If you work with wood, you need a moisture meter, but the question is: which meter? Are you wondering if a cheaper meter could get the job done and save you money?
Consider this: the moisture content of the wood you’re working with is truly a make-or-break issue for the success of your wood project. Do you want to risk getting it wrong because you chose to rely on a cheap meter?
Read on to learn why a cheap meter will cost you MORE money overall and quite possibly ruin your reputation as a woodworker or flooring specialist.
Why Cheap Meters Show Up in Reviews
Have you ever wondered why you can click on a review site and find it loaded with cheap products?
At first glance, it’s easy to assume that the products featured on the site will be more than adequate to meet your needs. It’s tempting to think, “Wow, I will save a lot of money if I buy one of these.”
Did you know that these sites typically just take the most popular products from Amazon’s bestseller list and craft a new page with photos and text designed to make them look like actual reviews?
But watch out!
It’s all just a clever ploy to get you to click “Buy.” They figure if these products are selling the best, then they can make the most money by creating a so-called review site and posting a bit of product information about these hot-selling items.
The truth is: you won’t find even one original review on a website of this nature. They’re simply trying to make money at your expense.
So, proceed with extreme caution when you run across a site reviewing a bunch of cheap moisture meters.
Why Cheap Meters Won’t Cut It
You can use a cheap wood moisture meter, and it will give you moisture content readings. If the meter has a digital display, it will probably provide readings to the nearest 0.1%, suggesting an extremely high level of accuracy. All seems good, right?
Not so fast.
Use that cheap meter and you could be setting yourself up for significant problems down the road.
Many of these inexpensive meters don’t even feature a “calibration check,” which means you have no simple way to verify if the meter still reads within factory specifications. You might be able to send it back to the factory to check, but there’s a good chance that the factory is overseas with no customer service center in North America.
What if you were to accidentally drop the meter or leave it in a hot car for several hours? You’d have no way to check how much this might have affected the meter’s calibration.
Plus, most cheap meters don’t even provide readings below 9 or 10% moisture content. This fact alone renders the meter almost useless because the lower moisture content range is what’s most valuable to you when determining if the wood is ready to use.
An inexpensive meter is probably helpful for just one thing: finding out if some spots are wetter than others. In other words, it’s best used to obtain relative readings. You should NOT rely on a cheap meter if what you want is the actual moisture content of a piece of wood.
How a Cheap Meter Will Cost You More Money
If you find a cheap meter on one of those review sites that we already discussed and it is advertised for, say, $200 less than a high-end meter, how could it end up costing you more money?
Easy—what if a cheap moisture meter gave you moisture readings indicating that your wood was dry enough to use for your project?
And what if you were to rely on those readings when unbeknownst to you, the wood wasn’t even close to being dry?
Not a pretty picture even in the best of circumstances.
If you’re fortunate, you’ll discover any ensuing moisture issues before you finish your project and send it out of your shop. But even in this case, fixing the issues you find will take time and money. Maybe even a considerable amount of time and money.
But what happens if you don’t discover any problems right away? What if it’s your customers who discover issues, such as wood joints not fitting properly because of the wood shrinking or expanding? Or what about hardwood flooring that you installed, and to your customers’ dismay, it ends up warping, cupping, or crowning?
If a high-quality, accurate meter prevents even one such problem from occurring, it will have already paid for itself.
And if it prevents many such problems from occurring, you will have just saved your reputation and your business. Who can put a price on that?
Why Spending the Money for a Quality Meter Is Worth It
By now, you’re already getting the message that a quality meter is indeed worth paying extra for, but here are a couple of additional things to consider.
You pay for quality wood materials, quality finishes, and other quality products for your wood projects because you want the absolute best results. The same should hold true for the tools you choose to use for your work.
Have you stopped to consider that a wood moisture meter may just be the most essential tool that you’ll use in your woodshop?
So why buy cheap? You know the old saying, “You get what you pay for.”
Ultimately, we recommend that you do your research when getting ready to buy a wood moisture meter. Don’t rely on a review site that is “reviewing” tons of products. They’re not interested in you and your work. They’re interested in making as much money as possible by listing and selling all sorts of popular, but cheap, products.
Why Moisture Meter Experts Offers Detailed, High-Quality Reviews
Here at Moisture Meter Experts, we do a lot of the moisture meter research for you. We take the time to conduct a complete battery of quantitative laboratory tests that evaluate both inexpensive meters and high-end meters.
We look at a variety of factors and how each meter responds in different situations. These repeatable tests assess for accuracy, surface moisture, meter temperature, wood temperature, drift, repeatability, and more.
Our goal is not to sell you just any meter. In fact, our reviews spell out clearly which meters we do NOT recommend and why.
We’re here to help make sure you get a quality meter—and we do that by providing detailed reviews that examine a range of factors that could affect your in-the-field experience when using a given meter.
The Best Meter for YOU is the One You Can Count On
Don’t just buy a cheap meter because you need to test moisture content in wood and you figure this will be an easy way to save money.
Remember: that could cost you dearly. It is much, much better to make sure you get a high-quality, durable meter that takes accurate wood moisture readings.
Start your research today by checking out our reviews of the best wood moisture meters on the market.