CRITICAL FLAW ALERT!
This meter exhibits a critical flaw—namely its inability to read below 8% moisture content. This flaw renders the meter essentially unusable for a number of common applications, including for flooring installations and furniture making. We deducted one star from our overall rating to reflect this critical flaw.
The Extech MO290 Moisture Meter is an ergonomically designed, dual mode meter that is capable of both pin and pinless moisture measurement. The meter with its push probe cable accessory was tested for this review.
This is an ergonomically designed, dual mode meter that is capable of both pin and pinless moisture measurement. The pinless sensor can be used not only for wood but for other building materials too. The meter has a large, easy-to-read digital readout.
The meter with its push probe cable accessory was tested for this review. An optional hammer probe accessory is also available and is evaluated here.
The Extech MO290 with Push Probe Cable lacks several useful features, such as a data HOLD function, calibration check, and an adjustment for wood species or wood temperature.
This meter has other significant limitations. Most notably, our testing revealed that it is not capable of measuring MC at or below 8%, so it won’t be very useful for applications where measuring materials with low MC is a must. Floor installers, furniture makers, and others who need to measure wood at low MC should look elsewhere.
- Dual mode: both pin-style and pinless
- Ergonomic design with comfortable rubberized sides on meter casing
- Ability to obtain ambient temperature and relative humidity readings
- Unable to take readings below 8% MC
- No data HOLD function
- No ability to adjust for wood species or wood temperature
Extech MO290 with Hammer Probe
We also tested the meter with its hammer probe accessory.
Objective Evaluation – Overall Score 3.5 out of 5.0
Accuracy – 3.6 out of 5.0
The Extech MO290 Moisture Meter with Push Probe Cable push probe cable accessory provided reasonably accurate readings above about 8% MC, although the readings tended to be somewhat low when compared to ASTM D4442 oven dry standards. Below about 8% MC, this meter’s push probe accessory was mostly unable to obtain moisture measurements.
Learn about our accuracy test procedures
Surface Moisture – 1.0 out of 5.0
Surface moisture caused this meter to post readings over 14% higher than the baseline. These surface moisture results indicate that operating this meter in high humidity environments where condensation may form on the surface could lead to questionable readings.
Learn about our surface moisture test procedures
Meter Temperature – 2.5 out of 5.0
Meter temperature had a significant effect on this meter’s MC readings.
A low meter temperature of 34.8° F in the presence of high MC decreased the reading by 2% compared to the room temperature reading.
A high meter temperature of 110° F in the presence of low MC increased the reading by about 0.6% MC, and in the presence of high MC decreased the reading by about 0.7% compared to the room temperature reading.
Learn about our meter temperature test procedures
Wood Temperature – 3.0 out of 5.0
Wood temperature affected this meter’s readings.
A low wood temperature of 33.6° F in the presence of low MC showed a 1% decrease in the reading when compared to the room temperature reading. In the presence of high MC, the reading decreased about 2%.
A high wood temperature of 110° F in the presence of low MC showed very little change in the reading when compared to the room temperature reading. In the presence of high MC, the reading increased over 3%.
Learn about our wood temperature test procedures
Reading Repeatability – 5.0 out of 5.0
The readings of this meter were repeatable, showing very little tendency to vary.
Learn about our repeatability testing procedures
Drift – 5.0 out of 5.0
Readings for this meter showed a small tendency to drift, with readings that were lower by about 0.2% MC after 3 seconds.
Cable Interference – 4.0 out of 5.0
This meter’s push probe accessory exhibited a small amount of cable interference, with readings that were slightly lower.
Learn about our cable interference and drift testing procedures
Subjective Evaluation – Overall Score 3.5 out of 5.0
Ease of Use – 2.2 out of 5.0
This meter has more push buttons to operate than most other wood moisture meters and is not very intuitive to use. It lacks a HOLD function for reading and the manual does not include a table for compensating for wood temperature.
Quality – 3.0 out of 5.0
The meter’s casing is of excellent quality and is unlikely to break with normal usage. No carrying case is provided. Cable connection is functional, but pins for the push probe accessory are subject to bending and breaking.
Comfort – 4.0 out of 5.0
This meter is comfortable to hold with rubberized siding and an ergonomic design. It is a bit large to fit in a shirt pocket for transporting. LCD display is large and easy to read.
Versatility – 3.0 out of 5.0
The meter offers both pin and pinless modes. Readings in pinless mode are relative only. The meter does not have a way to adjust for species of wood.
Range – 5.0 out of 5.0
The manual indicates that this meter is capable of taking readings across the range of moisture content levels, at least in theory. Our tests indicated that the meter is generally unable to obtain moisture readings at or below about 8% MC.
Features – 2.8 out of 5.0
Readings precise to the nearest 0.1%. The user is unable to verify calibration, but meters can be sent to the manufacturer for verification and/or re-calibration. Includes low battery indicator and alarm function. No data HOLD function for use in tight spaces where the display cannot be easily viewed.
Customer Service – 4.5 out of 5.0
Extech offers a standard one-year warranty and a service center for repairs. Calibration services are also available but expensive. Response to telephone inquiries is fast, friendly, and professional.
Our review is based on Moisture Meter Experts independent evaluation of the meter, which was purchased by Moisture Meter Experts or provided free of charge by the manufacturer. By purchasing this meter through the links above, Moisture Meter Experts may be compensated either by your purchase directly from Moisture Meter Experts or from commissions from an affiliate. View our Review Procedures section to learn more about our proprietary evaluation procedure and expertise in the field of moisture meters.