10 Best Wood Moisture Meters of 2020 – Reviews & Buyer’s Guide
For anyone who has to dry their own wood, a wood moisture meter is a must-have. However, these niche tools come in a surprisingly large variety. There are tons of options out there, and some of them come with very different features. Thus, it can be a pain to choose the correct wood moisture meter for your purposes.
To help you select the best meter for you, we wrote reviews of the top options on the market. Below, you’ll find these reviews paired with an in-depth buyer’s guide that will help you select the perfect wood moisture meter for your projects.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites in 2020
|Best Overall||General MMH800 4-In-1 Moisture Meter||
|Best Value||TACKLife MWM03 Moisture Meter||
|Premium Choice||Wagner Orion 910 Moisture Meter||
|Dr. Meter MD812 Moisture-Meter||
|General Tools MMD4E Wood Moisture Meter||
The 10 Best Wood Moisture Meters
1. General 4-In-1 Moisture Meter – Best Overall
We reviewed many different wood moisture meters for this article. However, out of all of those we looked at, the General MMH800 is by far the best option. It can be used with pins or pinless, depending on whether you can damage the wood. This is great for a craftsman who doesn’t want to leave tiny holes in their wood. This feature also makes the tool more versatile overall. Furthermore, this meter also provides two displays: one that gives the moisture percentage and one that provides ambient temperature.
The moisture level readings are stored within the device for later readings. You can use this to compare the readings over time as well – without having to write down every reading. An audible alarm is also used to indicate the moisture level, though you may not find much use for this feature.
We also liked that this set comes with a whole host of accessories. For example, it comes with extra pins and a battery. This is also a very fast meter. It can read the moisture level in only a matter of seconds and can even tell the difference between dry and wet sports.
2. TACKLife MWM03 Moisture Meter – Best Value
The TACKLife MWM03 is the best wood moisture meter for the money. If you are on a budget and need to spend as little money as possible, we highly recommend this meter. It is much cheaper than many of the other meters we reviewed, while still being high-quality and coming with many of the features you need. It has a pinned design, so it will do slight damage to the surface of whatever it is testing. However, this is true for most moisture meters out there. The pin-type is also more accurate than other methods.
This meter also has seven different reading methods, allowing you to choose the best one for your situation. It can read a variety of different materials. It is designed specifically for woodworking and home improvement. However, it is usable in a wide variety of situations beyond this.
Like most moisture meters, it comes with a variety of accessories as well. This particular model comes with a carrying bag, two replacement pins, and a user manual.
3. Wagner Orion 910 Moisture Meter – Premium Choice
If you need an accurate, professional model, you may want to purchase the Wagner Orion 910. It is much more expensive than much of the competition. However, it is primarily designed for professionals, so it comes with many features that other meters just don’t come with.
It is pinless, so it will not damage the material it is reading. It is also extremely accurate and fast. It can provide readings in a matter of seconds. Furthermore, it is backed with a 7-year warranty, one of the longest on the market. This machine is made to last. It is virtually unaffected by the temperature and environment, which can not be said for all meters.
This professional meter also comes with an on-demand calibrator, so you can rest assured that it is always going to be accurate. It works on basically every species of wood and in every environment, making it perfect for professionals who are on the go.
4. Dr. Meter MD812 Moisture-Meter
While we didn’t rate it as high as other meters, we did like the Dr. Meter MD812. It is accurate down to 1%, which is far more accurate than most other models on the market currently. It can measure moisture from 5% to 40% as well, making it suitable for most uses. While it can measure wood, you can also use it to measure building materials, drywall, and flooring. It is a pin-type unit, which means it will somewhat damage the material it measures. However, it is cheaper than most pinless options.
It also comes with two spare pins, which increases the lifespan of this tool. The 9V battery it needs to run is also included. The screen is very straightforward to read and includes the moisture percentage in over-sized letters. It is pretty much impossible to read this meter wrong — it’s that easy.
There are not any vast negatives regarding this meter. However, there were a few features that could have been done better, which is why we rated it lower than average. It isn’t very durable, for instance.
5. General Tools MMD4E Wood Moisture Meter
We placed the General Tools MMD4E in the middle of the pack. It isn’t bad by any means, but it is far from our favorite. It is decently accurate and measures from 5% to 50% in wood. The range is slightly smaller for other building materials. Furthermore, it utilizes different tons and a color-changing screen to indicate the moisture level, making this meter very hard to misread. The display is also incredibly broad, with just the moisture content and current mode listed for easy viewing.
You can freeze a reading with the hold function, which gives you plenty of opportunities to write it down if necessary. It automatically powers off after being left unattended for an extended period. It also has a low battery indicator, though it takes a long time to go through a single battery. Like many meters on the market, it comes with stainless steel pins, which may damage the surface they are reading.
One a negative note, the cover is a bit difficult to get off. This makes it a bit annoying to use since you have to fight with the cover before using it.
6. Sam-Pro Tools Dual Moisture Meter
The Sam-Pro Tools Dual Moisture Meter is very inexpensive. It is a fraction of the cost of other meters, which may be why it is so popular. However, in this case, you’re getting what you pay for. It is a cheap meter, and it performs like one. It has a large screen that is easy to read. It also changes colors depending on the moisture content, though we didn’t find this helpful. (Who decides what a “red” reading is, anyway?) This machine also tells you whether or not the particular reading is “good” or “bad” for the material you’re measuring. This may be helpful for newbies and those with little experience.
It has four different modes, allowing it to read a variety of different materials. In all, it can get a moisture reading from wood, carpet, drywall, hardwoods, and concrete. This is more than some other inexpensive meters, which may be something for you to keep in mind.
Because it has pins, it will damage whatever you’re trying to measure. This can make it less useful in certain situations. No one wants to poke holes in their new hardwood floor, for instance.
7. Dr. Meter MD918 Wood Moisture-Meter
The Dr. Meter MD918 Wood Moisture-Meter is pinless, which means you won’t have to poke holes in your material to figure out the moisture content. It has a wide range from 4% to 80% and has an accuracy of half a percentage point. You can choose between 10 different grades of timber density. Of course, you have to know the density for this to work, which isn’t always possible. All of this points to it being a very high-quality machine. However, there were a few things we didn’t love about this product.
Firstly, it is a bit more expensive than other options. This can be a problem for some people, though it just depends on your budget. It can also only be used on woods, which is a bit disappointing for the price tag. However, if you’re only concerned about checking wood, this may not be a particularly big problem – though we still think it should be able to do more for the price.
It also doesn’t have an LCD backlight. This may seem like a small problem, but it can be a big deal if you’re working in dimly lit areas. Plus, it’s a small feature that really should be there for the purchase price of this product.
8. Klein Tools ET140 Pinless Moisture Meter
The Klein Tools ET140 Pinless Moisture Meter is another pinless model. If you measure things that you don’t want to poke holes into, it can be a reliable option. However, in our opinion, there are better options on the market if you want a pinless meter. It detects moisture up to ¾ of an inch deep, although this is about average. It is easy to read thanks to its high-contrast screen. The LED bars also indicate moisture range, making this machine one of the easier ones to read on the market.
It can also measure an array of materials, from wood to masonry. However, its range isn’t necessarily as massive as some of the other options on the market. Still, if you’re mostly worried about measuring wood, this shouldn’t be too big of a problem.
With all of that said, many customers had complaints about this product. According to some reports, it is not very accurate in the least, which makes it practically useless for woodworking. As you might imagine, this made us rate it relatively low on our list, since we were mostly focused on wood, to begin with.
9. AccuMASTER Duo Pro Moisture-Meter
Like many of the models on this list, the AccuMASTER Duo Pro Moisture-Meter uses pins to detect the moisture content of the wood. Unlike most items on this list, though, it is extremely expensive – way more expensive than pretty much any of the other models we reviewed. There also isn’t much reason for it to be so expensive. It did not blow us away with any of its features and seemed to be your average meter, except it is twice the price of most other meters.
This should be plenty of reason for most users not to purchase it. There are better, cheaper options out there, so you should save your money. However, we also found that it is not very accurate and often gave false “dry” indications when the material was not dry. This can be a significant problem, considering that it may cause you to miss a leak or assume the material is dry when it is not.
10. mini-LIGNO Wood Moisture Meter
The mini-LIGNO Wood Moisture Meter is one of the most expensive options on the market. Despite this, it isn’t particularly mind-blowing. It has a range of 6% to 45%, which is about average among all the meters we’ve reviewed. Some cheaper models had a range that was a bit wider. It does have a built-in calibration. However, this is true for most of the modern moisture meters out there.
Overall, this meter wasn’t awful. It just wasn’t incredibly impressive – which it should have been considering how much more expensive it is than other options. The battery is difficult to change. There isn’t a dedicated battery compartment, so you have to take the whole thing apart to change the battery. This is very annoying, but luckily, you don’t have to change the battery very often.
The only substantial positive regarding this meter is that it is quite fast. It takes only a few seconds to generate a reading faster than most other options on the market. However, this small positive doesn’t make up for its expensive price tag.
Below, you’ll find an explanation of a few features you need to keep in mind when choosing a wood moisture meter.
Pin vs. Pinless
Some meters have tiny pins that need to be inserted into the material to read the moisture content. Others don’t have pins that need to be inserted. Instead, you press the machine against the material you need to read.
Meters with pins often cost less and usually provide more accurate readings. They also avoid a few of the common mistakes of the pinless options – like mistaking metal for moisture. However, you do need to poke tiny holes into your material to read them correctly. As you might imagine, this isn’t always the best option. No one wants to make tiny holes in their walls.
The pinned options don’t require any holes. However, they aren’t as accurate and can be more expensive. Still, they may be the only option for some situations, like checking your wooden floors or ceiling.
Usually, you can find wood moisture meters for pretty cheap. They can get expensive, but this is generally not necessary for most homeowners. Unless you’re a professional who uses these meters all the time, there is no reason to spend tons of money on them.
Generally, pin models are going to be cheaper than pinless models. This is mostly because pinless models have some extra technology inside them that costs a bit more to produce. However, they are not so much more expensive that you should consider getting a pinned model just because of the extra cost. If you really don’t want to leave holes in your workpiece, an extra $10 shouldn’t prevent you from getting a pinless model.
Truthfully, these meters cost so little that the overall cost shouldn’t really play a big deal in your decision making. At most, you’re going to be looking at $30 or $40 between different units. A few extra dollars go a long way to getting extra features and a higher-quality meter.
Moisture meters come in a wide range of accuracies. Some are accurate within 0.1%, while others can be 2% or even 3% off. The more accurate the meter, the more you’re likely going to be spending. How accurate you need your meter to be is dependent on what you’re going to be using it for and whether you’re the professional that will be repairing the water damage.
If you’re the average homeowner, you’re likely going to be calling a professional if you notice moisture in your walls. In this case, the professional will check the moisture with their professional-grade tools. Because of this, it doesn’t matter very much if your meter is a few points off.
However, if you’re a professional or a woodworker who is drying their own wood, a few points can be vital. In these cases, we recommend purchasing a very accurate meter. No one is going to be coming behind you to check the moisture reading, so you need to be right the first time.
Ease of Use
Most meters simply require you to point and click. However, most meters will require you to calibrate them at some point. This can vary in difficulty. Sometimes, you just have to put the cover on the meter and press the calibrate button. Other times, you have to follow a complicated set of instructions. Calibration is the difference between accuracy and inaccuracy, so doing it right is very important.
On top of the calibration, the meter should also be easy to read. Most have LCD screens of some sort, which does make them easier to use than other options might be. However, some are made with large letters that stand out from the background, while others absolutely are not. Many meters use things like color-changing screens and sounds, which can make it harder to mistaken the percentage.
These signals can be very important for beginners who might not necessarily understand what the different percentages mean. Trying to decipher different percentages can be difficult, but telling the difference between a green screen and a red screen is easy.
We’ve also written more articles on this topic:
- Which moisture meter is best suited for home inspectors? We take a look here
- What’s the difference between pin and pinless moisture meters?
- How do you check moisture contents without a meter? (warning: it’s a pretty tedious process)
- What are soil moisture meters, and how do they work?
Picking a wood moisture meter doesn’t have to be hard when you have our reviews handy. Hopefully, our reviews, paired with our short buyer’s guide, gave you an idea of what sort of moisture meter you need to purchase.
We liked the General MMH800 4-In-1 Moisture Meter particularly. It can be pin or pinless, depending on the situation, and it is quite fast. The price is also very affordable, especially for all the features it offers.
As a budget option, we also liked the TACKLife MWM03 Moisture Meter. It is much less than most of the competition, but it is still high-quality and suitable for most homeowners.
- A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites in 2020
- The 10 Best Wood Moisture Meters
- 1. General 4-In-1 Moisture Meter – Best Overall
- 2. TACKLife MWM03 Moisture Meter – Best Value
- 3. Wagner Orion 910 Moisture Meter – Premium Choice
- 4. Dr. Meter MD812 Moisture-Meter
- 5. General Tools MMD4E Wood Moisture Meter
- 6. Sam-Pro Tools Dual Moisture Meter
- 7. Dr. Meter MD918 Wood Moisture-Meter
- 8. Klein Tools ET140 Pinless Moisture Meter
- 9. AccuMASTER Duo Pro Moisture-Meter
- 10. mini-LIGNO Wood Moisture Meter
- Buyer’s Guide