The best refractometer is a device that easily tests and measures the density and concentration of a solution, such as the amount of sugar dissolved in water content or the measurement of honey moisture for beekeepers.
Refractometers have plenty of purposes, whether you are a top scientist or brewing beer at home. As hobbies requiring refractometers grow in popularity, so does the number of models available for these instruments for such hobbyists.
You might feel a bit overwhelming while you’re shopping for a refractometer. Don’t worry; we’ve critically reviewed the five refractometers to help you search, compare, and choose. We have also included a buyers’ guide mentioning considerable things and answered the most asked questions about refractometers to relieve the stress of your shopping and risk.
Best Refractometer: Our Top 6 Picks Reviewed
If you’re looking for the best refractometer for your hobby (such as brewing beer at home) or job (such as marine research), you’ve come to the right place. These are our picks that are available on the market now.
Agriculture Solutions Salinity Refractometer for Seawater and Marine Fishkeeping
The agricultural Solutions Refractometer is designed to simultaneously show readings on two scales in one test, such as specific gravity and ppt. These refractometers accurately measure the lowest and greatest possible salinity for most marine fish on a scale of 0 to 100 percent (1 percent = 1ppt) with a specific gravity range of 1.000 – 1.070.
This fish tank refractometer also features a 1 percent minimum reading resolution, allowing them to properly measure even low concentrated salt solutions.
This refractometer is also equipped with Automatic Temperature Compensation (ATC), which lowers the impact of temperature on the water’s refractive index under light and, therefore, the salinity measurement’s accuracy.
You will be delighted to accept free products (for example, screwdriver for adjustment) that come with these devices to provide you a full set.
- No battery required
- Handy dual scale readings
- New antifreeze technology
- Easy operation and accurately measures the salinity
- Automatic Temperature Compensation (ATC)
- The only downside is that calibration solutions need to be bought separately
aichose Brix Refractometer with ATC & Dual Scale
The aichose Brix Refractometer is an easier, quicker, more portable tool that provides more accurate results than a standard hydrometer and is available at a lower price than a digital meter. It’s the most preferable refractometer for homebrew.
This Brix Refractometer has smooth focusing lenses to be used while refracting light. Its body is aluminum alloy. The precision optical system has internal high refractive index optical lenses.
This refractometer measures sugar concentration and specific gravity. These refractometers measure Brix (0-32%) and Specific Gravity (1.000-1.130) and display them simultaneously, eliminating the need to switch the unit between readings.
This Brix refractometer’s built-in Automatic Temperature Compensation ensures correct and dependable readings. It is the most impressive feature of this refractometer.
These refractometers are made of non-staining, non-corrosive, non-reactive chromium for user safety and hygiene.
- Quick and accurate dual scale measurements
- Automatic Temperature Compensation function
- Unique safety measures
- Includes accessories and reasonable price
- Ensures durability with quality built materials and engineering
- Simplicity in use and affordable
- A correction equation is needed to adjust for correct readings in the case of home brewing beer
Magnum Media Professional Automatic Temperature Compensation Salinity Refractometer
Magnum Media Salinity 10ATC is a professional salinity meter. This refractometer is a precise optical instrument. It’s for measuring seawater or low-concentrated salt solutions.
These refractometers are portable, compact in size, require no batteries, are easy to learn and use. This refractometer is perfect for aquarium, marine monitoring, agricultural, gardening, and educational activities.
This refractometer has good optics and smooth focusing, which impressed us. Its body is aluminum alloy. The precision optical system has internal high refractive index optical lenses.
This refractometer can measure the salinity of any caustic liquids. However, remember to clean up the residue promptly after measuring.
This refractometer has an Automatic Temperature Compensation part inside; once calibrated with distilled water, the temperature change will never impact the accuracy of your measuring result when tested. This allows for use in a wide range of practical temperatures.
This refractometer measures specific gravity (D 20/20) and salinity (or 0 to 100 ppt), with a reading resolution of 0.1 percent and an accuracy of +/-0.1 percent (similar to ADE Advanced Optics). With this refractometer, you can receive two readings in one test and measure very dilute salt solutions.
- Easy readout with large eyepieces
- Extremely portable with compact size and storage case
- Comfortable to use in various marine applications
- Provides quick and accurate readings
- Requires only a few drops of water for both salinity and specific gravity readings at the same time
- Needs frequent calibration
Tiaoyeer Brix Refractometer for Beer, Wine Brewing
Tiaoyeer Brix Refractometer with Automatic Temperature Compensation is widely used in sugar, food, fruits, juices, other beverage manufacturing, and brewing beer at home.
It has a Brix measurement scale of 032 percent, making it ideal for sugar content measurement when brewing beer. It helps control product quality (such as honey quality), delivery inspection, and sweetness classification.
This refractometer measures Brix from 0-32 percent +/-0.2 percent and specific gravity from 1.000-1.130 percent; it displays both at the same time without changing units.
Its ATC feature automatically compensates for temperature, making it even faster.
No staining, corrosive or reactive chromium ensures cleanliness and safety for all rookie or experienced brewers. It also comes with a storage case to carry the device.
- A reliable refractometer that is easy to calibrate and read
- Ease in cleaning and safe built materials
- Needs a minimum amount of liquid to ensure accurate readings
- Comes with a carrying case for additional security
- Advanced Automatic Temperature Compensation (ATC) technology, perfect for brewing beer and manufacturing other beverages
- The user manual does not clearly state how to calibrate this refractometer
Anpro Brix Refractometer for Homebrew
Anpro Brix Refractometer is the best choice to replace your hydrometer for more precise measurements when brewing beer. Just use the dropper to put a drop of wort on the crystal. Then look through the eyepiece of the refractometer.
The double scale assesses both Brix and Specific Gravity. Both are displayed, eliminating the need to convert to specific gravity. This is the suitable refractometer for homebrewers.
But accurate results require careful modification. The crystal and test should be at the same temperature. Don’t expose these refractometers to wet environments. Also, don’t submerge the refractometer. It becomes hazy under the light as water enters the body.
Note that you should avoid testing harsh or destructive synthetics with this refractometer. They can damage the coverings of crystals.
Anpro refractometer assesses the sugar contents of the brew and has a temperature range of 10 to 30 degrees Celsius.
This refractometer requires regular cleaning. Between each estimation, wipe the refractometer with a damp cleaning cloth. Inability to clean the crystal regularly leads to errors in determining reading and damage to the covering.
It’s an optical device. It requires caution and capability when dealing with this refractometer. Inability to do so can destroy optical segments and their actual construction. With care, this refractometer will provide support for years, which makes it worth your money.
- A lightweight, compact in size, and portable refractometer, means you will love to carry it in your rubber jacket pocket
- Easy to use and calibrate
- Perfect for the work of home-brewers
- Clear instructions given
- Exact readings displayed bang on time
- Construction material is not of good quality, not waterproof
MILWAUKEE’S Instruments MA871 Digital Refractometer
It’s no secret that a growing number of foodservice pros and enthusiasts are switching to electronic BRIX evaluation from less precise and less accurate visual refractometers.
Milwaukee’s Instruments MA871 Refractometer accuracy is +/- 0.2 percentage points and ranges from zero to 85 percent BRIX. A two-button interface makes it simple to use, and it responds quickly, taking less than 2 seconds to do so. With an incredibly simple sealed flint prism and alloy steels well, upkeep is a pleasure.
You get a distinctive shade of green in a strong plastic shell. This device is easy to carry and lightweight. While the body of the Milwaukee’s Instruments MA871 Refractometer well is made of ABS plastic, the test well itself is made of a shallow stainless-steel basin into which a few drops are dripped to obtain a reading.
It has a hard time with floaters such as hop or malt pieces in liquid, and this was a problem for me at first. To ensure accuracy, double-check the digital refractometer’s findings after each batch of samples. For this reason, measuring devices also have the same problem since they employ the same method to measure gravity: refracts light through the material. Hop particles that float to the surface of the beer might affect your findings.
Digital refractometers don’t appear to offer any advantages over their analog counterparts. However, if you’re coming from a hydrometer, this could be the best route to go. It’s especially frustrating if you’re like me and have a hard time dealing with measuring errors. You may eliminate hop debris “noise” from the readings with the use of a digital meter, which eliminates the need for guessing. For each individual, the value of it will be different.
- Accuracy is +/- 0.2 percentage points
- Strong plastic shell
- Digital double level LCD readout
- IP65 Guarantee
Types of Refractometers
Traditional handheld refractometers, digital handheld refractometers, Abbe refractometers (or lab refractometers), and inline process refractometers are the four different types of refractometers.
For home use, a handheld refractometer is preferable to a lab-style desktop refractometer. You can go analog or digital type.
i. Analog Refractometers
The cheapest choice is the analog refractometers. No power is required; place a few drops of the solution measured in the indicated location and hold the refractometer up to the light to read the scale. The disadvantage is that these models of refractometers must be accurately calibrated and held against enough light sources to obtain error-free readings.
ii. Digital Refractometer
Typically, a digital refractometer is substantially more expensive (we are talking thousands of dollars). They offer advantages, including an easy-to-read digital display and automatic calibration. To measure, add your liquid and then push a button to get an accurate reading on the digital display (As an affordable option, Milwaukee has a yellow LED display). The drawbacks of a digital refractometer are the initial cost and recurring battery costs.
Buying Guide for the Best Refractometer
Before you make your final refractometer purchase, keep the following considerations in mind. With these factors, you will be able to determine whether a particular refractometer is an appropriate choice for you, among a lot of others.
Without a doubt, your primary goal is to get the ideal balance of water and substances in your liquid. You want to guarantee that the procedure you follow is carried out precisely to produce the best output.
So, the first and most critical factor to examine in the store is performance. Read the description and product reviews of the best refractometers published on different sites to see what level of accuracy they promise. Do users express dissatisfaction with the calibration on any review site? Or does the manufacturer concede to minor plus-minus discrepancies in readings as recommendations?
You should be aware that you should avoid the majority of the refractometers of this type. Why compromise your effort on the fundamental function when you may acquire refractometers that deliver precise readings?
Check the temperature sensitivity as well. The standard temperature for determining concentration is +/- 20 degrees. In general, opt for the refractometer that has accurate measurement for temperature sensitivity.
Consider the materials used to make a refractometer when purchasing one. Choose those made of durable and high quality materials to ensure that they endure longer and feel solid in your hand.
It is also preferable to select a refractometer model that takes high-temperature changes without breaking. This is because refractometers are frequently exposed to either cold or too hot beverages.
Constant exposure to high temperatures might cause cracks to form and the refractometer to fail prematurely. Therefore, before making a final purchase, checking the durability that the manufacturing brand of the refractometer claims will be wise.
Another important consideration is the simplicity of use that a refractometer provides. You don’t want to waste money on refractometers with complicated controls and a slew of maintenance requirements that keep you busy unnecessarily.
Thus, the first thing you should consider is the design of the refractometer. Examine the power and control buttons to see if they are easy to read and understand.
Many refractometers contain controls that require you to wait from two seconds to a minute for something to happen. Consider this and decide whether you will be able to master such activities at the best time or not.
Similarly, most refractometers must be cleaned after each usage. Some cleaning methods necessitate the use of specific materials and chemicals.
Create a budget for yourself, considering your specific needs. Consider how much you should spend on a refractometer.
If you intend to use it frequently, our advice is that you spend as much as you can afford for the refractometers on the higher end (can cost more than a thousand bucks). However, for beginners and infrequent users, paying as little as Milwaukee will be convenient, unlike the frequent users.
Refractometer Maintenance Tips
- After each usage, cleaning the measuring prism with a soft, lint-free, and absorbent cellulose cloth is usually sufficient.
- Water is a good solvent in most common circumstances. Ethanol or acetone, which eliminates oil or grease, is recommended for greasy samples.
- The measuring prisms are the most sensitive parts of the refractometers. Thus, after measuring alkaline or aggressive samples, please clean the measuring prism and double-check the cleaning.
- A disposable pipette or micropipette can be used to apply a small sample and cleaning agent.
- Avoid the development of gas bubbles, as they affect the measurement and can lead to wrong results or differences in readings.
We were delighted to provide these refractometer reviews to present a better notion of what you require if you ever need the right tool.
The participant in our honorable mentions includes ADE Advanced Optics (comes with two-year replacement warranty) and Milwaukee Digital Salinity Refractometer (0 to 50 PSU).
There are many manufacturers of this important equipment, and it can be hard to know where to begin when purchasing a new refractometer. We hope these reviews mentioned have helped you understand these tools a little better!
We are proud to mention that writing this article does not earn commission from any companies mentioned by advertising them. You can trust these reviews to pick a great choice. Check price from the links provided.
Please let us know if you bought an item from our list. If you have any questions, suggestions, or comments on our selections, please do not hesitate to contact us!
Have fun with your hobby, whichever refractor you find that suits your needs.
Are refractometers better than hydrometers?
Ans: It’s not that one is more “accurate” than the other. The only difference is a refractometer for measuring sugar content in a solution when light passes through the wort sample and then light bends through refraction. A hydrometer measures the specific gravity of wines or beers.
Can you calibrate a refractometer with tap water?
Ans: Although we recommend using distilled water, you can calibrate a refractometer with tap water only if it has reasonably low TDS (total dissolved solids).
How accurate is a refractometer?
Ans: A refractometer is accurate to within a scale of 0.2% Brix (0.2–0.3 %) when used properly.
How to use a refractometer for brewing beer?
Ans: For brewing beer or wine-making, add a few drops of your wort on the daylight plate of the beer or wine refractometer after making sure it’s clean and dry. If the wort is hot, allow it to cool to room temperature (ideally 68 degrees Fahrenheit) before proceeding. Close the sample plate, inspect for bubbles, and then place the refractometer in direct sunlight to refract better.
What is a Brix refractometer used for?
Ans: Brix Refractometers aims to use refraction to determine the sucrose content of a sample.
What is the best refractometer?
Ans: All five of our top picks deserve the crown. Personally, we like the Aichose Brix & Tiaoyeer Brix Refractometer.
Which refractometers are suitable for aquariums?
Ans: If you want the most accurate salinity measurement available, consider getting a seawater refractometer rather than a saltwater refractometer,