There are dozens of swimming pool test kits on the market today. Generally, some brands are more popular than others but all seem to offer the same accurate results, assuming you use them correctly. So, how do you get the best pool test kit for your pool?
Here is a guide to help you.
Table of Contents
- 1 Types of Swimming Pool Test Kits
- 2 Factors to Consider When Buying Your Test Kit
- 3 Features of a Quality Pool Test Kit
- 4 Know the Chemicals in Your Swimming Pool
- 5 Components of the Best Pool Test Kit
- 6 Advantages of Using a Swimming Pool Test Kit
- 7 How Often Should You Test Your Pool
- 8 How to use a Pool Test Kit
- 9 Best Pool Test Kits for the Money – Our Choices for 2018
- 10 Conclusion
- 11 How to Test Pool Water Accurately ( Updated )
- 12 Frequently Asked Questions About Pool Water Test Kits.
Types of Swimming Pool Test Kits
The demand for test kits has gone up in the past few decades because of the ease in which they work or test both the communal and home swimming facilities. When looking to purchase one, you are likely to come across the following kits on the shelves.
1. Test Strips
These are quite popular and the most common types of test kits. They are the most affordable although they do not provide the same level of accuracy as other kits. You need to follow the user manual or instruction to ensure that you get the right results. Test strip kits often go for about $10 and come in bottle packages of fifty.
Digital Test Strip Reader
A digital test strip reader is partnered with a test strip to remove its inaccuracy and offer more accurate results. Since hitting the market, these readers have become quite common due to their affordable price. They often come for around $50 with the test strip being sold separately. Therefore, you may get the best pool test kit for around $60 (Test Strip plus Strip Reader).
2. Wet Chemical Kits
These kits are ideal for when more detailed testing is needed. They offer accurate outcomes by using a color comparator block which filters the pool water from a strong plastic vial. They usually come in 2 forms, DPD and OTO, and are said to be the most advanced kits for testing swimming pools water.
OTO kits are quite affordable because they only test for total chlorine and not free chlorine. Although knowing the level of total chlorine in your pool is good, it might not help you determine how much sanitizer you require.
These kits go for about $40 and are able to determine the amount of free chlorine in your swimming pool, among other chemicals. They work in a simple manner; just take a water sample, add a few drops of reagent and then wait for the outcome. When used effectively, DPD kits outperformance test strips when it comes to details and provides more improved feedback. However, they are time consuming and inconvenient to use.
Factors to Consider When Buying Your Test Kit
After knowing the type of pool test kits on the market today, it is the perfect time to ask yourself a few questions to see what will work for you.
1. What is my budget?
Generally, digital and photometric pool test kits are pricier than other models. Particularly, the initial cost of photometric is quite high, while others come for under $200. Set your budget.
2. Who will take the tests?
If you are the only one or one of the few individuals who will be taking the test, titrimetric or colorimetric test might be a great choice for you. Photometric might be a perfect choice if there are many individuals who will take these tests.
With colorimetric pool test, in particular, the outcome might vary from one individual to the other depending on his/her own visual insight. Men often have more problems with color than women, older people have more issues with color than younger ones, and we all have our own opinion of a certain color shade.
The background and light might also affect the outcome of a colorimetric pool test kit. Photometric eliminate guesswork since it measures the sample. It will not matter who will take the test or how many individuals will take it during the week, as long as the instructions are followed, the results will be consistent and accurate.
3. What do I need to test?
The best pool test kit will cover the basics – total chlorine, free chlorine, pH level, total alkalinity, Cyanuric acid, and calcium hardness. Some might go above these elements, depending on the brand you purchase and what you need. Phosphates, temperature, salinity, and metals are just a few of another extra test that a kit might be able to test.
You may go for a bigger kit, like a high end photometric, that will test for almost anything or you may find that a normal titri/colorimetric kit is just perfect for your need.
4. What is the accessibility of reagents?
Would you rather access supplies locally or make frequent orders to have them shipped to your location? The majority of users prefer a kit that is readily available on the market of their supply firm so that the reagent is easily available when it runs low.
5. Does my state have any legal regulations that will determine my choice?
Many pool owners forget to confirm with the state requirements when it comes to buying pool test kits. The state might have a set of guidelines within which your kit should fall, although they might require digital readers for a specific test. Always check your state registration before your purchase the kit.
Features of a Quality Pool Test Kit
Consider the following features when buying your testing kit:
- Ease of use – Purchase a kit that is comfortable to use, one that does not intimidate you.
- Completeness – A good kit should contain a test for sanitizer, a test for pH, complete test guidelines, and recommended range for every measurement. Better kits have tested for total alkalinity, test for adjustment to pH, determine the specific amount of every chemical, and distinguishes between free and combined chlorine. The best kits have a test for calcium hardness, test for cyanuric acid, and test for copper and iron.
- Accuracy – True results for every factor must be determined to compute the effective water treatment amounts.
- Consistency results – It is vital to repeat test accurately to catch any change before an issue develops.
- Suitability of testing method – The results need to be displayed in terms you can understand to treat your facility.
- Appropriate design – The kit should be well-designed for poolside use. Should be free of brittle plastic or glass elements which might cut and should leave no water after testing.
- Durability – You will use your kit regularly and thus it should handle frequent use in a wet environment – should be waterproof and tearproof.
- Availability – The best pool test kit is always found in local stores.
- Independent manufacturer – Buy a kit from a producer who doesn’t produce treatment chemical to avoid biased presentation.
- Value – The test kit with the best value might not be the cheapest on the market. However, this doesn’t mean that your kit should be expensive; actually, it should be indispensable and inexpensive.
Know the Chemicals in Your Swimming Pool
A pool test kit is designed to test the chemicals present in the water in your swimming pool. This is important to ensure that your pool will remain chemically balanced and hence, safe. There are lots of chemicals found in your pool. Let us go through some of them to get an idea about the best pool test kit for your pool.
- Sodium Bicarbonate – The chemical and compound sodium bicarbonate is primarily used to boost the level of alkalinity of your swimming pool.
- Calcium hardener – This is straightforward. It is used to boost the level of calcium hardness in your pool.
- Bromine – This is used to stabilize the pH level or acidity level of the water in your pool. It ensures that the water doesn’t become acidic.
- Chlorine – This chemical is regularly known as dichlor or trichlor. It is used to chlorinate your pool. The major difference between dichlor and trichlor is that trichlor needs to be attached to an existing chlorinator.
- Calcium hypochlorite – This is used to boost the level of chlorine in your swimming pool. It is mainly used to eliminate algae and purify your pool.
- Cyanuric acid – This is used to stabilize the amounts of chlorine. It also shields chlorine from the harmful UV rays. In most situations, this chemical is infused into trichlor or dichlor.
Components of the Best Pool Test Kit
In a standard swimming pool test kit, you will get a casing which is used to house all your components. Inside this case, you will get color scales made of UV protected hue chips. Color scales are used for mixing the solution with your pool water to determine the chemical levels present in your pool.
You will also get swimming pool test strips which are used to check the results – you may also use them to hold the chemicals. Finally, you will get the solutions that are used for checking your pool filter chemicals as well as cleaners.
Advantages of Using a Swimming Pool Test Kit
Here are the 4 primary benefits of a swimming pool test kit:
- It enables you to determine the number of dissolved solids in your pool so that you may know when to add water.
- It aids to protect the water from the effect of sunlight (breakdown effect).
- It ensures that the chemicals you use to clean your swimming facility aren’t too strong for the human body.
- It keeps your facility clean from various substances such as algae, bacteria, and dirt.
How Often Should You Test Your Pool
Some of the 5 water balance tests are usually more stable and don’t change easily than others. Here is when you should test your pool water (at least that what I do for my swimming pool).
- Daily – for pH level and chlorine.
- Weekly – for Temperature and alkalinity.
- Monthly – for stabilizer and calcium hardness.
I try to keep a frequent schedule but often miss the daily test of pH level and chlorine test – that’s fine if the filters are working and the salt system (chlorinator) is working.
Once you get to know your facility’s chemical composition, you may reduce pH and chlorine test to weekly – when everything is working well and the weather is cool and calm. Test more regularly in the hot season, if your swimming pool is used heavily, after rain or storms, or if your pool water does not look right.
How to use a Pool Test Kit
Generally, testing a swimming pool is composed of 4 aspects or areas. These aspects are mainly the hardness of calcium, the pH level of the water, the total amount of alkalinity or alkaline of the water, and the level of the cyanuric acid.
Here is a video that shows how to use a pool test kit.
Here are the steps to follow:
Step one: First, ensure that you have the right pool strips, preferably the plastic strips. We have already talked about how you may get them, either online or from a physical store. In addition, you will need some vials. Vials are used to store the pool water that you want to test later.
Step two: Next, after you get all the necessary strips, dip them into your swimming pool. The aim is to fetch a sample of water that you will use to test for different chemicals.
Step three: In each part or section of the test, you will need to put the pool water inside the vial. After this, you need to keep checking the water for the chemicals or factors.
For the perfect results, it is recommended to test your swimming pool at least twice per week (or follow the guideline we looked above). Remember that testing your swimming pool chemical level is the best and only way to determine if your facility is chemically balanced. This is to guarantee safety when swimming.
Best Pool Test Kits for the Money – Our Choices for 2018
1. LaMotte 2056 ColorQ Pro 7 Digital Pool Water Test Kit
LaMotte 2056 ColorQ Pro 7 is a reliable digital pool water test kit from LaMotte. It features a water-resistant cover that ensures the kit doesn’t get damaged even if you put it to use frequently. What makes it a great kit for testing pool water is the photometer – it offers digital readouts of the results, hence making the process much simpler.
It is able to test for cyanuric acid, alkalinity, bromine, calcium hardness, total chlorine, free chlorine, and pH. The dual-optic make of LaMotte 2056 ColorQ Pro 7 offers a superior accuracy making it a top rated kit on the market today.
Pros of LaMotte 2056 ColorQ Pro 7
- Very easy to use, featuring photo-diagrammatic instructions that show how to use the kit and more about it.
- Comes with a handy carry case in which you may deposit it for easy transportation and storage.
- Features an automatic calibrated function that makes it easier to read out the results.
- Boasts of a superb LCD backlight display that makes it visible even during the night.
- Uses liquid elements for all test except Cyanuric Acid – it uses tablets.
Cons of LaMotte 2056 ColorQ Pro 7
- Pro 7 is quite expensive when you compare it to other models out there.
- The fact that you need a tablet to test Cyanuric acid is inconvenient.
2. Poolmaster 22260 5-Way Test Kit
Many people love the Poolmaster 22260 5-Way Test Kit because it’s affordable compared to other brands on the shelves. Do not be fooled by its low price, it still provides the accurate results you need to aid maintain your swimming pool water chemistry.
The kit uses color to determine the reading but doesn’t flick out about the accuracy as it offers easy-to-read color results. Another great feature is its round test blocks, which are pretty clear and come with superb matching color lids to the solutions.
With an effective performance and a complete package, we may argue that it is worth trying out. Especially at a great price that ranges from as low as $17.
Pros of Poolmaster 22260 5-Way
- Able to test for five aspects, namely bromine level, chlorine level, total alkalinity, acid demand, and pH level for all-around
- Perfect for maintaining the general water chemistry for effective swimming whenever you want.
- Comes with colored chips for establishing the chemistry, makes it easier.
- Comes with a durable polyethylene casing that protects it from water damage even if you use regularly.
- Includes solutions (1oz solution for number 1 and 3 and 0.5 oz for number 4 and 5) used to test the water chemistry.
Cons of Poolmaster 22260 5-Way
- Chlorine testing needs to be conducted carefully for the best results.
- Doesn’t test for Cyanuric
3. Taylor Technologies INC K-2006 Test Kit
Taylor Technologies INC K-2006 provides a complete test kit for water chemistry in your swimming pool. It will test for pH level, calcium hardness, cyanuric acid, alkalinity, combined chlorine, and total chlorine. It also features a Taylor 9058 comparator that makes it easier to view the results.
While it might be a bit costlier than other kits out there and even appear more complicated to use, you will be impressed with its ease of use and the accuracy it provides without the flick of the color-matching issue.
Pros of Taylor Technologies INC K-2006
- Uses DPD dust which is more precise than the liquid element most test kits used for more accuracy.
- Suitable for saltwater pool as well as any other type of pool.
- Very easy to learn, understand, and even use it.
- Comes with a whopping 75 oz of reagents to get you started ASAP.
- Sanitizers test are titrations that help eliminate the color-matching issues.
Cons of Taylor Technologies INC K-2006
- Not the best kit for reading pH level.
- Does not test for salt or sodium chloride material.
4. Blue Devil B7773 8-Way Pro Test Kit
Blue Devil B7773 8-Way Pro is a DPD swimming pool water testing unit that features 8 testing, namely calcium hardness testing, chlorine stability, base demand, acid demand, pH level testing, bromine testing, alkalinity testing, and chlorine testing.
The kit also uses tablets to test for the water chemistry. It is very easy to use this kit and always offer accurate results.
Pros of Blue Devil B7773 8-Way Pro
- This kit will test for 8 parts which are way above the usual 4 ways of most testing kits on the market today.
- Features an easy to read and understand color chip.
- Comes with a durable plastic case to prevent damage even when you use regularly.
- Features step-by-step instructions to guide you when using it.
Cons of Blue Devil B7773 8-Way Pro
- Quite expensive when you compare it to other brands but features 8 testing ways.
- Uses both DPD powder and tablets which might be a bit confusing.
5. LaMotte ColorQ 11 Digital Testing Kit
What is so amazing about LaMotte ColorQ 11is that you only require about 5 drops of reagent and you will get the outcomes you require without looking at a charts or color matching. It features the latest tech, an easy push-button control, as well as a water-resistant cover that prevent damage.
While it is among the priciest kits out there, its tech and machinery make it a superb investment that lasts for decades to come.
Pros of LaMotte ColorQ 11
- Provides very accurate results with numbers and no confusing colors.
- A durable and strong kit that comes with a strong housing to prevent damage.
- Features an effective 5-minute auto-off feature that protects its battery life (comes with 2 AA batteries).
- Easy push-button control for easier control.
Cons of LaMotte ColorQ 11
- An expensive choice but with great features.
- Uses liquid reagent which is not the best.
Out of the five kits we have reviewed, I would say the best pool test kit on the market is the LaMotte 2056 ColorQ Pro 7 Digital Pool Water Test Kit. It is a reliable digital pool water test kit and features phptometer, which offers digital readouts of the results. It is able to test for cyanuric acid, alkalinity, bromine, calcium hardness, total chlorine, free chlorine, and pH.
How to Test Pool Water Accurately ( Updated )
Testing pool water happens in one of three ways: by using a liquid test kit, pool test strips or by taking a sample of your pool water for testing by a local professional.
No matter how you choose to have your water tested, it all begins with a clean sample. To gather that, hold a clean cup upside down and put it into the water elbow-deep, turning it right side up for collection. For the best results, take a sample as far away from jets and skimmers as possible and preferably from the middle or center of the pool. If taking this sample to a local professional, make sure you cap the container tightly for travel and to keep any possible contaminates from entering the water sample.
Using pool test strips is a nice accurate way to test the water sample. It alleviates a great deal of human error, which can come into play if using a liquid test kit. Getting the right amount of droplets, matching up colors and referring to charts can certainly leave room for mistakes that can leave you with an improper reading and overall poor water quality. However, testing with strips only requires you to use a dry test strip, dipped into the water and then held in the air for roughly fifteen seconds. At that time, you should be able to match the color of your strip to a color on the bottle for an accurate reading.
If you choose to go with a liquid test kit, be aware that there are some on the market that are very advanced and they can be very expensive as well. When checking the levels in your home pool, the most important things to check for are pH levels and chlorine, so the more advanced kits are not really necessary. Phenol is a chemical that can be used to check the pH levels, which turns more red the higher the pH, while OTO is a chemical used to check for total chlorine and is gauged by how yellow the water turns once it is added. One of the main things to consider when using a liquid test kit is that it can be hard to determine colors on the low end. For the best results, use a solid white background when checking the results of the sample after the chemicals have been added.
As mentioned in the reviews above, many test kits on the market come with manuals or instruction booklets that can help you with testing procedures and how to read the results. You can use a pool water test kit to save you money in the end and it is fairly easy to do, but if you have any doubts as to the results of your tests, be sure to check with a professional. This can certainly be the case if you are a new pool owner or have never done your own testing before and it is certainly worth it to make sure you have a clear reading of your pool’s water condition.
Frequently Asked Questions About Pool Water Test Kits.
How often should pool water be tested?
The answer to this question can vary, depending on several factors including frequency of use and the addition of chemicals. Having the water tested every week is an absolute bare minimum, with two to three times per week being preferred. You will want to test more often if there is heavy use, if animals have been in it, after a heavy rain or after fertilizing. You also want to test 24-48 hours after the addition of any chemicals as well as before you open or close the pool.
What are some things that can change the pH levels?
A few things that can cause fluctuation of pH are rainfall, dust, covering the pool, pool additives and organic materials.
What is cyanuric acid?
Also known as stabilizer or conditioner, it is something that increases the stability of chlorine under UV rays and keeps it from degrading so quickly. If there isn’t enough cyanuric acid in your pool’s water, chlorine levels can drop to zero in just a little more than an hour. If the levels are too high, chlorine will not be able to be as effective in the job it is suppose to do.
What is “total hardness”?
This is in reference to the amount of magnesium and calcium present in your pool. If the total hardness is too high, filters and plumbing can become clogged and the pool water will become cloudy. However, if it is too low, plaster can start to become dissolved and metal fixtures will start to corrode. Keeping the total hardness in its preferred range will greatly extend the overall life of your pool and pool fixtures.
Why are readings sometimes different when testing different spots?
This can be caused by inadequate circulation and filtration and can also be different at differing depths as well. Some people choose to test primarily from a centralized location within the pool, while others take several test readings from all around the pool as well as from both ends.