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Benchtop or Handheld: Selecting the Right pH Meter for Distributors


benchtop ph meter | Jenco Instruments

The beginning of the new year is the perfect time to launch a new product or update your store’s inventory. As you decide what type of pH instruments to include in your 2019 product catalog, here are four key factors to keep in mind:

1. Mobility

On a basic level, benchtop meters are meant to live indoors on a flat surface and handheld meters and testers are designed to travel, oftentimes outdoors. Due to this functional difference, benchtop meters tend to be flat, have larger screens, and feature more buttons for calibration and browsing data. Portable meters and testers, on the other hand, are designed to be easily gripped in one hand and therefore have a smaller interface with fewer options.

Although benchtop meters may travel from surface to surface within a lab, they’re typically not built to withstand extensive travel or severe conditions. Because portable meters must be transported between test sites, they’re often designed to be shockproof and withstand exposure to corrosive elements such as water, wind, and dirt.

2. Target Industry

Your target industry can tell you a lot about the daily challenges of your shoppers and which products and features are best suited to their needs. Understanding how pH meters or testers are used in each industry can also help you identify cross-sell and upsell opportunities therein.

For example, in the research sector, both benchtop and portable (handheld) meters are considered essential equipment. Benchtop meters are ideal for laboratory use and can be paired with specialized electrodes to provide a more sensitive testing range. In contrast, portable pH meters and testers are typically used to take spot readings in the lab or in the field. If you typically sell to this vertical, it makes sense to offer both types.

All benchtop meters and some portable pH meters must be paired with electrodes, so selling the two items together presents the perfect bundling/upsell opportunity. When researchers look for portable meters and testers to use outside of the lab, features such as durability, battery life, ease of calibration, and timestamping/location mapping are of chief importance.


In contrast, in the pool and spa industry, benchtop meters are much more rare. Residential and commercial pool and spa owners will typically use handheld pH meters or testers and/or install in-line meters. Because these users aren’t as educated when it comes to water quality testing, they favor meters or testers that are efficient, easy to use, and easy to care for. Having an extremely sensitive pH testing range is less important than the overall user experience and interface. Bluetooth testers are ideal for this vertical because they make testing more intuitive and use a built-in, non-refillable electrode.

Understanding the unique needs and challenges of different industries that use pH meters will also help you identify growth opportunities for your business.

To learn more about the unique pH testing needs of your specific target industry and locate new markets, download our free industry guide.

3. Intended Application

Understanding how customers intend to use the product can help you determine:

  • What type of meter is most suited to their needs

  • Their ideal testing range

  • What type of electrode(s) they’ll use with their pH meter

  • What product features will be most influential to their purchasing decision

For example, in the food and beverage industry, both portable and benchtop meters are used to take pH readings at different stages in the manufacturing process. Within this industry, the testing sensitivity and type of electrode needed depends largely on the type of substance being testing. Because foods and beverages have varying pH ranges, the testing range required may vary within a single production facility. Furthermore, testing solids and semi-solids often demands using a refillable glass electrode (for easy sanitation) with a pointed end capable of penetrating dense substances such as meat or cheese.

To get a better sense of what types of meters, testing range, features, and electrodes are best suited to your target audience, don’t be afraid to ask about their intended use. If you partner with a supplier like Jenco that offers on-demand order fulfillment (and no inventory requirements), it’s easy to offer a wide array of products without monopolizing shelf space or spending more up front. As an added bonus, if you learn more about how your customer is using the product, you can anticipate how frequently they’ll need to replace their electrode and prepare your inventory accordingly.

4. User Experience Level

As you choose between different benchtop and handheld pH meters, another key factor to consider is your target audience’s experience level. Within each product category, there are varying degrees of sophistication to choose from. If you typically sell to novice users, bluetooth testers that connect to smartphone apps and benchtop meters that have guided calibration and online connectivity are ideal. On the other hand, someone who’s accustomed to using these tools for research might opt for a model that’s less intuitive but offers greater precision and versatility.

As you attempt to find the right model of pH meters to offer in your store, don’t hesitate to reach out to the product manufacturer. With their advanced knowledge of the water quality testing industry and their years of experience, they’ll be able to provide insight into which products and features are most likely to gain traction with your customer base. The best distributors will also be willing to consult on a case-by-case basis to help you match customers with the right solution and earn more return business.

To learn about the many benefits of becoming a Jenco distributor, simply follow the link below.

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