Which HVAC multimeter will give you the diagnoses the most quickly, and allow you to get your HVAC systems repair done faster, get paid and move forward to the next job?
Getting a clear diagnosis can dramatically reduce the amount of time you spend swapping parts and testing things.
If you are new to the industry, this summary of the best HVAC multimeter will make it easier to get the right meter that will impress your peers when you show up. Also, check out the buying guide at the bottom.
This article can give a good idea of what you need in a multimeter for HVAC work.
For the seasoned professional, this list will give you a look at the newest and best in the industry.
What Is The Best HVAC Multimeter?
- Fieldpiece SC640 – Best High-End Professional HVAC Multimeter
- Fieldpiece HS33 – Best HVAC Clamp Meter
- Fluke 116 – Best Fluke HVAC Multimeter
- Fieldpiece SC260 – Best HVAC Multimeter For Apprentices
- Klein Tools MM700 Best Digital HVAC MultiMeter
- Greenlee DM-810A Multimeter
- Triplett 9007-A The Best Cheap HVAC Multimeter
- UEI Test Instruments DL369 – Cheap HVAC Clamp Multimeter
- Fluke 323 HVAC Multimeter With Clamp – Best For Electricians
- Amprobe AM-520– Simple HVAC Digital Multimeter
What Is A HVAC Multimeter?
The best HVAC electrical meters will have the following features:
- AC Voltage rated to 600V
- DC Voltage rated to 300V
- AC Amperage rated up to 300 amps
- Resistance Up To 5 Megaohms (Some teams by a separate dedicated Ohm meter)
- Microamps (1/10 increment of Microamp) for control line testing.
- Capacitor Tester
- Continuity Tester
These above features are the minimum requirements that an HVAC tech needs to make sure they have in their multimeter.
HVAC Multimeter Comparison Chart:
|Multimeter||View||600V AC||300V DC||300 amps (AC)||5 Megaohms||Microamps||Capacitor Test (MFD)||Continuity Test|
|Fieldpiece HS33||Yes||No (200V)||Yes||No (200k)||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Klein Tools MM700||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
Do your own research before purchasing a Multimeter. ToolTally does not guarantee the accuracy of this list as companies often change the specs of their tools. Our goal is to reduce the time you spend researching.
Some of the best HVAC multimeters, below:
1. Fieldpiece SC640 – Best Professional HVAC Multimeter
The Fieldpiece SC640 is what you would get in a multimeter if you locked 10 HVAC technicians in a room and demanded that they design the best multimeter for HVAC work.
For starters, you have the Fieldpiece vs. Fluke debate that I handle separately.
Fieldpiece has been in business since 1990 and devotes 25% of its staff is devoted to constantly improving and innovating their high quality products.
Their entire focus is on supplying the HVACR professional with the best multimeter for their testing.
Ok, so it comes with a digital clamp measurement on this option, and the nice thing is that it is a swivel clamp (the only one I’ve seen on a model). This swiveling feature makes it easy to test wires that other multimeters can’t reach.
It goes up to 400 amps AC, and tests microamps in DC for testing your HVAC controls and flame thermocouples (but not regular DC Amperage for, say, automotive repairs.)
It also has the Capacitance measurements for testing bad capacitors and reducing your troubleshooting time.
The other nice feature is the added ruggedness. It is designed to withstand the hot temperatures on a rooftop or a prolonged time working in a walk-in freezer.
Not many digital multimeters can handle the same ranges without the LCD screens going blank.
To help keep you safe, it has a high voltage LED and an audible beeper to warn you of dangerous voltage that might hurt you or the multimeter.
The two features that you will love are the non-contact voltage (place it near a line to see if the line is hot ) and the single-hand testing.
It has a spot to hold your probe so you can easily connect it to a line and take a measurement.
This feature makes the Fieldpiece SC640 the most ergonomic meter on this list.
Compared to the other meters on this list, this one also has a few features that experienced pros will appreciate, like the ability to measure rush current, True RMS AC measurements for more accurate readings, and Duty cycle %. The inrush current measurement is not included on any other meter and it has a data hold for easy recall of the last test you did.
This is the only one that comes with a small LED light on the clamp for illuminating dark spots and a backlight for the dial and the screen. The handy magnetic hanger is one of those inventions that should be on every meter.
The added features are designed to speed your workflow and make this one of the best HVAC multimeters.
2. Fieldpiece HS33 Best HVAC Clamp Meter
Fieldpiece, Fluke, Klein… you are going to see a lot of these meters on my site and in the field. The HS33 is extremely easy to use and has upgradeable options, making it one of the more popular options.
The Fieldpiece ranging stick multimeter is a tiny bit bigger than some of the other models, but it is one of the best multimeters for the HVAC technician out there with all of the features you need.
Sure, there are cheaper models out there. But those always leave the question mark: is the HVAC having a problem, or is it your meter?
With the Fieldpiece HS33, you can enjoy a top meter that grows with you as your career grows.
The first thing you will love is the non-contact voltage detector. When hunting for a wire (or checking to see if an outlet is hot), you can simply hold the meter close to that wire. This is also a great way to double-check that the line is dead before you begin working on it.
One of the unique aspects of the HS 33 is that the clamp detaches. You can even run your leads to the clamp, allowing you to check lines in tight, hard-to-reach areas.
The included alligator clips make it easy to attach your test leads securely when working in narrow spaces.
The MFD Capacitor tester can save you hours of problem-solving. If you are up against a bad capacitor, you’ll figure that out right away.
This one has a “data hold” feature that keeps the last reading on the screen. This makes it easy if you are troubleshooting and thinking of multiple things while working.
The HS33 is one of the best models to start with. It has all of the key features that you are looking for and is a multimeter many old-timers use. It also has a magnetic hanger like the SC640.
The HS33 is not backlit. If you need a backlight, step up to the HS36 model.
I love this multimeter because it has all of the important features, with the ability to purchase upgraded heads down the line for measuring things such as air velocity. If you want a more versatile meter that can grow with you, go with this one over the SC640 above.
3. Fluke 116 – Best Fluke HVAC Multimeter
In my opinion, this is the best professional HVAC multimeter. It has everything you need as an HVAC tech making it one of the best cheap multimeters for beginner HVAC technicians. It is also extremely easy to use, so that even the novice technician looks like a pro.
While not a true RMS multimeter, it gives you the essential functions.
This is a CAT III 600 v meter, rated for 600 volts of AC, making it safe to perform all of your tasks.
It also comes with the temperature setting and the K-type temperature probe kit to double as a thermometer for testing the temperatures. The drawback of this built in thermometer is that it has a tolerance range of +/- 18 degrees. As you know, 10 degrees can make a massive difference in whether something is working or needs to be fixed.
The loZ (low input impedance) feature makes it easy to get around “ghost” voltage and eliminates false readings. The other advantage is that it automatically detects whether you are working with AC or DC to auto-adjust and deliver an accurate reading.
The Fluke 116 also has capacitance and microamps. The capacitance is something you will use all the time when diagnosing a pump or compressor non-starting. The microamps are needed for checking flame sensors.
What I wish this had was an amps read-out.
The Fluke 116 is an extremely fast, extremely responsive multimeter.
4. Fieldpiece SC260 – Best HVAC Multimeter For Apprentices
The Fieldpiece SC260 is very similar to the SC640 above, with a few fewer features.
For one, it is part of the compact clamp meter line and offers the most-needed features without forcing you to lug as large of a tool around with you.
It does not have the Duty Cycle % or the microamps DC measurements of the SC640 reviewed above, and I feel that the SC640, the HS33, and the Fluke 116 just fill the role a little better for the most common residential repairs.
It does have a backlight for the screen, but not a dial backlight.
The is the best multimeter for HVAC technicians who love the Fieldpiece SC640, but can give up Microamps to save some money and get a more compact multimeter, this is the one to grab.
5. Klein Tools MM700 Best Digital HVAC MultiMeter
Klein Tools has been making products for over 160 years and is one of the most reliable, yet affordable, HVAC multimeters that you can go with. I’ve known a lot of apprentices who all used Kleins.
You’ve got pretty much everything you could want, and the Klein brand is one of those that is well-trusted.
I’ve linked above to their RMS version of the multimeter. RMS gives you a more accurate readings, especially when dealing with rural lines where the signal can be “dirty”.
It comes with almost every feature you would want. It has AC and DC voltage capabilities, measures amps, measures capacitance and has a built-in continuity tester.
It has a higher safety rating than most of the other tools on this list, with a Cat IV rating instead of the bare minimum Cat III (600-colt) rating.
What I wish this tool had was microamps for testing flame sensors.
The automatic ranging feature is super handy and speeds up your work. Plug the test leads in, start working. And at this price, you could buy two of them.
The downside of the tool is that nearby radiofrequency (such as working near microwaves or radio towers) can interfere with the readings and it can take a little more practice to get used to the auto-ranging feature, compared to some of the models above where the multimeter is more intuitive.
6. Greenlee DM-810A Multimeter
The Greenlee DM-810A is one of the lesser-known brands founded in 1862 and is a US-based company in Rockford, Illinois. (Rockford used to be one of the main hubs for creating industrial tools).
It is a true RMS meter for accurate AC measurements, but it also can work in DC, making it a truly universal AC/DC meter.
The Greenlee offers Backlighting, making it one of the cheaper backlit multimeters.
The Greenlee has the main features you need, including capacitance, ohms, and even microamps. Because it has circuitry for both amps and micro-amps, the BeepJack alerts when the test leads are installed incorrectly.
One of the other neat features is that you can connect it to a PC (with additional accessory) for direct-to-PC data logging.
Lacking from the lineup is the non-contact voltage sensor, which I really want to have, and the LoZ (low input impedance) ghost voltage elimination.
The temperature probe is reliable and is a handy feature.
The meter is in an extremely rugged case and quite heavy. It is their first “professional” meter for a lot of folks, and it comes with a professional price.
7. Triplett 9007-A The Best Cheap HVAC Multimeter
If you are a homeowner who wants a digital multimeter that will do everything, this is the one to buy.
Most of the meters on this list are a Cat III rating that can handle up to 600 volts. This one saves a lot of money by only being a Cat II.
However, for the occasional repair, it is perfect.
Unlike the Auto-ranging meters, this one needs you to choose from 19 manual ranges. It offers both AC and DC voltage measurements, and you simply click it into the proper on (i.e., choose “200” in the orange “AC” section when working on household voltage and “600” when working on 3-phase electricity such as at the unit.)
There are several Triplett HVAC multimeters on the market.
This is the one that has every feature you need, including Amperage, Milliamps, Temperature, and Capacitance.
There is also an easy spot to plug in the K-type temperature probe and to take accurate readings either in Celsius or Fahrenheit.
It comes with test leads and alligator clips, making it easy to get stable measurements.
The bottom line is that the Triplett is one of the few cheap multimeter options that is designed to withstand the rugged Jobsite and deliver consistent measurements. Buy it as a backup multimeter, or just save some money and use it as your sole multimeter.
Homeowners will love the accuracy and ease of this tool.
8. UEI Test Instruments DL369 – Cheap HVAC Clamp Meter
Okay, So UEI packs a lot of value into their multimeter, making it an excellent choice for the DIY homeowner and the beginner technician. However, this brand is not as well-known as the others on this list.
The DL369 comes with the basic features you need. The Non-Contact Voltage makes it easy to check for voltage and test how many volts are running through a line.
It is an AC and DC multimeter that can be used for both types of work.
You also have capacitance, ohms, and both amperage and microamps to fully check all parts of the HVAC system.
Another handy feature is the built-in diode with continuity testing.
The downside is that it can be a little slow to take readings in some settings, such as when testing capacitors.
If you want an affordable clamp-on meter, the UEI Multimeters are an excellent brand to look at.
One final feature is that the DL369 comes with handy test leads storage to make it easy to keep track of your cords.
While this multimeter checks off every box for the HVAC technician and the brand is backed by a 50-year-old company, this digital clamp meter lacks the speed, ruggedness, and accuracy of a professional technician.
9. Fluke 323 HVAC Multimeter With Clamp – Best For Electricians
Fluke has discovered that many HVAC technicians want both their 116 and their 323 multimeters. Accordingly, they’ve created the 323 combo that includes both digital multimeters in an easy-to-use carrying case.
The 323 is an excellent digital clamp meter but misses some of the finer items that you want in an HVAC meter.
The big feature with this meter is the True RMS calibration. True RMS helps you get a more accurate voltage for those rare situations when a few volts difference matters to your testing.
It comes with the Cat III high voltage rating up to 600v.
However, where it shines is in taking accurate amperage measurements up to 400 amps inside a junction box’s tight confines.
It is the ideal of an electrician’s multimeter.
What this meter lacks is ohms for measuring resistance. It also does not come with capacitance.
So while you can purchase this meter on its own, I would lean towards getting the Fluke 116, or buying this in a combination pack that includes both.
While this is an excellent clamp multimeter, it lacks many of the functions you need for HVAC work. I have it lower on the list for this reason.
10. Amprobe AM-520- Simple HVAC Digital Multimeter
I feel like this list has been pretty robust. But we’ll let this little HVAC DMM (Digital Multimeter) get a little spotlight.
A strong competitor to the Triplett 9007-A reviewed above; it handles voltage up to 600v AC/DC. The nice thing is that it auto-ranges, so the dial controls are less overwhelming.
This one measures Amperages (to 10 amps), Milliamps, and Microamps.
An NCV display and diode test help this multimeter punch above its weight class and gives you convenience features generally only found on more expensive tools. The Capacitance measurement seals the deal as a lot of value in a little box.
The Min/Max feature isn’t something you will frequently use, but can help you capture wide voltage swings.
The cherry on top is this multimeter’s ability to measure temperature.
If the price is important to you, the AmpProbe makes a solid argument for why you should give their digital multimeter a try.
HVAC Multimeter Buying Guide
Test Probe Holder
Having a test probe holder is not a deal-breaker, but some HVAC multimeters have started creating a slot that holds the test probe. This feature lets you perform your tests while using only one hand, which dramatically speeds up the testing and reduces your frustration. The FC640 is about the only model on this list with a test probe holder.
Non Contact Voltage Detector
A non-contact voltage tester can speed up testing. Just place the multimeter near an outlet or wire and see if there is any voltage. An NCV saves you time in finagling probes into the outlet to see if it is live.
Capacitance is one of the most important features of a multimeter for HVAC technicians. This feature lets you easily check the health of capacitors and diagnose this common problem. Sure, there are ways that you can get a good guess if the capacitor is bad by using the ohmmeter, but this test gives you a more definitive answer, and faster.
Many new technicians do not realize how important it is to test for amp draw. The clamp allows you to check the amperage being pulled by a compressor or motor during operation. This is essential to diagnosing load problems.
Some meters come with an additional probe that lets you test the temp of the airflow coming out of the vents. Granted, I prefer to keep a temp gun on hand, but these probes are more accurate. You can also buy a clamp to go with these probes, and they work well when using superheat or supercool to diagnose problems.
What Are CAT Ratings?
CAT levels are safety ratings to identify what type of electrical power supplies a multimeter should be used for. For example, a CAT IV is safe to use when testing three-phase at a utility connection or bus. A Cat I rating is only for testing small electrical devices with low voltage.
Using a CAT I isn’t rated to handle the electricity of a major utility connection. Misusing it in this manner can lead to death. A Cat III 600v rating is about right for most HVAC work.
On the cheap digital multimeter we used in high school, I had to select the proper range of the resistance or voltage. With the auto-ranging tools, they automatically detect and properly adjust the reading to give you a correct read-out without choosing the setting manually.
Even if you are proficient at reading the color coding on resistors, it’s easier to just take your readings without slowing to read the resistors.
Eliminate Ghost Voltage
Ghost voltage occurs when a powered line running near a “dead” line induces a current reading into the “dead” line. This line still has no usable power, but your voltmeter will read that line as having a good power output.
A multimeter with a loZ setting (low input impedance) eliminates the ghost voltage readings.
The loZ or “low impedance” setting will ignore the ghost voltage and give you a true reading on that line.
Do I Need A True RMS Multimeter?
Alternating Current fluctuates back and forth in a sine wave. When dealing with a perfect sine wave, you don’t need an RMS Multimeter.
However, the real world mostly consists of “dirty” electricity with imperfect and varying sine waves. To get the most accurate measurements, you need a true RMS multimeter that does extra calculations to figure out the root mean sine and to provide a more accurate reading.
True RMS is the only calculation that will give you a true voltage reading that is independent of signal quality.
For the HVAC technician, a true RMS multimeter can highlight issues that cheaper tools will miss.
What is a Fluke Multimeter?
For the pro, this is a dumb question. But for the rest of my readers, it helps to know. Fluke is the brand of a multimeter company. Because their digital multimeters are so trusted and widely used, sometimes they get referred to in the same way Kleenex is mentioned anytime someone needs to blow their nose. Fluke and Klein are two of my favorite brands.
What is a NIST Certificate? (And Do I Need One?)
Sometimes you’ll see meters that you can pay extra to purchase a NIST certificate. NIST provides standard reference materials that the multimeter is calibrated against.
All tools should be calibrated before they are shipped. When you pay extra, you get a certificate that traces that calibrations and verifies it against that standard. It also provides an expiration date when the tool should be recalibrated.
Most technicians don’t need to pay extra for this documentation unless they are in some type of quality assurance role.
Which HVAC Multimeter Should I Buy?
I would recommend the Fieldpiece SC640 as the all-around tool you should buy when money is no objection.
Following that is a neck-and-neck fight with Fluke 116 and Fieldpiece HS33 offering two similar, yet very different tools. The HS33 has some added features that I really like, but you can work like most pros and buy the Fluke 116/323 combination set.
Make sure to check out our comparison chart to get the right tool for you!