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Multimeter recommendations

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mick H07/09/2021 15:39:17
763 forum posts
28 photos

I have an anniversary coming up which my beloved always marks with a present and that thought has sparked off this thread. I need a new multimeter but there are dozens out there at all sorts of prices and specs. As I am less than proficient in electronics I would really appreciate some guidance on a good value for money piece of kit that will last me a few years. I sometimes mess about with simple circuitry to complete a model so I would like something with the usual diode/ transistor tester, DC current/voltage, continuity tester, resistance measurement. So nothing too sophisticated required, just reliability and ease of use. Any ideas?

Mick

noel shelley07/09/2021 15:57:09
1016 forum posts
19 photos

Hi Mick, your right about all prices,shapes and sizes. To your list of desirable features I would add capacitance, very useful with single Phase motors if a starting issue occurs. The unit I have is a Metrix MX56C, quite expensive , but very good, even a second hand one might be worth thinking about if new is too dear. Good Luck Noel.

Clive Brown 107/09/2021 15:59:26
747 forum posts
37 photos

Ebay has a wide selection at <£10 that will tick your boxes. I bought one years ago. It's done all I want of it with no problems. A useful extra is to buy a pair of croc. clips that push onto the probes, often not included with these cheap meters.

My main criticism is that the leads are on the stiff and springy side. I believe that silicone rubber makes for greater flexibility if you can find a meter so fitted.

Andrew Tinsley07/09/2021 16:01:07
1514 forum posts

Whatever you finish up with, buy a cheapie off EBay. They are usually a bright yellow and cost around £7. Use this for any dirty jobs. I have two of these plus some top of the range multimeters. I often finish up using the cheapie! They are pretty accurate and no great loss if you happen to back the car over it! Several of my friends have them at my recommendation. All have proved trouble free.

Andrew.

Speedy Builder507/09/2021 16:08:49
2500 forum posts
196 photos

Horses for courses. If you are into old cars / bikes etc, then an analogue meter is better than a digital one in many cases.

Also look for a meter that has a continuity buzzer built into it.

Grindstone Cowboy07/09/2021 16:14:36
799 forum posts
62 photos

I would suggest an analogue rather than digital one - for most things, you aren't measuring to a great level of accuracy so a nicely damped needle swinging across a scale is perfectly adequate. The rapidly changing figures on the digital ones are much harder to make sense of, particularly if you're upside down under a dashboard or somewhere like that.

I will admit to owning both types, though.

Rob

Beaten to it by SpeedyBuilder wink

Edited By Grindstone Cowboy on 07/09/2021 16:15:27

Bob Worsley07/09/2021 16:25:23
104 forum posts

Buy a cheap, £3-5, one so it can bounce on the floor, do not bother with a Fluke or similar.

If you want a fixed meter, on a shelf or something in the garage, then get an LED display, LCD tend to be unreadable without being able to move it around to get the reflection just so.

Don't need more than 3.1/2 digits at which point they all use the same chip inside.

Stuart Bridger07/09/2021 17:12:43
536 forum posts
29 photos

I have a 70 series Fluke handheld, that I have had since the mid 1980's. It is bulletproof in its rubber holder.
The only thing it lacks is capacitance. It gets used regularly. New Fluke pricing is eye watering though. I also have an analogue Avo, which hasn't been out of its case in well over 30 years.
Screwfix have a LAP model for less than a tenner, it lacks a continuity test buzzer but at that price....

Jon Lawes07/09/2021 17:15:41
avatar
730 forum posts

To provide another opinion, I bought a barely used but second hand fluke (a 76? 74? Can't remember) years ago and its been utterly rugged and reliable, taking me through various careers. I can see the appeal of a cheaper unit that you don't have to worry about so much, but you would have to do something pretty serious to damage the Fluke.

I agree with the comments about an analog meter being better for noticing trends but I find the large digital display easier to read than trying to squint at small numbers on a dial. I think I was one of the few people that didn't get too upset when the hangar stores stopped giving out AVO meters.

duncan webster07/09/2021 17:32:37
3706 forum posts
69 photos

I have a Fluke, it was being thrown out because the battery was flat. Was it up to me to tell them? It is very good, except that if you blow one of the fuses (on amps range) they are stunningly expensive. I've bodged a standard 1.25" glass one into mine, but it really is a bodge. For hobby use I think I'd struggle to justify the cost.

I also have an active analogue one that I made. 1 Mohm input impedance and an op amp. As others say, better for noticing trends, but the DVM gets a lot more use

Robert Atkinson 207/09/2021 17:36:49
avatar
1151 forum posts
20 photos

Why don't people READ posts?

OP wants a reliable meter, an ebay cheapie is not that. An analog is not really a practical general purpose meter these days..My personal preference would be a used Fluke but this does not normally provide the transistor tester requested and isn't new. The transistor testor is a bit of a gimmik on the very cheap meters.

If you wand a good new meter under £20 took at a Tenma 72-13440,

For the transistor tester get a £3.50 ebay meter but don't use it on mains.

Some will complain that my suggestion is manual ranging, but that is much better than a slow autoranging one.

Robert G8RPI.

Bazyle07/09/2021 17:58:05
avatar
6178 forum posts
222 photos

Make sure it is heavy enough not to be scooted across the bench by the cheap not very flexible leads wink

not done it yet07/09/2021 18:29:19
6518 forum posts
20 photos

Fluke every time, particularly if a serious piece of kit (above the ‘entry’ range) is involved.

I have a few meters knocking around (three with battery fitted). The Fluke is my favourite but is not always at hand for routine measurements. Cheap and cheerful is maybe good enough for most but quality costs….

John Doe 207/09/2021 18:32:57
28 forum posts
2 photos

I have a grey Fluke 77 series ll that I bought years ago second-hand from a large army surplus store in Nottingham - can't remember the store details, but you can probably find it - they sell tanks as well as surplus Fluke meters !. The '77 is pretty bomb-proof in its rubber/plastic protector and I keep it in its soft carrying case, and keep the screen protecting film on the display. I will admit to having purchased a pack of spare fuses from Fluke, but have only used one since I bought the meter.

It is auto-ranging with LCD display so the battery lasts for ever, and it has a level bar along the bottom to indicate trends, a bit like an analogue meter needle, as well as the four large sized display digits. The '77 has everything you probably need, except capacitance, and it can measure current up to 10A. It has diode test and continuity beeper. and a touch and hold facility. You can test transistors for go/no go with a diode tester of course.

Not quite sure why some recommend cheap equipment - surely here we understand quality, and we know quality costs money? Get decent test leads too, which are not semi-rigid, but nice and flexible.

By good quality gear, look after it properly and it will give superb performance and last a lifetime. yes

Edited By John Doe 2 on 07/09/2021 18:37:14

Nicholas Farr07/09/2021 19:12:10
avatar
3137 forum posts
1432 photos

Hi Mick H, three here all the same model by the look of them, just different badge and price Digital Multimeters

Regards Nick.

Clive Brown 107/09/2021 19:15:47
747 forum posts
37 photos

My goodness! Buying "quality" to ensure reliability costs. RS will sell you a Fluke for no less than £459. or £500+ with a certificate No thank-you, but perhaps that's what the OP wants.

Can't remember when I bought my sub £10 cheapie, but more than 20 years ago I guess. I could buy 50 more for less than the cost of one Fluke. Those would last me to beyond 3021 AD.

Edited By Clive Brown 1 on 07/09/2021 19:17:47

Jon Lawes07/09/2021 19:38:45
avatar
730 forum posts

Which I why I bought used, so someone else can take the hit of depreciation.

I wonder if somewhere there is a forum for electricians saying "buy cheap chinese lathes and mills but always buy good quality used DVMs if possible"

Peter Cook 607/09/2021 19:44:51
212 forum posts
55 photos

I use a Neoteck 4000 I got from Amazon. About £20. Came with all the leads including a temperature probe. Measures pretty much everything including capacitance, and frequency (which I find handy - saves getting out the oscilloscope).

Has a rubber casing for protection and a soft case for it and all the leads.

I have several others but this is so handy I use it for almost everything.

Edited By Peter Cook 6 on 07/09/2021 19:45:24

Robert Atkinson 207/09/2021 19:47:29
avatar
1151 forum posts
20 photos

Apart from ruggedness, accuracy and reliability, the big advantage of Fluke and similar quality meters is safety. The small cheap meters, including the ones sold by CPC and Farnell suprisingly, are NOT rated rated for use on mains or other high energy sources, This is dispite havig 500V ranges.

The MINIMUM specification meter you should use on any mains circuit is CAT II (The Tenma I suggested is CATII).
If you are going into consumer units etc you should have CATIII.
This applies to the leads as well as the meter.

https://www.digikey.co.uk/en/blog/what-are-multimeter-cat-safety-ratings

The expensive fuses in Flukes are because of the safety rating, They won't explode if you accidentally connect it to a 415V 3 phase supply when plugged into the 10A range.

Robert G8RPI.

john fletcher 107/09/2021 19:49:18
754 forum posts

Fluke for me. Anchor Trading at Notts used to sell ex army ones, but Anchor had a big fire a few years ago. Aldi and Lidl will do for most things. Forget the capacitance rang for motor Caps, as those caps should be tested at main work full voltage not 9 volts, and how often do those cap fail anyway. An Avo or similar is the best for testing the likes of diodes and transistor out of circuit testing. John

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