Multimeter Recommendation


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Old 02-02-18, 07:07 AM
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Multimeter Recommendation

I've been using a cheapo Harbor Freight Multimeter but I question it's accuracy. I would like to buy a better one. I see that the prices run from inexpensive to very expensive. What's a reasonable price to pay for a reliable tool?
 
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Old 02-02-18, 07:14 AM
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This is the kit I have. I thought it was reasonable. It has a kickstand, which is kind of nice. Once I had it set up on my engine and could easily read it while I was inside my truck pressing the cruise control buttons.

I bought a Klein burlap zipper bag to store it all in for $10 too.
 
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Old 02-02-18, 07:15 AM
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If you are just a home owner DIY'er, I'd spend no more than $50 for a multimeter. You can go to Lowe's or Home Depot and pick up one for $30 to $50. Southwire brand at Lowes or Klein at Home Depot. Actually the more expensive HarborFreight ones are that bad. I have one of the $25 ones and it works well.
 
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Old 02-02-18, 08:12 AM
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I always carried a cheapo in the tool box in the truck and one in my general purpose "go" tool bag, just so that I didn't have to drag along one of the Flukes when I didn't need anything exact, but they were 30-40 years old and well worn, so I bought a couple of under $20 Gardner Bender analog meters a few months back to replace them, have since compared them to the Flukes, and, as far as ACV, DCV, and ohms, I am completely satisfied that they are every bit as reliable and accurate as I need 99% of the time.
 
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Old 02-02-18, 12:08 PM
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I've been using a cheapo Harbor Freight Multimeter but I question it's accuracy. I would like to buy a better one.
It will have good enough accuracy for household uses. For household uses you don't really have to go down to mV range.

The biggest difference is just a build quality and safety.

Cheapo multimeters usually have thin and weak wire for the leads. Insulation is also thinner.
The housing of the multimeter may crack easily if dropped.
The circuit design inside of a cheap multimeter usually don't have a good isolation between low voltage circuit and the input. This is usually not a problem for a household uses, but may cause an ark and destroy multimeter and may shock you if you use it for high voltages. Probably 600V+ circuits.


I'd recommend multimeter around $30 range for house hold and general purpose uses.
 
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Old 02-02-18, 12:21 PM
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It's hard to recommend since you didn't say what you want the meter to do or what you will be using it for but I would get an inexpensive analog meter. Lower end digital meters can show phantom voltages and analog meters don't have that problem. And, when you're just checking for voltage being there or not the needle swinging is pretty hard to miss.
 
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Old 02-02-18, 01:50 PM
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Lower end digital meters can show phantom voltages and analog meters don't have that problem.
That really has noting to do with digital meter being low end.
Even high end digital meters will have same behavior.

This is because digital multimeters are closer to ideal than analog. Ideal voltmeter will have infinite resistance (open circuit) and voltmeter circuit of digital multimeter has very high resistance.

Phantom voltage is not actually a phantom at all. It is a real voltage induced by current flowing in a nearby wire. Digital multimeter with very high resistance is able to measure that voltage.

Analog meters on the other hand has much lower resistance compared to the digital and it actually draws current from the circuit your are measuring to move the needle. This induced voltage doesn't have enough current to power the meter therefore you are unable to to measure the induced voltage.
 
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Old 02-02-18, 02:35 PM
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I'm using the multimeter around the house to check switches and circuits. Last year I used it to help diagnose problems with a clothes washer. Currently checking out a microwave ( I've discharged the capacitor). The is no power getting to the transformer. I'm check the path of the current flow and checking the switches, wires, and fuses. Any ideas? I'm testing voltage readings, continuity of fuses, switches, and wires.
 
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Old 02-02-18, 05:49 PM
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To me there is a difference between using a meter to test house electrical circuits and circuit boards.
The only reason I like digital meters for home use is the audible beep for continuity.

I was in the military and Fluke is the go to device.
 
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Old 02-02-18, 06:26 PM
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I've also got one of those continuity testers that has a light. The Flukes are pretty expensive.
 
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Old 02-02-18, 10:39 PM
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Did you mean a non contact tester? If so they are not for real testing due to high likelihood of false positives due to induced voltage. A $10 analog multimeter is all you need for continuity.
 
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Old 02-03-18, 04:34 AM
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I'm trying to find what's causing a microwave to not heat. I've tested the fuses, switches, capacitor, diode, magnetron, and transformer.....they all test OK. I'm trying to trace the current flow from the wiring schematic in order to figure out where the current is stopping. I'm wondering if it's the circuit board.
 
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Old 02-03-18, 03:08 PM
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I still haven't found out but it's now heating!!!! Loose connection? FWIW the schematics and troubleshooting guide that is tucked in the control board had good info with a flowchart on testing.
 
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Old 02-03-18, 07:24 PM
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If it works, it's a Fluke.
 
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Old 02-04-18, 07:24 AM
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My meters I use for work are Fluke or Ideal meters. Both are over $100 but are rock solid meters.
 
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Old 02-04-18, 07:35 AM
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And I learned on Simpsons. Guess they are considered just shop meters.
 
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Old 02-04-18, 08:01 AM
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Meter question. I have a UNI-T UT61E (couldn't afford a Fluke). I'm testing the car alternator--all DC voltages are fine, but my meter has phantom AC voltages and when I put leads to battery when car is at idle, I get a wildly jumping readout on AC setting. OL pops up, and a bunch of scrambled values. basically unusable for diode test for AC leakage. Question is, can I 'filter' the AC signal through something before it gets to my meter? I one saw a YouTube comment about putting a capacitor in series. .5 uFarad 200vdc?? capacitor?
I don't use a meter enough to upgrade
 
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Old 02-04-18, 08:26 AM
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An alternator does produce AC voltage because it is a rotating field which is changed to DC for the use in the car.

If DC voltage is fine why do you want to measure AC voltage?
 
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Old 02-04-18, 12:22 PM
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I get a wildly jumping readout on AC setting.
I'd consider this normal. Car's electrical system are very noisy. Random AC voltages can happen from alternator and ignition system.
Output from the alternator usually are not filtered other than a rectifier and car's battery acts as a large capacitor to smooth it out, but still not perfect.
Ignition system often induces some noise back to the electrical system as well.

All these will show up as AC voltage on a multimeter and because AC voltage is measured in RMS, it can display false high or low AC voltage when there are random spikes.


If you really wanted to measure the noise for some reason, you will need oscilloscope. Not a multimeter.
 
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Old 02-04-18, 10:37 PM
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I have a couple of these multimeters and they seem to be fine for most DIY applications. I have used them to test outlets, diagnosis and fix a faulty electric dryer heating element, diagnosis faulty electric water heater elements, test car batteries at idle and under load. The splitter in the kit is also nice as you can see the use of various electric appliances to make sure a breaker is no overloaded. So far they seem to be sufficient for my uses.
 
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Old 02-04-18, 10:43 PM
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BTW, that kit is around $65 at Home Depot so it's fairly reasonable for what you get.
 
 

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