The Best Multimeters for Electricians

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Imagine you’re flying down the freeway and you pass a state trooper. What is your first instinct? Most likely to look down at your speedometer to see how fast you’re going.

If you didn’t have an instrument panel, it would be impossible to measure speed. The same is true for measuring current, voltage, and amps, which are things we can’t see. We need a multimeter to measure these things.

Since a multimeter is essential to an electrician (and nice for DIY homeowners), we’ve reviewed the best multimeters for electricians in this guide to help you choose the right one.

Our Top 5 – Best Multimeters for Electricians

1. Top Pick – Klein Tools CL800 Digital Clamp Meter

2. Best Budget – Klein Tools CL380 Digital Clamp Meter

3. Runner-Up – Fluke 323 True-RMS Clamp Meter

4. Runner-Up 2 – Ideal 61-746 Digital Clamp Meter

5. Best Upgrade Pick – Fluke 117 Electrician’s True RMS Multimeter


I highly encourage electricians to get a multimeter that can measure 600 volts. That should cover everything you’ll run into on the job site.

We’ve reviewed the best in the industry and the Klein Tools CL800 Digital Clamp Meter was our personal favorite. But every multimeter in this article is a great option.

We made sure to consider reviews from other professional electricians along with the technical specifications of each item. So without further ado, we present to you the best multimeters for electricians.


Top Pick for Electrician’s Multimeter

Klein Tools CL800 Electrical Tester, Digital Clamp Meter

Quick Look

Pros

  • Class 2 — double insulated — safety rating.
  • Safety-rated for CAT III/CAT IV applications.
  • Automatic ranging for quick, easy analysis.
  • Low Z — low impedance — mode for more accuracy around ghost voltages.
  • Durable; built to survive a 2-meter drop.

Cons

  • Expensive clamp meter model.
  • Thermocouple probe readings aren’t accurate — variations of 7 degrees or more.

Top Features

Klein Tools makes several high-quality electricians’ tools, and this CL800 Digital Clamp Meter and Probe Tester is at the top of our list for a reason.

Like most of the multimeters in this article, the Klein CL800 is a clamp meter, which is the standard now for safely measuring current. The test leads with this device will measure everything else you might want to know, including AC frequency and testing diode functionality. This model also comes with a thermocouple probe for measuring temperature.

The factor that sets the Klein CL800 above the rest is its advanced safety features, which also justifies the higher price tag on the multimeter. The CL800 is rated for testing CAT III — up to 1000V surges — and CAT IV — up to 600V surges — applications, which we go into more depth later in this article. Many other multimeters are only rated for CAT II tests, performed inside your home or around your vehicle.

The Klein CL800 also has a Class 2, double-insulated safety rating. This means that the device has two layers of insulation protecting you from electrocution. With this, the device doesn’t require a ground connection for safe operation.

This multimeter takes TRMS measurements, which are more accurate than the alternative. When taking voltage measurements, the Klein CL800 also has a low impedance — Low Z — setting that ignores ghost voltages. This feature makes the device both more accurate and safer for use.

It’s also quite durable and able to withstand drops from the tops of ladders, or wherever else you might be working around your home or car.

The only complaint that consumers and electricians have made about this multimeter is the fluctuation and inaccuracy of the thermocouple. Some users reported errors of 7–8 degrees Fahrenheit. 

The CL800 is a solid choice for one of the best multimeters for electricians; its price might be a little high, but its safety and durability are worth the cost.

Specifications

  • Analysis Method: True Root Mean Squared (TRMS).
  • Current Measurement: Clamp (AC/DC, automatic ranging).
  • Non-contact voltage detection: No.
  • Low Z Voltage Setting: Yes.
  • Test Leads: AC/DC voltage (automatic ranging), resistance, continuity, frequency, capacitance and diodes.
  • Temperature Thermocouple: Yes.
  • Safety: 600V CAT IV/1000V CAT III.

Best Budget Clamp Multimeter

Klein Tools CL380 AC/DC Digital Clamp Meter

Quick Look

Pros

  • TRMS measurements.
  • Automatic ranging for quick, easy analysis.
  • Can measure DC microamps.
  • Non-contact voltage tester for additional safety.
  • Type K thermocouple for temperature measurements.

Cons

  • Not rated for CAT III/CAT IV measurements.
  • LCD is hard to read in direct sunlight.

Top Features

This second device from Klein tools is a budget option; more affordable but lacking a few of the safety features of the CL800. 

The CL380 doesn’t have a CAT III or CAT IV safety rating, which means that you should only use this particular multimeter inside the house and around your car.

We aren’t kicking it out of bed just yet, though. It’s still a solid clamp meter with automatic ranging. You can measure currents up to 400 amps with this multimeter, AC or DC. In addition, the TRMS measurements give you the additional accuracy that you want, better than the root mean squared alternative measurements. 

Of note is that if you need to measure small electronic circuits, the probes can measure DC currents as little as microamps.

By now, you know that a clamp meter is for safe, non-contact measurements of current. The CL380 clamp meter has an additional feature: non-contact detection of voltage. The same clamp can be used — without exposing wires or making contact — to discover if a wire is “hot,” i.e. if it has a potentially dangerous voltage potential. This is a valuable, perhaps even life-saving, feature.

Some outdoor users reported that the reverse contrast LCD is hard to read in direct sunlight, so watch out for that and use those sunnies if needed!

All in all, this is one of the best multimeters for electricians working indoors or in a garage. Despite being a step down from the CL800 in terms of quality and safety, the Klein CL380 is a great economical option for electricians working on their own home and mechanics who like to work on their cars.

Specifications

  • Analysis Method: True Root Mean Squared (TRMS).
  • Current Measurement: Clamp (AC/DC, automatic ranging).
  • Non-contact voltage detection: Yes.
  • Low Z Voltage Setting: No.
  • Test Leads: AC/DC voltage (automatic ranging), DC microamp current, resistance, continuity, frequency, duty cycle, capacitance and diodes.
  • Temperature Thermocouple: Yes.
  • Safety: No CAT IV/CAT III specifications.

Best Multimeter for Electricians – RunnerUp

Fluke 323 True-RMS Clamp Meter

Quick Look

Pros

  • TRMS measurements for non-linear loads.
  • Automatic ranging for quick, easy analysis.
  • Audible continuity detection.
  • Extremely compact and convenient handheld size.
  • Meets IEC safety standards.
  • Rated for 300 volt CAT IV measurements, 600 volt CAT III measurements.

Cons

  • Does not measure direct current.
  • No thermocouple.

Top Features

Fluke is another great brand name that’s nearly synonymous with the best multimeters for electricians in the industry.

The first Fluke tool on our list is a budget model, stripped down for the convenience of a homeowner or amateur user. Its lightweight and convenient size make it an easy handheld measuring device for many issues that can pop up around the house.

Just like our other featured products, the Fluke 323 measures AC, AC/DC voltage, and resistance. However, it doesn’t measure DC, which means that it isn’t suitable for testing any battery-powered devices or any electronics in your car, which run off of a 12-volt car battery.

The Fluke 323 is a perfect tool for first-time multimeter buyers, even without any training or foreknowledge since it’s a clamp meter with automatic ranging. It even measures using the TRMS method for full accuracy.

It’s also rated for CAT III and CAT IV measurements. Now, we would never recommend that you test these kinds of measurements without the proper training, but it’s nice to know that you have a tool that can safely perform in those situations when needed. This device also meets the safety standards of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).

Other devices mentioned in this article are much more versatile, though. You might expect a multimeter to be able to test capacitance, diode functionality, or make temperature measurements, but really, the best multimeters for electricians should test current, voltage, and resistance, and the Fluke 323 does this safely and simply.

Specifications

  • Analysis Method: True Root Mean Squared (TRMS).
  • Current Measurement: Clamp (up to 400 amps, AC only, automatic ranging).
  • Non-contact voltage detection: No.
  • Low Z Voltage Setting: No.
  • Test Leads: AC/DC voltage (up to 600 volts, automatic ranging), resistance (up to 4 kiloohms), and continuity.
  • Temperature Thermocouple: No.
  • Safety: 300V CAT IV/600V CAT III.

Best Multimeter for Electricians – RunnerUp 2

Ideal 61-746 Digital Clamp Meter

Quick Look

Pros

  • TRMS measurements for linear or non-linear loads.
  • Automatic ranging for quick, easy analysis.
  • Audible continuity detection.
  • Non-contact voltage indicator.
  • Rated for 600 volt CAT III measurements.

Cons

  • Doesn’t measure direct current.
  • Not rated for CAT IV measurements.

Top Features

The Ideal 61-746 clamp meter is a slightly cheaper alternative to the Fluke 323 and lacks a little of the safety and versatility of the Fluke competition, but drops the price to entice new homeowners and amateur electricians. Because of the value, it offers, it’s one of the best multimeters for electricians.

It’s still an automatic ranging clamp meter with TRMS measurements, so if you’re a beginner to electrical home-improvements, you’ll be able to pick this device up and use it quickly. The digital LCD will give you unambiguous, easy-to-read results for your measurements and analysis.

This clamp meter also has non-contact voltage detection, which is a great safety improvement over the Fluke 323 since you won’t need to expose any wires to determine if they’re hot. The audible continuity beep is another great feature for quickly determining if a circuit is working.

But also like the Fluke 323, the Ideal 61-746 doesn’t measure direct current, so it won’t be very helpful around your car, truck, or RV. This meter is best used indoors around AC outlets.

It’s rated for CAT III measurements, which means you can take it out to your electrical mains if you think your problems are out there. Also, the primary feeders and branch circuits to your home are some possible locations that this multimeter is good for testing.

You don’t get a thermocouple with the Ideal 61-746, but you can still measure the basics: current, voltage, and resistance. For more complicated measurements or troubleshooting, you’ll probably have to contact a licensed electrician.

Specifications

  • Analysis Method: True Root Mean Squared (TRMS).
  • Current Measurement: Clamp (up to 600 amps, AC only, automatic ranging).
  • Non-contact voltage detection: Yes.
  • Low Z Voltage Setting: No.
  • Test Leads: AC/DC voltage (up to 600 volts, automatic ranging), resistance (up to 40 ohms), and continuity.
  • Temperature Thermocouple: No.
  • Safety: 600V CAT III.

Multimeter Upgrade Pick

Fluke 117 Electricians True RMS Multimeter

Quick Look

Pros

  • TRMS measurements.
  • Automatic ranging.
  • Minimum, maximum, and average readings.
  • Compact, ergonomic one-handed design.
  • Super accurate measurement resolution.
  • Rated for 600 volt CAT III measurements.

Cons

  • Not a clamp meter.
  • No thermocouple.

Top Features

We saved the most advanced Fluke multimeter for last in this article. Surprise: it’s not a clamp meter, but we’re certain that you’ll see the amazing advantages that this multimeter offers.

Despite not having a clamp to measure current, the Fluke 117 is the most capable multimeter for electricians we’ve reviewed. You can use this device to measure the standard voltage, current, and resistance. You can also use it to measure capacitance, frequency, and continuity, and even test diodes. Also, it features safe, non-contact voltage detection.

The Fluke 117 has a level of accuracy that’s simply unmatched. Of course, it makes measurements with TRMS accuracy, and its AutoVolt selection can automatically detect alternating or direct current voltages. 

It also has a low impedance mode when measuring voltage to eliminate ghost voltages. Its voltage readings are the most accurate of all the multimeters in this review, providing readings down to the millivolt.

It’s also surprisingly user-friendly and versatile for such an advanced piece of equipment. The LCD has a bright backlight that makes the screen visible absolutely anywhere you want to use it. It can also measure minimum, maximum, and average values for any electrical values you’re measuring, which is much more useful than instantaneous measurements.

It’s safety rated for CAT III measurements up to 600 volts, and surge protection up to 6 kilovolts to meet the standards of International Electrotechnical Commission regulations (IEC 61010–1). And, like the other Fluke 323, it’s ergonomically and compactly designed for one-handed use.

Let’s be clear about what it’s not for – CAT IV measurements. Also, it has no thermocouple for temperature measurements. But, for all of the other accurate and safe measurements you need around the house or in your vehicle, the Fluke 117 is perhaps the best multimeter for electricians on the market.

Specifications

  • Analysis Method: True Root Mean Squared (TRMS).
  • Current Measurement: Probes (10 amps, automatic ranging).
  • Non-contact voltage detection: Yes.
  • Low Z Voltage Setting: Yes.
  • Test Leads: AC/DC voltage (600 millivolts to 600 volts, automatic ranging), resistance (up to 40 megaohms), capacitance (up to 10,000 microfarads), frequency, diode functionality, and continuity.
  • Temperature Thermocouple: No.
  • Safety: 600V CAT III.

Buying Guide: What to Look For in the Best Multimeters for Electricians 

No matter where you look for a multimeter online, their specifications might look needlessly technical and advanced. 

In this section, we clear up the differences between various types of multimeters to make it easy for you to make your choice. Don’t rush through this section like you would your breakfast; take it slow and absorb the info!

In addition, we’ve compiled a tutorial for your convenience that covers all the basics of how to use and read a multimeter. Check it out!

Safety

Whenever you’re working with electricity, your safety should be the top priority. Not only your safety, but some multimeters have insulation to protect the device. Your multimeter is an investment in your electrician career, and you don’t want to replace it from frequent electrocution or power surges.

Electrical Measurement Categories

Depending on the ways that you plan to use your multimeter, you might need a multimeter capable of handling higher voltages and currents. The different situations that you might find yourself using a multimeter have been labeled as Electrical Measurement Categories, or CATs.

  • CAT I measurements: Performed on the smallest circuits and components, separated from the electrical mains.
  • CAT II circuits: Connected to low-voltage mains, like lighting equipment and home appliances.
  • CAT III measurements: Performed on distribution circuits, like primary feeders and branch circuits. They’re protected from CAT IV high-voltage sources by at least one step-down transformer.
  • CAT IV measurements: These are the most dangerous and are made on primary supply sources — either 120 volts or 240 volts. Some examples of CAT IV measurements are exterior transformers or isolated power mains.

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LTGs6GXB8io

Keep in mind that the higher measurement categories usually have much higher currents. For this reason, you need to consider your multimeter’s safety rating in the higher CAT levels. A multimeter with a safety rating of 1,000 volts in CAT II may not actually be as safe as one with a rating of 600 volts in CAT III or CAT IV.

Because of the various transformers, ground connections, circuit interrupters, and insulators involved in your home wiring, CAT I and CAT II measurements are much safer. You’ll rarely need these extremely high levels of surge protection for CAT I and CAT II. 

However, your CAT III and CAT IV protection levels are much more important for your safety. The Klein Tools CL800 Digital Clamp Meter has the highest CAT III/CAT IV safety ratings of all the multimeters in this review.

Class 1 and Class 2 Appliances

Class 1 appliances have one basic layer of insulation, so they also require a grounding connection.

Class 2 appliances have two layers of insulation, which is why they’re also called double insulated appliances. Because of this additional insulation, they don’t necessarily need a grounding connection. You can easily identify double insulated appliances because the best multimeters for electricians will have a double box symbol on the casing.

Accurate Measurement

As your most important diagnostic tool, make sure you choose a multimeter that gives you accurate, easy-to-read measurements. The best multimeters for electricians will have digital displays and TRMS measurements.

Digital vs. Analog Meters

All of the multimeters we’ve reviewed have digital displays. Digital displays are the new standard because they’re easier to read and generally more accurate. Digital displays will also show the correct units for your measurement, whether you measure volts, amps, or ohms.

Analog meters have a fixed display that shows multiple units and ranges. It can be difficult to know which range to read when taking measurements, which are marked with a needle that sweeps across the range.

Analog meters can have one advantage, however, when trying to measure wildly fluctuating values. A digital meter, in this situation, will show different values, and it can be difficult to take an average reading. An analog needle will waver along the scale in this situation, and a careful observer can estimate the average value.

The best solution that combines the accuracy of a digital meter and the readability of fluctuating values in analog meters is a digital multimeter that takes average measurements. The Fluke 117 is the only multimeter we’ve reviewed that has measurement averaging.

Root Mean Squared vs. True Root Mean Squared

Measuring alternating current — AC — is much more difficult than measuring direct current — DC. For one thing, AC cycles many times each second between positive and negative current. This cycle usually resembles a smooth, continuous wave. 

Traditionally, multimeters measured the average value by taking the peak value and multiplying it by a reduction factor to get a solid average. For currents that precisely match a sine wave, this factor is an adequate estimate. This method is called the root mean squared, or RMS measurement.

However, modern multimeters can be much more accurate by using the true root mean squared (TRMS) method. These multimeters take instantaneous measurements during the AC cycle and averaging them in a complicated geometric mean process. 

While the specific mathematical equation isn’t necessary to understand, it’s good to know that TRMS measurements are the most accurate. The Klein Tools CL800 Digital Clamp Meter is an excellent model for TRMS measurements.

Low Impedance vs. High Impedance

Measuring voltage accurately can be notoriously tricky, because “ghost voltages” can corrupt the measurement. Ghost voltages are created by induction from other nearby power sources, such as fluorescent light ballasts or magnetic fields.

Not only will ghost voltages affect a measurement and introduce inaccuracies, but they can also create false-positive readings when measuring for live wires. A circuit or wire that isn’t carrying any current might erroneously show a voltage reading, which would be unsafe to work with.

A low impedance — Low-Z — multimeter doesn’t pick up these ghost voltages, which makes the reading more accurate and trustworthy. Pick the Fluke 117 for the best Low-Z measurements.

Clamp Meters

The most common measurement that you’ll have to make is for current. Measuring current is the quickest way to diagnose most problems, or to determine if a wire or circuit is safe to work with.

Clamp meters are the new standard for multimeters, and they provide a very quick and convenient way to measure current. By encircling a wire with a hinged induction clamp, they can measure the net current through magnetic induction without requiring any exposed wires.

Even though non-clamping multimeters are more accurate and can measure smaller amounts of current, we still consider clamp-ons to be more popular, especially since they’re faster at measuring current.

The clamping feature on your meter can quickly determine if a wire is carrying current, and they’re also extremely safe to use since you don’t need to expose any wires. However, the clamp is only for current. You still need to use the probe leads for nearly every other measurement, like voltage and resistance.

The probes on your multimeter may also give you a more accurate measurement. For most applications, however, the clamp current measurement is sufficient.

The hinged induction clamp doesn’t solve all of the dangers of electrical work, but it solves a major one. It’s a great safety improvement over the standard probe clamps.

The Fluke 117 Electrician’s True RMS Multimeter is the only non-clamp multimeter in this article.

Automatic Ranging Meters

If you’ve used a multimeter without automatic ranging, you’ll remember the procedure: always start the testing at the highest range, and slowly work your way down until you get an accurate measurement. It doesn’t impede electrical work, but forgetting to do this can end up damaging the internal circuits in your multimeter.

Newer multimeter models have automatic ranging, which means you can forgo the incremental range settings when you’re testing current, voltage, or resistance. Your multimeter can find the correct range for testing on its own, without risking the circuitry to the chance of overloading or burning out.

No matter what kind of multimeter you choose, you should be careful to select one with a useful range for all measurements. Your multimeter should be able to test voltages up to 600 volts, alternating currents up to 400 amps, but also direct currents as low as a few microamps.

A good automatic ranging multimeter will cost more but adds value by eliminating the risks of destroying your equipment. A mistake with an older multimeter will lead to a replacement, so get an automatic ranging multimeter, such as the Klein Tools CL800 Digital Clamp Meter, for the safest option and best value.

Additional Measurements

Any good multimeter will measure current, voltage, and resistance. A truly versatile multimeter will also measure alternating current frequency, which is measured in hertz — Hz. The Fluke 117 offers the most measurement capabilities among the multimeters we’ve reviewed.

Continuity/Diode Functionality

Some multimeters will also use a very small current to test continuity in a circuit. This is helpful if you believe a fuse has blown. These multimeters also usually can test diode functionality. 

A convenient feature on some multimeters is a tone that sounds when the meter detects circuit continuity. Similarly, some multimeters have a non-contact voltage tester to find live wires, without the need to expose them for the probes.

Capacitance

Capacitance is another quality that you may need to measure with your multimeter. Some electrical devices store an electrical charge in a component called a capacitor. The ability to hold this charge is called capacitance and is measured in a unit called farads. Since many electronics have capacitors, check for this setting before buying a new multimeter.

Temperature

Also, it never hurts to have an electrical way to measure temperature. Many electrical applications are also sensitive to temperatures or need to regulate temperatures. 

Modern multimeters often come with a thermocouple attachment to measure temperature so that you won’t need to carry around a liquid thermometer. Thermocouples are also more versatile for measuring temperature than standard thermometers, although they might not be as accurate.

Conclusion

Our ultimate recommendation for the best multimeters for electricians has to be the Klein Tools CL800 Digital Clamp Meter. It’s reasonably priced, easy to use, and, above all, safe for beginners. It’s also versatile and will measure anything that you need it to measure. It’s a great diagnostic tool, suitable for work around the house or even in your garage.

If you want to spend a little extra for truly superb accuracy, you can always go with the Fluke 117 Electrician’s True RMS Multimeter.

On the other hand, if you want something cheap and easy for beginners, go with the Fluke 323 True-RMS Clamp Meter.

All of these products have good reasons to be called the best multimeters for electricians, and we’re sure you’ll be happy with any of these choices.

We hope you learned something about multimeters in this article, and that you now feel confident to choose one for your personal or professional use. Please share this page with your electrician friends, and feel free to comment on your experience and personal preferences below!

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