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View Full Version : Multimeter recommendations please :)



George Farra
01-03-2016, 9:09 PM
Hi All

I'm looking for a reliable AC/DC multimeter that will run me under $100. My uses are general household tasks and automotive tasks. I like the Fluke meters, but none are in my price range.

Thanks

George

Rich Riddle
01-03-2016, 9:14 PM
I have the Hioki 3804. It's a true RMS meter and can also meter capacitance for air conditioners. Most can't do that.

Mike Henderson
01-03-2016, 9:45 PM
You don't say what you plan to use it for, but if just testing voltage and continuity, a cheap meter from maybe Harbor Freight will do the job.

Mike

Myk Rian
01-03-2016, 10:19 PM
I use my free HF meters more often than my Fluke and Protek meters.

Rich Riddle
01-03-2016, 11:17 PM
I started out in electronics in the military and they sufficiently scared us away from cheap tools and multimeters. We used Fluke #77 multimeters back then. Today I own the Hioki 3804, a Simpson 260, a Fluke 77, and a Metra 22S. When I met with Rod Sheridan last year he looked at the meters and liked the Metra. It's Canadian and European approved and always the one I first reach to use, but it's more than $100. All of the meters except the Hioki cost more than $100, that is why it was recommended. I don't remember the exact reasons the military hated cheap multimeters, but here is a great video on how to and just as importantly how "not" to select a meter:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gh1n_ELmpFI

The voltages I meter at times inspire me to at least have a decent tool. But I spend lots of time fixing electricity for some reason. Good luck.

Mike Cutler
01-04-2016, 12:45 AM
I don't remember the exact reasons the military hated cheap multimeters.
.

They were part of your title "B" locker inventory. They were also NIST traceable. ;)

Don't ever get rid of that Simpson 260. Very valuable.


To the OP

Don't buy a cheap multi meter. Fluke Triplett, Metra, are all good meters. Many older, obsolete, models can be found on eBay. You can get a used Fluke 8060A that fits your price range. Rock solid little meters. I also see some new in package model 110's for $125.00. Hioki makes some nice DMM's with clamp on amp meters built in. Little bit more $$$, but a clamp on amp meter is a nice option when working house wiring.
If you're going to be messing about with house wiring, you need to have confidence in that meter when doing a "live, dead, live" check.
It's a one time purchase.

Dan Hintz
01-04-2016, 7:09 AM
Electronics is my life (and my bread and butter). I use quality Flukes at work, but for home/auto stuff I stick to my $15 Radio Shack unit I bought 20+ years ago. There is simply no need for anything more than that, and if anything happens to it, I'll probably grab a Harbor Freight freebie.

Gordon Eyre
01-04-2016, 1:41 PM
I still have a Heath Kit multimeter that I built around 50 years ago and it works great. For simplicity I bought a cheap meter from Radio Shack a few years ago and it does everything that I need.

Keith Outten
01-04-2016, 4:01 PM
Northern Tools has a Klein meter (http://www.northerntool.com/shop/tools/product_200647188_200647188?utm_source=Email&utm_medium=010416_InventoryReduction&utm_campaign=010416_eDeals&utm_content=P3&cm_lm=keithoutten@gmail.com&STATE=VA&HOT_MEM_CODE=&MARKETCODE=&om_rid=AAcCla&om_mid=_BWinrrB9Jad8wV) on sale right now for #39.00

Art Mann
01-04-2016, 4:46 PM
I am with Dan. I am a 30 year veteran electrical engineer and have used the best and most expensive instrumentation available. At home I use a Harbor Freight 98674 multimeter I bought several years ago. It has a few more features than some meters but it is still very much an off brand. I had it checked by our calibration lab when I bought it and the accuracy was better than the published specifications. I have used it a lot since then and it has always performed well. I should probably check the calibration again but I don't do much work requiring that level of accuracy any more.

Chuck Wintle
01-04-2016, 4:49 PM
for general hobbyist and occasional home use obe of the cheapies on ebay should do the job. If any kind of precise measurement is needed then i would buy a Fluke.

John K Jordan
01-04-2016, 4:50 PM
looking for a reliable AC/DC multimeter

By "reliable" do you mean functionally reliable, accurate, or lasts a long time?

I occasionally buy a spare meter when I see a sale on Amazon. These are in the vehicles, house, barn, etc for quick checks and debugging while the Fluke (87V) gets used when I need to know the voltage (or capacitance, test diodes, etc) and even then I check periodically with a voltage reference. To prevent death by AC wiring I use two electronic proximity voltage detectors, test both before every use and double check every time. I like the Fluke for this (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000EJ332O) and it's pretty cheap.

Here's one cheap one I've been using and it seems OK:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000EVYGZA

BTW, if you use a meter to check batteries get one tests under load.

JKJ

Rich Riddle
01-04-2016, 5:14 PM
Lots of us seem to have entered the electronics field in the 1980's; heck to be more experienced than that we'd have to have someone with a key, string and kite discussing meters. Good luck with whichever meter you pick. I don't pay a fortune for tools seldom used, but for some reason I utilize meters quite a bit.

Chris Padilla
01-04-2016, 5:19 PM
Way back before college I entered a trade school for electronics and as part of my kit, a Fluke 77 was included. Still using it today but I got a freebie analog from Harbor Freight one time.

One thing to keep in mind if your meter starts acting funny: change the batteries! One day I was reading like 203 V across a breaker box and like 99 V on the split-phase and I was wondering what the heck was going on as I was troubleshooting something. I sure wasted a lot of time and effort until I decided to change the battery. I then got 240 V and 120 V and moved on in the correct direction troubleshooting.

A digital meter is fine (most of the time) but there are some good reasons a cheapo analog is nice to have as well.

George Farra
01-07-2016, 5:18 PM
Hi All,

Sorry for the delayed response regarding my needs. Reliability for me = accuracy and functionally reliability. I'm not an electrician, but I do occasionally replace outlets, switches, and wall fixtures in my house. I also tinker with cars a lot. So I want a meter that I can rely on the show my AC and DC readings to ensure that I have power, have no power when switched off, have power again after my work....whether its 110v AC or 12v DC.

Back in the day I used to build speaker systems for as a hobby and I used my MM to check resistance and ohms. I don't do that anymore and nothing I do electrical at home or with my cars doesn't require it either.

I also one of those geeks that believes in buying a quality tool that my pocket can afford.

Thanks

George

Brian Elfert
01-07-2016, 9:01 PM
I had a reasonable Greenlee multimeter that I liked. It started to show strange readings for AC voltage, but would show correct if I reversed the leads. I finally threw it away, but after this thread I wonder if it was just the battery?

Dan Hintz
01-08-2016, 7:34 AM
Reliability for me = accuracy and functionally reliability. I'm not an electrician, but I do occasionally replace outlets, switches, and wall fixtures in my house. I also tinker with cars a lot. So I want a meter that I can rely on the show my AC and DC readings to ensure that I have power, have no power when switched off, have power again after my work....whether its 110v AC or 12v DC.

If all you're doing is home wiring checks, then all you need is one of these:
328885

Matt Marsh
01-08-2016, 9:54 AM
If all you're doing is home wiring checks, then all you need is one of these:
328885

I'll go a step further and recommend staying away from any high impedance type tester for the DIYer home wiring tester. If you don't need to read ohms or amps, I highly recommend a solenoid style tester, even experienced electricians. They are very rugged, much simpler and straightforward to use and understand for most users. This style tester will not give false readings like multimeters and/or neon style testers can. You can get models that only register voltage, or you can get one that also checks continuity.

328887328888


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solenoid_voltmeter

John K Jordan
01-08-2016, 10:49 AM
You can get models that only register voltage, or you can get one that also checks continuity.

That makes excellent sense, especially for basic go/no-go shop and house checks. The solenoid would require current and eliminate the false readings from "stray" or induced voltages. I like the old light bulb method too! (for 120v)

Your suggestion would be perfect for most needs. I believe the OP needed to check low-voltage DC also which so he would also need a good multimeter in his kit.

I do like to check with a high impedance meter when debugging, along with other tools as needed, including a scope for tricky noise problems. (Ran into that recently - it's surprising how much high frequency noise some of today's lights inject into ac wiring)


BTW, my favorite tool for continuity is still the 40-year-old "buzz" box (the electronic, not the buzzer coil type). Unlike the continuity mode on many digital meters, the sound is both instant and gives an idea of how solid the connection is.

Matt Marsh
01-10-2016, 12:25 PM
That makes excellent sense, especially for basic go/no-go shop and house checks. The solenoid would require current and eliminate the false readings from "stray" or induced voltages. I like the old light bulb method too! (for 120v)

Your suggestion would be perfect for most needs. I believe the OP needed to check low-voltage DC also which so he would also need a good multimeter in his kit.

I do like to check with a high impedance meter when debugging, along with other tools as needed, including a scope for tricky noise problems. (Ran into that recently - it's surprising how much high frequency noise some of today's lights inject into ac wiring)


BTW, my favorite tool for continuity is still the 40-year-old "buzz" box (the electronic, not the buzzer coil type). Unlike the continuity mode on many digital meters, the sound is both instant and gives an idea of how solid the connection is.


I couldn't agree more John. I work as the master of records at a local State University, but I also still get out and about with the tools quite often. My tool bag weighs around 40-50 lbs., and it is strapped to a folding 2-wheeled cart. In that bag is a Fluke #179, a clamp-on accessory ammeter, and an Ideal solenoid style tester. Additionally I have an inductive voltage tester in my shirt pocket for quick checks. I also have a megger in my van, and a Fluke 4-channel scope meter back at the shop. I use my 179 primarily for troubleshooting electronics, frequency drives, measuring temperatures, etc. The simplest tool that will do the task at hand, is usually the best tool for that particular job.