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recommend a multimeter

Discussion in 'General Electronics Discussion' started by jackorocko, Sep 19, 2013.

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  1. jackorocko


    Apr 4, 2010
    Just as the title says. I had a decent sears multimeter from 20 years ago and it worked great for years. But good things never last a lifetime it seems. Calibration seems to went wonky with it and I am getting all kinds of wacky readings. Clearly it is more price effective to buy a new meter then try and fix this one.

    I am looking for a quality unit that will last hopefully another twenty years and has a good set of features. My last meter had HFE transistor gain, freq, voltage, current, ohm, temperature.

    I know about fluke, greenlee, extech, and of course another crasftman but I was told they are made by a different company now instead of RTI who went out of business. Anyone have an opinion on any of these brands and maybe in particular a model.

    I'll add, autoranging and capacitance to the list of features I would like.
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2013
  2. goldfist


    Sep 18, 2013
    I have had Flukes last forever, as well as hit concrete floors repeatedly and last with the molded rubber that the meter is snapped into. But I havent bought a Fluke in 15 years, so I am not sure as to if their quality is still A+ or lesser their quality dropped.

    I am actually currently using a Radio Shack digital multimeter that is about 10 years old. And the only complaint I have for that is that the leads that came with it have a chromed surface that as odd as it may sound seems not well conductive. If you set it to the tone for continuity and take the 2 leads and rub one against the other you will hear the tone chirp as its not the best plating etc. When you do this with a meter with better leads you get a constant tone without the chirping of poor conductivity surfaces. The Radio Shack leads were clean too, so it want grime that was breaking the connection. I ended up throwing away these test leads and I had a spare set of fluke test leads and plugged those into the banana jacks, and its perfect like that.

    Given that I havent bought any recently, hopefully someone else has to give their opinion as for I state that Fluke and Radio Shack are ok meters, but depending on model or manufacturing quality, I might be comparing apples to oranges.
  3. (*steve*)

    (*steve*) ¡sǝpodᴉʇuɐ ǝɥʇ ɹɐǝɥd Moderator

    Jan 21, 2010
    I have never totally killed a meter. I still have my analogue 20kOhm/V meter that was bought for me when I was about 10(?). I can't say that all the current ranges still work on my older meters...

    I have a mix of meters, from that very old one to a $5 cheapie I was given almost a s a joke, to a clamp meter, to a datalogging meter, to an old (and I mean REALLY old) fluke bench multimeter.

    The fact is that no particular meter is the best.

    The bench meter can do really accurate 4 wire resistance measurements, and measure voltages with a lot of precision, but it's not really convenient.

    The logging meter is great for those times where I want to take a series of readings but not have to write them all down.

    The cheapie meters are great when I just need another meter to measure something.

    The clamp meter measures AC currents, and although I can connect probes to it to measure voltage (and I think frequency), I've never done it.

    What am I telling you? Figure out what you need your meter for. Then go out looking for a meter which will do as many of those things as you can afford :) You may find that buying 2 meters is cheaper than buying one that can do everything, and it may be more flexible as long as portability is not high on your list of priorities.

    As for calibration, you have several options.

    Firstly, you can buy a meter and get it calibrated regularly.

    Secondly, you can buy a meter and trust that it stays within spec.

    Thirdly you can buy whatever meter you want and create your own standards. I have a pair of 0.001% resistors in a box that I can use to do comparative readings with. In theory I could get these calibrated, but 0.001% is good enough for me and they are treated very well, so I expect them to age as per their spec). Along the same lines you can create (or buy) a voltage reference -- this is typically a voltage regulator that is VERY stable.

    If you have access to other equipment that is calibrated, just compare your equipment to it occasionally.

    And sure, I would recommend a Fluke as a generally very reliable brand of meter.

    Whilst the reviews are getting old, take a look at the eevblog multimeter shootouts. Those particular models may no longer be available, but you can get some idea of Brand A vs Brand B.

    There is also a teardown of one of the Chinese manufactured Flukes (for the Asian market). It may be worth looking at that so you are better informed if you decide to consider one of those models.
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