For flooring installers, inspectors, lumber suppliers, electric works and even for homeowners moisture meter is a must to have the device. You may wonder why a homeowner needs a moisture meter? Well, to detect the moisture content of firewood during winter, to detect the existence of mold and so on you need this device.
From plumbers to an electrician, this is a must-have tool for safety and accuracy. Finding out the best moisture meters from a lot of varieties is really challenging. To make this difficult task easier we have made a buying guide with 10 instructions to buy the best moisture meter.
In the subsequent section, we have made a list of 6 top moisture meters prevailing in the market. This list will save your time and help you to find out the right moisture meter for your work within less time.
Moisture Meter Buying Guide
Moisture meter has many features, specifications types, and characteristics. So if you get confused about making the decision to buy the right moisture meter for your work it is normal.
But if you do not get confused I think you are a moisture meter expert and you have clear knowledge about the characteristics of different types of a moisture meter and you know what you need. In that case, you do not have to read this section. You can jump to the next section to see the best moisture meters available in the market.
You should gain a clear idea about the following parameters before buying moisture meter:
There are mainly two types of moisture meter – one is pin type moisture meter and the other is pinless moisture meter.
The pin type moisture meter has a pair of probes that plunge into the test object and calculates the moisture level of that place. They give more accurate result but their downside is that you have to plunge pins into the materials to get the reading.
The pinless moisture meter uses a high-frequency electromagnetic wave to detect the moisture level in the test object. You do not have to make any tiny hole in the test material if you use a pinless moisture meter. They are more expensive than the pinless moisture meter.
For some test objects making tiny holes is not a big deal but for some object, you may not want to make any hole on its surface. In that case, what will you do? Will you buy two types of moisture meter?
Well, some moisture meters come with both features of pinless and pin type moisture meter. You can buy this type of moisture meter if you need both types.
You will not get a 100% accurate result from any kind of moisture meter – no matter how expensive it is or if it is made by the world-famous moisture meter manufacturer. It is impossible to manufacture a moisture meter that will give a 100% accurate result.
The lower the error rate the better the quality of a moisture meter. It is wise to choose a moisture meter that is accurate to within 0.1% to 1%.
3. Test Material
Most moisture meters work best for wood, concrete, and other building material.
4. Warranty and Guarantee Period
It is wise to check the warranty and guarantee period before buying a moisture meter from a particular seller. Also, do not forget to check the quality of their customer service.
Some moisture meter comes with an LED display and some LCD display. Though analog and digital LED is also available, LED and LCD are more common than these two. It is totally up to you which one you will like to choose.
You also should pay attention to the size of the screen and the resolution because the clarity and accuracy of the overall readings highly depend on these two parameters.
6. Audible Feature
Some moisture meters have audible features. If you have to use your moisture meter in darkness or awkward situation where it is difficult to see the screen this feature will come to your help.
Some moisture meters can save the readings for using later as references. It may not possible to carry a pen and writing pad everywhere.
8. Ergonomic Shape
If the moisture meter does not have an ergonomic shape you may feel it difficult to use it. So check whether it has a convenient grip to hold it comfortably or not.
9. Weight and size
A lightweight and small or medium size moisture meter is convenient to carry anywhere you want.
10. Battery Life
Moisture meters run over the power of the battery. If your moisture meter has a long battery life and good power-saving feature it will serve you for a long time.
The service you get from a moisture meter does not always depend on the quality of the moisture meter. It also depends on the way you are using it.
Calibration is the most important work to be done to get an accurate result from a moisture meter that we often ignore and get a result with a high percentage of error. If your moisture meter needs calibration and you have started to work without calibrating, then do not blame the moisture meter after getting an erotic result.
A moisture meter is a sensitive device. So it is needed to use with great care. Every time you use your pin type moisture meter do not forget to wipe the pins after using with a dry and soft rag and always cover the pins with a cap to protect these from dust and dirt. Pinless moisture meters also need to protect from dust and dirt.
It is the most fundamental aspect of a wood moisture meter. It’s the range of moisture percentage which the meter can measure. To get a proper idea, usually, this range is somewhere around 10% to 50%. But high-end ones have indeed extended in both limits. You’ll find a couple among the ones down below that they’re 4% to 80% and even 0-99.9%.
As I’ve said it’s the most fundamental, I can’t exaggerate more on this fact, you should never ever buy one without taking a look at this. A rule of thumb is longer the range the better.
All moisture meter has different modes to measure the moisture of different materials and woods. Why can’t they do that all in just one mode? Why’s even there a need for all these modes? Well, that’s a long answer that you aren’t interested in. I’ll have to talk about resistance, voltages, amps and all that stuff.
Woods and building materials lie on two extreme ends of the grades. And different woods lie in different modes. It’s only normal that the number of different types of timber, woods or materials enlisted under different modes directly shows how versatile the meter is.
If the number of modes gets a little too long it’ll get really hard for you to keep track. And if it’s too little then the result won’t be all that accurate. You’ll have to balance between the two. So, anywhere around ten is a good choice.
Pin Vs Pinless
Wood moisture meters can be categorized into two types depending on their configuration and working principle. Some have a pair of electrical probes some don’t.
For the ones that have probes, you’ll have to push it a bit into the material to measure the moisture. You’ll indeed be getting accurate and reliable data but in the meantime, you’ll be leaving scratches and dents on the material.
With the pinless ones, you won’t have to insert anything inside the material, just by touching it on the test material you can know of its moisture content. That’s really helpful and time-saving especially when you have to know of the moisture content of a surface.
The former works by passing electricity through the test material. If you’re thinking that you might even get shocked if you touch the test material, that won’t be the case. It’s a really low current sourced from the battery of the meter itself.
The pinless wood moisture meter is an example of the advancement of technology. Using high-frequency electromagnetic waves the moisture within a certain depth of the material is measured. If you’re worried about radiation or anything, relax, these are weak electromagnetic waves.
The probes themselves can be somewhere between 5mm to 10 mm. Don’t think, the longer the better, If it gets a bit too long it’ll easily break off. Always make sure that the probes are rigidly constructed. But that’s never clearly mentioned by the manufacturers. So, you’ll have to check the reviews like down below.
Some meters have probes that are replaceable. You can find the probes of these in the market like car’s spare parts. It’s always the better choice cause if it ever breaks you can replace it.
Having a pin cap with meters is more than just protection. It works as a calibrator, you can ensure if the results you’re getting are accurate. Once you put the cap on the meter it’s supposed to show 0% moisture. If it does so, it’s working fine otherwise it’s not.
You can easily know if there’s a pin cap or not from the picture of the meter on the package or on the internet.
It’s needless to speak of the importance of accuracy. You’ll see it mentioned as a percentage, these indicate the net error. If for example, a meter has an accuracy of 0.5% and displaying 17% moisture content then the moisture content, in reality, will be somewhere between 16.5% to 17.5%.
Hence lower the percentage denoting accuracy the better.
Auto Shut off
Just like calculators this too has an auto shut down function. If it’s lying around with no action it’ll turn itself off in about 10 minutes or so. Thus, saving a lot of charge and greatly increasing your battery life. Almost all wood moisture meter nowadays have this feature but some may still not have this. You can check the specs to be sure.
Displays can come in one of the three forms, TFT, LED, or LCD. You’re most likely to encounter ones with LCD. LCD’s best amongst the three. But regardless of what you’re getting do make sure that it’s backlit. You won’t be around light always and maybe not even most of the time.
Another thing about the display, make sure that it has a large digit. Otherwise, it might get irritating at times.
In most cases, the meters require a 9V battery. These are replaceable and available. You may also find ones that have permanently set rechargeable batteries. It’s better to get ones with 9V batteries since you can replace ‘em. The problem with rechargeable ones is that you’ll have to charge them and sooner or later they’ll get damaged.
Charge Indicator and Alarm
Many wood moisture meters nowadays have this alarm system for times when the batteries running low. This helps out a lot not just by reminding you that the batteries almost you of charge and you’ll have to buy a new one but also by protecting the device itself. How? Well, really low charged batteries damage electronic devices.
Usually, in the corner of the display, there’s the battery charge indicator. It’s always there no matter which one you get these days. But do make sure you’re not getting one without it.
Depth of Sense
With the wood moisture meters that have probes, it can sense just a bit further than the length of the probe. But when you’re using ones without the probes, things get a little tricky. The might even sense as far as ¾ inch into the test material.
So, do check the specs to ensure that you get a good enough depth. For the ones that are pinless or probe less, ½ inch is really good.
Best Moisture Meters reviewed
General tools, Sam-PRO, Tavool, Dr. meter, etc. are some of the renowned brands of a moisture meter. Researching the product of these brands we have picked the most popular models for your review:
1. General Tools MMD4E Digital Moisture Meter
The General Tools MMD4E Digital Moisture Meter comes with an extra 8mm (0.3 in.) stainless steel pins, a protective cap, and a 9V battery. The measurement range of this pin type moisture meter varies from 5 to 50% for wood and 1.5 to 33% for building materials.
To measure moisture with General Tools MMD4E Digital Moisture Meter stick the stainless steel pins into the surface and you will see the result on the LED screen of the meter.
It shows low, medium and high moisture tones with green, yellow and red LED visual alerts respectively. You can use this moisture meter even in the darkness since it has audible high, medium, low signals to alert you about the level of moisture content.
If you want to save reading to check out later you can also do that with this moisture meter. It features a hold function to freeze a reading to check by matching with a moisture meter reading chart later. It also has an auto power off and a low battery indicator feature.
It is a strong and sturdy tool. It has an ergonomic design and the rubber side grips provide high comfort when you are using it for multiple measurements.
You can use it to detect leaks, dampness, and moisture in wood, ceiling, walls, carpet, and firewood. To assess water damage and remediation efforts after flooding from hurricanes, storms, roof leaks or broken pipes to discover hidden water damage in floors, walls and under carpets it can come to great use of you.
Some customers found inconsistency in the reading of General Tools MMD4E Digital Moisture Meter. General Tools has kept the price of this moisture meter in a reasonable range. So you can give a look to this moisture meter.
2. SAM-PRO Dual Moisture Meter
The SAM-PRO Dual Moisture Meter comes with a durable nylon case, set of replacement probes, & 9-volt battery is able to detect moisture level in over 100 Materials, such as- wood, concrete, drywall, and other building materials. So you can easily detect water damage, mold risk, leaks, wet building materials & seasoned firewood with this moisture meter.
It is made of heavy-duty plastic and it works through the power of the battery. Zinc-carbon battery has been used in this moisture meter. It is a good quality product that provides service for a long time.
SAM-PRO has a pair of the probe made of steel and to read the moisture level it has an LCD display. It is very easy to use. You just have to take the protective cap off and press the power button. Then you will find a list of material.
You have to select the type of material of which moisture content you are going to measure. Then push the probes into the material and wait for a couple of seconds. Then the device will show you the moisture content of that material on its large easy-to-read backlit LCD display.
After measuring the moisture content at several places of the material you can know the minimum and maximum moisture content by pressing the MAX and MIN functions. The SAM-PRO Dual Moisture Meter also includes SCAN, & Hold functions.
If the percentage of moisture content ranges between 5-11% then it is considered low moisture level; if it is between 12-15% then it is considered medium moisture content and if it is between 16-50% then it is considered as high moisture level.
Sometimes the moisture meter hangs and does not display anything. This is one of the major cons found by customers. It is not so pricey but has enough features to be considered as one of the best moisture meters.
3. Tavool Wood Moisture Meter
Tavool Wood Moisture Meter is a dual-mode high-quality precision moisture meter. To measure the moisture content of wood it is a popular moisture meter among the professionals including flooring installers, inspectors, and lumber suppliers.
It features a total of 8 calibration scales. To detect whether the moisture is at low, medium or high-level Tavool Wood Moisture Meter is a great tool. If it shows that moisture content is between 5-12% then the moisture level is low, if it is between 12-17% then the moisture content is at a medium level, if it is between 17-60% then the moisture content is at a high level.
It is designed to use easily only by following 3 steps. Firstly, you have to press the ON/OFF button to start the moisture meter. Then have to choose the mode for measuring mode for wood or building material.
Secondly, you have to penetrate the pins into the test surface. The pins should be penetrated enough so that it remains stable to give the readings.
You have to wait for a while for the readings to be stable. When you will see a stable reading press the HOLD button to hold the readings.
The memory function helps to remember the value. If you have held the value and turn off the instruction, the same value will be shown when you will turn on the device again.
The large easy-to-read Backlit LED screen is able to show the temperature both in centigrade and Fahrenheit scale. If you do not so any operation for 10 minutes it will turn off automatically. This feature is useful to save battery life.
4. Dr. Meter MD918 Pinless Wood Moisture Meter
Dr. Meter MD918 Pinless Wood Moisture Meter is an intelligent device with a wide measurement range (4-80%). It is a non-invasive and non-marring moisture meter that uses high-frequency electromagnetic waves to detect the moisture level of the test material.
It is not possible to make any electronic device that shows a result that is a hundred percent free from error. But it is possible to reduce the percentage of error. DR. Meter has lessened the error of their moisture meter to %Rh+0.5.
It has an extra-large LCD display that provides clear reading with good resolution. If you do not do any operation in it for 5 minutes it will automatically shut down.
It is a lightweight moisture meter that works through the power of the battery. It is also not so big in size. So you can carry it easily anywhere you want putting it in your pocket or tool carrying bag like Hilmor tool bags.
The Dr. Meter MD918 Pinless Wood Moisture Meter comes with 3 battery of 1.5V, 1 carrying pouch, a card, and a user manual.
Calibration is an important work you may need to do several times during the period of using Dr. Meter MD918 Pinless Wood Moisture Meter. Here I am describing these certain conditions.
If you are using the moisture meter for the first time, if you need to exchange the battery, if you have not used the moisture meter for a long time and you restart it to use, if you are using it with two extreme temperature differences you must have to calibrate the device to get accurate result.
It comes with a guarantee period of one month and with a replacement warranty period of 12 months and with a lifetime support guarantee.
Some customers received a bad unit and some units need to calibrate every time before measuring the moisture content. These two are the main cons we found after studying customer’s review of Dr. Meter MD918 Pinless Wood Moisture Meter.
5. Ryobi E49MM01 Pinless Moisture Meter
Ryobi is another popular name in the field of the pinless moisture meter and the E49MM01 is one of their most popular models of a pinless moisture meter.
Since it is a pinless moisture meter you can determine the moisture content by avoiding scuff and scratch on the test object. If you are a DIY enthusiast the Ryobi E49MM01 Pinless Moisture Meter can be one of the best choices for you.
It shows the percentage of moisture level on the LCD screen in large numbers. It can measure the moisture level accurately within 32-104 degrees Fahrenheit temperature range. It also features audible alerts that can warn you about the high pitch tones to give you an accurate read on where moisture is most concentrated.
The Ryobi E49MM01 Pinless Moisture Meter is easy to use. You just have to set the type of test material and hold the sensor over the test surface for a while. Then it will show the result on its easy to read LCD screen in big digits.
You can determine the moisture content of wood, drywall, and masonry material using this pinless moisture meter.
This strong, sturdy moisture meter is durable and has an ergonomic shape. It is sold at a reasonable price that does not vary much with a pin type moisture meter.
A common complaint of customers about the Ryobi E49MM01 Pinless Moisture Meter is the arrival of a defective product and some found it not functioning on hardwood floors or concrete slabs.
6. Calculated Industries 7445 AccuMASTER Duo Pro Pin & Pinless Moisture Meter
If you need both of pin-type and pinless moisture meter you do not have to buy these two separately; the Calculated Industries 7445 AccuMASTER Moisture Meter alone can meet both of your need.
Since it works as both pinless and pin-type moisture meter do not get afraid by thinking it as a complex device. It is designed as a user-friendly and simple to understand device.
When you are using it in pin mode, push the sharp pin firmly into the test material. The pins are made of stainless steel and so do not worry about damage while pushing it into the test material.
When you are using it in pad mode place the rear side of the meter on the test surface and wait a bit. Whether the moisture content is in low, medium or high level will be displayed on the LCD screen of the moisture meter.
The audible alert feature lets you know the moisture level even if you are in dark or awkward space where it is difficult to see the screen.
This device is designed keeping in the matter of comfort of users while using it. The shape with the rubber side is comfortable to grip and take the measurement in any condition.
You can determine the moisture content of hardwood, lumber, wood flooring, brick, concrete, drywall and plaster with this 7445 AccuMASTER Duo Pro Pin & Pinless Moisture Meter. It comes with a 9-volt battery, batter-saving auto shut-off (3 mins), user’s manual and a one-year warranty period.
The major cons found by the unhappy customers are inaccurate reading given by this moisture meter. Finally, I would like to talk about the cost. Since this moisture meter has more features than any other type of moisture meter, it costs quite more than the others.
General Tools MMD7NP Moisture Meter
No pins!! You’ll just have to hold it against the wall to measure moisture up to ¾ inch inside the wall. Feels like you’re using one of those spy gadgets from James Bond. With this, there’ll be no hole or scratches or any marks of any sort.
Apart from the 2-inch diagonal screen showing the moisture percentage, you can always understand it from the high pitch tone or the tr-color LED bar graph. If by any chance the 9V battery gets low on charge you’ll be alerted. And yes, just like the others this too has the auto-off function.
As always the range of moisture content that can be measured varies with the material. It’s 0 to 53% for woods that are relatively soft and that for harder wood is 0 to 35%. Overall this is a nice piece of equipment, you get all that you need with the touch of innovation and technology.
Sometimes when you’re going over 0% moisture content surface for too long, the meter automatically turns off. This gets a bit too irritating when the settings are back to default when you turn it back on.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some frequently asked questions and their answers.
Which is better pin or pinless moisture meter?
Pin-type meters, in particular, have the advantage of being able to tell you the depth at which a moisture pocket in wood occurs. … Pinless meters, on the other hand, are very good at scanning large areas of an object quickly. With these meters, there are no pins to constantly and carefully push in and out of the wood.
What level of damp is acceptable?
any moisture content above 16% reading is considered damp. Most meters are fairly accurate now,even the cheaper ones.
Are cheap moisture meters any good?
An inexpensive $25-50 pin type meter is good for measuring firewood. If you’re willing to accept a moisture reading with +/- 5% accuracy, you can probably get away with buying a cheap meter in the $25-50 range. … So, a cheap $25-50 pin type moisture meter is good for firewood.
What is an acceptable moisture readings?
So, knowing the relative humidity (RH) conditions is a must when trying to determine what a “safe” moisture content for wood walls is. For example, if the temperature in the room is around 80 degrees Fahrenheit, and the RH is 50%, then a “safe” level of moisture in the wall would be about 9.1% MC.
Can a moisture meter be wrong?
Moisture meters are subject to false positive readings for a number of reasons that are well documented in the industry. Non-invasive meters have more false positives than penetrating meters. The most common cause is metal hidden in or behind the material being checked.
How do you know if wood is dry enough to burn?
To identify well seasoned wood, check the ends of the logs. If they are dark in colour and cracked, they are dry. Dry seasoned wood is lighter in weight than wet wood and makes a hollow sound when hitting two pieces together. If there is any green colour visible or bark is hard to peel, the log is not yet dry.
Are moisture meters worth it?
A high-quality moisture meter used on the right material can be accurate to within less than 0.1% of the material’s moisture content by weight. However, a low-end moisture meter can be wildly inaccurate.
How can I dry wood fast?
All you need to do is set up a decent dehumidifier beside the stack of wood to be dried, let it run, and it will suck the moisture right out of the wood. This can speed up the drying time from months or weeks to just a few days. Even better is if you add an air fan into the mix to produce some extra airflow.
What is a high moisture reading for Wood?
When using the wood scale on a pin-type moisture meter, the %MC reading can range from 5% to 40% in moisture content. Generally, the low end of this reading will fall into the 5 to 12% range, the moderate range will be 15 to 17%, and the high or saturated range will read above 17%.
How much moisture is acceptable in drywall?
While relative humidity can have some effect on moisture levels, drywall is considered to have an appropriate level of moisture if it has a moisture content of between 5 and 12%.
Is it worth buying a house with damp?
Damp does not necessarily mean that you cannot buy a particular house – if you are part way through the process of buying, and damp is flagged as a problem, you should get the damp checked out by a professional and then speak to the seller about what can be done to either fix the issue or negotiate on the price.
How do surveyors check for damp?
How do surveyors check for damp? When a building surveyor carrying out inspections for a bank or other lending institutions they will check for dampness using an electrical conductance moisture meter. These moisture meters are used to measure the percentage of water in whatever the probes are inserted.
What is acceptable moisture level in concrete?
MFMA recommends the relative humidity level for a concrete slab for a non-glue-down maple floor system be 85% or lower and for glue down systems the concrete slab relative humidity level should be 75% or lower before installation.
Q: Can I replace the probe of the wood moisture meter?
Ans: If yours have that facility then you can. Not all meters have replaceable probes. And if by any chance yours is replaceable you’ll indeed find the spare probes for sale in stores or amazon.
Q: Which woods can I test with my meter?
Ans: The manual you were provided along with the meter has different modes depending on different woods. If your wood is on that list you can test it with your meter.
Q: Will problems meters affect my woods anyhow?
Ans: Nope, they won’t. These are a very weak electromagnetic wave, they won’t be able to harm your workpieces anyhow.
Q: How does moisture meter work?
Ans: The pin type moisture meters use resistance technology to measure the moisture level in a material.
On the other hand, pin fewer moisture meters use electromagnetic wave technology to measure the moisture level in a material.
Q: Can I detect mold with a moisture meter?
Ans: Technically speaking, yes, you can detect mold with a moisture meter.
Q: Which one is better – moisture meter or the manual moisture content calculation?
Ans: Well, both have certain advantages and disadvantages. It depends on the situation and your priority. Calculating moisture content manually takes more time and work but using a moisture meter you can do the task within less than a minute.
Q: Which one gives a more accurate result – a pinless moisture meter or a pin type moisture meter?
Ans: Generally, a pin type moisture meter gives more accurate result than a pinless moisture meter.
Q: How to calibrate a moisture meter?
Ans: You can calibrate a moisture meter by following 3 simple instructions step by step. Firstly, you have to place the probes of the moisture meter on the moisture content standard’s metal contacts. Secondly, you have turned the power on and thirdly, you have to check the reading & compare to value given in instructions.
Now check whether the reading matches with moisture content standard (MCS) set for. If it matches then the calibration is complete but if it does not match then the calibration is not done.
I'm Joost Nusselder, the founder of Tools Doctor, content marketer, and dad. I love trying out new equipment, and together with my team I've been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with tools & crafting tips.