Have you plugged in a home appliance yet it didn’t turn on or turned your car’s ignition but it didn’t start? Your first thought will be that the thing’s broken or the battery’s dead but you don’t know for sure. This is where the best voltmeter comes in!
Basically, a multimeter measures the amount of voltage passing between two points, namely, the positive and negative input of voltage. It’s then usually used in checking the power in home appliances, electronic gadgets and batteries, among other things. It’s a common device used by electricians for this reason.
10 Best Voltmeters
1. Field Guardian
This is likely the finest digital multimeter for watchmen and farmers who want a portable, easy to use and sturdy device for measuring the voltage in their fences. It has its own storage pouch so it can be quickly stowed in a bag or in a glove compartment.
Its readings can range from just 10 volts (V) to 9,900 kilovolts (KV) so it’s a suitable device for a wide range of uses. It can be used for high-voltage electric posts, too, and for home installations (120-220V). It’s a multimeter that removes the second guessing from the process.
Its 9V battery can also be replaced quickly since it’s available in electronics stores.
2. USMEI Dual USB Outlet 4.8A with 12V/24V
This is arguably the excellent car multimeter because of its useful features for car owners, even for motorcycle owners. It comes with a built-in high visibility LCD screen that shows the battery’s voltage when its 12V USB socket is plugged in. Its LCD screen also displays the output current when USB devices are being charged.
In short, it not only shows your car’s battery voltage but the speed with which your smartphone is being charged. The supported devices include Apple iPhone, iPad, and Samsung Galaxy, among others.
3. INNOVA 3320 Digital Multimeter- Best HVAC Multimeter
This is widely considered as the best hvac multimeter because of its auto-ranging feature, among others. It’s also a great choice for professional electricians and hobbyists who want a versatile mini multimeter in their toolkit. Its versatility lies in the fact that it can be used for both highly sensitive calculations for electrician’s projects and for do-it-yourself repair jobs.
Plus, it’s a versatile device because it measures not just the voltage but the frequency, current and capacitance, among others, in electrical devices and batteries. The large digital display shows the precision calculations for these measurements, too, while the battery tester checks both the battery’s voltage and level.
4. AstroAI Digital Multimeter
This is a professional digital multimeter suitable for use in commercial projects by electricians and technicians, as well as by do-it-yourself enthusiasts. It can be used in running tests on diode and transistor devices while measuring voltage, current and continuity, as well as capacitance and frequency. It’s even suitable for measuring current and voltage in AC.
You will find it easy to use, too, thanks to its numerous features. These include a large LCD backlit screen, a hanging magnet and an automatic shutoff. You should have an easy time taking measurement records, too, thanks to its functional kickstand.
5. BTMETER BT-39C True RMS Auto Ranging Digital Multimeter
Yet another quality multimeter for home use is this BTMETER digital multimeter since it provides accurate calculations. It has a 600 counts display that shows the calculations for both AC DC voltage, as well as for currents up to 6,000V and 600mA. It has numerous useful features, too, such as a continuity beep, automatic backlight for dim lighting conditions, and automatic shutoff.
This is an affordable digital multimeter that can be used for several years, thus, it gives great value for the money. It even has an ergonomic design that makes it easy to hold in one hand while testing voltage and current with the other hand. It even has a thermocouple feature, a useful function when you want to measure temperature without making direct contact with the object.
6. Fluke 115 Compact – Best Fluke Multimeter for Electronics
This is widely considered as the best multimeter for beginners because it’s so easy to use. There’s no need to set the range since it does so automatically; manual setting of the range can damage a multimeter, especially when done by a beginner. There’s even an audible warning beep when its mode isn’t set correctly.
It has a few safety features, too, such as the low battery indicator and the automatic shutoff. The former is useful in notifying you when it’s time to charge the unit or change its battery. The latter is a must in emergency situations as well as in saving battery power.
We love that it has a thick and tough body that can withstand daily use, even the occasional drops. The solid rubber casing makes it not only sturdy but also easy to hold, even in rough conditions.
7. Fluke 87-V Digital Multimeter
With several Fluke digital multimeters in this list, it’s fair to assume that Fluke is the best multimeter brand when it comes to performance and price. The Fluke 87-V digital multimeter is the brand’s flagship unit, the go-to device for professional electricians and technicians who want precision performance from a robust unit.
This is among the top models in the 80 series, the fifth version according to the company. It’s designed for troubleshooting household and commercial electrical systems, particularly with its handling of currents up to 20A and complex signals.
8. Fluke 117 Electricians True RMS Multimeter- Best Automotive Multimeter
The Fluke 117 is arguably the best compact multimeter with its small size and ergonomic chassis. You should be able to hold it easily and securely in your hand so there’s little to no risk of it slipping to the ground.
It has the basics of Fluke digital multimeters including measurements for AC/DC voltage and amperage, continuity. Frequency, capacitance and resistance. The unit has a CAT III safety rating with a 600V ceiling, a useful feature for analysing appliances, switch gears, outlets and control panel boards.
9. Proster Digital Multimeter – Best Budget Multimeter
This is the best budget multimeter if you’re looking for a low cost multimeter for your hobby or as a spare unit for your professional jobs. It has an auto-ranging feature that measures all the criteria for voltage and current, as well as measures temperature range. It can also be used for testing transistors and, thus, it gives more value for the money.
Keep in mind that this is a full-sized multimeter with several modes and ranges so it performs well under most conditions. But it’s best suited for lower energy work, mainly because of its low category rating. It comes with glass fuses for this type of job, too.
10. Fluke 101 Basic Digital Multimeter Pocket- Best Electronics Multimeter
This is a basic pocket multimeter that can be used for basic electrical tests in the home and office. As such, it’s a quite excellent device for making standard electrical measurements like resistance, voltage and continuity as well as frequency and capacitance. But it doesn’t have range for amps and milliamps, so it’s a fine device for commercial and residential electricians but not for industrial tasks.
This is a traveller multimeter because it’s smaller than a full-sized multimeter and larger than a pocket-sized multimeter. While it’s affordable, it’s still a Fluke multimeter and, thus, it still ranks well in terms of overall performance. It’s a CAT III-rated multimeter, after all, so it’s suitable for use in testing both load-side single and three phase installations.
Buyer’s Guide to Choosing the Right Voltmeter: Your Questions Answered
What’s The Difference between a Voltmeter and a Multimeter?
A voltmeter measures only voltage but a multimeter measures most, if not, all of the testing ranges. These include voltage as well as current, resistance, frequency, inductance, capacitance and even humidity and temperature.
Digital Multimeters are obviously the more useful device between the two measurement tools because of its multiple uses. But a voltmeter also has its uses so you may also consider getting it.
What Voltmeters Are Capable Of
Keep in mind that volts are a unit of measure representing the difference in potential between the negative and positive nodes of an electric current. As such, multimeters measure said difference in potential and provide the result in terms of volts.
Emphasis must also be made that some multimeters can work with both alternating and direct currents. But there are also some voltmeters that work only in alternative current and some multimeters designed exclusively for direct current. The best multimeters are obviously the ones that work with both types of current.
multimeters measure voltage through a fine wire coil that carries current, the heart of these devices, if you will. This wire coil hovers above an external magnetic field.
When the clamps or leads on a multimeter is connected to a power source, such as a plug or a battery, the current from it flows through the wire coil. The current then reacts with the magnetic coil resulting in its spinning motion. The rotation can result in either a needle moving, as is the case for an analog multimeter, or shows a reading in the case of a digital multimeter.
What Are The Main Differences When Using A Digital Versus An Analog Multimeters?
The main difference between a digital and an analog meter lies in the way the readings are presented. With a digital meter, the numbers are displayed on an LCD screen, which may or may not have backlights for easy reading in low-light conditions. With an analog meter, the values are indicated on a scale and deflection pointer.
Emphasis must also be made that digital meters are less likely to be affected by external magnetic interference. These also aren’t made with wire coils since these can increase damage. These are, however, less responsive to quick voltage changes because these update more slowly than their analog counterparts.
But in terms of accurate readings, digital multimeters give more precise measurements than analog meters; the latter are prone to error due to their pointer-based technology. The readings on a digital meter are stated in numeric form while on an analog meter, it’s on a scale against a pointer.
As for calibration, digital meters have automatic calibration systems that make it faster and easier to make measurements. With analog meters, it’s manual calibration only. This is true for setting the range wherein most digital meters have an auto-ranging feature while analog meters require manual setting.
Other differences include:
Analog meters don’t require analog-to-digital converters while digital meters require it. The ADC requirement is for displaying the readings on the screen.
Digital measures can measure higher AC frequency than analog meters.
Digital meters require power supply while analog meters don’t.
Analog meters can only display a single input signal value while digital meters can accept multiple inputs. The latter also has adjustable displays for showing different input signals.
Due to the number of components necessary in digital meters and their complexity of construction, these are also more expensive than analog meters.
The Top Things to Consider When Buying a Multimeter
The first factor that should be considered when choosing a multimeter is the choice between analog and digital. Keep in mind that each type has its pros and cons so it will boil down to your personal preferences.
On one hand, digital meters provide more precise readings and give better readouts through their LCD screens. These are also more compact, lightweight and portable aside from being equipped with more features for testing most, if not all, ranges.
On the other hand, analog meters have an old-school appeal to them that appeals to many professional technicians and electricians. These don’t require a power supply and can be used in rough situations.
The second factor is the choice between manual ranging and auto-ranging. The latter means that the multimeter can recognize the device being tested and, thus, there’s no need to input the range. You then won’t have to know the values beforehand since the multimeter will find them, in contrast with manual ranging where you must know the range of values.
Of course, you should look into the level of accuracy of the multimeter. In an ideal world, it should always give 100% accurate readings even after several years of use. This isn’t obviously the case in all multimeters and multimeters for many reasons, such as cheap components, imperfect processes and even user error.
In general, the more precise the digital multimeter, the more expensive it’s likely to be because of the state-of-the-art components used, among other reasons. You will want a more expensive digital multimeter if you’re a professional technician or electrician who wants precise readings every time. But if you’re a DIY enthusiast, a more affordable option is a better choice since precise readings aren’t necessary.
Other factors that should be considered are:
- The safety features, such as internal blast shields, wide flanges and shrouded banana plugs. Look into input protection and isolation slots, too. While these will add to the cost, these are essential for keeping your safe while working with electricity.
- The overall design and build should be ergonomic for ease of handling and sturdy for prolonged use in rugged conditions. Look for thick and tough casing and finish.
- You may also want to consider the brand since some brands are more reliable than others. Fluke, for example, is a brand well-known for its line of reasonably-priced yet high-precision multimeters.
How Do I Operate A Multimeter?
- Be sure to read the operations manual for the multimeter that you’re using as there may be differences between units. In general, however, these are the basic steps.
- Set the mode by using the dial.
- Insert the test leads on the appropriate colored slots (red and black)
- Be sure to check that your fingers aren’t in contact with the metal probes and the probes aren’t touching each other, too.
- Insert the metal probes into the wall outlet. Basically, the negative test lead (black) goes into the outlet’s larger vertical slot while the positive test lead (red) leads to the smaller vertical slot. This is applicable on a 120V 15A outlet.
- Check the reading, which should be 120V. But if the display shows “1” or “OL”, then it may be necessary to increase the range
What Do CAT Levels Mean For A Multimeter?
The CAT levels refer to the measurement category specified by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) for live electric circuits used in measuring and testing installations, appliances and equipment. These categories consider the total continuous energy at the circuit’s given point as well as the presence of impulse voltages.
There are four CAT levels, namely:
- CAT I for measurements done on circuits that aren’t directly connected to the mains.
- CAT II for circuits directly connected to low voltage installations, usually in households.
- CAT III for measurements done on building installations.
- CAT IV for measurements done at the primary source of low voltage installations, such as electricity meters and ripple control units.
What Are The Functions Of The Digital multimeter?
The digital voltmeter’s main function is reading the actual voltage of components including appliances, outlets and installations. The voltage can be measured in both DC and AC.
Other functions include automatic range selection, high input impedance and micro controllers. These devices also have no parallax errors. These useful functions are among the reasons for the increasing popularity of digital multimeters.