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An Expert’s Review: 5 Best Pool Test Kits in 2020

Need a pool test kit, but they all are so similar? Our guide is for you! Avoid typical mistakes and buy the best pool kit for a safe soaking experience.

The ultimate purpose of a pool test kit is to keep your pool clean and safe. However, it can be confusing to choose the best-suited pool kit for your needs. This is where we step in and lend a hand to make the decision-making process as easy as pie. 

In our article, you will find information about different types of test kits, what matters, the best ones available in the market, and much more information to help you decide the best one for your needs.

Best pool test kits

No.ProductSpecsBenefits
1Taylor Technologies K-2006 Test Kit
Test type: liquid
Number of tests: 7
Tests: Free Chlorine, Total Chlorine, Bromine, Total Alkalinity, pH, Calcium Hardness, and Cyanuric Acid.
The most accurate test kit
- The most accurate test kit due to DPD* powder and FAS reagent.
- The most comprehensive kit which will be perfect for pools with hard water (full of minerals) and with a high bathers load.
- Economical to use. It will last two times longer than other liquid kits.
(Read details)
2Poolmaster 5-Way Swimming Pool & Spa Water Test Kit
Test type: liquid
Number of tests: 5
Tests: Chlorine, Bromine, pH, Acid Demand, and Total Alkalinity.
The best basic test kit
- Perfect for starting your pool since it only includes the basic water-quality test.
- The cheapest liquid test kit on the list.
(Read details)
3LaMotte ColorQ Pro 7 Digital Pool Water Test Kit
Test type: digital
Number of tests: 7
Tests: Free Chlorine, Total Chlorine, Bromine, pH, Total Alkalinity, Calcium Hardness, and Cyanuric Acid.
The best digital test kit
- The most technological and reliable option that is the closest to lab water testing.
- Perfect for people who have problems with distinguishing colors’ shades (e.g. to test chlorine you will have to compare up to 10 shades of pink).
- Provides very accurate results.
- The kit has everything needed for comprehensive water testing.
(Read details)
4Taylor Technologies k-1766 Test Kit
Test type: liquid
Number of tests: 1
Tests: Sodium Chloride (Salt).
The best test kit for saltwater pools
- The most accurate in testing saltwater.
- Simple and easy-to-use.
(Read details)
5AquaChek Pool Water Test Strips
Test type: test strips
Number of tests: 7
Tests: Free Chlorine, Total Chlorine, Bromine, Total Hardness, Total Alkalinity, pH, and Cyanuric Acid.
The best test strips
- The quickest and easiest way to test pool water.
- The cheapest method to test pool water.
(Read details)

* A combination of these components shows the level of Combined Chlorine (ineffective sanitizer which causes eye irritation and chlorine foul odor), so you get the most accurate results of active (effective) chlorine.

Why do you need a test kit?

Test kits are a highly efficient and easy method to maintain pool water. Regular testing of the pool water will ensure that your pool is a safe and bacteria-free place for you and your loved ones. You will be aware of the chemicals that you need to prevent water and health problems.

Test kits, unlike test strips, are more accurate. Yes, they can be a little bit more time-consuming than test strips but getting the right testing result is worth it. Another benefit of test kits is that they generally come with a handy little case that makes their storage easier.

What to look for in a pool test kit?

Pool test kit ready to use

The items your test kit should include depends on factors such as the type of water (full of minerals or saltwater) or frequency of using your pool.

The basic testing kit should include the following items:

  • A test for sanitizer (chlorine or bromine) — an important component since a sanitizer kills bacteria, it should be checked regularly.
  • A test for pH level — the high pH level will cause cloudy water and result in scale formation. Too low pH levels can cause metal corrosion and reduce the sanitizer’s efficiency.
  • A test for Total Alkalinity — this indicator affects the efficiency of the sanitizer and can lead to a change in the color of the water. 

You can read the full review of the kit here.

Besides the tests above, an excellent and most complete testing kit should include:

  • A test to distinguish Free Chlorine (active sanitizer) and Combined Chlorine (spent sanitizer) — important if you frequently use a pool. The number of Combined Chlorine lets you know when it is time to shock the water.
  • A test for Calcium Hardness — crucial if you live in an area with hard water (full of minerals), it won’t let your water become cloudy and will prevent scaling at the waterline.
  • A test for Cyanuric Acid — stabilizer that slows down the destruction of chlorine by UV-rays.

For the full review, skip to the section with a complete testing kit.

If you are the owner of a saltwater pool, your test kit should include a test for Sodium Chloride (Salt). We have picked a perfect test kit for the saltwater pool, jump to the section with an extended review of the saltwater kit to find more information.

If you use well water or live in an area with hard water (full of minerals), you should look for a Calcium Hardness test. The Taylor Technologies test kit is highly accurate and can test this calcium hardness effectively. Jump to the section with the review of this kit.

Detailed reviews of each test kit:

1. The most accurate test kit: Taylor Technologies K-2006 Test Kit

Taylor Technologies K-2006 Test Kit

Test type: liquid
Number of tests: 7
Tests: Free Chlorine, Total Chlorine, Bromine, Total Alkalinity, pH, Calcium Hardness, and Cyanuric Acid

The Taylor Technologies test kit will provide you with all the necessary tests to ensure that the water is clean and safe for bathers. 

What makes it the most accurate liquid test kit? Unlike other kits, this one has DPD powder and FAS reagent. It is more accurate than the usual reagents used in liquid test kits. You add DPD powder, the water turns pink showing the level of Chlorine. Then, when FAS is added the water changes from pink to clear indicating the level of Combined Chlorine (ineffective sanitizer which leads to eye irritation and causes that “chlorine odor”).

Thanks to these two components (DPD powder and FAS reagent) you get maximum accurate results and can see the whole picture. You understand how much active (effective) chlorine is in your water and when it is time to get rid of Combined Chlorine by shocking the water.

This test kit will last two times longer than other liquid kits. It is highly economical to use. You will not have problems with storage, because the kit includes a handy little case.

Although this kit is a little more expensive than other liquid test kits, in the long run, you will benefit from this purchase since you won’t need to buy additional tests for more than a year.

Pros:

✔️ The most accurate test kit due to DPD powder and FAS reagent. That’s the only testing kit in our list which has this feature.

✔️ Has all the necessary tests. It includes tests for Total and Combined Chlorine, Calcium Hardness, and Cyanuric Acid. This kit is more extensive than the basic one

✔️ Economical use. This kit will last two times longer than other liquid testing kits.

✔️ Includes a carrying case for easy storage.

Cons:

➖ May cause difficulties for people who have problems with distinguishing colors’ shades. To avoid this issue, we recommend using the digital kit.

➖ More expensive than a basic test kit.

2. The best basic test kit: Poolmaster 5-Way Swimming Pool & Spa Water Test Kit

Poolmaster 5-Way Swimming Pool & Spa Water Test Kit

Test type: liquid
Number of tests: 
5
Tests: 
Chlorine, Bromine, pH, Acid Demand, and Total Alkalinity

Poolmaster 5-Way Test Kit is pretty straightforward and easy-to-use. It is the best choice if you are looking for a kit that includes everything needed for testing basic water quality indicators. This kit is enough to get your pool water maintenance routine started.

The kit is the cheapest on the list and is excellent for its price. However, it is not going to be a good choice for people who live in areas with hard water (full of minerals) since it doesn’t contain a test for Calcium Hardness. It cannot test Free and Combined Chlorine which is important if you frequently swim in the pool.

The Poolmaster test kit is also not as accurate as the Taylor Technologies K-2006 test kit, since this test kit doesn’t have DPD powder and FAS reagent which gives more reliable testing results.

Pros:

✔️ A simple, basic kit that tests the main water-quality indicators. Good to start your pool maintenance routine.

✔️ The cheapest test kit. It is three times cheaper than the Taylor Technologies K-2006 test kit.

Cons:

➖ It will not be suitable for people who live in hard water areas or that have high bathers load. For these purposes, it is better to use the Taylor Technologies K-2006 test kit (jump to the section with detailed review).

➖ Less accurate than the Taylor Technologies K-2006 test kit, since it doesn’t include DPD powder and FAS reagent for testing.

3. The best digital test kit: LaMotte ColorQ Pro 7 Digital Pool Water Test Kit

LaMotte ColorQ Pro 7 Digital Pool Water Test Kit

Test type: digital
Number of tests: 
7
Tests: 
Free Chlorine, Total Chlorine, Bromine, pH, Total Alkalinity, Calcium Hardness, and Cyanuric Acid

The LaMotte digital test kit is the most technical test kit on the list. It is the most reliable option for testing pool water. The kit is the closest to advanced lab water testing that can cost more than $1,000.

Testing pool water may be confusing since you have to compare different shades of the same color, and there can be up to 10 shades of pink for testing chlorine level. If you face problems with distinguishing color shades, you have to deal with this problem with the LaMotte digital test kit. This electrical device does the color comparing for you, so you will get maximally accurate results.

The kit provides all the necessary tests that test water indicators such as Free Chlorine, Total Chlorine, Bromine, pH, Total Alkalinity, Calcium Hardness, and Cyanuric Acid. It is more than enough to ensure that your pool water is safe and well-balanced.

Although this kit is the most expensive in the list, its owners claim that the kit is worth the money due to the ease of use.

This kit is powered by batteries that will need to be replaced from time to time. The testing kit includes water-resistant housing and a case for easy storage.

Pros:

✔️ The most technological and reliable option that is the closest to lab water testing.

✔️ Perfect for people who have problems with distinguishing color shades (e.g. testing chlorine involves comparing up to 10 shades of pink). That’s the only kit with which you don’t need to compare color shades to figure out whether the water is balanced.

✔️ Accurate results. Along with the Taylor Technologies K-2006 test kit, this kit is highly accurate.

✔️ Comprehensive test kit. Includes all the necessary tests for pool maintenance.

✔️ Water-resistant housing and case for easy storage.

Cons:

➖ Need to change batteries.

➖ Quite expensive. It is four times more expensive than liquid test kits.

4. The best test kit for saltwater pools: Taylor Technologies k-1766 Test Kit

Taylor Technologies k-1766 Test Kit

Test type: liquid
Number of tests:
1
Tests:
Sodium Chloride (Salt)

The Taylor Technologies k-1766 perfectly works to test the amount of salt in your pool. But pay attention that this kit is for testing salt only, it is not going to help with other important indicators like pH, Total Alkalinity, sanitizer (chlorine or bromine), and others. So, you need an additional test kit for these indicators, and we recommend the Taylor Technologies K-2006 test kit since it is highly accurate and has everything needed for pool maintenance (jump to the section with detailed review).

Why don’t we recommend a separate testing kit for saltwater pools which includes everything? The good all-in-one package available in the market is the Taylor Technologies K-2005-Salt Test kit. However, this kit doesn’t have DPD powder and FAS reagent like the Taylor Technologies K-2006 test kit; these components make the tests much more accurate.

Besides, if you take the saltwater test kit and kit for testing other indicators separately, it will be slightly more expensive than buying the all-in-one package, however, you receive more accurate results.

Pros:

✔️ The most accurate in testing saltwater among other kits available in the market.

✔️ Simple and easy-to-use.

Cons:

➖ Tests only salt. To test other water indicators, you will need to buy a separate test kit.

5. The best test strips: AquaChek Pool Water Test Strips

AquaChek Pool Water Test Strips

Test type: test strips
Number of tests:
7
Tests:
Free Chlorine, Total Chlorine, Bromine, Total Hardness, Total Alkalinity, pH, and Cyanuric Acid

These test strips will be a good option for newbies who are learning how to maintain pool water safely and correctly. Compared to test kits (liquid or digital), test strips are easy-to-use and are the cheapest way to test pool water.

But, there is a significant problem with the use of test strips — they don’t give the same accuracy and consistency as test kits. You will still have to compare the color on the test strip with the chart as with the liquid test kits.

Pros:

✔️ The quickest way to test the water, you just dip the test strip in the water and that’s all.

✔️ The cheapest method of pool water testing.

✔️ Extremely easy-to-use.

Cons:

➖ The least accurate way to test the water. Test kits (liquid or digital) are much more accurate.

➖ Still need to compare the color on the strip with the chart as with liquid test kits.

Types of pool test kits

There are three ways to test pool water:

  1. Using a liquid test kit.
  2. With a digital test kit.
  3. Testing with the test strips.

Below we will consider each method, how they work, and how efficient they are.

Liquid

To test the water with a liquid test kit, you just need to pour pool water into the plastic tester, add reagent and compare the color you get with the chart provided, in this way you can figure out which water indicators need your attention.

Liquid tests are highly accurate compared to test strips. To get the most accurate liquid test kit, you should look for a kit that includes DPD powder and FAS reagent

Generally, they offer handy storage as they come with a little case. The liquid test kits are in the average price category: they are more expensive than test strips but cheaper than digital test kits.

The only problem you may face is distinguishing color shades, which may be challenging for some people. In this case, it is better to choose a digital test kit.

Taylor Technologies K-2006 Test Kit

Price range: $$

Test type: liquid
Tests: Free Chlorine, Total Chlorine, Bromine, Total Alkalinity, pH, Calcium Hardness, and Cyanuric Acid
– The most accurate test kit due to DPD powder and FAS reagent
– The most comprehensive kit which will be perfect for pools with hard water (full of minerals) and with high bathers load.
– Economical to use. It will last two times longer than other liquid kits

(Read details)

Poolmaster 5-Way Swimming Pool & Spa Water Test Kit

Price range: $

Test type: liquid
Tests: Chlorine, Bromine, pH, Acid Demand, and Total Alkalinity
– Perfect for starting your pool water maintenance routine since it includes the basic water-quality test
– The cheapest liquid test kit on the list






(Read details)

Digital

Initially, testing the water with a digital test kit is the same as with liquid tests. You should pour some water into the plastic tester, add chemical reagent, and you will get a color. People who have trouble distinguishing color shades will sigh with relief — you don’t need to compare the color with the chart as with liquid test kits — the machine will “read” the color for you and will display it on the screen.

Digital test kits are highly accurate. They are easy-to-use since you don’t need to compare colors, as with liquid tests. The only minus is the price of the digital test kit. They are the most expensive type to test pool water.

LaMotte ColorQ Pro 7 Digital Pool Water Test Kit

Price range: $$$

Test type: digital
Tests: Free Chlorine, Total Chlorine, Bromine, pH, Total Alkalinity, Calcium Hardness, and Cyanuric Acid
– The most technological and reliable option that is the closest to lab water testing
– Perfect for people who have problems with distinguishing color shades (e.g. to test chlorine you will have to compare up to 10 shades of pink)
– Provides accurate results (as with Taylor Technologies K-2006 Test Kit)
– The kit has everything needed for comprehensive water testing

(Read details)

Test strips

Testing the pool water with test strips is the easiest among other methods. You just dip a test strip into the pool water, wait for the test strip to change color, and then compare it to the chart provided. You don’t use any reagents as with liquid and digital test kits.

Test strips have a lot of advantages such as ease of use, it is also the cheapest and the quickest way to test the water. However, this method has one huge disadvantage — test strips are the least accurate in testing pool water.

AquaChek Pool Water Test Strips

Price range: $

Test type: test strips
Tests: Free Chlorine, Total Chlorine, Bromine, Total Hardness, Total Alkalinity, pH, and Cyanuric Acid
– The quickest and easiest way to test pool water
– The cheapest method to test pool water

(Read details)

Typical mistakes while testing pool water

The following mistakes can make even the best test kit completely useless. Certainly, you should know them to avoid any disappointments.

Wrong sampling location. The sample you take should represent the whole pool water, it must be taken from midway between the shallow and deep ends for the most accurate results.

Allowing the water sample to sit around exposed to the air. You should test the water as soon as possible, especially if you test a sanitizer level. It can change significantly over the period you wait. For example, chlorine is likely to evaporate due to the impact of the environment.

The wrong volume of sample water. Always follow the instructions on the test kit and add the amount of water required. If you take more or less water then needed, you will get the wrong results.

How to store your pool test kit correctly

If the reagents are exposed to the environment, they will degrade over time leading to wrong results. To prolong the test kits’ lifespan, you should follow some rules:

  • Store chemicals at a consistent temperature. It should be in the range of 36-85°F (2-30°C).
  • Pay attention to the reagents’ bottles. They should be tightly sealed and replaced if damaged.
  • Keep the bottles with reagents away from direct sunlight.
  • Store test kits separate from pool chemicals.

Summary

Testing pool water with liquid or digital test kits is perfect for home use. They provide highly accurate results and make your pool water maintenance much easier. Just avoid typical mistakes while testing and store kits properly, and your pool test kit will serve you for a long time.

FAQs

🧐 How can I test my pool water at home?

You can easily test pool water quality using test kits. In our article, we picked the top-rated liquid and digital test kits.

🏆 Which pool test kit is the best?

To pick the best pool test kit, you should take into account some details such as the water type (hard water or saltwater), and how much you can pay for a test kit, etc. In our article, you can find a list of the best pool kits that will be best suited for your needs.

❓ What does the pool test kit test for?

The bare minimum that your test kit should do is testing sanitizer (chlorine or bromine), pH, and Total Alkalinity levels. The really good test kit should also include tests for Free and Combined Chlorine, Calcium Hardness, and Cyanuric Acid. Check the best options in our article.

🔬 Are pool test strips accurate?

Unfortunately, no. Compared to test kits (liquid and digital), test strips are the least accurate.

🧪 How long do pool test kits last?

If you store and use reagents from the test kits properly, they can last up to 1 year. Read how to store test kits and what are the typical testing mistakes in our article.

⏲ How often should I check my pool?

The frequency of testing pool water depends on how often you swim in the pool. But on average, you should test the water at least 2-3 times per week.

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