Best HVAC Multimeters | Diagnostics for Your Circuits

by Joost | Updated on:  August 20, 2021
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HVAC multimeter has been the fundamental tool for troubleshooting for so long. It’s a staple for electricians and DIY enthusiast homeowners. These multimeters have been the center of attention for so long due to the extent to which these can measure volts and amps.

We have gathered the top HVAC multimeters with all the features that they offer as well as the demerits. The buying guide will give you all the relevant information you will need to judge the features that the meters offer. Going through the article carefully will make your decision on the best HVAC Multimeter more satisfying.

Best-HVAC-Multimeters

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HVAC Multimeter buying guide

You need to understand all the features that differentiate regular multimeters & HVAC ones. There will be a lot of information for you to process while reading the features of a Multimeter. But we have broken down every detail for your convenience.

Best-HVAC-Multimeters-Review

Build Quality

HVAC stands for Heating, Ventilation and air conditioning. This means that you & your Multimeter are going to do a lot of outdoor activities. So unintentional drops are very common while working.

That is why the build quality of HVAC multimeters should be sturdy & durable. Rubberized corners will give shock absorption capabilities to the meter. And as always ones made from ABS plastics are monopolizing the market with their durability.

Lightweight

If you are a technician, then you will be holding on to the Multimeter like a millennial holds onto his phone. Your hands are bound to get weak due to the stress of the weight. The compact & lightweight feature is a must for HVAC multimeters.

Before going to the main part of the requirements, you first must see whether the machine feels comfortable in your hands. Ergonomically designed meters are suited for hand operations.

Accuracy

Accuracy is one of the key aspects while working with HVAC systems. You can not have more or less than the desired value as it will hamper the efficiency of the system. The entirety of the network might bring about life-threatening accidents due to some inaccuracy originating from the meter.

Cheap components & manufacturer defects are some reasons where you might not get accurate results. So investing in high-quality materials is the key to reaching more accurate results.

Measurement Features

While most multimeters can read voltage-current & resistance, HVAC multimeters need to have a lot more functionality than that. These functionalities include capacitance, resistance, frequency, continuity, temperature & diode tests. Any HVAC Multimeter should cover the above-mentioned feature as you will need them in the field.

Safety Feature

Dealing with electric appliances can become dangerous if you are not careful. That is why Multimeters come with safety features so that you can have a safe operation. These safety features are labeled as CAT levels.  Let us be familiar with the levels. HVAC Multimeters start with a CAT III rating.

CAT I: Any cheap basic multimeter has CAT I certification. You can measure any simple circuits, but you cannot connect it to the main power supply.

CAT II: It is capable of measuring between 110V to 240 volts. You can use multimeters with this rating for almost any electronic circuit. These ones are able to measure up to 100A.

CAT III: This level is designed so that technicians can operate the main breakers. HVAC multimeters certification ratings must start from here. Devices directly plugged into the main refrigeration system can be measurable.

CAT IV: This is the highest it may get for CAT levels. CAT IV indicates that the device is capable of working with direct power sources. If a multimeter has a CAT IV rating then it is without a doubt one of the safest to deal with the HVAC system.

Auto-ranging

This is a feature that allows the meter to automatically determine the range of voltage for you. This saves you a lot of time as it won’t be needing input as to what the range should be. But some cheap models can give inaccurate results in auto-ranging.

Backlight

While working in the field of HVAC it is not abnormal t work in the absence of daylight. So without a backlit display, you won’t be able to work during such times and environments. In our view, it is almost essential for you to look for a backlit feature in HVAC multimeters.

Warranty

A warranty on the product will give you reliability on the manufacturer as well as the product. A multimeter is an electric machine to measure different ratings. So it may have some defects or it may malfunction while working with higher current/voltages. A warranty on the multimeter will keep you assured.

Contact the manufacturer to see if there are any warranty on the device you are purchasing.

Best HVAC Multimeters reviewed

Here are some of the top HVAC Multimeters with all their attributes & cons organized in a pleasant manner. Let’s jump right to them.

1. Fluke 116/323 KIT HVAC Multimeter and Clamp Meter Combo Kit

Attributes to Consider

The Fluke 116/323 is the perfect tool for HVAC technicians for its state of the art design & applications. Model 116 is specially designed to measure temperatures on the 80BK-A integrated DMM temperature probe & Micro amp to test flame sensors for HVAC applications. True RMS measurements and optimized ergonomics make 316 models ideally suited for general purpose general electricians.

Large white LED backlights will give you a clear reading even in the darkest of areas. Both the models are tested for safe use in CAT III 600 V environments. Low impedance helps prevent any false reading due to ghost voltages.

These multimeters can measure 400 Amps AC current and 600 AC and DC voltage. Both Fluke models are lightweight but the structure is rugged & tested in tough conditions. The kit comes with a clamp meter for any sort of electrical work. Overall this kit is the perfect tool to have a company with any technical or electrical work.

Cons

Occasionally the temperature readings of the Fluke are inaccurate. You have to be careful as the multimeter consists of a lot of sensors.  The display also has some problems as the contrast is lost if it is seen from a wider angle.

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2. Triplett Compact CAT II 1999 Count Digital Multimeter

Attributes to Consider

The Triplett 1101 B compact multimeter offers users with a variety of functions including AC/DC voltage to 600V, current ratings to 10A, the temperature in kelvin & transistor hFE test. The display has an easy to read 3-3/4 digit, 1900 count backlit. There is a data hold button keeping the display freeze for your advantage.

This model is tested for safe use in CAT III 600 V environments. Overload protective features give full resistance to any sort of accidental overdose damages. It has rubberized boot providing the multimeter with an impact & drop resistance.

The resistance of the product ranges from 2m to 200 ohms. The auto power-off button helps in saving some power of the battery. The package comes with alligator clips, 9V battery, and Type K bead probe.

Cons

Triplett uses 9V batteries instead of AA or AAA batteries which might come a bit expensive if needed to replace. Auto-ranging is also not available for this device.

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3. Klein Tools MM600 HVAC Multimeter, Digital Auto-Ranging Multimeter for AC/DC Voltage

Attributes to Consider

If you are looking for an HVAC Multimeter with higher ratings to measure, then this Klein multimeter might be perfect for you. It has the capability to measure up to 1000V AC/DC voltage, temperature, diode test, continuity, duty cycle & 40M resistance. Klein MM600 is suitable to work in any electromagnetic environment for home, industry or practical purposes.

The display of the Klein is quite large for anyone to see all the measurements clearly as well as a backlight to work in dark environments. The low battery indicator will warn you to replace the batteries yearly. It has a place to store the probes at the back.

The unit can withstand a drop from almost 2 meters. Along with that, it provides a CAT IV 600V or CAT III 1000V safety rating to be a contender of top HVAC multimeters. It has fuse protection for any overload cases. The Klein MM600 is a great choice if you are considering professional multimeters with a wide range measuring AC/DC currents.

Cons

The screen of the MM600 does lose some contrast if seen from certain angles. It is also not recommended to measure more than 6 Amps current. Read the instruction manual carefully before using it.

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4. Fieldpiece HS33 Expandable Manual Ranging Stick Multimeter for HVAC/R

Attributes to Consider

Fieldpiece HS33 has an unorthodox design than the other traditional designs of other HVAC multimeters. Rubberized corners around the device allow it to be okay even dropping from the hands. The device can easily measure 600A AC current, voltage, resistance & capacitance for any HVAC/R machine. Cat-III 600V safety rating is also provided with the meter.

Performing voltage testing without making contact with the machine is the standout feature of this device. The rotary switches around the HS33 are very flexible & smooth. The measuring of the HS33 ranges from VAC, VDC, AAC, ADC, temperature, capacitance (MFD) and other features too.

The ergonomic shape of the meter will fit great even with one hand; most multimeters are tough to hold with one hand because of wideness. The data hold feature allows you to save the last reading from your use in case you need to compare results. The whole unit comes with a clamp meter, test leads for silicones, a battery of 9V, alligator lead extensions & a protective case.

Cons

The most heartbreaking feature of such an outstanding device would have to be the absence of a backlit display. You won’t be able to operate this meter in dark environments. The display size is also small, so you will have a hard time taking the readings.

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5. UEI Test Instruments DL479 True RMS HVAC/R Clamp Meter

Attributes to Consider

UEI DL479 is another ergonomically shaped HVAC multimeter with a clamp meter on its head for hands-free operation. It is capable of measuring 600A AC Current, 750V AC/600V DC voltages, resistance, microamps, capacitance, temperature, frequency & diode test. Non-contact voltage detection is one of the standout features that distinguish it from others.

The unit is rated CAT IV 600V/CATIII 1000V under IEC 61010-1 3rd edition. It is capable of holding the previous result while you can compare it with the present result you achieved. The UEI DL479 is backlit, so you can work in dark environments without any hassle.

Audible voltage indicator has been added so that you can easily understand if the machine is working by the continuous buzz & red light too.  The whole unit comes with Test leads, w/alligator clips, Zippered pouch & 2 AAA Batteries. This meter can easily be used for line currents, system voltage, circuit continuity & detecting diode malfunctions.

Cons

In it, the display backlighting times out too fast for users to operate. A few cases are found when the continuity stops without even any fall or drops. The accuracy of the device has also been in question.

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FAQ

Here are some frequently asked questions and their answers.

Which is better clamp meter or multimeter?

A clamp meter is primarily built for measuring current (or amperage), while a multimeter typically measures voltage, resistance, continuity, and sometimes low current. … The main clamp meter vs multimeter difference is that they can measure high current, while multimeters have higher accuracy and better resolution.

What is the difference between a voltmeter and a multimeter?

If you need to measure voltage, then you a voltmeter is sufficient, but if you want to measure voltage and other things such as resistance and current, then you are going to have to go with a multimeter. The most significant difference in both devices is going to be whether you buy a digital or analog version.

Q: Can any Multimeter be used for HVAC testing?

Ans: No, absolutely not. HVAC testing can turn out to be dangerous if you are using the wrong instruments. HVAC multimeters are designed in such a way so that it can easily suit HVAC systems. Normal multimeters also lag a lot of features that need to deal with in HVAC.

Q: What is more preferable between analog & digital multimeters?

Ans: Digital multimeters will, of course, give you a higher accuracy than the analog ones. These digital ones also have an auto-ranging feature. So it will be more comfortable for you to measure different attributes using a Digital Multimeter.

Q: Is there any harm in using a Multimeter?

Ans: This depends on the application that you are working with. If you are using a household Multimeter in an industry, then this may lead to serious situations. Reading the instructions & user manual is very important to clearly understand the applications & measuring capabilities of the Multimeter.

Q: What is the use of a Clamp?

Ans: Clamps are alternatives for probes in which you are measuring with carrying cables for larger currents. hinged jaws of an electrical meter allow technicians to clamp the jaws around a wire or load at an HVAC system & then measure the current without disconnecting it.

Conclusion

The competition around the market is intense as all the manufacturers try to please their customers with all the possible features. We are here with our expert opinion on the matter to help you make a firm decision.

The Fluke 116/323 is one of the ideal choices to make if one is considering HVAC multimeter kit. Fluke has designed a high-quality machine packed with a lot of features including Ghost voltage, temperature probe. The UEI DL479 is another single clamped multimeter you can pick having amazing features as well.

The best thing for you is to consider your criteria while working in your fields. All the featured multimeters have standout performances. So you need to match your choice of features to choose the best HVAC multimeters for your work.

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Tools Doctor is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new equipment, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with tools & crafting tips.