When working with electronics, sometimes you need to get measurements that are beyond the capabilities of modern digital multimeters. If you need to measure a fluctuating range, a digital meter will likely just give you an average. Looking for min/max readings? You’ll most likely want an analog multimeter.
Start looking for an analog multimeter online and you’re very quickly going to notice some major disparities between models, with the high-end options costing as much as 30 times more than the lowest-priced devices. What separates these meters and which one should you purchase? We’ve tested as many of them as possible, and compiled everything we learned into the following 10 reviews. After reading these reviews, you should have a clear idea of which analog multimeter will fulfill your needs.
|Simpson 260-8 12388|
|Tekpower TP8260L||1 Year||4.35/5|
When it comes to testing electronics, circuits, diodes, etc., you’re going to need a reliable and accurate meter to give you a correct reading. For us, the Sanwa Em7000 analog multimeter meets these requirements. Unlike many models that use hard-to-find specialty batteries, the Sanwa Em7000 uses just two standard AA batteries and one 9-volt. Better yet, both of them are included with a new unit. The 20-megohm resistance makes this one of the most capable meters we tested.
If you’ve ever had your hands full with the probes when you noticed that your multimeter was powered off during a test, you may be thankful for the fact that this meter doesn’t have an auto-shutoff feature. We’d rather have dead batteries than a failed reading. On the downside, we weren’t thrilled about the lack of a backlight. It can be a bit more difficult to see the gauge if you’re in a low-light environment. Other than that, we think this is the best overall multimeter.
Affordable but still packed with versatility, the Elenco M105 is our pick for the best analog multimeter for the money. It is one of the cheapest meters we tested, but don’t let that deter you. We were very impressed with the clean readings that we got from the M105. Many cheap meters experience a lot of needle jumping and inaccuracy. That was not the case with the Elenco meter. When we tested, the needle would move right to a number and stay still. For the price, we think this is pretty impressive, which is why it’s earned our pick for best value.
For ease of use and convenience, this meter runs on a single AA battery. No trying to find specialty batteries when yours die. The only downside with this meter is the 10 megohms max resistance, which is still very respectable. In all, we think it’s difficult to beat the value of this compact multimeter.
When accuracy is your only benchmark and you need the absolute best, we suggest the Simpson 260-8 analog multimeter. It’s priced at an absolute premium, so we only recommend it for professionals. The 260-8 is a major investment for a hobbyist. This unit delivers benchtop accuracy in a portable size that you can take in the field. To that end, this model features a Phenolic case with reinforced walls. This makes it extremely durable and able to withstand any work environment.
One of the impressive things about the Simpson multimeter is the reverse recessed safety jacks that prevent the operator or any tools from coming into contact with the electrical connections. We found this to be a very useful feature that adds a lot of protection for the user. Though it is extremely expensive, we think that the Simpson multimeter is one of the best on the market, and that’s why it’s earned a spot as our premium choice.
The Tekpower TP8260L analog meter is a compact and fairly accurate meter that we enjoyed using. It comes in a strong protective case and includes a one-year warranty. You’d expect to get a longer warranty, but it does provide a temporary peace of mind. Able to measure current up to 10 amps, this meter is great for testing AC, DC, resistance, continuity, diodes, and more.
With an overall accuracy of about 3-4 percent, it’s trustworthy enough for regular use, though a professional may require a bit more precision. While most of our measurements were accurate enough for us, we noticed that the 1,000V DC range was not as accurate as other models. We like that this meter runs on just two AA batteries. We didn’t like that it’s only rated for CAT-II 600V. Generally, we prefer to see a higher safety rating for at least CAT-III.
If price is your number one concern, then you may consider the Gardner Bender GMT-312 Analog Multimeter. It’s one of the cheapest models we tried, and we didn’t expect too much from the start. However, the GMT-312 isn’t a bad multimeter at all. First off, it only takes a single AA battery to run, which is something we appreciate. Our readings were accurate overall and the device is small, light, and portable.
Of course, you can’t expect too much at this price point. The 1-megohm resistance is on the very low end of the spectrum. So is the accuracy rating of +/- 5 percent. Also, this meter had just two inputs, one for common and one for all other measurements. For safety reasons, we always prefer to have separate inputs for different tests. Overall, it’s hard to complain about the price, but the GMT-312 has too many drawbacks to earn our top recommendation.
Low-priced and compact, the Power Gear 50952 multimeter is a basic device that is priced to match its abilities. The +/- 5 percent accuracy isn’t great, though it’s still usable. We like that this little meter runs off of just one AA battery. Unfortunately, this unit doesn’t measure Ohms accurately since it runs off of such a small battery with no 9V for testing Ohms. Moreover, the leads were extremely stiff and made it difficult to get them positioned where we needed.
The Power Gear multimeter provides six different testing functions with 14 ranges. It can measure AC, DC, current, resistance, and battery condition as well. Despite this functionality and low price, we don’t think this item is one of the better values overall. If you want to save money, we suggest picking something like the Elenco.
Priced higher than most of the other options we’ve reviewed, the Kioki 3030-10 HiTester is a very capable device, though we don’t think it quite warrants the price tag. We were happy to see the carrying case that’s included since it is priced so high. It can also withstand drops of up to 1 meter without the case since it is designed to be durable. Another positive trait we appreciated was that it runs on just two AA batteries. However, there were plenty of downsides to this multimeter.
First off, the 3-kilohms max resistance is very low and is going to limit the uses of this meter. The 600V max is likewise not very impressive, especially when you consider the high price you pay for this device. We also would have liked to see a backlight to make the display easier to read.
The Sunwa YX360-TRD analog multimeter is an interesting device that’s available at a modest price point. As soon as you see it, you’ll notice that it’s much larger than other multimeters. It’s too large to fit in your pocket and it’s a bit of nuisance to hold while you use it. This is annoying, but it’s not the biggest flaw of the Sunwa YX360-TRD.
Our number one complaint with this multimeter is that the leads are hardwired in. This means you’re stuck with the low-quality leads that came with the device. Moreover, you also can’t use any different types of leads for performing different tests. While it may be convenient to always have them attached, we prefer the variability of being able to swap them out for whatever leads we want.
Right off the bat, we expected good things from the Triplett Model 310-TEL hand-sized analog multimeter since it’s one of the more expensive units we tested. We were a bit let down by its poor performance though, and don’t think it earns the high price tag. To begin with, the 300V max is very low. Many meters at a fraction of the cost have double the voltage capability, so this is a definite drawback.
We did appreciate the high-impact case that’s protecting the internals of this little machine. However, that’s far from enough to redeem this multimeter and make it worth the cost it sells for in our eyes. The final problem we noticed with the Triplett 310-TEL was the difficulty zeroing properly. We couldn’t get it to zero out on several occasions. For this price, we think that’s unacceptable, which is why this multimeter sits towards the bottom of our list.
Being one of the more affordably priced options, the Sperry Instruments HSP5 didn’t excite us from the jump. Once we tested it, our suspicions were confirmed. It’s not a bad meter by any means, it’s just not one of the best.
Most of the meters we tested were six-function and 16-range or more. This one, however, is only five-function and 13-range. Even some of the lower-priced testers we reviewed offered more functionality than this. Additionally, it has a maximum resistance of just 1 MegOhm. For many applications, this simply won’t be high enough. Altogether, we think you’d be better served by one of the multimeters that ranked higher on our list.
You’ve seen all of our favorite analog multimeters and read our opinions on how they each stack up. Before you go and purchase one, let’s cover the main things to keep in mind when deciding which one to get. If you pick one that isn’t suited for the uses you’ll be asking it to perform, then you’ll likely be disappointed when it doesn’t live up to your expectations.
Each multimeter is built to perform a specific number of functions. These are different types of tests that the meter is capable of and will usually be selectable by a large knob on the front of the device. Some models may only offer four or five functions, while others may offer as many as eight. Make sure to read the different functions that each meter performs to be sure it will work with your application. Meters can take measurements of voltage, resistance, capacitance, AC, DC, and more.
Every multimeter will allow you to plug two wires into the front, which will be connected to probes that you’ll use to measure the current. While most devices will feature detachable leads so you can swap them out, some units will have hardwired leads. While this may be convenient, we don’t believe it’s optimal. We prefer the flexibility of being able to change to a different set of leads if desired. Some leads, particularly those that accompany cheap multimeters, tend to be very stiff and difficult to work with. Swap them out for some soft silicone leads and your testing will go much smoother. Of course, some high-end multimeters come from the factory with silicone leads, saving you the time and expense of finding them for yourself.
When measuring resistors, speakers, sensors, or other items that use Ohms, you’ll be measuring resistance. Resistance is the measure of the impedance of current flow. The higher the resistance, the harder it is for current to flow through. If working with any of these mediums, you’ll need to make sure that your meter is rated for high enough resistance to withstand the current your testing.
Resistance is measured in Ohms, and maximum resistance is usually expressed in megohms. One megohm is the basic standard of max resistance for many multimeters and sufficient for most basic electrical work. However, for measuring the resistance of any of the items we mentioned, this is probably not going to be enough. In that case, you’ll want to look for a multimeter with a higher maximum resistance rating. Many multimeters have a max resistance of 10 megohms, which is likely plenty for most applications. If you need the absolute most resistance measuring capability available though, you’ll be looking for one with 20 megohms.
Now you’ve got all the information you need to pick the best analog multimeter for the type of work you’ll be doing. While there are tons of different options available on the market, our reviews have narrowed down the choices to the ten best overall. Of those, the following three were our top picks. In the first place, our pick for best analog multimeter overall goes to the Sanwa Em7000. It’s extremely accurate for all types of testing, has an impressive 20-megohm max resistance, and runs off of standard AA and 9V batteries.
If you’re looking to be a bit more conservative with your purchase, we suggest the Elenco M105 range compact multimeter, which we think is the best value. It’s extremely affordable and blew away our expectations with excellent reliability, clean readings (no needle jumping), and the ability to run on a single AA battery. For class-leading accuracy at a premium price, the Simpson 260-8 analog multimeter is hard to beat. Featuring benchtop level accuracy, extremely durable build quality, and reverse recessed input jacks for user safety, we feel confident recommending it to professionals and the most serious of hobbyists.
Featured Image Credit By: Gardner Bender GMT-312, amazon
Hi there! My name is Adam and I write for HealthyHandyman. I have a great passion for writing about everything related to tools, home improvement, and DIY. In my spare time, I'm either fishing, playing the guitar, or spending quality time with my beloved wife. You'll also often find me in my workshop working on some new project!