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3 Best Moisture Meters for Firewood & Damp Logs (2021 Review)

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The best moisture meters for firewood should be accurate, be easy to read and ergonomically designed.

You’ll also want to consider the durability of the sensor pins, the number of modes and the weight of the unit.

I’ve significantly researched and tested the best moisture meters across a range of logs and firewood. Read on to find out which models I recommend and why…

What is the Best Wood Moisture Meter?

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Comparing The Best Wood Moisture Meters

Use the dropdown to sort the table by the feature that's most important to you.

  • Best For
  • Moisture Measuring Range
  • Number of Modes
  • Number of Sensor Pins
  • LED Screen
  • Weight
  • Cost
  • Our score
  •  

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In-Depth Reviews of Our Recommended Wood Moisture Meters

Brennenstuhl Moisture DetectorBrennenstuhl Moisture Detector

Best wood moisture meter

Accuracy
Ease of Use
Value for Money
Overall
4.6
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Brennenstuhl Moisture Detector Review

Specifications

  • Moisture Measuring Range: 5 - 50%
  • Number of Modes: 2
  • Number of Sensor Pins: 2
  • LED Screen: Yes
  • Weight: 156g

Sometimes you’ll want to measure the dampness of various materials, not just wood. In this case, you might benefit from a multi-purpose moisture meter that can be used on stone and fabrics.

This Brennenstuhl Moisture Detector can be used on wood, concrete, brick, screed, plasterboard, fabric, carpets and wallpaper. There are two settings to specialise the reading, depending on the material you’re measuring.

This wood moisture meter has two sensor pins which accurately measure moisture, with a range of 5 – 50% for wood and 1.5 – 33% for other materials.

It’s solidly made, with a grippy and ergonomic design that makes it very comfortable to use. The screen is also very easy to read.

This product also has a handy guide on the back, which explains what the readings mean – so, you won’t have to use Google!

The display will ‘hold’ the reading on its screen for a few seconds, so you can still read it if you’re measuring something in an awkward position.

The detector beeps when a reading is taken, which is helpful if you’re working out where the dampness is in a room. It beeps faster if the surface is damper, so you can keep moving around the room until you find the dampest area, without having to read the screen.

This product’s durability ensures many years of good service. It doesn’t come with spare pins, but I can’t see them being required, as the ones included are so sturdy.

It’s easy to set up by simply inserting a battery, although one does not come included.

In my opinion, this is the best moisture meter for the home on the market, as it works on such a variety of materials.

Pros

  • This moisture meter is compact and easy to grip - fitting comfortably in your hand
  • The prongs are very strong and sturdy
  • Can be used to detect the moisture in a range of materials - including concrete, plasterboard and wallpaper
  • The LCD display is large and clear

Cons

  • Occasionally gives a different reading just a few millimetres away from the original, which has led to some users questioning its accuracy
  • The LCD display needs to be held at the correct angle to read
  • The on/off switch is exposed and it’s easy easy to turn it on accidentally
  • The detector beeps very regularly which some users may find excessive
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Dr.meter Digital Wood Moisture MeterDr.meter Digital Wood Moisture Meter

Best lightweight option

Accuracy
Ease of Use
Value for Money
Overall
4.5
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Dr.meter Digital Wood Moisture Meter Review

Specifications

  • Moisture Measuring Range: 5 - 40%
  • Number of Modes: 1
  • Number of Sensor Pins: 2
  • LED Screen: Yes
  • Weight: 116g

If you’re looking for the best wood moisture meter for your money, this next one offers great value.

This Dr.meter Digital Wood Moisture Meter has all the features you’d want, without compromising on performance.

It can be used on both wood and plasterboard, so whether you’re setting up a cosy fire or testing your home for damp, this moisture meter should be suitable.

The unit has two sensor pins, with a measuring range of 5% – 40%. It has an accuracy to ±1%, which is recommended. The meter has an easy-to-read LCD display, which is large enough for weaker eyes.

The detector is powered by a 9V battery which is included. There is also a low battery indicator, so you’ll know when to change it. These aspects definitely set this product apart from the others on my list, as it’s rare to find a moisture meter with a battery included.

This moisture meter is not as well built as the Brennenstuhl Moisture Detector, however it will certainly do the job and is suitable for regular use. It’s just possible that it won’t last as long as the Brennenstuhl will.

The detector is easy to operate and comes with a user guide, which explains what the readings mean, making this model very user-friendly. This, combined with its cheaper price tag, makes this one of the best moisture meters for first-time buyers.

It also comes with a carry pouch and two spare pins, as well as a bright orange safety cap which is easy to spot. These additional bits really make this product stand out from the rest; it’s astounding that it’s still cheaper.

This is an easy-to-use tool that offers great value, especially as it comes with spare pins and a battery. So, I’d say that it’s one of the best value moisture meters for money.

Pros

  • A good compact size that’s easy and comfortable to hold
  • Comes with a handy storage pouch and batteries included
  • Offers consistent readings so it’s easy to detect changes in moisture content
  • Large and easy to read display

Cons

  • Although the prongs are sharp, they cannot penetrate very hard wood
  • There is no backlight so reading the display in dingy or dark areas may be tricky
  • The on/off button is sensitive so it’s easy to turn on accidentally
  • Although this is easy to use, the instructions are lacking in information
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Valiant Firewood Moisture MeterValiant Firewood Moisture Meter

Best for multiple modes

Accuracy
Ease of Use
Value for Money
Overall
4.3666666666667
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Valiant Firewood Moisture Meter Review

Specifications

  • Moisture Measuring Range: Not listed
  • Number of Modes: 4
  • Number of Sensor Pins: 2
  • LED Screen: Yes
  • Weight: 140g

All kinds of wood are different. So, to get the most accurate wood moisture readings you’ll need a moisture meter that can differentiate its modes depending on the species of tree you’re measuring.

Very few wood moisture meters offer this kind of differentiation, but they can be invaluable if you’re looking for the upmost accuracy.

The Valiant Firewood Moisture Meter can 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 tree species. This is a handy function for a knowledgeable woods-person as you’re more likely to be handling a variety of wood types.

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 has a low battery indicator. These features can be super helpful if you’re going to be using your moisture meter a lot, as you won’t want to be caught without a spare battery when you need one.

If you are knowledgeable about the type of wood you are testing, this could very well be the best moisture meter for you, as it gives very accurate results when used properly!

Otherwise, if you’re not a wood expert, the different modes might just be an unnecessary faff for you – that you can avoid by buying a more user-friendly model.

Pros

  • Well constructed and sturdy
  • Clear screen that’s easy to read at a glance
  • There are 4 separate modes which can be used for different types of wood
  • Comes with a small pouch for easy storage

Cons

  • Need to scroll through to Mode 3 (for most types of wood) every time the device is turned on
  • The prongs are fairly easy to bend when this meter is inserted into hard wood
  • Larger and bulkier than other moisture meters on the market
  • There’s no backlight so reading the screen in dingy areas is tricky
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Things to Know Before Buying a Wood Moisture Meter

A wood moisture meter is a handheld device that accurately measures the moisture level of wood. They can help you to identify the best firewood to burn, so less of it goes to waste.

They can also help you to burn firewood safely, as there are some risks that come with burning firewood that is too wet or too dry.

Wood moisture meters are a handy purchase for anyone who works with wood frequently. Whether it’s for DIY, professional use, carpentry or firewood.

Moreover, moisture meters aren’t exclusively for wood, some can also measure the dampness of brick, stone and fabrics.

This kind of product can help you self-assess your home’s dampness, just in case a cowboy trades-person has given a costly quote for repairs. Double checking could save you money, if it turned out your readings were lower than an ‘expert’ had claimed.

There are various features across 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:

The Benefits of Using a Wood Moisture Meter

These tools have a wide range of helpful uses.

When it comes to firewood, the moisture content must be below 20% for it to burn well. If you burn wood wetter than this, it can cause a host of problems.

Burning damp wood can cause soot and tar to build up in a chimney, which has sometimes been known to cause house fires. Wet wood also releases a lot more smoke than dry wood, which can unpleasantly fill your living room.

Meanwhile, burning wood that is too dry can create a fire which is hard to control. So, using a wood moisture meter will help you get your fire to a moderate and ideal burn.

If the moisture content is higher than 20%, 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 and buy more.

Whether you’re selling wood, or just checking what you’ve got in your stores, having a moisture meter helps identify which wood will burn effectively.

If you sell firewood, customers will want to know its moisture content, so it’s great to be able to provide this figure.

If you often work with wood, either professionally or as a hobby, being able to check its moisture content is important for safety reasons. Checking for damp in a wooden structure, timber beams, and plenty of other materials is a crucial stage in the construction process.

Some of the best moisture meters will check other materials as well as wood, such as stone, plasterboard and even carpet. This can be helpful when surveying a house and when checking for a mould problem.

Modes for Various Materials

The first thing you’ll need to think about is what you’re using the moisture meter for.

While some moisture meters just measure the moisture of various materials, others can also read the humidity and air temperature. These features can indicate whether your wood storage area is suitable, as well as checking the dampness of the wood itself.

If you’re only looking for a simple tool which can tell you if the logs you have are ready to use, then a relatively basic moisture meter with as little as 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.

Some wooden moisture meters, like the Valiant Firewood Moisture Meter will have different modes for different species of tree. This mode is really only helpful if you’re an expert in wood but does offer a more specific understanding of moisture content.

Understanding Moisture Content Readings

For firewood to burn well, its moisture content should be below 20%. To check its moisture levels, 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%.

If the reading is under 10%, there’s a risk that it’s too dry and could produce a fire that burns quickly, and that is hard to control. The further the value is under 10%, the bigger this risk becomes.

Experts recommend burning your firewood when its moisture content is between 10 and 20%.

Helpful Extra Features

There are a few functions that slightly improve moisture meters, but they aren’t essential:

An automatic turn off feature will help your meter’s batteries last longer. 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 handy when checking poorly lit areas.

A moisture meter that beeps when it takes a reading can be extremely useful to people with a damp problem. Some products, like the Brennenstuhl Moisture Detector, will beep faster when it registers a higher moisture content.

So, in the scenario where you’re looking for the source of the damp, you can keep moving around the room until the detector beeps the fastest – you won’t have to keep checking the number on the screen.

Some of the best wood moisture meters have brightly-coloured lids, so you can always spot them, and some come with spare replacement pins and carry cases.

Most have user-friendly screens that are easy to read, with large-sized digits.

Accuracy Percentage

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 you 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 the reviews of anything you’re thinking of buying, to see how its performance has been rated by users.

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Wood Moisture Meter FAQs

Do I need to test the water content of my logs before burning them?

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 its growing conditions.

As well as burning poorly, wet firewood will produce lots more smoke than dry wood. So, burning wet wood can create an unpleasantly smoky room. In extreme cases, the conditions caused by burning wet wood has led to house fires.

Burning wet wood is less effective than burning dry wood, so you’ll end up using more of it. Testing its water content before setting up a fire can ultimately save you money, as you won’t be wasting wet wood.

Lastly, if your firewood is extremely dry, it will burn very quickly. Plus, dry fires can get out of control quite quickly. So, it’s worth making sure the wood’s moisture content is just right.

I am buying some timber for constructing shelves. How can I test the moisture levels without making holes in the wood?

A pinless moisture detector is your best bet if you don’t want to create holes in expensive wood.

The circuit inside a pinless moisture meter sends a signal in the form of electromagnetic waves. The waves create an electromagnetic field over the area underneath the sensor. The moisture content is calculated from the signal received in return.

These types of meters are more expensive, but they provide you with a damage-free, reliable reading on smooth wood.

Why is it important to check firewood moisture?

Too much moisture in your firewood (above 20%), won’t burn very 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!
If the moisture of your firewood is too low, it burns too quickly. Plus, wood that is too dry can produce a fire which is hard to control. A small amount of moisture is needed to moderate the burn rate.

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Sources

  1.  “What type of wood moisture meter do you need?”MoistureMeters.com.

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