Whether you’re repairing your own HVAC system or you’re a professional technician, an HVAC multimeter can be your ace in the hole. These handy tools help diagnose problems with heaters or air conditioners, providing clear and accurate measurements of their electrical and mechanical components.
But if you don’t know how to choose the best HVAC multimeter, this guide will provide some guidance by highlighting the most important considerations to keep in mind while shopping as well as comparing some of the top products on the market. Keep reading to learn more.
- BEST OVERALL: Klein Tools MM600 HVAC Multimeter
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Klein Tools Digital Multimeter, Auto-Ranging, 600V
- BEST ANALOG: Gardner Bender GMT-312 Analog Multimeter
- BEST FEATURES: Fluke 116/323 HVAC Multimeter and Clamp Meter Combo
- MOST ACCURATE: Fluke 117 Electricians True RMS Multimeter
- EASIEST TO USE: Fieldpiece SC440 True RMS Clamp Meter
- ALSO CONSIDER: Fieldpiece HS33 Expandable Manual Ranging Stick
What to Consider When Choosing the Best HVAC Multimeter
The best HVAC multimeter can serve many purposes, and there are just as many considerations to keep in mind while shopping for one. This section will outline those points, from accuracy to ease of use and more, so you’re able to choose the model that will serve you the best.
Analog vs. Digital
Regardless of whether the topic is HVAC multimeters or just multimeters in general, there are two basic types: analog and digital.
Analog meters are the originals. Without getting too deep into how they work, which is an article in and of itself, they can measure two or more electrical properties and display readings using a needle and a gauge. They use contacts or leads to transfer the voltage, amperage, or resistance to the gauge.
Digital meters have sensors, circuit boards, and other electronic components inside that take the readings from the leads and display them on a digital readout. They’re easier to use and typically more accurate than an analog meter.
HVAC technicians need operational and accurate tools, but if their multimeter is off by a volt or two, it isn’t the end of the world. Realistically, most components in an HVAC repair situation either work or don’t. Pinpoint accuracy is more important for an electrical technician who might diagnose why a control board isn’t working properly.
An HVAC multimeter should provide different types of readings. HVAC technicians need to know if a motor, pump, control board, or compressor is working properly. For those cases, the best HVAC multimeter must offer voltage, amperage, and resistance readings as well as temperature in some scenarios.
When an HVAC tech first approaches a problem, it’s helpful to know what the machine is and isn’t doing. Then, once they make the appropriate repairs or adjustments, they need to ensure the system is working as it should be. For that, they need a temperature probe.
HVAC multimeters with temperature probes take readings from inside ductwork, heating water systems, refrigerant lines, and other points of measurement. In a commercial setting, these measurements can be vital to ensuring that the system is working correctly. While they’re less important in a residential setting, temperature probes are still handy to have.
Many of the best HVAC multimeters come with thermocouple sensors and cuffs for wrapping around refrigerant lines as well, allowing technicians to test how well a system is running or whether the refrigerant needs attention.
There are some extra features that some of the best HVAC multimeters might offer. For instance, some models feature an automatic shutoff that disables the meter after a certain period of time to save battery life. You’ll even find models with low-battery indicators. Others might include LED displays with backlights that are easy to read in low-light scenarios.
Some meters even feature wireless data transfer. This feature allows an HVAC technician to check how the adjustments made affect the system from up to 100 feet or more away utilizing Bluetooth or a wireless app. This is particularly helpful with large systems in commercial settings.
Ease of Use
There are too many good multimeters on the market to spend money or time on a complicated device. The best HVAC multimeters are simple to use, offering digital readings and measurements that are easy to interpret. Switching between voltage, amperage, resistance, and other readings should also be easy to do, even with a gloved hand.
The devices that are the easiest to use will feature automatic voltage range detection, which automatically detects AC or DC voltage without the user’s input. Also, some multimeters feature clamps that open and close overtop of an electrical wire, offering one-handed readings and a handy way to hang the meter while working with a lead in each hand.
Our Top Picks
With a bit of background on these tools, choosing the best HVAC multimeter becomes a much easier process to navigate. To make it even more straightforward, the following list consists of some of the best HVAC multimeters on the market. Be sure to compare each multimeter while keeping the top considerations in mind.
The MM600 HVAC Multimeter from Klein Tools has plenty to offer both burgeoning technicians and old pros. This kit comes with the attachments and settings required for testing both commercial and residential HVAC systems.
With its included test leads, alligator clips, and thermocouple and adapters, the MM600 HVAC multimeter is great for checking fuses, voltages, diodes, and other components found in HVAC control panels. Its versatile zero-to-1,000-degrees-Fahrenheit range allows technicians to check both heating and refrigeration apparatus with the same tool. As it’s built to withstand drops from over 6 feet high, this meter is also pretty durable. It also has a built-in stand for convenience when working with both hands.
Would-be HVAC pros looking for a multimeter that won’t break the bank should check out Klein Tools Digital Multimeter. This kit comes with a variety of features and attachments that allow users to check a variety of HVAC components.
The built-in temperature sensor is capable of measuring temperatures between zero and 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit, more than enough for checking standard HVAC components, and the large dial in the middle is easy to manipulate with a pair of gloves, switching between automatic voltage readings, amperages, resistance, and many more features. A backlight feature makes for easy reading in low-light situations, and a low-battery indicator ensures the multimeter won’t die unexpectedly. It also comes with a thermocouple, test leads, and batteries.
For those who prefer to check their HVAC electrical components with more traditional, tried-and-true technology, Gardner Bender’s GMT-312 Analog Multimeter is worth a look. While this isn’t an HVAC-specific meter, it does have what it takes to test the voltage, amperage, and resistance inside an HVAC control panel or electrical connection.
The GMT-312 Analog Multimeter features a large, easy-to-read analog gauge that allows users to take quick and accurate readings. It easily switches among volts, amps, and ohms, though it does not automatically detect between AC and DC voltages. A built-in stand makes it easy to operate while using the included test leads in both hands.
Anyone shopping for an HVAC-ready kit with all the features necessary to diagnose and maintain a system should check out Fluke’s 116/323 HVAC Multimeter. With a variety of features and accessories, including temperature probes, thermocouple, cuff-style pipe sensors, and a separate clamp meet for non-contact testing, this combo kit is a worthy addition to any technician’s tool kit.
This multimeter features a built-in thermometer for HVAC scenarios as well as a thermocouple and a cuff-style pipe sensor for checking refrigerant lines and compressors. It also tests amps, volts, and ohms, displaying readings on the large digital screen. Should it be too dark to read, this model also features a backlight to improve legibility. Additionally, the separate clamp meter allows the user to test lines without contact leads.
When having the ultimate in accuracy is essential, going with a multimeter like Fluke’s 117 model might be in the shopper’s best interest. While this meter is actually electrician oriented, it does offer incredibly accurate readings for voltage, amperages, resistance, and capacitance, allowing technicians to get to the bottom of control panel problems.
The 117 is easy to use as well, as it features automatic voltage detection between AC and DC voltage and has a large white LED backlit digital display for quick reference. While it doesn’t take temperature readings, it does make a streamlined complement to a technician’s tool kit.
Those on the hunt for a simple-to-use multimeter with user-friendly features should give the Fieldpiece SC440 Clamp Meter some serious consideration. This meter makes the user’s life easier, with a built-in light for the clamp meter, finger-operated jaws, and a brightly backlit digital display.
Beyond the user-friendliness, this multimeter offers all the electrical and thermal information a technician is likely to need. Measuring voltage, amperage, resistance, and capacitance, it allows technicians to diagnose control panels and electrical connections. The temperature probe is helpful for testing ductwork and water supplies, and alligator clips are useful for gripping contact points.
Fieldpiece’s HS33 Expandable Manual Ranging Stick multimeter could be the last HVAC multimeter a technician or DIYer buys. In addition to most of the features and attachments that professionals use, this kit also includes a few extra bells and whistles, like a wireless connection from over 115 feet away to sweeten the deal.
This multimeter has many HVAC-specific features, such as temperature readings, a thermocouple plug, diode testing, and much more. It has a detachable clamp meter for testing lines with non-contact alligator clip probe tips, as well as a magnet for hanging off a control box while working with both hands. The large switch is easy to manipulate, even with gloved hands. An included carrying case offers even more convenience.
The Advantages of Owning an HVAC Multimeter
Owning an HVAC multimeter provides an opportunity to diagnose and repair an HVAC system without an expensive service call. Users will be able to test fuses, switches, and other components to detect if they’re operating correctly. If they aren’t, an HVAC multimeter helps to narrow down the issue.
When making adjustments to an HVAC system, it’s important to know how it’s affecting the system’s output. HVAC multimeters with temperature probes and thermocouples enable the user to check and track changes in air temperatures, refrigerant lines, return, and heating pipes with one tool.
HVAC multimeters aren’t just useful for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning situations. They’re also quite helpful for electrical applications. These meters do just about everything that a standard electrical multimeter would do, including checking household fuses, switches, outlets, and more.
- Save money by avoiding expensive service calls.
- Check how adjustments made to the HVAC settings affect the temperature outputs.
- HVAC multimeters also work for electrical multimeters.
FAQs About HVAC Multimeters
Now that you know a bit more about the best HVAC multimeters, there may be some new or lingering questions to answer. Below is a collection of some of the most frequently asked questions about HVAC multimeters, so be sure to check for an answer to your question below.
Q. How do I choose a multimeter?
Choose a multimeter that fits your needs. If you’re testing a lot of temperature-sensitive equipment, it might pay to have an HVAC multimeter. If not, you can go with a standard electrical multimeter.
Q. Can I save readings in the memory of the HVAC multimeter?
Many of the best multimeters do save readings, allowing you to check back to previous values.
Q. Which HVAC multimeter is the easiest to use?
Fieldpiece SC440 True RMS Clamp Meter is one of the easiest yet most capable multimeters to use.