Written By Car Bibles Staff
Published Nov. 19, 2018

Whether you are involved in a home project, are making changes to your vehicle, or are a professional mechanical engineer, there are some jobs that require very precise measurements to be taken. Mistakes with these measurements can lead to parts not fitting correctly, not moving correctly, or even the finished project being dangerous. A digital caliper is the best way to achieve precision when dealing with small measurements. But, with so many makes and models of the digital caliper on the market, it can be difficult to know where to start looking for the caliper that fits your needs. Our panel of car lovers and tool experts have compiled a list of the 10 best digital calipers to get you started.

The Best Digital Caliper

The VINCA DCLA-0605 Quality Electronic Digital Vernier Caliper contains a Vernier scale alongside the main scale and is made from high-quality stainless steel. It includes metric/inch/fraction conversion to make it easier to use for a wide range of projects. The fine polished finish offers smoother sliding and more accurate results. The caliper has a measuring range of zero to six inches and includes an extra-large LCD display. It can be used for external, internal, depth, and step measurements and is ideal for both personal DIY and professional use.

Key Features
  • Measure range: 0-6 inches/150mm
  • Display: ½” x 1 ½” (13mm x 38mm) digital LCD
  • Accuracy: ± 0.001”/0.03mm
  • Resolution: 0.005”/0.01mm 1/128”
  • Inch/metric/fraction conversion
  • Full calibrated – no certificate included
Specification
  • Brand INCA
  • Model DCLA-0605
  • Weight 5.3 oz

The EAGems Digital Caliper is created from stainless steel. Its construction gives it an easy glide movement and increases its overall accuracy. It has an automatic on/off feature to reduce battery usage and has an IP54 rating, meaning it has a good level of dust and liquid resistance. The calipers can convert between inches, millimeters, and fractions, and is ideal for both professional and DIY use. It can be used to measure inside and outside dimensions and step measurements; it includes a depth gauge and can be zeroed as required for differential measuring.

Key Features
  • Measure range: 0-6 inches/150mm
  • Display: Large LCD
  • Accuracy: ± 0.0005”/0.01mm
  • Resolution: 0.0005”/0.01mm 1/128”
  • Inch/metric/fraction conversion
  • Automatic on/off feature
Specification
  • Brand EAGems
  • Model Digital Caliper
  • Weight 7 oz

The Mitutoyo 500-196-30 Advanced Onsite Sensor Absolute Scale Digital Caliper includes an electromagnetic inductive sensor that is resistant to water, oil, and dirt. The stainless steel caliper includes a digital LCD display and can convert between inches and millimeters. It can be used for either absolute or incremental readings and can measure inside, outside, step, and depth values. Its gearless design increases its accuracy and its versatility.

Key Features
  • Measure range: 0-6 inches/150mm
  • Display: Large, easy to read LCD
  • Accuracy: ± 0.001”/0.03mm
  • Resolution: 0.0005”/0.01mm 1/128”
  • Inch/metric conversion
  • Resistant to water, air, and dirt
Specification
  • Brand Mitutoyo
  • Model 500-196-30
  • Weight 0.16 oz

The iGaging IP54 Electronic Digital Caliper has one of the largest LCD displays available. The caliper is oil, dust, and splash resistant and displays measurements to 1/128 inch in fractional display and four digits decimal in SAE mode. It is designed for professional usage and is created from hardened stainless steel with a precision lapping finish.

Key Features
  • Measure range: 0-6 inches/150mm
  • Display: 2 3/8” x 7/8” digital LCD
  • Accuracy:  ± 0.001”/0.03mm
  • Resolution: 0.0005”/0.01mm 1/128”
  • Repeatability: 0.0005”
  • Inch/fraction conversion
  • Resistant to water splashes, air, and dust
Specification
  • Brand iGaging
  • Model 100-333-8B
  • Weight 1.76 oz

The Neiko 01407A Electronic Digital Caliper has a stainless steel body and a large LCD screen for easy reading. It offers inch/millimeter/fraction conversion and includes a knurled thumb rollers and locking screw to ensure accurate positioning and smooth sliding during use. The versatile caliper can be used to measure inside, outside, step and depth. It contains two sets of jaws and a probe to increase accuracy and versatility.

Key Features
  • Measure range: 0-6 inches/150mm
  • Display: Large digital LCD
  • Accuracy: ± 0.001”/0.02mm
  • Resolution: 0.0005”/0.01mm 1/128”
  • Includes two sets of jaws and a probe
  • Inch/millimeter/fraction conversion
Specification
  • Brand Neiko
  • Model 01407A
  • Weight 11.2 oz

The Clockwise Tools DCLR-0605 Electronic Digital Caliper is designed for both DIY and professional use. It is created from fine polished stainless steel and includes a newly processed depthometer’s groove for smoother sliding and more accurate results. The caliper includes metric/inch/fraction conversion and an extra-large LCD screen.  It has an auto-off function to reduce battery wastage and comes complete with IP54 protection, featuring RS232 data transfer with a DTCR-02 data cable.

Key Features
  • Measure range: 0-6 inches/150mm
  • Display: ¾” x 2” LCD screen
  • Accuracy: ± 0.001”/0.03mm
  • Resolution: 0.0005”/0.01mm 1/128”
  • Repeatability: 0.0005”/0.01mm
  • Inch/millimeter/fraction conversion
  • IP54 protection – RS232 data transfer with a DTCR-02 data cable
Specification
  • Brand Clockwise Tools
  • Model DCLR-0605
  • Weight 5.3 oz

The solid stainless steel construction of the MeasuGator Lambda Digital Caliper makes it easy to hold while giving it a solid feel and ensuring it is long lasting. The lightweight movable digital module allows the caliper to maintain its balance when the jaws are open. The extra-large LCD display is easy to read, and the caliper has a quiet and smooth sliding action. The caliper has an anti-slip thumb grip with a locking screw and mode memory for ease of use. It can be used for internal, external, depth, step, and differential measures.

Key Features
  • Measure range: 0-6 inches/150mm
  • Display: Extra-large LCD screen
  • Accuracy: ± 0.001”/0.02mm
  • Resolution: 0.0005”/0.01mm 1/128”
  • Inch/millimeter/fraction conversion
  • Measure modes: internal, external, depth, step, and differential
Specification
  • Brand MeasuGator
  • Model Lambda
  • Weight 5.6 oz

The Aickar Digital Caliper is made from stainless steel and includes a depth measurement probe as well as precision ground jaws. It is protected with IP Grade 54, which blocks out water splashes, insects, and dust that may affect the accuracy of the caliper. It is ideal for both professional and home use and it is designed to allow you to measure from zero at any point on the scale. Conversion between millimeters/inches/fractions is easily achieved at the touch of a button. The calipers can be used for internal, external, step and depth measurements and come complete with a machine grooved thumb roller for accurate positioning.

Key Features
  • Measure range: 0-6 inches/150mm
  • Display: LCD screen
  • Accuracy: ± 0.0005”/0.01mm
  • Inch/millimeter/fraction conversion
  • Measure modes: internal, external, depth, step, and differential
  • IP54 protection from dust, water splashes, and insects
Specification
  • Brand GlowGeek
  • Model Numériques
  • Weight 6.7 oz

The Tacklife Digital Caliper can switch between inch/millimeter/fraction modes, so it is ideal for use in a wide range of situations. It is versatile and capable of measuring interior, exterior, step, and depth values. The caliper also has a zero function that can be set to any position you need and an automatic shut off feature, so you are not wasting battery power when the caliper is not in use. It is designed for personal and professional use, is simple to operate, and is dust and waterproof.

Key Features
  • Measure range: 0-6 inches/150mm
  • Display: 1.97” x 0.71” LCD screen
  • Accuracy: ± 0.001”/0.02mm
  • Resolution: 0.0005”/0.01mm 1/128”
  • Inch/millimeter/fraction conversion
  • Measure modes: internal, external, depth, step, and differential
  • Water and dust proof ABS material
Specification
  • Brand TACKLIFE
  • Model DC01
  • Weight 4.2 oz

The stainless steel REXBETI Digital Caliper is capable of measuring in inches, millimeters, and fractions. The general purpose tool can be used under harsh conditions with no loss of accuracy and has a smooth movement. The jaws are laser machined to ensure accuracy and ease of use, while the automatic off feature ensures you never waste your battery power when the caliper is not in use.

Key Features
  • Measure range: 0-6 inches/150mm
  • Display: 1.97” x 0.71” LCD screen
  • Accuracy: ± 0.001”/0.02mm
  • Resolution: 0.0005”/0.01mm 1/128”
  • Repeatability: 0.0005”
  • Inch/millimeter/fraction conversion
  • Automatic off feature
Specification
  • Brand REXBETI
  • Model RBDC02
  • Weight 12.8 oz

Best Digital Calipers Buying Guide & FAQ

As well as knowing what is available, it is also important to understand what makes these the best digital calipers. In this section of the buying guide we explore digital calipers in more detail, consider what you need to look for in the best digital caliper, and ask why you should use a digital Vernier caliper. We also discuss how to use a digital caliper and share some care and maintenance tips to keep your digital caliper working better for longer. We also answer some of the most frequently asked questions about digital calipers.

What to Look for in the Best Digital Caliper

Digital calipers are most often used in metalworking, carpentry, mechanical engineering, and machining. It is an instrument that provides exceptionally accurate measurements. Compared to dial calipers a digital version offers more accurate readings and is simpler and faster to use. However, its electronic nature also means that it is more fragile in many aspects and requires greater care.

Most digital calipers provide either standard or metric units, while others allow you to easily convert between inches, millimeters, and fractions. Some digital calipers allow you to input the information directly into a computer or similar device via a data cable. These are all aspects that need to be taken into consideration when choosing the right digital caliper for your tasks.

The best digital caliper should have at least the following features:

  • Depth gauge – this allows you to measure the thickness of an object as well as hole depth.
  • Locking screw – As its name suggests, this locks the caliper jaws in place so that they do not move or slip during measuring.
  • Step gauge – this allows you to measure from the edge to the point of an object.
  • ABS button – allows to you set your measurement to zero temporarily.
  • Outside jaws – for measuring the inside dimensions of an object.
  • Inside jaws – for measuring the outside dimensions of an object. Care is needed with these jaws as they are often delicate, making them prone to breaking.
  • Zero button – this sets your current position to zero and is often also the power on button.
  • In/mm button – this converts your readings from inches to millimeters. The very best calipers also convert measurements to fractions.
  • Automatic off – this save battery power by turning the unit off if it is left idle for a period of time. Most switch off after five minutes of inactivity.
  • Stainless steel construction – makes the caliper sturdier and offers a smoother finish for a smoother movement, making them more accurate than calipers made from other materials.
  • Large LCD screen – easier to read and reduces the risk of making an error while recording measurements.
  • Ease of use – the best caliper for your needs will be easy to operate. It should have a readable display, a smooth jaw movement, and a sensitive thumb wheel to improve its effectiveness.
  • Length – Digital calipers come in a range of lengths. All the calipers on our list are 6-inch calipers, however, most of the models come in lengths between 4 and 12-inches. However, for professional use, you may require a longer caliper, so it is important to check the measurement range before you make your final choice.
  • IP54 protection – this protects your caliper against dust, dirt, water splashes, and insects. While digital calipers with this feature may cost more, they tend to last longer, making them more cost effective over the long term.

Why You Should Use a Digital Vernier Caliper

A digital Vernier caliper is the most accurate caliper you can purchase. It can measure diameters and lengths down to 0.0005 inches. The Vernier scale provides a visual aid when measuring, it uses two scales with one measuring between the increments of the other. The increments that are measured depending on the constant at which the Vernier scale is set.

How To Use a Digital Caliper

Digital calipers are easy to use and require very few steps to get started. However, not taking the right steps can lead to inaccurate measurements. The most important step is to ensure that you start from zero every time. The best digital calipers reset to zero as soon as they are turned on, if this is not the case with your, then press the zero button and you are ready to go.

Positioning is the next most important step. The position of the jaws is different for each type of measurement you need to undertake.

Measuring outside dimensions – to accurately measure the outside dimensions of an object you need to position the inside of the jaws parallel to the object. This gives you the most accurate reading. If you want to measure thickness, then the inside jaws need to be perpendicular to the object.

Measuring inside dimensions – to accurately measure the inside dimensions of an object to need to position the outside of the jaws perpendicular to the object.

Measuring depth – to measure depth, you need to engage the depth gauge and position the caliper perpendicular to the surface that is being measured.

Measuring step – You need to use the step gauge to measure the distance from one edge to the edge above it.

Comparative measurements – to compare one set of dimensions to another, you zero the calipers while they are in place.

Related Posts: Best Tape Measure, Best Measuring Wheels and Laser Measuring Tools

Digital Caliper Care and Maintenance Tips

Digital calipers are precision measuring tools. If they are not looked after properly, then they will take inaccurate measurements and could cause major issues with any project you are undertaking. Proper care includes ensuring that the caliper is turned off and stored correctly at the end of every use. If it comes with a custom-made case, then ensure this is used.

Other steps that you can take to ensure that your digital caliper maintains its accuracy include:

  • Lightly oil the caliper’s shaft and wrap in corrosion-resistant paper
  • Store in a low humidity environment
  • Keep away from corrosive chemicals
  • Do not use it for any purpose, other than those it is intended for
  • Avoid dropping the caliper as this could affect the calibration
  • Do not place anything heavy on top of it
  • Keep away from excessive heat
  • Regularly check the battery is working at an optimal level
  • If you are storing the caliper for an extended period of time, then remove the battery to reduce the risk of leakage and corrosion

Best Digital Caliper FAQ:

Q:  What is a digital caliper?

  A digital caliper is a precision tool that is used to take very accurate measurements. It is more accurate than a dial caliper and includes a digital LCD screen, so it is easier to read the measurements. The caliper can be used to take internal and external measurements on an object. It can also take depth readings and step or comparative readings on different parts of the same object. The caliper is calibrated when it is manufactured to ensure the most accurate reading possible. However, because it is an electronic, calibrated tool, it requires additional care. Failing to care and maintain it properly can affect the calibration, resulting in inaccurate readings.

Q:  How does a digital caliper work?

  Digital calipers work using a series of capacitance sensors. These sensors run the length of the beam. As the distance between the jaws is changed a change in the electrical charge is triggered. This change is detected by the sensors. All of this is possible because of a number of engraved rectangular plated placed on a glass or copper strip. A circuit board is present on the underside of the movable jaw. This along with the engraved plates forms the grid of capacitors. The rectangular plates align and misalign as the sliding jaw travels along on the main scale; this changes the amount of electrical charge between the plates. The signals are sent to a chip in the caliper, this, in turn, creates the readings that are then shown on the LCD display.

Our Top Pick

Out top pick for a digital caliper is the VINCA DCLA-0605 Quality Electronic Digital Vernier Caliper. The caliper contains a Vernier scale alongside the main scale and is made from high-quality stainless steel. It includes metric/inch/fraction conversion making it easy to use for a wide range of projects. The fine polished finish offers smoother sliding and more accurate results. The caliper has a measuring range of 0 – 6 inches and includes an extra-large LCD display. It can be used for external, internal, depth, and step measurements and is ideal for both personal DIY and professional use.

Sources:

  1. Vernier Scale, Wikipedia
  2. How to Use an Electronic Digital Caliper, wikiHow

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