What is the best multimeter to buy in 2020 – Top Picks
When you think of great tools and devices to have around the house, typically the first thing that comes to mind are power drills, sanders, and others, but the Multimeter doesn’t get as much attention. A multimeter has become one of the tops required home DIY items that you must have.
A multimeter is an electronic device that is used by electricians and DIY homeowners to test items for voltage, temperature, amps, and resistance in different items like outlets, batteries, metal objects, and electrical wires.
Best Digital Multimeters in 2020 -- Comparison
TOP 10 Best Multimeters -- Reviews
After reviewing many of the top leading digital multimeters on the market today we have gathered the details from the 10 which we feel are the best multimeters in 2020. Whether you’re a DIY homeowner or an electrician, there’s a perfect multimeter for you on our list.
Klein MM400 -- Best Multimeter Under 50 Dollars also Best Choice For Electronic Hobbyists
For those homeowners looking for a cheaper version digital multimeter with most of the needed functionality, the Klein MM400 is a great choice (This multimeter is the TOP choice in 50$ price range. Designed by electricians it was made to be simple to use and understand and comes with a solid/durable build making it long-lasting.
While primarily used for electricians, it can also measure temperatures making it a great resource for heating/cooling (HVAC) uses. It is great at testing continuity, power sockets, batteries, and much more and comes with an auto-ranging ability so you don’t have to deal with manually setting the device.
- Thermocouple for temperature measurement
- Average RMS
- Light in weight and size
- Durable build to last long
- Voltage measurement up to 600V
- Good display with backlight
The MM400 is a small device that is made compact and easy to use for anyone just starting off using digital multimeters for the first time. Its made to withstand years of use and has a rubber casing that is made to absorb small drops or bumps while being used.
The display on the MM400 is quite easy to read and comes with a backlit display for darker locations. Along with the good display, this device has great functionality too including the Min/Max button which will show you the high and low values of each measurement along with a hold functionality to keep the data present if you aren’t able to write it down at that time.
Watch this video or scroll down to keep reading:
Auto-ranging capability on this device is great for those of us who don’t know how to manually set a multimeters capability. This is great for the new-users to multimeters or those who want a quick and easy to use device.
Since this multimeter is under $50, it’s not normal for it to have temperature measuring capabilities which is why it’s important to give a mention to the fact that this product comes with a thermocouple. Simply attach the thermocouple, touch it to the object you want to measure the temperature of and it will produce the temperature for you.
Innova 3320 -- Cheapest multimeter in the market
This is one of the cheapest digital multimeters on the market today but still has some great features for at-home DIY type people. With its great auto-ranging ability it’s a good first-timer multimeter to do the basic tasks perfectly.
It has basic DC and AC voltage measurement abilities and has both continuity and resistance checking functionality built-in. From the studies done on this multimeter, it has shown to be a very accurate and precise multimeter considering the cost. I also found that the auto-ranging ability was quite fast compared to other digital multimeters in the Innova brand.
- Clear and large display
- Battery testing capabilities
- Auto-shutoff built-in
- Durable and small size
- Auto-ranging multimeter for easy use
The 3320 by Innova is easy to use and lightweight. While it doesn’t have the durability of the other Innova or Fluke designs, we still felt it was built well and would last a few years if taken care of properly. We felt this digital multimeter was the perfect resource for starters and DIY car owners due to its affordable price.
The battery tester is one of the best functionalities that stand out on this device from the others. Simply test the voltage of a battery and the Innova 3320 will tell you how strong the battery is by showing you a green, yellow, or red light. If it’s red it’s time to replace the battery. If no colors show then it means the battery is dead.
The display of the 3320 is great with very large/clear print making it easy to see, however, it does not have a backlight so it makes it difficult to see in low-light areas.
This device has an auto-shutoff capability to ensure you don’t waste the battery if you forget to turn it off. It also has a built-in kick-stand making it easy to stand up on a nearby surface.
Innova 3340 -- Best multimeter option for home automotive/technicians
There are so many brands and models to choose from. The first thing to determine is what you need it for and then start to limit the results. If you are looking for an affordable digital multimeter for your home automotive uses, or for technicians on the road then the Innova 3340 is a great choice (other suggested models you can check in this article).
While this device shouldn’t replace your high-quality professional one for any automotive repair shop, it can be used for most quick checks. Many of these checks include testing for voltage/amps, temperatures, continuity, and many car checks including engine tests, alternators, and car battery checks.
- True RMS built-in for accurate and precise measurements
- High safety precautions built in for reverse polarity to reduce electrical shocks.
- Thermocouple included for measuring temperature great for HVAC uses.
- Great features built-in including data hold, min/max, and auto-ranging which is useful for both new and experienced multimeter users.
This product comes with all the necessary accessories for testing different automotive needs which is why it’s no surprise that it ranks one of the highest suggested devices year after year in the field. Included with this is a clamp which is great for snapping it on your car hood or other areas of the car for easy visibility and access.
It also comes with a thermometer probe which makes it perfect for testing many of the liquids under the hood of your car. This also is an added safety bonus for you to keep you from touching different liquids which may be too warm to touch.
The 3340 by Innova is also an auto-ranging digital multimeter which is great for on-the-go work as it automatically does the calculations for you. This also makes it great for new users who may not be experts on multimeter calculations. Unfortunately, this product does not allow for manual ranging which may not be as desired for those looking to do specific manual tests.
Tacklife DM01M -- Great all-around multimeter
This digital multimeter is a great all-around multimeter with many different features including a thermocouple lead to allow you to test temperatures. Overall, we felt it had a good display with a nice backlight and we liked the fact that it only required AA batteries.
- Thermocouple for testing temperatures
- Large LCD backlit display
- Built-in stand
- AC and DC Voltage testing including Capacitance and Resistance
This product comes with a built-in flashlight which can be a decent trade-off in some areas with poor lighting along with a big backlit screen making it perfect for any lighting condition.
It can also measure temperatures that are perfect for HVAC working in heating and cooling situations. Also, if you’re unsure if an object is warm or not to prevent burning.
Here’s the video on how to use this multimeter:
Fluke 87-V -- Best Multimeter Choice For Professionals
The Fluke 87-V is one of the top-of-mind picks for those electricians who tend to get involved in Automotive and HVAC on a daily basis. Its broad range in voltage measuring means it can measure more of the hard-to-read items like current, frequency, voltage, and of the most important – temperature. With its thermocouple included, you can measure almost anything including liquids.
This digital multimeter is by far one of the most versatile in the multimeter family, but it definitely doesn’t come without a steep cost. As always from the Fluke brand you can rely on getting a durable piece of equipment with a great screen resolution/display.
- Auto and manual ranging settings available
- Ergonomically friendly for ease of use
- Strong outer covering and sturdy to hold
- Auto-shutoff functionality built-in
- Temperature measuring thermocouple included
- True RMS technology for precise measurements
This product can be used by anyone on the market, but I don’t necessarily suggest it for beginners as it has quite a few advanced features that can be confusing. This is a reliable piece of equipment that comes with so many great features.
Whether you’re an experienced electrician or one who’s looking to get into the automotive or HVAC line of business, then this product is great for you. I definitely suggest this as one of the best designed and sturdy pieces of equipment on the market.
Take a look at this video review:
Fluke 88 V/A KIT -- Best multimeter in the market!
The Fluke 88V is by far one of the best on the market today for both standard automotive and hybrid alike. While the price is a bit steep, there is no doubt that this digital multimeter has the competition beat in terms of functionality and durability.
What makes this device so great is that it not only can it do the standard conventional measurements, but it can do many more advanced ones including RPM, peak min/max, low pass filter, and pulse width measurements. All this without sacrificing quality and accuracy.
- Auto and manual ranging capability
- Can Measure 1000V AC/DC
- Data hold functionality
- Pulse width measurements
- Backlit display
- Measures frequency and capacitance
- Relative mode
- RPM measurements
Fluke 88 V is a great tool for all automotive uses with its broad range of voltage, current, continuity, frequency, and conductance measuring functionalities One great part about this specific model is the speed of measurements which will save you time waiting for measurements to complete.
This device was designed for the mechanic’s work environment in mind with it’s built-in the magnetic hanger to allow you to simply place the multimeter in an easy to see a place on the vehicle. As well it’s a large digit display with multi-level backlighting makes it easy to see even under low light areas. It has a built-in thermometer that helps you do not have to carry an extra tool along making this multimeter a great addition to your toolkit.
Fluke 115 -- Durability of the Fluke brand but lower price
For those looking for the durability of the Fluke brand but don’t want to pay the normal high prices for it, the Fluke 115 may be the answer. With a much more affordable price, it still has all of the same great features built-in. This is a highly recommended device for car owners and those working in the automotive industry.
- True RMS measurement
- Lightweight and easy to use
- Large backlit screen
- DC/AC Volts and Amp testing including millivolts and resistance
The True RMS capability built-in ensures accurate and precise measurements even when conditions are not perfect by calculating the equivalent DC value of an AC wave. Digital multimeters without this ability can often have inaccurate and false readings. The Fluke 115 also has a built-in auto-ranging capability which makes it great for fast and accurate measurements without the need for setting manual adjustments.
Fluke 115 devices come with a built-in power-off mode which is great for those like me who often forget to turn off the device after use. After 15 minutes of inactivity, the device will automatically go into a shut-off mode. This is not only a great way to save the battery, but also to save money.
This device has a large 6000 count LCD backlit screen which is great to see at any angle and even in dark conditions. The display of this unit is one of the best I have seen.
The Data Hold function of this model is a great functionality to have. Essentially if you want to ensure the data stays in the device simply press the “Hold” button and the device will store the current measurement until you conduct a new one. Many users enjoy this function as it saves you the time of having to write down measurements on paper.
Check also this video:
Fluke 116 -- the best multimeter on the market for those electricians dealing with heating and cooling on a daily basis
The 116 is the best device on the market for those electricians dealing with heating and cooling on a daily basis. While this device has many great features for those DIY technicians around the house, the price doesn’t necessarily make sense for those not using it on a daily basis.
The versatility of this multimeter is what makes it stand out from the competition. It can measure everything from AC/DC voltage, frequency, temperature, and current. It’s both precise and accurate with it’s true RMS measurement capability in the ever trusted and durable design that all Fluke devices have.
- Thermometer for measuring temperatures of surfaces and liquids
- Large backlit display
- Data hold and min/max capability
- Auto and Manual ranging capability
The 116 has an auto-LED backlight and is optimum in all environments whether low light or bright light. This is optimum when working in darker spaces or at angels as the 166 doesn’t lose much contrast. The text is also in a large font which is great for when it is a considerable length away from you.
This multimeter was built to be able to test temperatures of objects and liquids which makes it a perfect companion for HVAC who use this for heating and air conditioning tests. It comes with a probe which is useful for touching specific objects/liquids. As a warning, ensure none of the liquids are corrosive so you don’t jeopardize the probe.
With the Fluke 116 having true RMS, it makes it perfect for those workers who need a precise and accurate reading. For all true RMS devices, it ensures your readings will be accurate even under unfavorable conditions. Many multimeters on the market lack this currently, but most HVAC multimeters this will come standard.
Most Fluke devices are well designed, but the 116 is made for optimum one-hand usage which is great when your other hand is holding a probe or object. It also has the handy built-in hold function to keep the data handy in case you don’t have anything to write down the measurements on at that time.
Take a look at Fluke 117:
Fluke 117 -- Best Multimeter In Terms Of Versatility
When you’re looking for the best options in terms of versatility, this is the one. With the built-in true RMS capability, you don’t have to worry if your measurements are accurate making this great for professional use.
The 117 has a bright LED screen with a nice backlight making it easy to see in low-light conditions. This device is also built to last for many years with some of the best materials so you don’t have to worry about it breaking down on the job. It is also one of the best on the market with non-contact voltage detection making sure you remain safe at all times.
- Non-contact voltage detection
- Accurate readings with True RMS
- Large display with backlight
- Auto-ranging capability
The Fluke 117 is unique compared to most on the market due to the non-contact voltage detection functionality as it helps to keep the user safe. When you are unsure if there is a voltage on an object and want to check, simply hover the multimeter over the object and wait for it to beep. If it does, it means the object has a voltage present on it.
The display on this device also is big and bright and while it doesn’t automatically detect low-light, with the switch of a button the backlight turns right on. It also has an auto shut-off mode which is perfect to ensure you save your battery and money after 15 minutes of no activity it will turn off.
The 177 also has true RMS which is a highly needed ability for accurate and precise readings. It can read almost all situations, no matter the conditions, with a 0.5% accuracy. While this is quite standard, it is still worthwhile to mention.
Watch this video:
Fluke 179 -- most accurate multimeter on the market
Out of all the multimeters in our list, the Fluke 179 is by far one of the most accurate devices on the market. It does come with a bit of a steep price tag, but with all of the added functionality and measurement capabilities, it’s well worth it for professional electricians.
Whether you’re in a perfect environment or one with many different electrical components running simultaneously, this device will still give you perfect measurements.
- Temperature reading capability
- Min/Max, data hold, and auto shut-off mode
- Can measure both milliamps and millivolts
- Capacitance and frequency measurements
- Speedy auto-ranging capability
The 179 model is a really great device to have for those electricians working in a professional environment or for home/car owners who tend to use a multimeter on a daily/weekly basis. It is a highly accurate device with the True RMS capability ensuring that even in “noisy” electrical situations it will still produce perfect results.
The reason this product is one of the best on the market is the fact that it can measure almost anything including AC/DC voltage, current, resistance, frequency, temperature, capacitance, continuity, diodes, and more.
The 179 is also made with many safety and protection precautions built-in. It is built to withstand very large power surges including those from lightning and large motors without it coming back to explode the multimeter device. This makes it very safe for you in even unsafe conditions.
What Are The 4 Different Types of Digital Multimeters?
There are many different types of meters that can measure different objects, devices, wires, and circuits. If it’s dealing with electrical measurements, typically you’ll need a multimeter to accomplish this. Multimeters are designed to be able to measure the voltage and amps of a specific object without harming the user.
If you’re looking to be able to take electrical measurements or to measure continuity, you’ll need a multimeter but which one will you get? Here in this guide, we’ll review the 4 most common types of multimeters on the market that you may see and why you would use them.
Fluke Digital Multimeter
When you start your search for the new multimeter and start understanding the different types and brands, the first thing you’ll see a lot of us the Fluke Brand. They are extremely well known in the multimeter industry and are top of the line when it comes to quality and precision. If you want a multimeter you can trust to get the job done right every time, go for Fluke. They typically come with an increased price tag, but they will be worth it in the long run.
The first and most important multimeter to understand is the digital multimeter. This is the most common type of multimeter that you’ll see around most homes and garages. A digital multimeter is most commonly used to measure voltage and resistance in your home, office, or vehicle.
This is done by using two probes black/red one which is the lead and one being the grounding probe. Each measurement setup and a process is very different but typically follow the same process. Make sure to review and understand each process for measurement prior to completing it so you don’t damage the multimeter or get injured.
Below is a full list of the potential capabilities of a digital multimeter although this can change from each device to device:
- DC/AC Amps
- Diode Testing
- Voltage Detection
- Non-Contact Detection
No matter what level of expertise you are with using a multimeter, the digital multimeter is easy to use, and learning the basics can be quick by review a few YouTube videos. If you’re not sure which brand to go with when selecting a digital multimeter, go with Fluke. Some of my favorite are the Fluke 116 and Fluke 117 devices.
While most multimeters are similar, there is a key difference between a digital multimeter and a clamp multimeter (Or just clamp meter). A clamp multimeter is used to measure current in the wire while the digital multimeter primarily measures voltage.
The great thing about the recent developments in technology, both of these multimeters has so many overlapping measurement capabilities that it can be hard to determine which one you should get. The key difference between the two really is the clamp which is either a part of the multimeter or a separate attachment. The functionality of the clamp is to measure the current flowing through a specific wire.
To use a clamp meter, it’s much different than a standard multimeter that has 2 probes. Instead, you’ll open the hinges of the circular clamp and put the wire inside it and close the clamp around the wires. The multimeter will then measure the flow that is pulsing through the clamp to determine the amps running through it.
While a clamp meter is primarily known for measuring flow through wires, it still also comes with probes used in a standard digital multimeter and can still measure most of the same things. Using the probes allows for some of the following measurements:
- AC and DC Amps
If you’re looking for great clamp meters, Fluke also has some really great models including Fluke 323. You can also go with a more affordable meter like the Amprobe 210 which has most of the same measurements but is not branded with the Fluke name but still performs similarly.
Autoranging Multimeter and True RMS
While in the past most multimeters whether it be a digital or clamp multimeter relied on the user understanding each measurement and how to adjust the range of it to appropriately understand it. But a new functionality built into many multimeters is the auto-ranging functionality.
These types of multimeters are great because they typically allow you to either use manual mode or auto-ranging mode. When in the auto-ranging mode you typically don’t have to adjust the measurements or change the dial when you’re completing your measurements. It will adjust as necessary to output the results for you.
On top of just auto-ranging, it’s important to understand some other features which can be found on different multimeters these days. The True RMS technology which almost all Fluke devices have is one of the best as it ensures that no matter what measurement you’re making if there is external electrical interference, it will still provide proper measurements to you. This is important especially if you plan to use the multimeter for professional use.
Some important functionality you should look for when purchasing one is the auto shut-off functionality which saves you on battery life. You will also find the hold and min/max functionality useful for saving measurements and finding out the highest and lowest range when you completed the measurement.
Now let’s go back in time and understand the oldest form of multimeters and that’s the analog multimeter. While analog multimeters are still sold in stores today, we do not suggest purchasing analog multimeters as they are more difficult to get accurate measurements and tend to get uncalibrated easily.
An analog multimeter doesn’t have a digital screen but rather a measurement range with a bar that moves to show the range of the current. You can think of this similar to a weighing scale at home. In the past, most of them when you stepped on had a circular disk that moved to show how much you weigh, but now they all have a digital screen that is more effective and accurate.
While it’s important that you know these exist when you’re making a purchase, we still suggest to go with a multimeter with a digital screen that has more advanced technology.
If you’re still stuck with what multimeter to get, read further on each of our guides for the best digital multimeters and clamp multimeters to help you decide more.
What to Consider Before Buying a Multimeter?
If you’re ready to buy your multimeter, there are a few key things to think about before you take that next step. The first thing to consider is cost. There is a large range ($20 to $500) in terms of cost for multimeters. Sometimes the cost can be warranted as the device has many great features and capabilities, however, many times the cost does not justify the device.
If you’re a DIY homeowner or car owner, there should be no need to spend more than $50 on a multimeter. If you are a professional, you’ll definitely want to consider the brand and price as a good sign to the accuracy and functionality of the device.
The next thing to consider is what features you need in a multimeter. Do you need it for testing switches, power sources, batteries, motors, components, wires, etc? You also want to know if the different built-in capabilities like auto-ranging, data hold, backlight, min/max, and other functions are important. While many these are important, some others may not need them.
If you want to measure temperatures for heating and cooling, then make sure the device comes with a thermometer probe. This helps when working with objects which may get too warm due to electricity flow.
If you’re working with computers, you may want to make sure the multimeter can measure in ohms and that you are able to select a larger range of voltages.
If you get stuck, a very trustworthy way to see which multimeter is best for you is to determine what you’ll use it for and then find the closest devices that match it and read as many of the reviews online about it before you buy it.
Difference between digital multimeter and analog multimeter
While there are two different types of multimeters, analog and digital, it is quite rare to see analog multimeters any longer.
An analog multimeter is one that has a needle that will show the current flow of energy running through the multimeter by traveling through a coil meter. Inside the multimeter based on the measurement selected it will have certain resistors that allow the device to determine the AC or DC current/voltage.
With a digital multimeter, different circuits are used to test the sample of current being sent to the device. It is then displayed on the screen of the device quickly for the user to see.
In general, analog multimeters are more inaccurate and difficult to use and read. If you are looking to purchase a multimeter, we do not suggest to get an analog multimeter any longer. Even the cheapest multimeters on the market these days are more accurate than the more expensive analog ones.
How to use a multimeter
If you’ve just got your multimeter and you’re ready to use it, there are a few quick tips on getting it set up and ready to use. The first thing is to ensure you have working batteries in the device. Depending on your device, you will need to open the battery compartment and enter either 9V, AA, or AAA batteries into the device.
Once the batteries are in, the next step is to input the leads into the device. It will come in both black and red leads. Simply plug the black lead into the one that says COM and the red one into the one for Volts (labeled with V). You may need to change the red one for different measurements but the black one always remains constant.
Plugging these in won’t hurt you to start but it’s best to only ever touch the colored rubber part of the leads and never touch the metal parts if you want to avoid getting shocked (which can be dangerous).
The next step in using the multimeter will be to determine what you’re looking to test. This is where the user manual and using different YouTube tutorials will come in great.
Overall, there are many amazing multimeters on the market currently, and finding the best multimeter can often be difficult. It’s important to always remember to consider the cost and the measurement features as the primary importance when starting your selection process. Once you know what you need it for and your cost range, you can start to limit the number of multimeters to choose from.
As a general rule, if you want one of the best multimeters brands, go for the Fluke branded ones. If you’re a new multimeter user, make sure it always has auto-ranging capabilities. And not all multimeters measure temperature, so if that is a requirement make sure it includes a thermometer.
Keep learning more about the use of a multimeter as they can often be a huge cost-saving device eliminating the need for you to pay extra money for professionals to do simple tests on your home and car. Saving you time, and money.