These devices are sold at hardware stores, discount stores, hobby stores, Amazon and other online retailers, as well as eBay. They range from $1 on eBay to hundreds of dollars at the labware websites. However, for cheesemaking purposes, you can easily find a good one for less than $50.
The simplest ones are the mechanical ones, like the one Jim Wallace (our technical advisor) uses in his cave:
|Sauna Hygrometer Thermometer Combo, Up North Sundries, 5' diameter, $55.99|
|Home Depot, 8.5" Thermometer with Humidity, $2.98|
|Cuban Crafter, PTHYG-MIO, $6.99, 1.75" diameter|
With mechanical hygrometers, even if you pay more for a good one, you might have to calibrate it more often than you would like. (For directions to calibrate, click here.) If your hygrometer doesn't have a calibration adjustment, follow the directions to the point where you know the difference between readings on your hygrometer and the actual humidity. Then, always add or subtract the difference from your readings.
Digital hygrometers and thermo-hygrometers are sold at most hardware stores and the large discount stores. They usually require a battery and they do not have a calibration adjustment. However, you can test their accuracy by following the same directions for calibration above. They also take a little longer to adjust to changes in the humidity. When checking calibration, it is recommended that you wait at least 2 hours.
There are literally thousands of models online. They come in all different sizes and prices, but there are certain features you would want to consider when buying one:
1. The size of the hygrometer is important. If you are using small containers, you need the smaller hygrometers.
|Digital-Edmunds Scientifics, $69.95, Fits in shirt pocket.|
Sensors can be very useful, however, when your cave is an old refrigerator or a closet because every time you open the unit to check the humidity, you expose your cheese to ambiant bacteria. There are two kinds of sensors- wired and wireless. Needless to say, the units with wireless sensors are much more convenient and they can be used further away from your cave. Of course, they are also more expensive.
Here's a popular thermo-hygrometer with a 10' wire sensor. Unfortunately, the sensor is for temperature only which seems to often be the case.
|Indoor-outdoor with 10' probe, $9-$14 at Amazon, Ace, Grainger, Sears, etc.|
One of the best digital thermo-hygrometers is probably the one below. It is wireless and you can buy it with or without the sensor. (I have seen it on e-Bay where you can Buy It Now for $20, including the sensor.) Although the sensor is said to have a range of 100 ft., according to Cheese Forum, if the unit is located inside a steel refrigerator, the reach will actually be 10-15 ft.
|Amazon, Honeywell TM005X Wireless Indoor/Outdoor Thermo-Hygrometer, $23.19|
|Amazon, Honeywell TS33C Temperature and Humidity Sensor with LCD, $23.47|