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Need a new multimeter - any thoughts

Discussion in 'General Electronics Discussion' started by punkieys17, Apr 22, 2021.

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  1. punkieys17


    Feb 7, 2016
    So as a hobbyist i use the multimeter all the time. Unfortunately the display on my relatively cheap (then) Maplin sourced meter is giving up. I've been amazed just how cheap digital meters are nowadays. Does anyone have experience of Angeng meters - they are selling an amazingly low priced meter that does it all including capacitance and frequency. It not really about price but woudll like to hear comments and recommendations as I tend to stick with my purchase even if it annoys me...
  2. Harald Kapp

    Harald Kapp Moderator Moderator

    Nov 17, 2011
    I don't know the Angeng meters so I can't comment on that brand.

    But I can offer some general thoughts:
    • What are you going to do with the meter? If you're up to using it regularly, maybe even for precision work, get a brand article, even if it is a bit more expensive. If you use it only occasionally, not for precision work, you can probably buy any meter and it will be good enough.
    • Are you going to work on mains with the meter? Then look for one with a rating of 300 V CAT III as minimum requirement. CAT IV will be required if you are going to use the meter in the main switch panel (where the electricity meter sits). If you are working on 3 phase systems you will need a 600 V rating instead of only 300 V. Even if this is not your application, 600 V will add a safety margin. So 600 V CAT III or CAT IV would be my recommendation unless you have special requirements.
    • As for the number of digits: Carefully check the stated accuracy versus the number of digits. Some meters with a high number of digits offer a deceptive accuracy which is moot when looking at the actual figures in the technical data. Don't pay for worthless trailing digits that are good aas random number generators at best. In my experience 3 1/2 digits will take you a long way.
    • As for power supply: I favor batteries over rechargeables. Rechargeables tend to be discharged when you need the meter. So do batteries, but swapping in a new battery is faster than charging a rechargeable.
    • Add-ons like frequency, capacitance, temperature and whatnot may come in handy from time to time, but usually aren't very accurate in cheap multimeters. Anyway, I use these functions, too, for sheer convenience - so I don't have to grab another instrument. For precision measurements you will need precision instruments, however.

    I use really inexpensive meters from my local electronics hardware store (these meters are pre-Internet, no online shops available at that time). I know their limits and thus can use them with confidence. My recent acquisition is a combined multimeter/oscilloscope made by Hantek, Although the use of this instrument as an oscilloscope is a far cry from using a real oscilloscope, again it comes in handy for a quick check of waveforms without having to resort to my old tabletop scope.

    hevans1944 and ratstar like this.
  3. ratstar


    Aug 20, 2018
    Second hand multimetres are all u need and sometimes they pack more features than the new ones. Any multimetre will do the job for you, even limited ones can still be good. If looks like a cheap plastic little toy, it can still do the job for you. Maybe you look even cooler that way.

    Saying that I do have quite an expensive one, maybe next time I wont bother. I got the micron q1088, and its missing temperature, and inductance, but its got capacitance detection, and thats mainly what I use.

    Auto ranging you dont need it, its actually worse in a way because you have to wait for the system to jump around before you get a result.
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2021
  4. shrtrnd


    Jan 15, 2010
    They say you get what you pay for, but my experience is that unless you REQUIRE an expensive meter, and it sounds like you don't, you're wasting money on a big-brand name. Too many companies are all having their gear made in third world countries with no quality control. I have expensive meters and cheap ones. When the expensive ones experience problems, the manufacturers no longer support them, and the cheap meters last just as long. (I suspect they're both often made in the same third world factory).
    I look at the situation now as multimeters are throw-away items, whether you pay $10 for one or $1000. Instead of buying one $1000 multimeter, buy 100 of the $10 ones, and throw them away as they break.
    I'm saying this to you as a hobbyist. There are some applications where you expect high accuracy and you are expected to pay a high price for that accuracy. For tinkering, the cheap meters are pretty darned good.
    hevans1944, ratstar and Harald Kapp like this.
  5. Bluejets


    Oct 5, 2014
    Just for hobby use, almost any would do the job.

    Problem with most hobbyists though is, at some time or other they cannot resist the need to shove the test prods into a mains connected device.

    Meters have catagories, starting from 1 and up to cat iv.
    Each has internal breakdown and protection of different levels in the event of any fault occuring while testing.
    Long and short of the matter is, connect a cat 1 meter to a cat 4 situation and you are asking for trouble.

    Naturally as the cat rating increases, so does the cost and usually exponentially.
    Accuracy is not essentially the difference in cost as some would claim.
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2021
  6. dave9


    Mar 5, 2017
    This is too broad a topic for a single forum thread. Define your budget, look up what models fit within it, and check out some youtube shootout style videos that compare meters within that price point.

    Generally your choices are do you pay for more durability and/or safety, or more features.

    Remember, you are not required to only own ONE multimeter. It is very useful to own at least two, for simultaneous voltage and current measurements if nothing else.
    ratstar likes this.
  7. punkieys17


    Feb 7, 2016
    I'm afraid I agree with you. The last meter was from the local hobby electronics chain and lasted me very well with only a minor repair on the main terminal soldering. Its finally died with the screen showing only a few bars and defying attempts to reseat the contacts. Im amazed at whats available from $£8 to £25 and their capabilities/
  8. hevans1944

    hevans1944 Hop - AC8NS

    Jun 21, 2012
    If you click on the link, you are sent by Electronics Point to a website that features an 8-pin component in a plastic DIP, not a multimeter.

    Can someone PLEASE TURN OFF this gratuitous linking of irrelevant "information?"
  9. bertus

    bertus Moderator

    Nov 8, 2019

    @hevans1944 , The link in Ratstars post is auto inserted by the software and that does not always works perfect.
    In the Electronics Point (Old) style the links are not inserted.
    You can change the style in the preferences of your profile.

    For reference, I printed the page posted by @Bluejets to a PDF and attached it here.


    Attached Files:

    hevans1944 likes this.
  10. crutschow


    May 7, 2021
    One good thing is to have automatic power off so you don't inadvertently run down the battery.
    I'm not sure how many of the cheap meters have this feature, but my free little Harbor Freight one doesn't, so the battery goes if I forget to turn it off.
  11. Martaine2005


    May 12, 2015
    I have both and they are both as good as each other.
    While trying to measure parasitic battery drain on many vehicles, you have to wait upto 45 minutes for the computers to shut down and go to sleep.
    So the auto shut off is of no use in those circumstances.

  12. hevans1944

    hevans1944 Hop - AC8NS

    Jun 21, 2012
    Thanks, @bertus! Found it, changed it, works again as before.

    You can of course still highlight some text in the usual way, and then use the link icon to insert a web page you want to link to. But that means you have to go to that web page and highlight and save its address, an extra step the New Style attempts to bypass by using the website as a universal parts search link.
  13. bancroft


    Apr 23, 2021
    I think according to the needs of your project and money budget to choose the corresponding price range of the multimeter will be fine.
  14. gim4611


    May 21, 2021
    I used to ridicule people who bought Flukes, saying you don't need that sort of quality... I now own four Flukes. I also have three cheapies as well.
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