Best multimeter for homeowner?

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by John E, Feb 14, 2018.

  1. John E

    John E Long timer

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    In keeping with my other thread about the malfunctioning porch light.

    What's the best decent quality multimeter for someone who wants to be able to do more electrical work around the house?

    I've got a cheap no-name that works ok for simple DC stuff on the truck and bikes, I've also picked up a cool no-touch voltage sensor but I want something better for the house and for the house we're gonna be building.

    Fluke?
    #1
  2. MeanMoe

    MeanMoe one really mean cat

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    Fluke or Amprobe. I’ve got a small Amprobe DMM now. My cheap RatShack meter is ok for DC but I only trust a quality meter on the stuff that can kill ya.
    #2
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  3. Conedodger

    Conedodger Wanna Ride

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    Watch ebay. I got a Fluke for about $40 that works great.
    #3
  4. mouthfulloflake

    mouthfulloflake Not afraid

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    I had a cheap meter years ago, like a $6 one from harbor freight.
    it worked GREAT

    but then one time I was testing a contactor for my outside air conditioning unit and burnt the meter up ( I had it on the wrong setting)

    it popped the fuse in the meter.
    I replaced it, put it back in the tool box

    90% of my meter usage is 12Volts DC
    it worked perfect for this ( and still does) after the fuse replacement.

    i was installing some recessed lighting in my ceiling years later, using that meter to make sure the circuits were dead as I wired each one up. ( meter was set to AC voltage)

    got to about the 6th light fixture, and got between two wires and got a little tingle.
    re checked with the meter... it showed nothing
    connected wires to light fixture and it lit up.

    SO, when I fried the meter across the big voltage of the AC unit, it fried it internally where it no longer registered AC voltage... a very dangerous scenario. But it still worked on the DC voltage setting

    A couple of things to be learned here:

    check your meter ( consider it like calibration) before you trust your life to it ( every time)

    a more expensive meter may or may not have been damaged by my misuse across that high voltage circuit.

    I dont trust any meter without verifying it first before each use , it doesnt matter what it cost.
    #4
  5. Bounder

    Bounder ExternallyDisplaced

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    Fluke 101 very affordable.
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  6. victor441

    victor441 Long timer

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    If you will be using it for vehicle work a DMM that records max and min voltage is very handy...battery voltage should not drop below 9.8V while cranking. As was said it is easy to blow an internal fuse if you have the meter set wrong so might want to order a few, they are often specifically for meters and not easy to find locally. Autoranging is a big plus and worth the extra $$. FWIW I used a Fluke 115 daily on the job as a generator tech and it served me well...also maybe check out others in that series like 114, 116,117, etc. A set of leads with large alligator clips is better for some jobs and can be safer too...only one hand in a panel at a time, use one lead clipped to neutral and a conventional lead to take measurements. For the cranking test both leads are clipped to the battery.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
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  7. John E

    John E Long timer

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    Thanks guys.
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  8. JohnE65c

    JohnE65c Been here awhile

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    ^They can also be had for free with the right coupon and any purchase. I use mine for quick checks, but also have a Klein that my son gave me as a gift. Very good instrument, but I have to refer to the instruction sheet every time I use it. :hmmmmm
    #8
  9. dtysdalx2

    dtysdalx2 PITA but useful

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    Depends on how much you want to spend. Work I have a 179 series Fluke, great one really like it. They are over $200 bucks though.

    Home I have had a Amprobe low cost one. Had it for 10+ years.

    Stay away from Extech! No way I'd use one of those voltage lights either. Say you are looking for 120V and it doesn't come on. But there is 60 volts there. ZAP! :permazot
    #9
  10. tardrider

    tardrider The hairlip dog.

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    I used a Fluke for years when I was in the swimming pool business. They're great tools, but spendy for their nicer meters though. If you're going to spend a little more, might be worth considering a clamp-on model that will let you test amperage. This can be especially useful for diagnosing appliances. I use mine fairly frequently in the DIY homeowner setting. This little Southwire model sold at Lowes works well and is only $40.

    https://www.lowes.com/pd/Southwire-Digital-600-Volt-Clamp-Meter/50125835
    #10
  11. mitchntx

    mitchntx Visit The wick in Seattle

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    +1

    I can't recall which model I have, but it auto ranges and checks capacitance.
    Been real handy a couple times when I had AC and air compressor problems.
    #11
  12. Dread_lion

    Dread_lion Been here awhile

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    if you want Fluke quality, but don't want to pay Fluke prices, look at the "meterman" brand. They are actually made by fluke, but the prices are a bit better. i have had one for quite a few years now, still doing excellent!
    #12
  13. usgser

    usgser Long timer

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    For basic car/motorcycle 12vdc a cheap china DMM works just fine. For AC voltage/amps that can kill you or burn your house down spring for a Fluke or equivalent.
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  14. filmfan

    filmfan Long timer

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    I don't know which model Fluke I have, but it's about 30 years old. It has come through the last 30 years in better shape than I have.:photog
    #14
  15. sailah

    sailah Lampin' it

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    I have 2 Flukes, a 289 ($$$) and a 79 ($).

    They are worth it, the quality, precision, durability. I trust my Flukes when making measurements and don't second guess if it's accurate.

    I've bought plenty of cheap tools in my life, but there are certain tools it really pays to have quality.

    Both mine I bought on ebay for less than 50% retail and both were in almost perfect condition.
    #15
  16. Woody2627

    Woody2627 Grey Wobbler

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    If you need to ask what meter you need, you don't need an expensive one. There is no reason you need an expensive meter for A.C., in fact you are probably better off with just a probe, and safer. If you need to ask what type of meter to get, you should not be measuring a.c. voltage. If you don't understand electricity, there is no point getting a more expensive meter. They do more, so more chance of having it on the wrong setting. More expensive is more accurate, but that means nothing if you don't know the difference between a milliamp and farad. Why do you need to be able to test a transistor, these days you are lucky to find one. Stay cheap, and has already been said test it before you trust it with your life.
    #16
  17. nickguzzi

    nickguzzi Long timer

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    A Fluke for training technicians.
    #17
  18. AG200man

    AG200man AG200 Nutjob

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    https://www.tequipment.net/multimet...-multimeter/brands_bk/brands_gossen/?F_Sort=3

    BK precision are OK if you are on a budget. If you're not then the Gossens are nice as are the Flukes of course. Like a lot of things, I don't think they are as good as they used to be (Flukes). If you can find an old 70 series Fluke on Ebay that works fine then I would grab one of them. I pack an old Tektronix meter - I have owned a few Flukes and this meter is better than them all.
    #18
  19. Grreatdog

    Grreatdog Long timer

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    Kind of funny that my nice old school analog meter from circuit analysis class got tossed in favor of a free Harbor Freight meter.I have no idea how precise the HF is. But damned if it isn't easy use and accurate enough for my purposes.

    I just picked up another HF for free to replace the multimeter we use for equipment testing at work. I figure no big deal if my guys fry the HF. So, at least I don't have to keep it locked up anymore.
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  20. the_gr8t_waldo

    the_gr8t_waldo Long timer

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    a meter with many features is nice, but only if you know how to use the features. if your interest is in trouble shooting a home electrical system, something along the lines of a Klien ET250 is best...forget about proximity sensors they are a safety device- alarms when dangerous voltages are present . it can't differentiate which wires in a jbox is actually energized. therefore a poor choice to trouble shoot with. if your interest is in trouble shooting appliances autos and electronics, a simple m.m. would be my choice. fluke is wildly expensive and unless if you,re using one everyday, kinda a waste to leave it moldering away in a tool box.
    #20