Digital vs Traditional Refractometers

Digital vs Traditional Refractometers

Digital vs Traditional Refractometers

Posted on the 24th of Oct 2017 by Westlab

At Westlab we are often challenged with the question, how can we justify the extra expense of a digital refractometer over against a traditional refractometer? In this article, we look at the basic pros and cons of digital and traditional types and seek to assist you with a making the right decision for your application.

Analogue Refraction

Brix is a measurement of sucrose content in a sucrose-water solution and can be measured on both digital and traditional refractometers. A traditional analogue refractometer is subjective, this means that the reading is dependent on the individual’s eyesight and two people may report varying readings depending on how they read the scale.


Due to automatic temperature compensation, technology and digital sensor, a digital refractometer can offer more than double the resolution of a traditional style refractometer producing a far more accurate reading. Accuracy is paramount in most laboratory settings and can give peace mind to the user if they are aware of resolutions.


With a traditional refractometer, the sample needs to be placed close to the eye to take a reading and this can not only be a potential hazard but limit the visibility of surroundings whilst a digital refractometer can be controlled at arm’s length in a safe and visible manner.

Temperature Compensation

Traditional Brix refractometers are temperature compensated for sucrose and a conversion table is required to manually calculate glycol freeze point. This can not only provide extra hassle but also allows for human error. A digital refractometer has automatic temperature compensation and calculates the current temperature into the final result.


A digital refractometer not only offers a wider scale but also a much better resolution. Some models will give you readings in Brix or RI (Refractive Index) or even both depending on your preferred unit. More recent models are available with Bluetooth so results can be recorded directly to your computer, iPad or phone. Digital models are available with IP56 ratings so they withstand the rigours of laboratory life. Digital models are now made so they can be used in almost any application.

2017-10-24 19:01:00
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