pH Meter and EC Meter
1. Why Use These Expensive Meters?
2. How To Use Them
Is the yield of your plants not as large as expected? Do your plants often
display "burnt" symptoms of over fertilization?
The solution might be to start using pH and EC meters.
A pH meter measures the acidity of the water on a scale from zero to
14. This scale is not a linear scale, but an exponential scale. This means that
the difference between a pH of six and a pH of seven is gigantic. When the pH is
too high or too low, the roots cannot take up the nutrients in the proper
proportions. Generally, this will show up in the plant as deficiencies of one
nutrient or another, and as burnt leaf tips, caused by overfertilization of one
nutrient. The result is that growth will slow, the yield will be low, and
ultimately, the plant may die.
One remedy is to give the plants fewer nutrients, but then they are certain to
develop even more deficiencies, and the yield will not be as good as it can be.
When the pH is just right, it is unlikely that deficiencies will occur. The
plant will be able to take up the nutrients in the correct proportions and
overfertilization will be a thing of the past.
In other words: with the wrong pH, half the recommended nutrients will
cause overfertilization. With the right pH, the full recommended dose will make
for healthy and strong plants.
An EC meter measures the electrical conductivity of the water. Clean
water has a low EC. When you add nutrients and pH adjusters, the EC will go up.
You can use this for measuring how many nutrients can put in the water without
It can be hard sometimes to eyeball the required amount of nutrients.
Sometimes, you're not quite sure how big your container water is or you have no
means of measuring the nutrients accurately. Even if all these things are no
problem, it is still possible that the recommended dosage of nutrients as
printed on the label is too low for your plants, and your plants would benefit
from a higher dose. Using an EC meter together with a pH meter, you can measure
the optimum dose for your plants without causing overfertilization.
2. How To Use pH and EC Meters
Growing in soil
The pH should be 6.4 when you sprout the seeds or plant the clones. As the
weeks go by, slowly lower the pH until it is 6.0 during the last month of
flowering. This will allow the plants to take up fewer nutrients when they are
little and more nutrients when they are growing and flowering.
Similarly, the EC should be 1.0 when you sprout the seeds or plant the clones.
Slowly raise the EC to 2.0 for the last four weeks of flowering.
3. General Tips
The pH can be lowered by using vinegar, or you can buy special pH Down
from the bigger garden supply stores. These stores will also sell pH Up.
Adjusting the pH can be maddening sometimes, because the scale is exponential.
In practical terms, this means that you have to lower the pH or raise the pH by
adding very small amounts of adjusters. If your pH is too high, and you add too
much pH Down, you have to add pH Up. This can go on for while, and then your EC
might be too high.
Recalibrate the pH and EC meters about once a month. Some meters need a
special storage solution for the sensor. Please be sure to buy this storage
solution as well, it will make the difference between a well-working meter and a
Do not use the EC meter without also measuring and adjusting the pH. If you
use the EC meter only, you almost certainly kill your plants by over
fertilization. You can, however, use a pH meter without an EC meter as long as
you don't add more nutrients than recommended on the label of the nutrients
Recommendations for using pH and EC meters with hydroponics will be added
How to use a PH meter?