The Best Multimeters for HVAC Technicians [2019 Guide]

In the course of your work on HVAC systems, you’ll probably need to use an electronic tester, also known as a multimeter. A multimeter is a piece of electronic test equipment which is used to determine whether or not an electronic voltage is there, and is quite an essential tool for working with electronics.

It is a safe and accurate way to check for electrical current in electronic gadgets such as lamps and batteries, but can also be used for just about anything that runs on electricity like switches, outlets, and wires.

All electricians carry an electronic tester, and a lot of your work in HVAC requires electrical knowledge, so this is an important tool for you.

Quick Comparison of the Top Multimeters

PRODUCTDETAILS
gm2-table__image

Amprobe AM-510

  • It weighs 2 pounds
  • The best overall multimeter from our list
  • It is rated with a safety rating of CAT III 600V
View Latest Price
gm2-table__image

Fieldpiece HS36

  • It weighs about 1.35 pounds
  • It features the auto power off functionality
  • Runner up multimeter model from our list
View Latest Price
gm2-table__image

Crenova MS8233D

  • It weighs 11.4 ounces
  • The best for money multimeter from our list
  • The multimeter has an auto power off functionality
View Latest Price
gm2-table__image

Fluke 116 HVAC Multimeter

  • The best HVAC multimeter
  • It features an ergonomic design
  • It has a large backlit white LED screen
View Latest Price
gm2-table__image

Fieldpiece SC260

  • It is a true RMS multimeter
  • It has a hold button feature
  • The best clamp multimeter from Fieldpiece
View Latest Price
gm2-table__image

Extech EX330

  • It comes with a built-in thermometer
  • It has an impact resistant rubber casing
  • It measures multiple ranges including frequencies and capacitances
View Latest Price

What to Look For in a Multimeter

The multimeter is a versatile tool for diagnosing and troubleshooting all kinds of electrical appliances and wiring. You could use your multimeter to test batteries, test a broken extension cord, check household appliances, and check wall switches. It’s also called volt-ohm meter, or VOM for short.

The VOM can be a little intimidating to read when you are just starting out, but there are lots of benefits in learning to use the VOM, including the fact that it is a relatively affordable machine with many uses. Even so, it is relatively simple to use, as you just need to dial the function and scale, get the two test leads in contact with the appliance or wiring you want to check, and read meters.

There are some important concepts and vocabularies to know when you are learning VOM, which include:

  1. AC, or Alternating Current: This is the electrical current that changes direction at regular intervals, and is mainly used to power houses and power supplies.
  2. DC, or Direct Current: This is the electrical current that only flows in a single direction, and is found in automobiles and household batteries.
  3. Resistance: The less resistance electricity has, the easier the electrical current flows through an object, and results in lower reading.
  4. Ohm: the unit for measuring resistance.
  5. Open circuit: An open circuit means that there is high resistance because there is no complete circuit path. No current is going to flow through.
  6. Closed circuit: A closed circuit means there is low resistance because there is a complete circuit path.
  7. Continuity testing: A common use for VOM, which determines whether a circuit is closed or open in a device or appliance.
  8. Infinity: This appears, as 0.L. on a digital multimeter, and means an open circuit exists.
  9. Zero: This appears as 0.00 on a digital multimeter, and means a closed circuit exists.

Analog vs. Digital Multimeters

Before we talk about the best multimeters out there, let’s talk about the difference between analog and digital multimeters. Analog variations have a scale and a needle that tells the result, and features manual settings on the function switch. It may be difficult to interpret, as the readings sometimes need to be multiplied by 100 for a final result.

Digital multimeters have replaced analog multimeters for the most part, as they are easier to read and use. They not only have LCD screens and do continuity testing, but also feature overload protection and auto-ranging.

Quick Take: Top Multimeters

These are our recommendations for the top multimeters:

  1. Amprobe AM-510 
  2. Fieldpiece HS36 
  3. Crenova MS8233D

Our Multimeter Reviews

Your needs will help determine which multimeter is best for you. But to help you make an informed decision, we've reviewed some of the top models. The information we've compiled will help you choose among the many options out there.

Now that you have the most important questions answered about multimeters, let's take a look at detailed reviews of 6 of the best and outperforming multimeters. Each multimeter is the best in a specific category, and we have reviewed them thoroughly so you can decide which one you need for yourself.

Best Overall:
Amprobe AM-510

Amprobe AM-510 Commercial/Residential Multimeter with Non-Contact Voltage Detection

PROS

  • It shuts off automatically after inactivity.
  • It provides accurate and reliable readings.
  • It has a sturdy, rubber case that protects the multimeter.
  • It has an LED flashlight option for better convenience in darker places.
  • It has a large, well-spaced backlit LCD screen for an easy-to-read display.
  • The multimeter is appropriate for residential use and beginners as well.
  • It has a category III 600 V safety rating ensuring that it's reliable and safe to use.

CONS

  • Its voltage detector has a limited range.
  • It is not appropriate for heavy commercial use.
  • The backlight of the LED screen is for a temporary time.

Our Review

The Amprobe multimeter is a robust and efficient multimeter that can be used for both residential as well as commercial purposes. It is a digital multimeter, which means that it will display its test results in digital format on an LED screen. This feature ensures that it is easy and quick to understand even for beginners or non-professionals.

It's highly versatile with features like the ability to measure alternating currents from AC to DC, it can measure resistance up to 40 ohms and is also capable of testing microcurrent to 4000 microamps. Moreover, the instrument is also compact and easy to handle, as it only weighs 2 pounds.

If you're looking for the best multimeter to use at home, then you need to ensure that it's also safe. For this reason, the Amprobe is a good choice, since it comes with advanced safety technology like the non-contact voltage detection system.

The multimeter comes with a user manual for ease for beginners, test leads, and one 9V (6F22) battery.

Bottom Line

Overall, this multimeter is a great choice if you want an all-in-one product. It provides accurate readings, works efficiently, has a durable rubber case, and is also digital, which makes it beginner friendly.

Runner-up:
Fieldpiece HS36

Fieldpiece HS36 Expandable Autoranging True RMS Stick Multimeter w/Backlight

PROS

  • It has an efficient magnetic hanger for ease of use.
  •  Its long and thin, ergonomic shape fits the hand well.
  • It has a vibrant backlit display screen with a bar graph too.
  • It has a max/min feature that lets you pick high and low signals.

CONS

  • No tilting bail

Our Review

This is a true RMS multimeter, which already makes it a great choice. The multimeter weighs 1.35 pounds, which means that it is highly compact and easy to handle. It has a bright, vibrant and unique yellow colored look, with a backlit LED screen. What's even more impressive about this multimeter is its in-built magnetic hangers that allow you to test an appliance without having to hold it yourself.

The multimeter is protected with a sturdy ABS case. It has an ergonomic shape; therefore, it fits conveniently in your hand without causing any troubles with the handling. This makes the product extremely suitable and friendly for commercial use and for professionals.

This highly accurate and auto-ranging multimeter also features the non-contact voltage technology, that further adds on to its safety and reliability. The instrument also has the auto power off feature that ensures that its battery power is efficiently used, and doesn't go to waste when not in use.

This True RMS stick multimeter is Fieldpiece's one of the best and most successful multimeters. It has built-in lead storage and the capacity of measuring temperatures to 1000 degrees. It comes with silicones leads, meter case, user manual, and 9V batteries included.

Bottom Line

This is one of Fieldpiece's best products, and its features also tell us that it's the best choice for more professional and heavy commercial use. However, its wide-ranging professional features may be of little importance and use for residential use so you may not want to buy this if you are planning to use it at home.

Best Budget:
Crenova MS8233D

PROS

  • It comes with a carry bag.
  • It has a sleek and attractive design.
  • It is highly comfortable and convenient with its foldable stand.
  • It has a backlit LCD screen that will be easy to read in darker places.
  • It is equipped with built-in double fuse protection that prevents overload.

CONS

  • Not good for heavy commercial use.

Our Review

If you are on a tight budget but want the best multimeter that will meet all your needs with the most efficient and wide-ranging features, then this one is for you. The Crenova MS8233D model measures continuity, frequency, diode, voltage, and resistance too! Moreover, it also features the auto-ranging functionality that allows you to select the accurate measurement range.

It also has a very sleek and understandable design. It has a black body with highly visible and clear markings and labeling. It is a digital multimeter and has a backlit LCD screen with a spacious display of numbers. It weighs 11.4 ounces. Another most distinctive feature of this budget-friendly yet versatile multimeter is that if features a hold functionality, which you can use to hold and lock the test results, so you have the time to note them down without losing it.

It also features a foldable stand, so that you can easily place it anywhere and do your work comfortably.

This impressive multimeter also comes with a lot of impressive items in the box. It comes with test leads, a carry bag, alligator clips, and a 9V battery too.

Bottom Line

Perhaps this multimeter is one of the most versatile multimeters in the market that come at a reasonable price with highly effective features and functions. This is a highly recommended multimeter for home and residential uses.

Fluke 116 HVAC Multimeter

PROS

  • It has a safety ranking of CAT III 600V.
  • It has a separate battery compartment.
  • It has a  built in thermostat for HVAC appliances.
  • It is highly compact, ergonomic and easy to handle.
  • You can choose between either automatic or manual ranging options.
  • It measures a wide variety of ranges including resistance and capacitances.

CONS

  • It has a poor display quality.
  •  It has a manual hold function only.
  • Its automatic ranging feature is slow and inefficient.

Our Review

The Fluke 116 multimeter is specifically designed to meet the needs of HVAC technicians and purposes. So if you're looking for a budget-friendly, yet highly popular and outperforming  HVAC multimeter, then this is the right one.

The most distinctive part of the multimeter is its unique ergonomic design that ensures comfort while using the instrument. It also only weighs about 1.6 pounds, which makes it very compact, lightweight, and easy to handle. It also features a white, large backlit LED screen that ensures that it has easy to read and easy to view readings and test results. It is also compatible with a magnetic handle that can further make it easier to carry and use.

The multimeter is also has a built-in thermostat to use with HVAC appliances. It is also equipped with the low impedance input that prevents and decreases the risk of false readings.

The Fluke 116 measures voltage, resistance, frequency, continuity, and capacitances all together. It has a safety ranking of Category III 600V, which ensures that the instrument is reliable and safe even to be sued at homes or commercially.

Bottom Line

Overall, Fluke is known for creating some of the best and most outperforming multimeters. This is the best HVAC multimeter you will find on the market, whether for residential or commercial use. It has every basic to advanced feature such as low impedance feature to prevent false readings and a white huge backlit display.

Best Clamp Multimeter:
Fieldpiece SC260

Fieldpiece SC260 Clamp Multimeter With True Rms

PROS

  • It can allow you to go hands-free.
  • It has a backlit display for easy use.
  • It measures a wide variety of quantities.
  • It is highly accurate even in extreme temperatures.
  • Its user-friendly low battery indicator can be of great help.
  • It has a strong and sturdy built that makes the product last you a long time.

CONS

  • It is  not beginner friendly as it does not come with a clear instructional manual.

Our Review

The Fieldpiece SC260 is the best quality product for HVACR and automotive purposes. The product weighs 1.08 pounds and has a compact design, with its tall and thin structure, it will fit perfectly in a professional's hand and will ensure comfort.

Moreover, this fieldpiece clamp multimeter is packed with versatile features such as its ability to measure temperatures in both F and C. it is also a True RMS multimeter that further ensures its reliability and accuracy.

You also don't have to struggle a lot with this multimeter, and as a beginner, you will find it extremely easy to use due to its automatic select mode. It is also equipped with the backlit digital display for further convenience.

If you want a hands-free measuring experience, this multimeter also has that. It has a durable swivel base that allows you to use it without having to touch it. The multimeter measures AC/DC, voltage, resistance, capacitance, and ampere as well.

In terms of safety and security, this multimeter is exceptional with its alarm and indicator functionality that goes off when there is a high voltage. It also has a low battery indicator to warn you beforehand. 

Bottom Line

To sum it up, this is one of Fieldpiece's best multimeters that have all the essential to extra features that you could ask for. It is a great option for professional or commercial use; however, for residential use, it may be too much. It has a strong and sturdy built which will meet the needs of a commercial environment.

Extech EX330 Autoranging Mini Multimeter with NCV and Type K Temperature

PROS

  • It has a strong and durable built.
  • It features a low battery indicator.
  • It has a large and vibrant backlit screen.
  • It comes with 2 AA batteries and a user manual for ease of use.
  • Its impact-resistant rubber case ensures convenience while using.
  • It features the auto range detector for ease of use even for beginners.

CONS

  • It auto range functionality is sluggish.

Our Review

To troubleshoot all your electric problems, the Extech EX330 dual digital multimeter is the answer. The multimeter is compact sized and weighs just 1.1 pounds. It has a sleek, all black and orange design that is as efficient as good it looks.

It has a built-in non-contact AC voltage detector that ensures safety and quality performance at the same time. The multimeter also features a large backlit LCD display that displays 1-inch sized digits that are easy to view and read. You can also conveniently and quickly select the right measurement range with the help of its auto range functionality.

Moreover, it's a suitable multimeter for professionals considering is features like the hold down button. This can help to save both time and effort and simply record down the readings by holding it down on the screen.

This excellent quality and highly versatile multimeter also features the auto power off function, that prevents battery and power wastage in time of inactivity.

Bottom Line

Overall, the Extech multimeter is a great option for both professionals, commercial use, beginners, and residential use both. It has highly advanced features as well as basic features that are extremely easy to use. It also comes with a detailed user manual so it shouldn't be difficult to use.

Conclusion

An electric tester, or a multimeter, is a versatile tool for troubleshooting any kind of issue related to electricity. It’s a must-have for an electrician or an HVAC professional, and requires minimal training to use.

 If you are looking into getting your own multimeter, we hope this article has been helpful in finding the best option for your purpose. Please remember to always take safety measures and precautions no matter which one you choose.

People Also Ask

Multimeters can be tricky if you do not have much prior experience with them. Therefore, to clear out any general questions and queries regarding Multimeters, we have answered some frequently asked questions. The questions will help you understand and clarify basic, yet important features of Multimeters so you can wisely choose the best option.

What is a Multimeter?

Also termed as multitesters and VOMs, multimeters are electronic instruments that are used to measure several measuring units. These measuring units commonly include Voltage, Resistance, and current. It is a handheld instrument that comes in the choices of either digital or analog. Digital Multimeters display the value in digits, displayed on an LCD screen usually. Meanwhile, analog multimeters use a macro ammeter and move a needle across a scale gradually to give a value.

How to Use a Multimeter

Analog and digital multimeters have the same functionality and are operated the same way at the most basic level. The device has a red and a black lead, with three ports. You have to plug the black lead in the COM or the common port, and the red lead will go in one of the two remaining ports. To begin, you need to ensure that the circuit you are testing does not have a higher voltage than the multimeter's capacity.

You need to use the selector or the knob in the middle to select how you want to use the multimeter. If you want to test a direct circuit or DC, then you will need to select the DC option at a certain voltage.

How to Read a Multimeter

Reading a Multimeter can be really complicated, especially if you are a beginner. First of all, there are some units and values on the Multimeters that you need to understand. "V" on the knob or the selector area stands for voltage, and the values around it are the values of the voltage of the circuit you want to test.

If you want to measure current, then you need to select the option A, which is the unit for amperes. To measure and select current on the multimeter, you need to find the omega symbol: Ω, which is again an SI unit for resistance.

For beginners, digital testers are better because they give a definite value as a result. However, for analog testers, you will need to carefully read the scale and see where the needle is pointing at. The scale for resistance is logarithmic. The resistance reading on the scale needs to be multiplied by 100 in order to give you the actual resistance value.

What is the Difference between Fluke 115 and 117?

Fluke is considered to be the top and the leading multimeter brands in the market. Fluke 115 and 117 are its best RMS digital multimeters that often gets customers confused as to which one is better. However, their key features are more or less the same. The biggest difference between the two is that 117 has an automatic AC/DC selection feature, while 115 does not. The 117 is also relatively advance because of its low input impedance feature that prevents false readings. This feature is also not present in the 115 model. Fluke 117 is a more professional digital multimeter that has more advanced and technical features. 115 is a better option for beginners or common use.

Leave a Comment