If you’re in the market for a new multimeter, you probably realize how hard it is. This is one of those unique tools that buying a low-quality version could put your life at risk. At the end of the day, we’re going to be using this multimeter to make sure that the circuit is safe to work on. So in this case, the project’s time taken isn’t the only thing to look at, you also have to look closely at the tool’s safety.
This means that more research is going to have to go into these multimeters. Especially since they’re all on the low side when it comes to price. You want a tool that’s affordable, safe, and accurate. Luckily for you, the top multimeters have been compiled here. All are available for under $50 and will get the job done correctly and safely.
Why Under $50?
If you’re a DIYer or a homeowner, you’re invariably going to run into a situation where you need a multimeter. As long as you’re not an electrical contractor, it might be hard to justify a big purchase for a multimeter. It could be a unit you use once in your life, or once a year.
Just like anything else in your life, you don’t want to overpay for something that simply won’t get used that much. When you do research on multimeters, you’ll notice a clear divide. This divide just so happens to be around the $50 mark. Everything north of it has added features and reliability that only semi-pro users would gravitate towards.
We’re more concerned with the tools south of that $50 mark. Hence this list. Keep in mind what features are important to you as you read through this list. There are a couple of low-cost units that don’t boast a lot of reliability or accuracy, but they’ll get the job done if you’re looking to save money.
Defining Some Terms
In case you’re missing some knowledge about multimeters, there are a few terms to define before you look at the products. These are features you might find on your multimeter, so it’s important to know what they are and what they do.
Data Hold – Records and saves the previous reading on your multimeter. You can refer back to the screen and don’t have to run and grab a pen and paper.
Continuity Check – Allows you to see if two wires are connected. Typically there is an audial identifier like a beep to tell you if the circuit is continuous.
Auto range – This takes the guesswork out of measuring. The unit will automatically scale to the appropriate units. The alternative is the manual range.
Duty cycle – the time occupied by the cycle of operation. This is used for intermittently operated machines that use AC. It’s the fraction of one period in which the signal is active.
Manual range – The user has to signify what the measurement range is. It could also be done by selecting units; kilo-, milli-, or standard units.
Klein Tools MM400
This is one of those no-brainer picks for this list. Klein Tools’ multimeter always has unmatched results in this category. It’s consistent, and higher quality than you’d expect for the price.
It can measure up to 600VAC and up to 10A current. Additionally, it will read capacitance, frequency, temperature, continuity, duty-cycles, and test the diodes. That means that this tool can be the go-to for a lot of different projects.
The only downside is that you’ll most likely see the accuracy start to suffer over time. Users have noted that after a few months they’ll see the readings are a little off. Of course, since it’s so affordable you can always just pick up a new one.
Neoteck Pocket NTK017
Neoteck’s multimeter is affordable but really versatile. It delivers great results despite being inexpensive.
It has a big backlit screen and a display for polarity. Its shell is really durable so it can get dropped without any issues. Changing the battery is really easy for this unit.
The only issues with this unit are that the capacitance and resistance results don’t work very well. Some people say that the life of this multimeter is really short – though it might be a defective unit.
Overall it’s a great pick. It has a good price, a lot of functions, and it’s durable.
Another great home-use multimeter is Amprobe’s. This pack comes with 3 different testing components. It has a multimeter, a socket tester, and a non-contact voltage probe. Due to the breadth of tools included in this set, it made it onto the list.
It will measure up to 250 VAC and 2 Ohms. It has audible warnings while you’re testing continuity. The added socket tester will help you avoid fatal results from an improperly grounded circuit interrupter.
Next up is Etekcity’s go at a multimeter. Before looking too much into the unit, you’ll realize that the price tag is shockingly inexpensive. The reason is due to the quality of this unit. It doesn’t pose any safety hazards, but it definitely lacks in terms of accuracy and consistency.
That’s just the territory when you’re looking at a multimeter this inexpensive. That being said, it’s one of the least expensive units you’ll find on the market that isn’t dangerous to use. Similar to other multimeters on this list, you shouldn’t expect a super long life with this unit.
If you need to get the job done and can’t afford to splurge; you should choose this unit.
Another great pick in this category is a multimeter by Mastech. It will check voltage, temperature capacitance, continuity, and more.
This unit also has a huge readable screen, and it’s backlit so you’re not relying on a light source. The price is really surprising because you get so much bang with so little buck. It has an auto-off feature and a data hold feature.
It will read up to 750VAC and it’s super durable so you can drop it without fear. This is a quality multimeter for a fair price, and it has a lot of built-in features that make life easy.
This next gadget is AstroAI’s multimeter. Like Klein, this unit will read capacitance, frequency, temperature, continuity, duty-cycles, and test diodes. It has some added features too, all at a very generous sticker price.
It has a giant, very readable screen. What’s more, it’s backlit so you can read it when you’re crawling underneath things. It also has an auto-off feature to save battery, and a data hold function. It’s an incredibly user-friendly multimeter.
However, you’ll notice a loud chip every time the dial goes to select a new feature. This might get annoying over time, and it can’t be turned off – so just keep that in mind. Beyond that small setback, there aren’t a lot of negative things to say about this machine.
Next up is Extech’s “mini” multimeter. This less-than-pocket-sized machine has 8 different functions – including a temperature reader up to 1400 degrees F. It boasts a huge LCD screen so the values are always easy to read.
The battery has a decent life of around a year, and when it comes time to change the battery it’s a breeze. It also has a data-hold feature that lets you store your previous reading so you don’t have to reach for a pen and paper (or if your memory is as bad as mine).
A respected name in the world of general-use home tools; Craftsman steps up to the plate with their sub-$50 multimeter. It doesn’t disappoint, either. This is one of the best multimeters in this category.
It has a lot of notifications built-in to let you warn you about different things. It has a single battery that can last a year or even more. Its big selling feature is how quickly you can take it out and make a measurement.
It has an auto-off feature to save battery. It also has a tilt stand that lets you orient the meter vertically and use it.
The unit has 8 basic functions and 18 different manual ranges. This means there’s a ton of opportunity for this unit to be used on a variety of projects.
General Tools TS04
General Tool’s multimeter comes in a durable shell. It features an auto-range function which is super helpful for beginner users.
A noteworthy feature of this unit is that it’s equipped with Bluetooth. By downloading their app, you can use your smartphone as another screen. That means two people can monitor the readings at the same time – one of the people doesn’t need to be holding the multimeter. Of course, their app has a ton of added functionality like the ability to save and log data.
In fact, this is the only multimeter on this list that has Bluetooth capability. It’s a useful addition and will do nothing but help you with your project. Beyond that, the unit works really well and has great accuracy and reliability when it comes to DIY tools.
This unit by ANENG features an auto-range feature and doesn’t break the bank. It will measure all of the standard measurements, and additionally, it measures frequency, temperature, and duty cycle.
It’s a compact unit with a large, readable screen. It features data-hold, auto-off, and even a backlight – you wouldn’t expect all of that for how inexpensive this multimeter is.
Overall this multimeter is a great mix of function and price-sensibility. It runs on AAA batteries, and you might find yourself replacing them more often than the others on this list.
Overall, there’s a lot to consider when it comes to buying a multimeter. Luckily you already narrowed down the price range you’re looking in. Even within this price range, you have a lot of different features and functions you can pick from. Any one of these multimeters is a good pick, it’s all up to the user and what they’re looking for. You can keep costs low and get a less-reliable unit, or you can splurge for an upgrade and get additional features, accuracy improvement, and better life of the unit.
Once you make your decision, check out this video on the basics of how to use a multimeter.