There’s no question that multimeters are a necessary tool for anyone working as a professional tradesman. But like all tools, there are different multimeters for different applications. So, if you’re not sure which is the best multimeter for you, don’t worry – I’m here to help!
After over a decade in HVAC, electrical, and industrial maintenance, I’ve used just about every type of multimeter out there. Each one has its quirks, but some perform better than others in specific situations. That’s why I’ve ranked them each for a specific job to help make your decision a little bit easier.
So, let’s dive in to figure out which is the best multimeter for you.
What is the Best Multimeter?
There are a ton of great multimeters on the market, but some of them stand out among the rest. If you’re in a hurry and don’t have the time to read every independent review, you can’t go wrong with one of my top 3 picks for the best digital multimeter.
Even though there are only three mentioned above, there are still plenty of other great multimeters depending on your trade and use.
Top Multimeters for 2022
Fluke 87V Industrial Multimeter
Best Digital Multimeter for Electricians
The Fluke 87v is an industrial multimeter that is packed with features and functions. It has a large backlit display, True-RMS AC voltage and current measurements, temperature measurements, microamps to test diodes, etc. This multimeter is perfect for those who need to troubleshoot electrical problems in industrial environments.
If you’re a professional Journeyman or beginner, this multimeter is the perfect multimeter for testing electronic equipment.
The Fluke 87V is packed with TONS of options. Here’s a quick preview of the main specification features.
|Voltage AC/DC||Max: 1000 V|
|Current AC/DC||Max: 10A (20A for 30 seconds)|
|Capacitance||Max: 9,999 µF|
|Frequency||Max: 200 kHz|
|Duty Cycle||Max: 99.9%, Accuracy: ±(0.2% per kHz + 0.1%)|
|Conductance||Max: 60.00 nS|
|Category||EN 61010–1 to 1000 V CAT III, 600V CAT IV|
Jake’s Final Thoughts
If you’re looking for a reliable and precise multimeter to use on a variety of electrical equipment, this is a great option.
Fieldpiece HS36 True RMS
Best Digital Multimeter for Residential HVAC Professionals
If you’re just getting into the HVAC game or you’re in the market for a new multimeter, then the Fieldpiece HS36 is a popular choice if you’re working on residential HVAC.
It has everything you could possibly need for HVAC, without all the features you would never use. They’ve even come up with great ideas such as making it small enough to fit in your pocket, a magnetic hanger to hang it up, and a backlight for those times you’re not in well-lit conditions. There’s also a wide range of accessories that can increase your job productivity.
The Fieldpiece HS36 has everything you need for residential HVAC measurements.
|Voltage AC/DC||Max: 600V|
|Current DC||Ranges: 400μA, 4000μA|
|Resistance||Ranges: 400Ω, 4kΩ, 40kΩ, 400kΩ, 4MΩ, 40MΩ|
|Capacitance||Ranges: 400 microfarads|
|Frequency||Ranges: 4k, 40k, 400k, 4M, 40MHz|
|Category||UL,CE,Cat III 600V, UL61010-1, IEC/EN61010-1|
Jake’s Final Thoughts
If you’re looking for a multimeter specially made for residential HVAC users, this is an industry standard.
Klein’s Digital Multimeter, Auto-Ranging, MM400, 600V
Best Digital Multimeter for Basic, General Use
The Klein MM400 is another great digital multimeter that is the perfect, affordable option if you’re a beginner or just doing some basic testing. It measures all the basic functions such as current, resistance, and voltage.
If you’re working on light home improvement projects such as testing light switches, this meter should do the trick. Make sure to read the instruction manual on it’s limitations. For only around $50-$60 bucks, this meter really is an affordable option if you’re not a Journeyman needing a high-end precision meter.
The Klein MM400 hits all the basic functions you may need as a homeowner or DIYer.
|Voltage AC/DC||Max: 600V AC & DC|
|Current AC/DC||Max: 10 A AC & DC|
|Continuity Test||Audible signal <50Ω|
|Duty Cycle||0.1% to 99.9%, Accuracy: ±(1.2% + 2 digits)|
|Diode||1.5 mA max, open circuit voltage 3.0V DC|
|Category||CAT III 600V; CE Certified, : IEC EN 61326-1|
Jake’s Final Thoughts
If you’re looking for a practical, affordable multimeter that can be used to get basic jobs done, then the Klein MM400 is perfect for you. This is not one designed for pro’s doing extensive electrical, auto, or other complex functions.
Fluke 381 TRMS Clamp Meter
Best Clamp Multimeter
If you’re looking specifically for a clamp multimeter, you can’t go wrong with the Fluke 381 TRMS Clamp meter. It’s made for the professional electrician who needs to measure a current in a safe and efficient way.
This clamp multimeter has quite a few features on it. The display on the bottom actually detaches and can be carried away up to 30 feet and is magnetic, so you can attach somewhere for easy reading. As a Fluke, you know it’s a reputable piece of equipment with a three-year warranty on this one.
The Fluke 381 TRMS Clamp Multimeter has quite a few special features.
|Voltage AC & DC||600 V /1000 V|
|AC Current||Jaw: 999.9 A, Probe: |
999.9 A / 2500 A (45 Hz – 500 Hz)
|DC Current||999.9 A|
|Frequency||Jaw: 5.0 – 500.0 Hz, Probe: 5.0 to 500.0 Hz|
|Resistance Range||600 Ω/6 kΩ/60 kΩ|
|Category||CAT IV 600 V, CAT III 1000 V|
Jake’s Final Thoughts
If you’re needing a clamp multimeter to replace an extra pair of hands, than you don’t need to look any further than the Fluke.
Fluke 289 True-RMS Industrial Data Logging Multimeter
Best Digital Multimeter for Industry
So I’ve already hit on some great meters for industrial use like the Fluke 87v, but the Fluke 289 Industrial Logging Multimeter version deserves recognition all on its own for its logging capabilities. Using “TrendCapture” graphing capabilities, the information collected with this meter can be shared with your peers or coworkers. You can download the Fluke app and find the information with a few clicks, making this a meter worthy of the 2020’s.
In a time where industries have taken a preventative maintenance approach by detecting minor problems before they become major ones, this is a multimeter for any major industrial business.
Now, as always, the Fluke 289 is a pioneer in measuring anything your systems could need.
|Voltage AC & DC||50.000 mV, 500.00 mV, 5.0000 V, 50.000 V, 500.00 V, 1000.0 V|
|Current AC & DC||500.00 μA, 5000.0 μA, 50.000 mA, 400.00 mA, 5.0000 A, 10.000 A|
|Resistance||50.000 Ω, 500.00 Ω, 5.0000 kΩ, 50.000 kΩ, 500.00 kΩ, 5.0000 MΩ, 50.00 MΩ, 500.0 MΩ|
|Capicitance||1.000 nF,10.00 nF 100.0 nF, 1.000 μF, 10.00 μF, 100.0 μF, 1000 μF, 10.00 mF, 100 mF|
99.999 Hz, 999.99 Hz, 9.9999 kHz, 99.999 kHz, 999.99 kHz
|Category||Category III, 1000V, Category IV, 600 V|
Jake’s Final Thoughts
This is a great logging multimeter to look at the continuous performance of industrial equipment and a necessity for preventative maintenance in industrial settings.
Megger AVO 835 High-End Multimeter
Best Digital Multimeter for Versatility
The Megger brand may not be as well known as a Fluke, but it definitely deserves its spot on the list. It’s a great multimeter that performs a myriad of functions which makes it great for whatever equipment you’re testing.
Whether you’re a hobbyist, electrician, or field tech, many people can find this meter versatile enough to meet their needs with the safety standards they’ve come to expect.
|Max Voltage AC/DC||Max: 1000V|
|Current AC/DC||Max: 10 A|
|Resistance||Max: 50 MΩ|
|Capicitance||Max: 20 mF|
|Diode||Max: 2.8 V|
|Category||EN 61010-11000 V CAT III / 600 V CAT IV|
Jake’s Final Thoughts
The Megger is a quality, affordable meter that performs a variety of functions. It really is a versatile meter that can meet the needs of various tradesmen.
Kaiweets HT118A Digital AC/DC Multimeter
Best Digital Multimeter for Automotive.
Now, when you’re looking at automotive multimeters, the Kaiweet HT118A is hard to beat for the value. For only $37, you get pretty much everything you need for automotive measurements. If your pro, you can definitely go with a Fluke 115, but for the novice, a Kaiweets is likely all you need.
Here are the features you’ll find in a Kaiweet HT118A.
|DC Voltage||600mV/6V/60V/600V±(0.5%+3), 1000V ±(0.5%+3)|
|Capicitance||10nf/100nf/1000nf/10uf/100uf/1000uf ±(4.0%+5), 10MF/100MF±(5.0%+5)|
|Category||IEC Rated CAT III 1000V, CAT IV 600V|
Jake’s Final Thoughts
If you’re looking for an affordable automotive multimeter, this is a great option.
What Is a Multimeter?
A multimeter is an electronic measuring instrument that combines multiple measurement features into one single unit. All meters are equipped with test leads and typically an option for different types of accessories. As the name implies, a multimeter has expanded to have multiple uses. What started as a way to measure voltage, current, and resistance for electricians, has now expanded to temperature, humidity, diodes, and more.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Multimeter
There are tons of different multimeters on the market, so how do you choose which one is best for you? Digital meters differ from each other in the functions that they provide. Some have more than others, but you’ll pay heavily for them. Others simply offer the basics, but if that’s all you need then they’re perfect for you at a much more affordable option.
Here is a list of all the factors you can consider when deciding between different digital multimeters:
1. What You Need to Measure
The most important factor is what you need the multimeter to measure. Digital multimeters measure a multitude of different functions depending on what they’re marketed for. Specific multi-meters are out there for specific jobs, for example, HVAC, Circuit electronics, Industrial grades, Instrumentation, and more.
There are two types of electrical voltage categories for multimeters: AC and DC Voltage.
Voltage is the power source of electrons in a circuit.
AC voltage: This stands for alternating current and it’s the common voltage you’ll find. This is anything you’ll find in residential, buildings, motors, light fixtures, practically everything.
DC voltage: This stands for direct current and it’s used in automotive and controls like circuit boards or industrial equipment. Most common example is anything that uses batteries.
Most multimeters can measure both, but some only measure one or the other, so be sure to check before making your purchase. Typically, many meters measure up to 600V, but some meters go as high as 1000V or more which is designed for the types of voltage safety ratings beyond what the incoming power provides.
This is the amount of current flowing through a conductor. This is measured in units of amperes or amps. Many meters measure up to 10A, and it also depends on the type of meters you’re using. For instance, a claw or clamp meter may measure differently with a probe vs. the jaw.
Resistance, which is measured in ohms, is the opposition of the electrical current. Every circuit must have a resistance factor in order for the electrical properties to work. Most resistance is measured when there is no power to whatever it is you are measuring. For example, a non-powered switch measuring across to determine if the switch is closed or open.
The ability of a capacitor to store an electric charge. This is measured in farads or microfarads. HVAC will use this often.
Some meters can measure the moisture in walls, wood, or the atmosphere, a meter with this function can be used in a wide range of professions.
7. Electrical Category
The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) created safety requirements for electrical equipment to keep the user safe.
Three different categories define the level of protection against electric shock:
- CAT I– this is for measuring voltages in circuits not connected to the mains.
- CAT II– this is for measuring voltages in circuits connected to the mains.
- CAT III– this is for measuring voltages in circuits with high voltage and current, such as those found in industrial environments.
- CAT IV– this is for measuring voltages in circuits with extra-high voltage and current, such as those found in the distribution network.
It’s important to know what category of equipment you’re going to be working on so that you purchase the appropriate multimeter for an accurate reading.
8. True RMS (or TRMS)
This is a feature that you’ll want if you’re going to be working with AC voltage. It stands for true root mean square and it means that the multimeter can take into account the changing nature of AC voltage.
9. Analog Multimeter vs. Digital Multimeter
This is a matter of preference, but digital multimeters tend to be more accurate than analog multimeters. They also have the ability to store data, which can be helpful if you’re working on a long project or want to keep track of measurements over time. Analog meters are not as easy to find these days as digital have been here for quite some time.
10. Auto-Ranging Capabilities
This can help increase your efficiency with it populating automatically. This can also tend to be confusing at times as this usually changes the decimal in the reading and can be interpreted wrongly.
11. Backlight Display
Are you going to be working in low-light conditions? If that’s a significant possibility, you will want a backlight. Also if your like me and cannot see well, you will use this at all times.
12. Safety Features
Different multimeters can withstand different voltages spikes, and some are even equipped with different alert systems when things are attached properly. This is a really important factor when searching for the right meter, you want to keep yourself safe, but also the equipment you are working on.
You know that your tools take a beating if you’re a professional. Consider getting a multimeter with a longer warranty to get the most bang for your buck.
Unless you have an unlimited budget, you’ll need to consider the price. Some can get pretty pricey when you start adding in all the bells and whistles, and differences in accessories, so take inventory of what you need.
As any tradesman knows, things are bound to get bumped, hit, and dropped when you’re on the job. Or maybe you’re working in some horrible weather conditions, but whatever is happening, you’re going to want your multimeter to handle the punches.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What do I look for in an electrician multimeter?
When looking for the best multimeter for an electrician, it’s essential to find a multimeter that measures the advancement of all measuring options. But some other noteworthy things are going to be safety features (the category), and accessories.
What features should I look for in an HVAC multimeter?
HVAC professionals look for unique measurements when testing out air conditioning units. If you’re in HVAC, be sure to make sure your multimeter can measure capacitance (microfarads), voltage, amperage, and temperature.
What do I look for in an automotive multimeter?
If you’re using a multimeter for automotive purposes, you’ll want to look for one that is most basic but has more DC and Ohm options.