What is the best wood moisture meter?
If you use firewood to heat your home or are into woodworking projects, a quality firewood moisture meter can be helpful. A moisture meter for wood can help you accurately read the moisture content of firewood to know if it is seasoned and ready to burn.
Firewood with low moisture content, such as 15%, often burns hotter, longer, and with less smoke. In addition, it pops and cracks less, making it safer.
If you’re anything like me, you can tell whether or not firewood is ready to burn just by lifting it up. Nevertheless, it’s interesting to get an actual reading and compare the moisture levels of different types of wood.
Best Moisture Meter For Firewood
Tarvool Wood Moisture Meter
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Stihl Wood Moisture Meter
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General Tools Moisture Detector
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A moisture content of less than 20% is considered the best for burning in a wood stove, fire pit, or fireplace.
Firewood with a moisture content of between 10% and 20% is ideal for burning. Anything less than 10% is considered wastage as the wood tends to burn too quickly. A little moisture helps moderate the burn rate.
Three factors determine the amount of heat you can get from a log:
- Type of wood
- The efficiency of the stove
- Moisture content
Of these three factors, the moisture content is the most significant.
Logs from a recently felled tree can hold moisture of up to 60%. You have to season moisture-full logs for them to be ready for burning without a lot of smoke.
Burning unseasoned wet logs requires a lot of heat sources, not to mention it causes damage to our air quality and chimney system. Therefore, it’s vital to burn wood that is dry and seasoned.
Wood moisture meters also have other uses – I just bought this Stihl wood moisture meter in order to test it out and write up a review. This next image is showing the moisture content of my new wooden fence.
It’s a pin wood gauge, so you just stab it into the wood and it gives a reading.
My fence, which has had a lot of rain on it recently, has a moisture content of 11% – it is heavily treated which helps prevent it from absorbing so much water.
You can use these wood moisture readers for plaster, concrete, wall linings, and much more.
If you’re wanting one for a less common use just double-check it’s designed for it.
Here are our top 5 picks for the best firewood moisture meter!
1. Tavool Wood Moisture Meter – Best Overall
- Display: Backlit LED
- Pin-type detector
- Range: 5% – 60%
The Tavool Wood Moisture Meter is our recommended choice for anyone looking for the best digital wood moisture meter.
It’s accurate, durable, and quick to display readings. With eight calibration scales, this moisture meter works well for hardwood and softwood, thereby making it great for carpenters, inspectors, professionals who majorly work with lumber, and people who use firewood to heat their homes.
The meter can measure low, medium, and high moisture levels in the range between 5% and 60%. To help you have an easier time using and reading moisture levels in firewood, Tavool added a sizable backlit LED.
This meter’s other outstanding features include memory, temps, auto power-off, min/max moisture measurement, and more. It features two modes, one for measuring moisture levels in wood and another for building materials, making it highly versatile.
In addition, it has a rubberized grip and unique design, making it easier to operate on wet grounds – the meter won’t slip out of your hands easily while working.
- Solid design that’s easy to handle
- Simple to use even for everyday firewood users
- Versatile as you can use it on any building material
- Has a pinned design
- Pretty affordable
- You have to calibrate it to wood type for accurate results
- It doesn’t come with extra probes
2. Proster Wood Moisture Reader – Runner-Up
- Display: LCD
- Pin-type detector
- Range: 0% – 99%
If you’re looking for a moisture meter with a wide range of uses on wood, this general digital moisture meter from Proster is worth consideration. You can use it to measure moisture levels in firewood, cardboard, paper, and other building materials.
It gets you highly accurate readings for a moisture level of up to 99.9%, with a 0.5% margin of accuracy. In addition, the pin moisture settings can switch between four built-in modes that allow you to measure moisture in close to 50 species of firewood. These modes help you get the highest possible moisture level accuracy.
The meter has a big HD LCD screen to make it easier for you to get readings. In addition, it has low battery functions and an auto power off button.
It’s important to mention that this moisture meter will not work with drywall, gypsum, concrete, or any non-wood building material.
This moisture meter will give you the best bang for the buck for DIY’ers who work on wood-based projects.
- Can detect slow leaks behind wooden walls, under floors, and above ceilings
- Fairly affordable
- Includes a protective cap
- Solidly made hence durable
- Can’t detect moisture on non-wood materials
3. Stihl Wood Digital Moisture Meter – Popular
- Display: LCD
- Pinless detector
- Range: 6% – 42%
The Stihl moisture meter is on this list for a couple of reasons.
It’s made by a manufacturer known to produce quality tools and devices in this niche. The pinless moisture meter has a sensor pad on both pins that need good contact with the wood surface to give you accurate readings.
Although this might not have the sturdiest construction, the Stihl Wood Digital Moisture Meter won’t disappoint when it comes to efficiency and accuracy.
It’s a superb choice for wood and will do an excellent job in getting you accurate readings even in low-humid environments. The meter can measure moisture in wood within a range of 6% – 42%, making it an excellent choice for professionals in woodworking and firewood users alike.
Another outstanding feature of this moisture meter is the two-pin design that makes it easier to check on the seasoning of your firewood. The LCD screen is visible to make it easier for you to read the percentage of moisture.
Although Stihl recommends this moisture meter for use in wood, it can also give you pretty accurate results of moisture levels in other construction materials, cardboard, paper, toughened mortar cement, and plaster, making it versatile.
- High accuracy readings with -2%
- Easy to hold with one hand
- Simple to use
- Small and thus easy to carry around
- Perfect for testing moisture in firewood
- The LED screen might be a little small for some people
- Displays readings for a short time before they disappear
4. General Tools Digital Pinless Moisture Meter – Best Pinless
- Display: LCD
- Pinless detector
- Range: 0% – 53%
General Tools is a renowned manufacturer of different tools and devices, and this pinless moisture meter is a perfect choice for people who don’t want to put a scar on the material they are testing.
The moisture meter works without pins by relaying electromagnetic waves into the material and giving you moisture levels instantly. The large LCD screen makes it easier for you to read the moisture levels of your firewood, and the three-color bar graph gives you a clue of the wet material’s dryness.
In addition, this pinless moisture meter gives you separate settings for softwood and hardwood. It’s powered by a 9V battery included in the packaging and features an auto-off function to help save the battery power.
- It has a pinless design and is thus non-invasive on your material
- Ergonomic handle for easy handling
- Easy to read
- Colored-bar graph to give you a clue of wetness or dryness level of the material you’re testing
- Fairly accurate
- The rounded design makes it harder to fit in tight areas
- Included battery dries down quickly
5. General Tools MMD7NP Moisture Detector – Premium
- Display: LCD
- Pinless Detector
- Range: 0% – 53%
If you have a flexible budget and wouldn’t mind paying a little more for a moisture meter that’ll give you accurate results, then the pinless moisture meter by General Tools might suit your needs.
The moisture meter has unique settings that serve various functionalities and tasks, including measuring moisture on hardwood, softwood, drywall, and masonry.
It has a high sensing depth of up to 20mm and an accuracy of 4%, which means you’ll get pretty spot-on readings.
Unlike most moisture detectors, the MMD7NP is an auto-calibrating meter, which means it doesn’t require your intervention to take any measurements.
- Takes moisture readings in a non-invasive manner
- Suitable for detecting moisture under finished surfaces
- Has an out-of-range alarm to alert you on the condition of the surface you’re testing
- Features a low battery indicator
- Fairly accurate
- Quite complex for novices
- Battery drains quickly
How Firewood Moisture Readers Work
A moisture meter is a handy tool for people in the woodworking niche or those who use a fireplace or stove – especially if you have a tiny wood-burning stove, it’s important your wood be very dry.
We cover more about moisture meters in this section.
Most moisture meters are pin-based, which means they measure wood resistance when pins are inserted into the wood. The conductivity indicates the moisture level inside.
Pinless moisture meters use EMF technology to detect moisture by aiming or touching at the wood surface.
Using moisture levels is quite simple – turn it on, calibrate the meter, stick the pins into the material you want to take moisture readings of—or touch it, in the case that you have a pinless device—and get your readings.
Different Types Of Moisture Meters
There are three common types of moisture meters used for inspecting building materials and firewood.
1. Pin-type Wood Moisture Meter
Pin-type meters have two pins that penetrate the test surface at different depths. These meters use electrical resistance to measure moisture levels. The tips are relatively sharp and can penetrate different surfaces with ease. Their mode of working is considered invasive and thus not suitable for use on finished surfaces.
Although pin-type moisture meters are calibrated to wood, you can use them to take moisture readings in other materials, including drywall, concrete, ceiling tiles, etc.
2. Pinless Wood Moisture Meter
Pinless meters are considered non-invasive and operate on the principle of conductivity. They work in a non-destructive manner, making them ideal for measuring moisture content in finished surfaces such as gypsum and concrete.
These tools can take accurate moisture readings to a depth of three-quarters of an inch or an inch into a subsurface, thereby making them excellent tools for detecting moisture build-up before it becomes visible.
3. All-In-One Moisture Meter
The pin/pinless/all-in-one moisture meters use both methods of taking moisture readings, making them highly versatile.
They are the preferred choice for flooring specialists, general contractors, home inspectors, and indoor air quality specialists.
Pin Vs Pinless Moisture Detectors
If you’re unsure which moisture meter to go for, this brief explanation should help.
Pin moisture meters require one to insert the two pin probes into the surface in question. They measure the resistance between the two pins to give moisture readings. The downside to using these moisture meters is that they damage the material being measured.
On the other hand, pinless moisture meters don’t need insertion into the wall, but they come at the downside of providing relative moisture readings. Therefore, you need to compare the reading to a known reading of the dry sample of the material in question.
If you’re looking for a moisture meter for firewood, pin versions will be the best. However, pinless moisture detectors will be ideal for measuring moisture levels underneath surfaces or in finished surfaces.
Features to Seek Out
Here’s a list of factors you need to keep in mind when shopping for a moisture meter.
Range of Measurement
A good moisture meter should measure between 5% and 6% moisture content, especially for woodworking and flooring purposes. However, the ideal measurement range depends on the type of surfaces for which you want to take measurements.
Moisture meters have different accuracy ranges, with the most accurate having a +/-1% accuracy range. In the end, it all depends on the type of work for which you want to use the tool.
Ease of Use
It’s important to find a device that’s easy to operate and one that returns readings almost instantly. The best moisture meters are those that have backlit LCD screens.
Overall Construction and Durability
For a moisture meter to serve you for a long time, it needs to be solid. Therefore, in addition to the above factors, consider the overall construction and durability of a unit.
Uses Of Moisture Meters
Moisture meters are often used by different professionals, including building inspectors and restoration experts.
I find it interesting to test the moisture content of all different types of wood, from my new fence and other lumber around the property to comparing both fresh cut to well-seasoned firewood.
In most cases, it’s the pinless moisture meters that are used for other uses, including:
- Finding moisture pockets in restoration work
- Checking the acclimation of wooden flooring before installation
- Testing drywall to see whether it’s moisture compromised or not
- Testing the top layer of a concrete wall to verify whether it’s ready for sealant application
Frequently Asked Questions
Let’s finalize our guide by covering frequently asked questions about wood moisture meters.
How Accurate Are Wood Moisture Meters?
Wood moisture meters can have an accuracy within a range of +/-1% of a surface’s moisture content. Most will only show readings with one decimal place, although high-end ones can provide more accurate readings.
How Do You Remove Moisture from Wood?
The fastest way of removing moisture from wood is by placing a dehumidifier in a room once you’ve cleared out all the standing water and set it to the highest setting possible. Leave it running for at least 24 hours. You can place the fans in different locations of the room to blow moisture out of the room.
How Do You Know if Wood Is Dry Enough to Burn?
To identify if the wood is seasoned, check the ends of the logs. Cracked and dark ends indicate they are dry. Dry-seasoned wood also tends to be more lightweight than wet wood. If you notice green patches on its surface or find the bark hard to peel, know that the wood is not yet dry.
Do Moisture Meters Really Work?
A high-quality moisture meter can provide accurate readings in the range of +/-1% moisture content when used on the right material. Therefore, they do work.
Are Cheap Moisture Meters any Good?
Although price should not be used as the sole determinant of quality moisture meters, it does matter. Most of the cheap moisture meters you find on the market are wildly inaccurate and thus should be avoided.
How Do I Check the Moisture Content of Wood Without a Meter?
If you don’t have a moisture meter, the oven test is the simplest method to determine moisture levels in wood. The technique works by weighing a piece of wood, then drying it in an oven and measuring it again. Take the difference in weights. Although time-consuming, the oven test is quite accurate.
How Can I Dry Wood Fast?
Wood dries faster when exposed to sunlight every day. Therefore, if it’s possible, expose your stack to sunlight. Also, if you can find a place where it’s extremely windy, wood will dry fast. The more sun and wind the drying stack can get, the faster it’ll dry.
Best Wood Moisture Tester
The best moisture meters for logs and firewood are those that provide the most accurate readings.
Depending on the type of work you intend to do and your preference, they can be pinned or pinless. All the above brands can give you accurate moisture content readings of logs, wood, and other surfaces, depending on the meter in question.
If you don’t need the very best moisture meter, the Stihl digital model that I’ve been using seems to be good, and it’s certainly fun to play around with.
If you need a more professional moisture meter for wood – if you have a firewood business or you are a builder, for example – then going with the higher-priced and more feature-rich models seen here on Acme Tools will be better.
Whether you want to test the water content of some oak firewood or you need to see if the lumber on your building site has dried out enough to continue work, I’m sure one of the models we’ve featured here today will be right for you.
Please let us know if you have any questions or comments down below!