This is a solid multimeter with a nice look and feel for the money. An auto-ranging test meter with battery checker, non-contact voltage detection and milliamp/micro-amp ranges, it will suit budding electricians as well as professionals.
This is a True-RMS DMM, meaning accurate AC readings even with an irregular signal, and it has a safety rating of CAT-II to 1000V. The Amprobe AM-530 review has it checking cable continuity, troubleshooting motors and measuring service frequency, plus there’s a built-in flashlight and temperature sensor.
- True RMS
- Measures voltage, current, resistance, capacitance, temperature
- Auto ranging and manual ranging
- Non-contact volts sensor
- Audible continuity checker
- Diode test
- MIN/MAX mode for fluctuations
- Relative zero mode
- Data hold
- Backlit LCD display
- Bar graph display
- Safety rated CAT-II (to 1000V), CAT-IV (to 600V)
- Size: 7.2″ (182mm) x 3.5″ (90mm) x 1.8″ (45mm)
- Weight: 12.5oz (354g)
- 9V battery
- Test leads
- Type-K thermocouple
- Carry case
- User manual (pdf)
Complete Review of the Amprobe AM-530
Amprobe’s AM-530 has all the useful checks and measurement criteria, along with several extra features. Current ranges have separate inputs and there is a 1.5V/9V battery checker. Micro-amps could do with a lower range for testing furnace flame sensors, but you can test for AC and DC amps with the AM530, as well as volts up to 1000V (CATII).
The capacitance range gets down to 40nF, resistance up to 40MΩ, and the wide temperature range can also come in handy. This is also an auto-ranging multimeter, making it easier to get to grips with for those new to electrics, while the manual ranging option will suit professionals wanting faster response times.
When measuring AC volts or amps on irregular inputs (such as that from output of an inverter), the True RMS feature provides much more accuracy over a traditional, average RMS multimeter. Together with this are useful ‘hold’, relative zero and MIN/MAX functions. Auto power-off kicks in after 15 minutes of idle time to help save the battery.
|400mV / 600V
|400mV / 600V
|400μA / 10A
|400μA / 10A
|400Ω / 40MΩ
|40nF / 4000μF
|-40°F / 1832°F
|-40°C / 1000°C
These levels of accuracy may not be great compared with top end meters – with DC volts being the main indicator of apparent accuracy – but should be fine for general purpose tasks.
One of the AM-530’s most useful features is the VoltSense non-contact detector. With this feature, you can check if there is power in cable runs inside walls, socket outlets, switches and more, without needing to bare any wires. This saves having a separate tester stick, though some of Amprobe’s clamp meters have a more reliable sensor.
A type K thermocouple probe comes with the AM-530, plugging right into the main jack sockets of the multimeter. While not precise, you can measure temperatures from -40°F to 1832°F.
Located on the top of the meter is a very useful LED flashlight. Few test multimeters have this extra feature and it can be a life-saver if you’re working at night or in a roof space or attic during a power cut. The flashlight has a dedicated button.
Display and Interface
This has to be one of the clearest multimeters out there, with a sharp 4000-count display that has well spaced digits and a responsive bar graph. The bar graph allows for observations of changing signals, much like that of an analog display, but minus the obvious limitations in the latter.
Overall, the display is very easy to read and remains legible even when read at an angle, or in bright light. There is also a backlight, albeit one which only stays on for a short time to conserve battery life. Display icons are equally easy to decipher. The rest of the meter’s interface is also clear, with a well marked, non-cluttered dial and six obvious buttons.
Just looking at the Amprobe AM-530 review closely, it is clear that it is well designed. Tolerances on the enclosure are tight, with minimal gaps, and it is nicely proportioned and has a decent screen. It is also light for its size and the rear of the case features handy probe clips. A square-edged kickstand keeps the 530 sturdy when working with one hand on a bench, plus the leads are also tough.
Also on the back is a Velcro strap for easy holding and a tag on the top allows it to be hung for hands-free operation. The battery compartment is accessed by a single screw/metal insert, wherein the 9V battery terminals are soldered direct to board. This good build is extended to the solid range dial and circuit board components, which are good quality.
Function and Performance
The combination of attractive dial and clear buttons on the AM-530 makes it intuitive and easy enough to get to grips with for non-electricians. Turning on manual ranging is made easy by simply hitting the RANGE button, for instance. The function selector is also solid, with definite indents that are hard to sit between range inputs.
Regards the built in flashlight, it can only be switched on when the meter is in use (ie, powered up), so as not to inadvertently turn it on and drain the battery when in a toolbox, for example. The 15-minute auto power-off mode can be disabled by holding the select button while turning the unit on. Battery life is so-so at around 150hrs.
HOLD / Backlight: lock in a measurement and switch on display backlight
REL: relative, zero mode
RANGE: change between auto and manual ranging
MIN/MAX: show low and high amounts on changing voltage
SELECT: change between different input ranges on same dial position
Flashlight: turn on and off the meter’s independent flashlight
The Amprobe AM530 has four jack inputs.
°C/V/Ω/Hz (main terminal)
As to speed of the AM-530 Amprobe , it is a little disappointing when set to auto range, taking a couple of seconds to zero in on the result. Naturally, manual ranging is a lot quicker.
The unit is obviously well built with strong plastics that don’t bend and twist easily. It is covered by a tight-fitting rubber boot to help protect from drops and to aid grip. In addition is a deep U-shaped channel in the interior to protect against water ingress. The whole thing comes in a nylon splash proof carry case.
The stock test lead probes are also pretty good, with insulated tips, standard cable strain reliefs and ergonomic finger pads. Protecting the multimeter electrically are two 1000V HRC-rated fuses on both the main 10A and the milliamp circuits – 11A and 500mA fuses respectively. A shunt, PTC termistor, power resistor and metal-oxide varistor surge protectors are also incorporated.
Best Suited To: the AM-530 is mainly aimed at the electrician, but is within budget for students and hobbyists looking for a solid meter. While it can cope with industrial environments – with its CATIV rating – it might be a bit slow for professionals on a breakdown where time is of the essence.
Amprobe AM530 Good and Bad
- Has more features than most would need
- Great appearance and build quality
- Nice backlit display, clear labeling
- Voltage detection
- Measures temperature
- Built-in flashlight
- Auto and manual ranging
- Can measure AC/DC amps and micro-amps
- Good category ratings
- Stable kickstand
- Automatic power-off
- Slow auto-ranging
- Slow continuity and capacitance response times
- VoltSense voltage detection can be temperamental
- Backlight only stays on for 25 seconds at a time
For those unconcerned about slow auto-ranging times, the Amprobe AM-530 review has detailed a very good multimeter for the $60 – $80 price range. It has many useful features, such as manual ranging and voltage detection, and an overall excellent build quality and look.
The accuracy may not be the best and battery life also suffers a bit, especially when the backlight and flashlight is used frequently. It does, however, measure capacitance and temperature and has separate amperage inputs.
Alternatives: Those looking for more features and better build quality should consider the AM-570. Alternatively, Amprobe’s amp clamp multimeters offer higher current measurements plus some of the functionality of a DMM.