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Old Mar 03, 2015, 04:07 PM
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Joined Dec 2014
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Multimeter Recommendation

I'd love to have a Fluke but can't afford it. Don't use a multimeter everyday so I don't need the best. What multimeter do you recommend that is around $100.00. I don't expect Fluke accuracy but it should be acceptable for general troubleshooting and checking component values.
Thanks,
Bill
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Old Mar 03, 2015, 05:24 PM
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babblefish's Avatar
SF Bay Area, CA
Joined Jul 2002
1,798 Posts
I have a couple of Flukes' myself, but I used them at one time to make a living so the price of entry was worth it. That being said, if you don't mind buying used, there are several used Flukes' up on eBay that are in your price range that might be worth looking at. Other than that, there are a bewildering number of other multimeters available on the market, but if you want something with after sale support, Sears, Home Depot, Fry's Electronics, and other mass market stores have decent meters. The other thing you have to decide on is what features to look for in a multimeter. Just remember one thing, if high DC current measurement (>10A) is on your must-have list, most multimeters top out at 10A so a separate DC current meter will be required. Well, you can always buy a current shunt and use a multimeter to measure the current that way. Here is my list of multimeter features that I like:

* Auto-ranging. Meter figures out what voltage, ohm, whatever you're measuring and sets up it's span accordingly.

* 3.5 digits are the norm, but if you can swing it, a 4.5 digit meter will give a bit more accuracy. Honestly, not really needed for most hobby use.

* Diode testing. Gives a go, no-go test of diodes, LEDs, transistors.

* Continuity testing with an audio signal (beeper). Most multimeters have this anyway.

* The bigger the display, the better. Our eyes aren't getting any younger you know.

* Make sure the test leads are decent. Most of the really cheap meters come with these skinny, spindly, poorly insulated excuses for test leads.

* A carrying case would be nice to protect your investment.

* Frequency, inductance, and capacitance testing would be nice, but if you're not the electronically type, then never mind.

* If you plan on keeping it for awhile, don't buy the $25 meters. Something priced closer to your $100 limit will serve you well.

-Wes
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Last edited by babblefish; Mar 03, 2015 at 07:34 PM.
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Old Mar 04, 2015, 05:37 AM
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United States, ID
Joined Sep 2011
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Get something with a capacitance reading capability.

Alternately, there are several super cheap uC based inductance/capacitance/transistor testers on ebay (~$10-20). If you go that route any cheap digital meter will do.

I have a couple Wavetek meters myself, which is the China division of Fluke supposedly. They work great.
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Old Mar 04, 2015, 10:05 AM
Marion
USA, NC, Hillsborough
Joined Oct 2003
1,033 Posts
Not in keeping with the above Super meters, but Harbor Freight el cheapo meters serve most modeling needs quite well. Most are under $10. They are accurate too. (I have compared them to precision voltage references). Yes, I have some $100 plus meters too, but they seldom get used in modeling work......
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Old Mar 04, 2015, 12:13 PM
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Joined Nov 2007
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I have used a 'free' Harbor Freight meter for several years in a repair shop and found it to be both accurate and well made. As long as the battery is good they are as accurate as anything. When the battery goes dead they read high.
They have all the basic ranges including transistor, diode testers, 10 amp range and 750 volt AC.
I have more expensive meters but never use them as the 'free' meter is more useful.
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Old Mar 04, 2015, 01:41 PM
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For what it's worth, I cross checked 6 of the Harbor Freight meters, both those in the yellow and red enclosures and found that there accuracy was well within the specifications stated. Meters were checked against a Fluke 5080 Calibrator. I
found the accuracy to be about twice as good as those listed in the Set Up and Operating Instructions supplied with the meters. Not bad for a product that cost anywhere from Free to $5 or $6.
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