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TECHNICAL EQUIPMENT REVIEW

Lignomat Ligno-VersaTec

 Moisture Meter                                       

The Lignomat Ligno-VersaTec is a digital moisture meter that has three modes of operation:  scan (capacitance), pin (resistance) and RH (relative humidity). This meter can test a wide range of materials and is particularly useful for lumber producers, furniture manufacturers, hard-wood flooring installers, inspectors and those working to restore wood.

A drawback for this meter is that it is sensitive to surface moisture on the material being measured.  In addition as tests indicate, a high wood temperature will affect reading accuracy. Otherwise the meter performed well on most other tests and despite the rather high price point, this meter would be worth purchasing.

This review was conducted using only the pin-less (scan) mode and we cannot comment on how this meter performs using the RH mode.

Please see the separate review using this meter in pin mode with a “Hammer Probe (Slide Hammer)

Overall Rating: 3.75 Out Of 5.0

Pros

  • 3 modes of operation
  • Select scanning depth ¼”/ ¾” deep
  • Extended SG range30-100
  • No temperature adjustment in pin-less mode
  • Low battery indication
  • Readings can be frozen/ 1 minute
  • Display in 0.1% precision

Cons

  • Backlight, not available
  • No audio/visual alarms
  • Storage of readings in memory, not available
  • Only a 2-year warranty

Accuracy Test:  Score 4.40 Out Of 5.0

This meter was quite accurate from 5% to 17% and starts to fade away above 18% MC. It does reach down to the stated minimal 5%.

Surface Moisture Test:  Score 1.0 Out Of 5.0

Surface moisture had an extreme effect on this meter.

The Surface Moisture Test showed an increase of 7.4% in MC readings from the baseline. While a difference of only a few percent MC from baseline might be acceptable, an increase of 7.4% indicates that this meter may not be very accurate while in the presence of surface moisture

If one performs the surface moisture test the same way, then one can observe similar results.

Lignomat indicates that moisture closer to the surface has a greater effect on the average reading than the moisture closer to the maximum depth of penetration.

Meter Temperature Test:  Score 4.50 Out Of 5.0

Meter temperature had a rather small effect on this meter’s readings.

A low meter temperature of 33 degrees in the presence of a low MC sample increased the reading by 1.2% when compared to a meter temperature of 70 degrees. The reading only increased by 0.3% while in the presence of high MC

A high meter temperature of 110 degrees in the presence of low MC increased the reading by just 0.3% also compared to a meter temperature of 70 degrees. While in the presence of high MC the reading increased by 1.7%.

Wood Temperature Test:  Score 2.50 Out Of 5.0

Wood temperature had a significant effect on this meter’s readings.

A low wood temperature with the low MC sample increased the reading by 0.4% compared to room temperature.  While in the presence of high MC the reading increased by 1.0%.

A high wood temperature while in the presence of low MC increased the reading by 0.9% when compared to room temperature while in the presence of high MC increased the reading by a substantial 9.2%.

Drift Test:  Score 5.0 Out Of 5.0

Test indicated that the readings did not drift at all.

Reading repeatability:  Score 5.0 Out Of 5.0

Ligno-VersaTec readings were highly repeatable.

Subjective Testing: Overall Score 3.56 Out Of 5.0

Ease of use:  Score 3.0 Out Of 5.0

The meter was fairly easy to use however, 4 buttons are needed to select settings, a species setting table is included on a laminated pocket card for easy reference, no temperature compensation is necessary when using meter in pin-less scan mode and being able to freeze a reading for 1 minute using the hold button is really helpful when measuring in places where the display cannot be read while taking measurements. This feature could be improved on by allowing the current reading to remain on the screen until the button is pressed again at the user’s discretion to release the freeze.

Quality:  Score 4.0 Out Of 5.0

This meter is manufactured in the United States and is constructed of hard plastic.  The carrying case is also made of hard plastic and does not have a belt clip.

Comfort:  Score 4.0 Out Of 5.0

Meter fits comfortably in one’s hand and does not have a carrying case that can be clipped to a belt.

Price:  Score 3.0 Out Of 5.0

A $599 kit includes the meter itself and a hammer probe and would be considered a mostly fair price for this multi-function meter.  We only did testing on both the pin-less and hammer probe modes and therefore cannot comment on whether this price point is appropriate for the RH function of this meter.

Versatility:  Score 3.0 Out Of 5.0

The Ligno-VersaTec can measure wood and other building materials including gypsum, sheetrock, plaster, laminates, composites and concrete.

We only perform our tests on various species of wood so we cannot comment on reading accuracy for those other non-wood materials.

Range:   5.0 Out Of 5.0

Manufacturer’s stated range:  5-60%

Extensive performance testing indicates that there are range limitations.

Lignomat indicates that readings over the fiber saturation point of 25% are less accurate.

Features: Score 2.0 Out Of 5.0

  • 3 modes of operation: scan (pin-less), pin (hammer probe), RH (relative humidity-Bluepeg)
  • Display in 0.1% precision
  • Scanning area 2 ½” X 1 ½”
  • Selectable depth ¼” or ¾”
  • Hold button freezes current reading for only 1 minute
  • Species settings tables for most hardwoods including exotic tropicals/softwoods SG 30-100
  • Need 4 buttons to change settings
  • Reference scale for measuring non-wood materials
  • No temperature compensation needed in pin-less mode
  • One can check the lowest possible MC percentage that will display for each species by entering the correct species setting and holding the meter in the air.
  • When the moisture is too low to measure, given a specific wood species, the default reading appears with “min” on the lower left side of the display. When the moisture is too high, the highest moisture value possible is displayed with “max.
  • Low battery icon appears when battery is drained down to 25%
  • Auto shut-down in 60 seconds (battery saver)
  • Internal calibration self-adjusting, external calibration verification block is available from Lignomat for pin and pin-less meters
  • Blue-peg electrode for measuring RH, temperature, dew point and GPP-grains per pound (sold separately)
  • Only 2-year warranty on meter and 1-year on all other electrodes

This meter does not have the following features which would greatly enhance the user experience:

  • Backlight to aid in screen readability in low light environments and hard to reach places where the display cannot be read while taking measurements.
  • Storage of readings in memory (recall highest/lowest/average readings)
  • Alarm visual/audible to alert- high/low MC readings
  • The hold button feature could be enhanced to allow the reading on the display to remain until one presses the button again to unfreeze the reading

Ruggedness:  Score 5.0 Out Of 5.0

The Ligno-VersaTec passed our standardized drop test falling four feet onto concrete.  The meter was able to take readings after the test occurred, although a calibration check is recommended. Lignomat does sell an external calibration check box that one can use to verify that the meter is properly calibrated.

When using this calibration box, if one sees a reading of 14%, +/- 1% then this meter is properly calibrated. If  meter needs to be recalibrated one must send it in to Lignomat.

Customer Service:  Score 3.0 Out Of 5.0

Customer service representative was friendly and answered all questions posed.

The person indicated that the most common repair when out of warranty results from a cracked display.

Cost to repair such a problem is around $30-$50.

Contact information in this meter’s manual is up-to-date.

An external calibration check box can be purchased from Lignomat for $55 to be used with this meter and all of their other pin-less meters.

If using this meter in pin mode then it would cost $25 for that version of the calibration check box.