A multimeter is a tool that every household should keep in their toolbox. That’s because it’s not only extremely useful for DIY projects but is also extremely useful for many different types of home repairs. This device, also known by the name volt-ohm-meter is useful for doing complex electronic diagnostics, checking batteries and for checking for electronic faults.
Meters come in a wide assortment of different varieties and brands, so it’s important that the consumer does their research and buys the best multimeter they can afford. To help you out with this research, we’ve not only assembled what we feel are the top ten best models currently available, but also some tips on buying a meter that you’ll get many years of use from. Having said that, let’s go ahead and get started.
Best Multimeters – Reviews
10Innova 3320 Auto-Ranging Multimeter
This brightly colored multimeter not only is a very handsome looking unit, but it also is designed in a way that it’s easy to use and read. All of the markings around its dial are clearly marked and color-coded for convenience, and this tool has a large LCD screen that is easy for just about anyone to see. This UL-certified device is ideal for all kind of home maintenance and automotive repair tests and has a conveniently built-in stand that allows for hands-free testing. Included with this unit are attachable test leads and holders for convenience. This unit also has protective rubber corners that protect it when it is dropped.
9Craftsman 34-82141 Digital Multimeter
This handy multimeter can measure up to 10-Amps and 600-Volts of AC current for all kinds of different home appliance and electronic diagnostic testing. It has up to 2-Megaohms of resistance and has a diode test that’s useful for electronic testing. Using this device, the user can use this meter to check for wiring shorts, which the unit will confirm by sounding an audible tone. This product comes with two test leads and is easy to hold and use. It also has a nice size screen that is easy to see and has a kick out stand that allows it to be used as a hands-free meter.
8Amprobe AM-510 Home & Commercial Meter
Tough yet compact, this meter is designed to be easy to use by homeowners but strong enough to be used in a commercial setting. This tool has been tested to meet CAT IV 600V and CAT III 1000V standards, as well as the safety standards set forth by the ACMA and the CSA. It has a dual-reading backlit LCD screen that features an analog bar graph and has a large dial with which to set capacitance, resistance, and other settings. This meter also has a built-in flashlight and built-in stand with probe holder that allows the meter to be used hands-free.
7Sperry Instruments DM6250 7-Function Meter
Manufactured using a high-impact ABS plastic with an easy-to-hold ergonomic design and with over-molded soft rubber grips, this unit can be held for long periods of time without cramping the user’s hands. Which makes it ideal for professionals who need to use it every day all day long. This unit can test both AC and DC voltages and is auto-ranging so it can determine the necessary resolution based upon the particular application. This light unit provides continuity and resistance measurements, and can also be used to perform diode diagnostics and battery testing. All of which makes it quite a useful tool for just about any application.
6Aidbucks Janisa PM18 Voltage Tester
Some of the more useful features which can be found on this voltage meter include a 6,000-count display, backlit LCD indicator, diode and triode testing, live line testing, overload protection, short circuit protection, a data hold feature, and an auto power off function. This meter has a large rotary switch that’s easy to turn and also has large function buttons that are easy to operate. To allow operation in darkly lit areas, this unit also has a flashlight on the back of the unit. This is an ideal unit for finding shorts and faulty wiring in a number of home appliance and automotive applications and is perfect for use in homes, factories, and schools.
5Etekcity MSR-C600 Digital Clamp Meter
Designed in a way that makes checking household electrical wiring a lot easier and a lot safer, this meter is a tool that belongs in just about any household’s toolbox. It can be used with both its wire leads or with its clamp and can test AC/DC voltage, resistance, diodes and a variety of other electronic circuitry. It has a capacity of 400-Amps and has a number of exciting featuring including a data hold, a large LCD display, and a Max Reading. It also comes with a carrying case that makes it easy to carry from place to place and is perfect for hobbyists and DIY enthusiasts.
4Neoteck Pocket Multi-Tester
This pocket multi-tester is pretty popular and its fairly easy to see why. It has a number of features which make it not only useful for DIY electronic enthusiasts, but also for home use as well. It has a 200 KHz frequency measurement, 2000μF Capacitance and can accurately measure both AC and DC current. It has built-in overload protection and is CE-rated, which makes it very safe to troubleshoot automotive and household electrical currents. This tester also has a rather large LCD display that’s backlit and comes with both a pair of test leads as well as an alligator clip cable.
3Fluke 87-V Digital Meter
Designed and manufactured in the United States, this product is not only durable but is also extremely accurate. In fact, it has a .05% DC accuracy rate. Other features which can be found on this unit include a large LCD display, a 10,000 µF capacitance range and a dual-display resolution. Another great feature which can be found on this tool is a built-in thermometer which allows the user to take temperature readings without having to carry an additional tool with them. It’s no wonder this device is one of the more trusted meters currently available and is used by professionals and amateurs alike.
2Fluke 115 True-RMS Multimeter
A number of great features can be found on this nice multi-meter. For example, it has an LED backlight that allows the user to work even in areas that don’t have much light. It also has true-RMS for accurately measuring non-linear loads and can measure 20 A for 30-seconds or 10 A continuously. This tool is CAT III 600 C safety-rated and can be used to check frequency and capacitance. This unit has an operating temperature of -10 degrees Celsius up to 50-degrees Celsius, so it can be used in just about any environment. And it comes with a nice case that keeps it safe in between uses.
1Fluke 117 Electricians True RMS Meter
Professional electricians need professional tools like the Fluke 117. This multimeter has all of the features one would expect from a high-quality unit. This includes a large white LED backlight that allows the electrician to work in low-light conditions, True RMS for accurate measurements, even on non-linear loads and an operating temperature from -10 degrees Celsius up to over 50 degrees Celsius, so it can be used in virtually all conditions. Since it also has low input impedance, this product also isn’t susceptible to ghost voltages or false readings like some other cheaper models. All things taken into consideration, this device has the features professionals want but is easy enough to be used by amateur DIY enthusiasts.
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What to Look For in a Multimeter
Although multi-meters are often marketed as tools for electricians and other professionals, in reality, they are tools which can be used by just about anyone. They’re not only useful for checking AC and DC electrical circuits but can be used for finding shorts in automobiles or in electronics and can be used to check the integrity of batteries. And that’s only the tip of the proverbial iceberg. These tools can be used for all kinds of different projects – no matter how simple or how complex the project.
Before you can buy a multi-meter that suits your needs, however, you have to know what features you should look for when shopping for one of these tools. Fortunately for you, we’ve assembled some of the features that any respectable meter should have below. Compare these features against the meters you are thinking about purchasing, and you’ll have a better chance of buying a tool that will serve you well.
AC & DC Voltage
If you are going to use the multi-meter for both home and automotive use, then you are going to need a tool that can measure both AC and DC voltage. Electrical systems in your household are AC systems and the system in your vehicle is based on a 12-Volt DC system, so having a multi-meter that can be used for both types of voltages are used for all kinds of home and automotive projects.
Your meter should also be able to measure continuity. This is extremely useful for finding if there’s a short in a particular system or if a fuse is still good. For example, suppose that you want to check for an open circuit in your vehicle’s electrical system. You could check continuity by checking the circuit when there is no power running through it.
You’ll also want your meter to be able to measure Amps. Fortunately, just about every meter does. You can select 300 mA for measuring low electrical flows or 10-Amp for dealing with larger amounts of current.
Backlit LCD Screen
When searching for a multi-meter for amateur or professional use, you’ll probably want to get a model that has a nice large LCD screen. This will allow you to more easily see the readings that you are testing to receiving. Getting a unit with a back-lit display will ensure that you can see this reading, even if you are testing in conditions with less than ideal lighting conditions.
Anyone who’s tested electrical circuits knows that it seems like you need three hands to get a good reading, especially if you have to use a flashlight or hold back a wiring harness while you’re testing. Fortunately, manufacturers have come up with special features which make it easier to take the reading.
One of the first things some meters have is a kick-stand. Just like a kick-stand on a bike, this feature allows the device to sit upright while you run your tests. This enables you to see the screen while the unit is being used.
Another great feature that’s often found on meters is a probe holder. This feature holds the probe in place while it’s being used, which frees up your hand for other purposes. While there are some meters which have both of these features, others may have just one of them, so it’s important that you do your homework.
A built-in flashlight is an enormously helpful tool that I feel every meter should have. Unfortunately, there aren’t a whole lot of them that do. So, if this is a feature that’s important to you, then be sure to get a model that has one.
I often use my multimeter for working on my PC and having a meter with a built-in thermometer is almost a necessity for that application. It will allow me to get a temperature reading of the component while I’m running tests on it.
Ideally, you’ll want to get a unit with the highest safety rating possible for the application you are going to use the meter on. Many multimeters have an Overvoltage Installation Category that tells the consumer the likely uses for the meter. This category is expressed in CAT numbers. Generally speaking, the higher the number refers to the electrical environment and energy variables. A meter with a higher CAT number is usually more resistant to higher energy transients than a model with a lower CAT number. Below are some of the more common CAT safety ratings for multimeters:
- CAT I – Electronic Components & High-Voltage low energy sources found on consumer electronics Equipment connected to low-level source components
- CAT II – Single Phase receptacles, outlets that are at least 30-feet from a CAT III source or 60-feet from a CAT IV source.
- CAT III – Three-phase distribution, single-phase commercial lighting, large building lighting systems.
- CAT IV – Three-phase utility connections and electrical meters.
As a general rule of thumb, the closer you are testing to the power source, or the higher the short circuit voltage is at a particular point, the higher the CAT number needs to be for safety purposes. Which is why the industrial and professional meters all have high CAT ratings.
Please note that the above-listed categories have been listed just for general knowledge purposes. It’s not intended to replace the safety recommendations listed in your meter’s manual or as a guide for the suggested use of your meter. Always read all of the safety information that comes with your meter and follow all of its recommendations. You should also make sure that the unit you are considering on buying conforms to UL safety standards as well.
Finding a multimeter doesn’t have to be a complicated or difficult process. It also doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. If you spend some time looking over our top ten list and checking out some of the features you should look for when choosing a meter, then you’ll end up with a meter that will get the job done and get it done accurately.