10 Best Multimeters under $50 of 2021 – Top Picks & Reviews
We often hear the old saying “you get what you pay for.” Many times, it does seem to hold true. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t get quality products at affordable prices.
Take multimeters for example. Some multimeters from top manufacturers can cost several hundred dollars. These are undoubtedly great tools, but we know from personal experience that you can get exceptional multimeters for a fraction of this price.
Luckily, you don’t have to just take our word for it. You can check out the following 10 multimeters under $50 for yourself. But if you want to save some time, we’ve already gathered all the important information for you in these reviews. Hopefully, they will streamline your purchasing process, helping you to find the best affordable multimeter without investing too much time.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
|Best Overall||AstroAI WH5000A Digital Multimeter||
|Best Value||Etekcity MSR-R500 Digital Multimeter||
|Crenova MS8233D Auto-Ranging Digital Multimeter||
|Neoteck NTK017-US Auto-Ranging Digital Multimeter||
|Klein Tools MM400 Multimeter||
The 10 Best Multimeters Under $50 – Reviews 2021
1. AstroAI WH5000A Digital Multimeter – Best Overall
When it comes to affordable multimeters, we think the best is the AstroAI WH5000A. It’s completely digital for easy readouts, and with a 6,000-count display, it can provide measurements up to 5,999. Since it’s auto-ranging, you don’t have to know what range you’re measuring in ahead of time. Just set the measurement you want to get and touch your leads to what you’re testing; the multimeter will do the rest.
For improved safety, this multimeter is equipped with explosion-proof ceramic fuses. It’s also safety rated up to CAT III 600V and CAT II 1,000V, so it’s great for professionals looking for an affordable alternative to overpriced multimeters with the same functions.
If you’re worried about longevity, this multimeter offers a 3-year warranty. It measures up to 16 megahertz, or MHz, which is much higher than most multimeters at this price. On the downside, there’s a loud beep every time you push a button with no way to disable it. But considering the other features you get for the price, we can overlook the beeps.
2. Etekcity MSR-R500 Digital Multimeter – Best Value
The Etekcity MSR-R500 Digital Multimeter is so affordable that we honestly didn’t expect it to perform well at all. We were pleasantly surprised though, as this multimeter turned out to offer the best value overall, despite the cheap price.
The screen is brightly lit, making it easy to see in darker areas. It’s even got a data hold button that allows you to store a reading for quick return, which was sorely missing from many multimeters that cost twice as much.
Unfortunately, you won’t be able to test AC current with this multimeter. It’s also not auto-ranging, so you’ll have to figure out what range your testing is in every time you want to use it. But at this super-cheap price, we certainly aren’t complaining.
3. Crenova MS8233D Auto-Ranging Digital Multimeter
With a great blend of performance and affordability, the Crenova MS8233D is one of our favorite multimeters. It’s loaded with important features, even though it’s priced so affordably. For instance, it’s auto-ranging, taking all the guesswork out of electrical measurements. You can take a wide range of different measurements with this multimeter, and you even get test leads and alligator clips to allow for testing different items.
Safety features are of prime importance with multimeters, which is why this one has double fuses with overload protection at all ranges. But it would be nice if it were safety rated higher. It tops out at CAT II 600V, which is still better than nothing.
Like most multimeters at this price, the Crenova has a backlit display for easy viewing. But it’s hard to read from some angles where the numbers become difficult to make out.
4. Neoteck NTK017-US Auto-Ranging Digital Multimeter
If you need to measure capacitance, not many affordable multimeters offer that functionality. But the Neoteck NTK017-US Auto-Ranging Digital Multimeter measures capacitance up to 2,000 microfarads. This is great for such a cheap device. Disappointingly, it stopped measuring capacitance after just a few uses, which is the main feature that separates this multimeter from other similarly-priced options.
Still, there’s more to like here, like the rubber case that offers excellent drop protection. You also get test leads and alligator clips, making it easy to test a variety of different items. When you need both hands, the built-in kickstand holds the multimeter up at an angle that’s easy for viewing. We also like that this multimeter runs on affordable AA batteries instead of expensive 9-volt batteries.
Should you decide to purchase this multimeter, don’t expect any help from the manual. It was full of errors and just generally not helpful. So, it’s probably best to have experience with multimeters before buying this one.
5. Klein Tools MM400 Multimeter
Klein Tools is known for making high-quality electrical tools. But their MM400 multimeter left us wanting. It’s right at the top of our $50 budget but doesn’t do anything to stand out from the competition. A glaring example is the warranty. This device is just warrantied for a year, while others were warrantied for several times that. From such a well-respected manufacturer, we expected a better warranty.
But there are features here that we appreciated, such as the protective case that helps this multimeter withstand drops of up to 3 feet. It can also measure up to 40 M resistance, which is great for a multimeter in this price range.
For professionals, this multimeter is safety rated for CAT III 600V. It also runs on AAA batteries instead of the more expensive nine-volt batteries. The build quality is excellent, but at the top of our price range, we were hoping for more stand-out features.
6. Meterk MK06 Digital Clamp Meter Multimeter
The Meterk MK06 is a digital clamp multimeter that offers non-contact voltage detection. But the detection is very sensitive, causing it to give false readings if there are hot wires nearby. Thankfully, the clamp is strong and lets you hang this meter anywhere for convenient hands-free use.
This multimeter also double-fused with overload protection to offer improved safety. However, it’s conspicuously missing any kind of CAT safety rating, which is necessary for professional use and going to hold this multimeter back.
One nice feature here is the built-in work light, allowing you to brighten up any dark space so you can see your work. Since this multimeter has auto-ranging with true RMS readings, you won’t have to figure out what range you’re measuring, saving you time and hassle.
7. Fluke 101 Basic Digital Multimeter
Fluke is another well-respected manufacturer of electrical tools that you’ll commonly find in electrician’s tool belts. However, the models used by professionals are much more expensive, and at this price point, Fluke doesn’t offer as much as we’d like.
You do get a CAT III 600V safety rating and a 6,000-count screen, which are both very helpful and decent features for the price. It’s also very accurate with a 0.5% accuracy rating. The build quality is excellent, and the device is very reliable.
One missing feature is the ability to measure current. That’s pretty important, even for a basic multimeter. Since many cheaper multimeters offered this functionality, it’s a flaw that’s going to hold the Fluke 101 back.
8. Amprobe 4018636 AM-510 Multimeter
Since it’s designed for commercial and residential use, we had high hopes for the Amprobe AM-510 Multimeter. It does have some great features that we appreciated, like the built-in non-contact voltage detector. There’s also a data hold button and a relative zero mode. It’s CAT III 600V safety rated and has a built-in stand for easy viewing when both hands are occupied by test leads.
But this multimeter is noticeably slower than others we tested. It takes several long seconds to give a reading, which can hold you up when making multiple readings in short order. The included test leads are also cheap and shorted out the second time we used them.
This multimeter can measure capacitance. But with a maximum reading of just 100 microfarads, it’s not applicable for most situations that require you to measure capacitance.
9. Neiko 40508 Digital Multimeter
If there was an award for the cheapest multimeter on our list, the Neiko 40508 Digital Multimeter would win it. It’s the most affordable model we’ve seen, though it still has built-in overload protection for safety. Unfortunately, that’s the only great feature here.
This isn’t an auto-ranging multimeter, so you’ll need to know what range you’re measuring before applying your test leads. Regardless, the highest you can measure is up to 1,999, thanks to the low 2,000-count screen.
All in all, the quality of this device matches its price; cheap. We’d skip this one since other cheap options offer a lot more, though you will have to spend a couple more bucks.
10. Cen-Tech 98025 Digital Multimeter
We like affordable tools, and with a super-cheap price, the Cen-Tech 98025 Digital Multimeter is a very affordable tool. As you might expect, this means it’s missing a lot of features, even though we got these missing features on other multimeters that cost about the same.
One important feature that’s missing is auto-ranging. You’ll have to set your measurement ranges yourself with this multimeter. There’s also no way to measure capacitance with this device, so if that’s the functionality you need, you’ll have to find it elsewhere.
When performing continuity tests, it’s helpful to have an audible alert so you don’t have to position the multimeter to where you can see the screen. But that audible alert is missing on this meter with no way to turn it on. Between that and other missing features like data hold, it’s obvious why this multimeter is at the bottom of our list.
Not everyone who needs a multimeter is an electrical professional. And since you’re looking at multimeters under $50, we assume you probably aren’t either. So, you might not know all the features and functions you’re looking for or how to compare to multimeters that look very similar. Don’t worry, we’ve got all the information you’re looking for in this short buyer’s guide, intended to help you choose the right multimeter for your needs.
Choosing the Right Multimeter
When you’re looking for an affordable multimeter, you’re probably going to have to make some compromises. The following features are all important, but they’re not all available on all of the multimeters in this price range. You’ll need to figure out which of these traits are most important to you, and then look for a multimeter with those features.
Safety features are some of the most important features for a multimeter to have. Anytime you’re dealing with electricity, you want to make sure you’re protected from explosions, fire, and electrocution. Luckily, manufacturers include many safety features to prevent these.
Explosion-proof fuses are a common safety feature that you’ll find on many multimeters, even inexpensive ones. These make sure that if your multimeter is overloaded, it won’t blow up in your hand. You can see how this would make working with electricity much safer.
CAT safety ratings are also there to tell you what current the multimeter is safe to work with. These offer different voltage ratings at CAT II and CAT III, signifying the different voltages that the multimeter can measure.
Especially for inexperienced electrical workers, auto-ranging might be the most important feature for a multimeter to have. Auto-ranging allows the meter to determine how it needs to be set, based on the range being measured. Then, it automatically adjusts.
If you get a multimeter without auto-ranging, you’ll have to know before you measure roughly what range you’re measuring. For a person inexperienced with electrical work, this might prove to be exceedingly difficult, which is why we recommend looking for an auto-ranging multimeter instead.
Often, when working with electricity, you’re in dark, poorly-lit areas. Naturally, this can make it pretty difficult to see the meter and get a clear reading. Thankfully, most multimeters today have brightly backlit screens that are easy to see in bright light or no light. You’ll definitely want to look for a model with a backlit display. We suggest never purchasing a multimeter without one.
But you’ll have to be careful. Not all displays are created equal. Even though they’re backlit, some displays are very hard to read at certain angles. This is incredibly frustrating when you have the leads touching the wires you’re testing, but you can’t make out the screen.
There’s more to the display than just how it looks though. Each multimeter also has a screen count, which signifies how high the multimeter can measure.
Some of the cheapest multimeters we tested offered 2,000-count screens. This means that the highest measurement they can display is 1,999.
But our favorite multimeters in this price range provide 6,000-count screens that can display measurements up to 5,999.
When you have a test lead in each hand, you aren’t going to have an extra hand to hold the multimeter. In many situations, this can become frustrating with nowhere to prop the meter that allows you to see the screen.
This is such a common problem that manufacturers came up with a great solution — kickstands. These are small, built-in stands that you can flip out from the back of the meter. It will hold the multimeter in the perfect position for you to see the screen while keeping your hands free to work.
Non-Contact Voltage Detection
Many times, you’ll need to know exactly how much current or resistance is in a particular circuit. But other times, you only need to know if the wires you’re playing with are hot or not. You could cut them and touch the meter to them if you want, or you could get a multimeter with non-contact voltage detection.
This allows you to test whether or not the wire is hot without even touching it. Just move the tester near the wire and if it’s hot, the multimeter will emit a loud alert so you know not to cut that wire!
Every multimeter includes test leads, but they’re not all equal. Cheap test leads often have very stiff wires that are hard to work with. They also tend to short out easily. But better leads are generally soft, manageable, and durable.
There are also different kinds of leads. Most multimeters come with just the standard test leads. But we really like the models that include a set of alligator clips as well, which allow you to test things without holding the testers yourself.
When working with a multimeter, it’s surprising how often you’ll find yourself dropping it! Luckily, companies that produce them are aware of this fact, and they’ve taken steps to mitigate it. Most decent multimeters include a rubber case of some sort that will protect the device if it’s dropped. Some of them can even survive drops from over 3 feet!
We were surprised at just how many affordable multimeters are available on the market. Even though all of these cost less than $50, some of them offered incredible performance, such as the ones that we recommend. You’ve already read about their finer points in our reviews, but we’re going to cover them once more so they’re fresh in your mind.
The AstroAI Digital Multimeter was our favorite, thanks to its long list of useful features. It’s auto-ranging with true RMS reading, has a 6,000-count backlit display, and measures up to 16 MHz. You get explosion-proof ceramic fuses, CAT III 600V and Cat II 1000V safety ratings, and a 3-year warranty to top it all off.
At the bottom of the price spectrum, we think the Etekcity Digital Multimeter offers the best value. It’s got a brightly backlit screen, a data hold button for storing a reason, and a protective rubber sleeve to protect against impacts.
More buying guides like this:
- A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
- The 10 Best Multimeters Under $50 – Reviews 2021
- 1. AstroAI WH5000A Digital Multimeter – Best Overall
- 2. Etekcity MSR-R500 Digital Multimeter – Best Value
- 3. Crenova MS8233D Auto-Ranging Digital Multimeter
- 4. Neoteck NTK017-US Auto-Ranging Digital Multimeter
- 5. Klein Tools MM400 Multimeter
- 6. Meterk MK06 Digital Clamp Meter Multimeter
- 7. Fluke 101 Basic Digital Multimeter
- 8. Amprobe 4018636 AM-510 Multimeter
- 9. Neiko 40508 Digital Multimeter
- 10. Cen-Tech 98025 Digital Multimeter
- Buyer’s Guide