Buyer Guide for the Milwaukee MW102 pH Meter

Thursday, April 25, 2024

Review of the Milwaukee MW102 pH tester

If you've ever gone on to a beer brewing forum and seen the question "What's the best ph meter to use?" you are going to get 75 dudes all banging on about how great the Milwaukee MW102 pH meter is.

Truly you will if you do some google-fu. 

A few others might mention the Apera or the Hanna offerings but the MW102 is a killer instrument.

We're not kidding, brewers love it because it's reliable, durable and doesn't break the bank cost-wise. Indeed, it's at the cheaper end of the mid-range pricing scale.

Marijuana growers in California love it too! And just recently growers in Canada too! My, how the world has changed. Kombucha brewers can even use it!

The MW102 is portable and gives fast, accurate, and reliable measurements whether you're in the classroom, laboratory, or for general field use.

And by 'general field use', we mean brewers on the grass in their backyard, brewing up a storm on brew day!

Milwaukee MW102 PH and Temperature Meter

The manufacturer's specifications:
    Milwaukee MW102 PH and Temperature Meter
  • MW102 is a microprocessor based pH/Temperature meter with extended range (-2.00 to 16.00 pH)
  • Automatic Temperature Compensation
  • Automatic calibration in 2 points and ±0.02 pH accuracy. 
  • The meter is supplied with pH electrode and calibration solutions. 
  • MW102 is supplied complete with a SE220 pH electrode, MA830R stainless steel temperature probe, pH 4.01 and pH 7.01 20 mL sachet of calibration solution
  • 9V battery which should give approx 750 hours
  • The user instructions manual

Accuracy and ReliabilityPrice
The Milwaukee MW102 is known for its high accuracy, providing reliable pH readings with a resolution of 0.01 pH and an accuracy of ±0.02 pH. This makes it suitable for laboratory, industrial, and professional use.The MW102 is relatively more expensive compared to some entry-level models, which might be a deterrent for hobbyists or those needing a pH meter for less critical applications.
Temperature CompensationMaintenance
It features automatic temperature compensation (ATC), which adjusts the pH readings according to the temperature of the solution, ensuring accurate measurements across different environments.The electrodes of the MW102 require regular maintenance and calibration to maintain accuracy, which could be seen as cumbersome by some users. Electrodes also need to be replaced periodically, adding to the operational costs.
Build QualityComplexity for Beginners
The meter has a robust build that enhances its durability, making it a good investment for frequent use in challenging environments like laboratories or fieldwork.New users or those unfamiliar with scientific equipment might find the operation of the MW102 a bit complex compared to simpler models.
Dual-level LCD DisplayBattery Life
Its dual-level display shows both pH and temperature readings simultaneously, which is convenient for users and reduces the chance of error in readings.Although it provides adequate battery life, the MW102 uses standard batteries that need replacement over time, unlike some models with rechargeable options.
Portable and VersatileLimited Advanced Features
The design of the MW102 is compact and portable, making it easy to carry around for field testing. It is also versatile, being suitable for a range of applications from brewing and wine making to water quality testing.While it covers the basics very well, the MW102 may lack some advanced features available in higher-end models, such as connectivity options for data logging or integration with other devices.

Actual user reviews from Amazon

Real humans, real beer makers have purchased the Milwaukee MW102 and left some pretty genuine feedback as to how this good unit is: 

"So far I am very happy with this unit. I have more faith in the calibration & readings of this unit. During calibration, this meter requires you to calibrate to 7.01 & then do a slope calibration to 4.01. I have not seen this with other meters, but once calibrated the unit is very accurate & holds calibration without issues. I may have made it sound complicated, but it is pretty easy to calibrate."

"I've owned this meter for 6 months now and it has been very accurate and dependable. I use it for wine making. It's really nice that it has a separate temperature probe because sometimes I use it for just that. A word of advice, buy the Milwaukee probe storage solution. It will decrease the number of times you need to calibrate the probe."

Sounds like sensible advice!

"This is in every way a professional laboratory-grade instrument of the highest quality! It is easy to calibrate and the calibration is very stable and long-lasting. It reads the PH almost instantly and is a joy to use. The tip should be stored in Milwaukee's special storage solution as recommended for longest probe life."

"I elected to give this one a shot because I wanted confidence the readings were correct. And they are. No more dipping a pen wand in the water to find a 8pH then immediately redipping the meter and getting a reading of 3.8 in the same water! So far a great product for the price. Exceeded what I had grown to expect from ph meters."

The unit is rated quite highly on Amazon and you can see why it's reviewers are hugely positive about it!

Maintenance tips for the Milwaukee MW102

As you'd imagine, Milwaukee offers a wide range of calibration, maintenance & cleaning solutions.

The use of calibration and cleaning solutions is fundamental for the correct use of electrodes and for obtaining the most accurate and reproducible readings. If you do not store probes properly, they will dry out and give incorrect readings and then you will need to spend some of your hard-earned Earth dollars on a replacement (which Milwaukee will happily sell you!)

It's a very smart custom to clean your pH electrode fairly often. This is because a coating known as the 'hydrated layer' can develop on the glass bulb. This layer will cause your unit to display inaccurate readings. Which just defeats the whole point of using a meter!

The common method of cleaning the electrode is by submerging it in a cleaning solution for a whole 15 minutes. The solution will break down the hydrated layer.

After the cleaning solution has done its business, the probe must be rinsed with very clean or purified water and then placed in probe storage solution for at least 2-3 hours before calibration is begun.

ph meter milwaukee

Can  I get a replacement probe?

  • You sure can get a new probe - it's known as the 'Milwaukee SE220 '. You'll need one if you haven't looked after your main one by properly storing it - or you broke it by dropping it!
  • Replacing the electrode probes is as easy as changing a light bulb - just follow the instructions.
  • Milwaukee probes are given a warranty of 6 months - which is pretty standard.

When should I clean the Milwaukee ph Meter?

For accurate pH readings the Milwaukee's probe should be properly cleaned and then re-calibrated when:
  • when the on-screen measurement is not close to the reading you were hoping to read. 
  • when the batteries have gone flat, been removed or changed. This is because the unit will not remember
  • when the pH probe is replaced with a new one
If Milwaukee is not for you, you might find something that meets your needs in our pH meter buyer's guide -  which features the popular Bluelab Combo Meter.

We're not worthy...

↠ Apera PH60F pH Pocket Tester for brewing beer and wine

Review Apera Instruments AI312 PH60F Premium pH Pocket Tester

If you are looking for a quality, yet reasonably priced, ph Meter for testing your beer's water and wort, you might want to consider the Apera Instruments PC60 Multi-parameter Tester.

The PC60 meter tests for pH, EC, TDS, salinity and temperature in an accurate, quick and reliable manner for most regular water solutions so much so that it's used across a range of commercial and hobby ventures such as hydroponics, aquaculture, pools and spas, water treatment, cooling towers and of course beer making.

The multi-parameter probe is replaceable and equipped with Apera's 'Brush-Resistant Platinum Black' sensor, which ensures an accurate and reliable EC measurement in a wide range. 

As for all pH metersprobes must be properly cleaned and maintained or else they can dry out, won't work, or perhaps even worse, give incorrect readings, and how will that be good for your beer?

This handy unit boasts the following features:
  1. Easy-to-install and replaceable flat sensor 
  2. Triple-Junction structure prevents clogging, works great for regular pH measurement 
  3. Easy Auto Calibration with auto buffer recognition 
  4. Auto Temperature Compensation 
  5. Unique High/Low Value HEADS-UP function, instantly reminding you of any results that need your attention with a red backlight; 
  6. Auto recognition of stable values (with optional AUTO HOLD function) 
  7. Large, clear Liquid Crystal Display with 3 backlit color (indicating 3 different modes) 
  8. Display both temp and pH simultaneously 
  9. Also comes with calibration buffer solutions, calibration bottles, storage solutions 
apera ph meter reviewThe instrument has an easy menu setting, which means you can customize your tester’s functions according to your needs. 

It's waterproof and dustproof and it floats on water so you don’t have to worry if it falls into water or your beer by accident. 

If you purchase the tester from Amazon, you'll find a complete kit of premixed calibration solutions (4.00 and 7.00), soaking solutions (3M KCL), calibration bottles and of course enough AAA batteries to give you approximately 2000 hours of use.

A handy lanyard is included and everything mentioned fits in the portable carrying case which protects your gear when traveling or simply storing.

Here's a pros and cons chart for the Apera Instruments Pocket Tester, detailing why it may be a suitable choice for testing the pH in beer brewing applications:

Multi-Parameter MeasurementsPrice Point
Capable of measuring pH, EC, TDS, salinity, and temperature, making it versatile for various applications in brewing and beyond.While reasonably priced for its capabilities, it may still be considered expensive for hobbyists or those on a tight budget.
Replaceable Multi-Parameter ProbeMaintenance Required
Features a replaceable probe with Apera's 'Brush-Resistant Platinum Black' sensor for accurate and reliable EC measurements, enhancing longevity and reducing long-term costs.Probes require regular cleaning and proper storage to maintain accuracy and prevent drying out, which could lead to incorrect readings.
Automatic Temperature Compensation (ATC)Complexity for Beginners
Includes ATC, which is crucial for accurate measurements in varying brewing temperatures, ensuring that pH readings are not affected by temperature changes.The multiple functions and settings might overwhelm beginners or those not used to technical instruments.
Easy Auto Calibration with Buffer RecognitionSize and Portability
Simplifies the calibration process with automatic buffer recognition, making it easier to ensure the device is ready for accurate readings.Despite its portability, the size might still be cumbersome for those needing a more compact solution.
Waterproof and Dustproof; Floats on WaterSediment Susceptibility
The device is robust, suitable for harsh brewing environments, and can survive being dropped in liquid without damage.If not properly handled, the sensor could be susceptible to damage or clogging from sediment if immersed directly in unfiltered brews.

Here are some reviews from real users who have real experiences with Apera's tester.

"Having previous experience with scientific research grade pH meters, I've maintained this pen in electrode storage solution between uses, and always rinsed the electrode with deionized water between measurement and before storage. With those precautions, both the pH and EC readings have remained on-point without recalibrating for more than a month at this point. When I do check the calibration, the instrument is never more than 0.05pH off-target."

"The back-lit display is excellent for working under low-light (tap the power button once while the unit is on to activate), and the instrument fits perfectly into the top of 1-gallon water jugs.

A note of warning, make sure the EC electrodes are not submerged in the electrode storage solution while not in use, only the glass pH bulb should be in the solution."

"The Apera PC60 instrument is super easy to use. It comes with everything needed to calibrate and feel confident in your readings. I even tested it against a 1000 TDS calibration solution I had and it read great! The display is easy to use and the backlight is very handy. I love that the "cap" is built in a way to put your liquid in, with a fill line, and closes securely around the pen.

It then is able to calculate the different levels in the liquid. I no longer have to bend over and hold my pen in the nutrient reservoirs. One of the best features is the ability to set the TDS factor. This is important because PPM is calculated differently in different parts of the world. It gets very confusing."

Finally, here's a testimonial that seems pretty fair:

"After having gone through 3 different cheap meters last year I decided to spend a little extra on this one. I am not disappointed. It's well worth the money. It's fast, accurate and covers a range of tests. I read the previous reviews and was somewhat sceptical. However, after using this product for a few weeks on a daily basis, I would recommend it to anyone.

The LCD screen is a little small but I can read it without glasses. I found the instructions to be thorough and fairly well written. I think they must have updated their manual after previous reviews. I have backups just in case but after the first week, it became obvious I wasn't going to need them. By far the best meter I have used without spending a couple of hundred dollars."

If you think those reviews sound fair, check out the price on Amazon.

How to calibrate the Apera pocket tester

Check out this video guide from Apera which shows how to calibrate Apera devices:

  • If it is the first time use or the tester hasn't been used for a long time, soak the probe in the 3M KCl solution for 15 to 60 minutes (the longer the better) to restore the probe's sensitivity and accuracy. In order to achieve maximum performance, soak it for around twelve hours. That means do it the day before you need to use it!
  • When not in use, soaking in the storage solution is recommended, but not necessary. 
  • For pH calibration, 1st point calibration must be 7.00 pH
  • For EC/TDS/Salinity calibration, just dip the probes into accordant standard calibration solutions and follow the same steps in pH calibration. 
  • 10.01 pH buffer solution is not included in the kit, this needs to be purchased individually.
  • Try to avoid these common calibration mistakes
  • Download the instruction manual here.

What's the warranty for the Apera? 

If purchased by the manufacturer, the meter is CE certified and comes with a 2-year Warranty period and 6 months for the probe. 

The company has designed and manufactured scientific analytical instruments like meters and sensors for pH, conductivity, turbidity, and dissolved oxygen for over 25 years, and meets ISO 9001:2008 Standards so they know how to make these units work, and work well.

Check out the price on Amazon!

↠ Buyer's Guide to pH Testing Meters for beer brewing

Thursday, April 11, 2024

Just want to pick a pH meter for test beer wort?

Choose from our recommended ph Meters list:

pH MeterDescription
Milwaukee MW102 PH and Temperature MeterA brewer's favorite for its reliable pH and temperature measurements.
Bluelab Combo MeterKnown for its high-quality performance, it's all killer, no filler.
Apera Instruments AI312 PH60F Premium pH Pocket TesterStrong buy 👌, highly recommended for its accuracy and portability.
Jellas pH meterAffordable and cheerful, suitable for casual use but not designed for long-term durability.

ph meter tester buying guide

Choosing a pH tester for making beer, a buyer's guide

Once upon a time as a young lad, I used to work in a fast food restaurant that served chicken. It was a great gig as a student as I was never hungry - sweet deal eh?

Having never really paid much attention during school science, it was at this job I learned about pH.

How did I learn about pH levels and why are they so important?

You see I accidentally splashed some Sodium Hydroxide cleaning agent in my eye. In layman's terms, I bathed my eye in Caustic Soda!

It was a pain not worth knowing and resulted in a trip to the hospital, a saline bath, and an eye patch for a week while my eye healed.

So after having learned that a strong alkali like NaOH has a high pH, it was no surprise to later learn that homebrewers care just as much about the pH of their beer as I do not want to blind myself with industrial-strength chicken grease cleaner!

Brewers (and kombucha brewerskombucha brewers would you believe) are interested in the pH of their beer because different levels cause the beer to have different characteristics of flavor. 

There are many other reasons to use ph meters, of course. 

Those in the food and beverage industry need to ensure food is not too tart and the agricultural uses are plenty - soil acidity testing and hydroponic uses are pretty common. This is why testing water quality properly is so important.

How do beer brewers test their ph levels of beer wort?

They test their water and beer by using calibrated pH meters.

There are two approaches to this part of making beer - the cheap and cheerful units that will give a fairly accurate reading but not forever, or the more sturdy units that will give you a finely accurate reading and go the distance with a seasoned brewer.

Here are three of the cheaper options on the market.

Jellas Pocket Size pH Meter Digital Water Quality Tester

The Jellas pH meter is very affordable and useful for those who need a PH tester for household and laboratory use, it's not only ideal for household or laboratory use but also suitable for testing pH balance of drinking water, pool, aquariums and of course beer. 
Jellas Pocket Size pH Meter Digital Water Quality Tester

Fair warning, as it's a cheap device, it's not suitable for all day everyday use.

The manufacturer claims it's highly accurate for measuring a range of 0-14 PH, 0.1 PH resolution, measure & display pH results simultaneously with LCD display and that it does a reliable and quick reading.

It's easy to use - you just simply remove the protective cap and immerse the pH meter electrode in your solution and turn on the pH meter.

The manufacturer does give fair warning that the glass probe can be fragile and that it should be gently wiped down after use with a clean, soft cloth before capping it again for storage.

The Jellas water tester comes with:
  • 1 * pH Tester 
  • 1 * Carry case 
  • 1 * Calibration screwdriver 
  • 2 * ph buffer powder (for calibration) 
  • 1 * User manual 

Reviews on Amazon have said,

"I would absolutely recommend this meter to anybody that is looking for a PH meter/tester." "I love it as it is easy to use and takes the guesswork out of the PH of your brew"

 "Was spot on with calibration out of the box".

While you could always drive to Walmart and not get a car park, you'd do well to check out the price on Amazon.

Sharkk Basics PH Tester Full Spectrum Multi-Function Portable pH Tester with Calibration Button

Boasting a handy portable design, the Sharkk Basics ph Tester measures the full spectrum from 0-14, the pH Tester. The manufacturer states their product is guaranteed to display accurate results after each and every use.

Use of the Sharrk is dead simple, simply place the pH tester in any liquid to be tested and wait for the reading to display. The calibration button resets the tester in between reads.

A handy backlit LCD display means you can easily see acidity/alkaline levels of beer. You can of course also use it on your swimming pool, drinking water and even your food!

A user on Amazon gave a review and said of the Sharkk: "Nice quality and accurate, was able to calibrate and check aquarium pH in minutes.

Comes with a nice translucent plastic case.

If you are looking for affordable, quality devices, check out the below suggestions.

Bluelab Combo Meter

If you looking for an upmarket solution to measure your pH solutions then the tried and true Bluelabs brand has the measuring device you are looking for

The Bluelab Combo Meter is a portable pH, conductivity and temperature meter all in one. 

The meter has two probes, a Bluelab pH Probe and a Bluelab Conductivity/Temperature Probe. When taking a reading, simply place them into the solution and the selected reading is displayed on the screen.

Calibration of the pH probe is simple as instructions are supplied on the back of the meter and the easy push button method makes this one of the simplest meters to use.

Bluelab FeatureDescription
Replaceable pH ProbeEnsures longevity and cost-effectiveness, as the meter can be maintained rather than replaced.
WarrantyOffers a 5-year warranty, highlighting the product's quality and the manufacturer's confidence in its durability.
MeasurementsCapable of measuring pH, conductivity/nutrient levels (EC, CF, ppm 500, ppm 700), and temperature (°C, °F).
PortabilityLightweight and portable, making it easy to carry and use in different locations.
DisplayFeatures a large, easy-to-read display for convenient viewing of measurements.
CalibrationSimple push button pH calibration with a successful calibration indicator; no calibration needed for conductivity and temperature.
Included AccessoriesComes with a replaceable double junction pH probe, 2 x AAA alkaline batteries.
IndicatorsIncludes over range and under range indicators, and a low battery indicator.
Auto-Off FunctionAuto-off feature to conserve battery life, enhancing the usability and efficiency of the device.
This is a pricey unit. If you are looking for a mid range device, Blue Lab's portable pens are in the hundred dollar range.

Check out the price on Amazon.

One of the most popular testers that brewers use and swear by is the Milwaukee MW102 PH. If you check out any decent homebrewing forum, you'll find backyard operators only too happy to sing its praises:

Milwaukee MW102 pH Meter

The MW102 Standard Portable pH / Temperature Meter Standard is a standard portable meter that does the business for many home brewers.

Milwaukee MW102 PH water tester
The Milwaukee brand is recognized as having a reputation for producing low cost durable meters which give quick readings and ones on which you can depend. 

Milwaukee’s manufacturer boasts that their devices are "manufactured to be easy to use, practical and accurate. Ideal for the classroom, laboratory or for general field use". 

Which is code for, yes you can use it to check the pH of your water or wort!

The MW102 is a microprocessor-based pH and temperature meter with extended range (-2.00 to 16.00 pH).

Featuring Automatic Temperature Compensation, automatic calibration in 2 points and ±0.02 pH accuracy. The meter is supplied with a pH electrode and the necessary calibration solutions.

The full package comes with the following:

MW102 UnitThe main pH meter unit.
9 Volt BatteryPowers the unit, included to ensure immediate operation.
Temperature Probe (MA830r)Used for measuring temperature, crucial for accurate pH readings.
PH Probe (MA911B/1)The primary sensor for pH measurement.
PH Probe CoverA small bottle that fits on the pH probe for storage and holds storage solution to maintain the probe.
User Instruction ManualProvides guidance on how to use and maintain the meter.
Calibration Solution SachetsSolutions used to calibrate the pH probe for accuracy.
Storage Solution PacketSolution used for storing the pH probe to prolong its lifespan and maintain accuracy.

The battery life features a whopping 300 hours so that's a lot of brewing time! Especially as the Milwaukee features an auto-off that kicks in after 8 minutes of inactivity.

A keen brewer on Amazon reviewed the Milwaukee 102 as a "fantastic tool to have in my brewing arsenal. I originally bought it for taking readings while kettle souring, but it's been invaluable as I dove deeper into water profile and mash pH adjustment. It's a bit more expensive than some of the cheaper meters out there, but you get what you pay for. Worth every penny in my book, and I regularly recommend it to those in the market for a high-quality meter."

That's some fair praise indeed. Check out the price on Amazon.

What is a 'calibration solution' and why do I need it?

Calibration is a comparison between a known pH measurement (referred to as 'the standard') and the measurement using your instrument. A properly calibrated pH water tester will ensure that you have an accurate reading.

To get a proper reading, a calibration solution or 'buffer' is used. Standard pH calibration solutions are great for use in virtually any application and with most meters.

It's the absolute truth when we say that Milwaukee is the biggest seller on this site via Amazon.

Don't forget to clean your electrode probes!

Electrodes can and will wear out after sustained use. To prolong their life, it is essential that you get into the practice of cleaning them after every use. A careful wipe with a clean cloth and ionized water is often recommended. 

A probe that has become 'dry' needs to be hydrated by placing it in a storage solution before calibration. The hydrated layer takes 3-4 hours to form.

What is the definition of pH?

pH is a figure that expresses the acidity or alkalinity of a solution on a logarithmic scale on which 7 is considered neutral, the lower values are more acidic and higher values are more alkaline. It is a measure of hydrogen in the solution so pH stands for 'potential hydrogen.

How do I lower pH levels of wort?

If you've found your wort has a pH level that is too high there are several steps you can choose to take:
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