Welcome to our best multimeters reviews feature. A multimeter is a standard tool used by electricians, automechanics, and other types of technicians such as solar panel specialists. Multimeters have improved to the point where it doesn’t take a lot of technical knowledge to operate one. On top of that, you don’t need the finances of a corporation or university to buy one, even some of the best multimeters are affordable for the average joe.
Diyers, hobbyists, people that love electronics, folks learning a trade, and those constantly doing home improvements are other groups of individuals that are beginning to utilize this helpful tool. Whether you need to work on your car or your HVAC system at home, having a multimeter is an invaluable tool. A multimeter is true to its name, it is a 3-in-1 meal deal: a voltmeter, an ammeter, as well as an ohmmeter.
On this page we have several sections our readers can check out. The first section we have a comparison table of the top multimeters out there for both professional and casual users. Following that you’ll find our best multimeter reviews section, where we take a closer look at the products featured in the comparison table. Next up, we talk about the basics and discuss who uses multimeters and why. Next we talk about the types of multimeters and what you should look for when your ready to buy one.
Overview of the Best Multimeters
|AstroAI Multimeter with Volt Amp & Diode Test||to 20MΩ ±(1.0%+10)||to 500V||to 10A|
|Innova 3320 Autoranging Digital Multimeter||200Ω - 20MΩ ±(1.0%+5)||200mV - 600V||20mA - 10A|
|Mastech MS8268 Series Digital Multimeter||400Ω - 40MΩ ±(1.2%+2)||400mV - 1000V||0.4mA - 10A|
|Tacklife DM01M Advanced Version Digital Multimeter||600Ω - 60MΩ ±(1.2%+3)||600mV - 1000 V||0.06mA - 10A|
|Klein Multimeter MM500||to 4KΩ ±(0.8% + 4)||1V - 750 V||N/A|
|Extech EX330 Autoranging Mini Multimeter||400Ω - 40MΩ ±(1.2%+2)||400mV - 600V||0.4mA - 10A|
|Fluke 117 Electrician's True Multimeter||600Ω - 40MΩ ±(0.9%+3)||600mV - 600V||1mA - 10A|
|Fluke 87-V Digital Multimeter||to 50MΩ ±(0.2% + 1)||400mV - 1000V||0.4mA - 20A|
|Fluke 88V/A Automotive Multimeter Combo Kit||to 50MΩ ±(0.4%+1)||to 1000V||to 20A|
Our Top Multimeters Picks of 2017
Here we take a look at the best multimeters in this multimeter reviews section.
If you’re looking for the best digital multimeter regardless of cost, the Fluke 87-V is a great choice. This is a clear favorite among the online community and seasoned technicians alike. Fluke is the leading brand in the multimeter category. All of their products are well polished and provide accurate readings. Of course, these products are matched with whopping price tags because of their high quality. But if you want the best multimeter, this is the one.
An analog bar readout provides the best of both digital and analog worlds. The auto ranging system is on point, but can be switched off if you want to change to manual. Arguably the best feature of this multimeter is that it will beep at you if you put the wrong thing into input jack. That makes this unit great for inexperienced technicians and will prevent them from taking the wrong measurement.
Another awesome feature is that this puppy can measure up to 20A for 30 seconds at a time. Sure, it is one of the most expensive models money can buy, but you’re getting arguable the best digital multimeter out there.
This is a handy little multimeter that is a great addition to any garage and toolset. This is the best cheap multimeter money can buy. We don’t necessarily like to call decent products cheap, but the Innova 3320 certainly could be classified as such. Nevertheless, if you only plan to use the multimeter occasionally buying the best cheap multimeter is a wise course of action.
A clear display, accurate readings, and a fairly sturdy built quality makes this the best multimeter under $20. Four corner guards protect the unit itself, so when you drop it or toss it in frustration (just kidding) it will hold up just fine and be protected. This meter is powered by 2 double A batteries and has it auto off feature to help save battery juice.
The Extech EX330 is at the opposite end of the price spectrum than that of the Fluke 87-V Digital Multimeter. This is the best budget multimeter for around 50 bucks. You’ll be hard pressed to find a multimeter unit that is better than the EX330 at the $50 price point. It is definitely the best cheap multimeter out there right now. This unit has a wide array of features. You can test current, capacitance, frequency, continuity, diode, duty cycle, resistance, and voltage.
On top of all that you get auto-ranging, continuity tester, tilt stand, and the data readout can be set to max hold/data hold/relative. For $50, that is pretty dang good. The fact that it has the capability to sense temperature makes it worth this price alone. This unit runs on 2 triple A batteries. Even though this model may be aimed at the professional market even hobbyists can afford it.
If you’re looking for the best automotive multimeter, you can’t beat the Fluke 88V. This easily won our award for the best multimeter for automotive applications. The Fluke 88V is excellent for measuring signal pulse width and determining the health of an injector. If you are a mechanic or have a little auto experience you’ll know these pesky injectors require regular attention.
The Fluke 88V has some sweet stats: 1000V AC and DC, maximum resistance of 50 M, and withstands even the most hazardous of spikes up to 8,000 volts. This unit also has the capability to carry out diode tests on vehicles. It is extremely accurately at +/1 1.00 percent. The maximum conductance that it will measure is 60.00 nS. Fluke backs this bad boy with a lifetime warranty. How’s that for peace of mind?
The best multimeter for the money is the Mastech MS8268 multimeter. The latest multimeter product from the trusted brand Mastech. Honestly, most of the Mastech multimeters are great products. This new release is the best multimeter for the money. It is basically a multi tester too. It comes with a 1 year warranty. Auto powers off, blue LED black lit LCD display, auto ranging with relative measurement, AC/DC 1000 V, diode checker, and more. For $25, you can see why it won our award for best multimeter for the money.
The Klein MM500 Multimeter is the last digital multimeter review in our reviews section. This is great for basic tasks such as doing repairs on electric ranges, outlets, switches, breakers, refridgerators, etc. Furthermore if you are poking around your vehicle, trailer, or RV this would be a great unit for you.
It is not the cheapest of the cheap, but it isn’t going to break after 1-2 years either. It is a great mid range multimeter with plenty of drop protection. It is auto ranging, dust and water proof, and can handle up to 10 foot drops. The safety rating for this unit is a CAT IV for up to 600V. This wins our award for the best multimeter for electronic basics.
So you’ve probably noticed a trend and that trend is called Fluke. What can be said? They are one of the best measurement and diagnostic tool manufacturers out there. They make high quality stuff, and the Fluke 116 HVAC multimeter is no exception. That is why the Fuke 116 won our award for the best HVAC multimeter.
HVAC pros (heating, ventilating, and air conditioning) need specialized multimeters like the Fluke 116. For example, Fluke 116’s built in thermonmeter and microamps feature is great for HVAC applications. To keep costs down on this device, Fluke removed the high amperage selection from this model. This is probably okay since most HVAC applications do not call for amerages that go over 1 Amp.
What is a Multimeter?
A multimeter is a test tool instrument that measures two or more electrical values such as voltage (volts), current (amps), and resistance (ohms). There are top main types of multimeters: analog and digital. Analog multimeters incorporate a microammeter that has a moving pointer that displays readings. A digital multimeter is known as a DMM. Digital multimeters have a numeric display and may other visual cues that help represent the measurement readings.
Multimeters are standard diagnostic tools for all technicians in the electrical and electronic fields. In fact, without a multimeter there isn’t much an electrician can do safely. If you are looking for more information about how to use a multimeter you can stop by the tutorial at sparkfun.com “how do I use a multimeter“. While we cover the very basics in this section you may wish to learn more about electricity, circuits, breadboards, and etc. Such topics are beyond the scope of this page. The main focus of this review is providing readers with an overview of the best multimeters.
Multimeters make quick work of finding faults in a circuit. They are generally handheld, very portable devices. Some cheap multimeters are sold for as little as $10-20 and work for many of the most basic applications. These really cheap multimeters are built cheaply and if you accidentally forget where you placed it and step on it you can kiss that unit goodbye. Some cheap models give inaccurate readings but a few are actually pretty decent, which we’ve included in our reviews section. Another category of multimeters is referred to as bench multimeters. These are for more serious applications where extremely accurate measurements and diagnostics are required.
What to Consider Before Buying a Multimeter
Here are the top features to consider before making the plunge and buying a multimeter. A great deal of what decides which multimeter is best for you is what you plan on using it for. As long as you have one with the right features it will make your work easier, safer, and more efficient. Other than cost, here are a few other things you should think about before hitting that buy button.
Analog or Digital
The biggest decision you’ll need to make is whether you want an analog or digital multimeter. Some people prefer analog over digital because they like the readouts better and consider them more visible. They will argue analog makes it easier to see changing trends than with a digital multimeter. Much like a speedometer on a car, digital speedometers make acceleration difficult to judge because the number readout will be jumping all over the place (especially with a very fast car that can accelerate quickly). The same relationship applies when it comes to multimeters and electronics. The best digital multimeters have excellent visual readouts such as bar graphs. By and far digital multimeters are more popular than analog at this point in time, though some electricians still prefer the oldschool clarity of an analog readout.
Nevertheless, analog meters have their own issues too. Analog multimeters are known for having lower input impedance than digital multimeters. This impedance is responsible for indicating the sensitivity of the current that is being measured. The higher the input impedance, the better the meter can measure any type of voltage. Another issue with analog meters is that they are usually limited to reading amps, volts, and ohms. That is the main benefit of getting a fancy digital multimeter, they go far beyond just these three measurements. The utility of these modern devices can be pretty handy if you are working on multiple electronics at the same time and need to efficient. Ultimately, analog multimeters are getting harder to find because of their lack of features and the shift to digital.
Auto Ranging or Manual Ranging
Auto ranging means that the multimeter has the ability to recognize what you are testing. You do not have to input your range. Simply let the device do the work and output the desired measurement. That saves you the hassle of having to know all those resistance, capacitance, voltage, and all those other values. The multimeter will find the value for you whereas if you had a manual ranging multimeter there are preset ranges and you have to know which range of values your component falls under to get a reading at all.
Of course, in a perfect world every multimeter would give 100% accurate readings. However, that is far from the case. Whether imperfect manufacturer processes, cheap componenets, or user error, there’s a lot that can possible go wrong. Honestly if you are working on a professional basis, you are going to want to spend more money to ensure you are getting a product that is going to read accurately. DIYers and electronic hobbyists probably won’t care about accuracy as much but you still want one that gives you a good ballpark number. Clearly a multimeter that is extremely precise is only required for commercial purposes for those with specialized needs.
If you’re going to be tackling circuits with more than 30-35 V you should really consider getting a multimeter with safety in mind. Check out the measurement category rating as well as how the multimeter is designed. Internal blast shields, shrouded banana plugs on the probes, wide flanges to prevent slippages, isolation slots that prevent arc over, and sufficient input protection are a handful of the things you should be checking on design wise. Basically checking those boxes and spending a bit more money on a model that has those features is always worth avoiding a major accident! If you overload the multimeter, you don’t want the thing blowing up in your face.
Design & Build
Not on the top of everyone’s list, but if you work in a construction type setting you probably want something that is bright orange or yellow. This will help prevent accidents or someone crushing your new device. High quality multimeters will usually have more durable casing and finish. The brand is a big factor for a lot of folks when they are considering a new tool, as they may have had good or bad experiences with certain brands in the past. Some of these even have bumper corners for extra protection. The probes within typically are insulated with silicon instead of the cheap PVC found in lower cost models.