Definition - What does EC Meter mean?
An EC meter, or electrical conductivity meter, is used in hydroponic gardening to measure the electrical conductivity of nutrient solutions to allow adjustment of nutrients, salts, and other elements for healthier plant growth.
Taking an EC reading allows an indoor gardener to use a mathematical formula to determine the amount of total dissolved solids (TDS) within the solution as parts per million (PPM).
EC meters and pH meters are both used to help growers perfect their nutrient solutions. Some manufacturers make combo meters, which combine the functionality of both types of meters into one kit.
MaximumYield explains EC Meter
Hydroponic systems use a nutrient-rich solution and growing media to replace soil. However, it’s essential for growers to be able to check the nutrient levels within their solution to ensure healthy plant growth. An EC meter can help here.
An EC meter, or electrical conductivity meter, is simply a device designed to measure the conductivity of a liquid. In this case, it measures the electrical conductivity of the nutrient solution in which plants are being grown.
Base water, such as demineralized water or rainwater, will have an EC reading of 0. As solids are added, they bring ions with them, which are necessary for electrical conductivity within the water. The higher the number of ions in the water, the greater the conductivity will be. Correspondingly, more ions within a set amount of water generally means a higher nutrient content in terms of dissolved solids.
By measuring the conductivity of a nutrient solution, growers can monitor the amount of nutrients (salts) and modify them when needed. This is important when growing different types of crops, as different plants require varying amounts of nutrition. Monitoring the dissolved solids helps ensure the optimum growing environment for the specific plant in question.
Note that when using an EC meter, you must also account for temperature variances in your equation. Warmer and colder temperatures will skew conductivity and must be corrected for.