Are all Pinless Moisture Meters Created Equal?
Wagner Electronics invented the first practical and portable Electromagnetic Wave Moisture Meter in the 90’s, and since that time, several other companies, including Delmhorst and Lignomat have also started manufacturing pinless moisture meters. Does the technology behind each meter vary widely, or is it basically the same? Is each meter overly sensitive to surface moisture, as manufacturers of pin moisture meters often claim? Below, we compare the brands.
Delmhorst primarily manufactures pin moisture meters. Their Delmhorst AccuScan is the exception to that rule. This analog meter does give reasonable readings most of the time, but it does suffer from severe surface-moisture sensitivity. The AccuScan is also terribly bulky and doesn’t fit nicely in a hand like the Wagner and Lignomat. It’s rubberized buttons feel clunky and the symbols on them – an asterisk, pound sign, water drops, and check mark aren’t intuitive; it takes a thorough read of the manual to understand their functions properly.
The Lignomat moisture meter is quite similar to the Delmhorst except for the fact that it advertises a “Dual-depth” feature. Readings can be taken with two settings: near the surface and deeper into the wood. Purportedly, this solves the problem of surface moisture, but after a reading is taken, if you see 14% using the shallow setting and 12% with the other, all you really know is that the surface isn’t as dry as the center. The meter is still sensitive to surface moisture.
Holding the Lignomat in the air after pressing the “read” button gave us a reading of 6.5. Logically, this should be zero, but we assume this error won’t be reflected in a normal %MC range.
Ergonomically, the Lignomat is a big improvement over the Delmhorst (about the same size and shape as the Wagner).
Wagner moisture meters were designed to cancel out surface moisture (except for their L607, which is specifically for those who need to measure surface moisture). Their “IntelliSense™ Technology” allows their moisture meters to measure %MC in the wood instead of on the wood; solving the major drawback of most pinless moisture meters.
The ergonomics of the Wagner meters are similar to that of Lignomat, with the same length and just 1/4 inch wider. The larger display of the Wagner makes it slightly easier to glance at a reading, but there were no major viewing issues with the other meters.
Although each meter we compared is much more convenient than their pinned counterparts, not all meters are sufficiently accurate for use. The Wagner meter came out on top as it was the only meter not affected by surface moisture. Both the Wagner and Lignomat meters were more convenient and less bulky than their Delmhorst counterpart.
Try it yourself: Take a moist cloth and brush it over a board you measured with several of the meters listed above, and watch the readings increase significantly. Try the same with a Wagner meter with IntelliSense (their MMC220, for example). The reading will barely increase at all.