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Best Multimeter Reviews 2015

multimeter reviewsBest Multimeter Reviews – Your Buying Guide

Welcome to best multimeter reviews online, we are here to help you choose the right product for your circumstances. We have reviewed all the top products from the different brands and selected outlined the pros and cons of each model for your perusal. When it comes to multimeters we know that it is important to have quality in built to the product, anything to do with electricity is dangerous and as such a multimeter needs to provide the right information to the skilled tradesperson at the right time.

See the Best Digital Multimeters Here

or the Best Analog Multimeters Here

Any electrical circuit can have issues and troubleshooting is the function of your standard multimeters, whether you need to know voltage drop, how the current is split in parallel circuits, loop analysis and more, todays multimeters will help you figure it out. There are many products and finding the right one can be difficult, analogue versus digital, well-known brand versus generic, many features versus the basics – we cut through the jargon and provide unbiased advice on the products available.

Multimeters are handy tools that help electricians and technicians use different measuring functions when troubleshooting electronic devices. They are used when locating and correcting basic electrical problems or bench instruments which can give them a high level of measuring accuracy. They are utilized in different types of household and industrial devices such as wiring systems, power supplies, domestic appliances, and motor controls.  There are several features of this tool including some basic features and advanced ones as well. Below are some of these features and the role they play in helping technicians and electricians deal with electrical faults.

Features such as size, weight, durability, connectors and more are all important when you use a device all the time. Accuracy and features are another consideration but are usually for more advance applications.

multimeter in actionThe Best Multimeter Features

Voltage Tests with a Multimeters

For voltage start at the highest range setting then work downward to the safest range that can be used for the application. To measure voltage at multiple locations in a circuit you can use the test leads to get a reading on the ‘difference’ in voltage. Remember that in any DC circuit, the sum of voltage drops for a circuit in series is equal to the supply voltage. Also remember that AC and DC modes are not compatible.

Electric Current Checks with a Multimeter – Locations within an Electric Circuit

Always measure your voltage first so that you can determine if the circuit is AC or DC. Similar for voltage, select the highest range available on the multimeter then work your way down until you get the right range. Clamp on ammeters such as those available from Klein are perfect for the home user. Measuring ohms: This is one of the most important features of a multimeter. It has the capacity to measure ohms in order to check for continuity. For instance, if a wire is broken or a switch is open, no current will be able to pass through. On the other hand, if the wire is good and the switch is closed, then current will flow freely and there will be little resistance. The measuring ohm is used to check for this consistency. However, the ohms is not the only way of testing for continuity, some multimeters have their separate continuity test. But those that can read both ohms and continuity are better because you can test SCSI and network terminations with it.

Resistance in a Circuit, How to check it

Always remember to ‘zero’ the multimeter after changing the resistance range or you may get a faulty reading.

Using Diodes

Diode Check Function: Diodes are one-way valves that allow electricity flow only in one direction. Diode check feature is quite essential when working on a diode. The diode check in a multimeter helps you know whether the diode is working well or where the it goes in the circuit. Ensure you connect the positive to the anode and the negative to the cathode. Connections should be tight and neat. The forward voltage drop can therefore be determined using your multimeter.

Continuity – Closed loop testing and checking Soldering

Essentially continuity means do we have a closed loop circuit that is going to function. Doing a continuity test is a great way to check if your soldering was effective, if you have a broken wire (power cords and head phones are typical examples of this..) or seeing if things are connected. Continuity Check: When you are working on an electronic device and want to check whether two things are properly connected electronically, the continuity check will come in handy.  For example, if you are soldering or connecting wires, the continuity check will give a beep sound to show that everything is properly connected.  Without the continuity check, you won’t be able to detect two units that are not properly connected. It is equally used to ensure that two things are loose, which prevents short circuits.

Capacitance in a Circuit – Measuring

There are a few methods for testing capacitance with a multimeter. Ensure the capacitor is fully charged, check that your current range is the correct range for the capacitor, and connect the leads. Depending on whether the capacitor is short, open or good you will observe a different result.

  • Short capacitor – low reading
  • Open capacitor – no movement
  • Good capacitor – low reading to start with, increasing with some time

Frequency Checks

Circuits depending on their design may be fixed or variable frequency. When choosing the mode on your multimeter, use the AC mode if you are unsure. If there is distortion on the line an accurate frequency measurement may be difficult.

Duty Cycles and How to Measure with a Multimeter

The duty cycle is the on / off period of a square wave. Always read the frequency of the circuit before conducting the test. It’s handy to measure the duty cycle of a sine wave to understand distortion and look at deviance from 50%.  Take care as large electrolytic capacitors can retain charge for a long period.

Data Logging with a Multimeter and other Features

With the data logging feature, you will be able to check and record your measured data for a longer duration.  It consistently gathers data for a long period of time to help you show operational trends. This will enable you to read and analyze data more effectively. Data logging is very important when working on repair and installation of systems like ventilation, air-conditioning and heating systems.

There are other additional features of the multimeter such as capacity to measure DC and AC current, temperature probe, amperage and capacitor test, low impedance mode and low pass filter. These features are not present in all multimeters and may vary from one multimeter to the other.

Graphic Function: The graphic function is another important feature of most digital multimeters. They are important because AC measurements can easily be displayed in real time. Individuals that work on non-linear AC waveforms will find this feature very vital to their operations.

The Best Multimeter Brands

Amprobe Multimeters

Amprobe invented the first clamp meter and have been at the leading edge ever since. They have a huge range of instruments for residential and commercial applications. Amprobe are an American company established in 1948. Amprobe have a reputation of safe and reliable electrical testing tools.

The best selling Amprobe multimeter is the AM-520 HVAC, it has a 4.5 star rating from nearly 200 reviews and is well priced at around $60 for the features available.

Extech Multimeters

Extech was established in 1970 and taken over by FLIR systems in 2007. They are a global company with 15 categories of products including testing instruments, portable printers and thermal imagers.

The Extech MN35 is their most popular model, priced at $22 is great value for money in a model that has less features than others but still does the job well.

Fluke Multimeters

Fluke are a huge name in the multimeter industry and claim to be the ‘world leader’ in their field. Fluke, similar to amprobe, was founded in 1948 and has grown rapidly to encompass 5 market segments. Their industrial and electronic service installation unit includes their extensive line of multimeters that technicians use to troubleshoot and detect complex problems.

The Fluke 115 is a compact True-RMS digital multimeter that is commonly use by professional tradesman. Whilst this unit is more expensive than some of the others it is reliable, all the features you need and is a brand you can trust to last a lifetime. Normal retail price is $180 but you can commonly find specials online with heavy discounts.

Greenlee Multimeters

Greenlee have a small range of quality multimeters. Greenlee have been around for over 140 years starting in the wood working industry, for over 70 years greenlee have had a presence in the electrical industry. They are ISO 9001 accredited and a brand you can rely on.

Greenlee multimeter models typically range between $125 and $285. Most of the DM range can handle up to 1000 Volt and between 200 and 830A. These are good quality units bet sell less often than the likes of Mastech and Fluke. Their range may be suitable for your needs, so check out their specifications.

Innova Multimeters

Innova has facilities in the US and Canada, they have been in business for about 15 years. Innova specialise in instrumentation for fault finding in the automotive industry and have a database of over 3 million issues.

Innova have some low cost options such as the 3320 auto ranging digital model. Handy for home hobby enthusiasts who don’t need all the features of the trades models.

Klein Multimeters

Klein tools are all American and have been around since 1857. Klein believe in US manufacturing and have a rich history of internal investment and good quality.

The Klein MM200 multimeter retails for $56, it is auto ranging, has a backlit display and handles voltage up to 600V and current to 10A. Klein specialise in clamp meters and have a decent range to review if that’s what you are after.

Mastech Multimeters

Mastech was founded in 1987 and is the worlds largest instrument manufacturer. Mastech believe in technology and innovation and produce in the vicinity of 3.5 million instruments each year. With that kind of quantity, quality control is a big deal.

The Mastech digital AC/DC digital multimeter is a top seller online, usually priced at $60, this unit uses AAA batteries and is rugged enough to withstand drops from reasonable heights.

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Different Tradespersons That Use Multimeters And Why

multimeter technicianMultimeters have varying uses for different classes of tradespersons. They are needed by professional electricians, hobbyists, auto mechanics, electronic engineers, and even solar technicians. Basically, a multimeter helps users to check resistance and voltage of whatever they are working on through a circuit. This tool is very vital and may be an indispensable device for most professionals who have work involving electrical applications. Below is a list of tradespersons that use multimeters and why they are needed in their occupation.

A multimeter is used by a car technician to test voltage. Car technicians make use of a multimeter to test voltage when they need to find the starter wire in the car.  A multimeter is equally used by a mechanical/electrical assembly test technician. This group of people makes the most use of multimeters in whatever testing they want to carry out. In fact, a multimeter is the most important tool in their toolkit. Without it, they won’t be able to do practically anything. It is used for a wide range of purposes such as measuring temperature, resistance, voltage, and checking diodes.

technician testing multimetersThe third group of people that make use of a multimeter are manufacturing technicians. Although, a multimeter may not be as important to them as it is to electrical assembly technicians, it is still useful for them when checking ohms, amps and volts of their machines before a manufacturing process. A site turbine technician also needs to use a multimeter. It is used in areas such as amp checking, infrared testing, voltage test procedures, and testing for crane hand signals.

Another tradesperson whose efficient job ultimately depends on the proper use of a multimeter is a shop technician. Their duty is to provide cost effective, quality, and timely repair and maintenance for fleet vehicles such as forklifts, trailers, and tractors. These heavy duty vehicles will not function properly if there is an electrical fault. Once this happens, it is the job of the technician to locate and fix the problem with the help of a multimeter through various test and measurement of electric current and voltage. Emission technicians will also have valuable uses of multimeters. Their job involves operation of calibration standards on different types of devices by checking the temperature, loading cells, transmitters and transducers.
circuit board testing with a multimeterSimilarly, PC technicians cannot do without a multimeter. They make use of it when checking for voltage, resistance, and an ohmmeter to measure the electrical resistance of a circuit. When there is a mechanical or electrical problem with a PC, it is the duty of the technician to trace the fault and fix it. With the multimeter, troubleshooting and repairing or replacing the damaged component becomes easy. All these cannot be performed without making use of a digital multimeter. Hence, it is highly needed by them to carry out their operations effectively.

Using multimeters as a tradesperson

The above tradespersons all require a multimeter in one way or the other to effectively perform their operation effectively. This is why they all have it in their toolkit because it can come in handy at any time and save them valuable time and effort.

List of References – Quality multimeter brands and guidance

  • Reference material on fluke brand multimeters and their service support
  • The amprobe brand of digital unit is famous within the industry
  • If you have any issues with warranty the extech headquarters can be contacted here
  • New products released by the klein manufacturer are regularly reviewed and tested online