During the dog days of summer, hanging out by the pool, just chilling and relaxing, is a fun way to spend downtime. Owning a pool means maintaining a pool, and staying on top of that maintenance can be quite a chore. If you aim to save a few bucks by managing it yourself, you need to equip yourself with the right tools. For example, pool test kits are inexpensive and let you provide the necessary maintenance. With so many options for pool test kits, however, it can be challenging to understand how they differ and which one to choose. We’re here to help with our reviews for the 10 best pool test kits available.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
The 10 Best Pool Test Kits — 2020
1. Taylor Technologies Pool Test Kit — Best Overall
Starting us off is the Taylor Technologies K-2006 Pool Test Kit that tests for pH balance, calcium hardness, cyanuric acid, chlorine, and alkalinity. It’s a titration test, and you can rest assured that this is the most accurate way to test pool water. The kit also includes a booklet explaining pool chemistry, and the waterproof instructions are in the lid of the case.
One drawback to this kit is that the amount of reagent included will only last through six tests before you need to replenish. Fortunately, they are readily available through Amazon or your local pool store. If you’ve never used a pool test kit before, it may take a little practice to get the hang of it.
Although pricier than duo test kits, the testing capabilities in this kit are all you need to maintain your pool. You’ll save money on chemicals in the long run, and this is our best overall choice.
2. hth Pool Test Kit – Best Value
The hth 1173 Pool Test Kit is a six-way option testing for chlorine, bromine, pH, total alkalinity, total hardness, and cyanuric acid. This kit includes enough reagents to test 100 times before you need to replenish. There’s an app that works hand-in-hand with your test results, showing you step-by-step recommendations for balancing the water in your pool.
One downfall of this one is the packaging because a carrying case isn’t included. This issue is minor, especially for the price. It’s also an advantage to have the ability to test for cyanuric acid.
For the price and testing abilities, we believe this is the best pool test kit for the money.
3. LaMotte 2056 Digital Pool Test Kit — Premium Choice
The LaMotte 2056 Digital Pool Water Test Kit eliminates the need for testing strips and color comparisons by providing a digital test result with the included photometer and removing human error. It tests for free chlorine, total chlorine, bromine, pH, alkalinity, calcium hardness, and cyanuric acid. All tests use liquid reagents except cyanuric acid, which uses tablets. Be aware that when you use this kit, the reagents have expiration dates on the bottles. If results seem wonky, check the date.
The price keeps this test out of our top two contenders. However, with the digital results and test details, this kit is our premium choice.
4. Poolmaster Pool Water Test Kit
The Poolmaster 22260 Pool Water Test Kit is a five-way test for chlorine, bromine, pH, acid demand, and total alkalinity. This test is an ideal kit for a beginner learning how to maintain a pool. It includes a clear-view round test block with integrated color chips to easily match colors. Five reagents large enough to last through a swimming season or two help round out this kit, along with a carrying case for convenience.
Unfortunately, the chlorine test proves to be a common complaint because the color comparison is difficult to read. There are also issues with the tube lid not fitting correctly, which is minor but still an annoyance.
5. Blue Devil B7550 Test Kit
In the middle of our list is the Blue Devil B7550 Test Kit that includes six testing options consisting of chlorine, bromine, pH, alkalinity, acid demand, and cyanuric acid. It comes in a handy carrying case for secure storage. Instructions aren’t included, but if you already know how to use this kit, it does a decent job. There is an adequate supply of reagents, usually with a two-year expiration date.
With a middle-of-the-road price, you would at least expect to get instructions — one major complaint about this kit is the lack thereof. If you’re new to pool testing, you will be hitting Google as soon as you get this kit out of the box. While the carrying case is a nice touch, it would be even nicer if the case could close with all the contents inside. This kit seems to do a good job testing chlorine and bromine but gives inaccurate pH readings too often.
6. Pentair R151246 Test Kit
The Pentair R151246 DPD Test Kit is an all-in-one DPD test for free, total, and combined chlorine, pH, acid demand, and total alkalinity. For the chemistry geeks in the house, DPD (N, N Diethyl-1, 4 Phenylenediamine Sulfate) is a chemical that indicates oxidizer presence in water. It’s typically used for testing chlorine. Once you read through the instructions, this kit is easy to use.
Most users don’t like using round testing tubes, as it makes it more difficult to match color shades. This kit falls in that category, and it’s also a slightly pricey version. It is a tablet-based chlorine tester, and users complain of the tablets leaving residue behind, giving a false-color reading.
7. U.S. Pool Supply Pool Test Kit
The U.S. Pool Supply TK-100 Pool Test Kit is a no-frills economical choice for three different tests, which include chlorine, bromine, and pH levels. This kit is a simple method for testing the basics. Users will be happy to see the clear view testing block, as it’s easier to compare colors. It’s a compact kit with its own little case.
The user guide is paper, so you’ll either want to laminate it, commit it to memory, or keep it dry while using. The testing block is not sturdy so don’t drop it, but the price is low enough that buying another kit isn’t a hardship. The reagent bottles are sturdy plastic and may be hard to squeeze. If you need a small kit to test a hot tub or spa, this may be ideal to use on occasion. For a pool owner, you may want a kit that has more tests.
8. CLOROX 70000CLX Pool Test Kit
Toward the end of our list is the CLOROX 70000CLX Pool Test Kit. It’s inexpensively priced, even more so when showcased as an add-on. It’s a three-way test for bromine, chlorine, and pH levels. The reagents in the kit are ample enough to last a couple of seasons.
Be aware that when checking the chlorine level, this kit will only test for free chlorine. There are many complaints that the color indicator on the testing block barely varies from level to level, so it may be hard to read the result. Holding a sheet of white paper behind it may help. The caps are ill-fitting and may cause frustration. In a pinch, use your finger to shake it up.
9. Jed Pool tools Standard Dual Test Kit
Jed Pool tools Inc 00-481 Standard Dual Test Kit gives itself away with the name. It’s a two-way test for total chlorine and pH. This kit is an inexpensive means of basic testing that comes in a storage case.
This is not an over-the-top kit and comes with its pitfalls. The caps for the plastic tubes don’t fit tightly, so you’ll have to hold it on with your finger when you shake. That’s not a deal-breaker, but unfortunately, the yellow comparison colors for chlorine levels have little variation, leaving you guessing. If you do receive this kit, be sure to check the reagent bottles, as they tend to leak before getting to your door.
10. AquaChek ACSelect Pool Test Strips Kit
Pulling up the rear is the AquaChek ACSelect Pool Test Strips. Test strips are the easiest method to use, but the results are not as accurate as other methods. These strips check for seven results for total hardness, total chlorine, free chlorine, total bromine, pH, total alkalinity, and cyanuric acid. As a quick and easy testing method, dip the strip in the pool water, remove the strip, and wait 15 seconds. The strips do expire, so be sure to check the expiration date.
While not a perfect method, it’s certainly quick. In some instances, the readings may be inaccurate and difficult to read.
It’s essential to understand the chemistry in your pool and how to best maintain for healthy water. Chemicals keep the water clean and free of algae and copper, which can affect human health. Pool test kits identify an imbalance in chemicals, so you know which ones need to be adjusted. Pool water can be tested in three different ways: strip test kits, liquid test kits, or professional testing.
Types of Kits
Strip Test Kits
These easy tests primarily check for chlorine, alkalinity, and pH. After obtaining a water sample from your pool, you’ll dip a strip into the water, or you can stick it directly into the pool water. Without shaking, hold it in the air for about 15 seconds, and then compare the strip color to the test kit guide chart. Adjust chemicals according to the results. However, strip tests are not as accurate as other testing methods.
Liquid Test Kits
These tests can range from basic to more comprehensive, depending on your needs. Once you pull a water sample from the pool, you’ll add the testing reagent per the manufacturer’s guidelines. Adding too few or too many drops will affect the test results. Holding the collector tubes up to a white background can help you identify colors easier.
Pool Store Test
You will take a water sample into the store to request testing. This can often be done on a walk-in basis. Once they run the tests, they’ll recommend the chemicals that you may need.
If you’re new to pool maintenance, you may be confused about all the different kinds of tests and what you need to be adding to your pool water. We’ve provided clarification for better understanding.
What Am I Testing?
It helps to understand what you’re testing and why. Let’s go over the necessity of chlorine, bromine, pH, total alkalinity, acid demand, cyanuric acid, and calcium hardness.
Chlorine is a disinfectant and most commonly associated with pool maintenance. It’s widely available and easy to use. Chlorine dissolves bacteria on a molecular level to remove it from pool water. Anyone who has ever been around a pool knows the smell of chlorine. It contains bleach, which can have an overwhelming odor, discolor your swimsuit, and irritate your eyes. However, if your pool water needs shocking or a good purifying, chlorine will get the job done. During the busy summer season, chlorine levels should be checked daily.
Bromine is another sanitizer like chlorine and works similarly to break down bacteria. The advantages of bromine are that it’s kinder to sensitive skin, doesn’t have an obnoxious odor, and has a longer-lasting effect in pool water. Once bromine combines with bacteria to neutralize it, bromine remains active and doesn’t burn off like chlorine. Unfortunately, bromine is more expensive than chlorine. It’s also still chlorine-based, meaning it won’t work as a complete replacement for those allergic to chlorine.
pH is the level of acidity or alkalinity in pool water. Ideally, you want to have a pool pH level between 7.4 and 7.6. A low pH below 7.0 indicates high acidity, which can create issues if left unaddressed. Acidic pool water will irritate eyes and skin and can corrode anything from pumps to ladders and plaster. It can also damage vinyl liners. This situation can have you spending tons of money on various chemicals just to have your pool water balanced and ready for swimming again. The chemical used to combat low pH is sodium bicarbonate or soda ash.
A high pH of 7.8 or higher means your water is alkaline or basic and works against the effectiveness of chlorine and leaves water cloudy. Alkaline water can irritate skin and eyes and will quickly deteriorate pool toys and swimming gear like goggles. A high pH can be caused by too much chlorine or a rise in water temperature. It’s essential to keep a close check on water pH levels if your pool is heated. The chemical used to combat a high pH is muriatic acid or sodium bisulfate.
While you thought your chemistry lessons ended with high school, keeping a balance in water chemistry is vital for a healthy swimming environment.
Total alkalinity (TA) can be confused with pH levels. While similar, they’re two different things and they work together. We covered pH in the previous section. TA is the overall buffering capacity that keeps your water resistant to pH changes. If the buffer is out of whack, it will cause further issues with pH levels.
Certain test kits will have a reagent specifically for acid demand. If you’re battling a low pH issue with your pool, this test will tell you how much muriatic acid you need to add. There’s also a base demand test for alkalinity requirements, which is treated with sodium bicarbonate or soda ash.
Cyanuric acid (CYA) is a stabilizer that works in conjunction with chlorine to keep the water clean for a longer time. It’s also called a pool conditioner and pool stabilizer. For a quick lesson in chlorine, there are three types of chlorine in your pool: free, combined, and total. As chlorine combines with bacteria for its removal, it becomes inactive to keep sanitizing. Free chlorine is the amount still available for cleaning. Combined chlorine is the amount of chlorine already attached to bacteria. Total chlorine is the lump sum of free and combined chlorine.
Now, the sun interferes with UV rays, causing evaporation and affecting the amount of free chlorine in pool water. It takes as little as 20 minutes for free chlorine to be destroyed by the sun. If you’re continually chasing this issue with more chlorine, cyanuric acid can come to the rescue. As an assistant to chlorine, it stabilizes free chlorine and protects it from being snatched by the sun. As such, cyanuric acid is for outdoor pools.
Calcium hardness can affect the chemical balance in your pool too. However, the levels of calcium hardness are gradual and can be tested less frequently. While the other tests are optimally checked once or twice a week, calcium hardness can be checked once or twice a month or when the pool is drained and refilled. The test will tell if the water is too hard, too soft, or balanced.
Hard water will make your pool water cloudy and cause scaling, that white flaky stuff on the sides of your pool and within the pool plumbing. Hard water will dry out and discolor a vinyl liner. Soft water will cause corrosion to concrete and metal and may cause water foaming. Fortunately, soft water won’t damage vinyl.
Before addressing water hardness, the pool water must be pH balanced. Increasing calcium hardness involves adding calcium chloride. Decreasing calcium hardness involves adding flocculants. Flocculants are additives that will bind free-floating calcium so it can be vacuumed out. Alternatively, partially draining your pool and adding fresh water back in may help with the issue.
Fortunately, all these chemistry lessons support a fun activity. The more you know about maintenance, the more time you can actually spend in the pool. To recap, our best overall choice is the Taylor Technologies K-2006 Pool Test Kit. It costs a little more than many of the other kits but provides accurate results in five different tests. The hth 1173 Pool Test Kit is our best value choice with an economical price and six different tests. Finally, our premium choice is popular among many pool owners: the LaMotte 2056 Digital Pool Water Test Kit. It has a high price tag, but it’s money well spent for seven different tests and a digital readout.
We hope our reviews have helped you stay afloat in the deep end of pool maintenance. Best wishes for good pool health and more fun in the sun!
Featured Image Credit By: Jed Pool tools Inc 00-481 Standard Dual Test Kit, amazon
Table of Contents
- A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
- The 10 Best Pool Test Kits — 2020
- 1. Taylor Technologies Pool Test Kit — Best Overall
- 2. hth Pool Test Kit – Best Value
- 3. LaMotte 2056 Digital Pool Test Kit — Premium Choice
- 4. Poolmaster Pool Water Test Kit
- 5. Blue Devil B7550 Test Kit
- 6. Pentair R151246 Test Kit
- 7. U.S. Pool Supply Pool Test Kit
- 8. CLOROX 70000CLX Pool Test Kit
- 9. Jed Pool tools Standard Dual Test Kit
- 10. AquaChek ACSelect Pool Test Strips Kit
- Buyer’s Guide
- Types of Kits