The Top 5 Best Digital HVAC Multimeters for 2018

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Digital multimeters are the instrument for measuring various electrical qualities. In most cases, it is used to measure voltages, frequencies, and current. Using the multimeter is simple; all you have to do is to identify its positive and negative test leads. Usually, that is easy since they are color coded. In everyday use, these testing types of equipment differ in precision.

We understand the difficult task of selecting the best meter. To come out with the best choice of a multimeter, consider the quantities you want to measure, the desired precision, safety requirements and the screen’s visibility. To make the task less demanding we have gone the extra mile to dig out and gather consumers’ feedbacks to bring you top 5 best multimeters of 2018. For a better understanding of the reviews, we have the brief overview, products specifications, the pros, and cons. I hope that will shed light on each product and help you make an informed decision.

Here are our selections:

Fluke 116 HVAC Multimeter

The Fluke 116 HVAC Multimeter tops our lists for the best multimeters for 2018. Fluke champion in this niche delivers quality and robust designed product. Given the rugged casing, it will happily withstand the daily rough handling. Let’s dig deeper and learn its unique features;

Product overview

Ideal to be used by HVAC professionals, this multimeter measures temperature and microamp units. As efficient diagnosis equipment, it can also check for the continuity, resistance, capacitance and frequency values. The equipment is reliable owing to the company’s outstanding performance. By employing LED backlights, the display is highly visible in a poorly lit condition. In practical use, the tool is held with just one hand, thanks to its small but compact constriction.

For under $179.99, it presents great features,

Specifications

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  • Has a compact design and weighs 1.4 pounds, thus portable
  • Features bright LED backlights hence operational in the poorly lit environment
  • With its low input impedance, it eliminates registering false readings
  • It’s compatible with magnetic hunger
  • Has built-in thermometer thus suitable for HVAC uses
  • Measures resistance, capacitance frequency, and continuity
  • Satisfy the CAT III 600 V safety requirement
  • Comes with three years warranty
  • Registers even signal fluctuations

Low input impedance

The feature becomes very useful when measuring AC values in wires bound together. Open wire registers ghostly voltages

Single-handed operation

With its lightweight, the equipment is easy to carry with one hand. That leaves the other hand free to carry out other duties.

Fulfills CAT III 600 V safety requirement

That means it is safe to be used in handling high voltages without the user experiencing shock, as a result of coming into contact with live wires or equipment

Microamps for flame sensor test

As the industry set standard for all quality multimeters, the tool meets this requirement hence its reliability.

Compact design

The equipment’s construction is well thought of. Its solid design allows it to withstand rough handling or hard knocks without registering any defect. Thus it’s suitable for everyday usage where accidents at times do happen.

Pros and cons

The equipment delivers according to its name as a multimeter. To begin with, it delivers accurate measurements with no delay, delivers the reading almost instantly. In addition, the tool has an easy to read display of values. Due to its lightweight and compact design, the fluke 116 HVAC multimeter fits conveniently into one hand. Moreover, an accidental falling on the floor still leaves it intact; a huge plus for everyday usage.

However, the unit has a few flaws that were discovered. To begin with, in an overly lit environment, the contrast in the display is lost which is somehow annoying. Secondly, a few cases of inaccurate temperature reading have been reported.

Pros

  • Delivers in all of its features
  • Outputs accurate readings
  • Has robust case that withstands accidental fallings
  • Simple to use

Cons

  • In over bright conditions, contrast on the screen display is lost
  • Traces of inaccurate temperature readings have been reported

Fluke 117 Multimeter

Unlike the previous model Fluke 116, fluke 117 finds widespread usage with electricians and commercial applications. Consequently, it’s commonly found in institutions and industries. Since the user’s safety should not be compromised, the equipment is equipped with voltage alert on contact voltage detection. Its unique selling points lie in its accuracy. Since it gives true RMS values, the unit allows you to display confidence in your recordings.

Product review

As stated earlier Fluke 117 multimeter is ideal for electricians. As a must tool for electricians, it boasts flexibility, simplicity, and intuitive design. The tool delivers an accurate measurement too and hence equipped with the min, max, and average features. Measurement of frequency and capacitance is instant, thanks to its quick response. As a product of a famous company, Fluke presents a product strong in construction so as to withstand unforeseen accidents. To ensure enhanced visibility of the data, the device presents large and easy to decipher values.

In addition, it has got the following features

Specifications

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  • Measures up to 10A,
  • Auto shut down feature
  • Enhanced visibility in poorly lit conditions
  • Employs low impedance input to check against false reading
  • Solid construction for single-handed operation
  • Measures resistance, continuity, capacitance, and frequency
  • Satisfy CAT III 600 V safety requirement
  • Has min.max and average function thus records signal fluctuations
  • Gives RMS reading for even nonlinear loads

True RMS

This device gives accurate readings with a precision of 0.5%. Thus its high resolution and measurement range sets it apart from ordinary multimeters.

Uncluttered display

To enable the quick reading of data, fluke 117 is equipped with a large screen with LED backlight option. When there is inadequate light, at the press of a button the LED backlight provides additional light for enhanced visibility. The ability to switch off the backlight prolongs its battery life.

Voltage alert technology

The multimeter helps in checking for AC currents in a machine, without making any contact with the leads. After hovering the meter over the machine to be tested for the presence of AC, an audible sound will confirm the flow of current.

Pros and cons

First, the meter gives exact readings due to the RMS feature. Like its 116 counterparts, the model is small compact and thus can be held by one hand. The equipment saves on battery with the auto shut feature. The non-contact voltage detection provides a safe working environment for the user. In addition, it’s also durable. However, in certain lighting conditions, reading the displayed values becomes difficult. Low batteries also worsen the loss of contrast.

Pros

  • True RMS values
  • Impressive design
  • VoltAlert feature
  • Reliable
  • simple to use

Cons

  • Loss of contrast in the screen at certain angles and lighting conditions
  • Made in China


Fluke 87-V

Talk of a multimeter that has an inbuilt thermometer, automatic and manual ranging and Fluke 87-V qualifies. Besides the unit have additional valuable features like automatic shut down and true RMS.  The plethora of features makes it an ideal companion for electricians handling HVAC. The automatic ranging fits usage by learners.

Product Overview

The Fluke product offers the simplicity of use. The device measures a range of constants including temperature, capacitance, frequency, voltage, and current.  With a dual resolution screen, it covers a wide range from 6000 to 20 000 units. Consequently, it will detect even the slightest voltage change. However, its many features might offer a little challenge to the novice mind.

Specifications

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The equipment fits a wide range of uses including the following;

  • , Bright, two-level digital display
  • 0.005%DC precision
  • Built-in thermometer
  • Measures up to 1000 VAC and DC
  • Conducts both continuity and diode tests
  • Auto shut off
  • Auto and manual ranging
  • Measures frequencies up to 200 kHz plus % duty cycle
  • Records transients values as fast as 250 µs
  • Automatically captures variation in values, min, max, average
  • Measures capacitance up to the 10,000 µF range
  • Measure current up to 10 A, 20 A for 30 seconds duration
  • Magnetic hunger compatible thus freeing your hands
  • Displays measurements; 6000 to 20 000 counts

Auto and Manual Ranging

This double feature permeates you to have entire control while conducting tests. The manual mode is for narrowing down your range to the desired configuration. However, in case you aren’t sure of the magnitude of the quantity in question, simply engage the auto-ranging setting.

True RMS

Some operations demand extreme accuracy. To meet those expectations, this feature guarantees uncompromised precision and accuracy.

Auto Shut-Off

The feature helps to prolong the meters battery lifespan.  The device will automatically switch off after 15 minutes of inactivity. Thus you don’t have to panic in case you leave the equipment behind while still on.

Pros and Cons

Top of the advantages of this product is its ability to withstand shock owing to the solid construction. Thus in case you accidentally drop it on a hard surface, you will still pick it up and carry on with your work.  Add that to its flexibility in use and the lifetime warranty and you have a device to count on. However, its major drawback lies in the price. But the high price charged for the device is due to its flexibility in use. Thus you have a single equipment for versatile use.

Pros

  • Manual and automatic ranging
  • True RMS
  • Lifetime Warranty
  • Audible alerts
  • Several features such as auto hold and auto shut off

Cons

  • Relatively expensive
  • Overwhelming to the inexperienced users

Extech EX505

This testing equipment is a product of a renowned company. As an experienced and reputed company in supplying testing equipment that meets international standard, Extech delivers to you a product that meets the consumers’ needs. First, the product has a solidly constructed casing that will endure and lasts despite everyday use. Secondly, it has got versatile use; can measure capacitance, frequency, temperature, and voltages. Altogether it presents to you 11 functions which encompass your entire everyday testing requirement.

Product Overview

It’s a well designed and robust product meant for electrical engineers and not the novice minds. It’s ideal for the professionals in the electrical, electronics and the instrumentation industry. The testing instrument has been constructed to meet the challenging everyday usage without breaking down.  When in doubt over the magnitude of your measurement, the auto-ranging feature turns to be very useful. For even higher accuracy in taking a measurement, the Extech EX520 model is the preferred alternative.

Read further to know its unique distinguishing specifications.

Specifications

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For just around $91.98, the Extech EX505 her is a quick overview of its specifications.

  • Double casing for waterproof (IP67) protection
  • Accepts up to 1000v at the input, wide coverage
  • Has diode open circuit voltage of 2.8VDC
  • Dual sensitivity Frequency functions
  • 0.5% basic precision
  • True RMS
  • Data memorization
  • Auto Power Off
  • Measures temperatures
  • Good display

Auto Ranging

The EX505’s auto-ranging function permits it to self-adjust the measurement range depending on the detected source, such as electrical quantities. It employs the advanced RMS computation thus can even measure distorted AC waveforms for example in the industries.

Display

The screen for the 505 fits its usage. A 4000 count display is backed by bright LEDs.  Moreover, the displays present easy to read figures from all angles and even unfavorable lighting environments.

Data memorization

The feature comes in to be very useful when analyzing data from different sources. Memorizing quantities leads to relaying errors. This multimeter will memorize the last reading. To display the vale, you simply press the hold button.

Auto Power Off

We all tend to forget at time even important duties. That’s why Extech incorporates the auto shut offsetting in the testing equipment. After 15 minutes of inactivity, the equipment switches off. That will save you a considerable amount of energy.

Pros and Cons

The testing equipment has a clear and easy to read the screen in all lighting environment. Its display remains affected by the external lighting conditions. Besides, it fits everyday usage and will withstand occasional drops; thanks to its sturdy case. Given its light weight, an electrician will carry it around without getting burdened by its weight.

However, the equipment has its fair of disadvantages. First, its backlight will remain on for a maximum of 10 seconds before going off. The buzzer sound is too low to be heard in a real workshop setting. Moreover, as a temperature measuring device, it lacks precision expected from an ideal instrument.

Pros

  • Reasonably priced
  • Carefully constructed to last
  • Numerous functions, like data, hold and auto power off
  • Auto-ranging

Cons

  • Inaccurate temperature readings
  • Inaudible buzzer sound
  • Backlights go off too quickly

Fieldpiece HS36

Still, on the countdown of the top 5 multimeters for 2018, we have Fieldpiece HS36. When you consider this model it has significant improvements over the HS30 series. In addition, it measures up to microamps units.

Product overview

The Field HS36 introduces other accessories to go along with the testing equipment. These include the magnetic hanger, alligator clip probes and detachable test leads. The manufacturer doesn’t compromise on the features thus it measures current, capacitance, and temperature. Since the equipment involves dealing with high voltages it also provides safety measures to the user as indicated by the specifications below.

Specifications

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Since it is designed by the experienced minds for the professionals, Field HS36 presents compounded feature;

  • The unit combines nicely with all other Fieldpiece accessory heads
  • It employs an accurate auto ranging setting
  • It uses non-contact voltage indicator, which detects down to 24vac for example on thermostats
  • The tool is equipped with high voltage and continuity indicators using the LED technology. The high voltage works for voltages exceeding 30V.
  • The multimeter measures up to micro values thus fitting the flame diode current testing in the heater controls, capacitance measurement in capacitor start and capacitor run motors.
  • It uses the built-in magnetic hunger technology.
  • Has a strong case plus rubberized bumpers

Designed for single hand operation

Its design takes into account the meters everyday usage. The HS36 doe not only comes with a robust and durable case, but it’s also ergonomically designed to fit into your hand comfortably. Thus the multimeter allows for single-handed operation.

Multiple Attachments

It’s a great feature here for the device to be compatible with all other Fieldpiece testing leads and accessory heads. That negates the need for carrying multiple instruments leads thus saving on space.

Auto Ranging

The auto-ranging ability of HS36means it will self-adjust in the measurement range.  The feature finds particular use when measuring quantities with distorted waveforms like in industrial cases. The ordinary averaging meter will find it difficult to measure such values, but not HS36 multimeter.

Pros and Cons

After prolonged use of the meter, we unearthed the following benefits.  First, the equipment remains unchallenged by rough handling and the occasional accidental knocks. It’s one instrument but enables you to measure different quantities. Moreover, it comes complete and therefore requires no additional attachments. Since it is small in size and also employs the magnetic hanger technology, it allows an electricians hands to remain free to handle a circuit efficiently.

However, there is one major disadvantage reported by users that we also confirmed; the instruments difficulty in resetting to zero.

Pros

  • Multiple functions
  • Long lasting
  • Compatible with many attachments
  • Non-contact voltage

Cons

  • There is a problem in zeroing thus raising concern inaccuracy

FAQ:

For an Electronics engineering student like me, what would be the most appropriate multimeter fore to buy?

Since electronics deals with light current, Fluke 87_V is ideal for you. Fluke 87-v will enable you to measure even transient voltages and current owing to its high precision.

My multimeter fluke 116 HVAC displays a faint reading that isn’t easy to read out. What could be possibly wrong?

The problem, poor readability is brought about by two factors; low battery power or unfavorable lighting environment. So begin by changing its battery power. Then move to an environment which is not over lit. Avoid using the multimeter in direct sunlight so that you have good contrast in the displayed numbers.

Which is the best multimeter of the five reviewed above?

Each of the reviewed multimeters has specific functions. So the best thing to do is to shop according to your intended use of the meter. Next, if you are still a learner in the engineering fields go for simple equipment like Fluke 117. In addition, consider your working environment. If you are mostly outdoors, consider choosing the equipment which doesn’t suffer the loss of contrast in its screen display.

Are these multimeters suitable for home inspectors?

Yes, they are. These are professionally tried and tested equipment from reputable companies. Consequently, when you enter a home with such equipment you will earn the respect of the homeowner. Moreover, they measure a range of values and can withstand hard knocks.

Conclusions

In overall, the exhaustive list provided above presents the top 5 digital and analog multimeters for 2018.  The in-depth reviews provide actual specifications for each device for deeper understanding. It covers meters that fit industrial usage and lab tests due to their degree of precision. Whether you are looking for easy to read digital display or the deflecting meter with an analog display you will find it.  So go through the list again. Comb through the specifications, the pros, and cons. Then armed with that knowledge you can then make an informed decision on which instrument suits your need.

However, it is important to note that no instrument is 100% perfect.  Most feedbacks from users have been positive. However, a number of complaints have been registered about the poor contrast in the screen display in certain light conditions.

Do you have a special experience with multimeters that you would wish to share? It could be helpful to other customers. Feel free to leave your comment.


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