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#1974821 - 10/17/12 06:28 PM hygrometer help  
Joined: Jul 2009
Posts: 167
tommytones Offline
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tommytones  Offline
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Northeast America
I was looking for advice on which hygrometer would give me the best read-out. I'm trying to maintain even humidity levels, especially now that the weather has changed, and my forced-air heater is now pumping out some serious BTU's.

Also, is there a difference between a HYGROMETER and a HYDROMETER???

Any help would be greatly appreciated!


tommytones
Mus. B., Classical Piano Performance
Kawai No. 600
Roland Digital Piano Model No. HP 147
Wurlitzer Electronic Piano Model No. 200A
Hammond M-3
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#1974837 - 10/17/12 06:57 PM Re: hygrometer help [Re: tommytones]  
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Tim Sullivan Offline
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Tim Sullivan  Offline
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Muskoka, Ontario
A hydrometer is used for making wine. I think it measures specific gravity of a liquid. A hygrometer is used to measure relative humidity. It's a common mistake to mix up the two. It looks like Amazon made the same mistake. Most cheap hygrometers won't give you an accurate absolute reading, but they will show you the difference between your highs and lows. That's what's most important.
Tim


I'm a piano tech and dealer in Central Ontario.
www.huntsvillepiano.ca
#1974845 - 10/17/12 07:31 PM Re: hygrometer help [Re: tommytones]  
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kpembrook Offline
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Michigan
Originally Posted by tommytones
I was looking for advice on which hygrometer would give me the best read-out. I'm trying to maintain even humidity levels, especially now that the weather has changed, and my forced-air heater is now pumping out some serious BTU's.

Also, is there a difference between a HYGROMETER and a HYDROMETER???

Any help would be greatly appreciated!


Get the kind of hygrometer that the HVAC people use. If you didn't pay ~$90-$130 or more it doesn't work. Unless, that is, if you don't need a device that reads below ~25% RH, then you can get one in the $35-$70 range. If you don't get one that's accurate, just don't bother, because they are so wildly and erratically erroneous that you never know what your reading actually means. It could even be right, but that's a pretty rare occurrence.



Keith Akins, RPT
Piano Technologist
USA Distributor for Isaac Cadenza hammers and Profundo Bass Strings
Supporting Piano Owners D-I-Y piano tuning and repair
#1974884 - 10/17/12 08:51 PM Re: hygrometer help [Re: tommytones]  
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Dale Fox Offline
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Nor California Sacramento area
https://www.google.com/search?q=sling+hygrometer&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a

A sling hygrometer will give you the fastest and most accurate RH readings.


Dale Fox
Registered Piano Technician
Remanufacturing/Rebuilding
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#1974896 - 10/17/12 09:14 PM Re: hygrometer help [Re: Dale Fox]  
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kpembrook Offline
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Originally Posted by Dale Fox
https://www.google.com/search?q=sling+hygrometer&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a

A sling hygrometer will give you the fastest and most accurate RH readings.


Yes, they are called a "sling psychrometer". I have one of those, too, but the putz factor definitely decreases its convenience. I think by the time that you wet the "sock", swing it for 30 seconds, read both thermometers and then look up the readings in a table that you've spent as much or more time than my HVAC hygrometer.

One thing to be aware of with even expensive hygrometers is that as they age, they "drift". (Mine is in the 15-20 year range and probably should be replaced) The sling psychrometer doesn't do that.


Keith Akins, RPT
Piano Technologist
USA Distributor for Isaac Cadenza hammers and Profundo Bass Strings
Supporting Piano Owners D-I-Y piano tuning and repair
#1974934 - 10/17/12 10:44 PM Re: hygrometer help [Re: tommytones]  
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Emmery Offline
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Emmery  Offline
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Niagara Region, On. Canada
The only thing that needs maintenance with the sling psychrometer are the bulb socks needing to be changed out every couple years. I've used this one for years and its really accurate... http://www.theweatherstore.com/poslps.html

Now you can get a decent digital one in the $50 range and just self calibrate it at the high end ~75% RH using a common salt saturated distilled water at room temperature. To calibrate at the lower end ~33% RH you simply use Magnesium Chloride instead. Once you know how much the digital deviates at these limits you can adjust for their error. They do repeat reliably if you keep their silicon measuring plates clean. Store them in a ziplock bag when not used and they last a good while. In dusty smoke filled areas, the digital ones can get unreliable after a while. The $10-$20 chinese import ones, stay away from, they are less than useless.

Here is a link for the calibrating methods used to test them....http://www.kingofthehouse.com/hygrometer/

Last edited by Emmery; 10/17/12 10:48 PM.

Piano Technician
George Brown College /85
Niagara Region
#1974946 - 10/17/12 11:16 PM Re: hygrometer help [Re: kpembrook]  
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Dale Fox Offline
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Dale Fox  Offline
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Nor California Sacramento area
Originally Posted by kpembrook
Originally Posted by Dale Fox
https://www.google.com/search?q=sling+hygrometer&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a

A sling hygrometer will give you the fastest and most accurate RH readings.


Yes, they are called a "sling psychrometer".



Thanks. I knew I had something wrong but couldn't put my finger on it.


Dale Fox
Registered Piano Technician
Remanufacturing/Rebuilding
#1974952 - 10/17/12 11:39 PM Re: hygrometer help [Re: Emmery]  
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kpembrook Offline
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Michigan
Originally Posted by Emmery
To calibrate at the lower end ~33% RH


In order to really know what's going on in our area, we need readings as low as possible. I regularly get readings in the 10% range.

Excellent discussion on calibrating. thumb

For the time invested in calibrating, I can do something that will let me pay for one already accurate.


Keith Akins, RPT
Piano Technologist
USA Distributor for Isaac Cadenza hammers and Profundo Bass Strings
Supporting Piano Owners D-I-Y piano tuning and repair
#1975030 - 10/18/12 04:52 AM Re: hygrometer help [Re: tommytones]  
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Mark R. Offline
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Mark R.  Offline
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Pretoria, South Africa
Why would a home and piano owner want to read below 25%, or even 10%, and highly accurately?

That's a total danger zone anyway, and drastic action needs to be taken, whether the hygrometer can display it down to a gazillionth percent or not.

Also, I disagree with the notion that a hygrometer doesn't work if it costs less than a hundred bucks. Mine cost $20, and I checked it when it was new (saturated salts). It's a few percent high, especially in the sub-40% range, but it's been working fine, without much drift, for some years now. I have a blue-pink humidity indicator strip with 10% steps, that I checked against the salts. Although not highly precise, it's remarkably accurate.
[Linked Image]
And the cheap digital hygrometer has been consistently a few % above the strip for 3 years now.

I submit that as a piano owner, the most important thing to know (and control) is the swings in humidity, and to keep the minimum value above about 40%. I aim for 40 - 60% whenever I can. And I think that this is good enough. Whether it's actually 43 - 63 or 38 - 58, I find quite immaterial.


Autodidact interested in piano technology.
LinkedIn profile
1922 49" Zimmermann, project piano.
1970 44" Ibach, daily music maker.
#1975079 - 10/18/12 07:47 AM Re: hygrometer help [Re: tommytones]  
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James Carney Offline
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James Carney  Offline
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new york city
General DTH-700

About $35, accurate to + or - 5% which is excellent. And in NYC I will often see indoor RH levels go from 18% in winter to 70% in summer, so it is extremely important that the range of the hygrometer is wide.

I have had at least 6 clients buy this hygrometer and it always matches the RH of mine within 30 minutes. Usually the client hygrometers that are being replaced are off by at least 10% from the DTH-700.


Keyboardist & Composer, Piano Technician
www.jamescarney.net
http://jamescarneypianotuning.wordpress.com/
#1975082 - 10/18/12 07:51 AM Re: hygrometer help [Re: tommytones]  
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TimR Offline
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TimR  Offline
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Virginia, USA
I think ANY humidity meter is better than nothing and it would be foolish not to monitor your room.

I have the Walmart Acurite at $8.94 US
http://www.walmart.com/ip/AcuRite-Digital-Humidity-and-Temperature-Monitor/16888914
but of course I checked it against a sling psychrometer at work. When new it was pretty close. I imagine it drifts a bit but a regular calibration should tell you how far. Our controls tech says these tend to read low as the sensor collects dust and you should occasionally clean them.

If I owned a more expensive piano, I'd have an Omron Datalogger:
http://www.ia.omron.com/product/family/3028/index_fea.html


gotta go practice
#1975111 - 10/18/12 09:36 AM Re: hygrometer help [Re: TimR]  
Joined: Apr 2010
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kpembrook Offline
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kpembrook  Offline
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Michigan
Originally Posted by TimR
I think ANY humidity meter is better than nothing and it would be foolish not to monitor your room.l


No, I have had several customers with under-$100 hygrometers which sat there and totally lied to the customer. I'm talking about showing 40% when in fact it was 20%.

There WILL be the occasional cheap hygrometer that actually works. However, unless a person is knowledgeable about calibration and willing to go through several cheapies if the first ones aren't accurate, then buying one that has some hope of giving a reliable readout is the way to go.

This was posted in the technicians forum and that was originally the context I had in mind. A technician should have a reliable device -- whether by getting a trustworthy unit or taking the time to verify the accuracy of a cheaper one.
As has been mentioned, a sling psychrometer is a device that can be had for a more moderate price and provides reliability and accuracy for a slight ease-of-use penalty.


Keith Akins, RPT
Piano Technologist
USA Distributor for Isaac Cadenza hammers and Profundo Bass Strings
Supporting Piano Owners D-I-Y piano tuning and repair
#1975159 - 10/18/12 11:25 AM Re: hygrometer help [Re: kpembrook]  
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TimR Offline
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TimR  Offline
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Virginia, USA
Originally Posted by kpembrook
Originally Posted by TimR
I think ANY humidity meter is better than nothing and it would be foolish not to monitor your room.l


No, I have had several customers with under-$100 hygrometers which sat there and totally lied to the customer. I'm talking about showing 40% when in fact it was 20%.



You've convinced me, I retract my comment.

The cheap ones are getting better and better though.


gotta go practice
#1975226 - 10/18/12 01:18 PM Re: hygrometer help [Re: TimR]  
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kpembrook Offline
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kpembrook  Offline
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Michigan
Originally Posted by TimR

You've convinced me, I retract my comment.

The cheap ones are getting better and better though.


I think you are right about that. A few years ago one could look over the inventory at "X"-Mart type places and not find a single hygrometer that agreed with another one -- much less with reality. Now, there are apparently many that actually are usable.


Keith Akins, RPT
Piano Technologist
USA Distributor for Isaac Cadenza hammers and Profundo Bass Strings
Supporting Piano Owners D-I-Y piano tuning and repair
#1975503 - 10/19/12 01:53 AM Re: hygrometer help [Re: kpembrook]  
Joined: Jan 2007
Posts: 115
allthumbs Offline
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allthumbs  Offline
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Vancouver, BC, Canada
The Sauter Masterclass 122 piano has a hygromter built right into the case. What a great idea!

http://www.sauter-pianos.de/english/pianos/m-line/m-line-122.html


Sauter Delta (185cm) polished ebony 'Lucy'
Serial # 118 562

Single Malts Forever!
#1975558 - 10/19/12 07:00 AM Re: hygrometer help [Re: tommytones]  
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Les Koltvedt Offline
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Les Koltvedt  Offline
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Canton, MI
Unless your going to sit and record the readings on a regular time frame, you really don't know what the levels are... you need a Data Logger You can get it with a NIST certificate. It will record a reading at set intervals and at every 5 minutes, it will record for approx 60 days. Logging levels range from a reading every 12 seconds to one reading every 12 hours. Includes software, USB connection, creates a graph for you....


Les Koltvedt
LK Piano
Servicing the S. Eastern Michigan Area
PTG Associate
#1975563 - 10/19/12 07:12 AM Re: hygrometer help [Re: Les Koltvedt]  
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TimR Offline
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TimR  Offline
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Virginia, USA
If I owned an expensive instrument, I'd use a data logger.

If I had any kind of humidity control equipment installed on any quality instrument, I'd use a data logger.

If I were a tech and installed humidity control equipment on any piano, I'd probably put data loggers in the expensive ones to protect myself from liability. As an engineer I've managed maintenance for the equivalent of a college campus, and I've seen humidity control equipment go bad and do some horrendous damage. At least with a data logger if the piano self destructed you'd be able to prove your equipment installation didn't cause it.


gotta go practice
#1975567 - 10/19/12 07:15 AM Re: hygrometer help [Re: tommytones]  
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Mark R. Offline
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Pretoria, South Africa
Many of the cheap hygrometers have a min-max feature that one can read out and cancel.


Autodidact interested in piano technology.
LinkedIn profile
1922 49" Zimmermann, project piano.
1970 44" Ibach, daily music maker.
#1975604 - 10/19/12 08:54 AM Re: hygrometer help [Re: Les Koltvedt]  
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tommytones Offline
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tommytones  Offline
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Northeast America
Originally Posted by Les Koltvedt
Unless your going to sit and record the readings on a regular time frame, you really don't know what the levels are... you need a Data Logger You can get it with a NIST certificate.



What's a NIST certificate?


tommytones
Mus. B., Classical Piano Performance
Kawai No. 600
Roland Digital Piano Model No. HP 147
Wurlitzer Electronic Piano Model No. 200A
Hammond M-3
#1975610 - 10/19/12 09:04 AM Re: hygrometer help [Re: tommytones]  
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Les Koltvedt Offline
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Les Koltvedt  Offline
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Canton, MI
Originally Posted by tommytones
Originally Posted by Les Koltvedt
Unless your going to sit and record the readings on a regular time frame, you really don't know what the levels are... you need a Data Logger You can get it with a NIST certificate.



What's a NIST certificate?


National Institute of Standards and Technology... NIST this is the same institute that provides us the frequency standard


Les Koltvedt
LK Piano
Servicing the S. Eastern Michigan Area
PTG Associate
#1993185 - 12/01/12 12:37 PM Re: hygrometer help [Re: tommytones]  
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Tribbs Offline
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Tribbs  Offline
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Midwest
I picked up this digital ExTech (model 445715) with a NIST certificate.
[Linked Image]
http://www.extech.com/instruments/product.asp?catid=67&prodid=180

[FYI: The outdoor humidity here is never, or very rarely, less than 30%]

What I want to mention is that the temperature sensor on this ExTech seems to be very sensitive to nearby incandescent lighting laugh

Next to my piano is a shaded floor lamp with a 150 watt incandescent bulb. I had both my old Radio Shack digital temp./humidity meter as well as this new NIST calibrated ExTech temp./humidity meter next to each other. They sat to one side of the music desk approximately 25 inches away from the incandescent bulb in the shaded floor lamp. I was quite aghast to notice the temperature on the new "calibrated" (read expensive) ExTech was reading 4-5 degrees F higher than the old Radio Shack thermometer shocked I checked the furnace heater temperature setting to be sure my body wasn't experiencing a temperature anomaly. I knew that the ambient temperature of the room was certainly not as high as the ExTech meter was measuring. So, I removed the ExTech meter and placed it in an adjacent room and watched the temperature decline back down to a believable temperature. I left it there overnight and re-checked it in the morning. The next day I returned the ExTech back to the music desk and once again the temperature rose. I again left it there overnight. The next the morning I noticed the temperature was very close to the old Radio Shack. What the…!? I thought. But, when I turned the shaded floor lamp back on I noticed the temperature on the ExTech rose fairly quickly blush D'oh (sound of palm smacks forehead)! Apparently, the rays of infra-red heat emitted by the incandescent light bulb were able to strike directly the ExTech temperature sensor (see photo above). Whereas, the Radio Shack meter’s interior temperature sensor is “shaded”.

Relieved to learn I didn't buy a certified bum meter.

Oh, by the way, the readings of both meters are within 1% humidity and 1 degree F of each other. thumb


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