Last updated on June 24th, 2021
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How to choose the best moisture meter for testing that your firewood is suitable for burning
A moisture meter is an inexpensive insurance that plays a very important role whether you are a joiner working with wood or simply looking for a moisture meter to test the firewood you want to use in your log burning stove. A good moisture meter can save a woodworker a lot of trouble and ensure their timber is suitable to use and if you have a log burning fire you can ensure the logs are suitable to use and don’t contain too much moisture, which is essential for getting the most out of your fire and avoiding chimney fires.
Whether you are looking for a moisture meter to test your firewood has the correct moisture, a furniture maker, contractor or casual woodworker, a moisture meter can help you determine when the wood is suitable to use. But how do you find the best moisture meter out of the hundreds available in DIY stores and online?
Our buying guide provides answers to this important question. Read further to unlock the important considerations and familiarise yourself with the products in our wood moisture meter reviews. We also reveal our top four recommended moisture meters after comparing over 25 models and narrowing it down to just four models we would are confident in recommending.
Below is the winner of our ‘Best Pick’ and after hours of research, we came to the conclusion that the Stihl Wood Moisture Meter is the best moisture meter for anyone looking for a sturdy and compact moisture meter for checking firewood before burning.
The Top 4 Best Moisture Meters For Testing Firewood
- Stihl 15411852 Wood Moisture Meter – BEST PICK
- Valiant FIR420 Firewood Moisture Meter – RUNNER UP
- Zevek Digital Moisture Meter
- Dr.Meter MD918 Inductive Pinless Intelligent Moisture Meter
The Top 4 Moisture Meter Reviews
1. Stihl 15411852 Wood Moisture Meter
Stihl is a great brand with an excellent reputation for making quality tools and other devices. The Stihl Wood Moisture Meter is a wonderful choice for wood and it does an excellent job in a low humidity environment. The measuring range for wood is 6 – 42%, thus it does a great job for detecting moisture for your woodworking projects as well as testing firewood whether is fully seasoned before using it, ideally, firewood should have a moisture content of less than 20% to burn efficiently.
The Stihl Wood moisture meter has a two-pin design making it useful for checking on the seasoning of your firewood as it is very easy to use with no complicated settings. It features an LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) screen which is very basic by giving you the percentage of moisture. Although it is recommended specifically for measuring the moisture in wood, it can also be used for checking the moisture level of the paper, cardboard, construction materials, plaster, and toughened mortar cement making it ideal for a multitude of jobs.
Just like all pinned moisture meters, for accuracy when taking measurements, both pins must be well inserted into the wood. The Stihl wood moisture meter does have the reliability of the Stihl brand, so you are able to receive a number of benefits by using this tool as quality is top of the list as well as reliability and accuracy. The good thing about this type of moisture meter is that, while you are measuring moisture of the wood, it can also take a temperature reading of the surrounding area at the same time which is a nice little feature some may find useful.
- Moisture measuring range – 6 to 42 % residual moisture
- Accuracy – 2%
- Temperature Range: 0-40°C
- Level battery indicator
- Voltage: 1.5V
- Dimensions: 80 x 40 x 20 mm
- Perfect for testing firewood to ensure it’s fully seasoned.
- Very compact and sturdy.
- Designed for a long life by a world trusted brand
- Easy to hold and use with one hand.
- Simple and very easy to operate.
- High accuracy with 2%
- Small-sized; easy to carry and store.
- Some may find the LED screen is a little small.
Burning wood with less moisture is very important since wood with higher moisture content, that is, with a reading of more than 20% produces less heat so it is not as efficient. It can cause a buildup of flammable resins in your chimney which can lead to chimney fires.
That is why it is very important to only use seasoned wood and why the Stihl moisture meter is such as good choice. It’s specially designed with this is mind which is why the screen is very clear and just gives out the moisture reading.
Therefore, the Stihl Wood Moisture Meter is the best option if you are looking for a moisture meter for the sole purpose of testing firewood.
So what do we like, firstly the build quality is excellent as we expected from Stihl, it’s unlikely to break if you drop it as it is very robust and solid. If you do not use tools like this very often, you will be pleased to know it is very easy to use with only a few buttons and options to choose from. It would be useful if the backlight stayed on for a longer period because if you are using it in a dark corner with no light the backlight might not stay on as long as you might like. The screws in the battery compartment are also very small so make sure you put them in a cup when changing the batteries so you don’t lose them.
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2. Valiant FIR420 Firewood Moisture Meter
High-quality meters will ensure accurate moisture reading at all times. Amongst these meters is the Valiant Firewood Moisture Meter which you are likely to come across in most firewood moisture meter reviews and for good reason. It is a handy device that can help you identify the wood that has the correct moisture level of less than 20% and Valiant also specialise in products for wood-burning stoves and fires and also have a reputation for manufacturing some of the best stove fans currently available.
The Valiant meter features a large easy to read LCD screen to ensure every reading you take is clear and accurate, and its probes react fast making the measuring process more efficient. Also, the meter has 4 wood type selection functions which allow you to accurately measure the relative humidity of the wood.
Other features of this meter include; auto power shut off, a low battery indicator and the accuracy of this meter can be likened to a protimeter. The Valiant moisture meter can also be used for measuring moisture content of timber used for building construction, and even hardwood for flooring purposes but we recommend it strictly for testing firewood.
With the Valiant moisture meter, you are able to test your firewood and make sure it is fully seasoned. By so doing, you get to enjoy a fire with less smoke, reduced chimney deposits and lower environmental pollution. Fully seasoned firewood ensures great heat output and efficiency which is the number one important reason to use correctly seasoned firewood.
Depending on the type of wood, fresh timber moisture content range between 30% – 60%. For effective wood seasoning, wood should be split and stored ideally in a log store from the rain but open to wind and sun to season for around 1 month. If you buy firewood you can save on the seasoning time but you can check if the wood you have purchased is fully seasoned and if not leave it to season a little longer.
- Voltage: 9V
- Compact size of only 191 x 110 x 45 mm
- Light weight at only 222 g
- Perfect for home users, simple and easy to use.
- Highly efficient at reading wood moisture levels.
- Easy to carry and store.
- Good durability and comfortable to hold.
- Accurate readings to ensure you only burn fully seasoned firewood.
- Very reliable and from a trusted brand.
- Varying readings due to different modes.
The Valiant Firewood Moisture Meter is perhaps the best moisture meter for firewood along with the Stihl Moisture Meter. It gives you accurate readings and more importantly is very easy to use with no complicated features that you simply do not need.
Overall another great moisture meter that is probably on par with the Stihl model in terms of accuracy and ease of use, it is a little more affordable too. It’s probably not quite as robust as the Stihl model though which is why we named it our ‘Runner Up Pick’.
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3. Zevek Digital Moisture Meter
The Zevek Digital Moisture Meter is an effective monitor of moisture and dampness. It is intended for use of detecting dampness around your home but is also suitable for testing the moisture content in logs for use in a log burner.
The Zevek is a 3 in 1 moisture meter because it measures damp, masonry and air temperature.
It features a large LCD screen with a handy backlight for displaying measurements to create easy reading in dimly lit conditions. Stainless steel prongs are used to detect the moisture level and it has a large, one-button operation system making it very easy to use with just one hand. This digital moisture meter also has a sleep mode which prolongs battery life similar to that of other models which turn off when they have not been used for 10 minutes, a protective cap and comes complete with a battery, making it ready to use the moment you get it out of the box.
We like that it is small enough to fit in your pocket so it is easy to carry around if you are a professional tradesman or burner. Also, it is made from durable hard plastic and has a bright black and yellow colour design. The Zevek digital moisture meter also has a detachable cover with a wrist strap for easy carrying and to help avoid accidental drops.
Readings taken by this meter are very accurate. For wood and paper, the readings are accurate within 2%, whilst on mortar and building materials such as concrete and plaster, the readings are within a very accurate 0.1%. Since it is able to take temperature readings, you are also able to check if your plaster/wood/mortar is being stored in the best place.
Zevek moisture meter battery-saving function saves up to 25% battery life. This works in a way that when the item is not in use for 15 seconds or more, the unit automatically turns off, hence conserving the battery life.
It features three different modes of measuring moisture in wood, plaster, concrete, mortar and paper. By pressing the button, the modes appear on the right-hand side of the LED screen so it is very easy to select between the mode options and it’s very clear which mode you have selected so you know you have it set up correctly.
To use this meter, you simply remove the probe cover, push them into the material to be measured, press the button and your readings are displayed instantly. The meter has a full lifetime guarantee from the manufacturer.
- Concrete and plaster readings are accurate within 0.1%
- Wood reading are accurate within 2%
- Temperature Range: : 0-40°C
- Voltage: 6V
- Dimensions: 80 x 40 x 20 mm
- Multi-purpose makes it ideal for testing for moisture in a range of materials including concrete, masonry and wood.
- Accurate readings.
- Easy to read and use.
- Great battery life.
- Stainless steel prongs.
- Comes with a lifetime guarantee.
- Build quality could be better.
The Zevek Digital Moisture Meter is a very popular model on Amazon.co.uk with many positive reviews. For home use, it is a great tool and perfect if you want to use it for checking both the moisture levels in walls and testing firewood. However, there are better models that we are more confident in recommending but overall it is not a bad tool.
If you need a multi-purpose model then this is worth considering, if however you have looking for one just for testing firewood, go for the Stihl Moisture meter which is a similar price and better quality but it just lacks some of the more advanced features found on this model.
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4. Dr. Meter MD918 Inductive Pinless Intelligent Moisture Meter
The Dr. Meter MD918 moisture meter for wood is a pinless meter that depends on its ability to produce high-frequency electromagnetic waves to measure the moisture content of timber. This type of moisture meter can scan a large area of wood in seconds, without having to drive pins into the wood and in turn, avoids damaging the wood surface.
Also, the meter features automatic power off after five minutes of inactivity, helping in power saving especially when the battery is too low. This inductive pinless type of meter measures in the 2% to 80% range which is better than more other models and has an accuracy of 0.5, again one of the more accurate meters in our review. It has an ultra-large LCD digital screen which ensures clear readings are taken.
This meter also features zero calibration, ATC (Automatic Transmission Control) overrunning, and temperature calibration prompts. The MD918 meter has a temperature compensation function that keeps the object tested at the same temperature at least within 5 minutes.
- Measuring Range: 4% ~ 80%
- Max. error: ± (1%Rh+0.5)
- Resolution: 0.5%
- Environment: temperature – 10°C~ 60°C, humidity: 0 ~70%RH
- Power supply: 3 x 1.5V AAA battery
- Dimensions: 132 x 67 x 26 mm
- A multi-purpose device that is very accurate on wood and perfect for tradesmen and woodworkers.
- Easy to use and easy to read display
- High-quality product.
- Power saving function which turns off after 5 minutes of none use.
- 1-year warranty and a 30-day money-back guarantee.
- It is expensive.
- Not the best choice for firewood as it needs a flat surface to read.
The Dr. Meter MD918 inductive pinless meter is an outstanding moisture meter for measuring the moisture content in wood and is the most accurate meter on our list with an accuracy of 1%Rh+0.5 and a range of 4% – 80%.
This model is designed for use on wood only and is the best choice for builders and woodworkers who need to measure the moisture content of the wood, but it is not really ideal for firewood as it may be difficult getting a reading because of the natural shape of the logs as this meter need a flat surface.
If you are looking for a moisture meter to use in a professional capacity, then this is probably the best choice for you due to its accuracy, ease of use as well as the sheer quality of this meter. If however, you need to test logs and firewood this is not suitable and one of our other picks would be a much better choice.
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Moisture Meter Buyer’s Guide
Moisture meters come in various types and with unique features. Let’s take a look at the things you need to know before you buy a moisture meter.
Types of moisture meter
There are two types of moisture meters; pin and pinless moisture meters which have been described in more detail below.
- Pin moisture meters – These devices come with nail-like probes that are inserted into the wood. Once into the wood, an electric current is transferred between the two pins. Since wood is a poor conductor of electricity whilst water is a good conductor, the meter can tell the amount of water in the wood by the amount of current that travels between the pins. The advantage of pin meters is that they can take readings in the wood of any shape, size or degree of roughness. The only thing required is the contact between the pins and the wood. They also allow users to use remote probes. If you are drying your own wood, it can be left on a sample board in the wood to monitor the stack as it dries. Nails or probes driven into the centre of thick wood for core readings that can be out of reach for pinless meters. These types of meters are great for testing pieces of firewood as there very easy to use and you don’t need to worry about the pin holes they make as the wood is being burnt.
- Pinless moisture meters – Pinless moisture meters have a sensor plate that is held against the surface of the wood. The plate extends an electrical field into the wood whilst the meter senses the differences in the field caused by the wood and moisture. Then the meter converts the change into a moisture content reading. The beauty of a pinless moisture meter is that it can take a quick scan of a whole board without putting holes into the lumber. One major concern with the pinless option is that the sensor pad must be in absolute contact with the wood in order to give accurate readings. Also, it is not good with rough or warped wood since air pockets build under the sensor pad. Usually, we would recommend these types for joiners who are working with smooth machined timber.
Should you buy a 2 pin or pinless moisture meter?
This question is answered by assessing what you need the device for and comparing the advantages of each type of moisture meter. If you usually deal with smooth stock and can’t get your head around the thought of creating holes into expensive wood, then the pinless moisture meter will be your best option.
On the other hand, rough and thicker wood will need a pin meter to give correct MC readings.
If you are buying a moisture meter to measure the moisture content in firewood to check its suitable for burning, you don’t need to worry about which type to buy as the 2 pin models are perfect for firewood and are by far the most affordable too.
Important features to look out for
- Pin length – In the case of a pin meter reader, the length of the pins is an important consideration. The average MC of wood is said to be found at a depth equal to 1/5 – 1/4 the thickness of the wood. For instance, a pin 5/16 inches in length is enough to get an average MC reading on up to a 1-inch thick board and 1/2-inch pins will be ideal for 2-inch stock. This ideology, however, only applies when the wood has an even gradient of moisture whereby the surface is drier than the most central part. It’s enticing to think that the moisture meter reader measures the MC of the wood at the ends of the pins. In actuality, the uninsulated pins measure the MC of the wettest part of wood they come into contact with. Wood that has been put away in the shop or shed can have a higher moisture content on the surface than the core. For this situation, the MC reading just reflects the measurement of the wetter exterior surface, paying little mind to how profound the pins penetrate. To get the exact measurement of the core using uninsulated pins, you can crosscut the wood and a reading of the centre on the freshly uncovered end grain. In the case of insulated pins, they only take MC reading of the wood at the tips of the pins.
- Moisture content range – You need a range of 7% to 20% to check air-dried or kiln-dried lumber. You can find meters that can go more than 30 per cent, however, keep in mind that it is impossible to record accurate readings beyond that percentage since there is a lot of water in the wood. If you tend to dry your own wood, higher readings can give you a relative sense of how wet the wood is and how quickly it is drying. An extended meter range is ideal for people who work with greenwood. Pin moisture meters are accurate down to 7% whilst pinless meters down to 5%. Any reading below this level is not dependable since there’s too little moisture in the wood.
- Minimum sample size – Pinless meters have a base sample estimate that is managed by the extent of the sample plate. The whole plate must be touching the wood you are testing. Pay attention to the size of the sensor pad in a pinless meter, saw and the width of the board it’s going to be used on.
- Displays – Both pin and pinless meters can in any of four these four display types: analogue, LED, digital LED or digital LCD. Digital LEDs and digital LCDs are the best options. An analogue display will be inconvenient in such a job where accuracy is a top priority. Some meters come with a “hold” feature which helps to take readings in awkward positions or in poorly lit areas where it’s hard to read the display. Therefore, the ability to hold the reading until you can bring it to light and read is essential.
It is important that you carefully consider your particular needs prior to buying a moisture meter as this will decide the type you can choose.
Whether you are looking for the best moisture meter for firewood or want a decent one to monitor wood in your workshop, this device can help save time and money.
We hope our wood moisture meter reviews have been quite helpful to your future decisions. Never use unsuitable timber again, buy a moisture meter now and run quick tests when needed.
Below is a quick summary of our best recommended moisture meters.
Last update on 2023-11-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API