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Bluelab pH Pen Review

HonestGR

Well-Known Member
Bluelab pH Pen review by @HonestGR.

Note to 420magazine members: I figured since there are some threads looking for a quality pH meter, I would post my utmost favourite pH meter on the market! This review is based on my observations. Anyone else with this meter feel free to add your comments and experiences with this product as well.

*Note: Where I had gotten this item has been removed per 420magazine's ToS*

Shipping- 10/10

As with the last order through *****.com, 100% Discreet, Arrived well packaged, intact, and on time! No bumps, bruises or hiccups along the way!

Initial thoughts- 10/10

Upon opening the package, I was in love. I was expecting a 10 page "how to get started" manual on how to store; calibrate the new pH pen. Instead it was an extremely easy to follow single insert. In comparison to my "old pH" meter, I had to struggle through 5 pages of barely readable small print, struggling to find the English text. It was a pain to calibrate. A small screw that only a jewellers screwdriver would fit, and if you lose the screwdriver, good luck ever calibrating it again! Not to mention you had to have a specific temperature of solution. You would almost always have to cross your fingers and hope you have the pH correct. There was ALWAYS a slight variation to the pH from where it should be. This is NOT ok for anything with a sensitive pH!

After reading the insert, Bluelab pH pen takes away a lot of the human error associated with calibration. The most important thing the user needs to do is store and maintain it properly. As with all pH pens, if it's not stored correctly, you will have a probe that does not function properly; give the wrong readings even if calibrated properly.

Initial use/functions- 10/10

This pen has both Celsius and Fahrenheit. Perfect for worldwide use. It also has a large temperature range. Although I Specifically did not test for this, the range is (0-50C) (32-122F) (0-14pH).

Automatic temperature compensation- 10/10

This means you don't need to put a heater in your solution, or into the fridge to get the "magic" number to calibrate for accuracy. It's all done for you. Not to mention, it works very well!

Hold Reading- 10/10

I have always liked the idea of a "hold" button. Although I use a bucket to pH water, I can easily see the meter. There are people who may need to place themselves in an awkward angle to get a reading. The Hold function will now allow you to just put the pen into the solution, hit "hold" and view the result. This can possibly reduce long term body pains for those who need to use it in an awkward way.

Auto-Off function- 9.9/10

So this is 25 seconds over the 4 minute mark that was on the package, but it does fall within "4 minutes". I timed the BlueLab pH Pen. I hit both my stopwatch and ON at the same time (slight variance due to human error) and stopped when I seen "OFF" show up. The time was 4 minutes 25.11 seconds. But you know what? That's O.K.! I have spent about $40 on batteries for making the error of leaving my old pen on by accident! Not to mention, If the auto-off fails, this pen doesn't have anything crazy for batteries either! 1x AAA (Alkaline). Super cheap replacement cost. I was going to give it a 9.5/10 for saying it was 4 minute shut off, but where it saves $$ on batteries, I jumped it back to a 9.9. It is well deserving in my eyes.

I will personally be using this for gardening, but it's not limited to using it just for that! Anywhere you test pH, you can easily use this product, including: fish tanks/ponds, flowers, hydroponic, industrial or testing natures water.

Calibration- 10/10

This is almost too easy!

This product came to me pretty close to calibration, my water runs at 6.8(+ added decimal points afterwards) pH through my water pipes. I have tested it with pH meters, along with pH strips. I wouldn't say the meter was necessarily wrong when it had arrived either. It was flashing between 6.8 and 6.9. After calibration it reflected 6.8 on the dot. This is the most simple calibration! You rinse the probe in clean water, put it in your pH 7.0 calibration solution and hit the "cal" button. There is no fussing with having to use that jewellers screwdriver!! It's done in a matter of seconds. You rinse the probe again, drop it into the 4.0 and hit "cal" again. YOUR DONE! It automatically takes the fluids temperature into consideration and adjusts the pH ever so slightly based on the temperature. Afterwards, rinse it off, and when you want to store it, get an eye dropper (not included) and put some storage solution into the cap (the hole for the sensor) for less spillage.

Package contents 9.5/10

In the package it includes: A Bluelab pH Pen, lanyard, pH 7.0 and 4.0 calibration solutions, pH probe KCI storage solution, information insert. However there are two items I would have liked to see in the package, both of which are minor. 1) an eye dropper (a cheap one at that). This is so you can put in very little of the storage solution without spillage. 2) for the packages (4.0,7.0 and storage solution) I would have liked to seen either a resealable package, or small bottles vs bags. This would be for any liquids that were remaining that are still usable they could be stored until needed. I like not wasting if I can help it.

Storage- 10/10

As with any tool you have, you need to store them correctly. This product comes with all necessities. Only you can prolong the life of this tool. It is very simple to store. Bluelab provides you the means to do so! There is also a cleaning kit that you can buy separate to make sure your probe is clean for accurate measurements.

Tests I performed- 10/10

Auto off : Pass (Timed Auto-Off, 4 minutes 25.11 seconds (give or take .5 sec due to human error))

Hold Function- Pass (Tested Hold Function)

Calibration- Pass (Simple Calibration)

Auto Temp- Pass (Measured solution temp with thermometer to verify accuracy)

Accuracy(Temp/pH)- Pass (Comparison with existing equipment (separate pH meter/pH strips))

100% Waterproof- Pass (Literally dunked it under water in a bucket; it popped right back up and still worked!)

Temp/pH range- N/A (I did not do this test, with gardening, it should all fall well between the ranges)

Pros: Shipped timely/no issues. Very easy to understand instructions, and even easier calibration. Removes a lot of "human error" when it comes to calibration, very important when it comes to specific pH readings. (When I refer to human error, I mean: Temperature, physical calibration; other environmental factors) Accurate (+/- (0.1 pH)/(1C)/(2F) 100% Waterproof Additional Support / Learning / Connection through Bluelab. Includes what you need to start, pH 4.0, pH 7.0 and storage solution. Comes with storage solution already in the cap for the probe to make sure it's good to go! Multiple applications for this pen. 1x AAA Alkaline battery (Cheaper alternative to button cells). Adjustable temperature scale (C/F). Back light. Lanyard. 100ml of storage solution for under $15. (Prolongs the life of pen, use an eyedropper to prolong your KCI storage solution!). Auto-Off Function. Wide temperature range. 1 year limited written guarantee.

Cons: The package should include an eye dropper for less waste of storage solution. Although already I have wasted less than having to fill up a whole cap with storage solution! I wish the packages were resealable or small bottles the meter could fit in, again for less waste. Only Blue labs calibration solutions can be used. I wish you could use any, however not all are created equal, Blue labs has set up such specific calibrating, Other solutions will give you incorrect readings. Cost; Although you pay a lot for this product, the accuracy is something you cannot match.

Overall- 9.94/10

I am in absolute love with this product. I cannot say how much I have enjoyed using this. It is extremely accurate; highly recommended for anyone needing to measure pH. Although it has some slight improvements that could be done (see cons), The quality is as high as it can possibly get without having to own thousands of dollars worth of lab equipment. There will always be something that can be improved on a product. Bluelab however has thought this pH pen out very well. They should be proud of themselves!
 

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TorturedSoul

Member of the Month: May 2009, Oct 2010, Sept 2017
Thanks for posting your (thorough) review.

*Note: Where I had gotten this item has been removed per 420magazine's ToS*
:hmmmm:One or more of our forum sponsors sell Bluelab pH meters?:hmmmm:

Automatic temperature compensation- 10/10

This means you don't need to put a heater in your solution, or into the fridge to get the "magic" number to calibrate for accuracy. It's all done for you. Not to mention, it works very well!
Don't get me wrong, I'm a fan of this feature - since I seem to be getting dumber every day, I suppose it's possible I'll have to start using my fingers to do math if I live long enough lol, and it's almost impossible to find a decent pH pen (reads out to two digits (5.##), is accurate to at least +/- .05, floats / waterproof, and has a replaceable probe (I don't like disposable products)) that lacks this feature, so it'd probably end up costing me more to get such a thing, even if I wanted to (which I don't, of course). But its importance is vastly overblown for our application and in the range that we are concerned with, IMHO. For example, if you have a dead-accurate reading of a 6.0pH solution at 25°C (77°F), it's only going to differ by .03 at 35°C (95°F), and by .06 at 45°C (113°F) - and if your nutrient solution is running at 45°C/113°F, its pH reading being off by (a known) .06 is going to be the least of your problems :19:.

Mostly, it's just convenient when I find myself wondering what the temperature of my nutrient solution actually is.

That's O.K.! I have spent about $40 on batteries for making the error of leaving my old pen on by accident!
Wow, that must be a whole lot of "forgets" worth of batteries ;) . I take it that your previous pH pen had a physical on/off switch? The first one I ever bought had one of those, thus no auto-off. I guess for $19, though, some compromises will be made.

1x AAA (Alkaline).
That is nice. Does it work with a rechargeable battery, too, or does it sense the 1.2V instead of 1.5V and throw the "low battery" code?

Only Blue labs calibration solutions can be used. I wish you could use any, however not all are created equal, Blue labs has set up such specific calibrating, Other solutions will give you incorrect readings.
You can, actually; they are standardized, lol.
 

HonestGR

Well-Known Member
Thanks for posting your (thorough) review.



:hmmmm:One or more of our forum sponsors sell Bluelab pH meters?:hmmmm:



Don't get me wrong, I'm a fan of this feature - since I seem to be getting dumber every day, I suppose it's possible I'll have to start using my fingers to do math if I live long enough lol, and it's almost impossible to find a decent pH pen (reads out to two digits (5.##), is accurate to at least +/- .05, floats / waterproof, and has a replaceable probe (I don't like disposable products)) that lacks this feature, so it'd probably end up costing me more to get such a thing, even if I wanted to (which I don't, of course). But its importance is vastly overblown for our application and in the range that we are concerned with, IMHO. For example, if you have a dead-accurate reading of a 6.0pH solution at 25°C (77°F), it's only going to differ by .03 at 35°C (95°F), and by .06 at 45°C (113°F) - and if your nutrient solution is running at 45°C/113°F, its pH reading being off by (a known) .06 is going to be the least of your problems :19:.

Mostly, it's just convenient when I find myself wondering what the temperature of my nutrient solution actually is.



Wow, that must be a whole lot of "forgets" worth of batteries ;) . I take it that your previous pH pen had a physical on/off switch? The first one I ever bought had one of those, thus no auto-off. I guess for $19, though, some compromises will be made.



That is nice. Does it work with a rechargeable battery, too, or does it sense the 1.2V instead of 1.5V and throw the "low battery" code?



You can, actually; they are standardized, lol.


I'll do my best to elaborate ;) (I can't seem to figure out the quote thing just yet on these forums, still learning!)

1) I didn't order through the sponsors of 420, so I had to remove the hyperlink. I cannot say the shipping from the sponsors from first hand experience. This review is on my website regarding the company I ordered from.

2) Math Ugh, ya I don't want to do that outside of work. Cannabis tending is definitely a relaxation method. But absolutly 0.06 ph is the least of concerns. However I am sure some people using this pen may require it to be accurate (although I cannot think of any job particular other than scientific company)

3) My old pen was one of those $20 pH meters, I used it for about 1 year. So yes it had a switch. I had forgotten it on once, remembered about 1 hour after and I shut it off. All was good. When we had gone away over the summer, I had my cousin water, and well..... he forgot them on multiple times.... ><. I had to buy two packs of batters and where as I needed them then (watering purposes), I had to buy them at a local store where they overcharge for them. I had a spare pack of batteries I payed significantly less when I had ordered the pH pen..... But yes it cost way too much.

4) I will follow up on the 1.2v / 1.5v battery question.

5) This is news to me! I figured Bluelab had a specific solution! I understand it is probably a marketing ploy ;) But I figured the sensor or solution had something "special" in it... kinda like you buy fuel at the pump for additives...


Thank you for the feedback @TorturedSoul !
 

HonestGR

Well-Known Member
@TorturedSoul This is the response I got from BlueLab.

In regards to #4)

"You are able to use rechargeable batteries in the pH pen, but they will lose charge quicker. If your pen shows the battery indicator but still gives a reading, then the battery still has enough juice. If the battery indicator is displayed on its own, then definitely time to change the battery. "

#5)
In regards to the solutions, we definitely recommend our Conductivity testing solution as this can vary wildly between manufacturers. The calibration solutions don't have to be ours, however, it is what we factory calibrate them to, so makes sense to use our products. Storage (KCl) can also vary, as we do not know what other brands add into their solution, making it hard to know how the probe is going to react. If our KCl solution is unavailable to you, you can use tap water to store your pH pen or probe.



As Bluelab highlights: "we do not know what other brands add into their solution, making it hard to know how the probe is going to react."

I will add to this:
Personal experience when using solutions (Trade Related- A/C + Mechanical) it is always advisable to use what is recommended in case there are any additives or minor changes. This will prevent additional issues.
 

TorturedSoul

Member of the Month: May 2009, Oct 2010, Sept 2017
Thanks for the follow-up. Extra credit awarded for contacting the manufacturer ;) .

Yeah, they don't derive any income from people purchasing other companies' products, lol. The comment about the EC calibration solution is potentially valid, in that if it's an "auto-calibrating" meter where you press a button or two and the meter is programmed to assume it's being placed into a solution that has a specific EC, but the user purchased one that has a different EC value, it's not going to work. On the other hand, if the user is aware (IOW, has RtFM ;) ) that the meter requires it and, therefore, purchases a calibration solution with an appropriate EC... then it is a non-issue. And the same holds true for the meters that have a (fully) manual calibration sequence in which the user sticks the meter in the solution and adjusts a screw until the reading matches the EC of that solution. I actually prefer that type for an EC meter (although I generally purchase a cheap "PPM" meter, because EC/"PPM" meters are dead simple - basically an ohm meter that does a calculation between taking the reading and displaying the answer, lol) because it allows the user to purchase a calibration solution that is closer to the middle of the range that he/she expects to encounter when using the thing. It probably makes no difference (because, again, there's not much to an EC meter), but it makes me feel like I've done something smart if I don't bother to actually think about it.

Now, as far as pH meters go... The calibration solutions really are standardized. Actual ingredients are largely irrelevant (although they're generally the same from one manufacturer to the next, anyway). Why? Because something that reads "7.00" on one meter... is going to read "7.00" (or "7.0") on another meter. It's like asking which manufacturer's 100-gram weight should I use to calibrate my digital scales. The answer is "any of them."

The storage solution part of the question is sort of a cross between the two above ones. Any of them will do... as long as the one the user chooses is actually what he/she is supposed to use. In other words, if it's supposed to be the standard storage solution instead of 4.01pH buffer/calibration solution, then that's what the user should purchase. It's only real purpose is to both prevent the business end of the probe from drying out and to prevent the contents of the glass bulb on the end from being leached out (that's why distilled water is NOT an adequate pH electrode storage solution, of course).

I do suggest people buy name-brand calibration solutions. Milwaukee, BlueLab, Hanna Instruments, et cetera. Not because there's anything special about it, but merely because I trust the quality control and the fact that it's almost certainly mixed by a machine more than I trust the guy hand-mixing the stuff at Fred's Hydroponics (and because the pH 4.01 solution has a tendency to degrade after its container has been opened, so I'd rather get mine in a sealed container instead of something that has been poured out of a (likely) large jug/bucket that has been opened and resealed many times).

Or you can make your own if you have an accurate scale and enjoy unnecessary labor being thrifty.

Just be sure to purchase the correct set. I'd have to check the instruction paper that came with my Milwaukee pH56 (if I even kept the thing) - it lists both sets, since which set it uses is a user-configurable option - to get the exact numbers, but they're slightly different. I used to even know WHY there are two different sets, but apparently that section of memory-grid got hit by a small asteroid. That'll probably happen by default, as the set that uses 6.86(?) solution instead of 7.00 is somewhat rare, but it's a good idea to know for sure.
 

HonestGR

Well-Known Member
"Yeah, they don't derive any income from people purchasing other companies' products"

Absolutly. Even a small screw costing 5cents would make them a cent! It all adds up!

I do still agree with most solutions are the same. A 7 is a 7, 4 is a 4. Afterall every ph meter out there is designed for the same reason. There also must be limited parts they can use when it comes to it anyhow!

If I bought a meter that said a 4 was a 7 I would be angry as with anyone!

Also quality control is absolutly HUGE!

@TorturedSoul

You are either a scientist or a genius or a scholar my friend.

I enjoy meaningful conversations like this. Your level of knowledge about pH does out weigh my own. If it comes to ventilation I may have you beat there ;)

PPM/EC meters, I understand the key concept, working on learning it. Probably because I have not grown hydroponics, however it will most definitly happen. I want to be comfortable with the concept prior to committing towards that sort of set up.

If only everything was just put it in the soil and it was ready the following day!;)

Imagine how much you would have in your glass jars ;)


Cheers
 

TorturedSoul

Member of the Month: May 2009, Oct 2010, Sept 2017
You are either a scientist or a genius or a scholar my friend.
...or a burnt-out bum with anti-social tendencies and occasional rage issues who just happens to read a lot (and who has done so since age three), who wishes all communication were in writing, so it would be over with faster :rolleyes: .

I enjoy meaningful conversations like this. Your level of knowledge about pH does out weigh my own.
You should have been there the night I was trying to teach my buddy about such things after the people who had hired him to work at their wastewater treatment plant failed to do so... he "tore up the plant" that night, called the boss to tell him about the shutdown and get someone to come show him how to straighten things out, and was told to "handle it." I still think I should have gotten a paycheck over that one. There were about 400 pounds of manuals and other documentation. I never even glanced at a single page ;) . (Much bud was smoked, though.)

Remember to challenge EVERY opinion, lol. Mine definitely included. Challenging one's own opinion is sometimes the most difficult - and important - thing of all.

If it comes to ventilation I may have you beat there ;)
Saw my recently-posted thread, did ya, lol?

Yes, everyone will potentially have something to contribute to the world, methinks. Imagine all the knowledge and ability that was wasted through the years. I vaguely remember a story I once read years ago about Albert Einstein. Seems he produced some theory or other that he either felt was unsolvable or would require a great deal of effort in order to do so, something like that. This was during the time of what later became known as World War I. So there was this guy (told ya my recollection was vague...) in the German army he was corresponding with, or maybe the guy just happened to get a scientific publication. Anyway, in the guy's copious amount of spare time (he was posted on the Russian front, so that's sarcasm), he quickly and easily solved the thing and wrote back. He never made it home from the trenches.

Countless candles, snuffed out.

On the other hand, lots of concepts/inventions are born from the madness of war. Some of them aren't bigger and better ways to kill.

More recently, mankind appears to have devoted the majority of its brain cells towards creating shiny new gadgets - with the remainder focused on creating a perceived need for same. Some people look at this as a sign that aliens really DO walk among us, and are holding us back as a species.

Me? I'm pretty sure that we can be stupid all on our own. (Although it occasionally takes a great many people to be truly heroic about it.)

PPM/EC meters, I understand the key concept, working on learning it.
I could be wrong, of course, but to me it's one of those things that confuse people mainly because they're looking for this really complicated thing... when it's actually incredibly simple. Someone could probably write one of those "A Dummy's Guide to..." books about it, but then they'd have to figure out what to write on the remaining 300 pages. I couldn't do it. After rambling along I suddenly realized that this is one of those things where I have learned "just enough to get by." Any explanation of mine would come with much shrugging of shoulders and "because it just IS" comments.

It's still pretty simple, though.

Probably because I have not grown hydroponics
THIS!

What can be simpler than DWC hydroponics, lol? Water and some nutrients. The plant even lives in it. Pump in some oxygen (the more, the better) to the roots. Adjust it so things are "in range." Observe plants consume part of the nutrient package along with some of the water, which causes things to slip out of range. Listen to advice about adding back (plain) water and then adjusting the pH back into range. Decide to ignore it (lol) and add back water with some of the (type of) nutrients that the plant has consumed - and observe that the pH has probably gone back into range (or at least requires very little adjustment at that point). Get some free time, observe people having The Great Debate about which substance(s) they should use to adjust the solution's pH downward. Recall that, as your plant ate phosphorous out of its nutrient solution, the pH rose - and go buy a bottle of phosphorous-containing pH Down.

Stuff like that. It's SIMPLE. Until someone comes along and complicates it. Err... I'm not trying to say that "simple" equates to "best possible way to do the thing" (but it is still simple, lol). Only that "complicated" is most definitely NOT a requirement.

And... I even got off-topic from my own off-topic comment :rolleyes: . In DWC hydroponics, there's no worry about adjusting pump timers to ensure that roots don't dry out (because they live in water). There is no "safety net" - which probably scares some, but consider this: If you grow in soil, that soil tends to have a buffering effect. Do something right? Wait a while to see the results. Okay, your plant has perked up and looks great. Was it the thing you just did? Or the thing before that? The one before that? Maybe it was a combination of A and C but not B - which actually was a detriment, only it'll take a day or two for its effects to be observable. IDK. Do something wrong? Same thing.

Fawk, how does anyone figure things out with soil, lol? Do something right with DWC hydropoinics? Go rinse out your mixing bucket and measuring spoon/syringe/glass, return and see "happy" plants. Do something wrong? Go eat a sandwich, come back and clean dead plant off of floor ;) .

Okay, it's not always that fast - but it is generally true that if you do one thing at a time, the lack of buffers allows you to see that thing's effect before you get around to doing a different thing. And the one time I really screwed up (NOTE: Don't accidentally add 10x the proper dosage of silicon to your DWC reservoir :rolleyes: .) , I did so late at night, got up the next morning, and there wasn't a single leaf left on the plant, lol. What killed the plant? The last thing I did, obviously, it's DWC - simple.

I probably couldn't teach this stuff. I've just been more or less stumbling through life ever since I watched my Dad work himself (literally, as it turned out) to death. It's probably soured my attitude on life, the universe, and everything (when it wasn't especially great to begin with), and that seems to leak out at the most inappropriate times, lol. But there are people here who can, and are pretty proficient at not complicating a simple thing. If you are not subscribed to Rifleman's journal, you should check it out (IMHO). He has returned to the fold (DWC), and has been showing people what it's all about.
Rifleman's Roost Open 24/7: Perpetually Perplexed
At 2,600+ posts, it'd probably be "a bit much" to expect you to read through from the beginning (and completely unnecessary, besides). But you'll probably want to go back a few to several pages. I believe he started his current grow from seeds so that people could follow along during the entire journey. In between the humor and socialization, there are some valuable lessons.

however it will most definitly happen. I want to be comfortable with the concept prior to committing towards that sort of set up.
I've gotten more than one person started on the DWC hydroponics road for their very first cannabis growing experience. Some of them still can't keep a houseplant alive, lol, but they all grow fine cannabis. Go ahead, step into the light. . . .
 

HonestGR

Well-Known Member
TS, If you ever want to vent feel free to contact me! :)
I know how it feels to be anti-social at times; not so much the anger.....

I know a few people working in waste water plants, It's quite a job.... You should just start charging your buddy a consultation fee, or cannabis! :)

I did not see your post actually. What's the link? :)

Although CE/PPM may be simple and how I would love to start hydro (just due to alone the speed a plant grown in water vs soil). I am in an area that is known to get blackouts (or brownouts?) It can happen at any point and I would hate to see my plants die because of something I cannot control :( There must be battery operated air pumps out there somewhere.... but if I am out of town, asleep or anything of the sort it would be just destructive :/ I would hate to see a 3month plant die because of that!

I guess that is where my greatest down fall is... Not having that safety net for power. pH and all wouldn't be an issue.... I would be debating an EBB & Flow slightly more than a DWC.... But I like the DWC results SOO much more!

BUT: If I do start DWC, I will start with 1 plant. Then swap over to the full afterwards ! :) Biggest question I have with that is: To provide air to ALL buckets, how many cfm of a pump? I would like to have one vs multiple and have a backup for when it fails.

I'll have a look at Rifleman's grow journal! That is a lot to read through, but I am sure I can look for solely his posts! Thanks for the info!

Like I mentioned before, feel free to contact me at any point!
 
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