It can be tough to pick out quality multimeters in a sea of products. If we divide them by their core characteristics, it can get a lot easier to choose one that is best for you. This is the purpose of this article.
We have picked out the best multimeters in this price range and explained their key qualities and features. Hopefully, you will have a much clearer perception of what each of the multimeters reviewed here has to offer, alongside a good idea of what to look out for when preparing to buy a multimeter.
Look: Multimeters in this price range are built from more quality materials than multimeters from lower price ranges and they usually come equipped with very thick rubber casings that offer additional protection from falls. Because of this, their accuracy is greatly improved, they are tougher and a lot of multimeters in this price range have at least one safety certification, most often, they are CAT III 600 V certified. That means that the manufacturer guarantees you that the multimeter will protect you in case of an overload, with a power of overload being up to six hundred volts.
Overall handling of multimeters in this price range is also greatly improved in comparison to lower-priced models, meaning that you will drop your multimeter less often. And here comes the part that you are probably most interested in:
What is good about multimeters in this price range?
- The drastic increase in overall quality is visible on multimeters in this price range when compared to multimeters from lower price ranges.
- Multimeters in this price range are excellent for beginners that want to start off with quality, accurate multimeters, but don’t have enough confidence in their ability to use multimeters from higher price ranges.
- Besides being appropriate for beginners, these multimeters are suitable for experienced users that don’t have to use multimeters for hardcore professional work but instead require them on a less often basis, for use in applications where extreme accuracy and durability are not a must.
What is not so good about multimeters in this price range?
To continue the train of thought from the above paragraph, although they fit the standard quite well, they do not possess the extreme resistance to a variety of work conditions. This means that you should not pay a lot of attention to detail when you are preparing to buy multimeters in this price range. You should, however, be on the lookout for the multimeter best suited to your abilities and type of work that you do.
Don’t get me wrong, multimeters in this price range are accurate and most come factory calibrated, but industrial work requires extreme accuracy in all environments.
When you decide to get such a multimeter in this price range, you can be confident that it will do the job well if you work with it in work environments for which it was designed.
In a series of four short reviews, we will not focus on standard multimeter functions in great detail, we will instead focus on the accuracy of those functions and additional specific functions and settings that are unique to the multimeter reviewed and the general impression of the reviewed multimeter.
Top 3 Best Budget Multimeter Under $100
OUR TOP PICK
Fluke 101 is a very simple multimeter designed for inexperienced multimeter users. Its simplicity of use is incredible and everyone that gets this multimeter will be able to use it.
The body of this multimeter is constructed from good plastic that seems to be tough enough to handle light to moderate amounts of force. Fluke 101 is very lightweight and compact enough that you can fit it in your pocket.
As I mentioned before, the casing is good, but I have an issue with the rubber shell. Although the rubber seems to be made of quality material, it is not thick enough to complement the casing and offer any substantial amount of additional protection. In other words, it is not strong enough to endure falls from heights higher than one meter, but if you truly are a new user, you will probably be extremely careful with it.
And you should be careful because Fluke 101 is accurate -- it will produce good readings and it has all the basic functions a new user needs. Fluke 101 can measure capacitance, voltage, amperage, and frequency.
Unfortunately, it has no backlight, but since this multimeter is built for beginners, this is not a big deal.
Fluke 101 comes with a manual that contains detailed instructions in English. These instructions will speed up the process of learning for new users, that is unless you get a Chinese edition that has Chinese instructions. In case that you do get the Chinese edition, you should be aware that quality of build is not as good as on standard models.
Fluke 101 is shipped with a pair of standard test leads that are encased in thick rubber and can be protected with protective caps that are also shipped with this multimeter. These test leads seem to be of high quality ( at the level adequate to new users ) and if you get Fluke 101, you will probably get to use these leads for a very long time.
This multimeter is also CAT III certified, so new users can rest assured that they will be safe while measuring.
All in all, Fluke 101 is a must-have if you want to gather more experience and if you are looking for the multimeter of good quality to learn on.
Innova 3340 is probably the best automotive multimeter in this price range. This multimeter stands out from other automotive multimeters in this price range by its accuracy, the number of functions, resistance to falls and additional equipment that comes with it. Probes that are shipped with Innova 3340 work well and they are made from good material.
Innova 3340 is accurate and it doesn’t require any calibration when bought.
This multimeter’s functions work well. Innova 3340 can measure temperature, capacitance, voltage, amperage, frequency, rotations per minute and more.
The casing is made of sturdy tough plastic, but the most important part when it comes to protection from falls is the rubber shell. Rubber shell on Innova 3340 is thick, sturdy and made from quality rubber. The shell covers the backside, sides and I like the fact that the silhouette of the shell is protruding from the sides so that if the multimeter falls on its front side, screen, all buttons and dial will remain protected from any damage.
That’s excellent if you use multimeters to work on household grids, but if you are a car mechanic and you need to crawl and work in tight spaces, the fact that your multimeter will not get damaged when it falls can truly make or break your desire to get one as soon as possible. But that still means that you should not drop it on purpose. Although highly damage resistant, Innova 3340 is not unbreakable.
Innova 3340 is CAT II certified and fused. Fuses are of good quality, but if you want the highest level of protection, you should get high quality ceramic fuses and install them as soon as possible.
To summarise, if you are a car mechanic, or if you just want an automotive multimeter to be able to diagnose and fix your car at home, in case it is needed, then Innova 3340 is the multimeter for you.
This multimeter got on this list because it is the best multimeter in this price range for heating, ventilation and air conditioning professionals. Let’s start off with safety.
Extech EX 330 is CAT III 600 V and CAT II 1000 V certified.
When it comes to protection from falls, the body of this multimeter is made out of plastic, but the quality of plastic does not matter that much because the body is protected by rubber shell that engulfs every side of this meter beside the front. Rubber from which this shell is made of is very tough.
Extech EX330 can measure microamps, miliamps, resistance, continuity, capacitance, AC/DC voltages and temperature.
This meter is very compact. That will certainly come in handy for HVAC professionals that get this meter because they will have to use a lot less power to control the multimeter while working in tight spaces.
Extech EX 330 is not equipped with backlight nor does it have the flashlight.
I don’t know how such an oversight is possible since HVAC work implies working in low light environments and tight spaces. However, that’s not that bad because the compact size of EX 330 makes it possible for the user to hold a smaller flashlight and this meter in the same hand.
This multimeter is accurate and all functions produce good results in a short period of time. EX 330 has a non-voltage detector built in, which I find particularly good because it can be used to detect if electric current runs through the water in cases where there is a broken pipe and potential broken wire.
Besides standard thermal probes that are shipped with Extech EX 330, everything else is excellent.If you are an HVAC student or professional, you will certainly be delighted by this multimeter.
Best Budget Multimeter Under $100 Buying Guide
When you are looking for a multimeter in this price range you should, in most cases, go for the one that has fewer functions. The reason for this is the manufacturer’s budget. If a multimeter has fewer functions, the manufacturer has invested a lot more in these few functions than if he had to split the same amount of money into more functions. This results in better quality of existing functions.
There is not much more too look out for since all the bad multimeters usually fall in lower price ranges. Multimeters in this price range are obviously not the best ones on the market, but they are close to being the best.
If your multimeter is shipped with probes, probe quality is one more thing you should look out for. Although many meters in this price range are shipped with high-quality probes, there are many more that are not. That is obviously not a deal breaker and it shouldn’t be, but since the possibility exists, why spend an additional fifty dollars on probes, when you can get them for free.
As with all other things, it is with this one too that the buyer should be aware that probes of higher quality are usually shipped with the product that costs more.
The upside of this is that if you are an experienced multimeter user, who has owned many multimeters, you probably have some spare good probes in your shed that you can then use with your new multimeter. And if you already have probes in working order, you can save some money since some manufacturers offer options for shipping multimeters without additional equipment, which are probes, among other things.
If you work in low light environments, the backlight is probably going to play a significant role in your decision-making process about buying a multimeter. Although not all multimeters have backlights, you will be relieved to know that the case with multimeters in this price level is that they don’t consume a lot of battery power, which was the case with multimeters from lower price ranges. If you use more powerful backlight, you will still spend more battery, but it won’t as nearly drain your power like on the cheaper models.
Those were the most important things one should look out for when getting a multimeter that costs under one hundred dollars. We have included the top models of multimeters in this price range that are suitable for users that require different types of multimeters for different tasks. Read this guide carefully, evaluate your options and make a decision. Once you do make a decision and get one of these bad boys, you can be confident that they will be with you for a very long time.