Digital Test Kits?

tim_pool_newbie

Bronze Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
Oct 6, 2009
164
I am the proud new owner of a 22,500 galloon in-ground pool, and after 2 weeks of brushing the pool twice a day and testing the water every day, I feel I am only slightly more knowledgeable about pool ownership than I was when this all started!!

When they started up my pool, the guy gave me the standard test strip kit from the PB, but then went to his car and gave me an AquaCheck Select test kit and said it was a better test kit. It does provide 6 tests instead of only 3 that the first kit provides, however, having tried both kits - and even seeing some differences in the readings - I'm afraid I'm getting lost between the colors!! I've seen other posts on this forum from others who also suffer from not being able to confidently confirm the readings based on the colors on the strips. I wait 15 seconds and then view my results, but it seems by the time I dry my hands and go to write down the results, the colors continue to change. I'm not sure which version of the numbers I should be referring to.

Does anyone recommend any digital test kits? I see that AquaCheck makes one that you just insert the wet test strip and it provides you with a nice digital readout - no guesswork!!

I see that the TF100 test kit is recommended highly on this forum, but I think I prefer the simplicity of the test strips - unless someone can convince me otherwise.

Currently I believe my levels to be as follows:

CYA - 20
Total Alkalinity - 50
pH - 6.8
Free Chlorine - 5
Total Chlorine/Bromine - 5
Total Hardness - 100

This is just following the first supershock about 36 hours prior. I also do not have the Nature2 cartridge in place yet (was told to wait till all chemicals were balanced).

If anyone cares to comment on my levels and/or my inquiry about digital test kits, I'd be very greatful.
 

dmanb2b

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Apr 4, 2009
3,734
NY
Welcome to TFP :wave:

Dump the test strips :goodjob: They are not accurate

Yes the TF100 or the Taylor k2006 are the best bang for your buck. Digital testers can work, but often need calibration and IMO are not worth the added expense. Both the TF100 and Taylor kit rely primarily on color changes and not shades of a certain color...(except Total Chlorine and PH Tests) The PH test in the taylor and Tf100 kit rely on shades of red, but is not that bad to tell the shades of red apart.
 

mynewpool

Well-known member
Mar 17, 2010
1,082
Spring, TX
If you are dead set on the simplicity of the digital test strips and meters then we may not be able to convert you. But the more you read here the more you will see how in accruate test strips are. Read about test strips for a few hours and I do not think you will see anything good about them period. They are good for a few test that you just really need a wide range such as salt and a few others. So the TF100 is someething that is highly promoted on here and will be the best bang for your buck and will save you time and give you the acurate results you need to get your pool truly trouble free.
 

svenpup

LifeTime Supporter
Nov 18, 2009
835
Sacramento, CA
I think the "simplicity of the test strips" isn't so simple. As you said yourself "I'm getting lost between the colors". Once you have gone through the drop-based tests a few times it becomes second nature. Once the pool is balanced you wind up only doing the chlorine and pH test daily. This take all of 2 minutes.

At best digital testers are expensive and need calibration, and still aren't as good as drops.

Regarding the Nature2, it is not recommended. I am sure that you will soon get many testimonials from our member with bad experiences with "alternative sanitizers". I suggest putting it on eBay.

As far as your numbers, CYA, pH, TA, and CH are all low if you trust the test strips.

pH is most critical, but I am surprised that it is low, as usually new plaster pools have rising pH.
 

hawkeyes

LifeTime Supporter
Mar 25, 2010
100
Dallas, TX
I am just learning, too, but can tell you I *hated* the test strips and find the TF100 a bazillion times better and easier to read. The only color comparison I really do is the pH one (I always do the drop test for chlorine) and it really isn't that difficult to read once you do it a couple times. The only test I have trouble with is the CYA one....never know for sure when that darn little dot disappears but I'm getting better!!
 

tim_pool_newbie

Bronze Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
Oct 6, 2009
164
Thanks everyone for the responses. It's nice to see a forum where you actually get helpful responses!! With just these few responses already, I guess I'm being swayed by the concensus to drop the test strips and give the drops a trial run. I was off to the local pool store to see what they had in the line of digital kits, but I think instead I'll look into the drops!! Hopefully they have a TF100 kit since it seems to get rave reviews.

Svenpup - I too am surprised by the low pH reading. The startup company gave me tons of pH Down and NO ph UP, and based on their instructions I was awaiting this major crash in pH readings - which never really came. pH has been mostly around 8 and then after adding pH Down, came down to about 7.8 - 7.4. And then just today seems to have dropped to 6.8 (again - if you trust my reading of the strips!). I think I'll try some new test kits and see how accurate my test strip readings have been and go from there.
 

primetime

LifeTime Supporter
Jul 28, 2008
58
Sinking Spring, PA
I use the TF-100 kit. I test my water two times per week with it. The other 5 days I use test strips. (I might have a problem :) )The trick is to test your water first with the TF-100 and then immediately use a test strip. Now you will be able to see where the test strip is "off". No problem really, just take that "offness" (if that is a word?) into account when you use the test strip. For example, my AquaCheck strips always show the pH higher than what it is, so when I use the strip, I expect the pH to be higher. For what it is worth, I like the AquaCheck. I also used Insta-test 5 by LaMotte, but I like the AquaCheck better.