Author Topic: What brands of multimeter can I trust?  (Read 5157 times)

Biggsy

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What brands of multimeter can I trust?
« on: August 03, 2013, 07:53:28 pm »
For amateur electronics and electrics, in the £50 to £100 price range.

I'm more interested in good build quality and accuracy confidence than fancy features, though I would like auto hold or min/max reading.  I'm not buying twenty-quid jobs any more after suffering bad contacts and having doubts in general.  Thanks.
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redshift

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Re: What brands of multimeter can I trust?
« Reply #1 on: August 03, 2013, 08:03:05 pm »
Fluke is de rigeur at work.  I have a Fluke 73 that's lasted since...  ...er, forever.  1990, I think.  I recently bought another meter from Charlotte which she found in her garage which is an RS own-brand thing, and that's pre-1989 - it was made in West Germany!  That's a good one for kicking around the workbench at work, and for a fiver, I won't miss it if it's nicked.

Of course, if you're really Old-School you'll be happy with nothing less than an AVO.

L
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Re: What brands of multimeter can I trust?
« Reply #2 on: August 03, 2013, 08:06:22 pm »
+1 for Fluke.

David Martin

  • Thats Dr Oi You thankyouverymuch
Re: What brands of multimeter can I trust?
« Reply #3 on: August 03, 2013, 08:38:19 pm »
I have an AVO downstairs.. For preference I use my £7 maplins cheapy. It could however do with some new leads.
"By creating we think. By living we learn" - Patrick Geddes

Wombat

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Re: What brands of multimeter can I trust?
« Reply #4 on: August 03, 2013, 08:42:05 pm »
Another vote for Fluke.  I haven't got one, as I have a Maplins cheapie, but they are generally practical, tough, accurate etc.  I DO have a Fluke thermal imaging camera at work, though...
Wombat

Rhys W

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Re: What brands of multimeter can I trust?
« Reply #5 on: August 03, 2013, 09:11:43 pm »
The Maplins ones seem pretty OK to me. No idea how accurate they really are but nothing I've measured has made wonder if it's out. Professional ones are usually sent away somewhere once a year to be calibrated, I don't know if it's worth it (or even possible) to calibrate the £20 ones.

Flukes are nice - I always regret not stealing the Fluke that was on my desk when I got made redundant. I deserved to walk away with that after the way we were treated there!

Gattopardo

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Re: What brands of multimeter can I trust?
« Reply #6 on: August 03, 2013, 10:37:31 pm »
What will you be using if for?

Have an old AVO with no leads that I have no idea it if works, but it looks good.

Biggsy

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Re: What brands of multimeter can I trust?
« Reply #7 on: August 03, 2013, 11:17:25 pm »
Maplin's current £50 one seems to be about what I want, but will it have Fluke-like quality inside?

What will you be using if for?

Various things, hence I want a general purpose multimeter.  (A brand new one).
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Re: What brands of multimeter can I trust?
« Reply #8 on: August 04, 2013, 12:09:48 am »
If it's only going to be used a few times a year, one of the cheap units will be fine. The relevant electronics have improved a great deal over the years, so a unit costing as little as £5 can be perfectly satisfactory for basic hobby or DIY use.

Fluke or AVO/Megger meters are extremely durable and will provide good long-term service. If you do choose a Fluke meter, watch out for counterfeit and grey-market units. Genuine Fluke meters sold in China are much cheaper than elsewhere, but have no warranty outside of China - they're of no poorer quality than other Fluke meters, but you're on your own if you need repair or calibration.

Gattopardo

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Re: What brands of multimeter can I trust?
« Reply #9 on: August 04, 2013, 12:13:54 am »
More in the sense what features would you like, ranges of  needed. 


Kim

  • Timelord
Re: What brands of multimeter can I trust?
« Reply #10 on: August 04, 2013, 12:33:07 am »
I have a Maplin "WhiteGold WG022" multimeter which cost me a distinctly non-trivial amount of money back when I was 16 or so.  The killer feature for me at the time was the ability to measure frequency (oscilloscopes being unobtanium in a pre-eBay world without access to the right kind of skips).  It's served me well - though truth be told, I have an assortment of cheapo <£5 multimeters that probably get more use, on account of being more readily to hand when I need them.  90% of multimeter jobs are continuity testing (don't buy one that doesn't beep), and the rest are mostly resistor/capacitor identification (the stupid stripes are too small for me to see in colour) or battery voltage checks, none of which call for high degrees of precision.

I generally dig it out if I need the max/min hold feature.  That's something that's well worth having, IMHO.  Expensive fuses for the low current range are a pain in the proverbial, though.

I also have a semi-cheapo multimeter (which feels really plasticy) with an RS232 port on it.  It's come in handy at least twice for logging the performance of battery charging/discharging type circuits.  It's also got a backlit display, which is the sort of thing that only comes in handy when you're having a bad day.

And then there's my lightweight racing multimeter:  Only does voltage and resistance.  Not very precise and probably not very accurate.  Runs off a pair of hearing aid batteries.  Small and weighs bugger all.  I believe it may have been an 80s RadioShack creation.  An excellent multimeter for touring/audax.

While I'm sure that Fluke win hands-down on quality, I can't help thinking the two important criteria for good multimeters are sturdy build and proper calibration, which are orthogonal.


(Obviously I ought to own a AVO, just because they're cool.)
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

Gattopardo

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Re: What brands of multimeter can I trust?
« Reply #11 on: August 04, 2013, 01:28:59 am »
Should we have a show us your multimeter thread


Biggsy

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Re: What brands of multimeter can I trust?
« Reply #12 on: August 04, 2013, 03:12:00 am »
More in the sense what features would you like, ranges of  needed.

Like the Fluke 17B's below, for example, but I'm just asking for suggestions of makes rather than models.

Multiple functions with Auto / Manual ranges
Large LCD display, 4,000 Counts update 3/sec
Main Measurements : Frequency, Temperature, AC/DC A-V-Ohm , capacitance, Diode & Continuity , duty cycle
Frequency : 50Hz to 100Khz
Temperature : -55C to 400C 
Capacitance : 0.01nF to 100uF
AC Volts : 0.1mV to 1,000V
DC Volts : 0.1mV to 1,000V
AC Current : 0.1uA to 10A
DC Current : 0.1UA to 10A
Resistance : 0.1 ohm to 40Mohm
Duty Cycle : 0.1% to 99.9%
Data Hold  Function 
Both Auto range and Manual range Selectable
Overrange protection for all ranges
Polarity Indication : Indicates negative polarity
Overflow Indication
Sleep Mode / Auto Power off / Low Battery Indication
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Gattopardo

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Re: What brands of multimeter can I trust?
« Reply #13 on: August 04, 2013, 02:26:16 pm »
I have an AVO downstairs.. For preference I use my £7 maplins cheapy. It could however do with some new leads.

Cheaper to buy the same one from other stockists than the leads.

Get one with audible continuity as I find that handy.

Re: What brands of multimeter can I trust?
« Reply #14 on: August 04, 2013, 05:57:49 pm »
Fluke
The electricians on the boats that I work on don't use anything else, or at least not for long before getting a Fluke out anyway.

hellymedic

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Re: What brands of multimeter can I trust?
« Reply #15 on: August 04, 2013, 06:23:26 pm »
I have an AVO downstairs.. For preference I use my £7 maplins cheapy. It could however do with some new leads.

SEVEN POUNDS??!! You was ROBBED!

We got our Maplin's cheapies at 2 for £5.
One of David's has just died; some have had lead failures but hey! They were cheaper than the PP3s that power them.

Mine's still OK (I do try to keep David off it) and I still have the last meter unused in its packet.

David Martin

  • Thats Dr Oi You thankyouverymuch
Re: What brands of multimeter can I trust?
« Reply #16 on: August 04, 2013, 08:06:24 pm »
I'm guessing - I did buy it many many many years ago.

I am tempted by one that does frequency and capacitance rather than just basic AVOT
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Valiant

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Re: What brands of multimeter can I trust?
« Reply #17 on: August 04, 2013, 08:13:05 pm »
My cheap £3 CPC jobbie still seems to be doing the job. Even has a backlight :D But then I don't need calibrated accuracy.
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Rhys W

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Re: What brands of multimeter can I trust?
« Reply #18 on: August 04, 2013, 09:49:24 pm »
I am tempted by one that does frequency and capacitance rather than just basic AVOT

My Maplins one does that, and also a transistor tester. Can't say I've used any of those features, despite being an electronics hobbyist (building guitar effects pedals mainly). 99% of the use is continuity, voltage or resistance (double checking colour codes). It's a Precision Gold Academy PG-012, I think it was about £15 or so.

Valiant

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Re: What brands of multimeter can I trust?
« Reply #19 on: August 05, 2013, 12:15:17 am »
O.oh I've never used for continuity, is that a special feature on some or a generic thing?
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Kim

  • Timelord
Re: What brands of multimeter can I trust?
« Reply #20 on: August 05, 2013, 12:25:43 am »
O.oh I've never used for continuity, is that a special feature on some or a generic thing?

Anything that measures resistance can be used to test continuity.  Most half-decent multimeters have a beeper that sounds on the low resistance range when the reading is within range.  Useful for checking cables where you need four hands and two sets of eyes to keep the probes in the right place, before you try looking at the display.
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Biggsy

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Re: What brands of multimeter can I trust?
« Reply #21 on: August 05, 2013, 01:05:09 am »
O.oh I've never used for continuity, is that a special feature on some or a generic thing?

It's a generic mode that most multimeters have now - an absolute must for me.

See http://youtu.be/gh1n_ELmpFI?t=11m54s

...I don't mind scratchiness; I definitely don't want any noticeable lag.
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redshift

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Re: What brands of multimeter can I trust?
« Reply #22 on: August 05, 2013, 02:07:38 pm »
I just had a look at the meter I bought from Charlotte - it is the RS own-brand Iso-Tech.  They seem to last, on the grounds that this is at least as old as my Fluke!
L
:)
Windcheetah No. 176
The all-round entertainer gets quite arsey,
They won't translate his lame shit into Farsi
Somehow to let it go would be more classy…

Valiant

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    • Radiance Audio
Re: What brands of multimeter can I trust?
« Reply #23 on: August 05, 2013, 05:50:10 pm »
Just looked at mine, it's a Tenma 72-7770. It's got a continuity with no lag :D Never used it before. I usually have multipin cable testers for everything but I can see it coming in handy :-)
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Re: What brands of multimeter can I trust?
« Reply #24 on: August 05, 2013, 08:37:54 pm »
Fluke and Agilent are what you'll find in most electronics labs. Not cheap, but worth the extra if confidence in your measurements is important.

Just looked at mine, it's a Tenma 72-7770. It's got a continuity with no lag :D Never used it before. I usually have multipin cable testers for everything but I can see it coming in handy :-)

Tenma is Farnell's own-brand range of test equipment. The multimeters are rebranded UniTrend products.