pool water test kit

Best Pool Test Kit & Digital Pool Tester For Your Pool 2019


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 many 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 below are the most accurate way 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 will test your pool water for the following: pH, alkalinity, acid demand, chlorine and bromine.

Some also include tests for calcium hardness, cyanuric acid and calcium hardness.

Use this guide to find the best pool test kit for your pool maintenance needs.


Best Pool Test Kits & Digital Pool Testers

Disclamer: All links below go to Amazon.com

Test KitPriceType / Use For (contaminants)Rating
Poolmaster 22260

Poolmaster 22260
Check on Amazon

Color Chips

pH, chlorine, bromine, acid demand and total alkalinity
Rating for Poolmaster-22260

Taylor K-2006C

Taylor K-2006C
Check on Amazon


Titration drop water

Free and Total Chlorine, Bromine, pH, Acid and Base Demand, Calcium Hardness, Total Alkalinity, and Stabilizer levels
Rating for Taylor Test Kit

LaMotte 2056

LaMotte 2056
$149.23 on Amazon

Digital pool water tester

Free chlorine, Total Chlorine, Bromine, PH, Alkalinity, Calcium Hardness, and Cyanuric Acid
Rating for ColorQLaMotte 2056 Test Kit

SafeDip

SafeDip
Check on Amazon

Digital pool water tester

pH, Salt, Chlorine, Total dissolved solids (TDS), Temperature, and ORP (oxidation reduction potential)
Rating for 6-In-1 Electronic Pool And Spa Water Tester

LaMotte ColorQ

LaMotte ColorQ
Check on Amazon

Digital pool water tester

Free and total Chlorine, Bromine, pH, Alkalinity, Calcium Hardness, Cyanuric Acid, Iron, Copper, Biguanide, and Biguanide Shock
Rating for LaMotte ColorQ Pro Test kit


Best Overall:

Poolmaster 22260 5-Way Swimming Pool and Spa Water Chemistry Test Kit with Case

 Poolmaster 22260 5-Way Swimming Pool and Spa Water Chemistry Test Kit

Poolmaster 22260 is one of the most popular and highest rated pool test kits. It’s a 5-way kit containing 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’ve been depending on your pool guy or a pool maintenance service to test and add chemicals to your pool, this kit allows 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 the pool is used every day, it’s a good idea to take a chlorine test daily since it’s the most important chemical for maintaining a healthy pool.

As for the other tests, you can do them 2-3 times a week.

Pros

  • 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

Cons

  • Not ideal for advanced pool testing – lacks tests for calcium hardness, cyanuric acid, and other chemicals


Best for Home & Commercial Pools:

Taylor Service Complete Pool Water Test Kit K-2006C

Taylor Service Complete Pool Water Test Kit

If you want a comprehensive test that analyzes your pool’s complete chemistry, this is the best test.

It’s good enough even for commercial pools.

Here are the things you can test for with the Taylor Service kit.

  • Free and total chlorine
  • Bromine
  • pH
  • Acid demand
  • Base demand
  • Total alkalinity
  • Stabilizer levels (cyanuric acid)
  • Calcium Hardness

As you can see, it goes way beyond what’s in a standard 3-way or 5-way pool test kit. It’s great for those who want 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’s easy to use. It has two chambers where you add the pool water for testing.

The color strips are easy to see; you’ll have no problem matching the color results to the chart.

If you want to do a bit more analysis, the kit comes with Taylor’s Water Balance Calculator Wheel. You can set your readings for pH, alkalinity and calcium hardness to check if your water is balanced.

Here’s a video explaining more about the calculator wheel.

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.

Pros

  • 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

Cons

  • Expensive


Best Price:

LaMotte 2056 ColorQ Pro 7 Digital Pool Water Test Kit

LaMotte 2056 ColorQ Pro 7 Digital Pool Water Test Kit

If you find that 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 since you don’t have to match any colors.

The LaMotte 2056 ColorQ Pro is one of the best and most affordable digital pool testers.

It uses a photometer to measure changes in the water after you add a reagent. It then gives you a digital readout on a small screen.

It’s so much easier and more accurate than trying to figure out where on the chart your results fall.

ColorQ Pro can measure seven different things.

  • Free Chlorine
  • Total chlorine
  • Bromine
  • pH
  • Alkalinity
  • Calcium Hardness
  • Cyanuric acid

It’s a great choice if you want to do a comprehensive chemical analysis of your pool.

Being a digital kit, you don’t get a comparator block – the 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 need for all the seven tests.

There are also instructions on 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.

Pros

  • Takes the guesswork out of pool testing
  • Great for colorblind persons
  • Comprehensive pool testing
  • Easy to use
  • Includes a carry/storage case

Cons

  • No chart or guide to provide target range recommendations
  • More expensive than a traditional color-matching kit


Easiest to Use:

SafeDip 6-In-1 Electronic Pool And Spa Water Tester

SafeDip 6-In-1 Electronic Pool And Spa Water Tester

The SafeDip electronic water tester works differently from digital testers. It uses probes instead of a photometer to test various water parameters.

You don’t need to add reagents to the water. Just scoop pool water into the sample cup and dip the tester inside.

It measures all parameters at once, making this the easiest pool tester kit to use.

As a bonus, you never have to worry about replacing reagents.

Here’s a video showing how it works.

The SafeDiptester measures six things.

The SafeDip tester does a great job measuring pH, salt, temperature, and TDS.

But it’s not the best for measuring chlorine.

For one, it does not give precise chlorine level numbers; only a reading of low, good or high.

That’s because it measures chlorine levels indirectly by measuring ORP. ORP is the ability of chlorine to oxidize pool contaminants. Higher ORP correlates to higher chlorine levels.

But this method is not as accurate as directly measuring the chlorine itself.

Another major downside is that it doesn’t measure alkalinity, one of the most important parameters in pool maintenance.

For these reasons, we recommend the SafeDiponly for those who want a quick and easy way to measure pool pH, chlorine salt, temperature, and TDS.

Once you get your measurements, go to safedip.com and enter your values in the calculator to get recommendations on how to balance your pool’s chemistry.

best water test kit

Pros

  • Very easy to use
  • Wide variety of measurements
  • No reagents necessary, meaning no need to buy more reagents in the future
  • Large digital readouts

Cons

  • Less than accurate readings for chlorine
  • Doesn’t measure alkalinity


Best Results:

LaMotte ColorQ Pro 11 TesTabs Digital Pool Water Testing Kit

LaMotte ColorQ Pro 11 TesTabs Digital Pool Water Testing Kit

Seven tests not enough for you?

The LaMotte ColorQ Pro 11 lets you test 11 parameters.

  • Free and total chlorine
  • Bromine
  • pH
  • Total alkalinity
  • Calcium Hardness
  • Cyanuric acid
  • Iron
  • Copper
  • Biguanide
  • BiguanideShock

The last two apply only to Biguanidepools. These are pools that use Biguanide instead of chlorine to disinfect the water.

The kit also tests for iron and copper, two tests you don’t get in most kits.

The LaMotte ColorQ Pro 11 is designed mostly for professional pool services and pool managers. But there’s no reason you can’t use it for your home pool especially if you want in-depth testing.

As with ColorQPro 7, the Pro 11 is a digital tester. It uses a photometer to measure changes in water after you add a reagent and then provides a digital readout.

It’s great for those who are colorblind or find color charts too confusing.

ColorQ Pro 11 is one of the best pool testing kits. The only reason we hesitate to recommend it wholeheartedly is a common complaint among users.

After a while, the kit shows an ‘Err 7’ message. The company claims it’s caused by a dirty lens.

After cleaning the lens, the error goes away, but the kit now starts providing inaccurate results. It will give a one reading during one test and provide a different reading when you repeat the same test.

If you decide to buy this kit, talk to the manufacturer first for advice on how to avoid this error and how to resolve it if it happens.

The warranty is short – only six months – so you may have to pay a fee to get the error resolved if it occurs after six months.

Pros

  • Easy to use – no confusing color matching
  • Ideal for colorblind persons
  • Comes with a hardy carrying case
  • Does more tests than any other kit

Cons

  • The problematic error code occurs after several months. It messes with the kit’s accuracy
  • Short warranty period


Types of Water Testing Kits

digital pool test

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 the basic kits where you have to match the water’s color changes to the chart. These kits are cheap but can be difficult to use for colorblind people.

Digital liquid test kits: Instead of matching colors, this kit does the reading for you. Once you add the reagent to the water in a test tube, you insert it into the digital unit that has a photometer to measure the 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 at all. 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 don’t have to add any 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).


How to Use a Pool Test Kit to Get the Most Accurate Results

spa tester strips

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 doesn’t have the card, use anything else you have on hand like a white sheet of paper to create a white background.
  • If you are colorblind or are not sure about the color, get a second opinion from someone else. If you are colorblind, we highly recommend a digital liquid test kit or an electronic test kit.
  • Do not use your fingers to cover the tubes when mixing the water with the reagent. Oils from your skin could 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

pool chemical test kit

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 the reagents in a cool, dry place away from sunlight or temperature extremes.

Can I use reagent from another company with my test kit?

No. Different companies formulate their 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 the best one for most people. It’s affordable, reliable and fairly easy to use.

Which is the best pool test kit for colorblind people?

A digital liquid test kit like LaMotte or an electronic test kit like SafeDipis the best one for colorblind people because it doesn’t need you to match colors.

What is the best salt-water pool test kit?

All pool test kits work in 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 in 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.


Conclusion

swimming pool tester kit

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 pretty much never have to pay anyone for pool maintenance.


Our Verdict

pool chemical levels

The Poolmaster 22260 5-way liquid test kit is the best one 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.


 


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