If you work with electronics or computers, then one tool that you can't manage without is a good multimeter. The ability to check voltages and currents is essential if you are to correctly diagnose problems and troubleshoot your equipment. While using a simple multimeter isn't normally difficult, it is important to select a multimeter that is suitable for your purposes. Here are three things that you should look for when selecting a new multimeter.
Know how your maximum voltage range
While the theory behind all multimeters is the same, the equipment for which they are intended is not. There is a big difference between a multimeter that has a maximum range of 120-volt AC and one that can read 12-volt DC. Again, there is a huge difference between both of these and one intended to measure kilo-volts on an electrical supply network. Working out the maximum voltages you will need to measure is essential to narrow your choice of the multimeter as will knowing whether you need to measure AC voltages, DC voltages or both.
Know what you want to measure
While measuring voltage is useful, it probably isn't the only thing that you will want to measure. In addition to voltage, a good multimeter will also allow you to test for continuity, as well as check current and resistance allowing you to carry out a full range of tests with just a single instrument.
What else would you like to test?
While in many cases volts, amp, and ohms will be all that you need to worry about, there may be times when the ability to test a range of other components such as capacitors or transistors. It may even be appropriate to consider a multimeter which includes a temperature probe. Whether you need any or all of these functions will be dependent on how you will use the multimeter, so think carefully about how you intend to use to multimeter before you make your purchase.
Ultimately, selecting a new multimeter is a personal choice and will depend largely on the type of work that you intend to undertake. To find the right multimeter for you, consider carefully the nature of the work that you could potentially need to complete. Don't just think about what you do every day, but remember those rare times that you need to measure something unusual as well as what you could do in the future. There is no point paying for functions you will never use, but you also can't afford to be stuck without a feature that could prove essential if your range of duties expands or the nature of your work changes.