Top 8 Best Multimeters
By | Last updated: July 10, 2020
best multimeters

Whether you’re working on a collector car or a daily beater, having a multimeter on hand when one’s required can be a lifesaver. Not only can it help diagnose electrical issues but it can also help narrow down issues and prevent the replacement of perfectly good parts.

We’ve assembled an array of handheld multimeters, plus a pair of units that can be mounted in a vehicle’s dash in a bid to keep an eye on critical electric components. After all, simply waiting for the thing to start smoking isn’t a great barometer.

1. Editor's Choice: Etekcity Digital Multimeter

Here’s a multimeter that checks a lot of boxes in terms of capability and price, offering a lot of functionality for a few cents over 10bucks. This meter can test AC/DC voltage, DC current (not for AC current), and resistance. For the vast majority of shadetree mechanics, that fits the bill.

Newbies will need to familiarize themselves with its operation and what position to turn the dial based on what they’re trying to measure. This is a straightforward bit of schooling, however. A data hold button holds a reading while its large backlit LCD has large digits that are easily visible for those of us with big-print Reader’s Digest books on our shelf.

Pros/Price, capable of all common multimeter tasks
Cons/Requires basic familiarity with its readings
Bottom Line/Study up and grab this bargain

2. Neoteck TRMS Digital Multimeter

The screen of this positively-reviewed multimeter reminds your author of the gone-too-soon Honda S2000, with an arched bar reading stretching across its top. This is actually a three-line screen, with two rows of digits in addition to the S2K-style bar.

It’s also negative contrast, meaning the number values are white against a black background instead of the other way around. Anyone who’s toiled in dimly lit garages knows the benefit of this feature. In fact, the whole screen is lit, making it very easy to read even at a distance. It does have a manual switching operation for those who passed Electromechanical courses in college but is also fitted with an automatic setting for beginners.

Pros/Excellent screen, useful for those just beginning their DIY journey
Cons/Be sure to replace those AA batteries frequently
Bottom Line/An excellent tool for the shed

3. AstroAI Digital Multimeter

This pro-grade reader can perform a wide range of tests and does include auto-ranging capacity for ease of use. It has convenient features like a data hold button, a good-sized screen, and even a hanging magnet for convenient placement when you’re, say, under the hood of a car.

Its auto shut-off feature saves on batteries and a kickstand makes for a convenient prop when bench testing electrical equipment. The included fuses can protect the multimeter effectively; with overload protection on all ranges. Amusingly, they are described as ‘explosion-proof’, a feature I would be saying aloud at every opportunity.

Pros/Highly rated, ergonomic design
Cons/More expensive than others
Bottom Line/Snazzier than most

4. Thsinde Auto Ranging Digital Multimeter

Featuring a large single-line readout with digits nearly as tall as those found on the side of the Goodyear blimp (not really), this multimeter from a never-heard-of-’em brand is long on technical description that makes your author’s eyes glaze over. Suffice it to say this meter is capable of all common electro reading tasks.

Nearly five hundred real-world customers have cumulatively given this thing a 4.4 out of 5-star rating, with well over 85 percent of respondents giving 4 or 5 stars. Some complaints include difficult to read markings, a carping that surely does not extend to the jumbo readout.

Pros/Huge readout
Cons/Powered by a weirdo 9V battery
Bottom Line/More features than its price might suggest

5. Mictuning LED Digital Panel Double Voltmeter

As promised, we’re throwing in a couple of dashboard voltmeters in this list, ones that are perfect for monitoring equipment or accessories on your rig. This one is conveniently shaped, fitting in a space generally occupied by rocker switches. Given the basic nature of most of our vehicles, we’ll have no shortage of switch blanks from which to choose.

This voltmeter can actually read two different accessories, labeled as ‘main’ and ‘aux’ on the readout’s face. For reasons unknown, the unit is a few bucks cheaper when red digits are selected. Real-world pictures in the product review category show how well this display integrates itself into a bank of switches.

Pros/Simple installation, slick integration into a dashboard
Cons/Cheaper options exist
Bottom Line/Handy and slick monitoring tool

6. Baomain Analog Voltmeter

If you’re seeking to keep tabs on a rig’s electrical system but want to maintain the look of something from the ’50s (or Fallout 4), this cheap-as-chips voltmeter might be just up your alley. Measuring barely a couple of inches tall, it won’t take much time to install this thing into your panel of gauges.

Perfecting the thought of putting square pegs in round holes, this meter might have a square face but plays well with your hole saw when cutting a space for it in a display area. Its analog readout brings that retro style with a DC reading of up to 30V.

Pros/Dirt cheap, retro looks
Cons/Limited readout range
Bottom Line/Basically basic

7. Fluke 115 Digital Multimeter

Occupying the upper end of the price and feature spectrum, this multimeter alleges a simple operation and compact design. The ad copy describes this thing as residing on more tool belts and finding more problems than any other comparable test tools.

Each multimeter design is said to be tested to the extreme including a check for drop, shock, and humidity. A large white LED backlight helps you to work in poorly lit areas. An easy-open door means you shouldn’t have to break out one of those infuriating tiny screwdrivers to swap out the 9V battery.

Pros/Tons of features, robust construction
Cons/Very expensive
Bottom Line/Expect to see this one when an electrician appears

8. Acegmet Digital Multimeter

Finally, we have what might be one of the few handheld multimeters that are painted blue instead of red or orange. This voltage tester provides two measurement modes – automatic and manual. If you’re fancy and have specific handling requirements, choose manual mode. If you want to easily obtain simple measurement results, go for the automatic mode.

There are built-in safeties for incorrect polarity, overload protection, and other electron-related mishaps. Recent reviews praise this meter as providing accurate readings and being relatively simple to use.

Pros/Feedback says it doesn't feel 'delicate' or 'cheap'
Cons/Twice the price of other meters
Bottom Line/You're likely getting what you pay for

From time to time, TTAC will highlight automotive products we think may be of interest to our community. Plus, posts like this help to keep the lights on around here. Learn more about how this works.

(Editor’s note: This post is meant to both help you be an informed shopper for automotive products but also to pay for our ‘90s sedan shopping habits operating expenses. Some of you don’t find these posts fun, but they help pay for Junkyard Finds, Rare Rides, Piston Slaps, and whatever else. Thanks for reading.)

[Main photo credit: Eaum M / Shutterstock.com. Product images provided by the manufacturer.]

24 Comments on “Volt of Lightning: Best Multimeters...”


  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    Except for the color and model number, the Neoteck and Acegmet look identical – cheap offerings from Amazon?

    I see lots of also-rans here, and one real meter (the Fluke). I’ve had a Fluke 77 II for close to 30 years, and it’s been invaluable, especially the continuity checker that beeps for continuity.

  • avatar
    bradfa

    If you want a multimeter that won’t kill you, will make every measurement you can ever need, and will last the rest of your life then you buy a Fluke 87V. Everything else is a compromise. It’s the top photo before the list.

    • 0 avatar
      Imagefont

      The Fluke 87V is the standard. I have two, a backup so I can get the other one calibrated annually.

    • 0 avatar
      FerrariLaFerrariFace

      The first thing I look for when shopping for a multimeter is an assurance that I won’t die as a result of using it. I don’t understand why they don’t put that information front and center on the box.

      • 0 avatar
        bradfa

        CAT safety ratings should be pretty easy to find on the box, the meter, and the test leads. If you don’t see them then I wouldn’t use a meter to measure anything above Safety Extra Low Voltage (SELV) levels which means roughly only below 60V peak and under 250VA.

        https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extra-low_voltage

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          The CAT rating should be on the box if not on the meter itself. In fact I can make out the CAT rating designation on 2,4, 8 and of course #7 the Fluke.

          For automotive use on nominal 12v circuits any of them should be fine, just stay away from HV circuits on Hybrids and EVs.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    I have a lot of multimeters. If you are thinking about getting the Fluke 115, go ahead and get the Fluke 117 – that is my go-to. (Gave my son a Fluke 113 because the big box store was doing a closeout.) They are nice tools and the magnet is handy (except when it sticks to stuff it shouldn’t, but how could that ever happen?).

    The best multimeter to use away from home with a vehicle (yours or someone else’s) is one that:
    – You have with you
    – Has a functioning battery

    There is nothing wrong with the inexpensive meters such as ‘#1’ for checking battery voltage and testing continuity. Similar meters live in the shed with my mowers and in the toolbag in my car.

    The truck that I drive infrequently has a little digital voltage meter than I can plug into one of the accessory outlets [there are three ‘cigarette lighter’ style power outlets, because GM had it going on in 1995]. (Note that voltage at the dash isn’t necessarily the same as voltage at the battery.)

  • avatar
    quaquaqua

    I work for Fluke, so I’m a little proud to see all the love in the comments!

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    They must have a continuity “chime”. It makes it so much easier to find open circuits, broken wires/connections, test power or ground without a test-light, at the source, switch, subject, plus check sensors, bulbs, fuses, relays, A/C household cords/plugs, circuit boards, breaker panels, appliances, speakers, amps, and a few (or dozens) others I’m probably not aware of or forgetting.

    But you instantly know if there’s a problem, or cancel it out (as the problem, if there is a problem).

    Yeah I’m hack at many trades, and a continuity “reading” would work the same I guess, but the chime would be signified on the dial with a musical “note” which I don’t see on any of the multimeters shown.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      The Fluke has the continuity beeper it is the setting below ohms. Definitely a good feature to have since you don’t have to read the meter or be in a position to even see it.

    • 0 avatar
      ToolGuy

      Pretty sure they all have the chime – the symbol looks like a pattern of expanding sound waves (hard to see because it’s stacked in there with Ohms/etc.).

      The backlight is surprisingly nice on the “#1” style.

  • avatar
    nrd515

    I have the first 3 along with an older Fluke, I don’t know the model number and while I think the Fluke is built a little better, I haven’t had a single issue with any of them. I bought the Fluke at a garage sale I came across while walking my dog, it was $10.

    I keep the Fluke and the Neoteck at home, the Etckcity at work, and the AstroAI in my car(battery removed), because it seems like if I have a friend who has a problem we need a meter to check out, he doesn’t have one, or he doesn’t have one the batteries haven’t leaked in. The continuity beep is very helpful sometimes, but it’s not a big deal, IMO. As cheap as some of these are, everyone with an interest in electronics, cars or just house wiring should have at least one. The AstroAI replaced a nearly 40 year old Micronta from Radio Shack meter I bough around 1983 or so. I got my money out of it for sure.

  • avatar
    Don Mynack

    I have a Harbor Freight POS 5000, its been OK, but I really need something better. One of these will fit the bill. Thanks!

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    Some important notes not mentioned. 2, 3 and 8 have a temp setting and the thermocouple to be able to use it. It can be very handy, but you need someway to get a good contact with the item who’s temp you are measuring.

    #4 has insulation piercing probes and alligator attachments. The alligator attachments are a good thing. I’ve got a set of dedicated alligator leads, though I frequently just use the black one. Good for attaching to a good ground, power or one end of the circuit so you can focus on the other end and the meter.

    The piercing probes are not really recommended, if you must pierce the insulation be sure to seal the penetration if it is outside of the cabin. When you see a wire that seems to have a bulging spot, you’ll usually find it was because the insulation was pierced, water entered and stayed in there and the corrosion began.

    We have the Fluke 115 at school, a good unit for sure but overkill for our purposes, but hey Fluke donates them so happy to have a proper professional unit.

    Personally I’ve got a Craftsman “Professional” that includes the temp reading, frequency 20a current capacity, auto ranging, hold ect. In addition I’ve got a more basic Craftsman, both from the Sears era. I’ve also got a free with purchase Harbor freight unit that includes a transistor test connection.

    Then we get real old school in a couple of 25+ year old SunPro (by Actron) basic volts, ohms and 10a current and a digital tach, dwell, volts and ohms, the later which I don’t even know where is or when the last time I used it was.

    The last time I used a dwell function I pulled out the even older Craftsman “Engine Analyzer” The old school big box with a massive analog meter that has a dozen or so scales. It of course does dwell, tach high and low, volts ohms, high amps through a shunt, and will check for an AC signal mixed in with that DC caused by a bad diode in an alternator.

    • 0 avatar
      nrd515

      I had a Simpson 260(?) that I got for my 12th birthday that I loved. That giant meter was so smooth. Sadly, my mom trashed it by accident when she put a huge box on top of it and it was crushed. I replaced it with the first Micronta, a good one, that I blew up a week later when I plugged it into the outlet with it set at the lowest volt range. I went cheap after that.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    Fluke is the Lexus of digital multimeters.

  • avatar
    probert

    Nice to know about Fluke, but for my putterings around my motorcycle I got a $9 meter and it reads 12 volts nicely and 0- infinite resistance – pretty much the limit of my needs. If I was doing more complex and dangerous work, I’d look into the Fluke.

  • avatar
    notapreppie

    Fluke if you’re a professional and you want to keep your cognitive load low when you’re beating your head against a brick-wall of a problem.

    Whatever works for the home-gamer. I like my $40 Tacklife clamp meter (after pitching the craptacular test leads) except for the backlight… ugh, it’s bad.
    https://www.amazon.com/Multimeter-Auto-Ranging-Continuity-Electrical-Capacitance/dp/B01N014USE

    Speaking of test leads: I think that’s one of the most overlooked aspects of DMM ownership. Crappy test leads will ruin your farking day.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    I’ve used that Fluke on everything from the cars in my driveway to an Apache Helicopter.

  • avatar
    NeilM

    I don’t see the point of a digital multimeter that doesn’t have auto-ranging. Apart from protecting the meter itself, look how simple the main function selector dial becomes once you don’t have to choose manually between µA, mA and A, etc. Compare the Fluke to the microscopic lettering on the Neoteck’s bazillion position selector.

    I’ve owned my Fluke 77/III for almost 25 years, and expect it to last forever. That Fluke 115 (#7 above) for $150 is something of a bargain for a pro tool, although it’s still pricey for the occasional user.

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