There are three different methods available to test your pool water.
Water test strips are probably the easiest way possible to check your water chemistry. With a quick dip in the pool, colored blocks on the test strip will indicate where your chemical levels are at. Products such as AquaChek test strips will measure total chlorine, total bromine, free chlorine, cyanuric acid, pH, total hardness, and total alkalinity.
In a matter of seconds, you can see where your readings compare to the ideal ranges. The ease-of-use of this option make test strips one of the most popular ways of testing water, especially since their accuracy is comparable to test kits using liquid reagents.
Use this if…
You want to quickly test your water and see the results instantly.
Test kits use liquid reagents to measure your water chemistry. Drops of the reagents are combined with a sample of pool water and the resulting color is then compared to a chart to determine your chemical levels.
When you are using reagents, make sure to follow the given directions exactly. An extra drop added in a water test can change your readings and result in an incorrect level being reported.
Test kits are advantageous for a number of reasons. First of all, test kits are extremely accurate and the method of choice for many pool professionals. Many users also find color changes more distinct than strips when testing.
Use this if…
You want the most accurate results, but don’t want to spend the extra money for an electronic tester.
Combining the convenience of test strips and the accuracy of reagents, electronic testing equipment is available to take the guess-work out of water testing. Multiple types of equipment are available, although all will be more expensive than test strips or test kits.
A product like ColorQ PRO 7 Photometer Kit uses liquid reagents just like test kits do, except an electronic photometer reads the color for you. A vial of water is inserted into the device and after a simple press of the button, your reading (pH level, for example) is digitally displayed.
On the other hand, other products simply need to be dipped into the water briefly to display a pH, chlorine, or salt reading.
Regardless of the type of equipment you own, all electronic testers need to be properly calibrated on a regular basis. Over time, readings may become skewed if this step is neglected.
Use this if…
You want the most accurate reading possible and cost is not an issue.