Pin vs Pinless Moisture Meters: What’s the Difference?

There are several works where you may need to measure the moisture of the materials. You may have to measure the moisture of wood, concrete, drywall, hay, soil, and other numerous materials. So it is very important to pick the right moisture measuring tool for the job. There are mainly two types of moisture meter available; pin-type meters and pinless meters. Therefore, when you are in need of measuring the moisture, you’ll immediately run into these two types of meters. Now the question is which of these types will be the better addition to your tool belt? There are some basic differences that you should know before you buy one.

What is Pin Moisture Meter?

Pin moisture meter has two metal pins that must physically penetrate the wood’s surface in order to take a moisture reading. This type of meter functions by calculating the electrical resistance between two electrodes. If moisture is present within the wood, then electricity flows more easily. On the other hand, if the wood is dry then it will resist electrical flow. A pin moisture meter is also known as resistance-based meters.       

What is Pinless Moisture Meter?

Pinless moisture meter doesn’t have any pin. This type of meter reads from the surface of any material, using an electromagnetic field. Feedback from the electromagnetic field provides information to estimate moisture content.  A pinless moisture meter is also called as capacitance-based meters.     

Difference between Pin & Pinless Moisture Meter

There are a few differences between pin & pinless moisture meter. It is very important to understand all the differences as it will help you select the right moisture meter for your work.

Sensor Size vs Pinpoint Accuracy

The main difference between these two meters is the technology of each type of meter uses to measure the moisture. Pin meter work on a resistance principle. It calculates the flow of electricity between two pin tips and measures the moisture of that very tiny path. Pin meters only measure the moisture at the point in the wood between the two pins. So you have to take multiple readings to get an overview of the right moisture.       

Pinless meter works on electromagnetic field principle. This type of meter uses a larger sensor pad and emits electromagnetic signals to measure the moisture of wood. Pinless meter quickly and accurately scans larger areas in each wood piece and provides instant moisture readings. The pinless meter can scan many board feet in seconds without the time-consuming effort of driving pins into the wood.   

Holes vs No Holes

A pin meter penetrates the wood’s surface to measure the moisture. Therefore, this type of meter will make a pair of holes in the wood every time you measure the moisture. These holes may not be a problem for firewood but for wood flooring, fine furniture, cabinets, those holes become a series of marks on the surface of the wood. Pinless meter, on the other hand, leaves no damage to the surface.

Fixed-Depth Readings vs Variable-Depth Readings

Pinless moisture meter has fixed-depth readings. They generally operate at two standard reading depths: ¼” below the wood surface, and ¾” below the surface. But pin type moisture meter has no fixed-depth readings as they take readings between the two pins so they offer slightly more variability in reading depths. So there is a chance pin-type meter may not provide accurate moisture readings every time. Pinless moisture meter, on the other hand, will provide the same moisture readings every time as they have standard reading depths.      

Breakage vs Calibration

You have to insert the pins of a pin-type meter on the wood to measure the moisture. You have to put necessary forces on the pin so there is a chance pins may break during the use. If you don’t have replacement pins then the meter becomes unusable.

There is no chance for a pinless meter to break during normal use but the meter must be properly calibrated with the material in order to provide accurate moisture readings. You can very easily check the calibration on most pinless meters with a calibration verification block. You can purchase these verification blocks from the manufacturer.

Bottom Line

Finally, understanding the differences and the proper use of these pin or pinless meters ensures that you’ve got the right moisture meter to get your wood project completed perfectly for a lifetime of use and enjoyment.

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