Best Digital Calipers [of 2022]
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Do you want precision measurements for your next DIY projects? Far more accurate than a dial caliper, we’ve reviewed the best digital calipers on the market. Read on and find out how to get the best value for your money!
The 4 Best Digital Calipers
1. Mitutoyo 500-196-30CAL
Ideal for the workshop but also for a passionate hobbyist, the Mitutoyo 500-196-30CAL is no doubt the best digital caliper on the market. Perhaps its most attractive feature is the measurement range from 0 to 6 inches that appeals to professionals and amateurs alike.
Combined with the 0.0005-inch resolution and 0.001-inch accuracy, this caliper is perfect for measuring inner and outer diameters or depths even in harsh conditions.
The caliper is equipped with a thumb roller and an absolute electrostatic encoder than ensure accurate measurements, while the user can switch from metric units to inches in a blink of an eye. This calibrated tool comes with an SR-44 battery, is resilient, durable and accurate. All you could ask for from a digital caliper built for precision.
2. iGaging HAZM044625
The iGaging HAZM044625 encompasses many best-in-class features and comes at an attractive price point that doesn’t pass unnoticed.
Similar to the Mitutoyo, this tool boasts high resolution and accuracy, and a generous measurement range. The best feature of this unit is the super high accuracy memory technology developed to keep track of the origin position, allowing for precise measurements without resetting the tool. Furthermore, the caliper can easily transfer all data to a computer via a USB cable.
An easy-view LCD adds up to convenience, while the IP54 water and dust resistant construction ensures durability. Accurate, reliable, and able to withstand harsh workshop demands, the iGaging HAZM044625 brings unparalleled value at a price that won’t break the bank.
3. EAGems IP54
The EAGems IP54 is comparable with our best value pick in many ways. It boasts an all stainless steel construction which is resistant to water and dust, it’s easy to use and built for precise measurements. A large LCD screen displays your measurement values for easy reading while a handy button helps you switch between inches, millimeters, and fractions.
Two 3V batteries will provide years of resilient use, while a convenient automatic shutoff function prolongs the battery’s lifespan.
Ideal for hobbyists and professionals, reliable but unable to transfer data to a PC, the EAGems IP54 makes a great second best-value pick.
4. VINCA DCLA-0605
The VINCA DCLA-0605 is one of the cheapest digital calipers on the market, but the manufacturer didn’t compromise on quality. Boasting exceptional features, this tool is comparable with higher-end calipers. Its measurement accuracy stands in the + or – 0.001 range, while the resolution and measuring distance are also similar to those of the other featured tools.
Fully calibrated but uncertified, the device comes with an extra-large LCD screen and an extra battery.
Ideal for a wide range of DIY application, the VINCA DCLA-0605 has three measuring modes and impresses with a durable, all stainless steel construction.
Intuitive and easy to use, reliable, but uncertified, this best value digital caliper is ideal for the DIYer shopping on a budget.
What to Look out for When Shopping for a Digital Caliper:
1. Why Invest in a Digital Caliper?
Whether you’re a professional or DIYer, a digital caliper is your best bet in all projects where measurement accuracy counts. This tool is not only more comfortable to use than a dial caliper or vernier, it’s also more accurate and displays the results conveniently on a large LCD screen.
Much more than a fancy ruler, this tool serves numerous workshop and domestic purposes that require a precise measurement of external and internal diameter, width or depth of workpieces, and withstands high-volume industrial use.
The best digital calipers can even transfer data to a computer or mobile device via a USB connection, allowing you to store, analyze, and compare the measurements achieved.
2. Types of Digital Calipers
There are two types of digital calipers, and the difference between them is so subtle that DIYers even consider it negligible. In detail, you can choose between general purpose calipers and specialty calipers.
- General purpose calipers: Are developed for widespread workshop use and often come with specifications and features similar to the specialty tools. However, these calipers are not certified for measurement accuracy, which means their results may be inaccurate. They also tend to be made of inferior quality materials that degrade quickly in harsh job site conditions.
- Specialty calipers: Are typically designed for specific type of measurements, such as pipe thickness or key-slot measuring. The calibration makes a massive difference in terms of accuracy between these model and their general purpose counterpart. The calibration certificate ensures measurement accuracy, making these tools ideal for professional use.
Despite their lack of certification, the general purpose tools aren’t necessarily bad. For most home workshop or light duty projects where high measurement accuracy is unnecessary, this type of digital caliper can save you some money while still providing more accurate results than a ruler or vernier.
However, the best digital caliper comes with certified calibration and is recommended for projects that require high precision.
3. Digital Caliper Build
Digital calipers are usually made of stainless steel due to the material’s durability and rust-resistant properties. But despite these features, there are a few things to check before buying the tool:
- Robustness: Stainless steel isn’t a guarantee for durability. Make sure the materials involved are strong and sturdy, engineered to last for years. Poor quality stainless steel can wear out quickly, especially if the tool is used in harsh environments.
- Thumb roller: The thumb roller is used to make fine measurement adjustments, but a thumb roller that doesn’t roll easily is more of a pain. Likewise, invest in a caliper with jaws that glide smoothly, or using it may be harder than expected.
- Plastic components: Plastic is often employed in the construction of low-end calipers, but it’s not a material you’d want on your tool. Plastic is weak and brittle, it wears out fast and decreases the overall resistance of your caliper.
4. ISO and Measurement Accuracy
It’s easy to imagine the most important feature of a digital caliper is its measurement accuracy. Most general purpose digital calipers have a resolution of 0.01 millimeters (or 0.0005 inches), which typically corresponds to measurement accuracy of + or – 0.025 millimeters (or 0.001 inches).
Some high-precision calipers have a resolution of 0.005 millimeters which provides near absolute accuracy. However, these models are expensive and rarely used for DIY or general commercial purposes.
Digital caliper calibration certificate
All manufacturer praise their tools for unparalleled accuracy and measurement precision, but only a calibration certificate can guarantee their claims are true. Yet, not all certificates were created equal, and some are completely worthless.
ISO 9001 Certified Calipers
In an attempt to sell more calipers, some manufacturers provide their tools with in-house calibration certificates issued by the manufacturing brand. But unless the calibration certification has been conducted by a third party in a standard quality testing laboratory, this type of certificate proves nothing in terms of accuracy.
The best digital calipers are either ISO 9001 certified or ISO/IEC 17025 certified, and only these types of certificates can offer a guarantee for measurement accuracy.
5. Digital Caliper Functions
Digital calipers are beloved by hobbyists and professionals due to their versatility ensured by the multiple functions present on the tool.
Most entry-level digital calipers come with at least three measuring modes that allow users to switch from inches to millimeters or fractions, depending on the application. Higher end calipers also allow a convenient switch between measurement units and come with additional functions like:
- Absolute measurement
- Incremental measurement
- Differential measurement
- Scale contamination alert
- Low-voltage alert
6. Application Environment
An important consideration goes to the application environment, which is an essential factor to account for when buying a digital caliper.
If you’re planning to use the caliper in a home workshop away from sources of moisture and dust, a standard stainless steel tool may suffice. However, most professionals and DIYers use calipers in less than ideal conditions, and the tool often comes in contact with water and dust. The sensors in the tool could malfunction in very humid or dusty environments, affecting the caliper’s capabilities.
In this case, there are two types of calipers to consider:
- IP54 models: Boast water and dust resistant properties. They cost slightly more than a standard caliper and withstand most industrial or workshops environments with a humidity level lower than 80% and moderate dust, as long as splashing liquid is not a concern.
- IP65 and IP67 models: Are water and dustproof; they function flawlessly in environments with a relative humidity higher than 80% and preserve their capabilities even when coming in contact with liquids or excessive dust.
7. What Other Features Should You Look For?
- USB output: The best digital calipers allow operators to transfer measurement data from the tool to a computer or other device. This is important if you want to keep track of past measurements or make a statistic.
- Position lock: An important feature that allows you to perform duplicate measurements to achieve higher
- Ease of use: it is essential to invest in a digital caliper that is easy to use. The three most important features to look for are a smooth jaw movement, sensitive thumb roller, and a readable display. Any functions must be easy to engage, and switching between measuring modes should also be easy. As a rule of thumb, if a specific caliper looks or feels too complicated to use, move on and search for another.
- Automatic shutoff: Digital calipers are powered by batteries, and an automatic shutoff function helps prolong the lifespan of the battery.
- LCD screen: Some low-end digital calipers come with small screens that are hard to read. To fully benefit from the tool, investing in a unit with a large LCD screen that is easy to see from a distance is essential.
- Length: Digital calipers come in a wide variety of lengths, typically from 4 to 48 or more inches. A shorter caliper up to 12 inches is easier to maneuver and usually long enough for most DIY and domestic applications. Contractors and professionals, however, may need a longer digital caliper.