10 Best Multimeters | May 2017

10 Best Multimeters
Best Mid-Range
★★★★
Best High-End
★★★★★
Best Inexpensive
★★★
We spent 35 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. While multimeters are primarily aimed at professional electricians who need to regularly measure voltage, current, and resistance, some of the units in our selection will also be suitable for the DIYer who wants to check on the safety and efficiency of their home wiring. Whatever the purpose, one of these is sure to help you get the job done quicker and more accurately. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best multimeter on Amazon.
10
The Innova 3320 is a basic budget option that was designed for both automotive and household use. It has user friendly auto-ranging scales and a large digital display, making it easy to read at any angle and from any distance.
  • long delays when reading
  • ul certified as safe
  • attachable test leads included
Brand Innova
Model 3320
Weight 11.2 ounces
Rating 3.8 / 5.0
9
The Etekcity MSR-R500 is a practical and affordable tool suitable as a backup unit for professionals and great for casual use by hobbyists. It offers all the functionality you'll need, including a built-in support stand for hands-free use.
  • good value for the price
  • capable of 2-3 readings per second
  • flimsy casing prone to breakage
Brand Etekcity
Model 679113374799
Weight 1.2 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0
8
The multifunctional Dr. Meter Backlit Accurate allows you to manually select the range and has an automatic power off function to help conserve battery life. Its bright color casing makes it hard to misplace even when you're using it in low light.
  • clear backlit display
  • comes with test socket
  • not a very durable model
Brand Dr.Meter
Model ADM01
Weight 1.3 pounds
Rating 3.7 / 5.0
7
The Mastech MS8268 is an economical option that, with a durable plastic exterior, feels sturdy in the hand. It also offers improved safety by emitting an LED and audible warning when incorrect banana jacks are used relative to the unit's function switch setting.
  • auto and manual ranges
  • reliable continuity test response
  • batteries not included
Brand Mastech
Model MS8268
Weight 1.3 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0
6
The Triplett 1101-B is a compact, professional-grade unit whose industry leading CAT II design helps protect it against damage from overly high voltages. It has an operating temperature range of between 32 & 105 degrees so it can withstand even the most demanding settings.
  • complimentary test leads
  • 200 hour battery life
  • high temperature probe not included
Brand Triplett
Model TRI-1101
Weight 10.4 ounces
Rating 3.9 / 5.0
5
The Triplett 2030-C is small enough to fit in your pocket, but powerful enough to offer 37 measurement ranges and an extremely long battery life. Its case folds closed to keep its more sensitive components safe during storage or transport.
  • shock absorbing case
  • energy saving power-off function
  • batteries and wrist strap included
Brand Triplett
Model 2030
Weight 8.8 ounces
Rating 4.1 / 5.0
4
It may not have the same following as other well-known units, but the Redfish Instruments iDVM 510 stands out by incorporating the latest technology to help make your job easier. Specifically, this model has a wireless capability that can be used to log data on your phone.
  • free ios and android app included
  • magnetic hanging strap
  • comes with onboard memory
Brand Redfish Instruments
Model iDVM 510
Weight 1.4 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0
3
The 4,000-count Extech EX330 autoranging multimeter comes with a built-in thermometer, Type K temperature probe, and an AC voltage detector that doesn't require contact to get accurate readings. Though it costs more than similar units, it's also likely to outlast them all.
  • protective rubber holster
  • curved exterior with led indicator
  • fahrenheit or celsius modes
Brand Extech
Model EX330
Weight 1.1 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0
2
The Amprobe AM-560 offers advanced HVAC reading technology and AC/DC voltage up to 1,000V, while its dual thermocouple function makes simultaneous readings possible. If you work around lots of heavy-duty equipment, this is the tool for you.
  • safe non-contact voltage detection
  • measures current up to 10 amps
  • 9 volt battery included
Brand Amprobe
Model AM-560
Weight 1.7 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0
1
From a renowned industry brand, the Fluke 117 is a commercial and lab-grade tool that is guaranteed to meet all your metering needs. The unit can test various electronic states and features integrated, non-contact voltage detection, helping you get the job done quicker.
  • easy one-handed operation
  • bright white backlit screen
  • compatible with other fluke products
Brand Fluke
Model FLUKE 117
Weight 1.6 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

Buyer's Guide

Multifunctional Measurements All In One

Whether you're a professional electrician or engineer, you know someone who is an electrician, or you just enjoy having gadgets around the house to help you assess and solve electrical problems with your appliances, then a multimeter is an integral tool to include in your arsenal.

Also referred to as a VOM (volt-ohm meter or volt-ohm-milliammeter), a multimeter is an all-in-one instrument that is capable of measuring several properties of an electrical circuit, mainly voltage (volts), current (amps), and resistance (ohms). Multimeters are available in either analog or digital types and are often designed for handheld use. An analog multimeter leverages the use of both a microammeter and moving pointer to display its readings. The microammeter is simply an instrument that measures small electrical currents.

By contrast, a digital multimeter (also known as a DMM or DVOM) features an easy-to-read numeric display that may also include a graphical bar representing the measured values. Because digital multimeters offer an increased level of accuracy and precision, they have become more common than their analog counterparts. However, analog multimeters are still useful, particularly if you're concerned about a rapidly-changing measurement that is more easily visualized using the analog display and pointer.

In addition to the meat and potatoes properties for voltage, current, and resistance measurements, some digital multimeters also contain circuits for continuity testing, diodes, and transistors. They are also capable of measuring additional electrical attributes such as capacitance and frequency.

Digital multimeters typically have three built-in sockets on their faces to which a test lead attaches. Although this may sound complicated, test leads are simply flexible, specialized, and fully-insulated black and red wires used to connect the multimeter to the circuit that's actually being tested or measured. The black test lead will always connect to the black socket (labeled COM for common), while the red test lead can plug into either of the remaining red sockets for measuring voltage and resistance or for measuring electric currents.

One of the most practical applications for a digital multimeter is determining electrical faults, which are defined as abnormal electrical currents. An abnormal current could take the form of a short circuit, so you'll know if that toaster you just bought could be problematic or if there is an underlying problem with your household wiring system and power supplies.

Additional functions for specialized multimeter applications include temperature measurements with a thermocouple probe, inductance, connectivity to a computer, and even the capability for the multimeter to speak a measured value aloud.

Safety First, Hazards Need Not Apply

Always exercise caution when dealing with electricity of any kind. I know this sounds rudimentary and simplistic, but remaining informed about the multimeter you choose (including its limitations and hazards) will help to keep you safe. Many multimeters are designed with varying levels of protection against common electrical hazards. When making a choice, one must be sure to understand the test equipment, its requirements, and how the equipment works.

It's vital to know the maximum voltage rating of the circuit, which is an evaluation based on research and experimentation that helps to determine how much voltage can be safely utilized by a particular device or form of wiring over its life. This is especially important when investing in a multimeter to ensure your testing does not exceed its maximum voltage limit.

Making sure your multimeter includes high-quality test leads is also an important factor to consider, since you will be handling them quite often and you don't want to risk electric shock. For that reason, ensuring the leads are properly insulated is definitely a good idea.

Many digital multimeters also feature bright, backlit screens, which come in handy if you have to work in dark places. Additionally, extra-long battery life should be a given if you're a professional electrician and plan to do a lot of testing.

Finally, while compact size comes with the territory of many digital handheld multimeters, finding one with a folding design can also provide additional protection for its sensitive sockets and components during transport.

A Brief History Of Multimeters

Invented in 1820, the galvanometer was the first moving-pointer, current-detecting device used to measure voltage and resistance with a Wheatstone bridge. However, the galvanometer was considered to be too slow and too delicate.

Dissatisfied with being forced to carry so many separate instruments required for the maintenance of telecommunications circuits, post office engineer Donald Macadie invented the first multimeter capable of measuring amps, volts, and ohms. At the time, it was referred to as an avometer (or AVO). Macadie brought this invention to the attention of the Automatic Coil Winder and Electrical Equipment Company (AWEEC) where it was put on sale in 1923. The best known model of the AVO series was the Model 8, which has remained virtually unchanged since its inception.

Today's digital multimeters have a strong focus on multifunctional use that includes computer connectivity and voice communication.



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Last updated on May 16, 2017 by Chase Brush

Chase is a freelance journalist with experience working in the areas of politics and public policy. Currently based in Brooklyn, NY, he is also a hopeless itinerant continually awaiting his next Great Escape.


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