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The Best SWR Meters for 2020

SWR meter is not anything strange to radio lovers. In fact, the device’s popularity is growing and it has become an inseparable companion of your radios. If you own a radio, I suggest you go and get for yourself a unit of the SWR meter. If there are any inquiries, we are here to answer them all.

The abbreviation SWR (standing wave ratio) is a calibration device used to measure the standing wave ratio of a radio. Many people often ignore the importance of this useful tool. The best SWR meter, if used correctly, could optimize the signal reception of your radio.

best swr meter

It is relatively easy to operate and control an SWR meter, and you will be amazed by how it improves your radio experience. The device will let you know the SWR value of your radio, and then you can adjust the antenna to the right signal range for better reception.

There are many types of SWR meter on the market, most of which are targeted at the CB and ham radio users. The price range is also diverse, and it might confuse people with little experience. If you are one of them, you have come to the right place. Here we are with detailed reviews of the best-selling models of good SWR meter.

Best SWR Meter Reviews

1. Astatic SWR/RF/Field Strength Test Meter

To begin, I would like to introduce to you a product from Astatic – quickly became one of the best CB radio SWR meters. I believe this is a suitable choice for any beginners, considering both the design and performance of this device. Let’s see with us what this meter has to offer.

This model of SWR meter comes in a relatively common design, which makes it extremely easy to operate and function. There are just a few knobs and switches and you will soon figure them all out even without the manual. Moreover, the meter is small in size and light in weight, so it won’t take up too much space.

I think the selling point of this product is its versatility. This small device can perform three functions, all in one. It can examine the SWR, field strength and RF power. Now I think you can agree with me that this meter is a valuable piece of equipment.

This meter is designed to test 50-Ohm antenna and any coaxial antenna used for CB radio . I want to remind you that this device is compatible with CB radio only, not ham radio. I need you to be mindful of this fact.

Generally, this SWR and power meter are reasonably priced, and they are good investment I guarantee. In the product package, you might find hardware parts and a mounting bracket included. So remember to check them out when you get the package.

The thing that puts me off a bit is that some details such as switches or the antenna come loose after some time. It would be a lot better if they are attached tightly to the main body of the meter.
Pros
  • A versatile device with 3 functions
  • Small and lightweight design
  • Package including a mounting bracket and hardware
Cons
  • Some parts (switches, antenna) might fall apart during use
Overall, this model would make a satisfying choice. Despite one small downside, the positive features shine through.

2. Workman SWR METER for CB Radio Antennas

The second product on the list is another CB SWR meter, brought to you by Workman. I am impressed with every feature of this meter, from the design to the quality. You should definitely check it out because it will be a useful device for a better radio experience.

Firstly, the design of this product is what I like the most. This meter is about 6 inches long, and that is quite small. You don’t have to worry about where to store this device, as it does not take too much space. The device could be sat nicely on top of your desk or on the shelf, anywhere suited to your preference.

The SWR meter is not only small-sized but also lightweight, so it is quite easy to move the device around. The frame of the product is made of metal but, in order to minimize the weight. If you hate heavy and chunky design then this model is the perfect fit for you.

This test meter can work on any CB radios with the frequency range around 27MHZ. Also, the impedance is 52 Ohm. It is quite important to memorize those specifications so that the device can be operated properly and to maximum effects.

This product is also very affordable. It is not at all expensive for such a high-quality product. The package also includes a useful decent 3’ jumper cable. This SWR will do its job wonderfully and you will have to agree with me that this is indeed a good deal.

However, many customers complain that they did not receive the cord in their package. There must be mistakes somewhere during the manufacture or delivery process.
Pros
  • High-quality design overall (small, lightweight but durable)
  • Affordable price
Cons
  • The jumper cord is missing sometimes
Once again, I have to say this product is a gem. The missing jumper cord does not ruin the amazing experience with this device because its supreme quality has made up for that.

3. Surecom Gam3Gear Surecom SW-33 Mark

I want to recommend this product from Surecom – the best SWR meter for CB radios in my opinion. In comparison with the two models mentioned above, this SWR looks a bit different. However, the supreme quality stays the same.

The most noticeable about this SWR meter is its modern design. The size is small and you can hold the device comfortably in one hand. Additionally, the meter is relatively light, about 160g. All those attributes provide enhanced portability and increased convenience for radio users.

The device also features a number display screen, instead of the traditional measurement- called “clock”. The exact value will be shown on the screen, reducing the risk of misreading the numbers. If you like this type of user interface better, don’t hesitate to check out this product.

This mini VHF/UF/SWR meter has the maximum power range of 100W, which is quite impressive. The built-in battery is Li-ion type and it could be recharged. As for the frequency range, the device could cover any frequency from 125MHZ to 525MHZ.

There are some small reminders that you need to know. First of all, the meter is not compatible with DMR digital radio. If you are looking for a meter that works on that kind of radio, unfortunately, this product can’t be the one. Secondly, the product does not come with a dummy load, so make sure to get the correct one.

A full package would have a unit of this meter, a dummy load, a USB charge cord, and a manual. This product has quite a lot of accessories so remember to check them carefully.

While every aspect of this test meter is excellent, the price seems to be the only problem. You have to pay a decent sum of money to get this device. This product might not be ideal for those who are shopping on a budget.
Pros
  • Small size and great portability
  • 100W power range
  • Has a number display screen
Cons
  • Rather expensive
Although the price is a bit high, I still believe this is a good investment. Every detail of this product is well designed and well built. I highly recommend this wonderful SWR meter.

4. Astatic PDC7 Compact SWR Meter

Coming up next on our suggestion list is another product from Astatic. This compact SWR meter is the second product of the brand to make it to the list, which explains the extraordinary quality of it. It is undoubtedly one of the best VHF SWR meters on the market.

The product can be used for multiple purposes. This compact SWR meter can measure the SWR, RF power, as well as field strength – three functions in one! You can use this product either for either base or mobile operations.

This PDC7 is compatible with CB radio and any 52-Ohm antenna. Also, you need a coaxial jumper cord to connect your radio and the meter. The cord is not included in the package, so you have to buy an extra.

The maximum power input is 50W, and you must not exceed that limit. The dimension is 4.8 x 3.1 x 6.2 inches, which is relatively small in size. And the item weight does not even go past 10 ounces so that you can freely carry the device around.

There is only one thing about this product that might cause inconvenience. The number would not return to the default zero unless you disconnect the device from the radio.
Pros
  • Three test functions (SWR, RF power, field strength)
  • A quality purchase for an economical price
Cons
  • The number doesn’t go back to zero unless the connection to the radio is disconnected.
That one shortcoming is actually negligible since you can get used to it after using the device for some time. Apart from that, this meter boasts several impressive assets, and you won’t regret making a purchase.

5. Signstek Professional UV Dual Band Standing-Wave Meter

This product from Signstek is another suggestion we have carefully chosen for you. This power meter comes in the shape of a small cube, but it is one of the best ham radio SWR meters available. To see what is so impressive about this product, stay with us and read our reviews.

At first look, you can already see that this SWR meter is sturdily built. The body is built almost seamlessly out of the most durable materials. This d0es not only create a neat look but also ensure that the device will stand with time. This meter would be perfect for whoever wishes to keep their gadgets around for long.

Another plus point is that the user interface is intuitive, which means the device is super easy to use. There are a few knobs and switches, along with a dial indicator – everything that a typical meter would have. To perform any measurement, you need to switch the function key to either left or right and do some other adjustments.

This SWR meter can be operated at three different power ranges: high (200W), medium (60W), and low (15W). The frequency range of this product is from 140 to 150 MHZ, and from 430 to 450 MHZ. Depending on different units, the accuracy of the measurement is from ± 5 to 10%.

You have to be careful when using this product. Don’t let it exposed to extreme temperatures or high humidity, and especially, keep it out of the strong magnetic zones. Also, since the device is relatively sensitive, avoid strong vibrations and mechanical shocks.

There is nothing to complain about the quality of this product, but the price might not be that pleasant. This product comes at a relatively high price, and not everyone is willing to spend that much money.
Pros
  • Well-built and endurable body
  • Easy to use and function
  • Working on three different power ranges
Cons
  • Relatively high price
If you could afford this dual-band SWR meter, it will not disappoint you. The product is excellent in many ways – you are in for a wonderful experience with this meter, I promise.

6. Workman SWR Meter for CB Radio Antennas

For the sixth spot in this list, let me introduce to you another Workman SWR meter. This small-sized meter with high accuracy will definitely impress you and make you buy it. Here is a detailed review of this product.

This meter is portable and doesn’t take up too much space, considering its size and weight. It can be easily carried around, wherever and whenever you want. This SWR is light (around 8 pounds) but it is not at all flimsy. The case is made of heavy-duty metal to prevent it from being scratched or dented.

There is a tuning knob to make adjustments, as well as other switches for you to choose different options. On the front, there is also a dial indicator that shows all the measurement values. It is pretty much a standard design, so anyone can operate this device once getting used to it.

This SWR test meter is specifically made for CB radio and it can cover the frequency range around 27MHZ. The maximum impedance is 52 Ohm. It would be best if you pay close attention to these specifications.

One minor thing is that there is no jumper cable included in the package. Without this specific cable, the meter can not function. It would be better if customers are given the necessary accessories along with the product.
Pros
  • It doesn’t take a lot of room
  • High accuracy
  • A basic meter model that is easy to use
Cons
  • The product doesn’t come with the necessary cable.
I think that the small problem with this product can be easily solved. The other great points make this meter become one of valuable product that you can not ignore.

7. MFJ RF Power & SWR Meter

The seventh product on the list is a more advanced device. This is an MFJ SWR meter that is designed for both amateur and professional use. The quality of this device is supreme and it’s worth every penny.

Unlike other models, this test meter can be used with a variety of radios: ham radio, CB two-way radio, commercial or marine radio. Hence, this product is easily seen as the most versatile test meter available on the market. With just one small device, you can test any radio you want.

Here are some specifications of the product. There are three power ranges: 5W, 20W, and maximum 200W. Also, the meter is able to test three different bands (HF, VH, and UHF). It can cover the frequency range between 1.8 and 525MHZ.

The body of the meter is made of metal and covered by a coat of black paint. That is to enhance the durability of the product, especially in marine environments. The feet are made of rubber so that it could stay in place right on a surface.

The layout panel is also simple and intuitive, you can select bands or power ranges without much difficulty. The dial indicator has a white background with a well-marked red and black scale. The design makes it easier to read the measurements quickly and correctly. Also, the meter can illuminate if you need it.

Everything about this product is perfect, except for the price of it. In comparison with the average price, it costs a lot more to have one of these wonderful devices.
Pros
  • A supreme device that can be used with different kinds of radios
  • There is led light to use in the dark.
Cons
  • High price
I have to say I’m deeply impressed with this product. Every detail of it is satisfying and it will serve the customers’ purposes well. If you can afford this device, you should definitely give it a try.

8. Mcbazel Surecom SW-102 Digital Antenna Power & SWR Meter

The next product with a retro Gameboy look is from Mcbazel. Being one of the most effective SWR meters for CB radios, the device never ceases to attract customers. Let’s see what the attractions of this product are.

This test device can measure VSWR or voltage standing wave ratio. The measurement value is displayed in the form of digital readout, instead of normal calibration. This is to actively prevent users from misreading the numbers.

The maximum power range of this product can amount up to 120W. The frequency range is between 100 and 520MHZ, while the impedance is 50 Ohm. Additionally, the device is powered by a 3.7V Li-ion battery and t can be recharged using a charger cord.

Along with the device itself, you will receive a charger cable, a manual, and a ground plate in the package. You can use this ground plate to ensure electrical safety at your home. And if there is anything you are still unclear about the device, please refer to the user manual.

A small notice with this product is that it is not compatible with digital radio. So you have to go for another model if your radio is a digital one. Also, some customers complained that sometimes the readout does not match with the real measurement value, causing great confusion.
Pros
  • Digital readout
  • Li-ion rechargeable battery
  • Coming with a ground plate
Cons
  • The readout is a bit confusing at times
  • Does not support digital radio
Weighing up both pros and cons, I believe that you can have your own answer with this product. This device performs its job wonderfully and it is impressive in many ways.

9. MFJ SWR Antenna Analyzer MFJ-259C

Next is another product from the familiar brand MFJ. This is a high-quality test meter and antenna analyzer that will satisfy all your needs. It is extraordinary in many ways and here is a detailed review of it.

Compared to other test meters, this is by far the most intricate-looking device. There are a lot of knobs and switches to perform different tasks. It might look confusing at first, but I promise this device is easy to use. Words are indicating the function of each knob, so you can use the meter based on it.

There are one display screen and two dial indicators (one for SWR and one for impedance) to optimize the reading. Their sizes are big enough for customers to see the numbers clearly. With this product, you can read the measurements from any antenna almost instantly.

This device has a built-in frequency counter, which means that you don’t need any radio or transmitter hookup. It can work for multiple types of radios, from amateur to professional ones. Also, this meter runs on ten regular batteries; and if the battery is low, you will be notified.

This latest model can totally supersede the older ones. This unique test meter can cover frequencies from 0.1 to 230 MHZ. It can read SWR antenna, impedance, the coax cord loss, the velocity factor, and so on. In short, this meter is a very versatile piece of equipment.

Unfortunately, the price could be way out of budget for some people. You have to pay a lot of money to get this perfection.
Pros
  • Three easy-to-read display screens and dial indicator
  • Built-in frequency counter
  • Suitable for a variety of radio types.
Cons
  • Extremely expensive
The device might be prohibitively expensive, but the price also indicates that its quality is beyond great. If you are interested in this product, make a purchase and enjoy it!

10. Youmei RS-50 Digital SWR/Watt Meter

We are going towards the end of this list, and next is our SWR Wattmeter reviews of a product from the brand Youmei. It is another high-quality test meter that you should not miss out on.

The first thing that struck me was the simple layout of the device. There are just one led screen and two small switches right under. Everything is minimized to create a user-friendly interface. All you have to do is simply switch the button to turn on and off that specific function.

You get all reflected, forward and VSWR by a touch of a button. Anyone can learn to use this device in such a short amount of time. Also for better reading, especially in the dark, there is back-light inside the LED screen. All details are designed with great care to customers’ convenience in mind.

The power range of this product is from 0 to 120W, while the frequency range is between 125 and 525MHZ. The standard impedance value is 50 Ohm. Also, with a low insertion loss of 0.3dB, the device can enjoy a permanent connection.

This meter requires two AA batteries to function properly and the battery is rechargeable. The product package does not include batteries, so you should buy an extra pair of them. A small reminder for users is that remember to remove the battery if you didn’t use the product in a long time.

The downside of this product is that it somewhat fails to operate near RF, as many customers have pointed out. I believe you should be mindful of it.
Pros
  • Simple, easy-to-use layout
  • LCD light display
Cons
  • Fails to function near RF
Despite one small minor, this HF SWR meter does its job well. Considering this reliability, it would make a suitable choice for many people.

11. Workman SWR / Power Meter

I’m going to give a full review of another SWR and power meter from Workman. There are many wonderful aspects to this device and I believe it will make the cut for the best SWR meter for ham radio.

Personally, I really love the design of this product. The whole body of the meter is painted black, with the texts coming in the yellow color. That is a minimal yet attractive appearance. If anyone has the same preference as I do, you should add this product to your cart.

The best thing about the design is how simple it was. There are one big dial indicator and a switch to perform different functions. It is best to have such a friendly interface like this, especially if you are easily confused by sophisticated technology.

This device is a dual-band meter that is compatible with both VHF and UF. The measurements are also accurate and do not differ too much from the true values. It is definitely a great selling point. In addition, the meter can cover the frequency range between 120 and 525MHZ, while the maximum input power is 150W.

The price is really good, too. This is the best ham SWR meter you can get for such an economical price. If you do not ask for too much in a metering device, this is the best option for you.

There is one small thing that I’m not entirely satisfied with. The switch is a bit flimsy and I feel like I should not turn it too hard or else it will fall out immediately.
Pros
  • Easy to operate and function
  • Good product for a good price
  • Accurate measurement
Cons
  • Sometimes there are problems with the switch
At such a reasonable price, this SWR meter is a wonderful deal. You can get all you ever want in a meter without having to pay a gross sum of money.

12. Astatic PDC1 100 Watt SWR Meter

Till this point, you may have been too familiar with this brand. We end our list with another product from Astatic. Similar to other models, this product is well-known for its supreme quality at a low price. There are many things more that will impress even the pickiest customers.

This analog meter can perform three different functions. The device can do so much more than the small size of it. It is readily compatible with CB radio and can perform any basic operation wonderfully. This meter can test SWR and any relative power.

Plus, the device is not heavy at all, making it even more portable to carry around. This must be one of the best selling points of this product, compared to other complex and chunky design.

The layout of this device’s panel is also very basic, with a dial indicator and some switches. There is 10W and 100W, forward and reverse switches, all of them are located on the front of the meter. With this design, you can perform any functions without any difficulties.

There is a thing that I would like this product to be improved. The customers are not given a jumper cable along with the product, even though the meter can not work without it. It would be so much convenient if these two come together as a pack.
Pros
  • Has three functions
  • Small, lightweight and portable
Cons
  • There is no jumper cord included
This product has a downside but it is just a minor one. This device boasts several wonderful assets that make it irresistible to the customers. Don’t hesitate to check it out.

What to Look for When Buying a SWR Meter

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Like with any other technological device, it might be really confusing to find out which test meter works best for your needs. Considering the sheer number of meter models at drastically different prices, you might wonder what to look for.

Don’t worry, we are here to help. We are very willing to offer both technical and personal advice on the matter. Without further ado, here are some features that you should watch out for.

Frequency Range – Each meter can cover a specific frequency range. It is important to take notice of it because you need to find a device that is compatible with your radios. Any mismatch does not only mean that the meter won’t work but also creates unwanted damages.

You can see information about this in the production details printed on the package or posted on the shopping sites.

The accuracy of the measurements – This is a necessary factor that you need to pay attention to. After all, the purpose of a test meter is to make measurements, so it has to be accurate.

There is no ideal way to test the accuracy of a device. The best thing you can do is read customers’ reviews or ask for advice from professional.

Portability – A cumbersome device could be really inconvenient. Therefore, I suggest that you go for a small and lightweight test meter. Find yourself a model that can be easily moved around in the most convenient way. Hence, you can connect the meter to your radios wherever and whenever you want.

Price – The test meters come at diverse price ranges, from about 20 dollars to well above 3oo dollars. Before making a purchase, you should go through your budgets and your needs, to find the best option at the most economic price. There are some expensive and sophisticated meter that can perform several functions, but it might not be suitable for you. So, be a mindful customer!

Other Important Factors to Consider

best-swr-meter-for-ham-radio

What is a SWR Meter?

The SWR meter or the standing wave ratio meter is a measuring device. It is used to measure the transmission signal from a radio. It is important to check the signal power to prevent quality reduction and potential damages to the radio.

How does it work?

To put it simply, the meter would measure both the forward and reflected waves individually with devices called “directional couplers”. After some calculation, the result is out, we have the measurement of SWR.

Who is this for?

This product is targeted at anyone who is a radio enthusiast and wants to improve their radio experience.

What are the different types of SWR meters?

There are multiple types of SWR meters, for example GMRS SWR meter, FM SWR meter, RF/UF/VHF meter and so on.

Why do you need a SWR meter?

A SWR meter would be of great help when you are tuning the radio. You can somehow manage to do the tuning successfully by yourselfs; but believe me the job will be so much easier and more accurate with the assistance of a fine SWR meter.

The meter will show you the mismatch between the transmission line and the load. Based on the results, you can make necessary adjustments for the radio to work properly. With this small but helpful device, you can avoid any risks caused to your radios caused by that inconsistency in the line.

Frequently Asked Questions

FAQs-by-Hamtronic

What are the most trusted SWR meter brands?

Some of the best-selling brands include Workman, Astatic, MFJ, and so on. These are some of our suggestions, you can refer to them if your are looking for a SWR meter of your own. Of course, you can go for several other brands to find the perfect fit because each brand has their own strength and weaknesses Just shop around and consider every option.

How do you use a ham radio SWR meter?

The dynamics behind the way an SWR meter works might be hard to understand, but it is actually quite easy to use. Here is a simple user manual for you to follow:

  • For the first-time use, you should choose a low-power but a clear channel. This will make the job much easier for you
  • Then, you need to reduce the power emitted from the transmitter, in case the VSWR is poor to avoid damages to devices.
  • To maintain a constant reading, change the mode switch to the mode that steady output is produced (for example FM, AM, or CW).
  • Next, on the front, you will find the VSWR switch and the switch it to FORWARD. Remember to turn the adjustment knob down to avoid overworking the meter.
  • To adjust the forward reading, use the same adjustment knob as mentioned above.
  • Next, switch the meter to the reverse mode and read the VSWR value
  • After you are done with it, quickly stop the transmission to prevent any interference and reduce the load.
  • Repeat the steps with other frequencies to check.

Where to buy?

You can find this test meter technological shops in your neighborhood. If not, you can go online and find some suitable devices from shopping websites such as Amazon, HomeDepot and so on.

In the modern age, it is super convenient to make a purchase via some clicks. However, if possible, I suggest you go to the stores to try out the products first-hand.

What is the warranty?

It actually depends on each brand. I believe the average warranty would last for about 8-12 months. Some brands also support the refund policy, where you can send back the goods if there is anything wrong with them.

How to care and clean?

It does not take too much time and effort to take care of the SWR test meter. Just handle the device with attention and care. You would want to wipe it clean after each use before keeping it in store.

Remember to avoid direct contact with high temperatures, high humidity, and especially high magnetic zones.

Conclusion

We hope that with our detailed reviews you can find for yourself the best SWR meter. We always say that a good SWR meter will significantly improve your radio experience, so please check it out to see if you will agree with us.

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