The AM-510 is Amprobe’s entry level multimeter of the much vaunted 500 series. Designed mainly for home and commercial applications, it can also handle automotive diagnostics and basic electronics work, and could be used as a backup ‘beater’ meter for qualified electricians.
There were several features found on the Amprobe AM-510 review that you would normally only find on a more advanced multimeter. This is a manual and auto-ranging tester and can detect voltage as well as measure milliamps and micro-amps. Voltage, full current, resistance and capacitance can also be measured, along with frequency and duty cycle.
- Measures AC / DC voltage to 600V
- Safety rated to CATIII
- Measures AC / DC current to 10A
- Measures resistance, capacitance, frequency and duty cycle
- Continuity test with beeper
- Measures temperature
- Automatic and manual ranging
- Backlit LCD display
- Non-contact voltage detection
- Diode / LED checker
- Data hold
- MIN/MAX mode
- Relative, zero mode
- Size: 7.2″ (182mm) x 3.5″ (90mm) x 1.8″ (45mm)
- Weight: 12.5oz (354g)
- 9V battery (installed)
- Test probe leads
- User manual
In-depth Review of the Amprobe AM-510
Despite being at the bottom of the 500 series of test meters, the AM510 has a category III safety rating (to 600V), a backlit display and even a built-in LED flashlight. It is as tough and rugged as the more comprehensive multimeters in this range and is pretty accurate, too
Some of the standard specs include the measuring of AC and DC current to 10 amps, AC/DC voltage to 600 volts, resistance up to 40MΩ, capacitance to 4000μF, frequency to 10MHz, and micro-current down to 400μA. The AM-510 also has a battery test feature that can check the status of 1.5V and 9V batteries.
While it offers non-contact voltage detection, it is not that great for picking up cable chases or for socket outlets as the measuring range is quite slim. However, it does work quite well for wires and trailing leads. Of the current measuring ranges on the Amprobe AM-510, along with measuring to 10A on mains and automotive wiring circuits, the micro-amp input allows you to analyze electronic circuitry or test flame detectors, for example.
Some of the other useful features on the AM-510: Relative mode, to zero out the meter to enable a clear comparison of readings from a zero datum. This mode can also remove the test leads’ resistance value. A hold function freezes the present reading on display, and it also has an auto power-off function to save battery life as well as a low battery warning.
The AM510 is an average RMS multimeter. This means it will measure AC voltage and current correctly when a given signal is a standard sine waveform. But for complex frequencies that might be resultant from a variable speed drive, for example, you would get an inaccurate reading and would need a TRUE RMS meter in that case.
NOTE: Average RMS devices are perfectly fine for everyday electrics.
AC voltage – 4V to 400V: ±(1% + 3 cts) | Max: to 600V
DC voltage – 4V to 400V: ±(0.8% + 1 ct) | Max: to 600V
AC current – 400μA to 400mA: ±(1.2% +3 cts) | Max: to 10A
DC current – 400μA to 400mA: ±(1.2% +3 cts) | Max: to 10A
Resistance – 4kΩ to 400kΩ: ±(1% +2 cts) | Max: to 40MΩ
Capacitance – 400nF to 40μF: ±(3% +5 cts) | Full ranges: 40nF / 4000μF
Frequency – 10Hz to 10MHz: ±(0.1% +4 cts)
Temperature – 32°F / 0°C to 212°F / 100°C: ±(1.8% +6°F), ±(1.2% +3 °C)
Full temp range – -40°F / -40°C to 1832°F / 1000°C
cts = counts / digits
Although Amprobe is a US firm, the AM-510 is put together in China and not the USA. It is still a genuine Amprobe product of course, as much as a Chinese-built iPhone remains a product of Apple. Some people baulk at this, but the truth is it is well built with quality plastics and components and works to specification and accuracy levels.
The case is sturdy and surrounded by a tough, rubber holster, which has probe lead holders on the rear. There is also a rubber tilting bail stand built in, along with a clasp on the top for hanging via an optional velcro strap. In addition is a separate battery compartment which has fixed battery terminals direct to the circuit board.
The quality of the test leads discovered on the Amprobe AM-510 review is also quite surprising for stock leads. They come with a safety cap to protect against lead short-outs, but which can be removed for when reaching into deep-seated contact fixings in control panel boards, for example.
Display and Labels
Overall, the AM-510 is a nice looking meter with a well balanced interface that is topped off by a clear display. It is a 4000-count (3999) LCD screen with nicely spaced digits and clear decimal points. Icons are clearly designated around the main display, including a low battery warning, NCV (non-contact voltage mode) and Auto Range (auto-ranging mode), etc. There is also a backlight which comes on temporarily.
The AM-510 has quite a few dial selector positions for an entry level, auto-ranging multimeter – 11 positions in all, together with the off position. All ranges are well labeled, however, and four of them have independent functions, such as capacitance and temperature.
The six buttons are clearly marked and work in conjunction with the dial selector. Jack socket inputs display the correct lead plug-in configuration – between current inputs, main terminal, and common.
Function and Performance
Aside from the lack of extra features, the 510 differs with some of the other testers in the series, in that certain dial functions receive prominence over others. Voltage, for instance, is all on one dial position, so you’ll need to step through between AC and DC volts. Both the non-contact voltage detector and battery test modes have their own positions.
You can also easily switch between auto ranging and manual ranging modes; turn the flashlight and backlight on, and so on. The battery is not great on the AM510 and so the backlight only stays on for a predetermined amount of time (25 seconds). The auto power-off kicks in after about 30 minutes of non-use.
The Amprobe AM-510 can’t have all these features, functions and accuracy at this price range without compromising somewhere. And where it struggles is on speed. While manual ranging is timely and the continuity beeper is fairly quick, things start to slow up on auto-ranging when settling a reading. This is generally the issue with many multimeters today, though higher end ones will typically be faster.
HOLD / Backlight: freeze the current display reading
REL: relative mode and zeroing
RANGE: change from auto to manual ranging
Hz / %: frequency / duty cycle
SELECT: change the input range on a given dial position
Flashlight: turn on the LED flashlight
There are four jack inputs on the AM-510:
mA/µA/Bat (milliamps/micro-amps/battery test)
Cap/V/Ω/Hz (main terminal)
The AM-510 multimeter has been built to a category III safety rating of 600V, meaning it is certified to cope with installations up to that voltage. It also meets IEC safety standards. The current circuits are protected by high quality, 500mA and 11A HRC fuses for the 400mA and 10A AC/DC current ranges. The electronic circuitry is sound and protected further by a shunt and thermistor.
Amprobe AM-510 fuse part numbers: 500mA: FP500 / 10A: FP540
The casing is equally well protected, built with tough plastics under a rugged rubber boot. It can withstand reasonable drops and shocks. The test leads are also well protected, with detachable plastic tip housings.
Who is it For?
Electricians buy these AM510s all the time, but it is more suited to home and commercial use than in industry. Although it can measure AC and DC current to 10A, it is ideal for checking batteries, outlets, home appliances, circuit board continuity, and car wiring more so than troubleshooting faults in three phase systems. In short, the Amprobe AM-510 review has shown that it is best for general purpose electrics, while the higher rated 560 and the 570 multimeter can handle more advanced tasks.
AM-510 Good and Bad
- Good feature-set
- Nice look and build
- Measures amps, milliamps, micro-amps
- Measures capacitance
- Auto / manual ranging
- Voltage detector (non-contact)
- Decent display, with backlight
- LED light
- Separate current input jack sockets
- Auto power-off
- Quite large
- Slow on auto-ranging and continuity
- Voltage detector has limited range
- Temporary backlight
- No case
The Amprobe AM-510 is great for measuring voltage, resistance and continuity and has some nice extra features. It is a bargain multimeter considering the range of functions it has that are normally found on more expensive devices, such as non-contact voltage detection and a micro-amp range.
The auto range function is also quite slow, but it is a good all-round multimeter, nonetheless, where Klein- and Fluke-comparable devices might be a bit much. If you want to read AC circuits with variable drives accurately, where True RMS would be needed, or to analyze other complex systems, however, you would need to upgrade to something like the AM-530.
Bearing in mind that it also does not come with a case, as with higher value 500 series meters such as the 530. Extras include a vinyl carry case that will hold the meter, leads and manual, plus a velcro hanging strap.
Get the Amprobe 510 at Amazon