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Best Multimeter Reviews – Product Comparison and Buyer’s Guide

A multimeter is a device designed for testing and measuring electric current and resistance. If you’re an electrician or you only want to check out the state and values of the electricity delivered to your home, there is a high possibility that you’ll need a quality multimeter.

Categories You Can Choose From

Klein Tools MM1000

Multimeters Under 100$

The best thing about these units is that they’re all affordable. However, they come with a few additional features which determine the overall price. The ones under $100 offer more than enough features to anyone who needs to measure the values of electric current.

Amprobe pk-110

Best Multimeters Under 50$

The units that are less than $50 may not have many auxiliary features, but they are still useful and sufficient for smaller projects. These devices are mainly designed for home use and DIY projects. If you don’t need many features, a sub-$50 multimeter will be more than enough for your needs.

Fluke 115 Multimeter

Best Automotive Multimeters

If you need an automotive multimeter instead of the one for home use, you’re in luck. Despite the popular opinion that these tools require a lot of financial resources, they won’t damage your budget at all. You can avoid going to a mechanic and spending money for diagnosis and repairs if you opt for an automotive multimeter.

Fluke 87-V

HVAC Multimeter Reviews

“HVAC” stands for heating, ventilation and air conditioning. Multimeters for HVAC applications usually have additional functions built in such as a thermometer. These devices are designed for professionals and projects that demand precise measuring. People who require HVAC don’t need to measure amperages above 1 Amp.

Best Multimeter from Each Category

Best Multimeter Under $100 – Klein Tools MM1000


Our Rating: 4.5

The Klein Tools MM1000 is a digital multimeter with an auto-ranging function that can measure up to 1000 volts. While it’s quite similar to the other models from the “Under $100” category, there are a few things that make it a bit different.

First of all, the display is backlit. Although it sounds pretty standard, the backlight isn’t always a feature, especially in these affordable categories. You can also measure temperature with the Klein Tools MM1000, which is pretty rare for a tool that’s under 100 dollars.

Due to its versatility and auxiliary features, it can even be used by professionals in some occasions. It is well-designed and equipped with a rubber casing to ensure a firm grip and protect from falls and bumps. As you can see, it’s sturdy, durable, and most importantly – affordable.

  • Design
  • Functionality
  • Price
klien-tool-mm1000-categories

Our Rating: 4.5

The Klein Tools MM1000 is a digital multimeter with an auto-ranging function that can measure up to 1000 volts. While it’s quite similar to the other models from the “Under $100” category, there are a few things that make it a bit different.

First of all, the display is backlit. Although it sounds pretty standard, the backlight isn’t always a feature, especially in these affordable categories. You can also measure temperature with the Klein Tools MM1000, which is pretty rare for a tool that’s under 100 dollars.

Due to its versatility and auxiliary features, it can even be used by professionals in some occasions. It is well-designed and equipped with a rubber casing to ensure a firm grip and protect from falls and bumps. As you can see, it’s sturdy, durable, and most importantly – affordable.

  • Design
  • Functionality
  • Price

Best Multimeter Under $50 – Amprobe PK-110


Our Rating: 4.3

If you’re a hobbyist who needs a decent multimeter for occasional voltage and current tests, we recommend the Amprobe PK-110 kit. Although it’s not suitable for professionals due to the lack of some functions, it’s perfect for DIY-ers because of its versatility and ease of use.

The thing that makes the Amprobe PK-110 different from other units on the list is the fact that it’s a kit rather than a single unit. The kit includes the AM-420 multimeter, VP1000B non-contact voltage stick, and the ST102B socket tester. All three of these components are equally useful in various situations. The only minor shortcoming is that it can measure voltages up to 250V instead of 600V or even 1000V. If you opt for this unit, you won’t regret your decision.

  • Design
  • Functionality
  • Price
amprobe_pk-110

Our Rating: 4.3

If you’re a hobbyist who needs a decent multimeter for occasional voltage and current tests, we recommend the Amprobe PK-110 kit. Although it’s not suitable for professionals due to the lack of some functions, it’s perfect for DIY-ers because of its versatility and ease of use.

The thing that makes the Amprobe PK-110 different from other units on the list is the fact that it’s a kit rather than a single unit. The kit includes the AM-420 multimeter, VP1000B non-contact voltage stick, and the ST102B socket tester. All three of these components are equally useful in various situations. The only minor shortcoming is that it can measure voltages up to 250V instead of 600V or even 1000V. If you opt for this unit, you won’t regret your decision.

  • Design
  • Functionality
  • Price

Best Automotive Multimeters – Fluke 115


Our Rating: 4.8

Automotive units are quite similar to the regular ones with a few slight differences. The biggest difference is the voltage range. While standard multimeters are for high voltages (110V+), the automotive ones tolerate 6-24 volts. One of the best automotive units you can find is the Fluke 115.

The first thing you’ll notice is the design. It’s compact, lightweight, and easy to use. Those three factors make this particular product different from the others. The unit has a large display which doesn’t lose contrast under particular angles. The LED backlight ensures crystal-clear test results so that you can use this unit even in dark areas.

One of the main things about the Fluke 115 is its portability. Due to its compactness, it’s suitable for field work and rough conditions. It can be used both by DIY-ers and professionals because of its versatility, precision, and accuracy.

  • Design
  • Functionality
  • Price
fluke-115

Our Rating: 4.8

Automotive units are quite similar to the regular ones with a few slight differences. The biggest difference is the voltage range. While standard multimeters are for high voltages (110V+), the automotive ones tolerate 6-24 volts. One of the best automotive units you can find is the Fluke 115.

The first thing you’ll notice is the design. It’s compact, lightweight, and easy to use. Those three factors make this particular product different from the others. The unit has a large display which doesn’t lose contrast under particular angles. The LED backlight ensures crystal-clear test results so that you can use this unit even in dark areas.

One of the main things about the Fluke 115 is its portability. Due to its compactness, it’s suitable for field work and rough conditions. It can be used both by DIY-ers and professionals because of its versatility, precision, and accuracy.

  • Design
  • Functionality
  • Price

Best HVAC Multimeters – Fluke 87-V


Our Rating: 4.7

This multimeter has everything you’ll ever need for conducting tests and troubleshooting HVAC applications. Fluke is a well-known company from the United States, and they are known to take great care about the design and accuracy of their products. Well, the Fluke 87-V isn’t any different.

One thing you’ll notice right away is the price. Although many people expect high-end multimeters to be quite expensive, it isn’t necessarily the case. For example, this unit comes with an affordable price yet it offers most of the features you might need during tests and diagnosis.

It can measure up to 10A and 20A up to 30 seconds without an issue. The True RMS function offers accurate data every time, and other functions such as the data hold feature will ease the use of this already simple product. If you’re a devoted professional, make sure that you check this unit out; it might be the one you’re looking for.

  • Design
  • Functionality
  • Price
fluke_87-V

Our Rating: 4.7

This multimeter has everything you’ll ever need for conducting tests and troubleshooting HVAC applications. Fluke is a well-known company from the United States, and they are known to take great care about the design and accuracy of their products. Well, the Fluke 87-V isn’t any different.

One thing you’ll notice right away is the price. Although many people expect high-end multimeters to be quite expensive, it isn’t necessarily the case. For example, this unit comes with an affordable price yet it offers most of the features you might need during tests and diagnosis.

It can measure up to 10A and 20A up to 30 seconds without an issue. The True RMS function offers accurate data every time, and other functions such as the data hold feature will ease the use of this already simple product. If you’re a devoted professional, make sure that you check this unit out; it might be the one you’re looking for.

  • Design
  • Functionality
  • Price

Different Types of Multimeters

Digital Multimeter


A digital multimeter (DMM) is a tool used by technicians in the electric industry to measure different values such as current, resistance, and voltage. These units replaced the needle-based analog meters a long time ago and brought a whole new aspect of accuracy and precision. The DMMs are also more reliable and have more impedance.

The digital multimeters combine multiple testing features in one device. While you have to have numerous single-task meters if you want to, for example, test voltage and resistance at once, you can use a single digital meter for conducting these measurements.

These devices usually include some advanced features for technicians who need specialized instruments. The front side of a digital meter has four components – display, buttons for selecting various functions, dial (or rotary switch) for determining the measurement values (amps, ohms, volts), and input jacks for the test leads. The leads are two insulated wires that plug into the unit and serve as a conductor from the object that’s being tested to the meter. The red one is for positive, and the black wire is for negative.

The term “resolution” has nothing to do with the number of pixels, like with other tech commodities. In this case, the resolution describes the sensitivity of a particular device. By knowing a meter’s resolution, a technician can determine whether it’s possible to detect a small change in the signal. For example, if a device has a resolution of 5mV on the 20V range, it means you’ll be able to detect a change of 5mV while reading 1V. If you find it hard to comprehend the concept of resolution, think of it as the multimeter’s sensitivity.

Modern DMMs have grown and evolved significantly regarding sensitivity and precision since they were launched on the market decades ago. As the demand for accuracy grows, it makes much more sense to use a digital meter instead of an analog one. Most of the modern ones provide a lot of versatility. For example, you can set the range both manually and automatically; it’s up to you. The auto-ranging feature saves a lot of time and hassle because you don’t have to know the actual range yourself; the unit does that for you.

Analog Multimeter


Although digital multimeters are slowly taking over the market, the analog ones are still very relevant and useful for a few reasons. The first difference between these two types is the way they deliver readings. The analog ones have a needle that swings across the calibrated scale, whereas the digital model has a LED display.

One of the advantages of analog multimeters is that they deliver the results much quicker than digital ones. The lack of delay especially helps electricians who are checking the continuity of several wires at once. Those who want to measure transitory voltage will also appreciate the instantaneous readings.

Also, these units don’t break down as often as the digital ones do. Due to the lack of sensitive electronics (mainly LED display components), analog multimeters offer durability and most importantly – consistency and precision. It doesn’t matter if you purchase the most expensive one on the market if it doesn’t deliver accurate and precise data – it’s not worth a lot, and that’s why some people favor analog over digital.

Because an analog meter has a needle and a coil to represent its readings, it can be very sensitive and delicate to vibrational shocks. So, whereas digital meters can take a few bumps and hits, the analog ones are quite sensitive to vibrations which can lead to either them going out of calibration or completely damaging the coil and the needle. However, you can alleviate the issue by putting the device into a plastic or rubber casing, although it’s just a preventive measure and doesn’t guarantee an absolute resistance and immunity to physical damage.

As far as the readability goes, the digital ones are far simpler. The display on an analog meter consists of a few different scales with different values. If you don’t know the proper way to read the values, you won’t be able to use the meter, whereas it’s quite easy with the digital ones as you get a number displayed as well as the measurement units. The lack of decimals is also a common problem for analog units. It can be quite challenging to determine the below-zero values on an analog device.

Things to Consider When Choosing the Best Product

resolution

Think about the resolution

One of the most important factors of these devices is the resolution. It detects the smallest change in the input signal which causes a change in the output signal. The resolution of a DMM is expressed by the number of digits it’s able to display. Most units on the market are either 3.5 or 4.5-digit meters with the range of 1999 to 19999. Also, the resolution is sometimes specified as “count.”

Whether you’re an amateur or a professional, you’re going to need a device with a good resolution to tackle some of the more sensitive projects. The wider the range, the better the resolution is – it’s as simple as that. For example, a 3.5-digit meter has three digits which can display values from 0 to 9, and one figure that can show either 1 or 0.

accuracy

Aim for high accuracy

The accuracy is the maximum allowed error limit within one reading. It is usually expressed as “±” which represents the percentage of the reading plus number of the least significant digit (LSD.) This figure represents errors caused due to offset noise, various tolerances, and more. For example, if you have a 4.5 DMM with an accuracy of ± (0.1%+1)) and you measure a 12V output, the unit is expected to show a range between 11880V and 12120V. When you take the LSD into consideration, the last digit of these numbers can fluctuate by ±1.

Needless to say, a unit with a high accuracy tends to offer more precise readings. However, you’re not obligated to buy the most accurate one. People often use this approach and purchase the one with the highest accuracy, even though they might not need it. It leads to overpaying a product with features you simply don’t need.

true rms

Check out the True RMS

True RMS handles measuring alternating current (AC) or AC voltage. Although it may seem like a complicated formula, it’s pretty simple. It measures the equivalent direct current (DC) value of an AC signal. In simpler words, it evaluates the effectiveness of any AC wave signal. An average-responding unit uses mathematical formulas to precisely measure sinusoidal waves. Although it can measure non-sinusoidal waves, it lacks precision.

However, a sophisticated unit can deliver accurate measures of both sinusoidal and non-sinusoidal waves. An average attempt to measure waves that are distorted can be up to 40% low and 10% high in the calculations. The necessity for True RMS grew rapidly in recent years because more and more electrical devices use short signal pulses. For example, computers and HVAC devices use short pulses.

input impedance

Pay attention to Input Impedance

The input impedance is of particular importance for sensitive electronics and control circuits because the DMM has little to no impact on circuit performance if it features good input impedance. Luckily, most digital multimeters feature high input impedance which is often greater than one mega-ohm. The older generation of analog meters has a very low input of around ten kilo-ohms which can affect and damage sensitive electronics and circuits. While older analog meters are still useful, they should only be used to test circuits where the low impedance won’t have a negative impact.

However, you can’t afford to risk with high-tech stuff such as computers, phones, and other gadgets, so it’s advised that you use a unit with high impedance and prevent any possible issues and circuit breakdowns.

Multimeter Basics – Everything You Need to Know

Many people consider these units complicated and too complex to handle. However, don’t let the fancy knobs and buttons fool you, it’s a pretty simple device. Once you try it a few times, you’ll get a hold of it quickly. All you have to know is to take care of your safety, and that’s it. The basic definition of a multimeter is straightforward – it’s a tool that combines multiple features such as a voltmeter, ohmmeter, and ammeter.

The terminology – AC and DC

AC stands for alternating current. AC works on a principle where an electrical charge changes directions periodically, around 60 times per second. It is the current that gets delivered to your household and makes your lights shine brightly.

DC stands for direct current in which the electricity travels in only one direction. This type of current is mainly used in things that run on batteries. For example, the electronics in your car run on DC because of the car battery.

A multimeter can measure both DC and AC currents.

Advanced features

The symbols on a multimeter

There are many types of multimeters on the market nowadays, and the price can range from $10 to several hundred dollars. However, to keep things simple, we’ll pay attention to the most basic ones out there.

Most of the meters you’re going to be using have three primary sections:

  • Voltage
  • Ohms
  • AC measurement

The Voltage section is used for measuring the electric potential difference, and in most units, it ranges from 200 millivolts to 600 volts.

Ohms are used for measuring the resistance of electricity. Also, the higher the reading, the more resistance a cord has which means it’s harder for the electricity to flow through it.

The third symbol is for AC. This section goes from 200 milliamps to 600 volts.

Also, two leads are included with every unit, a black (negative) and red (positive.)

basics

Advanced Features

As we said, there are many different DMMs on the market at the moment, and most of them are pretty basic. However, there are also some with advanced features. If you’re an amateur, you probably won’t need these features much. In fact, it’s always a better idea to avoid purchasing something just because it’s more expensive or has more features, especially if you don’t know how to use them or you simply don’t need that many.

Advanced multimeters can also measure capacitance, frequency, temperature, and pressure. When buying a device, you need to consider the functions and measurements you need not only in the present but also in the future.

More advanced features that may only be found in high-end meters can include a graphical display to show AC measurements in real time. This feature can be used for identifying irregularities in the wave signal. A data log function can also be a part of modern multimeters.

It allows you to monitor and store the measured data over a longer amount of time. Some units may also include a Low Pass Filter which is used for troubleshooting motor drives. This filter will block unwanted voltages above 1 kilohertz when measuring frequency or AC voltage.

The low impedance mode prevents ghost voltages from being measured, which allows more accurate measurements and precise readings.

Last, but not least, some advanced meters may include an offset compensation feature (Smart Ohm) which also offers better accuracy under certain conditions. This feature tests resistance with two different currents applied to determine if there are any offset voltages in the input circuit.

If you need any of these features, your safest bet is to check some of our full reviews and find a suiting meter for yourself.

Conclusion


The most important thing you need to do is remember that you’re dealing with electricity and that every minor error can be fatal. Many people neglect the dangers because they think it’s safe due to small voltages or small amounts of amps.

However, even if you’re a long-time professional, don’t forget to take precautionary measures before dealing with electricity.

The things you can do:

  • Discharge the circuit before connecting a multimeter
  • Don’t apply power while measuring resistance
  • Make sure you meter is set on AC mode before you start measuring AC current
  • Pay attention to polarity when handling DC
  • When you’re done using it, switch the device off if there’s an OFF button. If there is not button, set the meter to the highest AC voltage

All of these steps are necessary precautionary measures, so don’t forget to use them every time you’re messing with electricity – they will save your life.

Do not touch the open circuit with bare hands, regardless of voltage values. It doesn’t mean it’s necessarily safe if it’s low voltage because amps play a massive part as well. If both values are low (amps and volts,) then it might be considered non-fatal, but certainly not safe.

If you want a better insight into a particular device, feel free to read our reviews. They are all well-written and comprehensive even for people who never had contact with these units. The best part is that they are all affordable, and every household should own at least one.