10 Best Analog Multimeters of 2021 – Reviews & Top Picks
Digital technology has come a fairly long way. But there are always limits to what digital can really do.
Take multimeters for example. There is nothing wrong with using a digital multimeter, but such tools usually just give you an average reading. If you want highly accurate minimum and maximum readings, then you need a good analog multimeter.
What separates a good analog multimeter from a bad one? There are many different factors, but you don’t have to figure everything out on your own. With our reviews of the biggest multimeters on the market and our buyer’s guide, you’ll get answers to all of your burning questions.
Once you have those answers, you can pick the analog multimeter that is best suited to you and your needs.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
|Best Overall||Sanwa Em7000 Analog Multimeter||
|Best Value||Elenco M105 15 Multimeter||
|Premium Choice||Simpson Analog Multimeter||
|Tekpower TP8260L Analog Multimeter||
|Gardner Bender Analog Multimeter||
The 10 Best Analog Multimeters – Reviews 2021
1. Sanwa Em7000 Analog Multimeter – Best Overall
Anyone reading this is interested in saving time when shopping for a multimeter. If you simply want to know our “best overall” pick for an analog multimeter, look no further than the Sanwa Em7000 Analog Multimeter.
We liked that it uses AA and 9V batteries (included, no less). No need to chase down specialized batteries to power this multimeter! And in addition to the accurate readings, the 20-megohm resistance makes this one of the best multimeters around. Finally, the lack of an auto shut-off feature was very convenient.
What’s the downside? Just one: the lack of backlight can make it hard to read the gauge, especially if you’re working in a dark area.
2. Elenco M105 15 Multimeter – Best Value
It would be great to buy any tool that you want, but many handymen are on a strict budget for tools and projects. If you’re low on cash, you may be looking for the best analog multimeters for the money. And in this category, our pick is the Elenco M105 15 Multimeter.
First of all, it clocks in at a great price. And you get solid features for this price, including clean and accurate readings (no annoying “jumps” of the needle). For further convenience and value, you can run the entire multimeter on a single AA battery, which is highly convenient!
So, what keeps this value pick from being our “best overall” multimeter? With “only” 10 megohms max resistance, it can’t really hold a candle to some of the other picks on our list.
3. Simpson Analog Multimeter – Premium Choice
When it comes to tools, you can generally get better performance and additional features if you’re willing to pay a little more. With that in mind, you may want to consider some “premium” multimeters. And the best premium choice is the Simpson Analog Multimeter.
How accurate is this model? You may forget you’re using a portable multimeter because it has benchmark accuracy. And thanks to its Phenolic case and reinforced walls, you know this is durable enough for most conditions. Finally, the reverse recessed safety jacks provide an additional level of safety and security for the user.
What’s the downside? Simply that this tool is so expensive compared to others on the list. You may need to think long and hard about whether these premium features are worth the premium price.
4. Tekpower TP8260L Analog Multimeter
With the name “Tekpower,” you might think the Tekpower TP8260L Analog Multimeter came right out of a science fiction movie. While that’s not the case, it does have some futuristic features that we liked.
For example, the backlit design makes it easy for you to read the gauge in any light level. And the one-year warranty provides a great peace of mind for any buyer. On top of this, the ability to measure up to 10 amps of current makes this a perfect choice for anyone testing AC, DC, resistance, and continuity.
Some things aren’t so futuristic, though. The fact that it’s only rated to CAT-II 600V means this isn’t the safest tool on the list. And at the 1,000V DC range, this multimeter just wasn’t as accurate as most of the competition.
5. Gardner Bender Analog Multimeter
If you were in a multimeter store, you would most definitely find the Gardner Bender Analog Multimeter in the “budget” section. And while it didn’t make our pick for “best value” multimeter, you can still find plenty of value in this affordable tool.
The fact that it runs off of a single AA battery is very convenient and will save you time and money in the long run. And the included leads (positive and negative test leads) are convenient. Combined with the solid value, you get a surprisingly decent multimeter.
However, the fact that there are only two inputs (one for common and one for everything else) is disappointing. Its 1-megohm resistance is very low. And the 5% accuracy rating pales compared to some of the others on the list.
6. Power Gear 50952 Multimeter
The Power Gear 50952 Multimeter, with its bright yellow design, is definitely one of the more colorful multimeters you will encounter. But is it more than just a “pretty face?” Yes, but not by much.
Like some of the other tools on this list, this multimeter is very affordable and runs on one AA battery. And the fact that it has 6 different functions and 14 different ranges makes this a surprisingly versatile multimeter.
However, the leads are annoyingly stiff. And the 5% accuracy is disappointing. Worst of all, the Ohmmeter isn’t accurate at all, making this tool a mixed bag at best.
7. Hioki 3030-10 Analog Multimeter
Compared to some of the budget models we have reviewed, the Hioki 3030-10 Analog Multimeter is relatively expensive. Does that added cost bring added features? Sadly, there aren’t enough features to justify the price.
There were things we liked, of course. The fact that it runs on two AA batteries is convenient. And the included carrying case adds to the convenience. Overall, it’s fairly durable: even without the case, it can be dropped for up to one meter without suffering any damage.
What’s the problem, then? The lack of a backlight is frustrating, and the 3-kilohms max resistance seriously limits what you can do. And when you see the max voltage is only 600V, you’ll be asking why the price of the tool is this high.
8. Sunwa YX360 Analog Multimeter
The Sunwa YX360 Analog Multimeter is located near the bottom of our list. No surprises here: this multimeter is so low for a good reason!
Honestly, there is only one good thing to say about this multimeter: it’s very affordable. But price shouldn’t be your only consideration, and there are several major drawbacks you’ll need to consider.
The leads are poor-quality and, worse, hardwired: that means you’re stuck with them. Additionally, you can’t perform any different kinds of tests, greatly limiting your versatility. Finally, the tool is too large to fit in your pocket, which impacts just how portable this tool really is.
9. Triplett Model Analog Multimeter
While a more expensive price often signifies a better tool, there are certainly exceptions to that rule. And the Triplett Model Analog Multimeter is one of those exceptions.
What justifies the higher price? In our estimation, the best feature of this tool was the high-impact case that it came with. And everything was pretty much downhill from there.
First, the 300V max is low, especially for a tool of this price. And the multimeter seemed to have trouble zeroing in very accurately. At the end of the day, this is simply too expensive for a multimeter that is limited in so many ways!
10. Sperry Instruments Analog Multimeter
Compared to the previous entry, the Sperry Instruments Analog Multimeter is much more affordable. Unfortunately, it’s still too expensive when you consider its many annoying drawbacks.
In fact, we’d go so far as to say that its affordability is the best thing about this tool. Beyond that are several major disadvantages, and you must determine if a good price justifies these drawbacks.
For example, the 13 range is fairly limited, as are the 5 functions. And the 1-MOhm max resistance seriously limits what you can do. Cheap or not, the truth is that you can find better tools for your money, so you’re better off taking the time and getting something more powerful and more versatile.
With any luck, our reviews of different analog multimeters has helped you reach your decision. But there is a good chance that you still have some questions left.
That’s why we put together this comprehensive buyer’s guide. Our goal was simple: we wanted to answer any remaining multimeter questions you have and make your buying decision that much easier.
Once you complete this guide, you’ll be ready to buy an analog multimeter that meets any and all of your needs!
Do I Really Need a Multimeter?
If you’re checking out our reviews and buyer’s guide, it’s because you’re strongly considering buying a multimeter. But before you pull the trigger, you need to answer an essential question: do you really need a multimeter? To answer that, we need to explore what these devices can do and who really needs them.
The most basic function of a multimeter is to measure the electricity of various objects and appliances. Towards this end, these devices help to measure things like volts, current, resistance, and more.
If you’re an electrician, this tool is an absolute “must-have” for your line of work. But what about everyone else? It all comes down to how often you work with electrical devices and what your comfort level is for DIY repairs.
For example, if you are the first to say “I can fix it” if a TV or a microwave dies, you are going to need a good analog multimeter by your side. But if you are more comfortable picking up the phone and letting someone else handle your electrical issues, then you may want to skip buying this tool altogether.
One of the qualities that our reviews touched on were the different functions that various multimeters had to offer. But what are these functions, and why are they so important? Read on to learn the answer!
Generally speaking, the functions of a multimeter determine what all you can do with a single device. In order to change the function, all you must do is turn the knob in front of the device until it is facing your chosen function.
The more functions a multimeter has, the more that it can do. But the multimeters with the most functions also tend to be more expensive. You must ultimately decide whether you are willing to pay extra for this added versatility.
In our reviews, multimeters ranged from as low as four or five functions to as high as eight functions. But remember, functions don’t tell the entire story. It is also important to find tools that work well with the various applications that you have in mind.
All analog multimeters have something in common: they let you plug a couple of wires into the front of the device and connect them to probes in order to measure the current. But you should know that different multimeters come with different leads of varying quality that may influence your purchasing decision.
Generally speaking, you’ll want the ability to swap the leads out whenever you want. With a multimeter that has swappable leads, you can change things up if you have a different application in mind or simply want to replace older leads. While you can save a few bucks with multimeters that have hardwired leads, such devices are unlikely to stand the test of time.
One of the biggest factors that we looked at for different multimeters was their maximum resistance. This influences the quality and versatility of the tool, but do you understand what resistance is all about?
Multimeters work by measuring electric current. In this context, “resistance” simply refers to how well it impedes the flow of electricity. If it has a high resistance, that means that it is harder for the current to successfully flow through.
If your multimeter doesn’t have strong enough resistance for the current, that’s the end of the line. You won’t be able to get accurate readings until you get a multimeter that can handle it.
We measure resistance to current in Ohms and megaohms. Generally speaking, even the most basis multimeters will have a resistance of at least one megaohm. Many have a max resistance of ten megaohms, and some have a maximum resistance of twenty or higher.
Which max resistance is best for your needs? The answer may change from handyman to handyman. But it’s always best to overestimate and end up with a more versatile tool than underestimate and end up with something you can’t really use.
Digital vs Analog
Our entire set of reviews and buyer’s guide has focused entirely on analog multimeters. However, we need to answer the question: what’s the deal with digital multimeters vs analog ones? Which one is actually best for your needs?
There are a few advantages that digital multimeters have. For example, it’s usually a bit easier for you to read the actual readings on a digital screen versus squinting at an analog needle. And digital multimeters are generally a bit more sturdy than analog ones. Finally, these digital tools have a few extra “bells and whistles,” including auto-polarity functions and tools to help you avoid annoying Parallax errors.
With that in mind, why would you choose an analog multimeter over a digital one? Frankly, it’s because analog tools have some very specific advantages over their digital counterparts.
Analog multimeters generally give you a much more accurate range than digital ones (which typically just give you an average). And analog multimeters don’t really overheat like digital ones do, making them a great choice for working outside. Finally, analog multimeters tend to last a much longer time than digital ones.
Long story short? Digital multimeters offer additional bells and whistles, and they may even work well with your intended projects. But for certain projects and certain handymen, the accuracy and reliability of an analog multimeter is the way to go.
Any Disadvantages of Using Analog Multimeters?
We reviewed some of the specific advantages that analog multimeters have compared to digital ones. But in the spirit of transparency, we must answer another question: are there any disadvantages of using these devices vs digital devices?
We’ve already briefly mentioned some of the disadvantages. For example, analog tools will always have fewer features than digital tools. But this doesn’t have to be a dealbreaker if you have very specific needs.
And analog devices are more fragile than digital ones. While an analog multimeter that you take good care of will last a great many years, all it takes is a single bad drop to throw off the accuracy of the needle.
Finally, these devices are much more prone to “user error” than digital devices. You are typically forced to do mathematical conversions on your own, and it’s very easy to misread the needle (especially if you are new to multimeters and/or have poor vision).
All in all, the final verdict is that analog multimeters are better for experienced handymen. If you take care of your gear and don’t mind doing a bit of quick math in your head, these are very reliable tools. But if you are new to multimeters or simply very worried about user error, you may need to use a digital multimeter instead.
While it’s tough to shop for the best tools on any given day, finding the best analog multimeter is particularly challenging. Many handymen struggle with deciding between digital and analog, let alone with finding the perfect analog device!
Hopefully, our reviews and buyer’s guide have helped you learn more about these complex tools and their different functions. And you may be ready to buy the multimeter that you’ve been dreaming of. If you still can’t make a decision, though, we may have the final piece of the puzzle: the winners of our review roundup!
Which were the best analog multimeters on our list? In terms of “best overall” pick, we have to go with the Sanwa Em7000 Analog Multimeter. It packs in plenty of solid features and is great for beginners and veteran handymen alike.
Are you measuring current on a tight budget? In that case, we recommend the Elenco M105 15 Multimeter. It’s a budget device that delivers premium performance, and you won’t regret picking it up.
But no one tool is perfect for every handyman. Only you can determine which analog multimeter is best for you. And now that you know what to look for (and what to avoid), buying the best multimeter should be easier than ever!
- 1 A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
- 2 The 10 Best Analog Multimeters – Reviews 2021
- 2.1 1. Sanwa Em7000 Analog Multimeter – Best Overall
- 2.2 2. Elenco M105 15 Multimeter – Best Value
- 2.3 3. Simpson Analog Multimeter – Premium Choice
- 2.4 4. Tekpower TP8260L Analog Multimeter
- 2.5 5. Gardner Bender Analog Multimeter
- 2.6 6. Power Gear 50952 Multimeter
- 2.7 7. Hioki 3030-10 Analog Multimeter
- 2.8 8. Sunwa YX360 Analog Multimeter
- 2.9 9. Triplett Model Analog Multimeter
- 2.10 10. Sperry Instruments Analog Multimeter
- 3 Buyer’s Guide
- 4 Conclusion