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Crew 3-in-1 Cheat Meter - Light pH and Moisture Soil Meter
Another new addition to our Crew Essentials range (which also includes basics like spray misters, watering cans and potting mats), is the Crew 3-in-1 Cheat Meter combining a soil moisture meter, pH and light meter all in one.
We nicknamed it the Cheat Meter because it's just that. We're not talking exact science here though (specialist, super-accurate meters can get very costly, think $100+), so think of this super-affordable tool more as a peace-of-mind back-up for your own senses.
We've given it a good go on our jungle and despite it's super affordable price, it does actually work. Sure, it's not crazy accurate, but still a good guide.
PS: No batteries required, the meter itself is like a battery without water. The 2 probes are 2 different types of metal. When you add an electrolyte (the moisture in the soil), it works like a very weak battery, but with enough 'voltage' for the sensor to read. The less water in the soil the less voltage goes through the meter (so you'd get a reading on the moist to dry side).
How to use
To check soil moisture
Push the switch far left to the MOIST setting. Push the sensors deep enough in the pot to reach the bottom of the plant's root level. Wait a minute or so and the needle will indicate the moisture level.
Results: There are 3 zones: 1 to 3 is the red zone (dry), 4 to 7 is the green zone (moist), and 8 to 10 is the blue zone (wet). Water according to your plants preferences. Getting multiple readings is normal as water won't be evenly distributed, so take a couple of readings.
Our tests: This is the most helpful setting and the main reason we got this tool. We tested a range of plants, a few we'd recently watered, and it seemed pretty accurate. We paid attention to the zone (dry, moist, wet) rather than the exact number. A couple of plants we know like it on the lightly moist to dry side, and would have watered, it turned out were still wet down at root level - even though they were dry on top - so this is a handy tool if you're not 100% sure and worried about over-watering. We found the probes need to go down at least 10 to 12cms or more for better readings.
As a light meter
Move the switch to the middle setting above the word LIGHT. There's a small light sensor panel at the front of the meter. Face that towards the light source in the same spot you plan to put your plant.
Results: 0 is Dark. From 200 to 1000 indicates low to medium light. 1,000 to 2,000 is the medium to bright zone (direct sunlight registers over 2,000).
Our tests: The gauge has a range 0 to 2,000 lux but we found that what we'd call medium light areas still register in the dark zone, so allow a bit of leeway with this setting and use it more as a guide. The light sensor is quite a small panel.
As a pH meter
Move to switch to the setting on the right, by the letters PH. Put the sensors quite deep in the soil. Wait a minute or two for the result to show on the pH gauge.
Results: A reading greater than 7 is alkaline, and below 7 is acidic.
Our tests: Most of our plants tested the same, between 6 and 7.5, which is a pretty good range for indoor plants. Again, we got this tool primarily for the moisture meter setting, so weren't expecting amazing accuracy from this or the light settings. Somewhat accurate, and good to alert you if your soil swung too far acidic or alkaline.