the container with roots it becomes almost impossible to over saturate the coco. Until then however you can actually over saturate coco and don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise (they will try)

Oh and you will probably need to add some calmag to your nutrient mix each time until near finish. Coco binds the stuff and if your running led lighting they will eat calmag


Cool great info bud!! One question since coco is technically hydro which is what I do now in dwc…am I putting my PhD nutrient solution to 5.8 like I would in Dec or would I bump it up like you do for soil and run it in the kid 6s?