The price of a wood moisture meter ranges from $20 or so up to several hundred dollars. If you are doing fine woodworking or floor installation it makes sense to invest in the best moisture meter you can afford.
Not everyone needs needs such exact precision. You may not need to spend so much money, but there’s no point in buying a tool that doesn’t do the job right.
To do that would be a waste of your hard earned cash. If your meter is not up to the task it could lead to all sorts of problems.
So we took a good look at the less expensive, i.e cheap wood moisture meters available, and we found some pretty good products that will do the trick for lots of folks.
- 1 3 Great Cheap Wood Moisture Meters
- 2 What to Consider When Choosing a Moisture Meter
- 3 How Much Moisture in Wood is Too Much?
- 4 Best Low Cost Meter for the Professional:
- 5 Best Budget Moisture Meter
- 6 Best Bang for the Buck:
- 7 The Right Moisture Meter for the Job
3 Great Cheap Wood Moisture Meters
What to Consider When Choosing a Moisture Meter
- Purpose – If you just need to know the moisture content of firewood you can go much cheaper than if you are using it for fine woodworking or to install wood flooring where small degrees of moisture content can be critical.
- Accuracy – The meter must accurately measure moisture levels but the level of accuracy required depends on how the wood is to be used. For example, the level of accuracy required is less when determining whether firewood is properly seasoned than when determining the moisture content of wood flooring.
- Build Quality – You want to be sure your meter is rugged enough to withstand an accidental drop. If it’s a pin-type moisture meter it needs to be tough enough to withstand the force of pins being repeatedly driven into the measured material.One issue with pin-type meters of lesser quality is that pins can break. Before purchasing it’s a good idea to read real user reviews to see how they hold up. Replacements are available but do you really want to have to replace those pins all the time?
- Depth of Measurement – Wood dries from the inside out so the depth of measurement can be quite important. In general, pinless meters, which use an electromagnetic field to penetrate the wood, measure up to 3/4 inch, and without damaging the wood.It is possible to get as deep into the wood with a pin meter electrode attachment, but that does do significant damage to the wood.
How Much Moisture in Wood is Too Much?
The answer to this question depends on how the wood is to be used.
Properly seasoned firewood has moisture level of 20% or less. The moisture content of firewood can’t be too low. You can get away with a much less expensive meter when checking firewood.
Here is a great article about the moisture content of firewood. (PDF, opens in new tab).
It’s a bit more complicated if you are doing fine woodworking or installing wood flooring. Wood is a hydroscopic material, which means that it absorbs or releases moisture based on it’s environment. And to make it even more complicated, the temperature has an effect. It’s important to monitor the moisture content of wood as it reaches moisture balance with its environment, or equilibrium moisture content.
A thermohydrometer is the tool for that. Coming soon: Thermohygrometer reviews.
Here are 3 excellent moisture meters for the money. Depending on your needs you can’t go wrong with one of these.
Best Low Cost Meter for the Professional:
GE Protimeter BLD2000 Mini Moisture Meter
This little meter is easy and comfortable to use and works on a variety of materials such as wood, masonry, drywall, plaster and concrete.
This model has been around a few years and is the choice of many building inspectors and other folks who work with wood. Its durable and is sure to withstand the rigors of daily use for years.
Best Budget Moisture Meter
Dr. Meter MD912 Digital Wood Moisture Meter
Some users have found that it is not as accurate at the low end of it’s range, but lets be honest, no moisture meter can be entirely accurate as you get as low as 2% moisture content.
Best Bang for the Buck:
Lignomat Mini E/D Moisture Meter
If all you need is a simple and accurate tool for general use this might be the the best meter for you.It has a range of 6% – 45%, built in calibration, and it measures depth of depth of 3/16″ and 7/16″.
And Lignomat stands behind it with a 2 year warranty.
The Right Moisture Meter for the Job
If you are doing fine woodworking or are a professional wood flooring installer you may need a better tool, so it’s worth spending more money on the best wood moisture meter you can afford. But not every job requires that level of accuracy, so you can get by with a less sensitive, less expensive meter. There are some pretty darn good ones out there.