Updated on: December 2, 2018
Nowadays, gadgets usually used by professionals are now making their way into the hands of a variety of people. Multimeters are the same. These tiny gadgets measure the electrical currents, voltage, and other important values you need to know for the type of job you’re using it for. Multimeters are used by different people such as hobbyists, homeowners doing home renovations, do-it-yourselfers, and people who are learning skills that involve utilizing such tools.
This tool is one that may be necessary for your home if you’re working on heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) or if you’ve been tinkering on automobiles. Multimeters have a few uses and if you find yourself in need of one, there are things to consider first.
With so many multimeters in the market, it can be confusing which multimeter to pick. We’ve searched for the best multimeters out there through professionals who were able to test the following and we’ve based them on reviews by consumers as well. Quality is just as valuable as how much you can afford.
|Amprobe AM-530||400.0 Ω,|
4.000 kΩ, 40.00 kΩ, 400.0 kΩ,
4.000 MΩ, 40.00 MΩ
|400 mV, 4.000 V, 40.00 V,|
400.0 V, 600 V
|400.0 μA, 4000 μA,|
40.00 mA, 400.0 mA,
4.000 A, 10.00 A
|Fluke 101||400.0 Ω|
|Mastech MS8209||400 Ω/4/40/400 kΩ/4 MΩ ±1.2%, 40 MΩ ±2.0%||0.4/4/40/400/600 V ±0.7%||40/400 mA ±1.2%, 10 A ±2.0%|
|Extech EX330 Autoranging Mini MultimeterA9||400Ω - 40MΩ ±(1.2%+2)||400mV - 600V||0.4mA - 10A|
|Klein Tools MM1000||400Ω ˜ 4MΩ ±(1.0% + 5 digits)||400mV - 400V|
|400µA - 400mA ±1.0%|
Buying Guide for Multimeters Under $100
When you have a lot of options, the best thing to do is to narrow down things to consider before buying a multimeter. Pay attention to what you need, where you need it for, how will you be using it, and the price range. We’re going to be looking at the top brand models you can get for less than a hundred bucks. Perhaps the top aspect is affordability. Even if you’re a pro or an amateur, you’ll always have a use for a multimeter as it will save you both time and money.
Factors to consider before buying a multimeter
Don’t take your cash out yet! Here are some things to put in mind when choosing a multimeter for you.
- Should you get a digital or analog?
Multimeters come in two kinds: analog and digital. Because people have different needs met and answered by using any of the two, there will be disagreements along the way. To some people, analog makes reading easy because of the readings. But in truth, the best multimeters are ones that can provide a more visual representation of the readouts like graphs. While digital readouts are more sought after, some electricians prefer the old way of reading a multimeter. Electrical impedance is lower with analog types than in digital ones which is a downside because of the limited ways it reads.
- Is it accurate?
Accuracy is something that we all want but when it comes to little machines like multimeters, there are many things could hinder its most effective usage. Because not every company produces good-quality tools, it is hard to spot a model that actually gives what you need. Those on a professional level are more likely to seek costlier multimeters to get the job done right. If you need one for a hobby perhaps any good multimeter that’s affordable and has good quality would suffice as long as it can give you the best reading you want.
- Is it user-friendly?
Perhaps you are a newbie or a professional, what you truly want is something that’s easy to use and is durable, along with the affordable price tag. Bright colored exteriors may help others easily spot it to avoid stepping on your device. These multimeters, however, are built with tough casings that were meant to last. For some, the brand is also another factor because those that have reputable names had produce tools that people will always be familiar with. Features unique to the brand that provided an easier way to accomplish the job will always be remembered alongside the manufacturer.
- Does it have features for safety?
Of course, when you’re working on circuits with a voltage that can reach up to 35 volts, a multimeter should be able to handle that much power to keep the user safe’. Lots of things can go wrong and could put you in danger. This is also why it’s the best bet to spend on pricier multimeters since these will have added features for durability with extra quality control assurance. Read boxes, manuals, and ask professionals if the brand you’re asking about is tried and tested. Because even if your multimeter is suffering a little abuse, it should not break right away, electrocute, or explode.
When you want high-quality, this is one you’ll be interested in. The Amprobe AM-530 is created with some of the best features you’ll find. It has an RMS technology that both amateurs and professionals would be excited about because of the how it reacts to surroundings that are electronically active with an accuracy that would rival the best in the market. It has an NVC or non-contact voltage detection, an automatic power shut-off feature, LCD that displays the bar graph, and a low-battery indicator. It also has an auto-ranging detector and a data saver for the last readings made. In general, a tool worth every penny.
- The continuity test is reliable and fast
- Product has a great price
- Voltage readings are solid
- It takes time to identify and read the values
- Can’t find replacement for fuses
If there’s something for professionals, there’s one for beginners as well. As a multimeter that presents basic functions that is more suited to simple tasks and occasional checking. The Fluke 101 is small in size and is lightweight that you can store in your pocket or toolbox that won’t took up too much space. It has a feature called data hold that pretty much what it does and holds data, saving it like a notebook until you need to make another reading. The Fluke 101 is equipped with it’s automatic power-off to conserve energy after detecting inactivity in about 20 minutes. You have a solid multimeter here at a budget price but it is made in Asia.
- Works perfectly as advertised
- The brand is reliable and works great
- Got a great deal for a backup multimeter
- Not made in the US so it does not come with a warranty
Another trustworthy multimeter is the Mastech MS8209. First, it has an protection from over range for beginners to help avoid breakage when amperages rise. When it detects high current that is too much, the fuses inside will explode instead but can be changed. This particular model is capable of 14 functions as well that both professionals and occasional users. It has manual and auto-ranging to suit the preferences of the user. The data hold functions saves the last reading until a new one is made. The relative conversion function is simply a button that turns everything back to zero. It also has a backlight to assist you when you’re in a dark surrounding. Because it has many functions for 39 ranges, you will be able to do different kinds of testings.
- It has all the right settings for the regular hobbyist
- It has a good fuse protector
- Very versatile tool for the budget
- Beeping is not as loud
- The temperature function broke right away
Another multimeter with an impressive set of functions is the Extech EX330 that’s definitely for those electricians and for the occasional tinkerer of delicate household electronics. You can measure capacitance, temperature, AC-DC, and current among others with this device. Its NCV or detector for non-contact AC voltage will be able to detect small amounts of currents when in close proximity to electrical sources. It also has its own data hold function for storing the last reading made, and auto shut off to save power and a large 4000 display. It comes with a protective pouch for storing immediately. Truly a device that one should have as a staple.
- A step above other cheaper alternatives
- A well, solidly built multimeter
- Best for hobbyists
- Bad quality meter
- NCV detector is not working properly
There’s a lot can be said about a multimeter that can give you the right size and functionality and Klein Tools MM100 is one that will kick ass. You can expect to find an analog graph and auto-ranging with a 440mA fuse. You’ll also be surprised at how it can measure up to 1000 volts of AC-DC while regular multimeters can only go up to 600 volts. It also comes with a backlight for when working in the dark and a built-in temperature indicator. You can also be sure that this tool won’t easily be damaged because of the rubberized casing. Considering that this tool is also made in Korea, there’s a question of quality.
- It is solidly built with the rubber case
- Backlight features are great
- A good price for a nice basic tester
- It has a feature that does not live up to what the manual says
Knowing what you need for the job is the best way to be able to tell how much should you be spending on which multimeter. There’s also the key features mentioned that will serve you best while on the job. Because of the massive market for this kinds of tools, while it is always good to have many options, only fraction of those options both have the quality to back-up the price tag. If you’re a beginner at this, you will need more research about the product so you won’t end up feeling like you’ve spent more than what you should’ve. Always aim for good quality not only for what you’re going to use it for but also for your own good health.
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