In this guide we’ll take a look at the best moisture meters for damp logs and firewood.
I’ve compared accuracy, functionality, ease of use and cost
to give you my top recommendations.
What is the Best Moisture Meter?
In a rush? Here’s my top choice…
Reliable, durable and accurate moisture meter!
This Brennenstuhl Moisture Detector is the perfect tool for checking the moisture levels of wood. It will also measure moisture in concrete, brick, plasterboard and fabrics. The two sensor pins are both accurate and durable, and it’s ready to go as soon as a battery is inserted. The ‘hold’ feature will keep the reading on screen, perfect for use in difficult-to-reach areas.
Things to Know Before Buying a Wood Moisture Meter
A wood moisture meter is a handheld device that will accurately tell you the moisture content of your wood. They can help you to recognise damp before it gets out of hand, meaning less of your wood goes to waste.
Moisture meters can assess the level of moisture present within a material, while also tracing the source of the damp so you can prevent history repeating itself in the future. They are a handy purchase for anyone who works frequently with wood; be it for DIY, professional use, carpentry or firewood.
There’s some variation between models, so if you’re looking for the best wood moisture meter but you’re not sure where to start, the following tips will help you make an informed decision:
These tools have a wide range of helpful uses.
When it comes to firewood, the moisture content needs to be below 20% for it to burn well. Whether you’re selling wood, or just checking what you’ve got in your stores, having a moisture meter will be invaluable to find out which wood is dry enough to burn effectively.
If the moisture content is higher than this, the wood will have a lower heat output when burnt. If it’s for your own fire this can be costly in the long run because you’ll need to use more. Simply checking the wood first to make sure it’s dry enough could save a lot of money. Plus, burning damp wood can cause soot and tar to build up in the chimney which has been shown to sometimes cause house fires.
Aside from wood burning, if you often work with wood, either professionally or as a hobby, being able to check its moisture content is very important. They can be used to check for damp in a wooden structure, or timber beams, and plenty of other materials.
If you’re working on a hobby project using expensive wood, a moisture meter can make sure you don’t waste any by trying to work with it when it’s too wet.
Some meters will check other materials and are not limited to just wood. This can be invaluable when surveying a house, amongst other things.
The first thing you’ll need to think about is what you are using the moisture meter for.
While some moisture meters just measure the moisture in various materials, others can also read the humidity and air temperature. These can help you work out if the place where you’re storing your wood is an issue, as well as check the dampness of the wood itself.
If you’re only looking for a simple tool which can tell you if the logs you have waiting by the side of your fire are ready to throw into the flames, then a relatively basic moisture meter with as little as just one mode will be sufficient.
However, if you want more of an all-round tool, you’ll find that the best moisture meters are also able to take readings from brick, plasterboard, textiles, and other materials. Plus, as mentioned, they can reveal information about the dampness in the air.
These units are particularly useful when doing DIY or assessing building structures.
To check firewood, you’ll need a meter that can go up to at least 20%, so you know when a log is too wet to burn.
If you dry your own wood, a moisture meter that can take a reading of freshly cut wood will allow you to best plan the drying position and estimate when it might be ready to burn. In these cases, a larger range will give you more information. Often moisture meters range from 5 to 40%.
Generally, if the reading is around 5 – 12% this is ideal. Readings of up to 17% are still passable for most materials, understood as a “moderate” but ok moisture level.
There are a few extra functions that can make life a bit easier when using a moisture meter, but also aren’t essential:
An automatic turn off will help your meter’s batteries last for longer. Ultimately quite a time and money saver because you won’t have to replace them as frequently. Tools with this function will tend to turn themselves off after a few minutes of inactivity.
A hold function will save the reading on the screen. This avoids the frustrating scenario of having crawled into an awkward place to take a reading, and then finding that the reading has disappeared before you’ve managed to wiggle out and check the screen. It also comes in very handy when checking poorly lit areas.
Some moisture meters are more accurate than others. I recommend looking for a meter with at least an accuracy of around 1% each way.
Some of the more high-end models can be accurate to approximately 0.1%.
Accuracy can also be improved by making sure to use the moisture meter on the most suitable setting. For example, if it has functions for different wood types, you’ll get a more accurate reading by setting it for the specific type of wood you’re testing.
Cheaper models will not be able to match the accuracy of higher quality ones. The best advice is to check reviews for anything you’re thinking to buy, to see how its performance has been rated.
Everything I Recommend
More Detailed Wood Moisture Meter Reviews
Brennenstuhl Moisture Detector Review
This Brennenstuhl Moisture Detector can be used on wood and other materials such as concrete, brick, screed and plasterboard.
In fact, it can even be used on fabric, carpets and wallpaper.
It has a measuring range of 5 – 50% for wood and 1.5 – 33% for other building materials.
This wood moisture meter is solidly made with a grippy and ergonomic design that makes it very comfortable to use.
This unit has two sensor pins at the top which accurately measure moisture content.
It’s easy to set up and use by simply inserting a battery (one does not come included). That’s it!
There are two settings, one for wood and one for substrates such as brick and concrete. One thing that makes this meter very easy to use is the handy guide on the back of the detector, which explains what the readings mean. I like this because it means you always have the information to hand.
This wood moisture meter has a large LCD display which is easy to read. One handy feature is the displays ‘hold’ ability – it will save the reading on the screen without it disappearing after a couple of seconds.
If you are taking readings in awkward places this is an invaluable feature – you can check the readings once you can see the screen.
I’ve tested this wood moisture meter on a recent log delivery that I received. It gave very accurate readings! They matched up with those of the woodsman who delivered it. The LCD display was clear and easy to read at most angles.
There is an acoustic indicator which sounds when a reading has been taken. It can be turned off when not required.
The build quality and design of this device is excellent; it will undoubtedly give many years of good service. It does not come with spare pins; however, I can’t see them being required as the ones included are so sturdy.
Because this meter can be used on a variety of materials and can measure a good range, I feel it is excellent value for money and the best moisture meter for firewood on the market.
Dr.meter Digital Wood Moisture Meter Review
This Dr.meter Digital Wood Moisture Meter can be used on both wood and plasterboard.
The unit has two sensor pins to measure moisture. The wood moisture meter has a measuring range of 5% – 40% and is accuracy to ±1%. The unit is powered by 1 x 9V battery which is included. The unit features an easy to read LCD display and also has an audio alert. There is also a low battery indicator. This is not as well built as the previous detector; however, it will certainly do the job and is suitable for fairly regular use.
Again, this wood moisture meter is easy to operate and comes with a user guide to help you work out what the readings mean. It also comes with a carry pouch and two spare pins. The safety cap is bright orange which is handy as it makes it easy to find.
This moisture detector was simple to use and gave consistent readings when tested on the wood I had delivered.
This was another easy to use tool that offers great value for money especially as it comes with spare pins and a battery. It’s one of the best moisture meters for the money.
Wolfcraft Wood Moisture Meter Review
This Wolfcraft Wood Moisture Meter is a compact, well-made unit that is suitable for checking the moisture content of all wood; e.g. logs, building materials and existing wood structures.
This wood moisture meter has a measuring range of 10 – 40% and the readings are clear and easy to read on the LCD display. It requires 1 x 9 V battery which is included.
I found this unit simple to use and the readings were accurate. However, is a little pricier than the previous two items.
Valiant Firewood Moisture Meter Review
The Valiant Firewood Moisture Meter can also be used on firewood and all timber, flooring, beams and joists to detect and measure moisture content.
The unit is well constructed and sturdy with an easy-read screen.
There are four different modes, suitable for different species of tree. This would be a really handy function for a knowledgeable woodsman as it offers more accurate results for firewood.
From my own experience I found the different settings did help to get the most accurate results.
If you do not know the species of wood you are testing, the instructions recommend using mode 3 as most wood falls into this category.
To help with battery saving, the unit will automatically turn off after a period of inactivity. It also have a low battery indicator to let you know when to change the batteries.
If you are knowledgeable about the type of wood you are testing, this could very well be the best moisture meter for you – it gives very accurate results when used properly!
Wood Moisture Meter FAQs
To burn firewood effectively, either in an open fire or a wood burning stove, the moisture content needs to be less than 20%. Freshly cut timber has a moisture content of between 30% and 60%, depending on the tree species and growing conditions.
As well as burning poorly, high water content wood will produce more waste, and can even lead to dangerous burning conditions and house fires.
A pinless moisture detected is your best bet if you don’t want to create holes in expensive wood.
The circuit inside a pinless moisture meter sends out a signal in the form of electromagnetic waves. The waves create an electromagnetic field over the area of material underneath the sensor. The moisture content is worked out from the signal received back from this. These types of meter are more expensive; however, they will provide you with a damage-free, reliable reading on smooth wood.
If you are burning wood, the moisture content is very important. If the moisture gets too low, the wood burns too quickly. A small amount of moisture is needed to moderate the burn rate. Wood that is too dry can produce a fire which is hard to control.
Too much moisture on the other hand (above 20%), won’t burn nearly so well. The wood won’t catch alight properly, burn efficiently or generate much heat. You’ll also end up with a fire that produces a lot of smoke!