Choosing the best multimeter with temperature measurement capabilities mainly depends on the intended use of the instrument. Multimeter manufacturers design these instruments to work with extremely high voltage, such as for electrical power lines, or for the home hobbyist working on a homemade computer with low power outputs, such as 12 volts. Each multimeter has measurement abilities for voltage, current, and resistance; however, you can find some models with a temperature probe for added troubleshooting capacities.
The multimeter with temperature capabilities should have a wide range of low to high values for testing a wide variety of items. Most users of temperature probes are verifying the heat output of an electronic component embedded in a printed circuit board (PCB). The user should be able to see the temperature rise or fall on the multimeter's front panel, both for analog and digital displays. Any excessive temperature increases can be documented and recorded by the instrument.
The temperature probe can be designed in a variety of shapes, from a basic flat sensor shape to alligator clips. These clips are vee-shaped, with teeth lke those of an alligator, and allow the test lead to be secured to an item without the threat of falling into a dangerous area, such as an excessively hot vent pipe. The flat sensor lead must be held in the hand or laid down in a safe position near the intended testing object, making it more difficult to secure in a volatile area, like a windy or vibrating work area.
A multimeter with temperature should have a choice between Fahrenheit and Celsius. Testing items may have specifications in either temperature value type within the owner's manual. The choice of units negates the need to convert the values, which helps to prevent miscalculation that might lead to an incorrect temperature interpretation.
The front panel of the multimeter with temperature should indicate decimal values out to the hundredths and thousandths. Some troubleshooting procedures involve documenting small fluctuations in temperature, especially for tiny electronic components. A lack of decimal places can falsely indicate that the temperature is static when it is truly changing within a small decimal range.
Rotary switches or buttons usually cover the front housing of the multimeter with temperature. Button activation between voltage, current, resistance, and temperature commonly fails over time; the mechanism can become gummed up with dirt and debris, causing jammed buttons. Rotary switches tend to offer more durability for daily use, allowing you to move briskly between each testing procedure.