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10 Best Multimeters for the Money 2020 – Top Picks & Reviews

person using INNOVA 3320

No matter whether you’re a professional electrician, DIY newbie, or anywhere in between, a multimeter can make all your electrical projects easier, safer, and more efficient. In fact, you will be hard-pressed to find a more useful multipurpose tool available for as reasonable a price as a decent multimeter.

Intended primarily for use in measuring voltage, current, and resistance, digital multimeters have quickly become a standard diagnostic tool for anyone working with electrical units. But with so many models available on the market today, how can you know that you’re really getting your money’s worth when you buy a new multimeter?

To answer that question, we tested and compared over two dozen multimeters. In the reviews that follow, you’ll find our top picks for every category and budget – as well as a helpful guide to get you up to speed on the ins and outs of multimeters, so you know you’re choosing the best tool for your specific needs.

A Quick Glance at the Winners of 2020:

Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
AstroAI TRMS 6000 AstroAI TRMS 6000
  • Features auto-ranging capabilities
  • Explosion-proof ceramic tube fuses protect from any accidental overloads
  • 3-year warranty    
  • Best Value
    Second place
    INNOVA 3320 INNOVA 3320
  • Durable rubber corner guards protect it from fall damage
  • Big LCD display and clearly printed functions
  • Easy to establish accurate measurements
  • Premium Choice
    Third place
    Fluke 117 Fluke 117
  • Designed by professional electricians
  • Category III safety rating
  • Ergonomic design allows for easy one-handed operation
  • Extech EX330 Autoranging Mini Multimeter Extech EX330 Autoranging Mini Multimeter
  • Compact design makes it easy to use and carry
  • Suitable for commercial use
  • Auto-ranging feature allows for precise and reliable measurements
  • Amprobe AM-510 Multimeter Amprobe AM-510 Multimeter
  • Durable construction
  • Available at a great price relative to its CAT rating
  • Backlit LCD display is easy to read
  • The 10 Best Multimeters – Reviews:

    1.  AstroAI TRMS 6000 – Best Overall

    AstroAI TRMS 6000

    Among the many multimeters included in these reviews, there is a recurring theme: almost every digital multimeter is held to an extremely high standard for construction, accuracy, and versatility. For a multimeter to stand out from the crowd, it needs to have something truly special – an advantage that makes it a clear winner as our best overall pick.

    AstroAI’s TRMS 6000 does exactly that by featuring built-in explosion-proof ceramic fuse tubes. Secure and reliable, these fuses will effectively protect the inner workings of the AstroAI from being damaged even in the event of an accidental overload. Capable of protecting the multimeter across all ranges, it’s a game-changer in the category of health and safety.

    Furthermore, the rest of the TRMS 6000’s features are spot-on. Easy to use and easy to read, it features a wide range of testing options and professional-quality accuracy, making it ideal for everything from home use to commercial applications. In short, it’s the multimeter that we choose for our own toolbox – and we recommend that you do the same!

    Pros
    • Tests for voltage, current, resistance, continuity, capacitance, frequency, diodes, transistors, and temperature
    • Features auto-ranging capabilities
    • Large backlit screen, kickstand, hanging magnet, and data hold function make it easy to use
    • Explosion-proof ceramic tube fuses protect from any accidental overloads
    • 3-year warranty
    • Surprisingly affordable
    Cons
    • Does not feature drop protection

    2. INNOVA 3320 – Best Value

    INNOVA 3320

    Offered for nearly the same price as our top pick, INNOVA’s 3320 Auto-Ranging Digital Multimeter offers something seen in remarkably few other multimeters: drop protection. Simple rubber corner guards provide all the safety necessary to greatly extend the durability of this multimeter, making it a good choice as one of the best multimeters for the money.

    Exceptionally affordable as well as widely applicable to a variety of household projects, the INNOVA’s large LCD display and easy to read front-facing controls make it quite user-friendly. Though not equipped with quite the same range of capabilities as our top pick, it’s still an imminently useful multimeter for the home DIY enthusiast on a budget.

    Pros
    • Durable rubber corner guards protect it from fall damage
    • Big LCD display and clearly printed functions
    • Helpful auto-ranging function makes it easy to establish accurate measurements
    • Incredibly affordable and long-lasting
    Cons
    • Does not have temperature testing capabilities
    • No built-in protections for overloads

    3. Fluke 117 – Premium Choice

    Fluke 117

    Fluke has become a name so well-known in the multimeter market that hobbyists may refer to anything that resembles their signature styles as a “Fluke multimeter”. This may also be the case because of how pricey a genuine Fluke can be – but in our opinion, the added cost is well worth the exceptional accuracy and impeccable design.

    One of the few multimeters available today to be designed by a panel of professional electricians, the Fluke 117 is an ideal tool for professional use. With added features like VoltAlert technology for detecting non-contact voltage and incredibly low input impedance that prevents false readings, the Fluke is a versatile machine. Add in a CAT III 600 Volt safety rating, and it’s easy to see why the 117 is our choice for the best premium multimeter.

    Pros
    • Designed by professional electricians for use by professional electricians
    • Specialized features prevent false readings and allow for accurate measurements
    • White LED- backlit screen works well even in low light settings
    • Category III safety rating makes it more than capable of handling commercial jobs
    • Ergonomic design allows for easy one-handed operation
    Cons
    • Expensive

    4. Extech EX330 Autoranging Mini Multimeter

    Extech EX330 Autoranging Mini Multimeter

    Small but mighty, the Extech EX330 multimeter offers a wide range of functions and features in a travel-friendly package. But with a CAT III safety rating, the EX330 is ready to take on anything from the largest of home electrical jobs to most commercial uses as well.

    A built-in AC voltage detector combined with auto-ranging technology makes it easy to take consistent, reliable measurements in a flash with the Extech, and a resolution down to three decimal places ensures great accuracy too.

    Protected by an all-around rubber holster, the EX330 is a powerful and durable little machine that will be at home in anyone’s toolbox. It’s not the most affordable multimeter that you’ll find, but if you’re looking for a UL certified product that’s somewhere between our top and premium choice picks, the Extech is a great choice.

    Pros
    • Encased in a rubber holster that protects from fall damage
    • Compact design makes it easy to use and carry
    • Certified Category III safety rating makes it suitable for commercial use
    • Auto-ranging feature allows for precise and reliable measurements
    Cons
    • Fairly pricey
    • Operates on two AA batteries, so battery life may not be great

    5. Amprobe AM-510 Multimeter

    Amprobe AM-510 Multimeter

    One of the least expensive multimeters to be rated for CAT III 600V, Amprobe’s AM-510 Multimeter does away with some of the features, bells, and whistles of other models in our reviews to focus on a narrower range of commercial and residential applications. Based around measurements for AC/DC, resistance, frequency, and capacitance, it’s a straightforward multimeter that will appeal to minimalists.

    A securely fastened rubber enclosure protects the Amprobe from falls, which combines nicely with the company’s “No Hassle” warranty plan. If you ever experience problems with the AM-510, you can take it to any authorized dealer to replace it on the spot. Talk about great customer service!

    Overall, the AM-510 is hampered only by its smaller range of precision and features compared to other multimeters. For general purpose work across a variety of fields, however, it holds its own against competitors and is offered at an excellent price.

    Pros
    • Excellent CAT III usage rating makes it suitable for commercial use
    • Durable construction and added protection from molded rubber casing
    • Backlit LCD display is easy to read
    • Available at a great price relative to its CAT rating
    Cons
    • Fewer available measurement features than other multimeters at this price
    • Resolution measures only to one or two decimal places

    Need a HVAC multimeter? Check these out!


    6. BSIDE ZT100 Digital Pocket Multimeter

    BSIDE ZT100 Digital Pocket Multimeter

    It’s truly incredible how many features BSIDE has packed into their ZT100 multimeter – especially given its pocket-sized design. With a wide host of manual and automatic detection modes and a comprehensively informative LCD readout, you won’t be at a loss for testing modes with the BSIDE!

    That said, you may find (as we did) that navigating the huge array of options and information available on this tiny multimeter is more troublesome than you’d like. While there’s no denying the utility of having the right tool for just about any job, we would honestly have preferred to include all of these options in a larger unit for great ease of use.

    Still, the ZT100 is available at quite a good price for how many features and testing modes it offers. If you’re looking for the smallest multimeter with the most settings, this offering from BSIDE will be just right for you.

    Pros
    • Compact and lightweight design is easy to carry in any toolbox
    • Widest range of automatic and manual detection modes available at this price
    • Inverted LCD screen is much easier to read even in direct sunlight
    Cons
    • Crowded display area can be hard to parse information from
    • Large number of functions in a small area can be difficult to adjust properly

    7. Mastech MS8268 Digital Multimeter

    Mastech MS8268 Digital Multimeter

    A sister company to the more well-known Sinometer, Mastech produces large and sturdy multimeters that may appeal more to old-school electricians thanks to their simplified features and displays. All of the standard measurement tools are right there for easy access through the front control panel, and back-mounted lead holders are a nice touch that many other multimeters could take notes from.

    We do wish, however, that the Mastech designers were more conscious of how quickly this machine uses up batteries. You’ll need to buy batteries alongside it in the first place, as it doesn’t come with a set of its own. Three AAAs will do the trick, but you’ll definitely want to order in bulk if you plan on using this multimeter for anything more than the occasional check.

    Pros
    • Large case and display are easy  to set up
    • Lead holders are on the back of the device for easy use and storage
    • Includes auto-ranging feature for continuity checks
    • 1-year warranty
    Cons
    • Does not automatically zero out readings
    • Drains batteries quickly while in use

    We reviewed the best analog multimeters – Click here!


    8. Tacklife Digital Multimeter TRMS 6000

    Tacklife Digital Multimeter TRMS 6000

    A relative newcomer to the power tool and measuring device scene, Tacklife has been making waves with their ridiculously low prices and admittedly variable quality. Their digital multimeter, the TRMS 6000, is no exception – while it’s certainly inexpensive, there seem to be some quality control issues that significantly hamper the product.

    When everything works out well, the TRMS 6000 is an incredibly inexpensive CAT III certified multimeter. The most affordable of any multimeter we tested for commercial use, it does a fine job of measuring general necessities and has a high-visibility LCD screen to boot.

    Overall, while we’d love to recommend this product more highly given its affordability and range of uses, the company needs to get on a more consistent quality control scheme before we’re fully on board.

    Pros
    • Incredibly inexpensive for a CAT III certified multimeter
    • Excellent high-visibility backlit LCD display
    Cons
    • Wide divergence of accuracy across devices
    • Loose leads can fail to make connections and provide inaccurate readings
    • Some owners report unit failure after just a few months of use
    • Unreliable  response from customer service

    9. Klein Tools Auto-Ranging Multimeter

    Klein Tools Auto-Ranging Multimeter

    As the only CAT IV safety rated multimeter to show up in our testing, we had high hopes for the Klein Tools Auto-Ranging Multimeter. Featuring an ultra-simple readout and functions as well as heavy-duty construction and great durability, at first glance it seems to live up to its higher price. On closer inspection, however, we’re not so sure that this is a multimeter worth investing in.

    As we were testing this Klein Tools multimeter, a curious thing occurred: After turning the tool off, it would frequently refuse to turn back on unless we played with the positioning of the batteries or replaced them entirely. When efficiency and accuracy are of the essence, this kind of oversight is simply unacceptable.

    Pros
    • CAT IV safety rating certified
    Cons
    • May not turn back on after even short periods of use
    • Seems to have problems with battery connections not providing power
    • Non-responsive customer service

    10. TekPower Digital Multimeter

    TekPower Digital Multimeter

    Sometimes, to spot a tool that’s truly worth the money, it’s useful to compare it to a similar tool that doesn’t justify its cost. In the case of digital multimeters, this offering from TekPower is decidedly overpriced and underwhelming.

    Stating that it is both Bluetooth and PC compatible, the TekPower’s main selling point is its connectivity – something that it does not live up to. In the unit we tested, neither feature worked properly, and the included CD would not read on any of the three computers in our household.

    Combine that with a cheap plastic exterior, complete lack of an auto-off function, and generally inaccurate measurements for most operating modes, and there’s no reason we can see to buy this product.

    Pros
    • Advertises itself as the first cell phone connected multimeter
    Cons
    • Connectivity via Bluetooth or USB did not work in the product we tested
    • Flimsy plastic construction
    • Far too expensive for what it offers
    • Does not include an auto-off function and quickly drains batteries.

    Buyer’s Guide

    Packing so many features into a single small unit is an impressive feat – and one that can leave newcomers to multimeter use summarily confused. Follow along as we answer some of the most common questions about multimeters, as well as explain the difference between styles and features that differentiate one model from another.

    How Do Multimeters Work?

    As the standard tool of measurement for nearly every variety of electrical work, multimeters are one of the premier choices for accuracy and versatility on a job site. No electrician’s kit is complete without one, and they also allow for much more precise work on home electronics projects.

    While you can find individual tools for completing each of the measurements offered by a multimeter, the cost and difficulty of transportation associated with having nearly a dozen different tools in your bag make the multimeter a clear winner. If you’re an electrical technician with specific needs, such as testing HVAC systems, specialized multimeters will allow for safe use across all systems.

    In short, multimeters are a constant inclusion in electricians’ tool bags for good reason: they work well for a wide variety of jobs, are affordable, and take up little space.

    Types of Multimeters

    Multimeters can be broadly divided into two categories, with a third specialized type that’s much rarer:

    • Analog multimeters are based on much older electrical technology dating back to the 1820s and were first popularized in the early 1920s. As digital technologies have improved and dropped in price, all but the most old-school of electricians and engineers have abandoned their analog multimeters.
    • Digital multimeters are the tool of choice for modern- day electrical workers. They’re capable of measuring frequency, conductivity, continuity, inductance, and resistance, and can be broadly divided into four main categories:
      • Category I, used for testing electronic devices and small equipment
      • Category II, for testing appliances and household energy levels
      • Category III, capable of testing small to medium industrial capacity circuits
      • Category IV, the heaviest-duty multimeters designed for testing power lines and main commercial feeds
    • Special Use multimeters may include measurements for such units as decibels, rotations per minute, microamps, and more. Additionally, you can find multimeters designed for the requirements of specific jobs such as HVAC installation.

    What to Look for In A Multimeter

    Just what makes one multimeter better than another? With broad options available and no one standardized model, it can be hard to tell. In testing and reviewing multimeters for this guide, we took the following into consideration:

    • Clear Readouts and Obvious Controls will make your entire life easier and are a make-or-break quality for multimeter usability. We prefer our LCD screens to be backlit, making them easier to use in low light situations.
    • Maximum Capacities for measurement will determine whether the multimeter you’re looking at is up to the jobs you have in mind. For general purpose use, any standard digital multimeter will do, while specialized jobs may require more heavy-duty equipment.
    • Accuracy is a must and is sometimes given by the manufacturer as a maximum permissible error limit. Today’s digital multimeters come pre-calibrated, and rarely require adjustment over their entire lifespan.
    • Energy Capacity determines just how big of a job you can use your multimeter for. Our favorite multimeters include high capacity fuses, which effectively protect the working components of your multimeter in case of an overload.
    • Resolution describes the variable specificity of the readout on your multimeter, or how many decimal places it is accurate to. Finer-scale jobs will require greater resolution, but many home repair jobs don’t require much past two decimal places of resolution.
    • Data Hold Functions will make it easier for you to test across multiple measurements without needing to memorize on the fly. It’s a surprisingly handy feature that’s not essential, but quite nice to have.
    using INNOVA 3320
    Image: INNOVA 3320, Amazon

    Multimeter Benefits and Why You Should Own A Multimeter

    Not sold on the idea of a digital multimeter yet? Here are our top reasons why every DIY enthusiast should own one:

    • Automatic Readings displayed on an LCD screen make it easy to get up to speed quickly on all the functions of your multimeter and provide a powerful tool for on-the-spot measurements and troubleshooting of electrical components.
    • Tremendous Accuracy is a hallmark of digital multimeters, with many of our favorite models measuring up to four decimal places of resolution. From coarse projects to fine ones, a multimeter will allow you the insights you need to determine the next step to take on your electrical work.
    • Auto-Polarity Checking provides both positive and negative values, which becomes especially useful when measuring voltage.
    • Voltage Checking capabilities allow users to quickly determine whether the circuit they’re testing is AC or DC, a necessary first step towards any repairs or modifications.
    • Continuity Checking will quickly reveal any loose connections or broken wires in a piece of electronic equipment. This is particularly useful while you’re soldering wires, allowing you real-time monitoring of whether the repairs are going along without a problem.

    See also our favorite multimeters by price range:

    divider 8

    Conclusion

    Narrowing down a field of worthy competitors to just a handful of high-quality multimeters is quite the task. Considering everything from price to ease of use to testing capabilities and warranties, however, we’re clear about which multimeter is our favorite: The AstroAI TRMS 6000. Simply put, it’s a professional-quality multimeter at a hobbyist price, offering the best of all worlds in one easy to use package. In our opinion, it’s easily the best multimeter for the greatest variety of situations.

    Coming in at a close second, though, is the INNOVA 3320 Auto-Ranging Digital Multimeter. While we like the user-friendly interface of our top pick just a bit more, the INNOVA’s rubber corner guards make it that much more durable and protected from falls. If you’re on the lookout for a job site multimeter that can take a licking and keep on ticking, the INNOVA 3320 is certainly the most durable of all the products in our reviews.

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