The Best Multimeters (Review & Buying Guide) in 2021
Troubleshoot your way to glory with these multimeters.
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BY Hank O'Hop / LAST UPDATED ON February 19, 2021
One of the most useful devices you could ever spend your money on is a multimeter. Even the one that comes free with your purchase at the local discount tool store can be the defining difference between you getting something back up and functioning or throwing a good amount of money away on parts you suspect to be failing. Even if they seem like a specialty tool, they’ll come in handy in virtually any technical field. Mechanics, electricians, HVAC technicians, and so on are all likely to put a multimeter to use multiple times per day. But because there is a variety available to you, picking one out isn’t as simple as it seems. Certain features compliment specific work fields while others are virtually useless to those outside of that environment. Luckily, getting up to speed is pretty straightforward, and we’re to give you some advice on making an informed decision.
This multimeter and clamp meter kit is ideal for professionals looking to build their tool collection. Either serve an essential function for electricians and are built to last.
- High-quality construction
- Excellent performance for the intended field
- Bundle price adds value
- Not made in the USA
- Not backed by a lifetime warranty
Super affordable unit perfect for miscellaneous tasks. Functions and features place this option in league with those of higher price ranges.
- Excellent price point
- Respectable quality for the price
- Lacks in accuracy
- Not built to last
Held on high by mane as the best multimeter for the money. Its features, functions, performance, and ease of use help this unit to outpace most anything in its league.
- Manual and auto-ranging function
- Superior quality and performance
- Made in the USA
- Lifetime warranty
- Premium price point
Why Trust Us
Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
Benefits of Multimeters
- Diagnose electrical issues. The number one benefit of a multimeter is performing diagnostics when electrical components are on the fritz. All multimeters can perform multiple tests, but not all the same tests—something to keep in mind during your selection.
- Safety barrier. One thing you want to make sure of is that there’s no power present on electrical components or wiring that you intend to handle. A multimeter can prevent injury, or worse, by testing circuits before you start working.
- Saves money. Proper troubleshooting and any tools you use for that works to save you money. Rather than guessing whether or not there’s an electrical issue, you can use a multimeter to find out for sure.
- Applicable elsewhere. Electricity is used in almost everything we use in daily life. That means you can use multimeters for many jobs, even those that exist outside of your hobby or profession.
Types of Multimeters
Though they aren’t as prevalent in today’s day and age, analog multimeters are still available on the market. The primary difference between a digital multimeter and an analog multimeter is the display. These use a needle scale in place of an LCD. The digital models usually do have the edge when it comes to accuracy in readings and features. Still, the analog does a better job at displaying the speed of fluctuations in the current, which can prove to be very valuable in specialty fields.
Like all things, voltage, ohms, and current are measurable in increments. Just like distance, those increments can be lumped into groups, which are known as ranges. An auto-ranging multimeter is a digital device that is capable of identifying what range a measurement exists within and automatically displays the reading for you. This makes using a multimeter far easier for beginners or those who don’t have the time or need to sit and sort through ranges while troubleshooting components.
Manual Ranging Multimeter
As opposed to an auto-ranging multimeter, the manual ranging design requires the user to select the proper range to obtain an accurate reading. The drawback is that you have to be familiar with these ranges and where they exist within the project you are working on to obtain a reading. The primary benefit is that one who is proficient in their field can generally get more accurate readings than they could from an auto-ranging multimeter.
A clamp multimeter has many of the same functions as other digital multimeters. Still, it has a distinct advantage in measuring the flow of electricity in a live circuit. The clamp is used to measure voltage, resistance, and so on within the wire passing through it. That eliminates the need to perform measurements in series, which can be potentially life-threatening.
This industry leader set up shop back in 1948 and continues operations out of its hometown of Everett, Wash. Since the start, it’s had a laser focus on testing and measurement equipment, which is why it is the reigning king of the category in the eyes of many. The Fluke 87-V Digital Multimeter is a prime example of Fluke’s abilities.
Today, Klein Tools works out of Lincolnshire, Ill., which isn’t far from where Mathias Klein set up shop in 1857. The company’s roots run deep with electrical tradespeople and are the go-to supplier for many of their tools. It’s no secret why the Klein Tools 69149 Multimeter Test Kit with Cutters makes our list.
Innova Equipment and Tool
Innova is headquartered in Irvine, Calif., and has been in the business since 1990. While that may seem like a short amount of time, the fact that Equus established them captures the attention of any gearhead. The company knows what’s essential to the industry, which is why we can’t afford to ignore the Innova 3320 Auto-Ranging Digital Multimeter.
This Massachusetts-based company has been hard at work since 1971. The company is all about producing test and measurement equipment to serve various technical fields. That said, the affordable yet impressive Extech EX330 Autoranging Mini Multimeteris hard to ignore.
- $10-$20: These are your budget-friendly options suitable for secondary use or beginners. They generally work pretty well but lack the accuracy and quality a professional setting demands.
- $20-$100: Many multimeters in this range are viable for professional use. However, it is vital to pay attention to the brand and function to ensure it is suitable for the work you perform.
- $100-$300: Some multimeters cost thousands of dollars. However, most premium options exist within the range of $100-$300. Obviously, the higher the price, the more inclusive the tool is, but all within this range are suitable for professionals.
Even the most expensive multimeter you can buy will let you down if it can’t perform the function you need it to. Multimeters can provide measurements of multiple electrical circuit qualities, but they can’t all do the same things. For example, some can measure temperature while others cannot. What features are most important to have in a multimeter is dependent on what kind of work you perform. If you’re not sure what those features are, your best bet is to seek advice from someone in your field and who does the same kind of work.
Professional-grade multimeters are expensive, and replacing them is far more painful than the initial purchase. Of course, you want to take care of your tools, but accidents happen. That’s especially true for someone who’s crawling through attics, climbing ladders, or working around cars and in other harsh environments. Sure, there’s room for a ten-dollar multimeter in every toolbox, but if you’re relying on it to make a living, it’s best to buy one that can take a beating.
- Inclusion of Additional Tools. Multimeters can perform multiple functions, but they can't do everything. That means you're going to need more diagnostic tools. Luckily, many come with the tools that often complement a multimeter's efforts. Some even come as a set of multimeters such as a clamp type meter combined with an auto-ranging model. If you're just starting, it's not worth overlooking the value of these offerings.
Best Multimeter Reviews & Recommendations 2021
- While it's essential to invest in a multimeter that can perform the functions you need it to, you don't need to waste your money on one that can do more than that. We might not have the insight into what features are essential to techs in other fields, but we can give some guidance on what we think are the best automotive multimeters.
- You're going to work in the dark, and some multimeters don't have a backlight. If you can, you should invest in the multimeter that has this feature to save your tongue and teeth from the back end of a flashlight.
- A multimeter is just an extension of your brain. Without that, it's just a hunk of plastic and circuitry. It's up to you to familiarize yourself with diagnostic procedures and when to perform them. That said, we can offer up some advice on How to Test a Relay and How to Test Transmission Speed Sensors.
- Again, multimeters can't do everything, and you'll need more diagnostic tools to get the job done. Test lights, socket testers, and voltage probes are all tools that complement a multimeter's purpose and are worth having on hand. If there's anything we learn from working with electricity, it's that diagnostic tools are precious. For advice on devices like this for other projects, consider our guides to Infrared Thermometers and Moisture Meters.
Q: What are multimeters used for?
Multimeters are used for a range of electrical tests. In short, they are useful in determining the status of an electrical circuit or to track down any significant issues within.
Q: What is a multimeter and what can multimeters measure?
By definition, a multimeter is a test tool that can measure two or more values. At the very least, you can expect a multimeter to read voltage, resistance, and current. Any other functions it can perform is dependent on the model you select.
Q: What are the two types of multimeters?
You can lump all multimeters into the categories of analog and digital. However, digital multimeters can be broken up into the categories of manual ranging, auto-ranging, and clamp types. It’s best to familiarize yourself with all kinds to make an informed decision.
Multimeters exist on a broad spectrum, partly because they are useful to almost anyone. When it comes to a viable tool for a professional setting, something like the Fluke 117/323 Multimeter and Clamp Kit is hard to beat. But we understand that something like the WeePro Vpro850L Digital Multimeter has a place among hobbyists and weekend warriors, which is why we made sure to include it. That said, none of our options may meet your criteria. That’s why we want to learn from you. Be sure to leave a comment telling us what you feel is the most critical function of a multimeter is for the work you do!