A huge chunk of an apprentice electrician’s job involves industrial work. Therefore, you need to arm yourself with a dependable tool that you can carry with you from day one until you become a bonafide journeyman electrician. One such tool is a multimeter. Our top pick is the Fluke 87-V while the Fluke 117 came in at a close second. Read our reviews on the best multimeters on the market specifically for apprentice electricians like you.
Table of Contents
Quick Summary of our Top Picks
Before we get into the detailed reviews, let’s get a quick snapshot of the different products that made it to our list.
- Editor’s choice – Fluke 87-V “When you need accuracy, reliability, and to not electrocute yourself stick with Fluke.”
- Runner up – Fluke 117 “By all that is right in the world, my life would have been so much better and more meaningful if I had just bought this damn thing in the first place. Too soon old, too late smart”
- Best value – Fluke T5-1000 “master electrician, in trade for 20 years, this is the best general tester I’ve ever had”
- Budget Pick – Neoteck 8233D Pro “Works awesome fast delivery, been using for electrician course it’s great starting tool”
- Most User-Friendly – Amprobe AM-510 “I prefer fluke but wanted quality without spending a lot”
The Detailed Review
Fluke is a benchmark in electric industrial tools manufacturing, and, in multimeters, the Fluke 87-V is simply top of the line. It has an impeccable reputation in terms of quality and accuracy. First, its dual-display resolution (6000-counts / 20,000 counts) allows for more accurate reading. Also, because of Fluke’s trademark technology, it returns accurate measurements – on Adjustable Speed Drives, for instance. Next, it can be used hands-free because of its magnetic hanger and the built-in thermometer also makes working hassle-free because there is no need for a separate tool for temperature measurement.
In terms of safety, Fluke 87-V is CAT III (1000V) and CAT IV (600V) rated. The Fluke 87-V is regarded as both the apprentice and professional electrician’s “reliable all-around guy” – the features, the quality, the accuracy, the durability, and the reputation all make it worth the purchase. If you’re looking to buy a multimeter that will last you your whole career, then go for Fluke 87-V.
- built-in thermometer
- magnetic hanger and can be used hands-free
- large backlit display
- does not come with protective case
Most users who gave reviews on this unit claim that they’ve had their multimeters for years and their Fluke 87-Vs have always been dependable. In terms of accuracy and functionality, Fluke quality is unbeatable. Some of the other features users find useful are the min/max and super clear display. Most say that Fluke 87-V can withstand the test of time even if used every day. It is a heavy duty digital multimeter that is most suitable for industrial electricians. As one user puts it, it should be considered the gold standard in multimeters.
Fluke 117 is another recommended multimeter for beginners. Slightly cheaper than 87-V, Fluke 117 is also very promising in terms of precision and ease of use. Since it is from the same family of top-notch electronic tools, it is feature-rich and unquestionable when it comes to performance.
Some of Fluke’s unique technological applications include VoltAlert and AutoVolt. The VoltAlert feature allows Fluke 117 to detect voltage without the need for direct contact. While the AutoVolt technology makes automatic voltage selection (AC or DC) possible. Other helpful functionalities are the low input impedance, which helps with more precise measurements, and a white LED backlight making it easy to use even under poor lighting. Not to mention, it has an ergonomic design, giving users a more comfortable experience using it. So, with a considerably affordable market price but with loads of features, Fluke 117 is a good choice for apprentice electricians.
- lightweight and ergonomically designed
- has LED backlight
- less accurate than Fluke 87-V
Based on reviews, Fluke 117 is very reliable. Some users say that they have had their units for years and that they didn’t need any other multimeter. Considering most of these users are electricians, it is easy to infer that this model is dependable in electrical jobs. One feature that users like the most is the auto-volt detection. Although several reviews mentioned poor lead quality, most four to five star ratings comment on how this unit is well-built, living up to Fluke’s name.
You know you’ve found a good value multimeter when it’s portable, yet, at the same time, gives amazing results. That’s how T5-1000 from Fluke made it as Best Value multimeter. It has a compact design but its features make it worth more than its price.
As a reliable electric tester, it measures voltage, resistance, and current and has an automatic AC/DC volts selection feature. What makes it even more amazing is it returns precise results. Its detachable SlimReach probe tips are most helpful when used in tight spaces. It is one of the few multimeters that have an auto-off feature, which we think is a good addition to save battery life. T5-1000 is priced somewhere in the mid-range, making it even more perfect for apprentice electricians. It’s tagged with a reasonable market value, but has all functionalities needed to complete an electrical job with ease.
- can automatically measure AC/DC
- has CAT III and CAT IV safety rating
- no backlight
- cannot measure capacitance or frequency
Based on reviews, a lot of customers agree that this the T5-1000 is the best tester for the money. It is also very handy and easy to operate. Some say that it is rugged enough to be used day-to-day. There are some who have encountered problems with stuck probes. Even so, master electricians still recommend this product. All in all, customers are impressed by the T5-1000‘s functionality and long battery life, and believe that this is one of the best multimeters every apprentice electrician should have.
Not only do we consider this unit most budget-friendly, but also, we think it is one of the most compact and easy to use. This no-frills, auto-ranging multimeter from Neoteck is surprisingly feature-rich considering its size. For one, the 8233 Pro can measure AC/DC accurately which is what we basically want a multimeter to be able to do. Also, since safety must always be top priority, this unit’s IEC and CAT II safety rating should give you peace of mind. In terms of usage, 8233 Pro has a large backlit display making it easy to see readings and function settings. The reason we consider this the Best Budget multimeter is that, at an affordable price, it comes with test probe leads, a 9V 6F22 battery, and an alligator clip plug.
- has a non-slip, protective outer shell
- compact and easy to use
- no temperature sensor
- manual may be hard to interpret
The 8233 Pro unit being well worth the price is one of the most common comments from users. It’s good for simple projects and home use but is not durable. Also, battery life doesn’t last long. There are also some who have encountered problems with testing capacitors. Nonetheless, there are other users that testify that the Neoteck Digital Multimeter 8233 Pro functions well given its compact size. It may not be the fastest but it does give accurate readings most of the time.
If there is one multimeter that is recommended for both being handy, it would be Amprobe AM-510. Its design and function settings that are easy to configure make it ideal for apprentice electricians. With its compact design, the AM-510 is packed with useful features. It can measure up to 600V AC/DC and it’s easy to switch from manual to auto ranging mode.
It has a non-contact voltage detection, a large backlit display that helps with easy reading, and a built-in flashlight. The AM-510 also has an automatic power-off feature and alerts when the battery is too low, which becomes handy for starters who may have a tendency to forget to turn it off As packaged, it comes with a rubber overmolded enclosure that protects the meter when dropped accidentally. Again, this makes the AM-510 a perfect multimeter for those still learning the ropes and are prone to mishandling the device.
- built-in flashlight
- non-contact voltage detection
- rubber overmolded enclosure
- short probe tips
Most customers agree that this unit is easy to use and that the large backlit display makes it easy to read. Some users have had no problem when measuring voltage, capacitance, and amperage and even say that it is perfect for DIY homeowners. The device is handy and is also recommended for hobbyists but it is not advisable for daily commercial use.
How We Picked the Best Multimeter for Apprentice Electricians
We wanted to make sure we present only the best multimeters suitable for apprentice electricians. It is, therefore, important for us to understand the scope of their job and identify specifications that will meet the demands of everyday use. Other considerations include features, safety compliance standard, and suitability for commercial or household use. In detail, these are the parameters we believed were significant during the selection process:
The basic functions of a multimeter include measuring electric current, voltage, resistance, and capacitance. We checked product specifications to see whether or not each multimeter can be used for the kind of tasks it is intended for – e.g., repair and maintenance of electrical systems. Specs quantify how good a product is and what it is capable of doing.
Multimeters are used in demanding settings and we want our multimeters to survive abuse. Multimeters should withstand regular use and, hopefully, last for several years before breaking down. Electricians don’t end their careers with apprenticeship. So, for this list, we considered some units that they would be able to use for a long time, or throughout their whole career, if possible.
Features are a big factor when choosing the best multimeter. Units equipped with added functionalities that are not only cool and unique, but are actually useful for our target market, are highly considered. These include hands-free operation, big LCD displays, automatic voltage selection, automatic power off. Safety features are also a big consideration because we always want to make sure electricians are safe around their workspaces.
Brands can easily entice or put off users depending on the reputation they’ve built. Brands tell so much about a product. Therefore, an easy way to choose a good multimeter is check the manufacturer. A brand does not necessarily have to be popular; it only needs a good track record to make it to the list. Moreover, most users also check for brand-associated features so, in this case, name makes a lot of difference.
First and foremost, the multimeters we are looking for are for apprentice electricians – they have a different workload than journeyman electricians. And since they are just starting their careers, it would not be advisable to spend on an expensive, heavy-duty multimeter, with features that you might or might not use. However, this also doesn’t mean that we will recommend the cheapest one on the market. Our reviews are a balance of value and quality.
Just as customer experience matters to manufacturers, user reviews also play a big role in deliberating which multimeters are considered top-of-the-line. For this buyer’s guide, we checked reviews on how the multimeters actually faired when used for commercial and residential projects. These reviews helped us identify the perfect type of multimeter for a certain type of user or specific kind of project.
A multimeter is one of the first tools an apprentice electrician must have. It serves him on a daily basis and, must therefore be reliable and dependable. Of all the available multimeters on the market, it’s difficult to find a certain unit that’s guaranteed to survive the requirements of heavy or moderate electrical projects. So, this buyer’s guide is meant to help in identifying a unit that is most worth investing on.
In this article we have reviewed the top multimeters for apprentice electricians. A good multimeter will provide a rewarding work experience and pay for itself many times over. So consider it as a worthwhile investment. As a recap here is our list: