TDS, PPM, EC Meters

Here at Hydrobuilder we carry the best selection of grow room and garden testing equipment, whether you need a PPM meter, TDS meter, EC meter, or a combination of these!

As a grower, you need to test total dissolved solids (TDS), electrical conductivity (EC) or parts per million (PPM) of your nutrient concentration or soil to ensure your plants are getting just the right amount of what they need.

What does a PPM meter do?

A PPM meter is a way for growers to measure the concentration of their nutrient solution. PPM stands for parts per million and displays the concentration of nutrients in your solution. Basically, PPM meters shows the relationship between nutrients and water, indicating whether you are underfeeding or overfeeding.

Some of the PPM meters you will see here actually serve as PPM and pH meters, testing both of these things. This allows you to cut down on supplies and equipment needed in the grow room or garden.

What should PPM be for hydroponics?

PPM requirements will change as your plant grows. For example, seedlings and clones have lower nutritional requirements (100-250 PPM). As plants begin to veg, PPM should be 300-400 during the first half, and 450-700 during the second half. When you flip your plants to flower, feed them even more, up to 950 PPM. Finish off flowering with PPM of up to 1,600.

What is a TDS meter, and what does it tell you?

A TDS meter is responsible for measuring water softness or hardness. TDS stands for total dissolved solids Depending on the reading you get from your TDS meter, you will need a water softener or conditioner. The most common dissolved solids you will see in your water source are Calcium, Magnesium, and Sodium.

What is the difference between PPM and TDS?

People often get PPM and TDS confused, wondering what the difference between these two readings are. But, they actually aren't even comparable. TDS is displayed in PPM, as a reading. So, just know that when you are testing for TDS, you will likely get a reading in PPM.

What is a good TDS level?

Now that you know total dissolved solids are actually measured in PPM, you might be wondering what a good TDS level is. When testing your hydroponic system for TDS, try and maintain a range of 500-1,000 PPM.

What is the best TDS meter?

Here at Hydrobuilder, we carry the best TDS meters online. We recommend brands such as Bluelab, Hanna Instruments, and Sure Test. You should consider finding a TDS and EC meter, as some growers prefer testing in EC occasionally. Now, you might be wondering what an EC meter is, and why you'd want to test for that as well. Don't worry, we will cover that now.

What does an EC meter do?

EC meters are used to test the electrical conductivity of your nutrient solution. When used in conjunction with a pH meter, growers can perfect their nutrient solution dosing.

While it sounds complicated, the EC meter helps growers determine how many TDS there are in a solution. Measuring for EC is especially important as you are switching from seedling/clone to veg, and then again to flower.

What should the EC be for hydroponics?

As mentioned above, EC will vary from stage to stage, but during vegging, EC should be 1.2-1.6. As the plant starts flowering, this can raise to 1.8-2.

There have been studies that suggest higher EC levels result in a more potent product, but these studies also found a decrease in yield from raising EC levels, so it is a trade off. Be sure to check your EC every day.

There is some confusion over the difference between EC and TDS. These readings measure the same things but simply display it differently. You do not need a TDS and an EC meter, just one or the other!

Automating your grow room

To automate your grow room and decrease the work you need to do every day, consider using a combination meter. These devices can measure for multiple aspects of your nutrient solution, such as pH, PPM, temperature, and sometimes, more!

If you want to learn more about testing your garden soil or hydroponic solution, visit our blog for the complete guide.

If you want help choosing the best PPM, TDS, or EC meter for your grow room, give our expert growers a call at 888-815-9763 and we will help you decide!


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