PH Meter – Definition, Diagram Working Principle, Types and Applications (2023)

Home » PH Meter – Definition, Diagram Working Principle, Types and Applications

  • Abhishek Kumar Killi
  • May 28, 2022

PH Meter – Definition, Diagram Working Principle, Types and Applications (2)


A pH meter is an instrument used to measure the activity of hydrogen ions in solutions. In other words, it measures the acidity or alkalinity of a solution. It is sometimes called a potentiometric pH meter because it measures the difference in electric potential between a pH electrode and a reference electrode . A detailedpH meter diagram is referred here to give a better understanding for our readers..

  • Word pH means Power /Potential (p) of Hydrogen (H); and serves as the most convenient way to measure the relative alkalinity or acidity at a given temperature. The pH rate is directly linked to the potential of both Hydrogen ions (H+) and Hydroxyl ions (OH-) concentrations.
  • pH is measured on a scale of 1 to 14 to specify the acidity or basicity of an aqueous solution. The pH of a powerful acid can be less than 0 or greater than 14 for a very powerful base.PH Meter – Definition, Diagram Working Principle, Types and Applications (3)
  • A reading of pH 7 describes the solution as neutral because the activities of both H+ and OH- ions are balanced/equal.
  • When the value of pH is less than 7, it means that the activity of H+ ions is greater than that of OH- ions.
  • On the contrary, the value of pH increases (higher than 7) when the OH- ions activity in a solution increase at a given temperature.

In search of a better quicker method for testing the pH of solutions, the worlds first modern electric method was invented by Arnold Orville Beckman – a CALTECH college professor, in 1934, thus paving its way to today’s potentiometric pH meters used commercially.

Working Principle With PH Meter Diagram

We had learned before that the greater the H+ ion concentration, the greater the solution’s acidity. Therefore, an acidic solution with far more hydrogen ion concentration has more significant potential to generate electric current. To explain, it works like a battery that can produce greater voltage, and a pH meter works like a voltameter to measure the solution’s voltage (electric potential). Let us understand the working principle better by following the detailed pH meter diagram below:

  • A typical pH meter consists of three different parts: an internal electrode, a reference electrode and a voltameter (Figure – pH meter diagram)

PH Meter – Definition, Diagram Working Principle, Types and Applications (4)

(Video) Ph meter (Important 10m - definition, principle, diagram,instrumentation, procedure, application)

PH Meter – Definition, Diagram Working Principle, Types and Applications (5)

  • Practically, when one metal comes in contact with another, a voltage difference occurs due to the differences in electron mobility. This happens the same in the case of two liquids. When two electrodes are dipped in an aqueous solution, the ion-exchange process transpires where the H+ ions in the solution move towards the glass electrode and replace a few metal ions in its special glass coating.
  • This way, a small voltage is created, then picked by the glass electrode and passed to the voltameter as shown in the pH meter diagram
  • The voltameter then measures the voltage and displays the measurement in pH units on a scale of 0 to 14. Here the reference electrode acts as a reference for the measurement.
  • An increase in the voltage means the presence of more H+ ions in the solution and hence more acidic. Similarly, a decrease in the voltage means fewer H+ ions and more OH- ions; therefore, more pH and solution is alkaline.

Types of Electrodes:

Conventional pH meters have both glass and reference electrodes separately, measuring the ionic concentration of a given solution. Let us take a look at its constructions.

  • A glass electrode contains potassium chloride (KCL) solution with silver wire coated with silver chloride (AgCl) suspended in it.
  • The glass electrode consists of a very special glass coated with silica and metal salts making it even more sensitive to the concentrations of H+ ions surrounding the tip of the bulb.

PH Meter – Definition, Diagram Working Principle, Types and Applications (6)

PH Meter – Definition, Diagram Working Principle, Types and Applications (7)

(Video) pH meter | Principle | Study smart in minutes
  • The calomel electrode consists of mercury at the bottom of the tube over which a paste of mercury-mercurous chloride is placed. A solution of potassium chloride is placed over the paste. A platinum wire sealed in a hollow tube then helps make the electrical contact.
  • This electrode has a non-conductive glass or plastic bulb, which remains unaffected by the surrounding sample solution. The reference calomel solution permanently has a fixed concentration, thus giving a stable voltage

A new generation of pH meters have combination electrodes and are widely used commercially. Here glass electrode (internal) and a calomel electrode (Reference) are both constructed together in a single probe/body and hence called combination (or) combined electrodes.

The glass pH electrode system used nowadays consists of a pH-sensitive measurement glass electrode and a separate reference electrode in potassium chloride (KCl) gel-conducting solution(Figure – combination electrode).

These electrodes are usually housed in the combination sensor, containing both electrodes, which is connected to an electronic meterwith a signal amplifier and temperature compensation.

PH Meter – Definition, Diagram Working Principle, Types and Applications (8)

The meter displays the pH reading, which may be uploaded to a computer or controller. A silver wire enclosed in the measurement electrode forwards a signal indicating the difference in acidity between the solutions inside and outside the glass membrane.

The reference electrode has a stable potential, which is independent of the measuring solution and must be calibrated outside the system in a reference solution. The most commonly used reference is a silver/silver chloride electrode in a buffer. The measurement and reference electrodes complete a circuit through the water sample (via a permeable porous junction built in the glass wall, see figure – combination electrode), allowing measurements of the voltage generated by the glass electrode.

Types of pH Meters:

There are three main categories of pH meters commercially used worldwide. They are:

Benchtop pH metersare commonly used in a laboratory set up in the pharmaceutical or food industries. These meters are usually big and measure samples of different sizes and complexities.

Portable pH meters:These meters are pretty handy and easy to carry in a small pocket. They are small in size and are used to measure samples either in a production site or in any place where the sample is to be measured like ponds, lakes, drains etc. These are battery-powered devices that do not last long for longer durations

(Video) PH Meter | pH meter - application, maintenance, calibration and operation, types of pH meter

In-situ pH meters:Also known as pH analyzers, these meters are often integrated with equipment in the manufacturing line to monitor the process continuously. These analyzers are sometimes connected with Electronic Data Capture (EDC) system to collect and document the data (pH readings) in real-time

  • pH meters are battery operated or entirely rely on line power ranging from simple, inexpensive devices to complex, expensive lab equipment.

Applications of pH meters:

  • It is used to measure the pH of the drug product or raw material sample solutions in the pharmaceutical industry or any chemical plant.
  • It is used in Bio-clinical labs to measure the pH of biological fluids like blood, stools, urine, gastric acid, etc.
  • They are frequently used in testing soil pH in agriculture to improve crop yield and maximize returns.
  • They are often used to test water quality in water treatment plants, pulp and paper industry, swimming pools, rainwater, brewing of wine, oil and gas industries, etc.
  • Measure the acidity levels in wastewater in the wastewater treatment plant.
  • Measure the exact pH of food-grade products, particularly in the dairy industry ensure safety and quality.
  • To measure the exact pH of milk effectively preventing it from turning sour.

While the above list is not exhaustive, it is clear that the pH meter is an essential instrument in the laboratory and has a significant role in product quality testing.

Advantages of pH meters:

  • Pocket-sized portable pH meters are easy to carry and measure accurately.
  • Lab-scale pH meters are easy to use and occupy less space.
  • With proper maintenance and periodic calibration, pH meters can be used for a long time without making them redundant.
  • It can be used in a wide variety of protein solutions, viscous preparations and also solutions with strong oxidants and reductants.

Disadvantages of pH meters:

  • It needs extra care and attention towards the pH sensing bulb of the electrode and reference junctions from getting dried. It always needs to be stored in a pH storage solution.
  • pH meter electrodes quickly tend to clog, get coated with sample and becomes dirty. Cleaning electrodes is a challenge without which the life of the electrodes becomes short.
  • The temperature of the solutions always affects the pH readings. Extra attention needs to be taken to ensure the temperature of the solution is at room temperature all time, and also the temperature probe is calibrated before testing the sample for pH.


  • G. Orellana, C. Cano-Raya, J. López-Gejo, A.R. Santos,3.10 – Online Monitoring Sensors,
  • Abhishek Kumar Killi

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What is the principle working and application of pH meter? ›

Measuring the voltage of a solution is the pH meter principle and applications all involve liquids as a result. pH meters are used in the development of pharmaceutical drugs since acidity can affect drug metabolism. In agriculture, pH meters are important for testing soil and water quality.

What are the applications of pH meter? ›

acidity of the water, typically measured by means of a pH meter. agriculture, water quality for municipal water supplies, swimming pools, environmental remediation; manufacturing, healthcare and clinical applications such as blood chemistry; and many other applications.

What is the working of pH meter? ›

The pH meter works by measuring the potential difference (voltage) of test solution and standard or known solution and calculate the pH. Hence, it works like a Voltmeter. To complete the circuit, two electrodes are connected in order to complete the circuit. The complete circuit allows the movement of electric current.

What is pH meter types? ›

The most useful way to categorise pH meters is into three main group or types. These are pen testers, handheld/portable meters and benchtop meters. To help you narrow-down your selection process this article will delve into the three types of pH meters, giving product examples and suggested applications for each type.

What is pH meter simple definition? ›

pH meter, electric device used to measure hydrogen-ion activity (acidity or alkalinity) in solution.

How pH meter is constructed and working? ›

It consists of thin glass with a glass bulb. It consists of a narrow tube or glass with a glass bulb filled with a potassium chloride chemical with a pH of 7. It also consists of a silver block of silver chloride attached to a silver element and generates the voltage.

What are different types of pH? ›

As this diagram shows, pH ranges from 0 to 14, with 7 being neutral. pHs less than 7 are acidic while pHs greater than 7 are alkaline (basic).

What are the three types of pH? ›

What the equation means is just what we said before: for each 1-unit change in pH, the hydrogen ion concentration changes ten-fold. Pure water has a neutral pH of 7. pH values lower than 7 are acidic, and pH values higher than 7 are alkaline (basic).

What is pH meter structure? ›

Parts of a pH meter

It consists of a glass bulb filled with a pH-sensitive solution, and a metal wire that extends into the solution. The electrode is typically connected to the rest of the pH meter via a wire.

What is the principle of pH electrode? ›

pH electrodes work by producing an electrical potential between two liquids of different pH when they come into contact with opposite sides of a thin glass membrane, known as the pH element. This voltage potential is a function of the free acidity or free alkalinity of the solution.

What is pH definition example? ›

pH, quantitative measure of the acidity or basicity of aqueous or other liquid solutions. The term, widely used in chemistry, biology, and agronomy, translates the values of the concentration of the hydrogen ion—which ordinarily ranges between about 1 and 1014 gram-equivalents per litre—into numbers between 0 and 14.

What are important pH values? ›

Ans: The pH value of a normal body is ideally 7.4 which is on the alkaline side of neutral and human blood is usually between 7.35 to 7.45 and of human saliva is 7.5.

What is a pH example? ›

A base, which is sometimes referred to as an alkaline substance, has a pH greater than 7 on the pH scale. It has a bitter taste, and will donate hydroxide ions when it's dissolved in water. A hydroxide ion is oxygen attached to a hydrogen atom.
Definitions and Examples.
Acid ExamplesBase Examples
Stomach acidBlood
2 more rows
Nov 13, 2021

What is the most basic pH? ›

The scale has values ranging from zero (the most acidic) to 14 (the most basic).

How do you measure pH level? ›

To calculate the pH of an aqueous solution you need to know the concentration of the hydronium ion in moles per liter (molarity). The pH is then calculated using the expression: pH = - log [H3O+].

What is the application of pH meter in biochemistry? ›

Applications of pH meter

It is used in the chemical industry, neutralizing effluent in the paper, steel and pulp, pharmaceutical manufacturing, biotechnology, and petrochemical industries. It is used to determine the pH value of food products to maintain a high level of safety and quality.

What is the principle behind the use of pH paper? ›

The level of pH is measured with pH paper and will determine if a solution is acidic, alkaline, or neutral. This is done by dipping the pH paper into a solution and observing the change in color of the paper. The paper comes with a color-coded scale with the colors representing certain values.

What are the applications of pH in daily life? ›

The various applications of pH in daily life are: In the human body, all the physiological reactions take place at the pH of 7-7.8. pH is very important for our digestive system. The pH of the soil is an important factor in the growth of crops and other plants.

What is pH paper simple definition? ›

A pH paper is a piece of paper used to find out if a solution is basic, acidic or neutral. This is determined by dipping part of the paper into a solution and observing the color change. A pH paper changes color in different solutions due to the chemical flavin.

What is the principle of pH strip? ›

A pH test strip is a strip of litmus paper with which you can measure the pH value of a liquid. The substance in the paper causes the paper to show a different colour at different acidities. The official pH scale is from 0 to 14, where 0 is very acidic and 14 very alkaline.


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