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Best Water Test Kits For Pools And Hot Tubs

Testing the water in your pool or hot tub is one of those important chores that comes with enjoying a relaxing dip. It’s not hard to do, but it does take a few minutes regularly. To make it as easy and effective as possible, you need a quality test kit.

What To Consider 

There are several things to consider when choosing a test kit. Remember, this is all about the health of your hot tub or pool. And if they’re unhealthy, it’s also bad for you and your family. So it’s crucial to do tests that are complete, accurate, and consistent. Of course, you want it to be easy to use and durable, too.

We’ll talk about the completeness of different kits below. There are different levels of “complete,” ranging from those that cover just the essential to ones with all the bells and whistles.

Of course, you also want accurate readings. That means the testing reagents have to be calibrated correctly. A good manufacturer will have a high level of quality control to make sure their product always reacts properly to give you true readings.

Learn about the alternatives to chlorine for swimming pools

Your results should also be consistent. That means that if your water hasn’t changed, the readings you get are the same. But if it has, the test results should show it. Why is this an issue? Conditions change. Products settle or degrade. But a quality test kit will still provide consistent results within a good range of temperatures and over time.

Do you know what your pool’s temperature is?

Your kit should be easy to use, of course. There should be no problems with adding the right amount of chemical to your water sample. The instructions should make it obvious how long you need to wait for a reading. And it should be simple to compare the results to an included chart that indicates your levels.

There are two basic types of kits. In one, you add the water and the reagent to a tube. The other consists of dipping a strip of paper into the pool. Neither is hard to use, although strips might be slightly simpler. They’re also less expensive. However, you have to be careful not to drip water into the container, as this will ruin the remaining strips.

Finally, your kit should be durable. The test tubes should resist cracking and normal wear-and-tear. The case should be durable. And the card where you compare the colors of the results should be resistant to water, the sun, and bleaching. After all, you need it to accurately measure your results!

Remember that pool test chemicals do expire. Usually, they are good for two years. With regular use, a set of one-ounce chemicals will last one to two years, anyway.

Learn how to test your pool or hot tub’s water

Most Important Pool Water Tests 

There are many things you can test your water for. Ideally, you can test for them all. However, sometimes that’s not feasible. But at a minimum, there are four tests that even the most basic kit should include: 

  • pH
  • Chlorine (or bromine, if you use this as your sanitizer)
  • Salt strips, if you have a saltwater pool

This is the absolute minimum. They’re also the tests that you need to do most often.

Useful Additional Tests

It’s difficult to find a kit that will only offer those two basic tests, and that’s a good thing. You should look for a kit that also has these tests:

  • Total alkalinity
  • Chloramines – these are the “used up” chlorine particles. The basic chlorine test doesn’t always distinguish between useful chlorine and the molecules that are “burnt out.” This test helps you compare the active vs. inactive chlorine
  • pH adjustment tests help you better understand what changes to make
  • Calcium hardness

Further Tests You’ll Get In The Best Kits

Finally, there are some other tests you’ll get in the best kits. We recommend them. But of course, the price of these kits will run higher.

  • Cyanuric acid – this acid affects how quickly chlorine becomes inert
  • Phosphates – phosphates may enter the water from runoff or other sources
  • Copper and Iron tests – you can also buy these separately if you start notice staining on your tiles or accessories
  • Total Dissolved Solids (TDS)
  • Biguanide water test strips, if you use a biguanide purification system

Not every pool or hot tub owner needs all of these tests, so it’s important to look for kits that will serve your needs. Sometimes, you may have to buy some elements separately, too.

Our Picks for the Pool And Hot Tub Water Test Kits 

We’ve looked at various pool test kits and found some of the best for you. We’ve kept them in order from most complete to least complete. We think these are all high-quality kits; the differences are in the types and amounts of tests they offer.

pHin Smart Water Care Monitor for Pools

pHin water monitor for pools

This test takes all the work out of testing! If you love the idea of a smart home, it’s the device for you. Once you install it, you don’t have to do much. And you’ll get notifications sent to your cell phone about all the important measurements of your pool. That includes not only chemical levels but even the temperature!

It checks the pH, sanitizer, and temperature of your water “thousands” of times a week, which is far beyond what’s necessary. Other tests are done monthly.

You can scan in the chemicals you’re using. Most major chemicals are in their database already. The app will calculate the proper levels and needs based on what you scan in.

The product itself is pricey, but there’s also an annual subscription fee. With the subscription, you’ll get detailed reports sent to your phone that tell you exact levels of chemicals. If you let the subscription lapse, you won’t receive notifications but you can still manually enter the app. In that case, you don’t get detailed readings; you’ll only see if the levels are in the normal range or not. 

The unit does a good job of providing timely information to keep your pool in great shape. Is it more than necessary? For most people, yes. But it’s an awesome tool that takes advantage of modern technology. It’ll take the hassle out of doing regular testing. 

Note that this system isn’t compatible with Baqua spas.

Tests Included:

  • pH
  • Chlorine
  • Bromine
  • Salt
  • Cyanuric Acid
  • Total Alkalinity
  • Total Hardness

Taylor Service Complete Pool Water Test Kit K-2006C

taylor pool and spa water test kit

Another kit from Taylor, the K-2006C offers the major tests you’ll need to make sure your pool or spa maintains the proper chemical balances. This kit is best for pools that use chlorine directly.

This kit will last longer than many others. It includes 2 ounces of each reagent. That should easily last you two years if you’re just testing a single pool or hot tub.

A tough carrying case is included. It also includes a water comparator and water balance calculator wheel.

Tests included:

  • Total Chlorine
  • Free Chlorine
  • Bromine
  • pH
  • Acid and base
  • Alkalinity
  • Calcium hardness 
  • Cyanuric acid

Taylor Complete Swimming Pool/Spa Test Kit K-2006-Salt Water Test

pool water test kit for salt water swimming pool, Taylor Brand.

Taylor is one of the leading names in water testing. This kit includes the test for sodium chloride – that’s salt in everyday talk! So it’s a great choice if you have a saltwater pool.

The tests come in a durable case with a convenient handle. That makes it easy to store and to keep everything in one place.

The reagents come in 0.75-ounce units. If you test often, you’ll want to upgrade to the K.2006C-Salt Serivce Complete kit, which includes 2 ounce bottles of reagents.

This is the same as the K-2006 kit with the addition of the salt test.

No strips are needed for this type of test; you simply add your water sample and reagent to the included water comparator. The translucent glass on the rear of the container makes it easy to match the color against the integrated scale.

Tests included:

  • Total Chlorine
  • Free Chlorine
  • pH
  • Acid and base
  • Alkalinity
  • Calcium hardness 
  • Cyanuric acid
  • Salt level

Poolmaster Essential Collection Chemistry Case (22260) 5-Way Swimming Pool & Spa Water Test Kit

poolmaster pool test kit in case

Poolmaster offers another quality kit that covers the most important needs for your pool with five tests and five reagents.

Read more about this product

The reagents for chlorine/bromine, pH, and acid demand/alkalinity come in one-ounce units. The total alkalinity and chlorine neutralizer tests are half-ounce sizes.

The kit is made of sturdy polyethylene. It may come in blue or black as shipped (you don’t choose). 

The color chart is attached to the water test unit. The unit itself is made of polystyrene; it will hold up well with regular use.

Tests included:

  • Total Chlorine
  • Bromine
  • pH
  • Acid Demand
  • Total Alkalinity

AquaChek 551236 7-Way 100 Count Pool Water Test Strips

Aquachek’s 7-way test strips are about as all-in-one as you can get. The 100 test strips come in a bottle, and the color chart is right on the label. That keeps it simple and helps keep the price low, but at the same time, it doesn’t offer you much explanation of what’s going on.

Considering the price and simplicity, it’s fantastic that this kit offers free chlorine and total chlorine tests. That’s often absent on less-expensive tests.

Read More About This Product

The expiration date is stamped right on the bottle so you know when it’s time to replace it.

The test seems very accurate for pH and alkalinity, but a lot of people say it’s off by a lot on cyanuric acid.

Tests included:

  • Free Chlorine
  • Total Chlorine
  • Bromine
  • Total Hardness
  • Total Alkalinity
  • pH 
  • Cyanuric Acid

Poolmaster 22212 Smart Test 6-Way Swimming Pool and Spa Water Chemistry Test Strips

This is another simple kit that uses test strips. It tests for six chemicals that are important for your pool or hot tub. 

It’s great that both free chlorine and total chlorine are included.

The kit contains 50 strips. The good part of this is that you won’t have to worry about them expiring before using them up. However, you might have to buy more than one pack a year.

The color chart is right on the bottle. That’s handy, although the print can be a bit small for older eyes.

Tests included:

  • Free chlorine
  • Total chlorine 
  • Bromine
  • Alkalinity
  • pH
  • Total hardness

Poolmaster 22211 Smart Test 4-Way Swimming Pool and Spa Water Chemistry Test Strips

Poolmaster also offers this simpler kit that will cover you for at least the bare minimum. It offers the four most essential tests. Fifty test strips are included in the bottle and you simply compare them with the legend on the outside. 

The kit works well and gives accurate readings. The only shortcoming is the limited number of tests.

Tests included:

  • Free chlorine
  • Bromine
  • Alkalinity 
  • pH

Conclusion

Frequent testing of the water in your pool or hot tub will help make sure it’s safe to use. Test kits are simple to use and will help you determine when you need to make changes. Better kits test for a wider variety of issues, but of course, they’re also more expensive. Be sure to cover at least the basic tests so you can get the maximum enjoyment out of the hot tub or pool!