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In my opinion, the most important, and first piece of equipment any shop should have is a good digital Multimeter (DVM). This will measure all of the basic units (AC & DC Volts, Ohms, Current) and will serve as a reference standard for your other equipment. Most units will also have additional abilities to measure things such as Capacitance, conductance, frequency, etc. You will use this meter constantly so invest in a good one, and do not forget to get one rugged enough for the conditions you work in! I highly recommend Fluke as they are nearly "bulletproof" both electrically, and physically. And stay away from "imports"!! Their accuracy, especially for ohms and amps, is much worse than the Big brands. They also tend to suffer extreme damage if you try to measure something on the wrong range. I have also heard of some of these literally exploding from surges when being used in power applications. Fluke meters are also IEC Category rated for use in High power and High Voltage circuits. If you work in these areas. look at this page from the NECA/IBEW training site: http://www.nietc.org/templates/template2/template2.php?page=99

Although I normally advocate surplus equipment, in this case, I would avoid used ones. Quality Digital Meters are very available and affordable. This is one instrument you need to be able to depend on completely, and you don't want to have to fix (or calibrate) it!

Pictured above is my favorite. It is a Fluke 8060A. It is rugged, accurate and dependable.

Below are some features to look for, or not: