Best Pool Test Kit & Digital Pool Tester For Your Pool 2023
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Are you looking for a pool test kit to check the chemical levels & health of your swimming pool water?
You’ve come to the right place.
The right pool chemistry is essential for your health.
For example, if your water’s pH is too low or too high it can affect your skin and eyes.
Too-low levels of chlorine let algae and microbes thrive in your pool, which increases the risk of infection.
Having the right chemical balance also protects your pool and pool equipment from damage. If your pool is too acidic or too alkaline, your pool walls, pump, and other pool components can be impacts.
What’s In This Guide
In this pool test buying guide, we review the best pool test kits and digital pool testers sold online.
We selected these kits out of dozens of choices for their overall customer satisfaction, test accuracy, cost/value and reliability.
These test kits are not your normal test strips. The products reviewed below are the most accurate products available online to test your pool’s chemical balance. They are more comprehensive and provide more precise readings than ordinary pool test strips.
Most of the kits reviewed here test your pool water for the following attributes: pH, alkalinity, acid demand, chlorine and bromine.
Some also test for calcium hardness, cyanuric acid and calcium hardness.
Use this guide to find the best pool test kit for your specific pool testing needs.
Best Pool Test Kits & Digital Pool Testers Compared
Disclaimer: All links below go to Amazon.com
- Best Overall: Poolmaster 22260 5-Way Swimming Pool and Spa Water Chemistry
- Best for Home & Commercial Pools: Taylor Service Complete Pool Water Test Kit K-2006C
- Best Value: LaMotte 2056 ColorQ Pro 7 Digital Pool Water Test Kit
- Best for Salt Water Pool Testing: Solaxx 2-in-1 Electronic Water Tester
- Best for Quick Pool Testing: Industrial Test Systems 486201 Pool Water Test Kit
|Test Kit||Type / Use For (contaminants)||Rating|
|Poolmaster 22260||Color Chips|
pH, chlorine, bromine, acid demand and total alkalinity
|Taylor K-2006C||Titration drop water|
Free and Total Chlorine, Bromine, pH, Acid and Base Demand, Calcium Hardness, Total Alkalinity, and Stabilizer levels
|LaMotte 2056 ||Digital pool water tester|
Free chlorine, Total Chlorine, Bromine, PH, Alkalinity, Calcium Hardness, and Cyanuric Acid
|Solaxx 2-in-1||Digital Salt Water Tester|
Salt content and water temperature
|Industrial Test Systems||Digital meter with reagent strips|
Free chlorine, Total Chlorine, Combined Chlorine, PH, Total Alkalinity, Calcium Hardness, Cyanuric Acid, Copper, Phosphate, and Chloride (salt)
1. Best Overall: Poolmaster 22260 5-Way Swimming Pool and Spa Water Chemistry Test Kit with Case
Poolmaster 22260 is one of the most popular and highest-rated pool test kits for sale anywhere. It is a 5-way kit that tests for pH, chlorine, bromine, acid demand, and total alkalinity.
For most residential swimming pools, these tests are enough to maintain proper water chemistry.
The Poolmaster 22260 is easy to use even for first-time pool testers.
If you depend on your pool guy or a pool service to test and add chemicals to your pool, this kit will let you to do everything on your own.
It consists of a test block with UV-protected color chips that provide an accurate reading.
Just add water to the test tubes and add the reagents as instructed. The instructions for taking various tests are very clear. You don’t need a chemistry major to test how acidic or alkaline your pool is.
The reagents last on average 2-4 seasons depending on how often you test your pool.
If your pool is used daily, it is a good idea to take a chlorine test once a day because it is by far the most important chemical for maintaining a healthy pool.
As for the other tests, you can do them 2-3 times a week.
- Easy to use a test kit, even for beginners. The detailed instructions are very helpful.
- Accurate test readings
- Long-lasting test chemicals
- Everything is neatly organized in a durable polyethylene case
- Great price the Poolmaster22260 is one of the most affordable 5-way pool test kits
- Not ideal for special situations. It lacks tests for calcium hardness, cyanuric acid, and other chemicals.
2. Best for Home & Commercial Pools: Taylor Service Complete Pool Water Test Kit K-2006C
If you want a comprehensive test that analyzes your pool’s complete chemistry, this is the best test.
This kit is good enough for commercial pools, too.
Here are the things you can test for with the Taylor Service kit:
- Free and total chlorine
- Acid demand
- Base demand
- Total alkalinity
- Stabilizer levels (cyanuric acid)
- Calcium Hardness
As you can see, the Taylor test kit goes way beyond a standard 3-way or 5-way pool test kit. This test kit is best for those who need an advanced chemical analysis for their pool.
Everything you need comes packed neatly in a carrying/storage case with slots for each reagent. The reagents are in large 2 oz. Bottles that should last more than a few seasons.
You also get a comparator block that is easy to use. It has two chambers where you add the pool water for testing.
The color strips are easy to see; you should have no problem matching the color results to the chart.
If you want to do a bit more analysis, the kit comes with the Taylor Water Balance Calculator Wheel. Using this, you can set your readings for pH, alkalinity, and calcium hardness to check if your water is balanced.
Here is a video that explains how the Calculator Wheelworks.
The kit includes clear instructions on how to take each test and comes with a booklet with recommendations on how to restore your water’s chemical balance.
- Advanced analysis for those who want comprehensive pool testing
- Ideal for home and commercial pools
- Large-capacity reagent bottles last longer
- Easy to use with clear instructions and recommendations to guide you
- Accurate Readings
3. Best Value: LaMotte 2056 ColorQ Pro 7 Digital Pool Water Test Kit
If you find comparing the color of the water to the color on the chart to be tedious or confusing, get a digital pool water tester.
A digital test kit is also great for colorblind persons because color matching isn’t needed to use it.
The LaMotte 2056 ColorQ Pro is also one of the best affordable digital pool testers.
It uses a photometer to measure changes in the water after you add a reagent, then gives you a digital readout on a small screen.
Using a digital test is so much easier and more accurate than trying to figure out where on a color chart your results fall.
ColorQ Pro can measure seven different aspects about your pool water, as follows:
- Free Chlorine
- Total chlorine
- Calcium Hardness
- Cyanuric acid
The ColorQ Pro is a great choice if you want to do a comprehensive chemical analysis of your pool.
Being a digital kit, you will not use a comparator block that thing with the two tubes and a color chart used in traditional kits.
Instead, the ColorQ Pro kit includes the digital tester itself plus the reagents you’ll need for the seven tests.
There are instructions included that explain how to carry out each test.
The only thing missing is a guide for interpreting different ranges so that you know whether you need to add anything to the pool.
But you can easily get the correct ranges online or calculate them at PoolCalculator.com.
- Takes the guesswork out of pool testing
- Great for colorblind persons
- Comprehensive pool testing
- Easy to use
- Includes a carry/storage case
- No chart or guide to provide target range recommendations
- More expensive than a traditional color-matching kit
4. Best for Salt Water Pool Testing: Solaxx 2-in-1 Electronic Water Tester
The Solaxx 2-in-1Electronic Water Tester is a convenient and accurate device for testing the saltiness of your pool. Since it is a digital pool water tester, it eliminates all the mess and human error involved in traditional water testing methods.
With this Solaxx device, all you have to do is collect a sample of water, remove the protective cover from the probe, dip it into the sample, and press start. The device will display the accurate salt level and water temperature reading within seconds.
We really like the Solaxx water tester for its rugged construction and waterproof housing. It keeps electrodes safe even when the device is in use. You don’t have to worry about damaging it even with rough use.
This 2-in-1 tester also supports automatic calibration and has a memory function so you can compare the previous results.
- Simple and easy to use
- Displays accurate results
- Operates on common AAA batteries
- Automatic calibration
- Mess and human error-free
- Measures only two parameters
- Suitable for saltwater analysis only
5. Best for Quick Pool Testing: Industrial Test Systems 486201 Pool Water Test Kit
If you want fast and easy results for your pool water, check out the Industrial Test Systems 486201 Pool Water Test Kit. It delivers lab-quality results in a fraction of time, and unlike liquid reagent test kits, it is extremely easy to use.
It consists of a waterproof photometer featuring a digital readout display. A 4 ml sample cell is incorporated into the meter that you can directly dip in the water to collect samples. It also includes the patented eXact strips containing the required amount of reagent to conduct the test.
Once you collect the sample, dip this strip into the sample and use a gentle back and forth motion to mix the reagent. You can read the results almost immediately on the LCD display.
The Industrial Test Systems pool water tester can detect 10 different water elements, including chlorine, copper, calcium hardness, pH levels, and more. It is certified to NSF/ANSI standard 50, so you can rely on it to be safe and deliver accurate results.
- Digital readout
- Sample cell included
- Certified to NSF standards
- Requires batteries for operation
- Comes with only six foils; you have to purchase more separately
Pool Test Kit/Digital Pool Tester Buying Guide
Owning a sparking swimming pool may be the ultimate dream, but maintaining its sparkling state is a tough task. You have to be particular about its cleanliness as well as sanitization so that it does not become a source of diseases and infections.
For this purpose, you need to use some chemicals; however, balancing these chemicals is also important. And a pool test kit or digital pool water tester can help you with that. Here’s a buying guide to help you find the right one.
Types of Water Testing Kits
Pool Test Strips
Pool test strips are the easiest, quickest and cheapest way to test your pool water. They are fairly accurate but not as precise as liquid and digital test kits.
Test strips come with a color chart that you match the strips to.
This gives you the pH, alkalinity or acidity level. You can also use strips to test for specific chemicals like chlorine, bromine or water hardness.
You can buy strips for a single test or a pack for multiple tests.
Liquid Test Kits
Liquid test kits are more reliable than test strips.
Instead of dipping a strip in the water, you add a chemical reagent to water in a test tube and match the color change to the color chart.
For some tests, you count the number of drops required for a complete color change.
A liquid test kit will have several reagents for multiple tests.
There are two types of liquid test kits.
Liquid test kits with the color chart: These are basic kits where you have to match color changes to a chart. These kits are cheap but can be difficult to use for people who suffer from bad eyesight or color blindness.
Digital liquid test kits: Instead of matching colors, digital liquid test kits do the reading for you. After you add the reagent to the water in a test tube, you insert it into the digital unit that has a photometer which detects changes in the water. It then provides a precise digital reading on a screen.
Electronic Test Kits
An electronic test kit does not use reagents. Instead, you insert probes into a water sample to get instant readings.
Most electronic test kits provide accurate measurements for pH, TDS, salt, and temperature but tend to be less precise when it comes to measuring chlorine.
Electronic pool testers are the easiest to use. You do not have to add reagents, and you can get multiple readings at once.
Of course, they are more expensive than other types of pool testing kits.
The best choice among these three depends on your needs.
If you want a fast and cheap way to test your pool, get test strips.
If you want a more accurate but affordable testing method, get a liquid test kit.
If you are color blind or have trouble matching colors, get a digital liquid test kit or an electronic test kit. The latter is also the best if you want the most accurate readings (except chlorine a liquid test kit is the best for chlorine testing).
What to Look for When Purchasing the Most Effective Pool Test Kit
You can’t randomly settle on any pool testing kit without knowing the needs of your specific pool. For example, a freshwater pool has different contaminants than a saltwater pool.
Other than the water type, you also have to factor in the type of test kit, test elements, accuracy, and ease of usage before purchasing any pool water test kit.
Let’s discuss why in detail below.
Type of test kit
There are various types of testing kits to choose from. While they all ultimately perform the same tests, the methods are vastly different.
Liquid pool test kits or titrimetric kits are usually the least expensive, but they are the most difficult ones to use. They require you to collect a sample and mix the exact amounts of reagents to obtain accurate results.
While their results are quite accurate, you have to be precise when mixing the reagents. They come as a set of 5-7 bottles, each containing a different reagent to test certain water pollutants.
You can go for water testing strips or colorimetric pool test kits if you want something simpler. They are affordable and simple to use, but reading the results is a pain.
When you dip the strip in the water sample, it changes color, which you then have to compare with the provided color chart to determine the result. Strips can analyze up to seven parameters per strip; however, the results are not as reliable as the results provided by digital pool water testers.
Digital pool water testers are equipped with a metallic probe to check water quality. They can display accurate readings of water temperature, pH level, salt, and chlorine content.
Despite being extremely accurate, a single device can only measure one or two factors at a time. Plus, digital kits are costlier than any other home pool testing kit.
The type of water you want to test also determines the best pool water test kit for yourself. For example, a saltwater pool can only be tested with a saltwater testing kit. But since these pools use a salt-chlorine generator for sanitization, a standard water test kit won’t work.
People also resort to using chemicals like pool shock, chlorine, and bromine, along with a pump and filtration system to prevent bacteria and algae from breeding inside the water.
You can test the chemical levels with a standard pH kit or invest in a more comprehensive pool tester for your peace of mind.
Knowing what elements a pool water kit can detect also helps you choose the right one for your application. For example, where most liquid pool testers can test for various pool chemicals, most digital testers can only report one or two parameters.
The most common pool elements that homeowners want to detect are chlorine, bromine, pH, total alkalinity, calcium hardness, and cyanuric acid.
Fortunately, even the most basic water testing kit can test for pH as well as chlorine and bromine levels. But if you want to test for other parameters, choose a kit with a wide testing range.
The accuracy of a home pool testing kit varies from product to product and from user to user, too, especially when it comes to liquid water testing kits.
When used correctly, liquid testing kits are the most accurate ones; however, the process of comparing results leaves a wide window for human error.
These kits require you to collect a sample of pool water, add specific reagents, and then compare the color results to a provided scale. And unfortunately, not everyone has the same perception of colors.
Pool testing strips are much easier to use but are also subjective to human error because of color-coded results.
Digital pool testers are the most accurate, with a slight error window of 1 or 2 percent. Plus, they are pretty easy to use and read. However, they entail a high upfront cost and can measure only one or two parameters.
Ease of usage
Pool testing kits measure the concentration of different chemicals inside the pool. The testing procedure is so sensitive that even the slightest mistake can result in inaccurate results. Before settling on a certain product, you should carefully analyze how easy to use different kits.
If you choose a digital pool tester, be sure that it can measure the water element you want to test. And if you choose a liquid or strip testing kit, check out the color charts to ensure they are easy to compare results against.
How to Use a Pool Test Kit to Get the Most Accurate Results
Here are some tips on how to use a pool test kit to get the most accurate results.
- Read the instructions before you do anything. Focus especially on how to use the reagents. Adding the wrong reagent or using more than the recommended drops will give you the wrong readings.
- When taking a water sample from the pool, dip your hand up to the elbow. Do not scoop water from the surface, near the skimmer or the return line.
- If you are using a liquid digital test kit, wash the tube between tests or use a new tube to avoid contaminating the water.
- Use the white placard included in your liquid test kit to better see the watercolor and match it to the chart. If your kit does not have the card, use anything else you have on hand like a white sheet of paper to create a white background.
- If you are color blind or are not sure about the color, get a second opinion. If you are color blind, we highly recommend buying a digital liquid test kit or an electronic test kit.
- Do not use fingers to cover the tubes when mixing water with the reagent. Oils from your skin can affect the readings. Either jiggle the comparator to get a good mix or, if you are using a digital tester, use the included caps to seal the tube then mix.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long are pool test kits good for?
Check the expiry date on the reagent bottles. Most test kits last between 1-2 seasons after which they lose their strength.
Store reagents in a cool, dry place away from sunlight or temperature extremes. Don’t store them in your pool box.
Can I use reagent from another company with my test kit?
No. Different companies formulate reagents differently. Only use reagents from the kit manufacturer to get accurate readings.
What is the best pool test kit?
A liquid pool test kit is usually the best choice for most people. It’s affordable, reliable and fairly easy to use.
Which is the best pool test kit for color blind people?
A digital liquid test kit like LaMotte or an electronic test kit like SafeDip is the best choice for colorblind people because it does not require you to match colors.
What is the best salt water pool test kit?
All pool test kits work the same for both freshwater and saltwater pools. If you want to monitor salt levels, get a pool test kit that tests for salts such as the SafeDip 6-in-1 tester.
How many drops do you put into a pool test kit?
It depends on what you are testing for.
For chlorine, you usually add five drops of the chlorine indicator reagent.
For pH, you first add one drop of chlorine neutralizer, then five drops of red phenol indicator.
For the acid demand test, you add drops until you get a permanent color change.
Check the instructions for the precise number of drops you should add for each test.
A pool test kit not only saves you money (you don’t have to pay someone to test your pool water), it also gives you control over the health and safety of your pool.
By taking frequent readings, you can maintain your pool within the best chemical balance.
Combine a pool test kit with a robotic pool cleaner and you may never have to pay someone else for monthly and weekly pool maintenance again.
The Poolmaster 22260 5-way liquid test kit is our best choice for most people. Not only is it cheap, but it’s also reliable and easy to use.
If you want a more comprehensive test, get the Taylor Service complete kit.
For those who don’t want to match colors, the LaMotte ColorQPro 7 and Pro 11 are great choices. They offer precise readings without any of the guesswork of color matching.
If you don’t like the whole colors and reagents thing, get the SafeDip electronic tester. It’s the easiest to use and doesn’t require reagents or color matching.
The best place to buy this Poolmaster 22260 5-way liquid test kit is on Amazon, where you’ll often find the best deal.