There are homeowners who go their whole lives without ever purchasing a decent multimeter. They choose instead to call a professional whenever they experience a problem within their home or with their vehicles, which proves costly and inconvenient. If said homeowners had in their possession an adequate multimeter, they would be able to tend to many problems themselves, saving a great deal of money in the long run. Since you’re reading this article, it’s safe to say that you are finally recognizing the importance of a multimeter and want to purchase one. Of course, if you have never used a multimeter before, choosing the right one for you can be pretty difficult.
Every model falls into one of two categories: analog or digital. Digital MultiMate’s are exceedingly popular in 2016 & 2017 as we live in a world where people are obsessed with technology. Digital ones certainly have their advantages, but there are many reasons a person might choose an analog instead. For example, an analog model is much more useful when you need to measure rapidly fluctuating currents.
While analog and digital models offer different features, there are some features which any decent multimeter should have.
- 1 Features of a Good Multimeter
- 2 Frequently Asked Questions
- 3 The Best Multimeters
Features of a Good Multimeter
It goes without saying that a good product should have some degree of accuracy. Now, that isn’t to say you have to find the most accurate model in the world. I mean, if you’re a professional who deals with electricity on a daily basis, then yes, you’re going to have to go with as accurate a multimeter as possible. However, if you’re just a homeowner or DIY enthusiast, you can get by with a product which is only relatively accurate. A multimeter which does not offer 100 percent accuracy can still determine if a circuit is broken, but you will need a more hi-tech model to tell you to what level it is performing.
Multimeters generally have a fairly high input impedance, so that isn’t something you’re going to be able to get away from. That being said, some products have a higher input impedance than others. If you want to be able to measure highly sensitive electronics, it’s advisable to go with a product with a particularly high input impedance. The higher the input impedance, the less chance there is of an error occurring and screwing up the reading.
Multimeters generally measure many different things, including current, voltage, and resistance. However, many recently designed models have the ability to carry out diode checks. You’re not going to have to look very hard to find a model which has the diode test feature. In fact, it would probably be more of a challenge to find a model without it. However, it is nice to make sure your chosen model has this function before purchasing it.
Frequently Asked Questions
Now that we have covered some of the features you should look for when you’re in the market for a multimeter, we can take a moment to discuss some other questions you may have about multimeters.
Q: What are the best multimeter brands?
A: There really is no shortage of trusted brands out there. Some are dedicated to producing useful and durable products at a low cost while others offer top of the line, feature-rich products for a higher expense. Arguably the most popular brand is Fluke, which is a favorite of professionals the world over. Fluke products are durable, versatile, and accurate, but often go for above $100. Anybody looking to keep their spending to a minimum might want to go with a product from Mastech, which are usually of a high quality but are sold at an affordable price.
Q: Is it hard to use?
A: If you are a multimeter novice, you can be forgiven for being a little bit intimidated. Those who aren’t exactly technologically inclined may find the prospect of learning how to use a multimeter daunting, but be assured it is a whole lot easier than you would imagine. While multimeters have a variety of different functions, each setting can be accessed with ease, with most products fitted with two or three knobs to keep navigating from setting to setting as easy as possible.
Q: Is it durable?
A: This is a question most people ask themselves before purchasing any electronic device. Nobody wants to spend money on a tool only to have it break down a week later. Providing you don’t go with a cheap model from an unknown brand, you can be sure that your multimeter will last you a couple of years without giving you any trouble. Even an inexpensive model from a popular and trusted brand will serve its purposes for an extended period of time. Plus, many manufacturers offer warranties with their products, so you don’t have to worry about being out of pocket should something go wrong.
Q: Can these be used for vehicle repairs?
A: Yes, these can be used for a variety of troubleshooting vehicular tasks. This is why any car owner who doesn’t want to spend hundreds each year on trips to the mechanic will benefit from purchasing one. You can’t just purchase any multimeter, however, you must go with the best automotive multimeter. Automotive models are specifically designed to be used on cars and other vehicles and can be found in copious amounts both online and in stores.
The Best Multimeters
With features covered, we can take a look at some specific models of multimeters which you should consider before deciding on which you want to purchase. In order to compile this list of the best multimeters, we have combed through the most trusted reviews available and tapped into a wealth of knowledge from experts. Here are just some of the most popular multimeters on the market today.
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1. Fluke 87-V – The Best Choice
As I mentioned earlier, Fluke has been responsible for some of the finest multimeters ever produced, and the Fluke 87-V is believed by many to be the best digital multimeter available in 2016.
This product can measure voltage, current, and resistance with stunning accuracy. A built-in thermometer allows the user to measure temperature as well, which is a fantastic feature not available with every model out there.
The Fluke 87-V boasts a CAT III safety rating, meaning it can be used in a professional capacity. The rating isn’t surprising, considering this model was designed to be primarily used in an industrial setting. It is the perfect model to identify problems fast, meaning you don’t have to worry about your productivity suffering thanks to an unidentifiable issue with your machines.
2. Fluke 117
As a writer, it is my instinct to put some sort of variety into my work, so it goes against everything I’ve ever learned in my career to put two Fluke products on this list one after another. However, this list is supposed to present to you the best multimeters on the market, and Fluke has been responsible for many of them. In fact, I can tell you now that this will not be the last Fluke product to appear in this article.
The Fluke 117 is the perfect tool for an electrician or anybody else who deals with electricity while on the job. It is a true-RMS product, meaning it can accurately read alternating AC current and AC voltage. It can also be used to measure sinusoidal and non-sinusoidal waveforms.
This is a high-performance product and can rely upon for work in a variety of demanding settings, such as schools and hospitals.
3. Fluke 116
While it may not be as recent as the Fluke 117, the brand’s 116 multimeter is not without its charms and advantages. The Fluke 116 is an HVAC model, meaning it can be used to deal with issues involving heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. Like the Fluke 117, this model is a true-RMS meter.
Another great choice for those who deal with electrical matters professionally, the Fluke 116 is fitted with microamps to allow for the testing of flame sensors. It features a low input impedance to reduce the risk of ghost voltage throwing off the reading.
This product also offers a number of helpful features which, while not essential, certainly make daily tasks a great deal easier. One such feature is the powerful LED backlight which can be used to illuminate objects while working in dimly lit areas, ensuring you don’t have to worry about making mistakes thanks to a lack of lighting.
4. Fluke 115
Okay, just one more Fluke product and then we’ll move on to some other brands, I promise. The Fluke 115 is a nice way to wrap up the Fluke portion of this list, and not just because it’s the natural choice after looking at the 117 and 116 in that order.
Though its numbering might make it seem inferior to the previous two products, the Fluke 115 can hold its own against the best of Fluke’s meters and offers a great deal of features perfect for the working man.
The 115 can be used to complete a variety of the tasks, though admittedly not as many as the 116 or 117. Is does come with the backlight for work in dimly lit areas, as well as a Min/Max/Average setting to ensure signal fluctuations are properly recorded.
Though it may have its limitations for professional work in 2016, this is the perfect multimeter for the more active DIY enthusiast.
5. INNOVA 3340
Okay, now it’s time to move away from Fluke products and look at a couple of other options. While Fluke has some of the best products on the market and the expertise to introduce new and groundbreaking technology, its meters can be more than a tad on the expensive side, so it’s good to look elsewhere if you don’t want to break the bank. INNOVA has been a favorite of enthusiasts for years, offering the perfect blend of accuracy and durability. The 3340 carries on the brand’s long tradition of dedication to quality.
The INNOVA 3340 is an automotive multimeter, designed to be used on cars and other vehicles which are experiencing problems. It offers a wide array of features and functions and can be used to identify engine issues in almost no time at all. It has the ability to test alternator diodes, solenoids, breaker points, wiring, switches, duty cycle, and a whole lot more.
The 3340 is designed to be as easy to use as possible and is fitted with a number of features to make the user’s life easier. It is equipped with auto-ranging, auto-shut-off, and overload protection, so problems with your product will be few and far between.
6. Klein Tools MM1000
Operating out of Lincolnshire, Illinois, Klein Tools is one of the most popular manufacturers of hand tools for electricians in the world. Those in the know praise it for the quality of its products and the affordable prices at which they sell them. The MM1000 is one which has caught the attention of many recently, thankfully for positive reasons.
The MM1000 is an electrician’s multimeter and offers a variety of features which are incredibly useful for those in that profession. Among other things, this product offers auto-ranging voltage measurement and can read AC/DC voltage, AC/DC current, resistance, capacitance, duty cycle, and a lot more but I’m conscious of boring you by droning on and on about the features. Suffice to say that this is one awesome model and is ideal for the toolbox of any handyman (or woman), be they aspiring or professional.
This product generally sells for below $100 but will give you years of high performances and accurate readings. It is a product designed by electricians for electricians, so you can be sure that you are getting something perfectly suited to your needs. It’s the working man’s tool; the people’s multimeter.
7. Amprobe AM-530
Amprobe is the go-to brand of many regular users, and its products are racking up positive reviews online and in magazines. The Amprobe AM-53 is considered by many in the know to be not just one of the best multimeters Amprobe has ever produced, but one of the best multimeters of all time. Full stop.
Like the Fluke products, we looked at earlier on (sorry for bringing them up again) this is a true-RMS model and can be trusted to give accurate and reliable readings on systems which may be affected by harmonics. It is a digital model which, along with the typical tasks, can be used to identify blown fuses and run new wiring. It can troubleshoot motors and check transformers.
The Amprobe AM-530 boasts a CAT III safety rating, and designers of the device took numerous steps to ensure it is one of the most durable products available today. It is designed to withstand all the knocks, shocks, and bangs which inevitably occur when being used on a regular basis (or even just carried around in a full toolbox).
8. Mastech MS8229
I mentioned Mastech earlier as an example of one of the less expensive brands which you should consider in your search for the best multimeter for your needs, so it’s about time I give the brand some coverage here.
Some time ago, Mastech released the MS8209, which proved immensely popular. In the attempt to recreate the success of that product, Mastech released the MS8229, which was a modified, improved upon version of the MS209.
Although the Mastech MS8229 is a pretty inexpensive little tool, it comes with an abundance of features, many of which you would expect only to find on a more expensive model. It is an auto-range “five-in-one” device, meaning it can be used for a variety of tasks. It can be used as a sound level meter, a thermometer, a lux meter, a humidity meter, and a DMM. So it’s the perfect model for the diverse handy person.
Although it might look pretty complicated to use, this is actually a simple tool to get the hang of. With a little bit of practice and a smidgen of patience, you will master every function of this five-in-one multimeter.
9. Extech 330
The Extech 330 is the final item on this list of the best multimeters, and it is definitely a great way to wrap things up. Extech is one of the largest producers of handheld tools in the world. It has been in business for almost half a century and has been responsible for countless innovations and advancements in technology, the culmination of which is the Extech 330.
The Extech 330 is a compact model, though it should not be taken lightly. Despite its small size, it is one of the most feature-rich products on the market. Like any model worth its salt, it provides accurate readings of voltage and current. Advanced features include the ability to measure resistance, capacitance, duty cycle, frequency, and temperature.
It is fitted with a built-in non-contact AC voltage detector with a LED indicator and audible beeping. This is another incredibly sturdy multimeter. It is guarded by a thick rubber holster which protects the device from falls and knocks.
Perfect for heavy-duty work, it has a CAT III safety rating.