You live in a world filled with electronics. Chances are you may be in need of a multimeter more than you think.
No longer are these unique devices relevant to professionals only. Over the past few years they’ve become more user friendly and let’s face it: your home has many more electronic devices than a few decades ago. What will you do if one of them malfunctions?
The market has many different options in various price ranges so you can find one relevant to your needs and budget. And well help you get it right.
Not sure how a multimeter will help you when your vehicle or gadgets give problems? Don’t worry. We’ll explain it all below. Learn all about modern multimeters and then pick your ideal one from the list of reviews.
When you’re shopping for new tools there’s a very important goal: The items you pick should make life and work easier, not hamper your actions. For that to happen you need to understand the multimeter market. We’ll give you a crash course so you can pick your ideal solution as if you’re a pro.
Let’s start with the basics.
What is a Multi-meter?
Multimeters are small devices that—quite impressively—can handle three different tasks thanks to the different components embedded in the casing:
- Volt meter
Therefore this is the device you use when you need to measure a circuit’s electric current, the voltage or resistance. The circuit containing the current can be the electric infrastructure of your home, in your car’s battery or any electronic device you own. The readings will tell you if and where there are abnormalities.
The basic features are:
- A display
- Buttons to operate it
- Dials and/or switches
- Input jacks
Some multimeters have additional functions which can include (but are not limited to):
- Frequency, measured in Hz
- Capacitance, measured in farads
- Conductance, measured in Siemens
- Decibels (in circuitry, not sound)
- Inductance, measured in henries
Advanced designs exist which allows you to attach components to your multimeterin order to measure:
- Humidity and more
With so many options it becomes clear: Your first step is to discern what you’ll use your multimeter for. Pick one that aligns with those preferences to ensure you get the features you need, without paying for ones you won’t.
Who Needs a Multimeter?
As mentioned, these are no longer devices meant for professionals such as electricians only. With the staggering number of electronic devices found in homes today, each home should rightfully have one.
By identifying abnormalities in the current you may discover problems before they turn into crises. Because electric fires are real threats to homes or offices, a multimeter is therefore part of important maintenance equipment.
Apart from that, there’s a growth in interest in electronic gadgets and even electronic DIY projects. If you want to know you’re doing it right and your project will be a success, sooner or later you’ll have to measure the current. Investing in one of these is paramount for avid hobbyists.
Of course, there are many professional applications too. Electricians and technicians will usually have one of these on hand.
How to Pick the Best One for You
As mentioned, your challenge is to find the one most appropriate for your unique application. To help you gauge which one would work best, consider these characteristics:
Digital vs Analog: Analog is often easier to identify changing trends but these types usually have lower input impedance. Below we review a list of digital models.
Design: Do yourself a favor and invest in a sturdy model with a protective casing. If it falls it won’t get damaged as easily. If it’s a bright orange or yellow that’s more noticeable than dark hues, even better. Other people won’t easily drive or walk over it when you leave it unattended on a work site.
Accuracy: If you’re using for professional applications it’s vital your device will provide accurate readings. Not all units are equally accurate, because cheaper components will lead to a lower price, but also affect its precision.
Safety: There are many features that can make it less risky to work with one. Remember you’re working with electricity. Features such as a blast shield, isolation slots and input protection can protect you when things go wrong. Each unit’s specs should mention safety classifications such as CAT ratings, so do your research before you buy.
We reviewed the best ones on the market and summarized our findings below. Make a list of your preferences and then see which one you’ll add to your tool kit.
10 Best Multi-meters
This is a winner even upon first glance: The brand starts off by giving you a multimeter in a yellow casing which is easy to see. When you want to prevent someone stepping on your gear while it’s lying on the ground, this is more important than you think.
This is one of the industry’s favorites thanks to many features that improve the Fluke 117’s accuracy. You have an AutoV/LoZ function that helps to prevent false readings. This is because it counters ghost voltage. It also features true RMS which will enhance accuracy on non-linear loads.
This is also a more advanced unit as apart from the usual readings you can also measure capacitance and frequency. This is one reason it’s often purchased for professional use as it saves you a lot of time when one tool can help you finish off multiple tasks. You’ll even be faster than usual because this unit has a non-contact voltage detection—no more connecting wires for each task.
This is a high end unit, one that many professionals electricians can consider, though the price may be too high to warrant it for domestic use only.
What does count in its favor if you want to invest in this as a home owner, is its user friendly layout and functioning. It’s easy to understand and use& the screen is backlit if you need to work at night. You’ll also feel comfortable using it as it’s small enough to hold in one hand, and it has an ergonomic design.
Safety is paramount when you work with electricity and Fluke makes sure the user has a risk free experience: There is surge protection of 6kV peak per IEC and it has a CAT III 600V rating.
A clear indication of the brand’s trust in its product is the long warranty. Although you’ll find Fluke products with lifetime warrantees too, the three year period on this model is still impressive. Elsewhere you often only get one year warranty periods.
Some users feel there should be even more functions as this is a higher priced unit, but we’re pretty impressed with what it already does.
Dimensions: 6.6” x 3.3” x 1.8”
Power details: Requires 1 AAA battery
– Bright color makes it visible
– Ergonomic, one handed design
– Extremely accurate
– Multiple measurement options
– More expensive than some others
– Fluke’s magnetic strap not included in purchase
We appreciate that this model includes a handy carrying bag. It will protect your unit and help it last longer than usual.
This is another impressive unit from Fluke with a CAT III 600V rating, meaning you’re very safe using it. Apart from resistance, voltage and current you can also measure:
– Do a Diode test
We were even impressed with the bag design as it opens laterally. This makes it easy to access all your tools inside.
This is another excellent option—and compact which is another plus—for field service workers and professionals. It has True RMS so you’ll have accurate readings. The one thing it lacks in comparison to the Fluke 117 model is that it doesn’t allow for low input impedance and ghost voltage may be a problem.
It’s user friendly so although these are made for professionals, the average hobbyist will also find it valuable. We’re also pretty impressed with the battery life of up to 400 hours if you don’t use the backlight.
Dimensions:6.57”x 3.31”x 1.82”
Power details: Requires 1 9V alkaline battery
– User friendly
– Case included
– True RMS
– Ghost voltage may affect it
This is quite a versatile unit, making it ideal for the professionals who need to handle a lot in limited time.
Apart from the regular features of a multimeter this unit can help you test temperature. We appreciate that the manufacturer includes this component—the probe—in your purchase.
This is one of the brand’s more advanced options as it can be used for alternator testing and RPM reading too, which other Innova devices can’t.
This is a remarkably safe unit to use thanks to built in safety features. The auto shut off and over load protection will help save battery power and prevent overheating. Your own safety is also paramount for this brand, proven by the fact that this unit allows hands free testing. There’s a built in stand and even wrist straps so you don’t have to handle the device throughout the process.
Users enjoy the user friendly interface with clear labels, making it easy for almost anyone to use. Although its application is appropriate for professionals, DIYers will also find this valuable.
Dimensions:12.5” x 4.5: x 6.5”
Power details: Requires 2 AA batteries
– Hands free features
– Safe to use
– Many test options
– Bright casing would have been better
– Accuracy can be improved upon
Here’s another device with a bright casing that will ensure you don’t accidentally step on it. Neotek offers a dynamic option (inside and out) at a very affordable price.
This is a lower end unit in comparison to items such as the Fluke models. However, this still suffices and provides impressive features such as the non slip case design—you don’t want it to fall out of your hands when working with live wiring.
It’s a comprehensive set as alligator clips and test leads are included in your purchase. Apart from the usual measurements you have the benefit of:
– Maximum reading over time
– An auto ranging feature
– The continuity buzzer
Working with this is quite easy and the backlit LCD display works even if you’re working in low lit areas.
One of the benefits is how light this model is. At 6.6oz it won’t weigh you down. This makes it ideal to place in your backpack when you’re carrying heavy tools to a second story or mounting a ladder on a construction site.
Dimensions:14.4” x 7” x 3.7”
Power details: Requires 1 x 9V battery (included)
– Very light
– Multiple functions
– Clear, backlit LCD screen
– Limited in accuracy
All you need in one purchase: This isn’t only a multimeter but AstroAI gives you multiple accessoriesso you don’t even need another trip to the hardware store: Buy this kit and you’re ready for almost anything.
This kit will help you with all the functions AstroAI products can provide: This is the model that does it all in one, while others have limited features. That includes temperature and continuity as well as frequency. This is why you have additional components you don’t find in all multimeter kits such as:
– Thermocouple that can measure anything between -40°F to 2000°F
– Multi function socket for capacitors & transistors
It’s also impressive as it has a maximum display of up to 6000, instead of 2000 or 4000 which is also common. Users appreciate the magnet at the back with which you can attach it to a surface,for hands free usage
Advanced features can mean more risk but here you’re protected thanks to double protection features and components such as the explosion proof ceramic fuse tubes. No matter which range you’re working on the unit provides overload protection. Thanks to these features it has a CATIII 600V safety rating.
You can also tailor your use of the device according to your preference. There is an auto range selection, but you can opt for manual if you prefer to keep control.
Dimensions:7.5” x 1.2” 5.6”
Power details: Lithium Metal Battery (included)
– Three year warranty
– Multiple components supplied
– Impressive safety features
– Beep sounds are too loud according to some consumers’ preferences
Here is another diverse set that will enable you to do many different measurements with one single device.
We appreciate the sturdy, yellow backed casing that makes this unit visible and protects it sufficiently. Safety features are further enhanced by the ceramic fuse tubes—a popular feature in this niche—which prevents the unit exploding.
It’s a very user friendly item thanks to the huge LCD screen and the provided stand which means you don’t have to keep holding onto this: Just prop it up and continue with measurements easily thanks to having both hands free. Alternatively you can use the hanging magnet.
There’s a clear indication if the battery is running low. You won’t be caught off guard. The Auto shut down feature (this happens after 15 minutes) also helps you save on battery power.
The many components the brand provides, such as the temperature probe, along with the high end unit enables you to take many measurements such as temperature, polarity and frequency.
The diverse functions make it appropriate for professional applications such as for automotive maintenance. However, it’s easy enough to use so hobbyists and home owners will also quickly get the hang of it.
Dimensions:8.7”x 6.7”x 2.4”
Power details: Requires 1 AAA battery (Zinc Carbon)
– Hands free options
– Kit provides all the components you need
– Clear display
– Shorter warranty period than many others (only 1 year)
If you’re looking for a basic unit, this is probably your ideal option. It’s a simple, user friendly model available at a very affordable price.
Even though this is one of the cheaper multimeters on our list it’s still CE certified.
It’s also diverse enough to use in a range of scenarios around the house, or even professional contexts such as the automotive industry. It has a sampling speed of 3 times/second and caters for AC/DC current.
This one unfortunately only has a 1 year warranty, but the 90 day return policy at least gives you some time to make sure it works well. There is a rubber sleeve which should prevent damage if you should drop it.
We are impressed that such a cheap unit has built in protection (double protection we might add) thanks to ceramic fuse tubes. There is even overload protection, no matter which range you operate on.
As a lower end unit it will only display up to 1999, but this is common in the industry and for home owners it shouldn’t be a deal breaker. You can effectively test fuses, outlets, car batteries and more. The brand also included a data hold option so you won’t lose your measurements and this makes for effective hands free usage.
Dimensions:5.5” x 3” x 2”
Power details: Requires 2 AAA batteries (included)
– Light and portable
– Protective sleeve
– Affordable price
– Limited capabilities
– Lacks accuracy and advanced options for professional electricians
This unit is impressive just by looking at it: Sturdily built and bright yellow for visibility.
With this large unit you can measure aspects such as frequency and temperature too. However, what sets this unit apart is the fact that it incorporates a flash light. That’s one less device you have to carry with you and makes it easy to work in the dark orlow lit areas. The screen is also backlit, making it easy to read in the dark.
The kit provides you with a thermocouple connector, so you’re ready for work the moment you receive this—no additional expenses.
It also impresses as it displays up to 6000 counts.
Dimensions:7.5”x 3.5”x 2”
Power details: 4 x 1.5V AA batteries
– Flashlight included
– Measures temperature too (component provided)
– Bright yellow casing makes it visible
– Works for AC/DC current
– Only 1 year warranty
A surprisingly impressive unit at such a low price.
The ET680 is super affordable but it comes with high end features such as data hold so you can work effectively, effortlessly and handsfree. The handsfree features are further enhanced by the support frame: You can position it on a flat surface. Alternatively you can hang it on a vertical structure withthe hook hole.
A nifty feature is that it will warn you with an audible signal if you’re working on a live wire. It’s a non contact feature, so you’re not put at risk.
Dimensions:8.7”x 6.3”x 2.6”
Power details: 1 x 9V battery, easily inserted from the back, but note that you need a screwdriver to loosen the back panel.
– Non contact features
– Hands free options
– Bright colored casing makes it visible
– Limited measurement features
If you’re looking for a durable unit for some rough handling, this could be your ideal pick.
This is already and impressive unit with components that measure temperature included. However, the thing that placed this on our best multimeter list is its durable design: You can drop this from a 3.3ft height and the protective casing ensures it will keep on working. That makes it ideal for professional use, such as around construction sites, where electricians’ equipment experience hard handling.
Apart from this it aligns with what we’re looking for in multimeters as it has a bright casing for visibility and can measure up to 600V AC/DC voltage.
It is slightly more expensive than units with similar functions, but the durability is worth the extra expense. It’s actually cheap for what you’re getting.
Dimensions:1.8”x 3.1”x 6”
Power details: Requires 2 AAA batteries
– Durable casing
– Resistant to wear and tear
– Brightly colored casing
– Very short leads
For us there’s no question: The Fluke brand is a step above the rest and thanks to the multiple functions & smart exterior design, the Fluke 117 is a winner. Yes, the Innova is also impressive, but its accuracy isn’t guaranteed, so our first choice is the ultimate in getting value for your money and getting a tool you can trust.
Do you have any tips for others purchasing or using this unique device for the first time? Please leave your thoughts below to benefit the rest of our community.