- Comparison Chart: Best Multimeters of 2020
- 1. Most Economical: AstroAI Digital Multimeter
- 2. Cheaper Option with Good Functions: Innova 3320
- 3. Good Multimeter for Learning: Mastech MS8268
- 4. Best Utility Multimeter for Electronics Hobbyists: Tacklife DM01M
- 5. Great Value: Etekcity Digital Clamp Multimeter
- 6. Best Multimeter for Electronics Hobbyist: Klein Tools MM500
- 7. Best Multimeter for Home Use: Extech EX330
- 8. Awesome HVAC Meter: Fluke 116
- 9. Best Digital Multimeter Overall: Fluke 87-V
- 10. Best Automotive Multimeter: Fluke 88V
- 11. Best Specialty Multimeter: Fluke 279FC Wireless TRMS
- 12. Best Digital Clamp Multimeter: Meterk MK06
- 13. Easy to Use: Mastech MS8229
- 14. Best for Beginners: Cen-Tech 11
- What is a Multimeter?
- Why do you need it?
- What are the Key Factors to Consider When Buying Multimeter
- Wrap Up
Today I will be reviewing what I believe are the 10 best multimeters on the consumer market in 2020.
A multimeter is a diagnostic measurement device used to gather a variety of useful data about electrical systems. As it tells us right there in the name, the device measures two or more electrical values for the user.
Typically the average multimeter will measure electrical power (voltage or volts), resistance (ohms), and current (amperage or amps). However, some come with additional diagnostic tools, such as temperature sensors for use in HVAC repair.
Multimeters are vitally necessary in any significant electrical project. They are standard issue for electricians and many other technicians, but there are also dozens of options out there for folks who embrace the DIY and electrical hobbyist mindsets.
Some Simple Terms
Before we dive into the review, I would like to clarify the meaning of a few terms I’ll be using. This is to make things a little easier on those beginning to venture into the world of multimeters.
Analog Multimeters have fixed display against which a needle moves, like speedometers in older cars.
Digital multimeters have a display that changes to present the data, usually in some form of LCD screen.
Autoranging multimeters will analyze the test conditions and determine what you’re testing for with minimal input. This is sometimes at the expense of precision and accuracy, but makes them easy to use.
Manual input multimeters require the user to set the specific functions being analyzed. This takes a bit more effort and know-how, but also makes them very accurate and precise for the tests they’re used for.
Comparison Chart: Best Multimeters of 2020
I have selected 10 products that represent the best options available to those looking for a multimeter for personal, hobbyist, or home improvement use. I will take a look at several factors, including cost, core functions, and additional features that make these the best picks for the money.
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The top multimeters category are the real “star” performers. These are the machines with extensive features and functions, rugged design, and outstanding reputations in the multimeter world.
They will definitely cost more than other choices on the list, because they’re designed first with function in mind. These get the job done, and users will need to pay for that capability.
However, they are well worth the price and offer outstanding power for their price point.
1. Most Economical: AstroAI Digital Multimeter
Holding the first place in the list of best multimeters, we have the AstroAI Digital. It is a perfect option for anyone who wants to check automotive and household electrical stuff. It is comfortable and safe to operate and offers many important functions to measure voltage, resistance and current.
You can also use this device to perform transistor, continuity and diode testing, which is for both automotive and household uses.
The grip is around the edge of the entire multimeter. And it kickstands on the back, so you don’t have to be hold the whole time while you want to use it. The unit comes in handy to diagnose any possible issues, assemble and finally repair wiring and circuitry.
Some of the other nice features include continuity buzzer, overload protection and low battery indicator. You can use the multifunction socket to measure capacitors and transistors.
2. Cheaper Option with Good Functions: Innova 3320
The Innova 3320 is an auto ranging multimeter for safe and accurate testing of various automotive and household electrical issues. Its auto ranging scales eliminate the need to dial in the correct range when making electronic measurements.
The color LED is allowed for quick battery condition check while rugged rubber guards protect it against accidental drops. Also, the built-in standard wrist straps allow handsfree testing.
It is easy to read labels and screen, making it easy to select desired tests and view the results. Besides it offers handsfree digital device.
3. Good Multimeter for Learning: Mastech MS8268
The Mastech MS8268 is equipped with sound and light alarms against misconnecting of test leads. It has both a standard range and auto range switching.
It measures hfef transistor and capacitance by using special multifunction socket for more accurate value. Also, it features a backlit screen and data hold function plus AAA batteries power.
The range button changes from AC to DC and switches between diode and continuity. It features an automatic indication of function and unit symbols with a built-in resettable fuse.
Besides it has full overload protection and dual insulation protection. Also the detachable over molding rubber case is shakeproof, skidproof and offers good touch feeling.
4. Best Utility Multimeter for Electronics Hobbyists: Tacklife DM01M
Regarding the Tacklife DM01M, I found this one of the best multimeters for electronics hobbyists just because of the additional features it offered. It is designed to safety and accurately address automotive and household electrical issues. It comes with k-type thermal couple which helps you to quickly monitor the temperature of the object. The display’s intensity changes based on the input the device is receiving, giving a kind of “natural” visual support to the data.
The multimeter also provides beeps for audible cues, and has red indicator lights separate from the display that turn on when warnings are needed. It features 600 Milliamps’ and 10 Amp fuses and provides good protection in terms of safety for the unit. It offers a flashlight and backlight that work in well-organized way to conserve battery for long hours. Also, it has a continuity buzzer and flashes LCD to ensure that your electrical components are whether in good working condition. It offers a maximum measuring temperature for k-type thermal couple, dispatch that random is 482 degrees Fahrenheit and its instant measuring value can reach 572 degrees Fahrenheit.
These additional features, plus the True RMS capability, make this device a very handy tool for electronics hobbyists who want an inexpensive but still capable multimeter to sort through a variety of inputs. The additional audible and visual cues also help for people who have different “processings” styles.
5. Great Value: Etekcity Digital Clamp Multimeter
The Etekcity MSR-C600 is an auto-ranging clamp multimeter that measures AC currents, AC DC voltage and resistance. It also provides good support for diode and continuity tests. The clamp measures the AC and conductor up to 26 millimeters without interrupting the circuit.
Using a sufficient capacity of up to 400 Amps, you can use the clip which can easily extend to test cords and can wire up till 28 millimeters in diameter.
With the safety insulated test probes and plastic gripping, you can measure objects safely. Besides it features a whole results and max value button for quicker operation. Also, the jaw opening measures AC and a conductor up to 26 millimeters without interrupting the circuit. And it automatically enters sleep mode after 15 minutes of inactivity for energy conservation.
6. Best Multimeter for Electronics Hobbyist: Klein Tools MM500
The Klein MM500 is my choice for best “overall” multimeter for electronics hobbyists. It is a true RMS, which is an important feature. It can accurately measure and display the data of electrical activity without distortions or inaccuracies. This makes the readings far more precise than with non true-RMS units.
An electronics hobbyist is different from the typical home improvement/DIYer, because they’re in it for the specifics of how electronics and their components function. Precise, detailed readings from multimeter give more information. Someone installing a light switch might not need that same level of precision, for example.
There are more expensive brands offering still greater functionality and capability, but the MM500 is a good device that will fill a lot of needs without too many compromises.
7. Best Multimeter for Home Use: Extech EX330
The Extech is a simple, utility-oriented home multimeter that makes it a solid general purpose device. It can read resistance, power, current, and temperature, giving the the usual “core 4” functions that were stressed in the higher-end devices.
The meter comes with an array of probes for these functions, eliminating some of the expense of finding them elsewhere.
Besides this, the EX330 does lack more precise measurement capability, but it has a very readable digital display and should fit the needs of a variety of DIY projects.
If you need a very precise electronics measurement device, this is not best multimeter for you. However, if you need to make sure your new ceiling fan is properly hooked up before you seal the wall back up, this is the best buy option.
8. Awesome HVAC Meter: Fluke 116
The Fluke 116 comes with an embedded thermometer for HVAC functions. It can take temperature and microamp measurements and delivers the capability that professionals demand to troubleshoot and repair HVAC machines plus flame sensors quickly. It can measure resistance, capacitance, frequency and continuity.
Also, the compact design allows one-handed operation and the large-sized LED white backlight to make it possible to work efficiently in any environment.
It includes a built-in thermometer to measure temperature from -40 degree Celsius to 400 degree Celsius. Besides this, the multimeter also features low impedance input that helps to prevent bogus readings caused by unknown voltage. It offers a large white backlight to work in poor lit areas.
9. Best Digital Multimeter Overall: Fluke 87-V
When it comes to the best digital multimeter overall, the market is clear that the Fluke 87-V is the big standout. In many ways the 87-V is designed for dedicated electrician applications. It is absolutely packed with features and functionality. For example, it has both an autoranging setting and a manual setting, allowing users to switch back and forth as needed. It also features a thermometer, and a very generous display area.
However, the unit also has features not directly related to its core use that make it very easy to use. One is the optional magnetic hanger, allowing the user to mount it to any iron or steel surface that’s handy. The other is that it has very clearly spaced and decently sized buttons, making it easy to use even when wearing protective gloves. Professionals prefer Fluke 87-V, which makes it the best multimeter for electricians.
It’s these bits of attention to detail and additional touches that lead me to consider the Fluke 87-V the best device overall. However, it does come with a more substantial price tag than other choices on our list. Additional accessories for additional tasks will, of course, cost additional money.
If you are an electronics technician and looking for the best possible option, then check out Fluke 287 here which is the best multimeter for electronics technician.
10. Best Automotive Multimeter: Fluke 88V
The best automotive multimeter I examined was the Fluke 88V 1000V Automotive Multimeter.
There is no coincidence that Fluke has popped up multiple time in the Top multimeter list. The Fluke family of multimeters have been an industry standard for years, with many reviewers commenting that they always seem to come back to Fluke in the end.
It is a very rugged, sturdy machine. In addition to the usual array of Fluke features, such as switching between manual and autoranging states and the magnetic hanger, it has been purpose made to withstand a high-power environment.
For example, this meter is rated to resist surges of up to 8000 volts without taking damage. It can measure 10 amp currents for extended periods, and measures higher currents for 30 seconds at a time.
These features make Fluke 88V useful in a world where electric and hybrid gas-electric cars are becoming more common. After all, not everyone wants to stop working on awesome vehicles just because the technology is changing.
The Fluke 88V comes with a lifetime warranty. This makes it one of the best value multimeters a user can buy.
11. Best Specialty Multimeter: Fluke 279FC Wireless TRMS
The best, high powered, specialty multimeter is without a doubt the Fluke 297FC Wireless. This multimeter is full of all the standard features: AC voltage, DC voltage, temperature, and 10-foot drop protection.
However, it has two features I think really make it stand out as worth its incredible price (seriously, this thing will give you sticker shock the first time you see it).
First, it has an inbuilt thermal imaging display. Remember the Predator’s “infrared” heat vision? The 279FC puts this capability into your hand. A generous display allows you to see hot and cold spots, demonstrating potential overheating problems in electrical wires quickly and clearly.
Secondly, the screen is “true” digital. Most digital screens are a variation on LCD screens, with the typical “segmented” numbers digital clocks and watches have had for years. This has a true digital display that shows values and images in clear, crisp detail that is exceptionally easy to read. Further, it can synch with the bluetooth capability of most smartphones to record and transmit data. These features make the Fluke 279FC quite amazing to behold, but come with a price.
However, the above multimeters are just the high end toys. Most folks don’t need every bell and whistle. Hobbyists want accuracy and functionality, of course, but they probably don’t need detailed thermal mapping or magnetic hangers on their multimeters.
So for our next bit, I would like to cover a range of best multimeters. This is a reasonable, sensible price point most folks can probably spare or save up for. It makes purchases in this range the best multimeter for the price that many home use and electronic hobbyists will find.
12. Best Digital Clamp Multimeter: Meterk MK06
The digital multimeter isn’t specifically for electronics, or automotive, or home repair uses. Rather, it has a variety of utility functions that make it valuable in a number of situations, without standing out in any of them.
Well, there is one area it stands out, and that is in ease of use. This is a clamp meter, with a large clamp that can be opened and closed around a cord to get a quick reading of the current running through. Probes can be used for more precise readings of course, but this is a handyman multimeter for quickly going over a problem.
This unit also has a probe on the end of one of the clamps that can be used for “no touch” evaluation of whether a site is active and running current before digging in with your tools. Again, a highly convenient feature.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that “cheap” is a relative term. It can mean low cost and low quality, depending on who’s doing the evaluating. In this case, I’m referring to low cost of the multimeter.
I did not choose anything with particularly low quality, although the price point does limit features and options somewhat.
These cheap units are best for people just beginning to use multimeters as a tool, such as brand new electronics hobbyists or DIY mechanics.
13. Easy to Use: Mastech MS8229
The MS8229 really demonstrates the concept that inexpensive doesn’t necessarily mean incapable. It has a variety of standard functions, and includes a thermometer and even a humidity sensor.
This inexpensive multimeter makes a handy “general purpose” tool for just about anyone’s toolbox.
The screen space is reasonably generous, making it easy to use and adaptable.
It isn’t True RMS, meaning it might not have the precision of other best meters, but it will provide good service in most toolboxes.
14. Best for Beginners: Cen-Tech 11
I found the Cen-Tech a very good “entry” type multimeter for the home hobbyist who’s interested in getting into electronics and electrical measuring.
Again, the beginner device lacks the high-end capabilities of more expensive units, but it also has a number of clever touches that make it quite handy and useful despite its limitations.
In particular, I quite like the tilting/swivelling display screen, allowing for easier viewing.
What is a Multimeter?
A multimeter also known as VOM (volt ohm milliammeter) is an electronic measuring instrument that combines several measurement functions into one unit. It can measure current (amps), voltage (volts) and resistance (ohms). There are two types of meters available on the market which are called analog and digital.
The analog meters consist of microammeter that shows readings with help of a moving pointer. On the other hand, digital ones display numerals and can also show results using a graphical bar. This type of device uses latest technology and is more common among users. It is because of its wallet-friendly price, better accuracy and performance. However, if your readings tend to fluctuate a lot, you may want to buy an analog unit instead.
The Multimeter is highly portable diagnostic instrument that acts as a multirange voltmeter, ammeter and ohmmeter. It is used to test circuits, batteries, breadboards and study electronic designs. With multi-meters, electricians can troubleshoot and rectify a system with safety. A typical device consists of 3 main components: display, selection knob and ports. You can use different types of probes with ports available on your device.
Why do you need it?
In short, anyone who intends to work around electricity needs them to be able to measure what it’s doing. Whether you want to work on the wiring in your car or your house, or just tinker around with the electronic components of an old AM/FM radio, a quality multimeter is essential for accuracy and safety.
What are the Key Factors to Consider When Buying Multimeter
There are scores of guides going into the value of the specific functions that multimeters offer, so I’m not going to try to duplicate that. The article would become much too long!
Instead, I’ll say this. Look for quality reviews – do people trust this brand? Look for included accessories – what value are you getting for your money? Does it include common probes for the purpose you’re using it for? And finally, look for a sensible warranty.
What makes a multimeter ‘good’ depends on your needs and the ability of your chosen device to fulfill those requirements. The cost of each meter depends upon its offered features, built-quality and brand reputation. Most of the experienced users prefer to buy a multimeter with embedded continuity feature.
Here are some of the most sought-after features among top tier options:
Autoranging vs Manual Ranging Multimeters
The auto ranging feature is an excellent option and only found in digital multimeters. As the name states itself, this type of multimeter automatically detects the range and saves you from the hassle to select the right range to measure voltage, resistance and capacitance, etc. This means that you do not need to input anything and multimeter automatically detects tested stuff.
These type of multimeters are slightly expensive and offer superior built-quality. You can also switch to manual mode on autoranging multimeter if required. Under few circumstances, the autoranging feature is of no use due to fluctuations in voltage and current at regular intervals. For manual range multimeter, you must have an idea about input value to select the right range on your device. In this way, you will be able to fetch the accurate readings from the multimeter. As always, you must be aware of all the device functions for its proper operation and best output.
The backlit display is kind of fancy but very useful when using your multimeter under dark places. Under circumstances where light is minimal or working outdoors at night, a backlit multimeter is your best option.
Quality of Selection Knob
The higher quality of selection knob is crucial when buying a multimeter for the long run. When holding the multimeter in your hands and rotating the knob for the first time, you will be able to judge its quality. Usually, if it makes a good click sound during rotation, it is a good durability sign. The soft knob multimeters depict lower quality and do not last much longer.
Getting a multimeter with high-quality probes is a definite plus. Overtime, probes tend to break at flex points. Once you see some wear and tear, it is a good idea to replace them to avoid problems in near future.
Auto Shut Down Feature
The auto turn-off feature is normally found in high-end multimeters. You won’t be able to find this feature in cheaper units. It is equally appreciated by beginners and advanced users. With this nice feature, your multimeter will automatically shut down after a certain period of inactivity. It adds up to save battery which may run out if you forgot to turn off the meter.
Analog vs Digital Multimeter
Multimeters are classified in a number of ways, including whether they’re manual or auto-ranging, analog or digital and what purpose they fulfill (such as HVAC or Automotive). When trying to determine what type of device you need, consider the job you’re doing and use common multimeter keywords associated with it. When buying, the most important decision you need to make is to choose between analog and digital type.
If we look at analog device, it is more user-friendly and offers better visibility during higher fluctuations. With digital, it becomes quite difficult to notice accurate reading due to sudden up and down jumps. The display experience is very similar to what you see in analog and digital speedometers used in cars.
Some of the electronic hobbyists prefer to use analog units due to their low input impedance as compared to digital ones. The impedance is actually the sensitivity of current under observation. With higher input impedance, you can measure any type of voltage with accuracy. The analog meters provide limited functionality as compared to digital counterparts. Your measuring capability is only limited to volts, amps and ohms with analog devices. On the other hand, digital multimeters not only look appealing but also offer many key functions. With an All-in-One device, you are capable to record variety of measurements at the same time.
The digital unit deliver accurate results and offer better visual readings during use. These are advanced and use latest technology for precise measurements. We also did not include any analog device in our review. It is because digital multimeters are our handpicked choice and exceptional in terms of features. When checking analog products, you won’t be able to find any model that provide best value for the money. Majority of these devices are obsolete due to advancement in technology and shift into digital age.
The digital products are more accurate and precise as compared to analog equipment. The accuracy of machine varies based on its quality and operating environment. When you spend a great deal of money on a top-notch device, you also expect it to work perfectly. However, this is far from truth and there is always chance of slight errors, things can go wrong too. The 100% accurate readings are only possible in perfectly stable environments with least distortions.
For electronic hobbyists and casual users, the ideal accuracy may not be the number one priority. On the other hand, professional users prefer to buy a perfect multimeter to get correct readings for their testing. For these reasons, you may need to invest in an expensive device for best results with zero chances of error.
When buying multimeter, you should always check the safety mechanisms provided in the device. No matter if you are using the meter for smaller values, the electricity should be always considered dangerous. There is always a certain amount of risk involved, which can be avoided if you use the unit properly.
Before using, you can inspect the device for leaks, cracks or physical damage that can alter results and risk your safety. So, check readings on a known voltage to see if it shows correct results. If it provides incorrect values, then definitely there is something wrong with your device.
The inspection of probes is also mandatory before you begin to use. You must verify if they are shrouded and aren’t cracked or broken. If they are damaged, you should never try to repair. Always use the best quality probes on the market to use with multimeters.
Some of the key protective equipment include gloves, insulated mats, headwear, etc. If you are going to apply a voltage of more than 50V, it is safe to make use of protective equipment. As a rule of thumb, always avoid damp areas and humidity when using the product.
It is a good idea to check the measurement category mentioned for the device. With improper use or failure to comply with rules, you may end up damaging your device.
Quality and Design
When looking for the best multimeter, you should always opt for something that comes with a rugged casing. It is definitely a plus to opt for a device that is visually unique due to bright colors. This feature can help you pick your device easily out of so many gadgets. Bumper corners protection and reputable brand makes your purchase literally risk free.