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5 Considerations When Shopping For a Digital Multimeter

by Isaac Olijslager

A digital multimeter is an indispensable device when performing various electrical measurements in different applications. Therefore, when choosing a multimeter, ensure it is suitable for a particular environment. A functional device should take accurate readings of different parameters, such as voltage, resistance and current across all ranges. Here are some considerations when shopping for a multimeter.

Manual or Auto Range Multimeter — Two common types of digital multimeters include manual range and automatic range. In the manual range model, a user has to manually select the range of measuring parameters, such as current. On the other hand, an auto-range multimeter automatically selects the range and displays it on an output screen. Notably, digital multimeters are pricier compared to manual multimeters. The downside to the auto range variants is the lack of protection circuits, which means that the multimeters can malfunction when misused.

Ruggedness — Sometimes you need to use a digital multimeter in harsh outdoor environments. For example, hot indoor workplaces require a device that is rugged enough to withstand such conditions. A quality digital multimeter should be reliable, accurate and usable in different environments without compromising measurements. Therefore, buy a digital multimeter that is tough enough to withstand rain, dust, humidity and high temperature. The device should tolerate accidental falls. It is worth noting that although a rugged digital multimeter might be expensive, the cost is offset by the durability of the device.

Versatile — When working on an electronic project, you need to conduct several tests such as on the voltage, resistance and current. A standalone device that can measure all these parameters is far much better and cheaper compared to multiple types of equipment that take different measurements. Therefore, when choosing a digital multimeter, go for a device that is versatile in terms of parameters supported. For example, apart from current, voltage and resistance, more versatile digital multimeters can measure frequency, current gain and capacitance. A piece of versatile equipment ensures that you don't spend a lot of money on multiple devices when one could suffice.

Probe Leads — Different types of probe leads are found on various digital multimeters, including test probes, IC hooks and alligator clips. Regardless of the type of probe lead you prefer, make sure that they are tough and durable for different applications and environments.

Price — Digital multimeters vary in price based on manufacturer and functionalities, among other factors. For example, battery type can affect the price of a digital multimeter. Therefore, get quotes from different vendors before choosing your preferred multimeter.