3 scenarios to help you choose a moisture meter

To many a skilled craftsman or professional, moisture matters.  Practised woodworkers and furniture makers need to know the quality and properties of their materials before all else, floorers must understand the conditions they’re dealing with before getting to work, and building inspectors are never far from their handy electronic devices when assessing for quality, damage, and more.  And that’s just the start of the industries, professionals and individuals who make indispensable use of their trusty moisture meter every single day, because the precise moisture composition of materials including metal, concrete and most other materials can have a huge impact on project and business goals.

It’s important to note that ‘moisture meter’ is a descriptor a little like ‘luxury vehicle’.  Are we talking about a Porsche, or a stretched limo?  A Tesla off the showroom floor, or an early 1900s Rolls Royce?  Therefore, while a moisture meter is basically any device that tests, measures and analyses the presence and levels of moisture, water, dryness and humidity, it’s crucial to explore the 2 basic types of moisture meters:

Pin-type: These moisture meters do their work with the help of test pins, which are gently inserted into the material being tested.  They work by analysing the electrical resistance between those test electrodes, on the basis that energy is more easily conducted as moisture levels rise.

Pinless: As the name implies, the pins are missing from the pinless moisture meter type.  Instead, an electromagnetic sensor pad simply makes contact with the surface being tested, with a relative reading calculated on the basis of how the presence of moisture inductively distorts the electrical field.

If that’s not enough information to understand which basic meter type is best suited to your organisation or specific application, we’ve broken down the kind of scenarios in which the most appropriate meter should be used:

1. An entire floor/area

If you’re dealing with a large, flat area – like a sizeable floor space – then getting those pins into the material is either going to be impossible, time-consuming, and even damaging to the surface.  It’s also important to recognise that a pin-type meter gives a highly accurate reading – but only for that tiny and specific space between the electrodes.  With a pinless meter, though, it will just be a matter of pressing the test plate onto the surface, reading the relative measurement, and then quickly taking multiple other measurements across the space to get an accurate idea of the overall moisture characteristics of the space.

2. A hard, even surface

Similarly, a pin-type meter relies on the delicate pins being physically inserted into the material – which will be difficult or not possible at all with harder surfaces.  Even if you attempt it, the pins are quite easy to damage, and the surface itself is obviously marked by those penetration points, which is not ideal for certain more delicate and aesthetic surfaces and materials.

3. An uneven, inconsistent surface

For a more uneven or less dense and consistent material, on the other hand, those pins will come in very handy.  Pinless meters work well only when the test plate makes proper and complete contact with the surface, which will not be possible if the material is uneven, not uniformly solid, or not at all dense – like, say, insulation.  When you can actually get a pair of pins into that uneven surface, though, the risk that you’ll get a misleading or incorrect reading drops significantly because if you do get a reading, it will be because a path for electricity to flow between the pins is present.  Where the pin-type meter really comes into its own for any appropriate surface is when you need precise readings for slightly different depth levels within the same material.

Are you ready to select the most appropriate moisture meter for your particular project or ongoing needs?  You’ll also need to consider:

* The meter’s precise scales (0 for bone dry, 100 for fully saturated)

* The detection range

* Data storage & analytics features

* Meter accuracy & verification

* Analog vs digital

* Ease of use and advanced features

* Accessories/additional monitoring

Need more help deciding?  Remember, all-in-one moisture meters combine the best features of both pin-type and pinless types, but always seek out the best possible resources and expert advice before locking in your purchase.  Good luck!

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