Test Strips vs Reagents

How do test strips compare to traditional liquid reagents?

With spring right around the corner, now is a good time to think about how you test your pool’s water. The two most popular options are instant read test strips and liquid reagents. My preference, as a pool service tech, is clearly the liquid reagents, but many consumers buy test strips. Let’s look at the two in greater detail and learn about their advantages and disadvantages.

Liquid Reagents

Taylor K-2005Taylor makes a test kit, K-2005, that should take you through an entire season of water tests. At a price less than $45.00, I would buy one of these every year. You can test for free chlorine, total chlorine, pH, alkalinity, calcium hardness, and cyanuric acid. It also includes a book that teaches you why these tests are important and let’s face it, we can all use a little education about these tests. After fifteen years in the business, I am not ashamed to admit that I still reference my Taylor test kit book from time to time. It has detailed charts that tell you exactly how much chemical to add for making adjustments to your levels. Using liquid reagents to test your pool water may seem daunting, but if you to learn how to do it (it’s not hard), you will get accurate results and precise knowledge about your water.

Test Strips

AquaChek Test StripsI would recommend test strips only as an alternative for someone who refuses to use a liquid reagent test kit. Check out these AquaChek 7 strips if you want an easy water test. Test strips have multiple pads on them that change color when dipped into water. You then compare these pads to colors printed on the test strip container. You can judge the chemical levels by matching the colors. My problem with test strips is that the colors often don’t seem to match properly. Personally, I find the degree of error is so great that I might as well just guess at the levels. Test strips are beneficial if you simply want to know if there is chlorine in the water, but I could never recommend this product to someone looking for a precise reading.


In case you could not determine my preferred way of testing pool water from what I wrote above, it is liquid reagents. There really is no comparison between using reagents and test strips. My advice, take the time to learn how to use the liquid reagents and never look back.

An Atlanta area native, Shawn began servicing pools in 1998 and has not stopped. Years of experience have provided Shawn with a wealth of knowledge and opinions about all types and brands of pool equipment.

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