Nothing cools the body better in a hot summer afternoon than a swim. For your swimming pool to stay top of its game, you will need to show it some love regularly, even when it is not in use. The only investment you need to keep your pool water safe and balanced is the best pool testing kit on the market.
Why do you need to test your pool regularly? Well, the water in there may be treated, but that does not deter algae and bacteria from forming. Besides, testing ensures the right pH balance to prevent the water from harming your skin and eyes.
What Tests Are You Conducting?
Basically, you are checking the base and acid levels of the water. pH balance, calcium hardness, total alkalinity, as well as chlorine levels are what your testing kit will check and let you know. The recommended levels of pH should be between 7.2 and 7.8, while chlorine should be 1.0 - 2.0 ppm (parts per million). Total alkalinity should not exceed 120ppm, while calcium hardness should be between 200 and 400 ppm. If yours is an outdoor pool that utilizes chlorine, you will want to test the levels of Cyanuric Acid, which should be between 20 and 50 ppm.
You can conduct more tests if you want to get to the depth of any foreseeable concerns, but these are the basic ones for your weekly check. While at it, you may want to keep dissolved solids below 5000ppm.
How Often Should You Conduct These Tests?
It will depend on how often you use the pool. If it is commercial, you may want to test the waters every four hours, especially for chlorine. You can get away with the weekly checks for private pools, especially noting that most of the elements do not fluctuate that often. Cyanuric Acid and calcium hardness levels hardly change, and so you can check them on a monthly basis.
How Long Will The Testing Reagents Last?
They will usually last one season, but you can push that to two with proper storage. The reagents will need to be stored in a dark part of the house as direct sunlight breaks them down and makes them degenerate.
Best Pool Testing Kit Reviews 2018
1. Poolmaster Pool Testing Strip - four-way testing
Test strips are favorites to pool owners for their simplicity. They are stored in this neat container that keeps them safe from direct sunlight. They are cheap too. This pack of 50 strips is neatly packed, and it analyzes the four main components.
The container in which the strips come is desiccant-lined to prevent moisture from interfering with their effectiveness. The lining also keeps direct lighting off seeing as light leads to degeneration. The bottle is pop-featured for easy opening, which makes these strips easy to use for the elderly as well as the young.
Although these strips are cheap, the primary complaint is in how long they last. Most people say the color fades quite fast.
2. AquaChek Pool Testing Strip - fast and effective
The package contains 100 strips to test pool water. You can use trios to test your hot tub as well as your pool water. The kit is not accurate for drinking water, but it does a good job. These strips are packed in a 1 x 1 x 1 inches container weighing 0.3oz.
There are 100 testing strips in this package, and they test water 7-ways. Each strip tests for pH, Free and Total Chlorine, Total Alkalinity, Bromine, Total Hardness, and Cyanuric Acid. On one side of the container is a complete color chart, but you will also get another separate one on the side.
They are quite easy to use, as all you will need to do is immerse the strip in water and wait for 15 seconds. During this time, the strip will absorb the pool water and start analyzing the findings before displaying them for you to interpret.
After you shake off the water, you can now interpret your findings as per the color chart. The results will let you know what to add balance the water in your pool.
3. Leisure Time Bromine Pool Testing Strip - easy to use and interpret
A package of this test contains 50 testing strips. The package is blue, but the strips are white with colored indentations. The container measures 7.25" H x 1.25" W x 3.75" L, and it is lined to protect the strips from the elements.
The packaging is desiccant-lined to prevent both moisture and light from ruining the test strips. Still, they should be kept in the dark and dry part of the store to avoid potential exposure. Each test is only used once, and so the entire package could last longer than a month depending on the regularity of your tests.
Usage and Tests
This kit tests bromine, pH, total alkalinity, and calcium hardness. The results are relayed through the strip after you have immersed it in water for about 15 seconds. You have a colorful and legible color chart on one side of the container to help you interpret results. It is easy to use for anyone at any age, seeing as the colors are indicated in the chart to match what you have on the strip.
4. Leisure Time Chlorine Pool Testing Strip - cheap
One pack contains 50 strips. The kit is easy to use, and the results are generated within seconds of testing. Reviewers commend this package for being effective in testing pH of spa water, total alkalinity, and calcium hardness, which are recommended at levels of 7.2-7.8, 80-120 ppm, and 150-400ppm respectively.
This test kit is used in swimming pools as well as spas and tubs to test the said properties. It is a bit limited in test options, but these three are the primary tests for public facilities. The strip has four chemically treated pads that react quickly to water and light. For that reason, they have to be stored in a dry and cool place, or the results will be compromised. The manufacturer takes care of this by packing them in a lined bottle that is water-resistant and airtight.
The color chart that comes with the package will help break down the results. Colorblind people may misinterpret the results, even though the boldness of the colors and the legible lettering reduces that possibility. A few reviewers have complained of the treated pads coming off when dipped in water, but it turns out those strips were just faulty from exposure to the elements.
5. Aqua Chek Pool Testing Strip - packaging protects the constituents
These strips will test for free chlorine, total alkalinity, pH, and stabilizer. They are quick and easy to use, and because the user does not have to do much than dipping them in the water, they leave no mess behind. As is with strip tests, you will have the results in less than a minute.
For accurate test results, you will need to store this bottle indoors where it is safe from direct sunlight. Moisture compromises the effectiveness of the strips too, and so you want to keep them away from that too. Although the packaging is excellent and it will prevent ruin, you should store the strips in a dry and dark place.
The testing process is quite easy. You only need to dip the entire piece in water for 30 seconds and then watch for color changes. The back of the bottle has a full list of possible colors for each of the tests, and so you will compare what you have on the strip to know what your pool needs. Each pack contains 50 testing strips.
How We Selected the Best Pool Testing Kits To Review?
We put a lot of thought into this selection. The first thing we did even before we set out to test the product was ask our readers what type of testing kits they preferred. The majority said they wanted reasonably priced kits that were easy to use, while the rest preferred testing kits that could conduct multiple tests.
Colorimetric kits are the cheapest on the market, and they are also some of the easiest to use. We were concerned with accuracy above anything else. We quizzed users (both commercial and homeowners), and it emerged that strip kits are recommended in every State. We also got positive feedback on accuracy, with some users saying they have been using certain brands for over five years without complaints.
As for the number of tests you can conduct at a go, we looked into the four main ones: pH, chlorine (free and total), total alkalinity, and calcium hardness. Most of these tests have all these, and they have been proven to be accurate as per hundreds of users. We tested all the brands we reviewed and we found then to be accurate in all the tests. Most of them were not accurate when it came to water temperatures, but then again that was not the main objective.
We did not consider the brand to be an important part of our tests. We chose random names and ran our tests. We tested 18 brands and only narrowed down to these five due to the nature of the review. We based our winners on performance, ease of use, accuracy, and the ability to handle extremities. We have to note here that almost all brands degenerated when exposed to the elements, so we highly recommend that you store them as per the manufacturer’s advice.
Factors to Consider When Buying a Pool Testing Kit
Just like with every other consumer item, the market offers several brands of pool testing kits. The cost may vary, but they are all geared towards the same results. What do you want in that kit? Is it one that combines several tests in one, or do you want one that measures individual properties of the water?
The test kits are either colorimetric (color matching), titrimetric (color changing), and turbidimetric (water cloudiness). Photometric kits use photometers to test samples, while the digital kits have digital sensors in them.
What do you do to test?
Most people want to check pH levels, amount of chlorine in the water, total alkalinity, cyanuric acid, and total hardness of the water. A straightforward and small testing kit will conduct these basic tests, while a larger and more expensive one will go the extra mile. Other tests that you could perform with a high-end kit include the level of dissolved solids, phosphates, and temperature.
What is your budget?
The three top types of water testing kits are colorimetric, titrimetric, and turbidimetric. Most of these tests will be combined in the same device, and all you will need to add is a reagent to the test. They are much cheaper as compared to their digital counterparts that you simply dip in water and wait for the outcome.
Are The Reagents Locally Available?
Having a testing kit and no reagents will be of no use to you. You want the reagents for your test kit to be locally available and easy to access whenever you run out.
Is There Any Regulation?
Every state has a governing rule regulating as per the parameters of a test kit. What does the law in your state stipulate? For most commercial pools, a digital test kit is required as it is more accurate and incorporates several different tests, but homeowners have less strict conditions
Who Uses That Test?
Different people will see different results, especially when using a colorimetric kit. Most of us can hardly agree on color shades, and so the person checking may fail to see the true picture. Colorimetric kits are okay if only one person is conducting the tests, but a photometric one may be a better investment where different testers are concerned. The margin of error will be significantly reduced.
Ease of Use
Most of these kits are easy to use, and they come with comprehensive guides for further explanation. The simplest of them all (colorimetric kits) are also the easiest to use as one will only need to add a reagent and water sample from the pool. Aged people may have a diminished distinction of colors, though.
Does The Brand Matter?
Not in our opinion. As long as the kit meets your budget and the needs you have for it, we recommend you ignore the big name.
We cannot overemphasize the importance of a pool testing kit. If the water in your pool or tub is to remain safe from all that algae and bacteria, then you have to test it regularly. The tests we have reviewed are the easiest to read as they are colorimetric, and they are also some of the cheapest on the market.
Of course, you will find the instructions on testing at the back of each bottle, and you will also see the color chart that will help you interpret the results. The key thing to getting accurate results is by immersing the entire strip for as long as the manufacturer recommends (mostly 30 seconds).
Our preference is Poolmaster Pool Testing Kit, due to its user-friendliness and accuracy. The testing kit is not only cheap, but it also comes in a desiccant-lined container that keeps away moisture and light. Each strip has a chemically treated pad that absorbs water and shows the results in only 30 seconds. The color chart at the back is explanatory and so anyone, regardless of age, can use it.