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David Coy

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Bought a used panel and want to have a way to troubleshoot.

Anybody willing to give a recommendation on multimeter choice? Kal's build pages recommend the autoranging Fluke 115. I see many autoranging meters available for less than a third of the cost. Is the Fluke quality worth the price delta?
 

day_trippr

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Well...having grown up with and vocationally depended on Fluke and Tektronix gear for over 4 decades I'm kinda partial to their design and durability (I have a Fluke 123 ScopeMeter, DMM, and IR gun, and a Tek 465 'scope). But tbh I'm an old fart and no doubt one could vector towards less pricey lines with no loss of fidelity.

It's all about the reviews...

Cheers!
 

kartracer2

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I can not speak of the Fluke 115 but I do have a Fluke 16. I have had it and used it for at least 20 years with out any problems. As far as the cost, that's always up to the consumer. I made my living using it (as in my tool bag at all times) so it was important for it to work when I needed it to. That said, I'm also a believer of good tools all around. Bottom line is that it's your money and have to justify the expenditure.
And well said here,
But tbh I'm an old fart and no doubt one could vector towards less pricey lines with no loss of fidelity.
Cheers,
Joel B.
 

Bigdaddyale

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I bought a couple of Velleman DVM850BL off ebay to use around the house. Works great for weekend warrior and hobby stuff- I would never use it if my livelihood depended on it.
 

rossi46

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I'm partial to Fluke also. I'm an auto tech and have had my Fluke 88 for at least 20 years. Buy once, cry once. Not sure you really need a $400 meter at home for brewing though. If you wont use it daily or even weekly, I would find a less expensive meter.
 

kartracer2

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I would like to add that if you are planing a DVM for an investment, make up a list of things you will want/expect it to do, For example, my Fluke 16 (116 is the new and improved model) has the ability to be used as a thermometer with accessory attachments, That was a deal maker when I bought it for HVAC work. Other options are things like min/max/hold, lead style, display etc that you may deem important or not.
I'm not trying to sell you on the 16, there's lot of meters out there. I speak of it because it's what I have.
Maybe check Ebay and the like, might find a diamond in the rough.
Happy Hunting.
Cheers, :mug:
Joel B.
 

RolandD

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For your purposes, a good quality, low cost multimeter is what you need. I have a Greenlee kit that include an multimeter, a touch-less power indicator, and an outlet tester, that I got at Lowe's for ;ess than $50. I've rewired three houses. repaired a quilting machine, my oven, my dishwasher, my washer and dryer, and tested many batteries and outlets with it over the last 15 years. You don't need to spend a fortune on something you use only a few times a year, but you want something that you can rely on.
 

Brumateur

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I have Fluke 87-V for 10+ years and I love it. But it's definitely not chip. Recently Chinese companies start manufacturing multimetres with same chip Fluke are using. I've bought 3 zotek zt101 (Amazon.com ) And I was impressed.
It's a true RMS meter and measurements accuracy is close to fluke. Mechanical quality is OK. It's definitely not for a heavy usage and it will not last as long as Fluke. However you can build a few dozen controllers using it. Stock probes are sucks so I ordered that - Amazon.com. Not a best ones but good enough and worth its moneys.

If you need a temperature reading there is a similar one ANENG AN8002 ANENG AN8002 Multimeter Review - Best Low Cost Multimeter? - Maker Advisor
 
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esdill

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I worked for one of the largest electric utilities in the Southeast US for 37 years. The ONLY multimeters they ever bought and used were Fluke.
 

jseyfert3

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Fluke makes quality meters. My brother bought me a Fluke 115 used off eBay 7 years ago for my birthday, still runs great. At work we have a collection of Fluke meters. 115 is the general purpose meter, with others used for different needs. Fluke is all we buy. When the company was a lot smaller, we had cheaper (~$50) meters. They just didn't compare to the Flukes. Less accurate, flimsier, most of them died eventually. I don't think any Fluke has died in the time I've been there (7 years).

For home use? It'll last forever, but it is on the overkill side. eevBlog (Youtube) did $50 and $100 multimeter shootout videos back in 2010. He's since worked with Brymen to come out with his own branded budget multimeter, and did a series of videos during pre-production with testing early units. It's probably the meter I'd buy if I was looking to buy new, runs about $130 new.

That said, there's also used Fluke 115 meters available on eBay for around $100 (which is what my brother got me).

Whatever you do, DO NOT use the Harbor Freight "free" meter they have. I watched eevBlog's teardown. It's scary the lack of protection that thing has. He (and I) would NEVER use that for measuring mains power. I'd also recommended avoiding the $20 meters at big box stores. Something at least in the $50 range should at least (hopefully) have proper input protection.

Ultimately, I'd lean towards a used Fluke 115 or the Brymen BM235 if you want something new, over a $50 meter.
 
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David Coy

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Thanks for the input everybody. It's very helpful.
 
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I agree with all the Fluke 115 suggestions, EXCEPT you might consider the 117. It's got a nifty extra feature that is great when you're working on home AC wiring. It's called "volt alert". Put it in that mode and get it near a live wire in a wall, or an outlet, and it alerts with light and tone. Pretty great for when you're cutting into dryway etc and don't want a surprise. Also good for finding problems in engine wiring around spark plugs. You can get these types of testers cheap as separate components, but why not add it to the meter.

I just threw away a Fluke 87. Screen went wonky years ago and I sent it in for replacement. Strike one. 10 yrs later, same thing. Then, it started randomly turning on/off (something wrong with the dial), and so always a dead battery. And what's up with taking off the whole back cover to replace battery? I've also had several cheapo meters. They all died and got tossed for various reasons.

For bench use, I've got a Fluke 45 and I use a LOT.
1601918640696.png
 

Bigdaddyale

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AvE did a review on one of his YouTube vids about a Fluke meter that could be upgraded by just fiddling around with the circuit board inside the meter- but I can't seem to find it - might be worth the time to search his YT channel.
 
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AvE did a review on one of his YouTube vids about a Fluke meter that could be upgraded by just fiddling around with the circuit board inside the meter- but I can't seem to find it - might be worth the time to search his YT channel.
That guys is freaking funny. I've watched some of his tool teardowns.
 

RufusBrewer

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The Fluke 115 is a nice piece of gear. For what you need to get the job done it is overkill.

Looking at Amazon, I see the Fluke 101 @ $40. That will will make any measurement you need to build, test and trouble shoot a brewery panel.

If you got the spare coin and do not mind paying for excellence, go for it. I made that choice and went with a Fluke >35 years ago and it is still in my took boox and I grab it and use it with confidence.
 

SalParadise

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Lot of good input here - I won't argue against the value of a top-notch meter like a Fluke, but will say for troubleshooting needs around a hobby electric brewing operation they're overqualified. Most issues you'll run into can be sorted with a continuity test or by simply verifying voltage is close to what you expect to see. I worked as an auto mechanic for close to ten years before changing careers and have used quite a few multimeters within that space. For basic troubleshooting I used a tiny, basic meter that I think I paid $15 for at a local big box hardware store. It was good enough to determine if components had continuity where they should or approximate voltage. Anything more granular than that and I was pulling out the lab scope. As a reformed mechanic I still love shiny new toys and I’m a huge fan of the ‘buy once, cry once’ mentality, but in this case I think you could safely buy a inexpensive meter and find somewhere else in your brewery to spend the ‘extra’ money. Just make sure to buy one with easily replaceable fuses and have spares on hand.

Having said all that, $40ish for a basic Fluke as @RufusBrewer noted might offer the best of both worlds.
 

bruce_the_loon

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In my anecdotal experience of one Triplett 9005-A that has never given trouble despite beatings, drops and somehow putting enough current through the 10A circuit to melt the plastic around the base of the COM connector. They seem to be going for between $30 and $40 for a reasonably featured one (1101-B, 1201 or 1301 from my searching).
 
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I agree with all the Fluke 115 suggestions, EXCEPT you might consider the 117. It's got a nifty extra feature that is great when you're working on home AC wiring. It's called "volt alert". Put it in that mode and get it near a live wire in a wall, or an outlet, and it alerts with light and tone. Pretty great for when you're cutting into dryway etc and don't want a surprise. Also good for finding problems in engine wiring around spark plugs. You can get these types of testers cheap as separate components, but why not add it to the meter.

I just threw away a Fluke 87. Screen went wonky years ago and I sent it in for replacement. Strike one. 10 yrs later, same thing. Then, it started randomly turning on/off (something wrong with the dial), and so always a dead battery. And what's up with taking off the whole back cover to replace battery? I've also had several cheapo meters. They all died and got tossed for various reasons.

For bench use, I've got a Fluke 45 and I use a LOT.
View attachment 701303
BTW, that volt alert feature also works on low voltage wiring, like landscape 12VAC. I used it to track down problems with my landscape wiring this weekend. So cool, just waved my meter at the wire and I could see where there was AC live.
 

UncleD

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Fluke is the gold standard. All of my professional experience has been with Fluke, no complaints. However, if your just looking for a meter for some troubleshooting, I would recommend extech.
 
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