In many professions and trades, having reliable, high-quality tools and equipment on hand makes a huge difference in achieving success.
This is certainly the case for woodworkers, furniture builders, flooring installers, cabinet makers, and others who recognize that a handheld wood moisture meter is one of their most indispensable tools. These meters help them prevent moisture-related problems when working with wood and other materials.
The Manufacturers that Stand Out
Three manufacturers of wood moisture meters stand out for providing their customers with some of the very best moisture measurement products available: Delmhorst, Wagner Meters, and Lignomat.
Interestingly, while these companies could be considered competitors in the handheld moisture meter industry, each fills a somewhat different niche at the higher end of the market.
Delmhorst Instrument Co. has been making moisture meters since 1946. That’s the year Bill Delmhorst helped New York City officials identify problems with moisture in their buildings using his proprietary moisture meter. Since then, his company has built a solid reputation for themselves. Today they are especially well-known for making high-quality, pin-type moisture meters.
Wagner Meters started as a family-run business in the 1960s when Delmer Wagner first developed moisture measurement tools specifically for the forest products industry. In the years since then, the company expanded its line of products to include small handheld meters as well as tools for measuring moisture in concrete slabs. For its line of moisture meters, the company has chosen to specialize in high-end pinless meters.
Lignomat started selling moisture meters in Germany in 1979. The company soon realized success in the U.S. market required a little different approach. This recognition led to an American-based offshoot, Lignomat USA, which targeted the needs of tradespeople in the U.S. Today the company builds a variety of pocket-sized pin and pinless meters, which offer customers a balance between quality and affordability.
Why Delmhorst, Wagner, and Lignomat?
When choosing a wood moisture meter, one of the most important considerations is the accuracy of its moisture content readings. If you can’t rely on a meter to give reasonably accurate readings, then it simply won’t give assurance that you’ll avoid significant moisture problems when working with wood.
When we subjected dozens of meters to a comprehensive battery of tests in our U.S.-based Moisture Meter Experts laboratory, we found meters manufactured by Delmhorst, Wagner Meters, and Lignomat performed consistently well in our accuracy tests.
Any brand known for providing accurate readings is bound to become a trusted name in the wood products industry. Consider it a driving factor in why these three brands compete so well in the marketplace, year in and year out.
The Uniqueness Factor of Each Brand
Another important factor in the success of these companies is how each has found its own unique niche. And not only that, but they have excelled in filling those niches in a way competitors cannot. Think of this as the “find what you’re best at and stick with it” strategy.
Over the years, Delmhorst has become the “go-to” name for anyone wanting the very best in a pin moisture meter. They offer a wide array of excellent pin meters specifically designed for use in various applications, such as flooring, wood products, agriculture, leather, and paper. Delmhorst also makes a couple of handheld pinless meters, but this type of meter has never been Delmhorst’s primary focus.
If you are in the market for a pinless moisture meter, then you are probably better off taking a close look at what Wagner Meters offers. Their meters are fine-tuned for accuracy and come with some of the best customer service in the industry, which makes them very hard to beat. But interestingly, you will not find even one pin-type meter made by Wagner. That is a part of the market that Wagner has chosen to leave to others so they can focus on making superior pinless meters.
And then there’s Lignomat. They are more of a generalist than either Delmhorst or Wagner, meaning they provide several different options for both pin and pinless meters. None of their meters score at the very top for accuracy or features, but they usually come reasonably close and are typically marketed at an attractive price point. And that is what defines Lignomat’s calling card—reasonable prices without sacrificing too much in terms of either build quality or accuracy.
To help illustrate just why these three manufacturers should be thought of as stand-outs in the world of moisture meters, let’s take a closer look at three top-selling meters offered by these brands.
Delmhorst BD-2100 Pin Meter
Ask any professional in the wood products or construction industry which pin-type moisture meter they would recommend, and you may well receive a recommendation for the BD-2100. It is a Delmhorst best seller for a reason. Like most high-end meters, it measures moisture across a wide range (from 6% to 40% moisture content).
The BD-2100 is reasonably accurate and is calibrated to measure the actual moisture content of both wood and drywall. It also comes with important features, including a built-in calibration check, the ability to store dozens of readings, and a built-in connector for use with various electrode accessories that aid in getting readings deeper down.
However, there are some drawbacks to the BD-2100. Most noteworthy is the fact that it is a pin-type meter, which by nature means it leaves behind tell-tale pin holes in the material being tested. This can be a dealbreaker for someone building fine furniture or installing a hardwood floor.
Orion 950 Pinless Meter by Wagner Meters
Looking to stay away from a pin moisture meter? Maybe you don’t like the notion of a wood product with pin holes or you’d prefer a meter that can take faster readings. Or do you simply not want to deal with broken pins? Then your best choice may be one of the pinless meters in the Orion line by Wagner Meters.
There are five different Orion models, and they all performed extremely well in our accuracy tests. We especially like the fully featured Orion 950 that can take both shallow and deep readings and includes Bluetooth connectivity for use with free smart apps.
Wagner is known for quality and innovation, and its Orion meters show why. We like that all Orion models, including the 950, come with a calibration accessory tool. This tool can be used to recalibrate the meter quickly and conveniently in the field. If there is a drawback to Orion meters, it’d be their price tag, although, we think they’re well worth the price.
Lignomat Ligno-Scanner SD Pinless Meter
On that note, enter the budget-friendly Ligno-Scanner SD. It is also a dual-depth pinless meter just like the Orion 950. While not quite as accurate as the meters in the Orion line, the Ligno-Scanner SD still gives the user reasonable accuracy for most applications. And just like the BD-2100 and Orion meters, this is a meter that seems built to last.
The meter comes with features that are expected in a high-end moisture meter, such as the ability to read moisture in the low range down to 5%, plus the capability of programming a lot of different wood species settings. All in all, this is a versatile meter suitable for professional use.
Consistent with Lignomat’s penchant for offering some decent meters at a fair price, the Ligno-Scanner SD is priced significantly lower than either the Delmhorst BD-2100 or the Orion 950. Just realize that at the Ligno-Scanner’s lower price point, you won’t be able to enjoy all the features or impressive accuracy of some of the other more expensive, high-end meters.
Learn More (or Buy Now)
If you’re ready to purchase one of the top-selling meters described here, they are all available through our Moisture Meter Experts store. Every meter in our store comes highly recommended, based on comprehensive testing performed in our own lab. You won’t find meters in our store that we would not want to use ourselves.
For more information about moisture meters manufactured by the top three brands in the industry, please read our in-depth meter reviews or visit the manufacturer websites: