Pin vs Pinless Moisture Meters: Ultimate Guide to Choosing

by Joost Nusselder | Updated on:  June 24, 2023
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Pin-type and pinless moisture meters measure the moisture content in wood, but in different ways. Pin-type meters use pins to measure electrical resistance, while pinless meters use electromagnetic waves. In this article, I’ll discuss the differences between the two types and provide tips on proper use. Read on to determine which type is right for you.

wood moisture meter

In this post we'll cover:

Unraveling the Mystery of Pin-Type and Pinless Moisture Meters

Picture this: I’m at a building inspection, armed with my trusty pinless moisture meter (here are the best for soil). I feel like a detective, using electromagnetic waves to uncover the hidden presence of water beneath surfaces. These handy devices work by emitting radio frequency signals, which then bounce back to the meter, providing an accurate measurement of the moisture content. The key feature of pinless meters is their non-invasive nature, making them ideal for delicate materials like hardwood flooring or antique furniture. Plus, they cover a larger area compared to their pin-type counterparts, allowing for quicker and more efficient inspections.

  • Uses electromagnetic waves to detect moisture
  • Non-invasive, perfect for delicate materials
  • Covers a larger area for efficient inspections

Pin-Type Moisture Meters: The Sharp and Precise Investigators

Now, let me take you back to another inspection, this time with my pin-type moisture meter. These devices use two or more pins, which are carefully inserted into the material to measure its moisture content. The electrical resistance between the pins is measured, and the meter provides an accurate reading based on this data. Pin-type meters are the go-to choice for many professionals, as they allow for more precise measurements, especially in hard-to-reach places.

  • Uses pins to measure electrical resistance
  • Provides precise measurements in tight spots
  • Preferred by many professionals

Comparing the Two: Which One’s Right for You?

So, you’re probably wondering, “Which moisture meter should I choose?” Well, that depends on your needs and preferences. Here’s a quick comparison to help you make an informed decision:

  • Accuracy:
    Both types of meters provide accurate readings, but pin-type meters may have a slight edge when it comes to precision.
  • Surface Damage:
    Pinless meters are the clear winner here, as they don’t leave any holes or marks on the material being tested.
  • Depth:
    Pin-type meters can measure moisture at different depths, while pinless meters are limited to a fixed depth.
  • Learning Curve:
    Pinless meters are generally easier to use, but pin-type meters offer more control and customization for experienced users.

At the end of the day, the choice between pin-type and pinless moisture meters comes down to your specific needs and preferences. Both types have their advantages and drawbacks, so it’s essential to consider your requirements before making a decision. Happy moisture hunting!

Electromagnetic Sensor Pad Showdown: Pinless Meters vs. Pins

When it comes to measuring moisture in wood, accuracy and sensitivity are crucial factors. Pinless meters, with their electromagnetic sensor pads, are known for their ability to provide quick and accurate readings. These large sensor pads allow for a more extensive scan of the material, giving you a better idea of the overall moisture content. On the other hand, pin-type meters rely on electrical resistance to measure moisture, which can be affected by factors such as temperature and chemical presence. While both types of meters can provide accurate readings, it’s essential to be careful and follow the proper steps for each tool to ensure the best results.

Professional Preferences: Which Type Reigns Supreme?

  • Pinless meters: Many professionals prefer pinless meters due to their ease of use and ability to quickly check moisture content without causing damage to the wood. With no holes to drill, pinless meters are a handy tool for those who need a quick overview of a board’s moisture content.
  • Pin-type meters: Some professionals still swear by the tried-and-true pin-type meters, as they allow for more specific readings and can measure moisture near the center of the material. However, they do require creating holes in the wood, which may not be ideal for some situations.

Setting the Stage: Proper Meter Use

Regardless of which type of meter you choose, it’s essential to use it correctly to get accurate readings. For pinless meters, this means ensuring the electromagnetic sensor pad is in complete contact with the wood surface and taking care to scan the entire board. For pin-type meters, it’s crucial to insert the pins properly and be aware of factors that may affect the electrical resistance readings, such as temperature and species of wood.

Worth the Investment: Which Meter Should You Buy?

When deciding between a pinless or pin-type moisture meter, it’s essential to consider your specific needs and preferences. Pinless meters are typically easier to use and cause no damage to the wood, making them a popular choice for many people. However, pin-type meters allow for more in-depth readings and may be preferred by those who require more detailed information about the wood’s moisture content.

In the end, the best moisture meter for you will depend on your unique requirements and preferences. By understanding the differences between pinless and pin-type meters, you’ll be better equipped to make an informed decision and choose the right tool for your needs.

Decoding the Moisture Meter Conundrum: 6 Factors to Consider

1. Accuracy and Adaptability

When it comes to measuring moisture, accuracy is key. After all, you don’t want to spend all that time and energy on a project only to find out your moisture readings were way off. Pin-type meters are known for their accuracy, as the pins are pushed directly into the material, allowing for a more precise reading. However, pinless meters have come a long way and can provide accurate readings as well. The choice between the two ultimately depends on the material you’re working with and your personal preference.

2. Ease of Use

Let’s face it, we all want tools that make our lives easier. Pinless meters are pretty handy in this regard, as they don’t require you to poke holes in the material you’re testing. Just place the electromagnetic sensor pad on the surface, and you’re good to go. On the other hand, pin-type meters require a bit more effort, as you need to carefully push the pins into the material. But if you’re already used to working with pins, this might not be a big deal for you.

3. Damage to Materials

As I mentioned earlier, pin-type meters require you to poke holes in the material you’re testing. This can cause damage, especially if you’re working with delicate materials like fine wood or soft insulation. Pinless meters, on the other hand, don’t cause any damage, as they simply measure the moisture through an electromagnetic field. So, if you’re looking to avoid any unnecessary damage, a pinless meter might be the way to go.

4. Depth of Measurement

One of the biggest differences between pin-type and pinless meters is the depth at which they measure moisture. Pin-type meters provide fixed-depth readings, while pinless meters offer variable-depth readings. This can be a game-changer when you’re trying to locate moisture deep within a material. Pinless meters can give you a better overall picture of the moisture content, while pin-type meters are ideal for pinpointing specific areas of concern.

5. Versatility and Range of Materials

When it comes to versatility, pinless meters take the cake. They can be used on a wide range of materials, including wood, drywall, and concrete. Pin-type meters, on the other hand, are best suited for wood and other porous materials. So, if you’re working with multiple types of materials, a pinless meter might be your best bet.

6. Price and Value

Last but certainly not least, let’s talk about the price. Pin-type meters tend to be more affordable compared to their pinless counterparts. However, it’s important to consider the value you’re getting for your money. If you’re working with a variety of materials and need a versatile, non-destructive tool, it might be worth investing in a pinless meter. On the other hand, if you primarily work with wood and are looking for a more budget-friendly option, a pin-type meter could be the way to go.

In the end, the choice between pin-type and pinless moisture meters comes down to your specific needs, preferences, and budget. Take the time to evaluate these six factors, and you’ll be well on your way to making the best decision for your moisture measuring needs.

Pin vs Pinless: The Battle for Moisture Meter Ease of Use

When it comes to measuring moisture in wood, pinless meters are the go-to choice for many professionals and hobbyists alike. Why, you ask? Well, let me tell you:

  • Quick and easy: Pinless meters measure a large swath of wood in a short amount of time, making them perfect for those on-the-go projects.
  • No damage: Unlike their pin counterparts, pinless meters don’t poke holes in your precious lumber, keeping it looking pristine.
  • Temperature woes begone: The accuracy of pinless meters isn’t negatively affected by the wood’s temperature, so no need to worry about hot or cold days impacting your readings.

Pin-Type Moisture Meters: The Customizable Classic

Now, I’m not saying pin-type meters are all bad. In fact, they have some pretty decent qualities that make them worth considering:

  • Variety is the spice of life: With pin meters, you can test at a wide variety of depths, giving you more control over your measurements.
  • Proper pin insertion: As long as you’re able to properly drive those pins into the wood, you’ll get accurate readings every time.
  • Temperature’s a factor: While it’s true that the wood’s temperature can impact the accuracy of pin meters, some people prefer the challenge of working with these finicky devices.

Choosing the Right Moisture Meter for You

So, which moisture meter should you buy? That depends on your needs and preferences:

  • For the busy woodworker: If you’re always on the move and need a quick, easy way to measure moisture, a pinless meter is your best bet.
  • For the detail-oriented: If you enjoy customizing your measurements and don’t mind taking the time to properly insert pins, a pin-type meter might be right up your alley.
  • For the budget-conscious: Both pin and pinless meters are available on the market, so it’s worth checking out different models to find the best quality at the best price.

At the end of the day, the choice between pin and pinless moisture meters comes down to personal preference. Some woodworkers swear by the ease and speed of pinless meters, while others enjoy the customizable nature of pin-type meters. Whatever your preference, there’s a moisture meter out there that’s perfect for your woodworking needs.

Mastering the Art of Pin Moisture Meters

Before diving into the world of pin moisture meters, it’s critical to properly prepare both your wood and your meter. Here are some steps to follow:

1. Ensure the wood is clean and free of any debris that could interfere with the pins.
2. Make sure the pins are in good condition and not damaged or bent.
3. Turn on the moisture meter and check that it’s functioning correctly.
4. If your meter requires calibration, complete this step according to the manufacturer’s guide.

Getting Down to Business: Using Your Pin Moisture Meter

Now that you’re all set, it’s time to start measuring the moisture content of your wood. Follow these steps for accurate readings:

1. Carefully insert the pins into the wood, making sure they penetrate to the correct depth. The depth depends on the type of wood and your meter’s specifications.
2. Turn on the meter and wait for the reading to stabilize. Be patient, as some meters may take a few seconds to provide an accurate reading.
3. Note the moisture content displayed on the meter. If necessary, take multiple readings in different areas of the wood to get a complete picture of its moisture content.

Interpreting Your Results and Making Informed Decisions

Understanding the results of your pin moisture meter readings is essential for making smart decisions about your wood. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Compare your readings to the recommended moisture content for your specific type of wood. This information can usually be found in woodworking guides or online resources.
  • If your readings are significantly higher or lower than the recommended range, consider taking additional steps to adjust the moisture content of the wood before using it in your project.
  • Remember that pin moisture meters can sometimes be affected by factors such as temperature and humidity, so it’s a good idea to take multiple readings and use your best judgment when interpreting the results.

Storing and Caring for Your Pin Moisture Meter

To ensure your pin moisture meter continues to serve you well, it’s important to take proper care of it. Here are some tips for maintaining your meter:

  • Store your meter in a cool, dry place when not in use.
  • Clean the pins regularly to prevent buildup of debris and ensure accurate readings.
  • Replace damaged or worn pins as needed.
  • Check the battery regularly and replace it when necessary.

By following these guidelines, you’ll be well on your way to mastering the art of using a pin moisture meter and making informed decisions about your woodworking projects. Happy measuring!

Mastering the Art of Pinless Moisture Meter Usage

Step-by-Step Guide to Using a Pinless Moisture Meter

Using a pinless moisture meter is incredibly easy and efficient, especially when compared to its pin-type counterpart. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you become a pro in no time:

1. Turn on your pinless moisture meter and make sure it’s fully charged or has fresh batteries.
2. Select the correct material setting for the wood you’re measuring, as different materials require different settings for accurate readings.
3. Place the electromagnetic sensor pad flat against the wood surface, ensuring good contact. Be careful not to press too hard, as this may cause damage to the wood or the meter itself.
4. Take a reading by simply pressing the button on the meter. The device will send an electromagnetic signal into the wood, creating an electrical current that’s linked to the moisture content.
5. Read the moisture content displayed on the screen. This will give you a relative idea of how dry or wet the wood is.

Why Pinless Moisture Meters Are a Woodworker’s Best Friend

Pinless moisture meters offer several advantages over their pin-type counterparts, making them a popular choice among woodworkers. Some of these benefits include:

  • Faster readings: Pinless meters can cover a large area in a quick swipe, saving you time and effort.
  • No damage to the wood: Since there are no pins involved, you don’t have to worry about leaving holes or causing damage to the material.
  • More accurate measurements: With advanced electromagnetic technology, pinless meters are able to provide more accurate and consistent readings.

Extra Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Pinless Moisture Meter

To ensure you’re getting the most accurate readings and making the most of your pinless moisture meter, keep these tips in mind:

  • Always calibrate your meter according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Be mindful of the wood’s temperature, as extreme temperatures can affect the accuracy of the readings.
  • Avoid measuring wood that’s been exposed to direct sunlight or rain, as this can also impact the accuracy of the readings.
  • Store your meter in a dry, cool place when not in use to prolong its lifespan.

By following these steps and tips, you’ll be well on your way to mastering the art of using a pinless moisture meter and reaping the benefits of this incredibly useful tool.

Unlocking the Secrets of Moisture Meters: How They Work

As a woodworker, I know that wood and moisture have a complicated relationship. On one hand, moisture is essential for wood to maintain its strength and durability. On the other hand, too much moisture can cause wood to warp, rot, or become a breeding ground for mold. That’s where moisture meters come in handy.

Pin-Type and Pinless Moisture Meters: The Dynamic Duo

There are two primary types of moisture meters: pin-type and pinless. Both types work to measure the moisture content in wood, but they do so in different ways.

  • Pin-type meters use two or more pins that physically penetrate the wood, creating an electrical current between them. The resistance to this current is measured, and the data is used to determine the moisture content.
  • Pinless meters use electromagnetic waves to measure moisture content without physically penetrating the wood. These meters are sensitive to the water content in the material and provide readings based on the electromagnetic properties of the wood.

Accuracy Matters: The Importance of Proper Readings

As a woodworker, I know that accurate moisture readings are essential for maintaining the quality of my work. Both pin-type and pinless meters can provide accurate readings, but it’s important to follow the proper steps to ensure the best results.

  • For pin-type meters, it’s crucial to insert the pins at the correct depth and angle, making sure they have good contact with the wood. The meter’s settings should also be adjusted according to the specific wood species being measured.
  • For pinless meters, it’s important to place the meter on a flat, dry surface and ensure that the electromagnetic sensor pad is in full contact with the wood. The meter’s settings should also be adjusted according to the specific wood species being measured.

The Great Debate: Holes or No Holes?

When it comes to measuring moisture in wood, pin meters are the OGs. These bad boys use pins to physically penetrate the material, giving you an accurate and sensitive reading. But, as with anything that creates holes, there’s a downside. Here’s what you need to know about pin meters:

  • They can cause damage to the wood, especially if you’re working with expensive or delicate materials.
  • Getting a proper reading may require multiple pin insertions, which can be time-consuming and difficult.
  • The pins themselves can be a bit finicky, requiring additional care and maintenance.

Pinless Meters: A Hole New World

Enter the pinless moisture meter, a sleek and modern alternative to its hole-poking cousin. These meters use electromagnetic signals to measure moisture without leaving a mark. Here’s the lowdown on pinless meters:

  • They’re excellent for situations where you need to test a large area or multiple materials quickly.
  • No holes mean no damage to the wood, making them a popular choice for woodworkers who work with expensive or sensitive materials.
  • They can read moisture levels in materials up to several inches thick, giving you a more comprehensive view of the entire block.

Accuracy and Ease: A Balancing Act

When it comes to accuracy, both types of meters have their pros and cons. Pin meters are known for their sensitive and accurate readings, but they can be more difficult to use properly. Pinless meters, on the other hand, are easier to use but may not provide the same level of detail. Here’s a quick comparison:

  • Pin meters provide more precise data, but require a greater level of skill and patience to use effectively.
  • Pinless meters are easier to use and cause no damage to the material, but may not provide the same level of accuracy as pin meters.

Fixed-Depth vs Variable-Depth: The Moisture Meter Showdown

As a seasoned woodworker, I’ve had my fair share of experiences with both pin and pinless moisture meters. When it comes to fixed-depth readings, I’ve found that pin-type meters are the go-to choice for many professionals. Here’s why:

  • Accurate measurements: Pin meters are designed to measure moisture at a specific depth, providing highly accurate readings for the materials at hand.
  • Prevent damage: By carefully inserting the pins into the wood, you can prevent unnecessary damage to the surface.
  • Custom depth: Some models allow you to adjust the pins to reach a custom depth, which can be beneficial for checking moisture in materials with varying thicknesses.

However, there are some downsides to using pin meters for fixed-depth readings:

  • Breakage: Pins can be delicate and may break if not handled with care.
  • Time-consuming: It can be more time-consuming to take multiple readings at different depths.

Variable-Depth Readings: The High-Tech Alternative

On the other hand, pinless moisture meters have become increasingly popular for their ability to provide variable-depth readings. As a regular user of these high-tech devices, I can attest to their numerous benefits:

  • Electromagnetic sensor pad: Pinless meters use an electromagnetic sensor pad to measure moisture levels, allowing for quick and accurate readings without damaging the wood’s surface.
  • Versatility: These meters are designed to work with a variety of materials, making them a great choice for woodworkers, builders, and DIY enthusiasts alike.
  • Smooth operation: Since there are no pins to insert, using a pinless meter is generally a smoother and quicker process.

But, as with any tool, there are some drawbacks to consider:

  • Cost: Pinless moisture meters can be more expensive than their pin-type counterparts.
  • Surface irregularities: If the wood’s surface is not smooth, it can affect the accuracy of the readings.

So, Which One Should You Choose?

As a woodworker who’s tested both types of moisture meters, I can say that the choice between fixed-depth and variable-depth readings ultimately depends on your specific needs and preferences. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Accuracy: If you require highly accurate readings at a specific depth, a pin-type meter might be your best bet.
  • Surface damage: If preventing surface damage is a priority, a pinless meter is the way to go.
  • Budget: If you’re on a tight budget, a decent pin-type meter might be more affordable than a high-end pinless model.
  • Ease of use: If you’re looking for a quick and easy method to check moisture levels, a pinless meter might be the better choice.

In the end, it’s essential to weigh the pros and cons of each type of meter and find the one that best suits your needs. Whether you’re a seasoned professional or a new woodworker, having the right moisture meter in your shop can make all the difference in the quality of your work.

Woodworkers’ Choice: Pin or Pinless Moisture Meters?

As a seasoned woodworker, I’ve had my fair share of experience with both pin and pinless moisture meters. I’ve found that the preference between the two types of meters often comes down to the specific needs and preferences of the woodworker. Here’s what I’ve gathered from fellow professionals and hobbyists:

  • Pin-type meters are often preferred for their ability to measure moisture at various depths, giving a more accurate reading of the wood’s moisture content.
  • Pinless meters, on the other hand, are easier and quicker to use, as they don’t require poking holes into the wood.

Considering the Impact on the Wood

One question that often comes up when discussing moisture meters is whether or not the use of pins negatively affects the wood. In my experience, the small holes created by pin-type meters have never been an issue for my projects. However, some woodworkers may prefer the non-invasive approach of pinless meters, especially when working with custom or high-quality wood.

Availability and Affordability: Which is the Better Buy?

Both pin and pinless moisture meters are readily available on the market, with a range of options to suit different budgets and needs. While pinless meters can be a bit more expensive, their ease of use and non-invasive nature make them an attractive choice for many woodworkers. Ultimately, the decision comes down to personal preference and the specific requirements of your projects.

In short, there’s no definitive answer to the question of which type of moisture meter is preferred by woodworkers. It’s essential to review the pros and cons of each type and consider your own needs and preferences before making a decision.


Pin-type and pinless moisture meters are both great for measuring moisture, but you should choose depending on your needs. Pin-type meters are great for precise measurements and hard-to-reach places, but can leave holes and marks on the material. Pinless meters are non-invasive and great for delicate materials, but don’t offer as much control and are harder to use for experienced users. So, the choice is yours! Just make sure you use the right meter for the job and you’ll be fine. Happy moisture hunting!

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.