A multimeter is one of the standard tools used by auto mechanics, electricians, and various other technicians including solar panel specialists. In this post, we’re going to talk about what a multimeter is, what you can use it for, and how to find the best multimeter for your needs.
These devices have come a long way. They have improved to a point where one doesn’t need much technical knowledge to operate them. In addition to that, multimeters are now even more affordable than ever before. This means that no matter what your budget, you will be able to find one that is right for you.
So whether you’re an average Joe, or if you need a multimeter for professional reasons, we have what you need right here. So read on to find out everything you need to know about how to choose the best meter in our in-depth review and buying guide.[toc]
10 Best Multimeter: Editor’s Top Picks
Top 10 Best Multimeter Reviews:
1. Fluke 117 Electricians Multimeter
The integrated voltage detection in this unit prevents false readings that could be caused by a ghost voltage. This is a very popular multimeter among electricians. In fact, a lot of users have stated that the fluke 117 multimeter is among the most accurate they’ve ever come across. It has an easy-to-use design which makes it ideal even for novice DIYers.
This meter provides minimum, maximum, and average readings, and it measures frequency and capacitance. This will not only save you time while working, but it also allows you to move from one job to the next with total ease. It has surge protection and is an ideal meter for working on commercial buildings, schools, hospitals, and other similar settings.
The non-contact voltage (NCV) detection is a particularly useful feature that helps you get your job done a lot faster. This technology from VoltAlert makes this one of the most advanced tools in the industry and that’s why it’s first on our list. This device also has low input impedance and the large white backlight helps you work in poorly illuminated areas.
With an operating temperature of between -10°C to +50°C, battery life of over 400 hours, and a true RMS to give an accurate reading on all nonlinear loans, this is undoubtedly a great option to consider if you want to get the best multimeter on the market right now.
- Innovative technology offers non-contact voltage detection
- Automatic AC/DC voltage selection
- Low input impedance to prevent false readings
- Bright white LED backlight helps to work in dim settings
- True RMS gives accurate measurements for nonlinear loads
2. Fluke 117/323 Multimeter
This multimeter is a very effective all-in-one troubleshooting solution. It has a soft, durable carry case to keep the device protected when it’s not in use and to make it much easier when transporting it between jobs. If you’re searching for a true RMS digital multimeter, the Fluke 323 is a great choice to consider.
The device comes with an impressive range of functions, including AC DC voltage, auto-detect setting, non-contact voltage detection, a lighted display, and an audible continuity setting. The unit has a body that fits into the palm of your hand and is extremely easy to handle.
For anyone who intends to use their multimeter device on a regular basis, this is an ideal option because it’s made from high-quality durable materials. Whether you’re a professional electrician or a DIYer who intends to use the meter around the house, you can be sure that you’ll be using this tool for a long time to come.
The kit includes the Fluke multimeter, 323 clamp meter, ToolPak magnetic hanger for the meter, TL175 test leads from Twist Guard, and C115 soft carry case. This is everything you need to use your multimeter right from the box.
- Provides true RMS AC voltage & current for more accurate measurements
- Low input impedance prevents false readings from ghost voltage
- Accurately measures non-linear loads
- Amp meter size is ideal for reaching in tight spaces
- The lighted display allows you to work in dim areas
3. Fluke 87-V Digital Multimeter
Since its founding in 1948, Fluke has become the world’s leading manufacturer, distributor, and service provider for electronic testing software and tools. That’s why it’s no wonder that the majority of entrants on our list of the ten best multimeter options on the market include so many of their products.
This company has helped to define this unique technology market and their products, such as this 87-V digital multimeter offer easy and convenient capabilities for testing and troubleshooting for users in a variety of manufacturing and service industries.
So whether you’re in industrial electronic installation, service and maintenance, precision measurement, or quality control, this tool is a must-have if you want to make your job easier and safer. With the versatile Fluke 87-V tool, you get auto and manual range which offers maximum flexibility and makes it the ideal addition to any professional or around-the-house toolbox.
An annual bar graph on this classically designed unit allows you to deal with unstable or quick-changing signals. The multimeter also has a convenient removable holster that has a built-in probe as well as test lead storage. The product comes ready to use straight from the box with a 9V battery and TL75 test leads.
- Manual and auto-ranging capabilities
- Convenient built-in thermometer
- Removable holster with test lead storage
- Compact size that fits in the palm of your hand
- The device comes with a lifetime warranty
4. Extech EX330 Autoranging Multimeter
The Extech EX330 multimeter comes with a variety of amazing features which include a built-in thermometer, auto-ranging, and some other advanced functions to make your work easier, such as the frequency, duty cycle, temperature, and capacitance.
The kit includes the auto-ranging mini multimeter, tilt stand, test leads, and a high-impact rubber holster as well as two AAA batteries, a user manual, and a general-purpose type-K bead wire probe. This unit is ideal for professional electrical troubleshooting and it includes two easy-to-read meters in one conveniently portable design.
The first is a full-featured digital meter with a non-contact voltage detector (NCV). The unit measures DC AC voltage up to 600 volts and has a 0.5% basic accuracy, and DC AC current up to 10 amps. This feature-rich multimeter gives measurements for resistance and performs diode testing as well as continuity testing. It also has a bright big digit 4,000-count LED display that makes it easy to work in dimly lit settings.
If you’re searching for the best digital multimeter, this could very well be it and it’s certainly worth checking out. In addition to all the features listed above, it also has an audible beeper, a low battery indicator, and a red LED indicator. With a total of 12 functions, this tool offers amazing value making it the best digital multimeter for the money.
- A built-in thermometer can switch between Celcius and Fahrenheit
- Non-contact AC voltage detector
- Audible beeps and LED red lights alert you when voltage is present
- Autoranging capabilities to help you select the correct measurement range
- Max hold function to capture the highest reading
5. INNOVA 3320 Digital Multimeter
This auto-ranging multimeter from the INNOVA brand is designed to allow safe, quick, and accurate troubleshooting. It works perfectly in a variety of household and automotive electrical situations. The auto-ranging scale eliminates the need for you to manually dial in the right range whenever you’re making any electronic measurements.
With a 10 MegOhm input, this device is safe for household and automotive use, from dealing with problems concerning household outlets, wiring, fuses, and general-purpose batteries to the battery and charging systems in vehicles, automotive circuits, and much more.
The unit has color-coded LEDs that allow you to be able to quickly check your household batteries. If the color turns green it means that the battery is alright. If it’s yellow, the battery is weak. If the light turns red, it’s time to replace the batteries.
The kit includes test leads that can be attached to the device, and holders, and a stand for hands-free operation. There’s also a protective rubber guard for the corners which helps to prevent damage to your device in case you drop it. This multimeter has a single-setting resistance function for DC and AC voltage.
If you’re looking for a great entry-level digital multimeter that is designed specifically for safety and accuracy when troubleshooting a variety of household and automotive electrical issues, take a look at the Innova 3300 to see if it might be the right tool for your needs.
- UL-certified design for safe and accurate troubleshooting
- Autoranging scales eliminate the need for dialing range manually
- Best automotive digital multimeter with large LED digital display for quick checks
- Single-setting resistance for AC and DC voltage
- Protective rubber corner guard included in the kit
6. Klein Tools MM500 Multimeter
Designed to maximize your productivity, this product makes your work safer and more accurate. You will be able to get readings easily and quickly thanks to the large display and the functions which allow you to troubleshoot problems with ease. The improved measurement functions and resolutions make this a good option for both professional and frequent home use.
This unit is extremely easy to use and it’s packed full of helpful functions that will give you accurate readings of voltage and frequency even when used on noisy equipment such as adjustable speed motor drives. You will be able to solve any issues with motor drives, power distribution, in-plant automation, and all types of electro-mechanical equipment.
- This product is extremely easy to use
- Comes with an impressive array of functions
- High-quality durable construction
- 10ft (3m) drop protection
- True RMS gives accurate measurements for all applications
7. Mastech MS8268 Digital Multimeter
This newly-released multimeter is probably the best multimeter under 50 bucks that you’re likely to find anywhere. For such an affordable price, it’s packed full of an astounding number of functions which include sound and light warnings for the jacks as well as a backlit LCD screen.
The meter is powered by three AAA batteries and makes a great addition to any beginner’s toolbox. Just remember to read the user manuals and follow all the detailed instructions if you want to get the most out of this tool.
- Manual and auto-ranging capabilities
- Auto power off that can be disabled
- Blue LED backlight and LCD display
- All range fused unit (resettable)
- Comes with a one-year warranty
8. Etekcity Digital Multimeter
This product from the Etekcity brand makes household electricity maintenance safer and easier. It has the capability to accurately test resistance and voltage as well as continuity and diodes. The in-built clamp lets you measure AC current while preventing dangerous direct contact.
The clip is able to extend to allow testing of cords and wires that are 28mm in diameter and the multimeter also comes with insulated test probes that have plastic grips to make it easier for you to handle them.
If you’re searching for the best budget multimeter for home use, this unit from Etekcity is one you should consider getting.
- Enters automatic sleep mode when unused for 15 minutes
- Lifetime support from Edacity
- Includes carry pouch for protecting unit on the go
- Max reading and data hold features
- Easy to read LCD screen for convenient use
9. Tacklife DM01M Digital Multimeter
This advanced digital multimeter comes from a brand that only deals with qualitative tools that make an electrician’s job easier. It’s designed to accurately and safely address household and automotive electrical issues. This measuring tool is great for using on household sockets, fuses, universal batteries, cables, automotive charging systems, and batteries, as well as automotive circuits and much more.
This unit has multiple useful functions such as the AC DC current and voltage meter with non-contact voltage, live line, resistance, frequency, diode, temperature, capacitance, and continuity tester. It offers overload protection, ceramic fuse, and thermistor protection to provide you with the highest level of security while you work around electricity.
If you are looking for the best multimeter under 50 dollars, this is one you definitely need to consider. It’s truly amazing how they managed to include so many useful features at such an affordable price. This device also helps you to conserve energy thanks to the automatic shut-off function which works after 15 minutes without using the device.
- Bright backlit LCD display for visibility in poorly lit areas
- LED light warning when AC voltage is detected
- Safety measurements in place for your peace of mind
- Kit includes everything you need to start using the multimeter immediately
- 24-month warranty from the manufacturer
10. AstroAI Digital Multimeter
This product from AstroAI is specially designed for safety and accuracy while troubleshooting various household and automotive electrical problems. It’s extremely easy to operate even for novices and it features a lot of different functions which allow you to measure voltage, current, and resistance in addition to continuity, diode, and transistor testing – also for household and automotive uses.
The multimeter can be used for household outlets, wiring, fuses, and general-purpose batteries as well as for automotive circuits and the charging system and batteries of vehicles, among other things. When using this meter, special care must be taken since there is always a danger of experiencing an electrical shock.
However, if you follow the instructions as they are laid out on the user manual, you will be able to make your work a lot safer, quicker, and easier. If you want a multimeter that is inexpensive and has tons of great online reviews, then this is it.
At the price, it’s surprising how many features you get in the device. Just remember to inspect the exterior casing every time before using the tool, and don’t proceed if the meter has any kind of damage to its shells such as missing plastic or cracks. Also, make sure that you pay extra attention to the insulation that’s around the connectors.
- Accurately measures voltage, resistance, DC current
- Troubleshooting is made easy and safe
- Best budget multimeter. Very affordably priced
- The one-year warranty offered by AstroAl
- Overload protection on all ranges
Things to Consider When Buying a Multimeter
As you’ve been going through the 10 ultimate multimeter reviews listed above, you’ve probably noticed certain characteristics that stand out. In this part of our guide, we’re going to look at some of these positive attributes. These are the features that you should be concerned about when choosing the best multimeter for your needs.
Considering how small this electrical measuring device is, it’s surprising just how much manufacturers can pack inside them. When you know the key characteristics to look for in a multimeter, you will be better able to find one that suits your needs perfectly.
Without further ado here are the top things you need to consider when buying a multimeter:
Although this is not the only factor you should consider, it’s still very important to know what your budget is so you can choose a multimeter that is within your price range. Multimeters range from one end of the price spectrum to the other, but when shopping, it’s important to keep in mind that you often get what you pay for with this type of product.
So while you may find some that are priced under $20 and some that are well over $200, there are other factors to consider before you reach for the best cheap digital multimeter.
2. Number of Functions
It’s obvious that the more functions your multimeter can perform, the more useful it’s going to be to you. The odds are that even if there functions that you don’t use on a regular basis, you’ll still find a use for them at some point in the future. So when looking for the best multimeter for your needs, look for one that has a lot more functions than you actually require.
You have a choice between buying a model that has auto-ranging already built into it or one that requires you to do this manually. This means you would have to adjust the meter’s settings to correctly reflect the ranges that you’re taking readings in. We recommend that you try to purchase a multimeter that has auto-ranging capabilities.
4. Testing Format
The testing format is the way that your multimeter calculates all the readings that you get while using the measuring device. Each of these formulas is too complicated for us to go into right now, but here’s a brief overview:
Full-wave Rectification – You will typically find us on lower-priced models and its ratings are fairly accurate. However, this is more vulnerable to inaccuracies such as those readings than its counterparts.
True RMS Technology– This testing format can be found in the pricier multimeters on our list. It is a lot more accurate than the former model and is much less subject incorrect readings. This is the type that is most preferred by professional electricians.
Multimeter products typically have two kinds of displays where you get to see the results of what you’re testing with the device. The majority of multimeters now have digital readouts which upgrade for taking the guesswork out of taking a reading. However, there are some multimeters out there that are still indicating the reading using a needle display.
6. Ease of Use
As you are probably already aware, there is an astoundingly wide selection of multimeters that you can purchase in the marketplace. There are some that are well designed and easy to use, and others that are packed so full of features that it would take a rocket scientist to figure them out. You obviously want to go with one that is easy to use no matter how many features it has.
7. Frequency of Use
The frequency with which you are going to be using your multimeter plays an important role when choosing the best one for your needs. It doesn’t make sense for you to spend tons of money on a device that you are only going to use once in a blue moon. On the other hand, for professionals who use multimeters on a daily basis, you need to make sure you get the best digital multimeter for the money so you can get accurate readings for a long time to come.
8. Type of Use
This is yet another major criterion to consider in the decision-making process. What type of electrical testing are you going to be conducting with your multimeter? You have to put a lot of thought into this. For instance, if you’re mostly going to be testing amperage with your device, then it doesn’t make sense for you to buy one which doesn’t have this capability.
Multimeters are often used in areas around the home or workspace that are pretty rough. This means you need to make sure that the multimeter you buy isn’t going to fall apart easily even if it accidentally drop it or bang it against a hard surface. The good news is, all the options on our list of the top ten multimeters available right now are durable and made from high-quality materials.
10. Hands-free Operation
This is something that may not seem very important to a lot of people, but it’s a good idea to make sure that you get the best automotive digital multimeter with legs or other types of attachments that allow it to stand on its own on a flat surface but for the way when not in use.
What Is A Multimeter?
A multimeter is an electronic measuring instrument that combines many measurement functions into one convenient unit. It is also known as the multi-tester or a VOM. Typical multimeters measure voltage resistance and current. Analog multimeters have a microammeter that has a moving pointer that displays readings.
They are two main types of multimeter models, and these are digital and analog. A digital multimeter, also known as the DMM, has a numeric display and a variety of other visual cues that help to present the measurement readings. An analog multimeter, on the other hand, incorporates a microammeter which has a moving pointer to display the readings.
A multimeter is a standard diagnostic tool for any technician working in the electronic and electrical fields. Without one such device, there really isn’t much that an electrician can do safely. A multimeter also comes in handy for the majority of DIYers and can help prevent a lot off unnecessary accidents in the home and workplace.
This tool is very effective for supplying you with information concerning electrical measurements. These measurements can then be used to determine the cause of problems with a specific product or electrical line. The readings you get from it a calculated by simply measuring at least two electrical values. This is a must-have device if you want to safely work with electricity.
Different Types of Multimeters
Although the sensitivity range typically designates the overall purpose of a multimeter, this range can vary which means that the devices can also vary. In general terms, a multimeter is either analog or digital. However, there are some specific criteria that differentiate multimeters into further categories particularly for those looking for a specialized device.
For example, you might find that multimeters engineered for automotive applications aren’t usually able to effectively read our sources that have low voltage.
Here are the types of multimeters available:
- Digital Multimeters
Aside from the obvious reason, a digital multimeter differs from analog in that it has a much better overall accuracy and it also has the potential to download the readings to your computer. Also, the best digital multimeters have the added benefit of LCD screens that provide enhanced visibility. The readings are decimal readouts and they are indisputable. This is very different from analog versions.
- Analog Multimeters
This type of multimeter gives measurements that are significantly more difficult to read through the display. There is a decreased level of visibility and this type of device tends to be much less user-friendly. It is still good enough for professional use and it’s very durable. It’s also important to note that’s the readings that are recorded by an analog multimeter must be interpolated by the device’s user between the recorded accuracy and the marked numbers.
- Versatile Multimeters
Versatility is a great feature in measurement instruments, but when it comes to multimeters this isn’t such a good thing. That’s because a multimeter has to handle multiple readings but it tends not to have the right amount of sensitivity to be able to positively record some of the low range readings. A perfect example of this is an automotive multimeter due to its generic low-voltage recording of various power sources.
- Oscilloscopes Multimeters
Multimeters that come with oscilloscopes allow you to make readings over time. They are extremely useful when figuring out if the equipment that is being measured gets fluctuations over a period of time. Both analog and digital multimeters can have oscilloscopes attached to them. However, it is generally only the digital models that give you the ability to transfer recorded data to a different device.
Functions of A Multimeter
A multimeter makes quick work of locating faults inside circuits. This type of device is generally handheld and extremely portable. You may find some multimeters on the market that are sold for as cheaply as 10 dollars while others are sold for a few hundred dollars.
The cheap ones obviously only work for basic applications, and they are built with much lower quality which means that if you drop it or accidentally step on it, chances are you can kiss the device goodbye. It’s also important to note that the cheaper models sometimes give readings that are not very accurate. Having said that, they are some low-priced models that are actually pretty decent.
In this section, we are going to look at some of the functions of a multimeter, mostly with regard to reliability and sensitivity range. This includes both the best cheap digital multimeter options and the expensive ones.
- Temperature Sensor: This measures the temperature of the device being tested. It’s a feature that is ideal when it comes to controlling temperature-sensitive circuits or hardware.
- Capacitance: This function measures the system’s capacity for storing electric charge. It is mostly found on multimeters of the digital kind, particularly the high-end models.
- Auto Range: A multimeter with this type of function can easily be adjusted automatically depending on the measurement range of the measured inputs. This feature allows you to save time if you’re running multiple tests.
- Display Rate: Amultimeter’s display rate is a representation of the speed at which the image is refreshed by the digital display. A multimeter with a faster display rate gives a slightly more accurate reading thanks to its convenience.
- Transistor Testing Circuit: If you’re buying a high-end multimeter, it needs to be able to easily check if the transistor is working as part of a larger electronic assembly or circuits. This feature will allow you to test integrated circuits and digital logic circuits of any kind.
- Holds Function: Every quality multimeter should have a holds function that keeps the display from deleting the readings on the screen. This can be really useful if you have to write down multiple readings.
How To Use A Multimeter
As previously mentioned, electrical multimeters display readings by measuring various electrical values. They do this when multiple things on the device itself are put in place. Typically you’ll find a set of testing prongs that you plug into the device, which then gives the meter the electricity it needs to give a reliable readout.
The meter, depending on the type, has a dial that you turn so that you can position it for the type of electrical reading that is being taken.
When you touch the test prongs against the points along an electrical line and once the current travels back to the multimeter, it tells you the value of the particular electrical traits that you’ve set the multimeter for. The value appears on the easy-to-read digital screen that is built into the multimeter.
When it comes to using a multimeter, it doesn’t matter if you’re a pro or if you want to use it for odd jobs around the house. The most important thing is to get a multimeter that is easy to read and use no matter how many functions it has. After all, there is no point in buying an expensive gadget with 1001 functions if you won’t be able to use any of them effectively.
How To Test A Capacitor With A Multimeter
Testing a capacitor using a multimeter is not a very complicated process at all. You can either use an analog or digital multimeter. To test a capacitor using an analog multimeter, just follow these steps:
- Ensure that the suspected capacitor has been fully discharged
- Take your AVO meter and select analog meter on OHM
- Connect meter leads to capacitor terminals
- Take note of the reading and then compare it with the following results
Short Capacitors: shows very low resistance
Open Capacitors: doesn’t show any movements
Good Capacitors: shows no resistance which gradually grows towards the infinite’s
The second method is to check a capacitor using a digital multimeter. To do this all you need to do is follow the steps below:
- Ensure that the capacitor is fully discharged
- Set the meter to OHM range
- Connect meter leads to capacitor terminals
- The digital meter will show some numbers for instance. Take note of those numbers.
- Immediately, it will return immediately to the open line (OL)
Each attempt of the second step will display the same results as in step four and five. This means the capacitor is in great condition. However, if you don’t see any change, it means the capacitor’s dead.
FAQs: Frequently Asked Questions About Multimeter
Q-1: What’s the difference between the Peak and Min/Max modes on a multimeter?
- As its name implies, the Min/Max mode is simply the highest and lowest readings measured by the multimeter from the time that record mode began. To get a more accurate reading, the measured signals’ minimum and maximum needs to be typically between 200 and 350 milliseconds or longer.
- They work on any mode including volts DC, resistance, true RMS volts AC, as well as current functions. Peak mode, on the other hand, measures the peak voltage of a signal, both positive and negative. For a 120V AC line, the peaks are going to read +169v and -169 V. As a general rule, they’ll work for any peaks over 250 microseconds.
Q-2: Why do I need to use a multimeter?
- There are two main reasons why people use multimeters. One has to do with safety and the other diagnosis. Working with electrical equipment can be very dangerous, and accidents could lead to fatalities if you’re not careful. A lot of professional users and DIYers always have multimeters on hand to check that there is no power coming to electrical lines or devices to ensure they can be worked on.
- As for diagnosis, the multimeter gives you information that not only keeps you safe while you work around electricity, it also helps you to diagnose electrical problems. A multimeter will show you where there’s no power so that you know where the problem is by performing a variety of tastes and then interpreting what the readings mean.
Q-3: What electrical properties can you determine with a multimeter?
- A simple digital multimeter will show you many different electrical measurements. Some of the most commonly measured electrical properties are ohms, which are used for determining how much electrical resistance the ease in an electrical line.
- A multimeter also measures the voltage which is also known as electromotive force. This is measured by checking the potential charge on two points on a device or along an electrical line. You can also use a multimeter to check amps, which is the amount of current flowing through the electrical line at the moment of measurement, as well as the temperature of a device.
Q-4: Are they any safety tips for using multimeters?
- A multimeter by its very nature allows you to work around electricity safely by helping you determine if there is electricity flowing through the line or to the device. But, as with any other device, if you don’t use it properly it can also be unsafe. In order to use the multimeter safely, they are some safety tips that you should follow.
- First, always take your reading by holding the ends of the electrical probes using one hand if possible. This greatly reduces the chance of an electrical shock that passes through vital organs. Another safety tip is to never assume that your multimeter working properly. Make sure you inspect it before use and don’t proceed to work on something if you don’t get a reading with your multimeter.
There are lots of multimeter choices on the market and finding the right one for you can be an overwhelming process. Now that you know everything you need to know about multimeters– what they are, how to use them, and how to choose the best multimeter for your needs – use this post as your resource to guide you is you make the right selection according to your specific requirements.
Our list of the 10 best multimeters on the market will provide you with easy options whether you’re looking for the best cheap multimeter or if you want something more high-end.