How do I test the quality of my pool water?

If you are using your pool and spa frequently, it is recommended that you test the water quality up to twice per week. When it comes to testing chemical levels in your pool and spa water, there are a few different methods that can be used. Different methods provide various benefits including easy use, accuracy, and affordability. 


Water test strips are easy to use and probably the most affordable method and they can measure a fairly wide range of levels including alkalinity, hardness, cyanuric acid, chlorine, free chlorine, bromine, and pH. They function simply by being dipped into the pool water to display colors that indicate your pool's chemistry levels. This method, while affordable and easy, is not the most accurate when it comes to pool water testing.


Another option, which is a bit more accurate and still affordable, is the use of a pool water test kit. These kits have the same testing abilities as testing strips and offer a bit more accuracy. To use a pool test kit, you take samples of your pool water and combine them with a separate liquid reagent for each pool sample. You find the current levels in your pool by color matching between the color of the resulting liquid solution and a provided color chart which indicates possible chemical levels in your pool water. The test kit method, while affordable, is not as easy to use as pool water test strips. With the use of a test kit, it is imperative that you follow the directions very closely and measure the pool water and reagents exactly in order to get accurate results.


The third and final method is the use of a digital pool water tester. A digital tester combines the benefits of both the test strip method and the test kit method. It is very accurate when it is calibrated properly and it is extremely easy to use. A digital pool water tester is, however, the priciest option of the three pool water testing options but it may be worth the cost for you. So let's dig in a little deeper!

Do digital pool testers work? How do you use them?

An electronic or digital pool water tester definitely works splendidly and these products have brought pool water tests into the digital age. Different brands of digital testers function a bit differently but they are all very fast, efficient and easy to use. Some operate by having you collect pool water samples and then having you simply dip the tester into the sample.

For others, you will collect water samples and insert them into the device itself for it to display your test results. Digital pool testers are designed to provide some additional testing over and above that of test strips and kits as well. Digital testers can measure salinity, ORP, and total dissolved solids (TDS) where other methods are not able to test these levels. When compared to test strips and testing kits, going digital will definitely put your mind at ease and save you a bit of time. 

Are digital pool testers accurate?

With well-made brands, a properly calibrated digital pool tester is absolutely accurate. These digital methods have been put to the test extensively and different testers have been compared to one another in order to ensure their accuracy. With a small margin of error, digital testers can give you a reading that is accurate within 1%. This is a much higher accuracy than test strips and, with how easy to use digital pool water testers are, their benefits can certainly outweigh the affordability of the more difficult to use pool testing kit. 

What are some of the best digital pool water testers?

If you are in the market for a digital pool water tester, I will give you a comprehensive list below of some of the best options that are available today. The following tester options measure levels of multiple factors at once for a more broad read on your pool's chemical levels.

Bluewave 6-in-1 Electronic Pool and Spa Water Tester

6-in-1 Electronic Pool and Spa Water Tester
11 Reviews
6-in-1 Electronic Pool and Spa Water Tester
  • Material: Plastic, Color: Blue
  • Rugged water resistant housing
  • Commercial grade technology sensor, Easy push buttons
  • Large LCD readouts, Temperature F°/C° toggle button
  • Features auto power-off feature and low battery indicator, Last reading is saved until a new test is taken

This tester performs a digital test that requires no reagents, no color chart, and no color matching. It is able to test your total salt content, pH levels, free chlorine total, ORP, TDS and water temperature with just a click of a button. Simply collect your water sample and place the tester's sensor into the sample. An easy to read digital display will tell you all of your levels within seconds. Readings are very accurate and this tester and you can conveniently save your last test results for reference. This pool water tester also comes with a waterproof housing to protect your investment. Possibly a major drawback with this tester is that chlorine levels are not displayed as a numerical reading. Instead, total chlorine is displayed as "low," "good," or "high."

Aqua Chek Aqua Chek Trutest Digital Reader

AquaChek TruTest Digital Test Strip Reader For Pool and Spa Water Testing - Tests for Free Chlorine, Free Bromine, pH, and Total Alkalinity - Quick & Accurate Results Includes 25 TruTest Strips (Blue)
2,682 Reviews
AquaChek TruTest Digital Test Strip Reader For Pool and Spa Water Testing - Tests for Free Chlorine, Free Bromine, pH, and Total Alkalinity - Quick & Accurate Results Includes 25 TruTest Strips (Blue)
  • BENEFITS: TruTest provides digital results with the accuracy of AquaChek test strips; ideal for customers who aren't comfortable distinguishing color
  • AQUACHEK ACCURACY: Using medical industry technology, our test strips offer comparable accuracy to liquid tests; No measuring & counting drops of reagent, leaving less room for error
  • FEATURES: Combines the ease & accuracy of AquaChek test strips & digital technology; Easy-to-read LCD screen shows numerical results; Includes 25 TruTest Strips
  • EASY TO USE: No interpreting colors; Just dip the test strip, remove it, & insert it on the test strip reader; Accurate digital results in 15 seconds; Test water at least twice a week
  • DIGITAL RESULTS: Numerical test results show ‘low’, ‘ok’, or ‘high’ indicators for each of the four test parameters; Will only work with TruTest Digital Test Strips

This digital reader is easy to use and requires TruTest strips to read your pool's levels of free chlorine, bromine, pH, and total alkalinity. To use, you simply insert a test strip into the reader, dip it into a sample of your pool water, and wait approximately 15 seconds for your results. The digital display is easy to read and lists the numeric results alongside the overall status of your results in "LO," "OK," "HI" indications. Aside from the downfall of having to replenish testing strips, this reader is also very sensitive to sunlight which can give an inaccurate reading. You will need to avoid direct sunlight while using it. This digital reader is very affordable and is currently offered on at around $43.

Lamotte #3581 MOBILE WaterLink SPIN TOUCH Lab

LaMotte 3581 Mobile WaterLink Spin Touch Lab
27 Reviews
LaMotte 3581 Mobile WaterLink Spin Touch Lab
  • Factory Fresh Guaranteed! Due to high demand, this item it back logged. It will ship within 30 days! Reserve yours now!!
  • Power Source Type: Wood Pellet
  • Package Weight: 12.0 pounds
  • Package Dimensions: 17.0 L x 9.0 H x 16.0 W (inches)

This high-tech digital pool water tester has the ability to run a whopping 10 test factors in roughly one minute! It can test any chemical levels you can think of with the exception of nitrates but the kit comes with nitrate testing strips so this is really the total package. Its most popular disk has the ability to test your water levels for free chlorine, bromine, total chlorine, total alkalinity, pH, saline, calcium hardness, copper iron, cyanuric acid, and phosphate.

To use, you will collect a water sample and insert the water into the disk's fill hole using a provided syringe. You'll then insert the disk into the device and super accurate, easy to read results will display in 60 seconds or so. A mobile app and web-based data storage makes this device a great one among pool test kits for pool professionals as well as hotels, gyms, or apartment complexes that have public pools and spas.

A convenient and waterproof carrying case is also included. Its price point is very high, currently listed on at around $1,300, and due to its popularity, a waitlist is often in place for ordering this tester. 

What is the BEST pool water test kit for me?

Obviously the MOBILE WaterLink SPIN TOUCH Lab discussed above is the top of the line for commercial and business use. In my opinion, however, the Lamotte 2056 Colorq Pro 7 digital tester is the creme of the crop when it comes to individual use at home and has some rave reviews on Let's take a closer look at this option below.


LaMotte 2056 ColorQ Pro 7 Digital Pool Water Test Kit
834 Reviews
LaMotte 2056 ColorQ Pro 7 Digital Pool Water Test Kit
  • Features a photometer which gives you a digital reading of test results.
  • Water resistant housing and carrying case provided.
  • Tests Free Chlorine, Total Chlorine, Bromine, PH, Alkalinity, Calcium Hardness, and Cyanuric Acid.
  • Uses liquid reagents for all test factors except Cyanuric Acid, which uses tablets.

The Colorq pro 7 is a digital testing kit that measures your swimming pool's levels of total chlorine, free chlorine, pH, total alkalinity, bromine, cyanuric acid, and calcium hardness. To use this kit, you simply fill vials with pool water samples, add reagent samples to each, and then place the vials in the into the tester for your results. While it does require the reagents, instead of a color matching method for gathering results, it simply displays the digital results of your chemical levels on the digital readout screen. The process is user friendly since the digital screen is easy to read and the kit also comes with a handy waterproof carrying case. The only real drawback to this digital kit is that its reagents have a bit of a short shelf life. However, since accurate reads lead to fewer chemicals being used in your pool, you will ultimately save money if you go with the Lamotte Colorq Pro 7. This kit is currently listed on at around $170. 

What are some other options for digital water testing?

While the above options test your water for multiple factors at once, there are some other, more economical options for testers that read for an individual chemical. If you have a salt pool, for example, you may want to invest in a saline tester. Alternately, if you are most interested in pH levels in your water, you can purchase a tester that only measures pH. Here are a few examples:

HACH Pocket Pro Salinity Tester

Hach 9531600 Pocket Pro Salinity Tester
33 Reviews
Hach 9531600 Pocket Pro Salinity Tester
  • Confidence in results
  • Save time and money
  • Ease of use

Offers very accurate and easy to read salt readings and is available on Amazon currently at about $100.

HM Digital TDS-4 Pocket Size TDS Tester

HM Digital unisex adult Pocket science lab ph meters, Brown, Without Digital Thermometer US
1,200 Reviews
HM Digital unisex adult Pocket science lab ph meters, Brown, Without Digital Thermometer US
  • This TDS tester is ideal for all water purification applications, wastewater regulation, aquaculture, hydroponics, and colloidal silver
  • ATC (Automatic Temperature Compensation) ; Advanced microprocessor technology
  • The Sleek design of the TDS-4 is perfect for personal or commercial use
  • Alkaline batteries included
  • Hold Function: Freeze the measurement to view it out of the water.

This tester measures your pool's overall purity. TDS measures salt, mineral, or metal content in your water so you want a lower TDS reading.

Digital pH Meter by VANTAKOOL 

Digital PH Meter, WECHIC 0.01 PH High Accuracy Water Quality Tester with 0-14 PH Measurement Range for Household Drinking, Pool and Aquarium Water PH Tester Design with ATC (Yellow)
521 Reviews
Digital PH Meter, WECHIC 0.01 PH High Accuracy Water Quality Tester with 0-14 PH Measurement Range for Household Drinking, Pool and Aquarium Water PH Tester Design with ATC (Yellow)
  • Wide Use: Ideal for household or laboratory use; Suitable for testing pH balance of drinking water, pool, aquarium, RO system, Spa, or hydroponics; Appropriate for wide range of applications
  • Fast And Accurate: Ensure your pool, general hydroponics ph or even drinking water has a perfect pH balance and safe for use with Tester precision pH accuracy. Tester has a sensitive electrode sensor to read accurate pH levels. The included detailed manual will show you how to get the best accurate and stable reading
  • Auto Calibration: The PH meter has an auto temperature compensation feature that adjusts to water temperatures and water quality to give pH readings almost instantly. As well, you can calibrate the tester with one touch button using Buffer Powder
  • Lightweight And Easy To Use: Just remove the protective cap and immerse the PH meter electrode in the solution and press the button to be measured. Beats the heck out of trying to see the colors of a litmus strip
  • Make You Satisfied With The Products: Come with 1x VantaKool PH meter, 1x user manual, 3x 1. 5V LR44 button cells(build-in), 2x PH Buffer Powders

A proper pH balance helps to avoid eye and skin irritation and burning and makes for a better swimming experience. Digital pH meters are available on Amazon for between $13 and $20. This Vantakool meter is easy to use, light and compact and it gives a fast and accurate pH reading. 

What does it all boil down to?

Ultimately, to be satisfied with your new pool water tester, you will want to take into account your budget as well as which factors you want to be able to measure and how much time and energy you are willing to spend on testing your water. While testing strips and color matching kits are affordable options, they have certain drawbacks when it comes to accuracy and ease, respectively. If you would like a testing experience that is dependable and efficient, you can go the route of a more "all-encompassing" and easy method of using a digital water pool water tester. While they are a bit more pricey, they get the job done well and they get it done fast.