LAST UPDATED: February 19, 2021
The Best Multimeters (Review & Buying Guide) in 2021
Troubleshoot your way to glory with these multimeters.
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PUBLISHED 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
All of our reviews are based on market research, expert input, or practical experience with most products we include. This way, we 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
We’re starting the list by looking at an entry that targets electricians in need of reliable equipment. Part of what makes it our top pick is the value this package offers. It comes with Fluke’s 117 digital multimeters, the best in the 110 series, a Fluke 323 clamp meter, as well as the leads and a carrying pouch. Purchasing these multimeters individually can cost you quite a bit more than the asking price of this bundle. Ease of use is an obvious priority of the designs of either meter as well. They perform all the functions necessary for general power installation and troubleshooting and do away with any functions unnecessary to that type of work.
One should know that this multimeter is not made in the USA like other Fluke products are, and it has a three-year warranty instead of the lifetime warranty. That said, the quality you can expect in a fluke is present, and you can expect it to survive years in a professional field.
We’re not all electricians or work on electronics; some just need a multimeter for basic tasks. There’s no sense in throwing a high-dollar multimeter in the kitchen drawer only to see use once every couple of months or less. This option takes our pick for best value because it costs less than a tenth of many other options but still functions reasonably well. It is a manual ranging model that you can use to check voltage, resistance, continuity, and even test diodes. The backlight, rubberized shell, and support stand help separate this model from the primary, fragile multimeters that usually sell for the same price.
While it might be the best multimeter you can buy in this price range, it’s still what you could expect. It’s not going to give you the most accurate readings, nor will it last a lifetime. Still, it’s a great tool to keep in the glovebox or goodie drawer or to simply learn with.
The Fluke 87V is held in high regard by many. Those who work in industrial fields and with electronics often consider this the best multimeter to spend your money on. Why that is, has to do with the unit’s wide variety of functions and accuracy. Of course, it has all the essential functions you could expect. But on top of being able to test voltage, continuity, resistance, and capacitance, this multimeter can read the temperature, frequency, microamps, and more. It can also work in auto and manual ranging, pretty much making it an all-in-one unit. And to answer the question, it is made in the USA and is backed by a limited lifetime warranty.
As for the downside, it is an expensive unit, which is what holds many back from purchasing it. That said, it’s hard to consider the price as unjustified because it is a precision measurement instrument.
If you’re looking for a set to perform basic jobs around the home base, this set is hard to beat. It’s an entry from Klein Tools that includes a manual ranging multimeter, a voltage tester, and a receptacle tester. The multimeter is suitable for reading AC/DC voltage and resistance. The other equipment serves to detect voltage and ensure the wiring is correct to prevent damage or injury. This set covers pretty much all the bases necessary for odd jobs. But if you want a little more out of it, you can take a step up to a variant of the set that includes a pair of wire strippers.
You can probably expect that this isn’t a superb unit suitable for professional use. To be fair, it doesn’t outright target that market, though. It’s just a good option for essential work and serves as a step up from super-affordable units.
Not having to test a circuit in series works to prevent injury, or worse. That’s precisely why industry professionals need a clamp meter in their collection. If you already have an excellent multimeter to work with, this offering serves as a great addition to your collection. It’s an auto-ranging unit that can test voltage, resistance, continuity, capacitance, frequency, and even test diodes. It also comes with a thermocouple probe so that you can test temperature. Being as capable as it is, the price point is hard to knock. Many units of comparable stature run for much more, pricing themselves out of range for many folks.
“It’s good for the money” is a key phrase here. For the most part, it is a good tool, but accuracy and reliability are concerning. Most reviewers seem to like it, but many admit to issues regarding readings being slightly off and the unit struggling in cold weather.
Size usually doesn’t outweigh accuracy and features. But a multimeter you can keep in your pocket or use in virtually any workspace is something essential in the eyes of many. If you need a smaller size multimeter and don’t want to waste your money on the cheaper units, you can set yourself up with this Fluke. It’s ‘pocket-sized’ but still offers outstanding accuracy when reading voltage, continuity, resistance, capacitance, and duty cycle. An excellent detail about this model is that it runs on two AAA batteries, easily replaceable. The auto shut-off feature also works to protect these batteries, so you don’t have to worry too much about it quitting early on you.
Many notes are the lack of a current testing function, making it less than ideal for specific fields. It’s also made in China and is not protected by Fluke’s lifetime warranty. While these are setbacks, it doesn’t prevent this model from functioning on the fly in many settings.
We’re turning our attention back to budget-friendly options. This time, we have an entry from AstroAI that does stand out among the competition. The functions of this meter are extensive, making it suitable for use with electronics testing. That said, it’s packed with all the basics, along with the ability to perform tests such as reading temperatures, duty cycle, microamps, milliamps, and it even comes with an adapter to aid in testing transistors. Another notable feature is the inclusion of a hanging magnet and kickstand that allows you to set up shop pretty much anywhere. Being a budget option, the going price is very competitive considering all it has to offer.
Overall, it’s hard to highlight anything terrible about this model due to the price. Accuracy seems to be a minor issue, but it’s not enough to hold it back.
Klein makes its final entry on our list with an auto-ranging multimeter that’s great for general electrical work. Of course, it can read voltage, resistance, and continuity. That, in combination with the rugged design, already meets the criteria of many. It also features a thermocouple for reading temperature and an adapter to test transistors helping it to appeal to folks working with electronics and more. It’s a great all-around option, mainly because it goes at an incredibly competitive price point despite being attached to an industry-leading name. Of course, running on AAA batteries works to sweeten the pot as well.
This unit is a heavy hitter for hobbyists and weekend warriors, but it isn’t a high-end tool. Some professionals do get used out of it but note that it doesn’t compete with premium products with similar functions.
If you’re working under the hood, this is a good choice for you. We don’t say that solely because the brand has ties to Equus. The ability to perform a battery load test is going to come in handy for several jobs you’ll tackle on vehicles. Besides that, it has all the essential functions you’ll need for general electrical work both on cars and elsewhere. It also features probe holders on the sides and thick corner guards, complimenting working in tight spaces in an engine bay. Of course, the fact that it’s affordably priced will also help make its way to many tool collections.
This is handy for automotive work, but professionals may want to look elsewhere.
While this isn’t a bad tool for the money, it isn’t exactly in the league of high-dollar multimeters many rely on to make a living.
Extech is a solid brand to call on when you need a reliable multimeter but doesn’t want to break the bank. This particular model is an excellent example of how it balances quality and affordability. This is an auto-ranging multimeter with a range of necessary functions for working on electronics and general electrical jobs. This unit has twelve various tasks, including the ability to read temperatures with the supplied thermocouple, and can be used as a voltage detector. Despite being super capable, it has a relatively compact sizing that works to keep operation hassle-free.
Overall, the unit performs as it should, which isn’t a surprise to supporters of the brand. However, some reviews state that after a short amount of time, some significant issues with performance and function may arise.
- 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!