Looking for a multimeter to use on the job or at home for your personal use? Maybe you’re a professional in need of a very capable multimeter, or just a hobbyist on the lookout for a cheap but capable tool. Whatever the case, we’ve got you covered with this list of the top ten best multimeters in 2019. Check it out!
Whether you’re someone who handles electronics as a profession or someone who’d rather fix his own electronics than having to pay the former to do it, you can’t do anything without having the right tools for the job.
What’s more, is that the list isn’t even a short one; you need screwdrivers, hammers, measuring tape, fish tape, torches, knives, testers, and an assortment of wire strippers. And these are just the tools I can name off the top of my head!
However, one of the more important tools an electrician must have (and one that’s honestly pretty underrated) is the multimeter. You barely see any electrician these days without this trusty tool in his bag or his kit (and if you do, you should probably question his level of professionalism).
And since this tool is so important, it only makes sense that you have only the best multimeter to ensure the quality of your work.
But first, let’s clarify what a multimeter is exactly and what it’s used for.
What is a Multimeter Used For?
A multimeter is a device that can be used to measure two or more electrical values like Voltage, Current, Resistance, etc. If you paid attention in your high school physics class, you know each of these values is pretty important when it comes to electronics and other electrical appliances.
In fact, each appliance or gadget is engineered with very strict compliances for regulating the optimal voltages, current and resistance values. Despite these strict compliances, however, faults do manage to creep in, and it’s important to resolve them as soon as possible.
Though all electronics today are built to tolerate minor fluctuations in these values, any deviation usually means a dip in performance and even a major issue later on.
That’s where a multimeter comes in. Using a pair of probes, a multimeter lets you read these electrical values at any component in an electrical circuit, helping you pinpoint exactly where the problem is occurring, thus leaving you better informed about the situation.
But accurately detecting faults isn’t all a multimeter is good for; it has some safety applications too! Working with electrical components can be pretty dangerous, and for those working at a regular basis with them, throwing caution to the wind is only inviting trouble.
Multimeters are able to accurately evaluate current and voltage values, meaning you’d be able to instantly see if an electric circuit is unsafe to work with and avoid getting electrocuted, which is just as good since electrocution can prove to be fatal when dealing with higher voltage and current values.
Alright, so a multimeter’s a pretty useful tool. Why would I need it, though?
Why You Might Need a Multimeter
The answer to this is a fairly subjective one. You do, of course, need a multimeter if you’re an electrician by profession, but there can be many other reasons you’d need one too.
As a student, studying say Engineering or Computer Science, a multimeter’s pretty handy when designing a circuit and implementing it, letting you quickly figure out where you messed up in your wiring and fix it.
As a repairman of electric appliances and gadgets, a multimeter lets you pinpoint the damaged component and replace it to fix the broken device.
As a hobbyist who loves to tinker with electrical circuits, DIY kits, and old gadgets, you’d be deprived of a world of knowledge not having a multimeter by your side.
Even as an average Joe who’s just concerned about his car, using the best automotive multimeter is the most straightforward tool to check your car battery’s charge and decide whether or not you need to get it recharged, or even replaced.
The Top Ten Multimeters in the Market
Strictly speaking, we’d openly recommend all of the below-mentioned products, save perhaps the analog option at number 10, but that is aimed at an entirely separate market of users and so doesn’t count.
They’re all great multimeters, after all. However, if we absolutely had to pick our favorite ones, we’d have to recommend the AstroAI AM33D for absolute beginners, the Fluke 87V for the hardened professionals, and the INNOVA 3320 and Klein MM300 for everyone in between. And if you’re looking for a great clamp multimeter, you really can’t go wrong with the Meterk 6000.
Here’s a quick comparison table to help you make your decision.
Take a closer look at these 5 and other great products in the list below.
Need a simple multimeter that can measure voltage, current, and resistance for all your automotive and learning needs? Well then, the AstroAI AM33D is really all you’ll require.
But just because it’s simple, doesn’t mean it’s incompetent in its operation. Though admittedly it may not be as fast or versatile in its use like many others on this list, it’s 2 seconds sampling rate does still warrant it for being a pretty impressive device in spite of that.
And while it does lack features like a display range larger than 2000 or input for measuring current in microamperes, it’s still great value for money, making it the best budget multimeter on this list.
While the AstroAI AM33D was just a barebones multimeter, AstroAI 6000 is more or less an exhaustive package of anything and everything you could ever need from a multimeter.
For starters, the maximum display range on the device has been bumped up to 6000 from just the measly 2000 that the AM33D could manage, and while the dial mechanism is still used for switching modes on the multimeter, it’s only used for switching between different electrical values.
That’s right, this device is an auto-ranger, meaning you’d only have to select the electrical value you want to measure, and the multimeter will handle the rest, automatically selecting the best ranging mode and giving you the most precise answer possible.
There’s a couple of other cool functions to praise too. This model comes with a separate input slot for measuring current in microamperes.
And if that wasn’t enough, the AstroAI even has modes for measuring temperature, capacitance, frequency and a couple of other values, though you would need to get separate wire attachments to take advantage of some of these features. In short, it’s the best multimeter for electronics repair without having to spend a lot of money to acquire it.
Shopping for multimeters, you’ve probably heard the term True RMS being thrown around a lot and wondered what it meant (that is, if you didn’t already know, of course).
RMS stands for Root Mean Square, the value most important when measuring AC current and voltages, and True RMS is exactly what it sounds like: a much more accurate version of RMS.
The Fluke 117 has a lot of other things going for it too. From the perspective of design, it’s quite different in shape and in its dial’s position, a subtle difference that helps it stand out from other multimeters in the market.
The build quality is also pretty decent, with the multimeter being constructed out of a harder form of plastic and built to survive more than a couple of serious hits.
Using the Fluke 117 is a breeze. Thanks to the auto-ranging feature that comes built-in with the device, all you really need to do is select the electrical value you want to measure.
The Fluke is also pretty accurate in the readings it gives, so you’re bound to always have the right readings when you use this device. And though it may be hard to believe, this is one electrical tool that’s very efficient in the way it consumes power.
This multimeter only needs 1 AAA battery to run, and is able to run for up to 4000 hours on just this single battery!
Stepping into the domain of industrial and other advanced fields, it doesn’t take you long to figure out that a simple multimeter like the AstroAI AM33D is no longer going to cut it.
Why? Because the electrical signals you deal with here are so high in value and so complex in nature, that you’d be hard-pressed to get an accurate value from a simple multimeter like the AstroAI AM33D.
You need something that’s designed to tackle exactly this kind of job. You need the Fluke 87V digital multimeter.
Designed primarily for industrial use, the Fluke 87V is built like a workhorse. This multimeter can easily measure up to 1000V in both AC and DC, which is so high a voltage that normal multimeters would burn because of being overloaded way beyond their limits.
Functionality aside, Fluke also put a lot of thought into this product to make it as useful for people at work as possible. The multimeter has a magnet embedded into it’s back, so you can easily hang it off of metal structures while you’re working.
The display has a background LED light to help you view readings in low-light conditions. Oh, and did I mention the device has a built-in thermometer (for which the thermocouple attachment is included in the package when you buy it) and the thermometer when you buy it.
You may not think a pair of clips at the side of the multimeter could do a lot for making a multimeter a great product, but it is exactly innovations like these that solve the small (but important) problems and earn the product a high position as one of the best-selling products on the market.
But side-clips aren’t all INNOVA has to show for this product. This product is designed for the average user, and it does it’s best to be optimized for simple tasks.
Besides all the simple features of letting you measure voltage, current, and resistance, the multimeter also has a built-in auto-ranging function, so you don’t have to bother with learning how to select the best range yourself.
However, it must be pointed out that the INNOVA 3320 is only an entry-level multimeter and this is no good for someone whose use is highly professional and specialized. It is, nonetheless, very good value for money, and a recommended device for people to get if they’re just starting out with electronics.
The Klein MM300 multimeter may not have anything to offer that other tools on this list already don’t, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad product. Not by a long shot.
For starters, it’s a very well-built tool, capable of surviving repeated falls from our hands (hey, it happens!). Using the MM300 is barely a hassle since the auto-ranging feature means you don’t have to do much when measuring, save set the value you want to check before you start.
But that’s not all. With the Klein Tools 69149 Electrical Test Kit you get the RT-105 receptacle tester and the NVCT-1 tester. With the RT-105 receptacle tester, all you have to do is plug it into any socket in your wall to check whether a circuit board in your house is wired perfectly or not.
As for the NVCT-1 tester, it tests the voltage of components without actually getting into contact with them (and exposing yourself to potentially dangerous voltages), sound appealing?
You don’t really have to understand how exactly a non-contact voltage tester works; you just have to reap the benefits of owning one.
Even though the Klein MM300 tool is sold separately, we find the Klein Tools 69149 electrical test kit is too good a deal to miss out on.
If you’re really adamant on buying the Klein MM300 (and there’s no reason you shouldn’t be, it is a sold product after all), then spending a few extra dollars on getting the NVCT-1 non-contact voltage tester and the RT-105 receptacle tester is only the economical solution.
If you thought the AstroAI AM33D looked simple and uncomplicated in its design, you haven’t yet taken a look at the Klein MM500. From a user interface perspective, it really can’t get simpler than this.
The result? One look is really all you need to figure out what the device does and how to use it, which makes it the best multimeter for DIY electronics for inexperienced people.
And while the implementation of auto-ranging was more of a necessity than a choice, in this case, it is still a very welcomed feature, further cementing the ideology of a multimeter that barely takes any thinking on the part of the user.
The rest is just ticking off all the right boxes: water and dust-proof design, True RMS for measuring both AC and DC accurately, CAT IV safety rating for 600V, 10-foot drop protection, and a few other great features.
Of course, this simple interface does come at a cost. You can’t check the polarity of a DC circuit with this multimeter, nor can you confirm when the voltage reading has gone past its limit without using a separate multimeter. Nevertheless, it is still the best multimeter for dummies.
What’s this? Yet another product by AstroAI on this list? Well, we can’t help it if the company makes great products at the low prices they do, and if you’re in the market for a clamp multimeter, the 202D is far from a bad choice.
While other products on this list did support True RMS technology and thus were able to accurately measure AC currents and voltages, clamp meters are what make measuring AC currents a much safer endeavor.
Lock the jaws on to the conductor, and they’ll pick up the AC current without you needing to get too close with a pair of probes.
And a variety of convenient features make it even more usable, of which the most notable ones are Data Hold, Large LCD display, extra-large clamp for ease of use and low battery indicator.
Though it does serve to warn the buyer that this is not a multimeter suitable for heavy industrial use, expecting that level of performance from a simple package such as this is only going to damage it during use.
While the AstroAI 202D is a great clamp meter for beginners to use, the Meterk 6000 caters mostly to those of us who want a tool that’s more geared towards professionals, what with it being the best clamp multimeter on this list.
For this reason, the Meterk 6000 is significantly more well-built than the AstroAI 202D, and this fact is apparent with just one look at the product. Not only does it look more solidly-built, it even has rubber guards on the corners and all around the device to protect it from damage should you accidentally drop it.
The clamp jaws and dial also follow suit by being pretty solid themselves, both in their use and durability.
Aside from build quality, the Meterk 6000 also improves on the standard set by the AstroAI 202D in terms of functionality too.
However, it goes one step further by also letting you measure voltages without having to use the probes, with the tip of its jaws acting as a non-contact voltage tester.
And you don’t even have to buy a thermocouple attachment separately to take advantage of this feature since it comes with the multimeter along with a travel case for easy transport.
The rest is really all of the same convenient features we’ve seen in the products mentioned before: auto-ranging capabilities, Continuity testing, overload protection, backlit LCD, low battery indication and value hold function to name some especially notable ones.
We don’t normally recommend analog multimeters to people, considering the overwhelming advantage digital multimeters have over these devices (more on this later), and the majority of users generally tend to agree with this perspective.
Regardless of the reason, if you’re really adamant on getting an analog multimeter, then we really can’t give a better recommendation than the Tekpower TP7244L.
The Tekpower TP7244L is very close to the AstroAI AM33D in its design and the way it works. In fact, one could say that the only real difference between the two is that of the display, with one being analog and the other digital.
Like the AstroAI AM33D, the Tekpower TP7244L makes a great cheap multimeter for beginners and hobbyists, what with its simple to use dial design and low price.
And while the Tekpower TP7244L does lack the auto-ranging feature, you barely miss it, since you always have easy access to a very large range of measurable values with just a simple turn of the dial.
Things to Consider When Buying a Multimeter
Feeling overwhelmed by all the great choices we’ve just given you to choose from? That’s ok, choice paralysis is a pretty common phenomenon in these situations.
Want to know how you can pick out the multimeter that’s perfect for you? Here are all the questions you need to ask yourself.
Analog or Digital?
In all honesty, digital multimeters are better than analog multimeters in almost every way. They’re way easier to read, easier to adjust to and from different settings, easier to program to measure a number of different values (apart from voltage, resistance and current), and frankly easier to find than their analog counterparts.
They can measure values at larger ranges than what would be possible on a static analog scale. Some of the more advanced ones on the market are even able to present their readouts in more visually appealing ways than just plain numbers, like bar charts, for example.
Then why is there even an argument for analog multimeters, you might ask perplexedly? Simple, it’s all a matter of personal preference.
Much like how many people still love the look of classic analog watches over their snazzier hybrid and digital descendants, some people prefer the analog readout to the digital number display on their multimeters.
Besides, digital multimeters aren’t able to convey changes in electrical values the way analog multimeters can, which can be best described as like reading off the speedometer of a car.
Though the change in values isn’t really something most technicians need to be able to observe in the form of a gradually moving needle, some people definitely prefer the clarity of this kind of readout.
In the end, it really just is a matter of what kind of display you want to view your output on. As long as the device you pick up is accurate in the readings, it gives you, and you can read off of it easily, it doesn’t matter whether it’s digital or not.
Should I Get an Auto-ranger?
For the sake of greater precision in readings, almost all multimeters come with multiple preset modes for the same electrical values, all of which measure the value over different ranges.
For example, the value of resistance may be measured over three modes, say 0 to 20 ohms, 0 to 200 ohms, and 0 to 2000 ohms.
The advantage of segregating your modes like this is that it lets you give more precise values on the smaller ranges, which are only used for small, sensitive circuits, where even the slightest deviation can cause quite a bit of damage down the line.
However, the problem lies not with the segregation into these modes, but rather the way these modes are available to the user for use. Unless you’ve been guided on how to use a multimeter by an expert beforehand, or you actually bothered reading the tediously long user manual (highly unlikely), you probably wouldn’t know about the existence of these modes.
This would lead to you using the wrong mode to try and calculate a value and consequently end up with a less than precise value.
Auto-rangers aims to fix this problem by automatically selecting the best suitable range for the value you’re trying to calculate based on the input received at the probe end. Meaning you don’t really have to bother with learning about the modes since the device always ensures you have the most precise reading you could get out of the device.
That being said, however, learning how to use the proper ranges isn’t really that big of a deal. Most multimeters are pretty easy to use, and you can easily switch from one mode to the other without much of a hassle.
A little know-how is really all you need about what mode would be best for the kind of work you’re trying to do, and that kind of knowledge isn’t hard to acquire (the internet, hello?!).
All in all, auto-ranging is a cool feature for your multimeter to have, but it’s certainly not a deal-breaker.
What Degree of Accuracy am I Looking For?
No matter what it is you’re measuring, it’d be pretty pointless to try and measure it with a tool that can’t give you correct results.
And when you’re dealing with sensitive electrical equipment, accuracy is one facet of a multimeter you simply can’t overlook.
As stated before, even slight deviations in things like voltage and current can have a great impact on the performance and lifespan of the product, and it’s important you know exactly what conditions you’re working in. Well, for professionals at least.
As a hobbyist or someone who just needs a multimeter for small tasks around the house or for his car, you’re probably less concerned about the accuracy, and you can certainly afford to be.
After all, owning a super accurate multimeter would be pretty overkill, considering your use never extends further than the fairly simple stuff.
And it’s not that these cheaper versions aren’t any of; they’re just not as good as the more expensive ones.
Of course, no multimeter you’d find on the market is guaranteed to be a 100% accurate in the reading it gives you.
That’s just the nature of any invention created by humans: they’re all flawed to a certain degree. But even if the multimeters today can’t achieve the gold standard of 100% accuracy, they still do come pretty close.
What Safety Features Should I Look Out For?
Working with electrical components is already a pretty dangerous task, and the risk only compounds, the higher the voltages and currents you start dealing within your line of work.
Using a poor-quality multimeter in these situations can be a pretty risky endeavor. You wouldn’t want your multimeter blowing up in your face if you accidentally plug it in voltages that it just isn’t built to handle.
Even if you’re using a fairly reliable multimeter, you’re still vulnerable to random surges in circuits that can take out your multimeter in a matter of seconds.
Though you really can’t protect your multimeter in these freak occurrences, your multimeter can be built in a way so as to protect you, the handler, from harm.
A good multimeter might get fried under these circumstances, but at least it won’t explode in your hands.
Some safety features to look out for in this regard are as follows:
- Shrouded banana plugs
- Internal blast shields
- Isolation slots that prevent arc over
- Sufficient input protection
- Wide flanges to prevent slippages
How Important is Design and Build Quality?
Though looks are far from your chief concern when selecting a multimeter, there are a couple of things from a design perspective you’d do well to look out for. For one, you should always look for a multimeter that’s fairly bright in color, with red and yellow being the more popular choices in this regard.
The reason for this is pretty simple: the brighter the object is, the easier it’d be for you to find it if you put it down somewhere while doing work, or the easier it’d be for others to spot it before they accidentally step on it and break it.
Though, on the other hand, a multimeter should be durable enough as to not break under someone’s boot, even if the person is a rather heavy stepper. For that matter, almost all multimeters on the market today are fairly durable, being made from hard, heavy plastics and silicone, the kind that doesn’t easily break.
And that’s not even saying anything about the brand. Obviously, no brand has a completely spotless record when it comes to faulty products, and there’s hardly any product you can’t find at least one bad review on, but the great brands out there make it a point to deliver on their products far more often than not, which is why you’d find many people praising a certain brand, while at the same shunning a particular brand for being very unreliable in the quality of their products.
Better not to risk it and just go for the well-established brands and sellers. You’re not guaranteed a flawless product, but you still have a really good chance anyway.
To conclude, a good durable multimeter might be a little more expensive than others on the market, but considering the number of years you’d be able to get out of this single purchase, I’d say it’s well worth the money.
How to Care for Your Multimeter
Like any other tool, your multimeter will only last if you take proper care of it and maintain it on a regular basis. Good news is though maintaining your multimeter isn’t that hard of a task. With a little care and proper guidance, anyone can take care of multimeter, regardless of their skill level.
Here’s a short look at what you’ll need to do to keep your multimeter in tip-top shape:
- Protect the instrument from dust and moisture. Doing this is very simple if you have a proper cover for your multimeter, or you just wipe it down after every use and store it in a dry, clean place.
- Protect your multimeter from excessive heat or using it in hot conditions
- Renew your batteries every once a while
- Calibrate the multimeter at frequent intervals, especially after long periods of not using it
- Power off the circuit when measuring the resistance of the circuit or circuit components
- Check the polarity (which side is positive and which is negative) before you attach the probes to the circuit
- Start with the highest ranges and move on to the lower ranges as needed so as to avoid overloading the multimeter. The range you select should be the one whose upper half the deflection falls in
Follow these simple steps:
Set your multimeter to the 20V range if it’s a manual one. Just set it to Voltage if it’s an auto-ranger.
Touch the negative terminal probe of the multimeter to the negative terminal of the battery. They should both be black in color.
Touch the positive terminal probe of the multimeter to the positive terminal of the battery. They should both be red in color.
Turn on the car headlights.
Read the reading on display.
You don’t NEED one, but it would be a good investment since it protects your multimeter from external damage, dust, and moisture and makes it easier to carry around with all of its accessories.
This is entirely dependent on your use and whether or not you would prefer these clips over the standard needle probes. The advantages of crocodile clips are that they’re able to latch onto terminals, meaning you don’t have to constantly hold them in place. However, they’re also unable to access smaller circuit components, due to their flatter tips, which negates their advantages.
If your multimeter does have a dedicated mode for it, then yes. You would, however, need a separate thermocouple wire attachment (you can’t use your normal probes for measuring temperature) to be able to use this feature.
Better to get it looked at it by a professional. You can perform some basic troubleshooting on it though, like checking the battery or replacing the wire probes with new ones.
Hey, don’t leave just yet! We’ve got a couple of other cool products we’re sure you might be interested in. Don’t forget to take a look at them.
Last update on 2019-12-15 at 11:39 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API