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How Do I Choose the Best Multimeter?

A multimeter is a tool that can measure amps, volts, and ohms.
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  • Written By: Valerie Clark
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 30 September 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
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The best multimeter for you greatly depends on how the tool will be used. For general household use, a basic digital or analog multimeter is suitable for testing and repairing electrical problems. For a professional who relies on a multitester for consistent and accurate readings, the best multimeter will have features such as true root mean square (rms) voltage measurements, graphing capabilities and a waterproof casing. True rms multimeters are recommended for those who work with electrical, industrial or highly technological equipment. Specialty functions and accessories also are available on professional-grade multimeters.

Choosing the best multimeter will depend on exactly what, where and how you will be using the device. Consider the measurement functions, display options, length of the test leads and battery life before deciding which tester is the best multimeter for you. The environment in which you will be using the tester also may dictate which model is your best option.

If your need is for basic electrical testing and repairs around the home and garage, a basic model will suffice. The best multimeters for household use will display frequency, capacitance, resistance and continuity measurements in a large, backlit digital display. Additional measurement functions for recording temperatures and testing diodes also may available.

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A household multimeter is a handy device to have for testing things such as radios, flashlights and light switches. Batteries also can be tested with a multimeter. The energy emitted from a battery or electrical device can be measured in volts or ohms using a basic multimeter. Although analog multimeters are reliable for household use, digital multimeters are more common and easier to use.

If you are a professional who works with electricity on a daily basis, the best multimeter for you will be a specialty or advanced model. The most important measurement feature to look for may be true rms voltage readings. With a true rms multimeter, you get highly accurate and precise readings that ultimately help you detect abnormal signal patterns when troubleshooting. The alternative averaging multimeters can produce inaccurate results when the signal is altered in some way because of an electrical problem. Without true rms capabilities, electrical problems can go undetected by a multimeter.

There are a wide range of additional features, measurement functions and accessories available for professional-grade multimeters. Decibels, rotations per minute and microamps are considered advanced functions that only the most expensive, best multimeters may include. Test lead holders, ergonomic design and separate batteries may be optional features. Product warranties can range anywhere from one to three years or a lifetime.

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