If you’ve been looking around at multimeters, you’ll have seen that there’s a multitude of meters from a multitude of companies, that all have a multitude of functions. And trying to pick the best one can lead to a multitude of questions! So after ploughing through the specs of literally hundreds of multimeters recently myself, I have put together a list of the BEST multimeters available for 2020.
To limit the monotony of scouring lists of meter functions, I have put together my own categories of multimeter functions for the purpose of this article. They are -
* Usual Functions. These are what I consider to be the usual functions that you would expect to find on a decent multimeter - AC and DC voltage and current, Resistance, Continuity, Capacitance, Diode, and Frequency.
* Additional Functions. Extra functions that allow further testing of apparatus for particular tests - Temperature, Duty Cycle, Low Pass Filter, Low Impedance Voltage testing.
* Specialist Functions. These functions would usually only be required by specialists in a particular field. For example AC + DC for non symmetrical wave forms, or Polarisation Index, etc.
And because not everyone has the same budget for their multimeter, I have also broken down my ‘best of 2020 multimeters’ recommendations into 3 different price ranges. So, for a quick summary, they are...
Extech EX355 - $198.00
Flir DM66 - $251.90
Reed 5010 - $275.00
Extech EX530 - $399.00
Flir DM93 - $573.50
Fluke 179 - $640.00
* high end
Gossen Metrawatt M2400 - $1,566.00
Fluke 289 - $1,393.00
Gossen Metrawatt M274S - $4,339.00
The BEST multimeters that are LIGHT on your pocket -
These multimeters are super affordable, and yet still offer above and beyond the basic functionality… giving you more bang for your buck! So if you’re looking for a multimeter that offers that little bit extra, you can’t go past one of these.
Extech EX355 $198.00
With a price tag of only $198, this multimeter is a pearler, and definitely one of the best available for 2020 in this price range.
It has all the ‘usual functions’, but also comes with the additional functions of Duty Cycle, Temperature, Low Impedance Voltage and a non contact voltage detector, making it so much more versatile than your average multimeter.
It has a 6000 count display, so the resolution is more than adequate for your everyday measuring tasks. On top of this, it has pretty decent accuracy on all measurements, and gets down to 0.5% on DC voltage!
As an industrial multimeter, it is more than capable, and as a home use or hobby multimeter, it has all the functions (plus more) that you’re likely to need.
This multimeter is capable of general automotive, household electrical, appliance trouble-shooting, and electronics. With a 3 year warranty, this meter is definitely great value for money, and a handy meter to have in your toolbox.
Flir DM66 $251.90
Priced at $251.90 this meter has everything you would expect of a good multimeter, so all the ‘usual’ functions.
But it catches my eye as one of the best multimeters for 2020 because it also has Temperature, Low Impedance Voltage testing, Non contact voltage detection, and a Low Pass Filter.
This makes for a great industrial multimeter, capable of testing and trouble shooting a vast array of machines including variable speed drives, control circuits, supply circuits, and electronics, all with one tool.
It comes with a 6000 count screen, so offers good resolution, and has excellent accuracy for a meter in this price range, making it handy for taking scheduled maintenance measurements.
It also has a CAT IV 300V CAT III 600V rating giving you good safety margins for the majority of low voltage testing.
Compact and easy to use, this is a great all-round meter that easily earns its keep in any electricians tool kit (especially with capabilities like VSD trouble shooting).
For this price, you’re not only getting a top meter that comes with a 3 year warranty, but one that will do almost any measurement you’re likely to need.
Reed 5010 $275.00
This meter is definitely one of my favourite multimeters for 2020. It has a price tag of only $275 and offers great functionality and durability, and to be honest, even competes well with the multimeters in the next level price range.>
Along with having all the ‘usual functions’ of a good multimeter, it measures Duty Cycle, Temperature, and has a 4-20mA process loop signal percentage conversion for checking transducer output signals.
Also impressive, is this meter’s great accuracy.
And with a display count of 40,000, you can be assured of seeing outstanding resolution on measurements.
For example, on the 400µA DC current range it has a resolution down to 0.01µA DC with 1% accuracy.
The dust and waterproof ingress protection rating of IP67, and CAT IV 600V CAT III 1000V ratings for safety, make this meter safe and durable for use in almost all low voltage situations.
It comes with a handy carrying case, so it’s easy to pack and take your meter with you wherever you may need it.
The Reed 5010 does only offer a 1 year warranty, but when you consider the price, the versatility, and IP67 rating of the meter, you really can’t go past this one for home use, electronics, and even for use in harsh industrial conditions.
The BEST multimeters that areMID-RANGE prices
If you’re relying on your multimeter for work or professional purposes, you may want to invest that little bit more to ensure you’re getting something with better accuracy, resolution, or reliability. With this in mind, along with brand reputation and history, the best multimeters available in 2020 for the mid range price point are...
Extech EX530 $399.00
Extech have been around since 1971, and of late, are really starting to make their mark in the industry as a manufacturer of reliable, high quality instruments. The EX530 is no exception, and offers excellent value for its rrp of $399.
This meter has all the ‘usual functions’, as well as Duty Cycle and Temperature. And whilst the EX530 doesn’t have the low impedance or non-contact voltage detection functions of it’s cheaper cousin, the EX355, what it’s missing in additional functions, it’s more than made up for with it’s resolution and category rating.
The EX530 has a 40,000 count with excellent accuracy, giving fantastic high resolution results. And safety boasts a CAT IV 600V CAT III 1000V rating, so it’s suitable for use on nearly all LV applications.
It has an IP67 dust and water ingress rating, and is actually buoyant in water, making it ideal for marine applications.
However, what’s most impressive about this meter, and why it’s hands down, one of the best multimeters for 2020 in this price range, is how TOUGH it’s built.
This meter has really been put through the wringer in the testing phase, and you can check out a video showing it thrown at a wall, run over by a car, and getting dropped into a bucket of water from a second story building. (You can find that video here). And yes, even after this harsh treatment, the EX530 still WORKS.
Maybe it’s just me, but having a meter that is this rugged, that you don’t have to be precious about when it’s thrown in the toolbox, or floating around in the back of the work truck, is pretty cool!
Backed by a 3 year warranty, this meter really is great value for money, and the perfect meter for the rougher work site!
Flir DM93 $573.50
For only $573.50, the Flir DM93 really is an excellent investment. The value for money here ensures this meter is listed as one of the best multimeters for 2020!
For starters, the DM93 has built in work lights, which, combined with the easy to read backlit display, make it easy to work in dimly lit areas. It has a drop test rating of 2 meters, and a dust and water resistance rating of IP54 (meaning the meter is suitable even if you’re working in a dusty environment, or get caught in a rain shower).
As you would expect, it has all the ‘usual functions’, as well as Temperature (which can read all the way from -200C° to 1200°C), Low Pass Filtering and Low Impedance Voltage testing.
The Flir DM93 has a digital count of 40,000 giving great resolution, which goes hand in hand with great accuracy. This meter also has a safety rating CAT IV 600V CAT III 1000V, making it suitable for use on nearly all LV applications.
The only function that is missing that I’d generally like to see for this category of meter, is duty cycle testing.
It does however, have the added advantage of bluetooth connectivity for pairing to mobile devices, allowing use of the Flir Tools app which gives access to live data reading, data storage, and data sharing for complete workflow functionality.
With it’s limited lifetime warranty, the Flir DM93 makes a great industrial multimeter.
Fluke 179 $640.00
No list of multimeters would be complete without Fluke representation! They are without a doubt, one of the best known brands in the industry. And the Fluke 179 makes it onto the list of best multimeters for 2020 because of its standout reliability.
The Fluke 179 has all the ‘usual functions’ as well as the additional functions of Duty Cycle and Temperature. It is considered the industry-standard troubleshooting tool for electrical and electronic systems.
This meter has been proven itself reliable in the industry, time and time again. I have personally used this meter on a regular basis for the past 12 years, and have only ever had to change the battery. It is a real testament to Fluke’s reputation for producing high quality and long lasting equipment. And unsurprisingly, the Fluke 179 comes with Fluke’s limited lifetime warranty.
If you are after a reliable, professional meter that has great accuracy, then the Fluke 179 is always a good choice.
The BEST multimeters that are HIGH END
These multimeters are in a class of their own! Yes, they’re a higher dollar investment, but their price is more than justified with the additional functions and specialist features they offer. As can be expected, they all come with a safety rating of CAT IV 600V CAT III 1000V.
So, to complete our list, the best multimeters for 2020 in the higher price ranges are...
Gossen Metrawatt M2400 Metrahit Outdoor $1,566.00
When accuracy matters, the M2400 MetraHit Outdoor is one of the best. Not only is it extremely accurate, it also comes with a calibration certificate, earning this meter a place in the best multimeters of 2020 list.
Along with its high level of accuracy, it has a digital count of 11,999 which gives fantastic resolution.
It has all the ‘usual functions’ of a digital multimeter, as well as the additional functions of Temperature, Duty Cycle, Low Impedance voltage measurement, and Low Pass Filter. On top of this, it has AC+DC function for accurately measuring waveforms that contain a DC offset.
It has PC connectivity for use with the METRAwin10/METRAHit software, which is a measurement data logging program for recording and documenting measured values.
This meter is particularly rugged, and designed to be used in the outdoors. It comes with dust and water rating of either IP54 or a variant of IP65 protection.
A 3 year warranty gives you confidence in your investment.
Gossen Metrawatt is renowned for their very high quality professional tools and this is no exception. If you’re looking at higher end multimeters, and accuracy is important, the GMW M2400 is one of the best.
Fluke 289 $1,393.00
One of the most accurate meters, this one really does deserve its place in the best multimeters of 2020 list! The ever popular Fluke 289 is priced at only $1,393, and there’s not much this meter cannot do.
It has all the ‘usual functions’ plus Temperature, Duty Cycle, Conductance and Pulse Width. It even has the time!
Like the GMW M2400, it also has AC+DC function for accurately measuring waveforms that contain a DC offset.
The Fluke 289 is stand-out when it comes to being extremely accurate! And along with this accuracy, it has a 50,000 count, giving outstanding resolution.
It has built in data logging, and with the aid of the 3000 FC adaptor (optional) it can utilise the Fluke connect mobile device app giving access to live data, data logging and data sharing on your mobile device.
Oh, and did I mention that it is extremely accurate!?
A great multimeter for the professional that demands a wide range of functions and accurate performance, with the added advantages of data logging and management. Backed by Fluke’s limited lifetime warranty, this meter is a prized possession in many toolboxes.
Gossen Metrawatt M274S $4,339.00
This meter is priced a little higher than the others at $4,339, but the amount of features and functions packed into this one have earned it the #1 spot in my list of best multimeters for 2020.
Ok, so it doesn’t have low impedance voltage testing or 4-20mA percentage conversion, but that’s it. It’s got everything else, and with extreme accuracy and a 30,000 count for fantastic resolution.
Let’s see… … all the usual functions plus Temperature, Duty Cycle, and Low Pass Filter. It has AC + DC for DC off-set waveforms. With the added coil tester (optional) it will test for short circuits in coils from 10 µH to 50 mH.
The meter is also an insulation tester with dielectric absorption and polarisation index functions.
Did I mention RPM for motor speed? What about data logging with Bluetooth, WLAN and USB connectivity. This really is an all in one, except for the LoZ voltage testing as mentioned above. And really, you can measure the 4-20mA with the DC current function and do the conversion yourself, so the lack of this function is only a convenience thing.
Oh, and it comes with a hard case, so you don’t have to stress about keeping it safe and protected while you’re out and about.
So, if testing equipment is your profession, then this Gossen Metrawatt would be a valuable addition to your tool kit. It’s packed full of function, offers extremely high accuracy, and a 3 year warranty. It really is, the best of the best.
(Incidentally, Gossen Metrawatt have similar calibre meters for specialty testing in telecommunications, avionics, electric vehicles, and explosive areas.)
And there you have it… the best multimeters of 2020.