Digital Multimeters (“DMM”, and sometimes referred to as Digital Volt Meters, DVM, even though they do much more) are an essential piece of equipment every homeowner should have in their tool box. These are required for anyone building / repairing any type of electronics or electrical appliances. We look at some best sellers (Crenova, Thsinde, AstroAI, Neiko) from under $20 down to $10 that will meet all your needs while not breaking the budget.
Crenova MS8233D Auto-Ranging Digital Multimeter (about $20) – the simplest to use, with all the features and functions you could want to home electrical testing or working with electronics. For anyone that is not really familiar with electricity, this Crenova takes all the guess work out of testing with the “Auto Ranging” features. Basically, this means you only have to select what you are measuring: AC Voltage, DC Voltage, AC Current, DC Current, Hertz, Resistance, Diode or Continuity.
Many lower priced Multimeters want the user to select the approximate value (2V, 20V, 200V, etc.) when testing. With the Auto Ranging, this step is removed, making it much simpler to use.
For example, many people will start out at the highest setting first (e.g., 20A when testing for DC current) and then step down through each of the options (2A, 2000mA, etc.) until they get a reading.
With Auto Ranging, you generally get a better reading when you would be at one of the dial steps on other Multimeters. For example, if you are measuring something around 20V DC, which is a typical switch point you’d have to decide between the 20V setting or the 200V setting on many devices. With Auto Ranging, this takes out the guess work, and also gives a better reading.
The Frequency (“Hertz”) test is something you generally don’t find on Multimeters under $20. You can measure up to 20 KHz, which is good for computer troubleshooting and working with many hobbyist electronic kits.
This also has the standard “Diode” and “Continuity” tests – you get a “beep” when there is a short / continuity. This is an essential measurement for any meter.
The LCD is easy to read, and has a back-light as well as hold features. Nice!
We like the non-slip rubber case, which is removable for easy washing (it’s amazing how much dirt and grease can get on one of these!). It has the grips to slide in the probes, which generally works better than just wrapping the wires around the case.
Another nice addition is the second set of “alligator” clip probes for latching onto whatever you are testing. Many meters only come with a single pair of the “point” probes.
The Crenova also has 2 replaceable fuses, in case you accidentally exceed any of the limits of the meter.
The final bonus is the included carry pouch to keep everything together.
For more information or ordering, use our Amazon link: Crenova MS8233D
Thsinde Auto Ranging Digital Multimeter (about $23) – okay, this doesn’t fit our under $20 price, but it you want to measure everything and the kitchen sink, we would be remiss for not including the Thsinde in our review.
Basically, you’ll get everything from the Crenova – the auto ranging features, extra alligator clips, back-light LCD, hold features, carrying case, etc.
For the extra couple dollars, Thsinde includes two additional measurements: Capacitance and Temperature.
For capacitance (“Farards”) you can measure from 60 nF to 6,000 uF with 3.5% to 5.0% accuracy. This is a great feature when working with electronics, circuit boards and hobby kits.
The temperature setting measures from a very chill 0 F (-20 C) up to a blistering 1,832 F (1,000 C), and is selectable for Fahrenheit or Celsius / Centigrade. This comes in handy with automotive, refrigeration, air conditioning and heating repairs.
If you are looking for an all-in-one type meter, order using our Amazon link: Thsinde Auto Ranging Digital Multimeter
AstroAI Digital Multimeter (about $12) – handles all the basic functions as a low price.
Measure AC voltages at either 200V or 500V, which is perfect for nearly all home and industrial uses.
Frankly, unless you are an electrician or very comfortable around high-voltage, you should never need to test anything that could be above 500V.
For DC voltages, the upper limit is again 500V; The steps start at 200 mV (0.2V) and increments at 2,000 mV (2V), 20V and 200V. The lowest setting is good for testing out most home electronics, and DIY kits (e.g., Arduino or Rasberry Pi).
Related – Designing with Low Power Arduino
The DC current / amperage measurements range from 0.2 mA (2000 uA) up to 10A, with steps for 20 mA and 200 mA. This is great for any sort of basic electronics testing and measurements. The 10A is just at the threshold for being usable for household appliances and outlets, but more than enough for testing USB charges (which usually output 1A to 2A).
Resistance (ohms) range from 200 to 200M in 10x increments, which covers the range of what you would expect to find across most applications.
The AsrtoAI also has the useful “Diode Test” feature as well as the “Continuity” Test. The latter is one of the most useful features of any DVM, allowing a quick test for “open” or “short”. You get a nice audible beep when the a short (or “continuity”) is detected, and you can test this by simple touching the leads to each other.
The two other features we like are the backlight on the easy-to-read LCD, and that it has a replaceable fuse.
Buy one today with our Amazon link: AstroAI Digital Multimeter
Neiko 40508 Digital Multimeter (about $7) – for under $10 you can get a full function Multimeter that’s great for all the basics.
The Neiko handles the standard AC and DC Voltage / Current, Resistance, Diode and Continuity.
We also like it has a test socket for bi-polar transistors (both NPN and PNP types), which we haven’t seen on the other low-price Multimeters. This is really just for the electronics hobbyists, power supplies and some radio rebuilding, but a great addition if you are working with transistors.
We like that for this low price, it’s a compact (4.1 x 1.2 x 5.2 in), easy to use DMM. The case is made of a rigid, high-impact plastic. It’s survived an (accidental) drop of a workbench to the concrete garage floor without breaking, so we’re happy about that.
This is perfect for anyone just starting out with exploring electronics and electricity, including middle-school, high-school and work-training / vocational programs.
If you are looking for a low-cost, entry level Digital Multimeter, order with our Amazon link: Neiko 40508 Digital Multimeter
Regardless of which of these inexpensive DMM you decide on, each would be a great additional to your home testing and hobby tools. These are all very consumer friendly, and easy to use without having to read through a long manual to figure out the features.