Apr 7 2018
A multimeter measures voltmeters, ammeters and ohmmeters. These tools have become invaluable for anyone who has an interest in electronics. Today’s multimeters have undergone technological innovations that have made them easy to use by technicians of all skill levels.
What to Look For
Multimeters are a test tool that measures at least two electrical values, such as resistance, voltage or amperes. These standard diagnostic tools come in two main groups: analog and digital. Analog outputs are typically displayed through a moving pointer that indicates a range on a spectrum. A digital multimeter, by comparison, has a numeric display or other visual cues, such as a light, that present readings to the user. Some multimeters come with an auto-range function. The auto-range function means your device is able to recognize the type of current you are testing. It also means that you do not need to pre-select a specific range. However, manual ranges allow you to select a specific range, better tailoring the device to your project. Durability is also another factor worth considering. If the area you are testing requires the use of a ladder, a device that could not survive a fall is not advisable. Other safety features, like internal blast shields, wide flanges, or isolated slots, are also worth thinking about before buying a new multimeter.
With that being said, below are a list of our favorite multimeters and the pros and cons worth considering before investing in a new device.
AstroAl AM33D Multimeter with Volt Amp & Diode Test
According to AstroAl, this multimeter measures voltage, DC current, resistance, diode, continuity and more. It is safe for use with automotive and household electrical items. It comes with a large backlit LCD digital display to make visibility easy even in dim areas. In addition, a data hold function allows you to freeze the data on the display. The AM33D also comes with overload protection for all ranges. For specification purpose, this multimeter measures resistance up to 20MΩ (± 1.0% + 10), voltage up to 500V, and amperes to 10A.
The AstroAl AM33D multimeter has a sampling speed of two times per second. This helps you to troubleshoot electrical issues without worrying about overloading your multimeter. This unit provides basic measurements in a user-friendly manner that makes operation easy. If you are new to electronics or just looking for something small, user-friendly and portable, this multimeter may be for you.
This multimeter does not ready AC current. Some reviewers have also complained about receiving units that did not work. The manufacture appears quick to refund the unit or send a replacement if this occurs. Nevertheless, it is something you should be aware of.
Etekcity MSR-C600 Digital Clamp Multimeter
The Etekcity multimeter measures resistance up to 200MΩ (± 0.4% + 1), voltage up to 500V and amperes to 10A. This auto-ranging clamp multimeter is able to measure AC current, AC/DC voltage, resistance, diode and continuity. The large LCD screen makes readouts easy. The Etekcity multimeter comes with a built-in indicator that lets you know when you have hit the maximum reading point. As with the AstroAl, you can store data as well.
Opening the clamp jaws allows you to measure AC current up to 26mm. You do not have to strip the cord or break the circuit to use this function, which is a great way to save yourself time and optimizes safety. The Etekcity multimeter also helps to preserve its own battery by entering into sleep mode after fifteen minutes of inactivity.
Some users have claimed the auto-indicator function does not work. There is a slight safety concern when reviewing the reviews as some reportedly received multimeters that did not work. Make sure you have a backup multimeter to verify the accuracy of the Etekcity before relying on it.
Extech EX330 Mini Multimeter
The Extech EX330 packs a lot of bang for the buck. This auto-ranging multimeter measures resistance from 400Ω – 40MΩ (± 1.2% + 2). It also measures voltage from 400mV to 600V and amperes from 0.4A to 10A. It comes with an array of features that everyone from a hobbyist to a professional will appreciate. The Extech EX330 has twelve total functions, which allows users to test AC/DC voltage, AC/DC current, resistance, capacity, frequency, continuity, diode, and temperature. The Extech EX330 comes with auto-range, max hold and data hold functions. It even automatically shuts down after fifteen minutes of inactivity to help prolong the life of the two AAA batteries powers it.
Many reviewers have raved about this budget-friendly multimeter. It comes with an easy to read LED display. The audible beeper and red LED indicator light work to alert you to maximum reading point. The included thermometer capability allows you to switch between Fahrenheit and Celsius readouts. The large, one-inch display and tilt kickstand are bonus features that make the unit extra easy to read and use.
If you pre-select the known range for a resistance test, the auto-range function works wonderfully. However, if you do not, the auto-range is very slow to respond. Users have also noted that, if you change settings, the device automatically resets to DC. If you accidentally blow a fuse because of this, they are not easily accessible.
Fluke 87-V Digital Multimeter
The Fluke 87-V digital multimeter is a professional-grade device. Fluke is a well-known and reliable manufacturer of multimeters that are trusted by online hobbyists and professionals alike. Fluke touts this multimeter as a rugged, reliable and accurate tool you can use daily without fear. This model measures resistance of 600Ω to 40MΩ (± 0.9% + 3), voltages of 600mV to 600V and amperes from 1mA to 10A. The Fluke 87-V provides users with both an analog and digital readout. The auto-ranging function, while easy to use, can also be turned off for manual inputs. An audible alert lets users know when a maximum or minimum range has been hit.
Fluke truly understands the way professionals and amateurs alike will use this tool. It offers tons of helpful functions that ensure you get accurate, safe, and maximum productivity. As with the Extech EX330, the Fluke 87-V comes with a built in thermometer that allows you to take temperatures while simultaneously taking other measurements. The large, backlit display makes all readings quick and easy.
There are few complaints about the Fluke 87-V. One user did note, however, that the thermometer feature does not work in extremely cold temperatures. If you are working on freezers, for example, the thermometer may not provide reliable readings. This does not affect overall effectivity, however, and the voltage and other readouts were noted to be accurate.
INNOVA 3320 Auto-Ranging Digital Multimeter
The INNOVA 3320 is extremely durable. The rubber corner buffers provide ample protection for this multimeter to help prevent damages from falls. The large LCD display is easy to read. Color-coded indicator lights are a nice added bonus and make quick reads a cinch. As with several other models, this multimeter also comes with an automatic shut off function to help preserve your battery power. The INNOVA 3320 measures resistances between 200Ω and 20MΩ (± 1.0% + 5), voltages from 200mV to 600V and amperes ranging from 20mA to 10A.
The Innova 3320 is geared towards hobbyist and automotive technicians. While multimeters tend to come with some means of attaching them to you, the wrist strap on the Innova 3320 is unique and users agree on its handiness. The leads are also on the longer side as well, giving technicians forty inches of length to work with.
Several users have claimed the indicator lights stop working pre-maturely. The overall unit will continue to work as expected however. The battery area is also hard to access, making replacement frustrating.
Klein Multimeter MM500
The Klein Multimeter MM500 is a great midrange device. It can measure resistance up to 4KΩ (± 0.8% + 4) and voltages from 1V to 750V. While this dev ice is not top of the line, it will last you at least one to two years and is reliable enough to help with basic tasks, like electric repairs, household troubleshooting, computer electronics, and even automotive electric work. The interface is user-friendly, however, and provides measurements for AC/DC voltage, continuity and resistance.
This is the only device on the list that is marketed to handle drops from up to ten feet. The dust- and waterproof aspects add to the rugged dependability of this multimeter. This multimeter also auto-detects whether you are reading AC or DC and does not require users to manually select one. The Klein also comes with true root mean square technology (True RMS), which makes the readings much more accurate.
The Klein MM500 does not measure amperes. Some users have also noted that this multimeter is somewhat limited since the resistance range is limited to 4KΩ. Users have also noted that the reading speed is a bit slower than they would have expected when compared to similar multimeters.
Mastech MS8268 Series Digital Multimeter
Mastech is a well-known manufacturer of reliable multimeters. The MS8268 is the newest from Mastech and lives up to expectations. The Mastech MS8268 measures resistances between 400Ω and 40MΩ (± 1.2% + 2), frequencies from 400mV to 1000V and amperes of 0.4mA to 10A. The Mastech MS8268 has both auto and manual ranging features for everything except frequency. This device also measures continuity, diode and transistor gain. As with some of the other units, the MS8268 has a data hold function and large, backlit display. The automatic shut off function helps to preserve the multimeter’s battery life, but can also be disabled if needed. The luxmeter and thermometer functions add a nice touch too.
The Mastech MS8268 is a jack-of-all-trades type of device. It is a great device for novice to mid-level electric technicians. The multimeter is rather sturdy as well and has a lighted input warning. The kickstand helps with viewing while working as well.
The manual itself is poorly written according to the majority of users. The backlight also shuts off rather quickly. The refresh rate is a bit slower than a regular user would expect.
Tacklife DM01M Advanced Version Digital Multimeter
The Tacklife DM01M is able to measure resistances from 600Ω to 60MΩ (± 1.2% + 3), frequencies between 600mV and 1000V, and amperes from 0.06mA to 10A. This multi-function device measures AC/DC current, AC/DC voltage, live lines,, diode, resistance, frequency, capacitance, temperature and continuity.The large 2.7-inch backlit LCD display is easy to read, even in dim settings. A data hold function, light and audio indicators for AC voltage intensities and built-in support stand all help the Tacklife DM01M rank highly amongst users. The auto-shut off function helps to preserve the lifespan of the four AA batteries it takes to power this model.
The Tacklife DM01M is the only multimeter on the list that comes with a flashlight function. This makes for a great addition when you are working in a dark location! Furthermore, this multimeter measures samplings quickly; it takes a sampling two to three times per second.
The Tacklife DM01M is heavier than most of the other multimeters and bulkier. Most users have remarked that the “rubber” is more of a hard plastic and worry about survivability should the product fall.
Finding the right multimeter is important. Most multimeters are handheld and portable, allowing technicians to take them directly to the job site. Each technician has his or her own requirements and personal preferences. Choosing between analog and digital readouts, for example, is a strictly personal preference. Some feel that an analog readout is more reliable whereas others trust the easily visible digital measurements. Base your purchase on the requirements you have. Are you just going simple home projects or part-time work? The Extech EX330 mini multimeter or Klein multimeter MM500 may be your best choice. Are you a professional with constant need for a reliable multimeter? The Fluke 87-V digital multimeter or Mastech MS8268 series digital multimeter may be a better choice. Regardless of your choice, always test your multimeter before relying on it. Some products have lifetime warranties, while others may have limited 30-day ones. Check to make sure your device works as expected before using it on the job site.