A moisture meter is a tool that is used by a carpenter or woodworker to measure the amount of water in a plank of wood. This is important to help them determine if it can be used for its intended purpose. It is a must-have tool in the construction and woodworking industry. This tool ensures that you create quality products and construct sturdy structures.
Every craftsman who works on wood will at one point need to use a moisture meter. It may be a small device, but it plays a huge role in construction. This is because wood moisture causes the wood to shrink or expand. This is a very important consideration especially for projects that require utmost precision. Changes to the water content also affect the gluing, surface appearance, and strength of the wood.
Excess water in the wood pieces utilized can be dangerous. There is the possibility of compromised structural integrity. This is the reason why building inspectors check on the saturation levels of wooden members when conducting maintenance inspection. Once it exceeds the standard moisture levels, it is declared unfit for use. All these reasons explain the fact that a wood moisture meter is indeed an essential gadget for any handyman.
Therefore it is only reasonable that you pick the right moisture meter. With all the models available , choosing the right moisture meter might be a daunting task. Fortunately, this article will you help get on the right track. A survey done in North America showed nearly 85% of woodworkers use the following six moisture meters. Let's take a look why these models are the people’s choice.
- how does a Moisture Meter Work?
- top 10 best Wood Moisture Meter 2021 [Table]
- 6 best Wood Moisture Meter reviews 2020
- 1. Wagner Meters Orion 950 - The Professional’s Premium Moisture Meter
- 2. Dr. meter MD918 - Best Moisture Meter For Home Use
- 3. General Tools MM4DE – The Best Moisture Meter for Mold Prevention
- 4. Lignomat mini-Ligno DX/C – The Moisture Meter Designed to Go Deep
- 5. General Tools MMH800 - The 4-In-1 Moisture Meter
- 6. SAM-PRO Dual Moisture Meter 2.0 - Best Moisture Meter For Wood
- Buying Guide
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Final Verdict & Recommendation
how does a Moisture Meter Work?
There are three common types of moisture meters used: pin-type, pinless, and pin/pinless/all-in-one. All three types have their specific purpose. They are unique to the end user's application in determining moisture content (MC).
Pin-type moisture meters use the principle of electrical resistance to measure the MC in a material. Two pins are used to penetrate the test surface at the desired depth. The conductivity between the pins determine the MC. The tips of the pins penetrate the material for a sub-surface reading. A pin-type moisture meter is the best way to identify the exact location of moisture buildup. Using a pin-type meter is an effective way to determine the difference between shell and core moisture content.
On the other hand, pinless moisture meters operate on the principle of electrical impedance. It releases an electric signal and measures the opposition to the current. The resistance is largely affected by the density of the wood, which is dependent on its MC. This type of meter provides a nondestructive measurement of moisture in wood. It can also do other substrates, such as concrete and gypsum. They are useful for detecting problem moisture buildup where visual indicators are not evident.
All-in-one moisture meters are simply a tool that can utilize both methods of measuring moisture content.
top 10 best Wood Moisture Meter 2021 [Table]
Last update on 2021-12-06 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
6 best Wood Moisture Meter reviews 2020
- Non-damaging pinless sensor.
- On-site calibration.
- Offers a Calibration Certificate compliant to ISO guidelines.
- Bluetooth app enabled.
- Accurate for the life of the meter.
The Wagner Meters Orion 950 moisture meter is the pinnacle achievement of the Orion line. It was designed for professionals who need superior accuracy and ruggedness measurement instruments. It is simply one of the best moisture meters in the market. The pinless measurement technology provides a non-invasive method. This makes it perfect for expensive or delicate wood members. It might seem a bit pricey, but this meter is definitely worth it.
The Orion 950 has both a shallow and deep measurement mode that is capable of taking moisture readings at depths of 0.25” to 0.75”. It is virtually unaffected by the temperature of the wood or environment. This versatile tool also includes a Relative (comparative) measurement mode for non-solid wood measurement applications on treated wood, drywall, and other materials. The range of settings cover practically any softwood or hardwood species there is.
Furthermore, the Orion 950 is also very convenient. Unlike pin meters, Orion’s sensing technology does not need correction to account for the temperature of the wood. Its most prized feature though, is the accuracy it offers. Every Orion meter is provided a unique system to accomplish complete on-site meter calibration. Not to be confused with a "Calibration Reference" that only verifies when your meter is inaccurate. The Wagner "Calibrator" actually gives you the ability to bring your Orion meter back to the original Wagner factory standard of accuracy. This can be done in a matter of minutes. Lastly, it offers a seven-year warranty for defects and damages. This is simply a testament to their commitment to continued excellence.
- Power saving feature.
- Ultra large LCD screen.
- Multiple wood compatibility
- Calibration indicators.
- Automatic temperature compensation
- Requires frequent calibration.
- Poorly written manual.
The MD918 is the moisture meter for those who want to get accurate MS measurements at an affordable price. The pinless technology lets you get the saturation levels without leaving holes on your work piece. It utilizes high-frequency electromagnetic waves to take accurate measurements.
In addition, this tool is also very versatile. You can choose from 10 unique timber densities that lets you take measurements on different types of wood. It can detect moisture levels of around 4% to 80% with a maximum error of 1%. Furthermore, the temperature compensation function lets you calibrate your tool easily.
In addition, this tool comes with a power-saving feature that turns off the device after 5 minutes of inactivity. This preserves the battery life and lets you take more measurements. The MD918 is also ergonomically designed with a large LCD screen for easy measurement reading. Lastly, keep in mind that this tool is only intended for use on wood. This is not meant for other materials such as gypsum or concrete.
- Helps in the prevention of molds.
- Easy to use and read.
- Audible measurement alerts.
- Sturdy, ergonomic grip.
- Auto power off feature.
- Hard to remove pin cap.
- Pins have a tendency to bend.
The General Tools MMD4E Digital Moisture Meter is a moisture meter trusted by many. It is an essential tool for assessing water damage. It is also used for remediation efforts after flooding from storms, roof leaks. The MMD4E is also ideal for broken pipes to discover hidden water damage. This water leak detector also is helpful for new home inspections and home restorations. No worries in locating roof leaks or simply to ensure firewood is ready to burn. It has a measurement range of 5 to 50% for wood and 1.5 to 33% for building materials.
Furthermore, the clearly designed LED alerts tell you immediately if the moisture content is high, medium or low. In addition, it also has an audible moisture level alert so you’ll know the measurement even if you can’t see the screen. The sturdy, ergonomic shape and rubber side grips allow for maximum comfort. It also comes with a hold function to preserve a reading for later. There’s also an auto power off feature and a low battery indicator.
Every package includes extra 0.3 in. (8mm) stainless steel pins, a protective cap that doubles as a calibration checker and a “9V” battery. However, this protective cap is also very hard to remove that even big men struggle with it. Lastly, care is needed during use to avoid bending the pins.
- Versatile 42 correction settings.
- Can reach depts of 7” with the Inspector Electrode.
- Can measure center of stack without opening hot kiln.
- Bright LED display.
- Concrete electrode allows instant measurement in hard building materials.
- Included batteries have a short lifespan
Among the pin moisture meters available in the market, the mini Ligno DX/C is one of the best. The level of accuracy in every measurement is unparalleled. It comes with 42 built in settings to correct for various wood species. It also has settings for bamboo, laminates/panel products, and even gypsum and drywall.
The main feature of this moisture meter is the versatility it offers. The different accessories available let you take moisture in every application imaginable. It comes with 2 default pins for measuring at depths of 3/16” and 7/16”. If you’re looking to go deeper, the depth electrode has pins that go up to 2” deep. If that’s not enough, you can attach the inspector electrode to measure up to 7” deep. Furthermore, the concrete electrode lets you get instant measurements on concrete up to 7” deep as well.
It is very easy to calibrate and operate. You won’t have any problems reading the results thanks to the bright LCD display. Any shape, even round or oval, can be measured as long as both pins fit in the same piece. This is the moisture meter for the professional builder.
- Works as both a pin and pinless moisture meter.
- Two displays feature.
- Capable of holding readings.
- Audible alarm.
- Come with two spare sets of pins.
- Easily drained batteries.
- Temperature and humidity meter takes time to do measurements.
If you have versatility in mind, then nothing will beat the MMH800. The 4-in-1 tool offers both the pin and pinless moisture meter, humidity, and temperature meter. It has two displays that shows both moisture percentage and ambient temperature plus relative humidity. It can even hold readings for later viewing.
With this tool, scanning large areas of drywall and wood is easy with the pinless pad sensor. Once moisture patches are detected, flip open the cap to expose the pin sensors for more exact moisture content readings. The unit provides a moisture level range of 5-percent to 50-percent in wood and 1.5-percent to 33-percent in building materials. It also offers an audible indication of moisture level and storage of moisture level readings. Lastly, it comes with a 1-year parts warranty to ease your worries on defective products.
- Easy-to-read LCD screen.
- Flashlight function.
- Four material type modes.
- High/low moisture reading bar.
- Lifetime warranty.
- Hard to remove pin cap.
- No instruction manual.
When eloquent design and quality features come together, you get a perfect tool that is surely worth every penny. This is the case of the SAM-PRO moisture meter. It comes with a large, easy-to-read LCD screen that includes a flashlight function. This allows you to take measurements even in dark spaces.
Furthermore, it has material type modes that lets you quickly make moisture readings in over 100 materials. These materials include hardwoods, softwoods, drywall, and concrete. Moreover, it comes with a high/low moisture bar that tells you what a high or low reading is for the material you are testing.
In addition, it comes with a durable nylon case, a set of replacement probes, and batteries. Lastly, the lifetime warranty is a testament to SAM-PRO’s commitment to delivering excellent quality for life.
When buying a wood moisture meter, you need to consider a few things before making a purchase. This will help you choose the right one depending on the type of work. A buying guide will also help you not to spend on something that isn’t suit for your needs. These features are some of the things you need to check:
Pin or Pinless
Moisture meters are designed into two versions: the pin and pinless version. Pinless meters lets you take measurements simply by placing it over your material. No holes needed. On the other hand, pin meters require you to poke the material to inspected. The pin variant, however, is capable of taking measurements at greater depths.
When buying a moisture meter, you also should check what materials you can use it on. Some moisture meters can take readings on materials such as laminates, gypsum, or concrete. However, these models are typically more expensive.
This is arguably one of, if not the most important feature you should consider. Some meters have a lower margin of error than others. The time it takes to make a measurement is also important especially when checking overhead surfaces. It wouldn’t be ideal to have to hold a moisture meter for long periods.
When buying a meter, you also need to check the additional features that come with it. These additional features may include:
•Temperature and humidity measurements
•Recording and storing of readings
•Bright LCD screens/flashlights for viewing in the dark.
You can consider such features to get additional benefits.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Are wood moisture meters accurate?
A: This varies from one meter to another. It depends on the model of the meter and its mode of operation. Some meters are very accurate, while some have wide margins of error. Furthermore, whether you have a pin or pinless model will affect the accuracy. Pin meters are generally more accurate.
Q: Can moisture meters be wrong?
A: Yes, moisture meters can, at times, be wrong. This is especially true when the surface being measured is too thick. Improper placement can also result to erroneous readings. Furthermore, on rare occasions, when the meter gets damaged, it can give inaccurate and false readings.
Q: What percentage of moisture should firewood be?
A: Properly prepared and quality firewood should be below 20 percent. Anything above that would be hard to work with. Such woods might be difficult to light in most cases.
Final Verdict & Recommendation
The moisture meter is an essential tool. They are critical for ensuring woods with the right moistures are used. A research was done by a certain construction class at Cambridge. It showed that 80% of quality wood products had been checked first for moisture content. Pin and pinless moisture meters each have their own niche for checking moisture content. At the end of the day, you can always get the all-in-one variant so that you can start checking large areas with a pinless meter. Afterwards, use the pin meter to pinpoint the exact location of the moisture build-up.