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Best multimeters under $50

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  • Product Name:
  • Price:
  • Rating:
amprobe_pk-110
  • Amprobe PK-110 (kit)
  • $
craftsman_34-82141
  • Craftsman 34-82141Multimeter
  • $
kleintools_mm400
  • Kleintools MM400 Multimeter
  • $
amprobe_pk-110
  • Amprobe PK-110 Multimeter (kit)
  • $
extech_mn35
  • Extech MN35 Multimeter
  • $
mastech_ms8264
  • Mastech MS8264 Multimeter
  • $
R

Good for

The most significant advantage of the under $50 multimeters is, obviously, their price. These devices are a perfect choice for all those handymen who don’t want to spend too much money on a new multimeter. Even though they don’t have as many functions as their more expensive cousins, they’re still quite capable to help you out with the basic measurements.

Another benefit is the fact that they’re very simple. Unlike the more sophisticated models, the cheap multimeters typically don’t have a lot of modes and options, which greatly simplifies their use. One doesn’t have to be a professional to know how to use them – it’s simple and can be done by almost anyone.

We should also mention that these devices usually sport low-capacity batteries, which turns them into efficient energy-savers. Of course, this doesn’t mean that they’ll turn off when you need them the most – that’s what the “low battery” alarms are there for.

Q

Not Good for

Unfortunately, the low cost of these devices has an adverse effect on their build quality. Even though the cheap multimeters (especially those manufactured by trusted companies) are sturdy enough to survive falls from low heights, they still can’t be compared to more expensive models in terms of sturdiness. They’re not constructed from premium materials and aren’t as durable.

As we mentioned in the previous part of the article, the under $50 multimeters are usually capable of measuring just the most basic values. They don’t feature a lot of modes and options and are not intended to be used by the professionals who work with electronics every day.

The companies who make such devices are aware of their build quality and durability, which is why they don’t provide buyers with the best warranties. An extended warranty is not something to be expected when it comes to cheap multimeters.

TOP RATED MULTIMETERS UNDER $50


A quality multimeter is a necessary commodity if you’re planning to deal with electricity in various ways. For example, if you want to measure the capacitance of a certain object, you can’t do it without a proper tool. However, buying a quality unit isn’t as easy as it seems. There are many factors that people should pay attention to. The main problem is that not everybody knows what to look for in a multimeter because most of them look quite similar to each other.

We are here to help you choose the right tool for the right amount of money. All of these multimeters have an affordable price, and they offer various useful features and options. We’ve made a list of five multimeters under $50 that we think are worth checking out. If you’re interested, go ahead and read our reviews, you should find something of interest.

There is no big difference between these five units; it’s all about slight variations. Whichever you choose out of these, you won’t make a mistake. They are all compact, precise, and most importantly – affordable. Once you make a decision to treat yourself with a brand new meter, the rest is easy.

Our Rating: 4.3
This multimeter is one of the best in its category. It has eight basic functions, manual ranging, and a set of audible signals for various warnings and notifications. It uses a single 9V battery which can last well over a year if you maintain the instrument in good condition. It’s great for quick measurements “on the go.” However, even some professionals found good use in it, although it’s advised that you buy a higher-class multimeter for professional purposes.

The dimensions of this unit are 9.4 x 1.5 x 7.5 inches, which means it fits any pocket and it doesn’t take much space in your toolbox. The great thing about this particular product is that it has the auto shut off function which isn’t a standard in this category. It’s a useful feature because it saves power, and most importantly – money. The unit will turn off after 15 minutes of inactivity to preserve battery.

A rubber holster is included with the Craftsman 34-82141 to serve as a protection against bumps and accidental hits. Although it’s not an absolute protection, it still serves its purpose to some extent. The tilt stand is located on the back of the casing, and it comes in handy if you want to position the unit vertically. While most multimeters from this category have an issue with the tilt stand because most of them are either loose or short, this particular one has a stable and sturdy stand, which doesn’t slide on smooth surfaces.

Although it doesn’t feature an auto range option, it offers 18 different ranges to ensure maximum accuracy. At the end of the day, the precision and accuracy are two crucial factors for a quality multimeter. The resistance is up to 2 Ohms, which is more than enough for measuring current in household electronics (TVs, computers, freezers.)

Our Rating: 4.3
The Klein Tools MM400 is an auto ranging multimeter with a great backlit display, and it can measure capacitance, frequency, temperature, duty cycle, and test diodes. As you can see, it’s a versatile instrument with an affordable price, which is the perfect combination. Although it’s not advised for professionals who deal with electricity on a daily basis, some of them found it quite useful and handy. It can measure up to 600V AC/DC voltage, 10A current, and resistance up to 40 Ohms.

The sturdy design is what makes this unit different from others. It’s built to withstand a drop from a height of 1m (around three feet), bumps, and daily wear and tear. The battery compartment is accessible, which is also a great thing because some of these units have pretty inaccessible compartments hidden behind layers of protection, plastic, or other. The low battery indicator feature comes in handy if you use the instrument on a daily basis. Many people end up with empty batteries because they neglect that part. However, it’s quite a nuisance to get stuck with a non-functional multimeter far away from a store or supermarket. Luckily, the low battery indicator will warn you promptly and help you to avoid unpleasant surprises.

A feature worth mentioning is the ability to measure temperatures. Although it’s a standard option in some high-end multimeters, it’s pretty surprising in this category. It works on a simple principle. A thermocouple is included in the box, and all you have to do is connect it properly to the unit, set a correct mode, and the rest is easy. This unit is a pretty good investment, to say the least. While the company invested resources in integrating additional features while keeping the accuracy on a high level, the Klein Tools MM400 remains affordable and accessible to DIY enthusiasts.

Our Rating: 4.3
The Klein Tools MM400 is an auto ranging multimeter with a great backlit display, and it can measure capacitance, frequency, temperature, duty cycle, and test diodes. As you can see, it’s a versatile instrument with an affordable price, which is the perfect combination. Although it’s not advised for professionals who deal with electricity on a daily basis, some of them found it quite useful and handy. It can measure up to 600V AC/DC voltage, 10A current, and resistance up to 40 Ohms.

The sturdy design is what makes this unit different from others. It’s built to withstand a drop from a height of 1m (around three feet), bumps, and daily wear and tear. The battery compartment is accessible, which is also a great thing because some of these units have pretty inaccessible compartments hidden behind layers of protection, plastic, or other. The low battery indicator feature comes in handy if you use the instrument on a daily basis. Many people end up with empty batteries because they neglect that part. However, it’s quite a nuisance to get stuck with a non-functional multimeter far away from a store or supermarket. Luckily, the low battery indicator will warn you promptly and help you to avoid unpleasant surprises.

A feature worth mentioning is the ability to measure temperatures. Although it’s a standard option in some high-end multimeters, it’s pretty surprising in this category. It works on a simple principle. A thermocouple is included in the box, and all you have to do is connect it properly to the unit, set a correct mode, and the rest is easy. This unit is a pretty good investment, to say the least. While the company invested resources in integrating additional features while keeping the accuracy on a high level, the Klein Tools MM400 remains affordable and accessible to DIY enthusiasts.

Our Rating: 4.3
You can check for the presence of voltage in switches, receptacles, light fixtures, extension cords, and more with the Amprobe PK-110 kit. It’s a great addition to your toolkit if you’re a DIY enthusiast who deals with electricity occasionally. While it’s not the best tool for professional electricians, it’s quite useful for people who need a sensitive instrument to check various electricity-related analytics.

The pack consists of three electrical components with features that are required for a variety of tests and troubleshooting interventions. An AM-420 multimeter, ST-102B socket tester, and a VP-1000 non-contact voltage probe are included in the box. From checking the presence of voltage in outlets to confirming the proper GFCI wiring, the PK-110 kit has all features required for quick interventions.

The measurable AC/DC voltage of this particular multimeter is 250V. Maximum DC is 200mA, and it can measure resistances up to 2 Ohms. On the other hand, the operating voltage of the ST-120B is 110-125V (American and Canadian sockets,) wattage is 0.3W, and it can verify proper wiring of GFCI. It features audible warnings for continuity checks as well. For example, when you’re checking if a fuse is blown, select the proper mode, and apply the leads on both ends. If the fuse is working, the instrument will display a value close to zero. However, if the fuse is blown, the meter will most likely show the number “1.”

Testing for voltages with the ST-102B and VP-1000 is quite simple. To confirm proper wiring with the ST-102B, all you have to do is insert it in a socket and wait for the signal. If the two LEDs turn on, the test is successful. The GFCI wiring is extremely important because every minor incident would end up with fatal consequences without a proper ground fault circuit interrupter.

Our Rating: 4.1
This unit has eight functions, including the ability to measure temperature, which is a rare option in this category. The main thing about the Extech MN35 is its compactness and ease of use. It’s great for beginners who aren’t dealing with electricity-related stuff on a daily basis. One of the greatest things about it is its large and legible display. Many multimeters have a common issue with the screen size. However, Extech made sure to integrate a crystal-clear LCD with big numbers and symbols.

The design is also pretty neat. As we said, it’s compact, and it can fit in any pocket without an issue. It also comes with a protective rubber holster and a tilt stand. As you can assume, the rubber protection is effective against slight bumps and falls. Regarding the tilt stand, you can use it if you want to position the instrument vertically. The thermocouple measures temperatures up to 1400 degrees Fahrenheit (750 degrees Celsius.)

Using the thermocouple is pretty easy. All you have to do is connect the probe to the unit, and that’s it. However, make sure that you insert the thermocouple into the right socket. If you don’t connect the probe properly, there is a high chance that you’re going to break the unit beyond repair. The unit uses a 9V battery which can last at least ten months. The battery compartment is easily accessible, and that’s a good thing because most modern multimeters have hidden and inaccessible battery compartments which make switching batteries pretty annoying after a while. However, because you’ll change the batteries only once a year, it’s not a big deal.

The data hold option is what makes this particular unit different from the others. You can store your last reading if you aren’t able to write it down or remember the values. This option is especially useful in urgent scenarios.

Our Rating: 4.1
This unit has eight functions, including the ability to measure temperature, which is a rare option in this category. The main thing about the Extech MN35 is its compactness and ease of use. It’s great for beginners who aren’t dealing with electricity-related stuff on a daily basis. One of the greatest things about it is its large and legible display. Many multimeters have a common issue with the screen size. However, Extech made sure to integrate a crystal-clear LCD with big numbers and symbols.

The design is also pretty neat. As we said, it’s compact, and it can fit in any pocket without an issue. It also comes with a protective rubber holster and a tilt stand. As you can assume, the rubber protection is effective against slight bumps and falls. Regarding the tilt stand, you can use it if you want to position the instrument vertically. The thermocouple measures temperatures up to 1400 degrees Fahrenheit (750 degrees Celsius.)

Using the thermocouple is pretty easy. All you have to do is connect the probe to the unit, and that’s it. However, make sure that you insert the thermocouple into the right socket. If you don’t connect the probe properly, there is a high chance that you’re going to break the unit beyond repair. The unit uses a 9V battery which can last at least ten months. The battery compartment is easily accessible, and that’s a good thing because most modern multimeters have hidden and inaccessible battery compartments which make switching batteries pretty annoying after a while. However, because you’ll change the batteries only once a year, it’s not a big deal.

The data hold option is what makes this particular unit different from the others. You can store your last reading if you aren’t able to write it down or remember the values. This option is especially useful in urgent scenarios.

Our Rating: 4.2
One of the top products from the “Under $50” category is the Mastech MS8264. It has everything you’ll ever need for checking continuity, voltage, capacitance, and much more. It can also measure temperature via thermocouple, which is great, especially because it’s a rare feature in this category. The 2000-count display is backlit, legible, and the numbers are quite big.

The Mastech MS8264 can be considered as an entry-level professional tool or a great product for DIY’ers and hobbyists. One thing that makes this unit impressive is the price-to-quality ratio. While it packs a ton of additional features and options, it remains affordable and accessible to anyone who wants to own a quality tool. The auto power off function is a standard nowadays, but it still needs to be mentioned. Many people forget to turn their instrument off, and that leads to frequent battery changing. Even though batteries aren’t expensive, the number adds up over time. In other words, you’ll save quite a bit of money thanks to the auto power off option.

The data hold function is yet another useful thing. If you don’t have a piece of paper to write down the results, press the “hold” button, and the unit will save the last reading until you overwrite it with a new one. The display backlight is bright, and it comes in handy when you’re working in a dark environment.

The AC voltage range is 2V – 750V and the DC voltage range is 200mV – 1000V. A neat addition to its sturdy casing is the molded holders for the test leads. It helps because the leads get tangled pretty often. However, if you use the molded holders, they won’t get interlaced anymore. If you’re looking for a quality multimeter, the Mastech MS8264 is a perfect candidate.

Quick Product Comparison


 TRUE RMSVOLTAGEAUTO RANGEWEIGHTPRICE 
craftsman_34-82141

Craftsman 34-82141

600V0.65 lbs$Check Price
kleintools_mm400

Klein Tools MM400

600V0.8 lbs$$$Check Price
amprobe_pk-110

Amprobe PK-110

250V0.95 lbs$$Check Price
extech_mn35

Extech MN35

600V0.4 lbs$Check Price
mastech_ms8264

Mastech MS8264

1000V0.75 lbs$$Check Price

Our Verdict: Which Product Do We Prefer?


While all five of these multimeters are worth checking out, we liked the Amprobe PK-100 kit the most. The reason is pretty simple – it’s a kit instead of being a single instrument. A multimeter is included in the kit, but the additional accessories are the things that make this pack our top choice. First of all, the price-to-quality ratio is quite good, considering you’re going to get three instruments for an affordable price.

Although it’s not a perfect choice for professional electricians, the hobbyists and DIY’ers love it. It’s easy to use, compact, and most importantly – versatile. You don’t have to use the multimeter to check a socket. All you have to do is stick the ST-102B tester and wait for the signal. A non-contact voltage detector is also included in this pack. It’s a handy tool, and while it doesn’t display values, it signals the presence of voltage, which is sometimes all you want to test.

The AM-420 multimeter is designed to fit in any pocket or toolbox. It doesn’t take up much room, and it’s lightweight. The GFCI wiring tests are crucial for safety checks. If you don’t find it purchase-worthy, feel free to check the other ones from this category, you’ll find something interesting, for sure.

Under $50 Multimeters – Buyer’s Guide


Even the most affordable multimeters are quite useful when it comes to DIY electronics. Even though these cheap models might have some issues, none of them will prevent you from actually making use of them for your DIY electronics projects. An affordable multimeter simply has some limits on the situations in which you can use it safely and on the questions it is capable of answering.

Choosing a model that won’t cost you more than $50 but will still provide a reliable performance can be pretty tough. But, have no worries – our buyer’s guide is here to make things a bit easier!

Reviews


Before you do anything else, remember that the reviews from the customers and from the websites such as this one can be of great help when it comes to purchasing an affordable multimeter. You’ll have to check various websites and find out what are the customers complaining about and what are they praising about a particular model.

There are a number of different kinds of cheap multimeters that are meant for various troubleshooting tasks. Going through the customer reviews is guaranteed to give you an insight into which model is the right choice for your needs.

Manufacturer


When choosing one of these devices, the design and the features are not the only things you should depend on. Even though this can be pretty hard when it comes to multimeters of this price category, you should look for the trusted manufacturers. These companies have a proven track record of efficiency and quality, and even their cheapest models come with at least some level of reliability.

Even if you’re a professional who knows who to differentiate between the poorly-manufactured and well-made models, it’s still wise to choose a trusted manufacturer as their products typically come with a much better warranty.

praising the Amprobe brand
Great for Occasional Use

Occasional Use


One of the most important things when it comes to $50 models is the fact that they’re intended for occasional use. This would include things like testing batteries, checking an electrical outlet, changing a bulb and similar actions. For cases like these, a low-cost, basic multimeter will undoubtedly do the trick. Try to find a device that has a wide voltage range and an ohmmeter function that can cover resistances from 0 to 2 Ω.Choose a model with limited options and modes and thus simplify the use and eliminate the errors.

If you’re a more frequent user and regularly work on circuit panels and electrical installations, you’ll need a model that’s more sophisticated and equipped with extra modes. As you can already guess, such models cost more money – they’re not for people looking to save cash.

Safety


If you’re planning on testing circuits with at least 30V of power, it would be wise to get a device with some safety features. Check if it has shrouded probes, internal blast shields, isolation slots, and take a closer look at the model’s measurement category rating.

Even though the affordable models don’t sport as many features as their expensive cousins, the cheap multimeters are still quite capable of assisting you with your DIY electronics. Follow the above mentioned points when buying a new model and you’ll end up with a functional, reliable, and efficient device.

The Conclusion


Cheap multimeters are actually very acceptable – they’re an excellent choice for low-voltage applications and offer enough precision and accuracy to be safely used around the house. Even though they’re not really suitable for commercial use, they are still capable of assisting you with all of your DIY electronics projects.

Unfortunately, this price category consists of numerous brands of models, so it can be challenging to ascertain which devices are actually worth the money. It’s very easy to accidentally purchase a model manufactured by a no-name brand and experience errors and malfunctions after only a few days of use.

If you don’t want that to happen, we offer a solution in the form of informative but easy-to-understand reviews of the best under $50 multimeters that today’s market can provide. We picked up the most popular devices and carefully analyzed their functions and build quality in the hope of helping you with finding out which model will suit your particular needs the best. If you’re not planning on measuring high voltages, don’t fear to purchase a low-cost model – we guarantee that it will do the trick for you. Check out our reviews and find an affordable device that will serve you for the years to come!

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