Author Topic: Need advice on a refractometer  (Read 6219 times)

Offline Imperial Stout

  • BeerSmith Brewer
  • ***
  • Posts: 42
Need advice on a refractometer
« on: December 05, 2012, 12:04:54 PM »
Thinking of getting a refractometer. Have heard they use just a few drops, are more accurate and easier to read than a hydrometer.

Quick search on Amazon shows me refractometers  from $25 to $125. What do you get for the more money? Just a home brewer so don't need the Cadillac. Still, want an accurate, well made tool that will last.

Offline stadelman

  • BeerSmith Master Brewer
  • ****
  • Posts: 88
    • Homebrew Finds Blog
Re: Need advice on a refractometer
« Reply #1 on: December 06, 2012, 08:12:03 AM »
Here's one for $23 including shipping...

http://www.homebrewfinds.com/2012/11/dual-scale-refractometer-2289-shipped.html

I've heard good things back about this one.

Offline grathan

  • BeerSmith Grandmaster Brewer
  • *****
  • Posts: 734
  • BeerSmith 2 Rocks!
Re: Need advice on a refractometer
« Reply #2 on: December 06, 2012, 04:43:00 PM »
Just remember that once it ferments the readings are skewed by the alcohol and you'll need a formula to correct the reading. Not sure if Beersmith does this or not.

Offline mbg-bs

  • BeerSmith Master Brewer
  • ****
  • Posts: 65
Re: Need advice on a refractometer
« Reply #3 on: December 06, 2012, 05:27:30 PM »
Just remember that once it ferments the readings are skewed by the alcohol and you'll need a formula to correct the reading. Not sure if Beersmith does this or not.

Beersmith has this feature in the tools - refractometer.

Offline Imperial Stout

  • BeerSmith Brewer
  • ***
  • Posts: 42
Re: Need advice on a refractometer
« Reply #4 on: December 06, 2012, 09:01:17 PM »
Anyone have experience with this refractometer? Made by Extech and sells for $109. I know refractometers are available from eBay and other web sites from $15 to $60 and they all seem to be about the same. From the posts here they all work but my concern is how well and for how long. My concern is getting a plastic tool that is poorly assembled with parts that don't quite fit together well.

Have worked as an auto mechanic and carpenter. Prefer tool made by Milwaukee, Mack Tools, DeWalt or Bosch. Would never buy a tool made by Craftsman, (except for their hand tools and bar clamps) Ryobe or anything from harbor freight. I know theses tools work and some people swear by them. For me, they just don't have the fit and finish I expect from a quality tool that make it a pleasure to use.

What has your experience been with the $20 variety refractometer? Beside that they work, are they mostly plastic that will break if dropped? What about accuracy time after time? Some reviews say a reading has to be taken at least 3 times, all being different, and then averaged. The Extech user reviews say accuracy is dead on the first time and every time. The Extech web site says their RF-15 ATC refractometer is tested by dropping it from 3 feet and tested to see if the calibration has changed.


http://www.amazon.com/Extech-RF15-32-Percent-Compensation-Refractometer/dp/B00023RYQI/ref=pd_sbs_k_8
« Last Edit: December 07, 2012, 08:26:03 AM by Imperial Stout »

Offline zymurgist05

  • BeerSmith Master Brewer
  • ****
  • Posts: 52
  • BeerSmith 2 Rocks!
Re: Need advice on a refractometer
« Reply #5 on: December 07, 2012, 07:45:24 PM »
I purchased my refractometer from my local homebrew shop (Listermann's).  This refractometer is made by Alla Frarefnce and it is very accurate and easy to use.  A few drops if wort is all you need to take OG or FG readings.  BeerSmith will calculate FG for you.  Will never go back to hydrometer.  I paid $59.00 for my refractometer about 2 yrs ago.  I firmly believe you get what you pay for.   

Offline grathan

  • BeerSmith Grandmaster Brewer
  • *****
  • Posts: 734
  • BeerSmith 2 Rocks!
Re: Need advice on a refractometer
« Reply #6 on: December 08, 2012, 11:33:53 AM »
I have a cheap one. I think this is one tool you can skimp on.

I don't see dropping it to be a fairly common occurrence. Even the cheap one has a ton of grip handle surface and it comes with a case to set it in when not using. Big deal they managed to drop it from 3 feet, that means it didn't work at 4 feet which is probably the height you'll be dropping it from. They are probably both made in China.

Offline butterball1121

  • BeerSmith New Brewer
  • *
  • Posts: 2
  • BeerSmith 2 Rocks!
Re: Need advice on a refractometer
« Reply #7 on: December 24, 2012, 06:33:29 AM »
I have a $50 dollar one and couldn't be happier.  Much better quality than I expected actually.

Make sure you get one with a dual scale, some are only in brix and that may not be what you are used to.  Make sure you get one that has a high enough range for you needs too, especially if you make big barley wines or meads. And get a sugar refrac, not a salinity one.

I found that when I focused on these areas there weren't nearly as many to choose from in the low price range.