Best Digital Multimeter 2017

Multimeters have come a long way from their first analog days, when they served to help repair and maintain radio and telegraph equipment. Today’s advanced digital multimeters can quickly and accurately gauge all aspects of electronic circuits, including measuring volts, ohms and amperes. We can now also replicate the analog multimeter’s useful ability to record rapidly varying values, as well as offer pinpoint precision across a wide variety of different testing modes.

While all multimeters on the market today precisely measure volts, amperes and ohms, many advanced models also include the ability to measure farads, siemens, decibels, radio frequencies, henries and even the temperature via a thermocouple. These devices are extremely accurate, with many of them able to measure increments as small as 0.1 ohm. Successfully used, a multimeter can quickly and accurately identify problems in circuit flow, engineering design, and critical components of complex electrical systems.

Compare: The 10 Top Rated Digital Multimeters

RankPictureNameBrandPriceRating
1Fluke 115 Compact True-RMS Digital MultimeterFluke$$$$4.9
2Mastech MS8268 Digital AC/DC Auto/Manual Range Digital MultimeterMastech$$$4.8
3INNOVA 3320 Auto-Ranging Digital MultimeterInnova$$4.7
4Amprobe AM-510 Commercial/Residential MultimeterAmprobe$$$4.6
5Tekpower TP8268 AC/DC Auto/Manual Range Digital MultimeterTekpower$$$4.6
6Mastech MS8229 Auto-Range 5-in-1 Multi-functional Digital MultimeterMastech$$$$4.6
7Etekcity MSR-P600 Auto-Ranging Digital MultimeterEtekcity$4.5
8Extech MN35 Digital Mini MultiMeterExtech$4.5
9Crenova MS8233D Digital MultimeterCrenova$4.5
10Klein Tools MM100 Manual Ranging MultimeterKlein Tools$$4.4

Our Digital Multimeter Reviews

INNOVA 3320 Auto-Ranging Digital Multimeter – Best Cheap Digital Multimeter

The INNOVA 3320 is a fantastic entry-level multimeter, giving home DIYers and professional electricians alike a compact, accurate tool to quickly identify and repair problems in circuits and electrical systems. Whether used to troubleshoot car problems or to repair household appliances, the 3320’s fast-acting auto-ranging system quickly tunes the multimeter for your next precision measurement.

Pros:

  • The resistance auto ranging is very rapid, allowing for faster measurements between selections
  • Measurements taken by the 3320 are comparably accurate to more expensive models
  • The battery test function is great, as a colored light quickly identifies the battery’s status

Cons:

  • The leads look dull and are not as sensitive as other models
  • The 3320 is not equipped to measure high AC current loads and is limited to a maximum of 200 milliamps

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Mastech MS8268 Digital AC/DC Auto/Manual Range Digital Multimeter – Best Digital Multimeter for the Money

The Mastech is a great hand-held digital multimeter that is the perfect tool to have around the house or in the car for quick repair jobs or troubleshooting sessions. With its high-quality leads and precision measurement capabilities, the Mastech MS8268 is ready out of the box to help professional electricians and DIYers repair and build electrical systems and components.

Pros:

  • Looks great and feels solid in the hand
  • Buttons are intuitive and simple to use, and the LED backlight lasts five seconds, plenty of time for viewing in low-light situations

Cons:

  • The probes included with the device are not designed to be attached to alligator clips

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Fluke 115 Compact True-RMS Digital Multimeter – Best Digital Multimeter Overall

Fluke has been winning over electrical engineers and automative repair mechanics for years due to its line of high-quality, rugged multimeters. The 115 Compact is the latest addition of advanced multimeter technology in a solid hand-held device that can be ergonomically operated with just one hand. With its signature bold yellow design, the Fluke 115 is the cream of the crop when it comes to portable multimeters, offering professional electricians and home DIYers the ability to measure, tune and troubleshoot nearly any aspect of an electrical circuit or component.

With its powerful fuses and integrated advanced Category III safety design, the Fluke 115 has been designed to securely function for years.

Pros:

  • The ergonomic design fits perfectly in the hand, and the large central switch can be operated one-handed by most users
  • Comes with a built-in kickstand for no-hands testing
  • This is a true RMS meter in a convenient portable device

Cons:

  • The test leads that come with the device are not compatible with other types of adapters sold by Fluke
  • To use Fluke adapters, you’ll have to buy a new set of test leads

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Our Top Rated Digital Multimeters

 

Best Overall

Best For The Money 

Best Cheap 

What Is A Digital Multimeter?

A multimeter is sometimes known to industry insiders as a VOM, an acronym which stands for Volt Ohm Meter. Generally speaking, a multimeter is a single device that combines the ability to measure several different aspects of electricity, specifically voltage, current and resistance. They are generally used either to repair or troubleshoot electrical equipment, including home appliances, as well as advanced technological equipment like computers.

Some engineers use multimeters as a testing tool when designing new equipment. By having a portable, lightweight, and extremely accurate testing device, the multimeter allows anyone repairing or building an electrical device to quickly determine where, when and how much current is flowing in any particular circuit. Multimeters are also vital components of every mechanics tool set.

Effectively, a multimeter works by using a test probe or probes and measuring an aspect of the current flowing through the multimeter. Sometimes crocodile clips are used, or test leads, or “tweezer” probes for smaller jobs. Once the current that is flowing over the multimeter’s test probe is measured, the results are displayed on the screen. Most handheld multimeters sold today use a battery to generate the test charge, and as such, the battery will have to be changed periodically.

What Are The Advantages Of Using A Digital Multimeter?

A multimeter allows anyone who can read a screen and hold a pen perform to precision readings on any electrical device or circuit. Depending on your electrical engineering skills, a multimeter can be one of the most important tools to have in your home or vehicle. While advanced designers can use multimeters to test new products or design ideas, even amateur home tinkerers can benefit from having a multimeter on hand. Simple DIY repair projects, such as fixing a simple home appliance like a lamp or a toaster, can be made vastly simplified by the use of a handheld digital multimeter.

You will mostly use the multimeter to check for a variety of electrical faults and identify 12V power sources of your car. This way you could find out why your car battery is not charging right and then take steps to rectify the situation. A multimeter is also important as it allows you measure resistance when working with switches, fuses, relays, sensors and other components of your car like lighting, stereo and ignition coil. For instance, if you headlight goes off abruptly, measuring resistance will help you determine whether it is dead or not before you could buy a new one.

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Using a test probe to quickly verify the functionality of circuits leads to quick fixes or swapping parts, saving car owners and property managers money and grief. Anything electrical in the house, from computer mice to the mains power itself, as well as electrical components in automobiles and boats, can be measured and analyzed with a multimeter, quickly identifying problem areas or troubled circuits. Sometimes expensive and complicated equipment can cease working due to a single chip or circuit malfunction.

What Are The Different Types of Digital Multimeters?

While some traditionalists still use analog multimeters, most people today rely on the convenience and simplicity of using a digital multimeter. Many of today’s models come equipped with an auto-ranging function, which limits the range of what is being tested so that the multimeter and its display screen do not overload.

Other models include the ability to perform polarity checks on D/C circuit readings to identify the direction of current flow. Other multimeters are so advanced that they effectively function as a low-bandwidth oscilloscope. Some manufacturers offer additional control over the multimeter and include cables and software to connect it to a computer.

Some devices come with available jacks or inputs, including thermocouples, in order to connect exterior measuring devices and sensors, such as a thermometer, to the multimeter. This gives the multimeter additional measuring functionality without having to buy or use an additional tool. Because multimeters are an integral part of working with electrical currents, all of today’s models include some form of advanced fuse to shut off the unit and protect it from a short circuit or overload.

In the United States, digital meters, including multimeters, that measure electricity contain fuses rated in Categories I-IV, with the higher numbers indicating higher resistance.


Considerations for Choosing the Best Digital Multimeter

Much like other multimeters, there are lots of choices available. The good thing about this is that you’re sure to find a multimeter that works for you. The bad part is that you have to weed through hundreds of options and hope you make the right choice. Before you throw money away on a multimeter that doesn’t fit your needs, make sure that you check out these considerations before you purchase.

Display

The best multimeter in the world is of no use if you can’t read its display. Models with bigger screens can show measurements to more digits. Some multimeters come with backlit screens to increase visibility in areas with less light.

Control and Settings

Every multimeter has a number of measurement options compacted into one hand-held device, so understanding and using the controls requires careful designing. Different devices offer a wide variety of optional settings.

Size and Durability

The size and ruggedness of your tool is a prime consideration, especially for those who work in the field. Anyone who hasn’t had a tool drop from a bag on a ladder or some other mishap involving misplacing or mishandling something is either magnificently careful or just hasn’t been in the field long enough for it to happen to them. You’ll want a rugged meter with a lot of protection for most applications away from a work bench because sooner or later your multimeter is sure to take a fall or otherwise be abused a little bit.

Another important consideration that often goes hand-in-hand with the durability of a meter is the size. If you find you’re often working in tight spaces, you’ll likely want to go with a smaller meter to make sure that it can fit easily into where you’re working. If you have too massive of a meter to fit into the space you’re going, you’ll find you may as well not have one at all.

Safety Compliance

Any time you’re dealing with electricity, there is a possibility for an accident. It’s important that multimeters be certified as meeting or exceeding industry safety standards. You need to keep yourself protected from over-voltage. Multimeters are rated at different CAT levels so you can quickly discover if it is safe for the range you’ll be using it in. It’s not just the main voltage you’ll need to concern yourself with though, you’ll find that you might also be dealing with transient voltage. These sudden impulses of current can occur in some systems, and you may have your meter damaged if it exceeds your meter’s rating. The secondary part of the CAT category will inform you of how high of voltage it can handle transients in.

Voltage and Accuracy

Apart from the safety aspects of your meter, most are rated for a specific range of electrical energy. You’ll want to match this to your needs, especially if you’re shopping for a bargain. If you’re working with small energy circuits at home, your needs will be quite different from someone working with a house’s main or a big industrial circuit.

Most high-end meters will be able to cover a wide variety of uses, from measuring mV to working with a power main. You should also take note of the fact that the range of measuring capability may vary between AC and DC power sources, meaning that there are two different specifications you’ll want to check on. If you’re working with particularly precise measurements it’s important to make sure that your purchase has the highest accuracy available. The accuracy ranges can get incredibly precise, so you’ll be sure to find one to fit your needs even if you’re working with the most delicate of circuits.

Additional Features

Multimeters sold today come with a variety of options, including thermocouples and banana jacks for additional probes.

Conclusion

Anyone who’s considering doing some repair work or who wants to troubleshoot and understand the workings of their electrical devices can benefit from having a handheld multimeter. By making quick and accurate readings, users can rapidly identify problem areas or components and thus make short work of repairs. For car mechanics and automobile owners wishing to do their own repairs and improvements, a multitool is an invaluable aid in designing, fixing and installing audio and other electrical systems.

After careful consideration, the Fluke 115 Compact was deemed the best handheld digital multimeter on the market. With its rugged design and wide range of testing functions, the Fluke multimeter can help any electrician or DIYer make rapid and accurate measurements to diagnose, troubleshoot and repair electrical devices and systems. With its advanced ergonomic design and pinpoint accurate readings, the Fluke 115 Compact True-RMS Digital Multimeter can provide vital measurements at the touch of a button.

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