No household is exempt from broken electronic gadgets or other electrical issues, so it is always practical to have a multimeter on hand. But if it’s only for occasional electrical checkups, then you really don’t need an expensive multimeter.
Without further ado let’s get into the details
Table of Contents
- 1 Editor’s choice – Neoteck True RMS 9999 Counts
- 2 Runner-Up – Etekcity Professional Digital Multimeter A1000, TRMS 6000 Counts
- 3 Most Versatile – AstroAI Digital Multimeter TRMS 6000 Counts
- 4 Best for Automotive Use – Innova 3320
- 5 Best Clamp Multimeter – AstroAI Digital Clamp Meter
- 6 Most Compact – Extech MN36
- 7 HOW WE PICKED THE BEST PRODUCTS FOR THIS ARTICLE
- 8 What is the difference between a cheap vs expensive multimeter?
- 9 What is the cheapest Fluke Multimeter?
- 10 What’s the difference between a cheap Fluke multimeter and any other cheap multimeter?
- 11 Summary
Editor’s choice – Neoteck True RMS 9999 Counts
We believe that this unit from Neoteck is the best value multimeter that effectively balances price and functionality. It promises precision and accuracy when testing wires or measuring voltage, current, capacitance, temperature, diode and other electrical values.
What we like most about this product is it takes worrying about your safety off your back as it meets standard safety requirements and is loaded with safety features such as the overload protection function that prevents burnout, the fuse disconnect function that protects the motherboard from large current, and the wrong polarity alarm function that notifies the user when the gear position and the test leads access port do not match. When it comes to ease of use, the LCD display that uses negative contrast – the background is black and the number values are white – is very useful and makes the display easily readable even in dim light. Other convenient features that make this unit top the list are the automatic power off function, low battery indicator, built-in flashlight and kickstand.
- supports both automatic and manual ranging
- safety functions
- auto off function
- built-in flashlight
- large LCD display with a black background and white number values
- probes are not fine enough for more intricate jobs
Based on user reviews, the best thing about this multimeter is the negative contrast LCD display. Because it displays white number values and bars against a black background, it is very easy to read in both dim and well-lit working environments. Despite some reports of false readings, most users comment about how accurate the measurements are and works just as well as other more expensive units.
Etekcity’s Professional DMM comes close as runner-up because of its rich feature set as well. This is a highly reliable unit when it comes to working on electrical jobs because it returns precise readings at an impressive sampling speed.
In terms of safety, it is manufactured with overload protection features on all applications. It applies the NCV or non-contact voltage detection technology which makes testing possible by simply placing the device near the wires. Its fuse tubes are ceramic and are explosion-proof. It comes with a built-in kickstand and a hook clip that allow hands free usage. Other features that make this product noteworthy are the automatic shut off feature, the backlit LCD screen that is big enough for easy reading, the data hold feature.
- auto-off function
- non-contact voltage feature
- difficult to find replacement for tubes
People who have purchased this product say that it is very easy to use and returns accurate results. Some find it heavy and bulky and think that its design can still be improved. Other reviews state that the large backlit LCD display makes reading easy. A lot of users are happy with its performance and its price.
Most Versatile – AstroAI Digital Multimeter TRMS 6000 Counts
Another popular brand in digital multimeters is AstroAI. It is durable and versatile enough for use in residential and commercial settings. As an all-in-one device, it allows the measurement of several ranges such voltage, current, capacitance, and temperature, as well as testing diode and transistors.
It has a multi-function socket that allows measuring both capacitors and resistors. It is very handy and actually allows users to work with it hands free because of the hanging magnet and kickstand the product is built with. It allows manual and automatic range selection. Safety is also not an issue as it complies with EN61010-1 CAT III 600V, and CATII 1000V safety standards and uses an explosion-proof double ceramic fuse that serves as an overloading protection.
- includes a hanging magnet
- built with a double ceramic fuse
- kickstand does not seem durable
Reviews state that this unit is very easy to use. A lot of users find the hanging magnet and the kickstand useful but there are some who reported having trouble pulling out the kickstand. There are also some who say the magnet is too sensitive, while others think that it is weak. The large LCD display is another thing that users like about the product. Overall, most users think it’s a good value for money.
Best for Automotive Use – Innova 3320
Innova is known for its years of experience manufacturing top-notch devices for automotive, so those who need a multimeter for automotive troubleshooting would want to try Innova 3320.
It has a 10 MegOhm input impedance which makes it safe for use in vehicles, especially when testing batteries. Values are displayed in a large, color-coded LCD screen. Measuring parameters is also made easy because it is an automatic ranging multimeter. The rubber casing protects it when dropped accidentally or when taken in rugged road trips.
- rubber protective casing
- 10 MegOhm input, which is safe for vehicles’ ECU
- side clips are too soft to hold test leads
- display is somewhat difficult to read
Ease of use is what most users love about this product – no complicated functions to operate it. It is handy and its build looks durable. However, there are users who complain about the hard-to-read display because of the lack of a backlight. There are also users who think that the lead holders are not strong enough to hold the test probes.
Best Clamp Multimeter – AstroAI Digital Clamp Meter
For those on the lookout for the best budget clamp meter, we would like to present this unit from AstroAI that is capable of reading parameters at a sampling speed of 2 times per second.
The jaw opening is big enough to measure conductors up to 42mm. It is also durable enough to survive professional or commercial use. A low battery indicator and a backlit LCD screen are some of the other features that make this product worthy of a spot in our top six.
- fast sampling speed
- has a low battery indicator
- hard-to-read instruction manual
As a clamp meter, this product is very easy to use and is reliable in measuring different ranges. And while most people think that expensive multimeters are better than cheap ones, this is one of the products that could prove them wrong. Reviews state that this is a good buy and looks durable for the price. The backlit LCD screen makes reading values convenient and easy.
Most Compact – Extech MN36
Budget multimeters do not only mean light on the pocket but they can also mean, literally, light on the hand. Extech’s MN36 is one such multimeter.
Measuring 2.8 x 1.5 x 5.43 inches and weighing only .704 pounds, this lightweight and compact device is able to measure electrical parameters like other heavier and bulkier multimeters. What is good about is unit is despite its compact design, it still has a large built-in LCD display and is loaded with 10 functions and an extra data hold feature. It comes with a rubber case that protects it during everyday use.
- compact and handy
- has a tilt stand that allows hands free usage
- some function labels are incorrect
- not the best temperature tester
One thing to like about this product is the size. It is compact and lightweight yet easy to use for household electrical problems. Although there are some who say that it is not the best temperature tester, other users rave about how helpful it is when measuring continuity and other values. Apart from being handy, it is fairly easy to use and it is inexpensive. Some think that improvements can be made on the test probes.
HOW WE PICKED THE BEST PRODUCTS FOR THIS ARTICLE
Just because these multimeters are cheap does not mean that their usability is questionable. We chose products that have actually been tried and tested and are guaranteed to be usable when it comes to working on electrical and electronics projects. These products have been on the market and have garnered positive feedback from other users. So for usability, we wanted to make sure that the products are able to do what they are supposed to do and work for a reasonable length of time.
Tinkering with electrical parameters is no joke. Therefore, accuracy and precision are two criteria that we also considered. So for these products, we took “true RMS” claims seriously and tried to look for units that are proven to return precise and accurate results. If a multimeter is unable to give correct measurements, then there is no point in buying one in the first place.
For features, we considered ones that make the units more convenient to use. These include battery indicators, automatic power off features, among others. Although not all units have all of these functionalities, they must have features that compensate the lacking ones. For instance, one unit might not have the auto shut off feature but has a backlit LCD display. This still contributes to ease of use and usability and adds value to the product.
This is one of the most important parameters especially because this article is about budget multimeters. This matters highly because most people will expect cheap products to be disposable knock offs. But the truth is, there are good multimeters out there that are sold at a fraction of the cost of more popular units – like the ones that we have on the list. User reviews are testimonies of how usable, reliable, durable, and price-worthy the units are.
Our list of cheap multimeters is most useful for hobbyists, enthusiasts, professionals, or engineering trainees who need a functional multimeter but are not willing or not ready to spend extra bucks on more expensive ones. This is mainly for people who want the best value multimeters that are reliable yet budget-friendly.
What is the difference between a cheap vs expensive multimeter?
Although most multimeters are the same in terms of functionality, there are differences between expensive and cheaper ones worth taking note of.
More expensive multimeters are made of high-quality components that allow them to survive when working with high voltages. This is not always the case with cheaper multimeters. With a more expensive one, you almost have no fear of blowing anything up. These components are also almost guaranteed to stand the test of time.
Because expensive multimeters are made of more durable and long-lasting materials, these are more ideal for long-term, rugged, everyday use. These types of multimeters are made to withstand abuse and accidental drops especially when used for industrial electronics projects. There will also be less maintenance costs because there will be no issues like detached probe wires and such.
As mentioned, most multimeters have the same functions, but they differ in terms of performance. Expensive multimeters tend to work faster and return more precise results. They also have better resolution that makes them more convenient to use.
What is the cheapest Fluke Multimeter?
The cheapest Fluke multimeter is the Fluke 101 Basic Digital Pocket Multimeter. It has an accuracy of .5%. As a basic meter, it can be used to test volts (up to 600V), resistance, capacitance, frequency, and continuity.
Coming from a trusted brand, it has a rugged build and can withstand large degrees of abuse. Therefore, it is very ideal for basic electronics jobs that do not require a full range of functionalities. It is made of durable material yet is light and handy enough, which makes using it very convenient. It complies with CAT III safety standards. In terms of additional features, it supports data hold and has an automatic power off feature.
What’s the difference between a cheap Fluke multimeter and any other cheap multimeter?
For some people, brand matters a lot that is why even the cheapest Fluke multimeter that is more expensive than a cheaper unit still looks like a more solid option. However, if you take a look at the market and see available cheap multimeters, you will see how these, in fact, are very competitive when it comes to specifications. For instance, there are functions in the Neoteck DMM (e.g., temperature tester) that are not available in the Fluke basic multimeter. Some features such as overload protection, alarm function, and built-in flashlight are also only seen in the Neoteck DMM. Also, the cheap Neoteck DMM can measure up to 1000V and is able to claim true RMS while the unit from Fluke cannot.
Just because a multimeter is cost-effective doesn’t mean it is no good or lacks important features. In this post we have reviewed the cheapest multimeters. As a recap here’s the list: