A Digital Multimeter is a must have for anyone even remotely thinking of performing really any electrical work. Whether testing or installing an outlet, repairing automotive electrical components or diagnosing faulty appliances a digital multimeter is a must have.

Digital Multimeters can range from very cheap all the way to hundreds of dollars, selecting one, in the end, is determined by the level of skill you have and also what you plan on using it for. But in all instances, it’s never recommended to buy the cheapest one available because let’s face it, were all not highly skilled electricians and having a device that’s safe and reliable is number 1.

Digital-Multimeter-Battery-CheckWhen your out searching for a multimeter always ensure you buy one that’s over and above any work that you will come across. If you get one that’s rated for 1000 volts max and you test something that’s putting out 2 – 4x that, you’re putting yourself in serious danger of being harmed. The most common injuries obtained are not from misuse but rather simply testing a circuit that is believed to be low voltage but in reality are far above what your multimeter can handle.

Below we have broken down what we think are the 5 most reliable and practical Multimeters available currently in 2018. We have gone in depth into multimeters that are great someone looking to just check basic appliances and outlets all the way to multimeters that can be for journeyman electricians, mechanics, and serious DIYers.

Of course, this is not all the multimeters available and the one that’s perfect for you might not be listed, you can check this out for a full list of Digital Multimeters.

What Is a Multimeter

A Multimeter is an instrument that is designed to measure a wide range of units of measurement for electricity. They are designed to measure electrical voltage in alternating current (AC) or Direct current (DC), resistance, ohm’s, continuity between 2 points and much more.

A multimeter or also referred to as a Volt-Ohm Meter are commonly used to detect faults in electrical systems or provide a high degree of accuracy for testing voltage present in anything from household outlets, appliances, and motors.

Who Needs One

Just about anyone that likes to get there hands dirty in a good DIY project will eventually come across needing a Multimeter. Multimeters are used by hobbyists, people that work on small electronics, tradesman such as Electricians and Mechanics, and just about anyone that’s performing home improvements.

Whether your working on your truck, house or a large HVAC system having a Multimeter is a very valuable tool.  Digital Multimeters provide you with the full package, commonly found in a 3-in-1 combo: Voltmeter, Ammeter an Ohmmeter.

As Digital Multimeters are easily controlled by 1 turn style knob just about anyone can use one and perform basic checks around the house. There’s really no excuse not to have a Multimeter in your arsenal.

When comes time to check for possible electricity, a Multimeter could just be the one device that saves your life.

Digital VS Analog Multimeter

A big decision that you will have to make when you initially set out to search for a Multimeter is whether you need a Digital or Analog Multimeter. Most of the time if you’re going to be doing basic household testing or electrical maintenance a Digital Multimeter will be perfect.

Analog Multimeters:

Analog-Multimeter-Screen

Photo by Loadmaster (David R. Tribble) / CC BY

Analog multimeters utilize a microammeter that moves over a scale that shows your current voltage that’s being tested. Analog multimeters are more difficult to read but provide a better insight when testing slow current changes as you see the needle moving across the scale. 

Analog multimeters we more commonly used in the past before Digital Multimeters existed and are slowly being fazed out as Digital Multimeter become more advanced and popular. Analog multimeters are more delicate than their digital counterpart. The best use out of an Analog Multimeter is when it’s used as an ammeter because of their low resistance and increased sensitivity with scales all the way down to 50uA.

Digital Multimeters:

Digital Multimeters, on the other hand, have an LCD screen that will display your readings. Digital Multimeters usually have a lot wider range of ability then Analog Multimeters and are used by a lot more people than previously when Analog was the go too device.

Photo by Vellfire525 / CC BY

With Digital Multimeters you will have a central knob that you turn to choose between the type of measurement you are trying to test. Digital Multimeters will measure the following currents: Alternating Voltage, Direct Voltage, Alternating Current, Direct Current, Capacity (farads), Conductance (Siemens), Decibels, Duty cycle, measured as a percentage, Frequency (Hz), Inductance (henrys), Temperature Celsius or Fahrenheit (only certain models and with special equipment).

As you can see Digital Multimeters are quite superior in most instances when compared against Analog Multimeters. We recommend unless you have a specific requirement for an to use and are more durable.

Safety

Safety has to be an utmost priority when you’re determining what Multimeter to buy because you are working with electricity, especially if you will be working in and around 30V – 35V and up.  

  • When you’re setting out to purchase a Multimeter, ensure the one you are considering has some of the following features:
  • Look for the multimeter to have banana plugs with an insulated cover over the probes
  • Isolation slots in the PCB to prevent Arc-over
  • Built by a known and trusted brand like Fluke that adheres strict compliances and safety regulations to all their equipment.
  • Check that it has enough input protection for the jobs you will be performing.

A lot of injuries that occur when using a Multimeter happen because of overloading the Multimeter with too much voltage, not misuse of the instrument. Commonly people think they are testing a certain voltage but it can turn out that what they are actually testing is a lot higher voltage than anticipated.

As with anything electrical if you’re unsure of what you are doing, before attempting anything, read any manuals available for the work that needs to be performed. If you are still unsure you’re better off to call in a professional.

Always conduct every task with extreme caution. Whenever you’re planning to do any maintenance always ensure you close off the circuit by utilizing a circuit breaker or by manually disconnecting the power.

 

If you don’t find a Multimeter that fits your exact needs and requirements you can check out this complete list of Digital Multimeter

5 Best Digital Multimeters

Fluke 117 Electricians True RMS Multimeter with a NIST-Traceable Calibration Certificate

Fluke 117 Electricians True RMS Multimeter
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The Fluke 117 Multimeter has enough features to satisfy any DIYer all the way to professional Electricians who need a versatile Multimeter for demanding conditions.

One thing we really liked about this model is it comes with a NIST-Traceable Calibration Certificate with all data so you can be sure your multimeter is providing exact readings. The Fluke 117 features True-RMS AC and DC voltage detection and is equipped with low voltage impedance that prevents any false readings due to ghost voltage.

The 117 includes a large 6000-count resolution display with white LED backlighting for working in all lighting environments. The 117 has min/max and average capabilities, frequency, and capacitance.

The Fluke 117 includes the following: (1) CAT 3 Test Leads, (1) Protective Holster, (1) 9V battery to power the unit, True-RMS and a 6000-count resolution display. While this is a great Multimeter for professionals and alike, it may be a bit overkill if your just looking to perform basic household checks.

Fluke 87-V Digital Multimeter

The Fluke 87-V is rated one of the best Multimeters with pinpoint exact measurement readings. The 87-V has more than enough features and capabilities to perform just about any job. 

Fluke 87-V Digital Multimeter
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A major function that this multimeter has compared to others it that is has a built-in thermometer that allows you to take temperature readings without having to shell out for an additional thermometer.

The 87-V has a peak min/max that allows you to capture intermittents as fast as 250µs (microseconds). With dual display resolution, you can pick between 6000 or 20,000 count resolution. The dual display resolution allows you to see small voltage fluctuations.

Rated for CAT III (1000V) and CAT IV (600V) and can measure all the way up to 1000 VAC & DC. Fluke has a selectable filter built in for accurate voltage and frequency measurements for diagnosing motor drives.

The Fluke 87-V includes (1) TL75 test leads, (1) AC175 Alligator clips, (1) handy holster, (1) 80BK Temperature Probe, (1) 9V battery that comes pre-installed.

The 87-V can also be purchased with a NIST-Traceable Calibration Certificate with Data. One reason we are always advocating the use of Fluke instruments is due to Fluke’s absolutely insane LIFETIME Warranty!

AstroAI Digital Multimeter, TRMS 6000 Counts Volt Meter

The AstroAI Digital Multimeter is perfect for at home use while not breaking the bank. As it comes in as one of the cheaper models featured it is great for simple electrical checks and basic workshop needs.

This Multimeter can test a wide range of voltage, current, resistance, continuity, capacitance, and frequency. The AstroAI has a built-in temperature feature like the Fluke 87-V. For a cheaper unit, this one still packs a punch with auto ranging abilities and true RMS measuring for AC current and Voltage.

The AstroAI is extremely easy to use with convenient features such as the data hold function and a hard LCD backlit screen for dark areas. It has an auto shut off to prevent battery draining and kickstand for easy reading and use.

Although not as amazing as the warranties fluke provides which are lifetime, Astro provides a 3-year warranty for this multimeter. Included in this package is (1) Pair of Test Leads, (1) K-Type Thermocouple, (1) Multi-Function Socket, (1) User Manual to explain in detail all the features and capabilities this little guy has.

Etekcity Digital Clamp Multimeter

The Etekcity MSR-C600 Multimeter is equipped with a jaw style 400 AMP max clamp. The AMP clamp measures AC current in a conductor all the way up to 26mm without ever interrupting or stopping the current.

Equipped with a bunch of handy features like a data hole, easy to see large LCD screen and auto-shut off after 15 minutes without use. The built-in low battery indicator is very important, operating the unit using batteries that are almost dead can provide incorrect readings.

Safety rated as a CAT II (600V) and CAT III (300V) with double insulation. The Etekcity Multimeter is a great easy to use Multimeter that’s ideal for entry-level Electricians, DIYers, and general hobbyists.

Included with the Etekcity Multimeter is (1) Pair of Insulated Test Leads, (2) AAA Batteries that come pre-installed, (1) Carrying Bag that’s perfect for a contractor or electrician and (1) User Manual. The unit has a super long 150 hour run time on standard alkaline batteries. Etekcity cover the multimeter with a 1-year warranty from the time of purchase.

Extech EX330 Autoranging Mini Multi-Meter with Built In Thermometer

The Extech EX330 Autoranging Mini Multimeter is a great conveniently sized instrument that’s basically 2 meters in one. It’s a fully functioning Digital Multimeter and a Non-Contact Voltage Detector (NCV).

The EX330 can measure AC/DC voltage up to 600 volts and AC/DC current up to 10 amps. The Multimeter measures voltage, amperage, continuity testing, resistance testing and it can perform diode testing.

Extech has a bright easy to see LED display with 4000-count resolution on there Multimeter and are equipped with an audible beeper and low battery indicator. The built-in thermometer with a Type-K Probe is able to switch effortlessly between reading Fahrenheit and Celsius.

The EX330 is a great compact multimeter perfect for home use testing appliances, lights, electrical outlets and much more. Included with the EX 330 is (1) Pair of Test Leads, (1) Tilt Stand, (1) Durable Impact Resistant Rubber Holster, (1) General Purpose Type-K Wire Probe, (2) AAA Batteries and (1) User Manual for quick setup and instructions.