Best Multimeter – Guide and Review
Are you shopping for a multimeter? You naturally want to buy the best multimeter today, but if you are clueless on which unit to get, then don’t worry. We got you covered.
As you may know, a multimeter or multitester can detect problems like shorts or broken circuits. It can measure voltage current and resistance. It is also used during repair or installation of electrical equipment.
While a multimeter is a basic tool that every electrician should have, even an ordinary Joe can use it. After all, learning how to use this intimidating tool isn’t rocket science.
Once you understand how it works, you can use it to test dead batteries, test broken extension cords, and troubleshoot household appliances.
How to Choose the Best Multimeter
A. Basic Features
A basic multimeter can measure AC/DC storage, AC/DC current, resistance, continuity, and diodes. At the very least, these are the things that the multimeter you will buy should be able to read.
The multimeter you should buy must have a higher main voltage rating than what is used to operate household appliances that you intend to test.
In terms of resistance and continuity measurement, the multitester you should buy should indicate small resistance either through beeps or visual alerts. What’s important is that the alert doesn’t delay.
Lastly, the digital multimeter should have a diode check function displaying the forward voltage drop of the diode.
B. Advanced Features
There are also advanced features that may affect your buying decision. However, you should know what these features are and if they are of relevance to you.
For one, a multitester with graphic functions is a good buy as it can display the AC measurements in real time. This is a very good feature especially if you are looking for irregularities.
Another advanced feature that you may be interested in is data logging. It lets you monitor and document measured data over a long time frame.
Other advanced features that you may want in a multitester are low pass filter which comes in handy when troubleshooting motor drives, and low impedance mode to prevent induced voltages from the measurement.
There are two types of multimeters--- digital and analog.
Digital multimeters use digital circuits, measuring current in discrete currents. Digital meters are considered the more accurate of the two types of multitesters.
These are accurate up to within half of a percent. The lower the number of accuracy, the more precise the multimeter is in measuring current.
There are three types of digital multitesters—fluke digital, clamp digital, and autoranging multimeter. Fluke digital has different calibration functions while clamp digital is used for measuring the flow of electricity. Auto ranging multitester is the simplest to use among the three.
Analog multimeters may be cheaper than digital multitesters but these are also a lot more difficult to read. You should be a skilled electrician in order to properly use this type of multimeter.
- Price—multimeters aren’t really expensive. You can get one for as low as $20. But don't just buy the cheapest. Consider the features, too, and whether or not you need them.
- Brands—usually, the multitesters from reputable brands are more reliable compared to those from virtually unknown manufacturers. Some of the brands that you can trust when it comes to multitesters are Fluke, Klein, Beckman, HP, Extech, Aligent and Wavetek.
- Safety certifications— most reputable brands like Fluke also have get safety certifications from independent, third-party testing agencies.
- Warranty- the longer the warranty is, the better. The really good ones have lifetime coverage.
Recommended Best Multimeter Reviews
1. Fluke 87-V Digital Multimeter
Fluke is considered the best brand of multitester and it has a handful of models in this list.
Let me start off with the 87-V digital multitester which has become sort of a de-factor industry standard due to its popularity.
This is the flagship model of Fluke.It has a lifetime warranty which is a bonus considering that other multimeters don't come with such a long warranty. Most customers however say that it retains its accuracy for many years.
Upon opening the package, you will get a holster, a AC175 Alligator clip, a 9 volt battery, TL75 test leads, and temperature probe. For the most part, you will get everything you need for most applications.
It has a very high DC accuracy of 0.05% In comparison, the average multimeters have as much as 3% accuracy. There is a temperature measurement in this tool which comes in handy as well.
This is a robust and durable multimeter that is ideal for construction. Plus it has a long battery life lasting for more than 400 hours. That's a lot of hours for any multimeter.
- DC accuracy of 0.05%
- Long battery life up to 400 hours
- Comes with TL75 test leads, and temperature probe
2. Fluke 117 Electricians True RMS Multimeter
As the name indicates, this is a multimeter that is suited for commercial applications but it isn't a bad tool either for home use.
One good feature Is the integrated non-contact voltage detection that eliminates the need for a separate voltage detector.Compared to the other Fluke multimeters in this list, it is small and compact.
It weighs just 400 grams. It is ergonomically designed and is easy to hold in one hand. The build quality is also very good, and it can hold up to the everyday grind. It also has a backlit display so you can use it even in poorly lit areas.
Like the other Fluke multimeter, it has a high a DC accuracy of 0.5%. It isn't as accurate as one would like, but electricians don't really need to be accurate tor commercial applications.
It has a low impedance capacitance measurement mode which reduces the chances of false readings.
- Weighs 400 grams
- Ergonomically designed for one-hand operation
- DC accuracy of 0.5%
3. Fluke 116 HVAC Multimeter with Temperature and Microamps
This looks like any other multimeter but it is actually designed for HVAC.
It has a maximum voltage of 600 volts. For HVAC, voltages are no higher than 600 volts which makes it a good fit for HVAC.
One handy feature that you will like is its min/max button. It works like a data recorder, and lets you record the highest and lowest reading when measuring limits.
It’s simple to use—just press the min and max button to get the max reading. A second press will give you the minimum reading. A third press will give you the average of the two readings.
Its auto volt LoZ or low impedance is useful if you suspect that there are ‘ghost voltages’ present when checking for power.
It has a large display, with adequate backlight. It so has a bar graph which can help you visualize the signal being measured. With an IP rating of 42, it is capable of withstanding particles smaller than 1 millimeter, and dripping water when it is tilted up to an angle of 15 degrees.
While this is one of the best multimeters today, the Fluke 116 has its share of drawbacks as well. It’s not perfect, to say the least. An issue that has been brought up by users is the price. It is one of the most expensive multimeters around.
Also, the large LCD display doesn’t have the best viewing angles. It has poor contrast, and you may have difficulties seeing the readings in the day.
- Maximum voltage of 600 volts
- With auto volt LoZ
- Min/max button
4. Fluke 115 Compact True-RMS Digital Multimeter
The Fluke 115 compact RMS digital multimeter is a good present for electricians and DIYers. With it, you can easily take readings, test fuses and switches.
You can also troubleshoot lights and computer components. This handheld multimeter comes with a hoster with battery, manual, and test leads.
This is a portable device that you would want in your tool box. It feels solid in hand. It Is lightweight and compact that you can use it around the house and on the job site. It's the perfect device for measuring voltage and amperage on the go.
With its backlit digital display, it will be easy to read the reading on this multimeter. You can use it even in areas with poor lighting conditions. And its labeling is very straightforward that you don't need to figure things out.
Moreover, you'll know when something's wrong as there will be no audible signal from the device.
Aside from being easy to use, it is also accurate. It guards against typical errors that usually lead to erroneous readings. An example would be the multimeter alerting you that you forgot to switch the lead to amps after turning the dial to "A."
The only real downside of this multimeter is the price as it is one of the more expensive units in this list. But as they say, you get what you pay for.
- Weight: 1.3 pounds
- 6000 count resolution
- Backlit digital display
5. INNOVA 3340 Automotive Digital Multimeter
This is a very versatile device that you can use for a variety of applications.
We're talking here of checking battery voltage, troubleshooting relays, checking voltage to light sockets, and verifying electrical continuity. It’s a unit that will come in handy for simple applications in the house.
It's something that motorists and electricians will appreciate having in their toolbox. It has an auto shut off mode, turning off the device if it detects that the unit has been inactive for 30 minutes.
It has a temperature probe which users can turn to in measuring temperature in Celsius and Fahrenheit.
It comes with an owner’s manual, test leads, temperature probe, and a clamp style lead for the ignition wires. It also has a nylon storage pouch.
It has a very large display so you will be able to see the readings very well. The device itself is easy to hold, with rubber sides to protect it from typical shocks brought about by everyday use.
While the very low price can draw you in, be warned that this multimeter has its share of flaws. Although the display is very large, it has no backlight so this may not be the multimeter you want to bring in poorly lit environments.
Moreover, there are complaints that the temperature probe can easily break.
- Auto shut off mode
- With temperature probe
- With large display
6. Klein Tools MM1000 Electrician's Multimeter
Klein is labeled as the electrician's multimeter. While it is not as popular as Fluke, it does have its share of good products.
One example is the MM1000. It is an entry level multimeter that amateurs and professionals will find very useful. It has basic functions such as measurement of AC voltage, verifying continuity, and testing batteries. It can measure up to 1,000 volts and 10 amps.
It features an auto ranging function. You can easily see the display in the dark as it is backlit. But many users say the case isn't the same during the day, so chalk that up as a disadvantage.
It's a decent multimeter for motorists and auto electricians. They can use it for checking the integrity of vehicle engines as it has its own thermocouple. The thermocouple probe measures about 2 feet long.
Unlike other multimeters, the fuses of the MM100 are located in the battery compartment. This means that there is no need to take the entire back apart to get to the fuses. There are a couple of triple A batteries included here.
There are also no problems with the rotary switch and it is quite accurate when switching to the various functions.
The use of the less common AAA batteries is one issue many owners have with this multimeter. They say they prefer the more common AA battery. Other users complain that the alligator clips aren't that sturdy.
- Can measure up to 1,000 volts and 10 amps
- Backlit display
- Auto ranging
7. Amprobe AM-530 TRMS Electrical Contractor Multimeter with Non-Contact Voltage Detector and Temperature
Amprobe's entry to this list is designed for the pros but it can also come in handy for amateurs. With it, you can measure presence of voltage, run new wiring, perform replies and detect blown fuses.
It has a set of detachable test leads for measuring AC/DC current, AC voltage, DC voltage to resistance, capacitance, and Microamps. It can also measure temperature thanks to its K-type of thermocouple probe.
There's a flashlight included in this unit so you can view readings, detect wire colors, and see name tags even when it's dark. The LCD display is backit, too, so you can use this tester in low lighting situations.
There should be less confusion using this multimeter. It's relative zero mode stores a previous reading and uses it as the starting point for next readings. Thus you can compare previous displays or readings.
You can also retain the reading on display even if the meter has been disconnected with the hold function.
It also automatically shuts down when it detects non-usage for 15 minutes. This preserves precious battery life. And you will know when it's time to replace the batteries with its low battery indicator.
- With built-in flashlight
- Backlit LCD display
- Auto-shut off feature
8. Mastech MS8229 Auto-Range 5-in-1 Multi-functional Digital Multimeter
The Mastech MS8229 is another good multimeter to have, whether you are a professional electrician or just starting to uncover your DIY skills.
It is packed with good features although it can only go up to 1000 volts and 400 amps. Aside from the digital multimeter itself, the package includes electrical probe, temperature probe, a user’s manual, and a carry case and strap.
It has light, sound, and humidity intensity sensors, while its temperature probe connects to the C ports. But don’t get overwhelmed with the functions as this multimeter is user-friendly that you should have no troubles using it.
There’s a center dial which you can turn to in selecting what to measure. For instance, in measuring voltage, simply switch the center dial to “V” and press the “FUNC” button. The device can also auto-sense the appropriate range. It also beeps if you have incorrectly put the probes in the wrong jacks.
Many owners say that accuracy is not a concern with this multitester. They say that temperature and humidity readings are very precise, and its luxmeter produces credible results.
However, there are concerns that this isn’t the most durable item in this list. Some online testimonials say that their unit stopped working after a couple of years of using it.
Also, the backlight of the LED display turns off after just 10 seconds, which is fairly short as other units’ backlight display can be turned on for a minute or two.
- Maximum range of 1000 volts and 400 amps
- With temperature probe
9. Extech EX330 Autoranging Mini Multimeter with Built In Thermometer with Type K Remote Probe
The EX330 can measure up to 600 volts of DC/AC voltage with a very high accuracy of 0.5 percent. It can also measure DC/AC current to 10 amps.
It’s a portable and handy multimeter that has numerous features. It can measure resistance, perform continuity testing and diode testing. Plus it is very user-friendly you should have no problems in using it.
It has an integrated, non-contact AC voltage detector. It will make an audible beep, and its red LED indicator lights will blink to inform you of voltage when you put it near outlets, live wires, and switches.
The display is very big, with large 1-inch digits. You can see the readings very easily even if you are in a dimly-lit environment. It is also auto-ranging, letting you to choose the right measurement range when working on various components such as main electrical outlets to small electronics.
There is a Max Hold feature which you can turn to in capturing the highest reading of the multi-tester. The display updates every time a higher reading has been recorded.
You can review and take notes on your current reading with the Data Hold function, which freezes the current display on the multimeter.
The auto power off can save battery life as it automatically shuts down the unit if it detects that it hasn’t been used for the past 15 minutes. And this device has a built-in thermometer plus a type K bead wire probe that let it measure temperature in either Celsius or Fahrenheit.
- DC accuracy of 0.5%
- DC/AC current up to 10 amps
- DC/AC voltage up to 600 volts
10. Craftsman 11-function Auto Range Digital Multi-meter and AC Voltage Detector with Flash Light 34-82007
Also one of the more affordable items in this list, the Craftsman auto-range digital multimeter gives good value for money despite coming from a relatively unknown brand.
With it, you can conduct AC/DC voltage tests, AC/DC current tests, resistance tests, capacitance tests, among others. There’s also a thermocouple that you can use to measure temperature. Auto ranging is fast, allowing you to save time on your tests.
It has a backlit display and its extra large 4000 count on the LCD screen will make you easily view the readings. Other features worth noting are the fuse-protected, current input jacks, a tilt stand, and an audible input warning. The molded rubber holster protects this device against the elements.
Yet many owners are quick to point out that this unit has its issues as well. Perhaps the most common complaint is that the tests can take a bit too long. One Amazon.com reviewer says it can take a while for this multimeter to conduct continuity tests.
Another reviewer adds that it can take up to 30 seconds for the multimeter to show the reading, which is really disappointing by any standards.
Other Amazon.com reviewers are also not happy that the multitester has AAA batteries instead of the more common AA battery. And lastly, it only has a one-year warranty which is quite bad especially coming from a relatively unknown maker.
- Large 4000 count display
- Weight: 12 ounces
- Backlit LCD scree
Final Verdict - Best Multimeter
Shopping for a multimeter or multitester can be really intimidating especially with all the functions that this device typically has. But you should not be frightened at all because these are very handy and easy to use tools that you will find practical at home.
Whether you are checking appliances, wall outlets, or even working on your vehicle, a multimeter can be a very handy tool to have.
Just remember the various features that a good multimeter should have, such as AC/DC storage, AC/DC current, resistance, continuity, and diodes. Advanced features like data logging and graphic functions will also make it easier to use the tool.
If you’re still not sure what is the best multimeter today, just check out the 10 multimeters I recommend. I guarantee these multitesters will be a good purchase for you.