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303 of 311 people found the following review helpful
on March 4, 2009
I bought the rapitest mini 4 way soil analyzer on ebay which is almost identical to this one with three leads. I couldn't help notice how many are complaining that the pH measurements do not work. This is not true. If you follow the directions it measures pH fine.

You need to first clean the right lead with the included pad and wash it. Then you stick the meter all the way into the ground. Then you have to water the ground around the meter leads until it gets muddy almost like water. You will then see the meter start moving away from 7 and if you wait a minute, you'll get an accurate reading. Repeat a few times to make sure you got a good spot that is consistent. If you only insert the very tips of the leads into the soil or do not make the soil into mud, you will get a pH of 7. I've inserted the whole thing into a bottle of vinegar and it measures about 2.5 which is accurate and I've inserted it into a container of peat moss I've watered until muddy and it measures 4 to 5 depending on location. Both are accurate. If I do not follow the instructions and only insert the tip of the leads into the bottle of vinegar or stick it in dry soil or stick it into the soil without waiting a minute I get an inaccurate reading. But if you follow the directions it works fine with an error of about 0.5 pH units in my opinion.

I give it 4 stars out of 5 because the "Fertility Meter" does not appear to really measure N-P-K directly but seems to merely measure the soil's conductivity and assuming most of its ions are N-P-K compounds and therefore has a high false positive rate. When you insert it in liquids that do not have any nitrogen phosphorous or potassium, it reads "high" when it should really read "low". Also the pH meter appears to have a maximum error of 0.5 pH units with repeat measurements in vinegar which is fine for gardeners who don't work in a lab and need perfect results.
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43 of 45 people found the following review helpful
on March 4, 2013
HOW TO USE YOUR ANALYAER TO MEASURE FERTILITY
1. Remove the top 2" of the soil. Break up and crumble the soil underneath to a total depth of 5"
2. Thoroughly wet the soil with water (ideally rain or distilled water) to a mud consistency.
3. Wipe the meter probes clean with a tissue or paper towel.
4. Move the switch to the first (top) position.
5. insert the probes into the soil to within 1" of the casing Allow approximately 10 seconds for the reading to stabilize.
6. Record the reading. Remove the probes from the soil and clean thoroughly.

Nitrogen Ideal Range 50 to 200 ppm
Phosphorous Ideal Range 4 to 14 ppm
potash Ideal Range 50 to 200 ppm

If tester reads Too little add fertilizer
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100 of 111 people found the following review helpful
on June 5, 2007
This unit is very useful for measuring soil moisture and sunlight. While I wasn't in a position to evaluate the fertility feature, I do know that the ph testing is useless.

When I tested the commercial soil in my potted plants, I noticed that they all indicated a ph of 7. To my surprise, my yard and garden soil also indicated 7. Since I have heavy clay soil in my yard I began to suspect that the Rapitest was inaccurate.

I took a couple 1/2 cup soil samples out of the garden and put them in small seed pots, carefully followed the Rapitest instructions for ph testing and still came up with a ph of 7. I added two tablespoons of vinegar to one of the samples and two tablespoons of baking soda to the other. Results? You guessed it--ph of 7.

I found a study on the Journal of Extension ([...]) that evaluated ph testing methods for field testing by extension agents which found the Rapitest to be useless.

I would have given this unit an even lower score, but at least two of the functions worked.
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52 of 56 people found the following review helpful
on June 4, 2009
The first meter I ordered from Amazon did not seem to function properly. The pH and moisture seemed OK, but fertilizer always seemed to read at the low-end of ideal and light always seemed to read 2000 fc no matter how bright or indirect the sunlight. I filled out a return online and had a replacement within 3 days and a free return label -- good service.

The replacement unit seems to function OK. Over the range of pH 6-8 the meter seemed accurate. I tested pH on distilled water (it was 7), on baking soda (it was 8) on soil of known slight acidity (it was 6-6.5). However, when tested on very acid soil (verified to be pH 4 with a chemical test kit), the meter read between pH 1-2.

The moisture meter seems to work fine. It read 0 on dry soil, 9 on soaking wet soil, and somewhere in between on moderately damp soil.

The light meter was way too sensistive. I compared it to a professional meter and it was reading 1000 footcandles when there was only 200 fc. I "recalibrated" it by putting black tape over 95% of the sensor on top until the readings matched the professional meter -- it is now more or less correct.

The fertility meter seems pretty accurate. I mixed up a batch of half strength Miracle-Gro fertilizer solution and poured it over some old spent soil and took a reading -- it read "Too little". Using regular strength MG it read "Ideal" and using double strength MG it read "Too much". I've used this weekly to monitor my fertilizer levels and tell me when to reapply my liquid fertilizer to different vegetables and this is the most useful (and difficult to find) function on a meter like this.

Something to note, you MUST insert the probes a full 3.5 inches into the soil for an accurate reading. This makes it difficult to use the meter in very hard clay soils or in shallow house plant pots (like my Bonsai trees).

- Rob Thompson
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60 of 65 people found the following review helpful
on January 16, 2007
A very good device for the price. The only thing that I didn't realize at first was that the NPK numbers are not specifically given. Rather, the device gives you an overview of whether the nutrients are balanced or not. If the nutrients are not in the "ok" range, then you'll need to do a seperate nutrient test to find out exactly what the levels are.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on April 28, 2012
I read all the reviews I could find on this product and decided that most of the negative reviews were written by lazy people who don't bother to read and follow the directions. Or, ignorant people who are not capable of understanding why holding the light meter up to a bright light bulb is going give the same light intensity on the meter as bringing the meter out into full sun light.

I ordered one, it arrived in a timely manor, and I am happy to report that it works to my expectations. Meaning that I believe it is accurate enough to help me to determine if I need to ad or cut down on fertilizer or water, or to amend the soil to adjust the pH of the many different soil types that I need to maintain. Acid for my blueberries(4.0-5.5). Slightly acid for my grapes and plums(5.5-6.0). And 6.5-7.2 for most of my veggies and my wife's flowers. I don't have any issues with light intensity for my outdoor plantings but, the light meter will be of great value for indoor plantings whether in a window or under plant lights.

I gave this review 4 out of 5 stars for two reasons.
1. Even though my light meter works great, I couldn't ignore the many complaints I read about light meter not working properly or not working at all because I just can't believe that their are that many people who couldn't figure out how to work that. So I guess it's just hit or miss on that one.
2. My meter, which I consider to be a delicate instrument, was shipped from Amazon.com in a padded envelope and received with the packaging damaged and the probes were bent. I had to carefully bend the probes straight again and the meter works as it should. This item should have been carefully packed in a box and not an envelope.
Hopefully, my rapitest 1880 4-way analyzer will give many years of service.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on July 5, 2013
I tried my meter without directions (lost them) everything I tested had a PH of 7.0. I then searched 4 way analyzer directions and read J. Dinovitser review. I followed those directions and presto. below is J. Dinovitser instructions.

I bought the rapitest mini 4 way soil analyzer on ebay which is almost identical to this one with three leads. I couldn't help notice how many are complaining that the pH measurements do not work. This is not true. If you follow the directions it measures pH fine.

You need to first clean the right lead with the included pad and wash it. Then you stick the meter all the way into the ground. Then you have to water the ground around the meter leads until it gets muddy almost like water. You will then see the meter start moving away from 7 and if you wait a minute, you'll get an accurate reading. Repeat a few times to make sure you got a good spot that is consistent. If you only insert the very tips of the leads into the soil or do not make the soil into mud, you will get a pH of 7. I've inserted the whole thing into a bottle of vinegar and it measures about 2.5 which is accurate and I've inserted it into a container of peat moss I've watered until muddy and it measures 4 to 5 depending on location. Both are accurate. If I do not follow the instructions and only insert the tip of the leads into the bottle of vinegar or stick it in dry soil or stick it into the soil without waiting a minute I get an inaccurate reading. But if you follow the directions it works fine with an error of about 0.5 pH units in my opinion.

Thank you
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on March 17, 2013
So far so go on the potted plants. I have not gotten a chance to use it in our garden yet. It is still a little off season for that. It does work as long as you follow the instructions. You do need to make sure the dirt is very wet (mud) where the probe goes for it read properly. It does not read correctly if the ground is too dry. I did test this out because I saw a few people had mentioned this.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on June 21, 2013
Poor quality & construction. Product poorly designed, use three times & it broke. A waste of money.
Would not recommend anyone purchasing the Luster Leaf 1880.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on May 1, 2012
I received this midday in an undamaged Amazon box. Keep in mind I live in Hawaii and the light meter showed very low levels of light, which surprised me as it was blue skies and clear. The ground was moist and the meter showed the ground was dry.
Luster Leaf now wants five dollars to cover their postage and handling. I will also have to pay my postage and handling. I will end up throwing this out and wasting thirty dollars.
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