The multimeter is used by professional electricians and DIY enthusiasts to determine voltage, current, and resistance in circuits and to diagnose problems with electrical components or systems. You can use a multimeter to test batteries, check the integrity of old extension cords, find the wrong switches, and spot hot wires, among other things.
Perhaps the biggest challenge for multimeter newbies is understanding buttons and displays, which is why you should familiarize yourself with a few basic electrical concepts before using one. With that said, we’ve rounded up 5 of the best multimeters for electronics available today below.
#5. INNOVA 3320 Automatic range digital multimeter
- Automatic multimeter for quick measurements.
- Ideal for home, work, and the car.
- Large, clear, large format LCD display.
- Corner bumpers provide fall protection.
- UL certified.
The Innova 3320 is an automatic range measuring device that eliminates the need to spend time dialing the correct range number when taking measurements. It provides you with fast and accurate measurements across the entire AC and DC spectrum and is ideal for residential or automotive use.
Whether it’s checking the batteries of your various electronic devices or diagnosing automotive circuit problems, the 3320 is a reliable time-saver. It’s one of the best multimeters we’ve tested for ease of use and the color-coded battery test system is a DIY enthusiast’s joy. You can spend a lot more on a multimeter and still not outdo the comfort and performance of the Innova 3320.
#4. Etekcity digital multimeter, MSR-R500
- Manual reach for greater precision.
- Measures current, voltage, resistance, and more.
- Overload protection.
- Ratings: 600 V (CAT I) to 300 V (CAT II).
- Samples 3 times per second.
- Large, clear digital display.
Etekcity’s MSR-R500 digital multimeter is a winning value that will provide you with fast and accurate information so you can get the job done and move forward with confidence. It has a manual telemetry function and samples at a rate of 3 times per second. It features a data hold button, protective rubber reinforcement at the corners to prevent drops and impact damage, and a one-year limited manufacturer warranty.
There are also many safety features involved, including overload protection on all ranges. Every entry on our list is a great value in itself, but this one takes the top spot. If you are a handyman and you love tools, don’t.
#3. AstroAI Digital Multimeter
- Automatic overload protection.
- Sampling speed: 2 times per second.
- Backlit LCD display.
- Integrated kickstand.
- Data hold function.
- Low battery indicator.
AstroAI manufactures highly efficient and attractively priced multimeters for homeowners, DIY enthusiasts, and professional electricians. This is a manual range finder with a large number of handy and safety features that measure voltage, resistance, ohms, and continuity. However, it is not able to measure AC current. So keep that in mind.
Due to its manual reach adjustment, it may be more suitable for experienced electricians, but there’s nothing here that a skilled handyman shouldn’t be able to master. The AstroAI digital multimeter comes with a one-year limited manufacturer’s warranty, a built-in kickstand for hands-free operation, and a highly durable ABS plastic body.
#2. Fluke 117 Electricians True RMS Multimeter
- True RMS precision.
- Integrated kickstand.
- AC / DC automatic selection.
- Eliminate ghost voltage readings.
- Frequency, continuity / diode tests.
Built-in non-contact voltage sensing, true RMS accuracy, and a variety of safety enhancements are key features of the Fluke 117. It is a professional grade multimeter with an auto-range feature, min/max readings, and the ability to measure everything from current to voltage, capacitance, and more, at the push of a button.
Phantom voltage readings are a thing of the past when using this Fluke precision multimeter. Our handy guide to the best laser measurements features more great products like this.
#1. AstroAI digital multimeter, TRMS 6000
- Auto-ranging and True RMS.
- Test for voltage, current, resistance, and more.
- Overload protection at all ranges.
- Durable ABS shell.
- 3-year limited warranty.
This AstroAI is definitely in the race for the best digital multimeter. This is an exceptional overall value that is a must-have for advanced DIY enthusiasts. Its True RMS capability and robust security features also make it a great choice for professionals.
With auto-ranging, you can measure voltage, current, resistance, continuity, and more quickly and with a high degree of accuracy. The body of the TRMS 6000 is made from a durable ABS plastic that is naturally impact-resistant and features a range of built-in safety features, including overload protection. Find more great products like this by checking out our guide to the best digital calipers.
How we chose our selection of multimeters for electronics
There are dozens of companies that make multimeters. As such, separating the wheat from the chaff, in this case, was not easy. Ultimately – because electrical work can be downright dangerous and because the electricians we consulted recommended it to us – we have largely (but not exclusively) turned to the better-known and trusted brands.
Because these are sensitive electronic devices that could cause harm if not used properly, we haven’t given much weight to overly simplistic two-word reviews (“Works great. good ! “). Instead, when we looked at the reviews, we mostly focused on those that focused on particular aspects of each instrument. In the end, however, we still draw our own conclusions, although in this case, we have used licensed electricians for advice and assistance.
Accuracy depends on how closely the value displayed by the meter relates to the actual value of the thing being measured. The accuracy is usually measured in one of two ways: either the percentage of the range or the percentage of reading. Percentage reading is the most accurate mechanism since it is applied the same regardless of the measurement.
Electrical multimeters are like most other things in that you tend to get what you pay for. While a cheap multimeter can do a good job of providing accurate readings, you run the risk with some (not all) that if you drop it once it will be useless afterward. The multimeters we’ve chosen for this list are all well built and able to withstand shocks (to the extent possible, of course).
We believe that when your life is on the line, quality is important. So, there are a good number of high-end multimeters on our list. At the same time, when we find one that will hold up when our experts put it to the test, it will be on the list regardless of the price. Our only guiding principle with these important devices is that they are quality instruments that will not put the user at risk.
Features to look for in the best multimeters for electronics
Number of functions
Will, you only be measuring AC current or will you need to measure DC as well? Do you need a thermometer? Do you need to measure the capacity? The point is, there are dozens of different functions and we don’t have the space to list them all here. Suffice it to say, you need to determine in advance which ones you will need and then make sure your reader performs them.
Auto vs Manual Measuring Range
Most DIY enthusiasts will naturally (and wisely) gravitate towards auto range multimeters because they allow you to get your reading without having to know capacitance, voltage, resistance, and the like values of the object you are testing. The automatic multimeter does all of this for you. A manual multimeter, by comparison, requires that you know the characteristics mentioned above and enter them by hand to get your measurement.
People tend to prefer analog multimeter displays over digital displays for the same reason they prefer analog clocks to digital clocks: context. With a traditional circular clock, you see the time, but you also get a feel for how much time is left before lunch or when to stop, and you see the hands moving. Whereas with a digital display you only get one number. With multimeters, many people prefer the analog display because it provides them with a real-time context that allows them to better understand or anticipate trends. Having said that, there are a lot of people who have no problem with digital signage.
Ease of Use
Most electricians will be able to work quickly with just about any multimeter on the market. If you are not a pro, however, you would be wise to spend some time familiarizing yourself with some basic electrical principles and terminology before you even start buying a multimeter. This will allow you to understand what you are looking at when shopping and find one that is easy for you to use.
You’re going to need to make sure you get a multimeter that has the correct CAT rating. In this case, “CAT” stands for “category” and there are 4 main categories ranging from CAT I (home electronics and the like) to CAT IV (utility level measurements). Overload protection, safety cut-off, proper voltage range, and reverse polarity are other safety features you will see in the best multimeters.
When it comes to something like an electronic multimeter, aesthetic considerations come second to functionality and safety. That said, design considerations do come into play if you usually work on construction sites. In this case, you want something that is easy to see. So bright yellow or orange are good color choices. Some multimeters designed for commercial electricians will also have corner bumpers to protect them in the event of a fall.
If you’re a handyman buying a multimeter to use around the house or in the car, chances are you don’t need a lot of special features. Commercial electricians, however, may want things like pressure, temperature, capacity, and frequency. Some high-end multimeters have graphic displays that provide real-time AC measurements. Others offer data logging capability.
What is a multimeter?
A multimeter is a standard diagnostic tool for electricians and other technicians who typically deal with electrical components or electric fields. Many DIY enthusiasts also use them when performing tasks around the house, like wiring, electrical circuits, etc. The electrical multimeter tests standard electrical values such as voltage, current, resistance, and more.
Who should own a multimeter?
The vast majority of multimeters are owned by electricians, electrical engineers, and technicians such as those who work on HVAC systems. They are also popular with DIY enthusiasts who use them when installing light fixtures, ventilation fans, and the like. Professional electricians depend on multimeters the same way a professional carpenter relies on his tape measure and level. Inspired hobbyists should consider getting one with auto-ranging as it will greatly simplify the process.
What are some of the common electrical properties that a multimeter can determine?
Voltage – Voltage is generally defined as the amount of potential energy between two given points in an electrical circuit. There is a difference in charge between one point and the other and this difference is called “volts” (after Alessandro Volta who invented the chemical battery).
Current – Current is defined as the amount of charge flowing through a circuit during a given period of time. In the event of an electrical accident, it is not the voltage that kills people, but the current. The current is measured in amperes (amps) and it usually takes no more than 10 mA (10 mA) for a person to lose control of his muscles and as little as 1/10 of 1 ampere for only 2 seconds cause death. It is therefore crucial to obtain accurate current measurements.
Resistance – No one will be able to run as fast as if they were running on an open track. Why? Because they face a lot more resistance when running through the brush. It is essentially the same as electricity. A circuit with higher resistance has less current flowing through it than a circuit with low resistance. The resistance is typically expressed as “ohm” and represented by the Greek letter “omega” or “Ω”.
What is a real RMS multimeter?
A True Root Mean Square or True RMS multimeter is a type of multimeter that measures the level of alternating current (AC) or voltage. RMS suggests the effective level of alternating current as opposed to other types of multimeters designed to measure the average level of alternating current. RMS is used to calculate current or voltage levels when precise measurements are needed.