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evandy

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I am in the market for a multimeter that will, hopefully, last me for the next few decades. I have some other items that I'm ordering from Digi-Key, so I was looking there... and they have ~100 different hand-held ones. Any suggestions on what to look for?
 

Steelers77

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If you want a nice one buy a fluke but you will spend $150, or you could buy a $30 model from sears and that should serve your purpose.
 

Wayne1

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Fluke would be the brand I would suggest.

I've own and use daily a Fluke 77 that I've had for 30 years.

The current version, 77-IV, looks pretty good. If mine ever dies, that is what I'll replace it with.
 

BrewBeemer

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The minimum I would go with is a Fluke 77 they take a beating mine was used daily in the trade. At home the 87 with a 88 promised to me in a few months for my automotive computer and coil winding resistance work. Buy good once it's a lifetime tool. Shop for the best price first. Fluke has a lifetime guarantee, something else to consider.
 

Baldy_Beer_Brewery

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I got the 87 IV when they first came out and prices on those have dropped considerably since then. A guy I work with bought one NIB on e-bay for $125 shortly after I bought mine which was a steal at the time.
 
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I own a Fluke 87 and a cheapie Protek. I like the Protek better. The Fluke no longer measures current (fuse?). I had to return it (warranty) after 2 years because of a defect in the screen. Fluke makes good equipment, but their meters are overpriced.
 

Hermit

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I've used meters at work for over 30 years. The cheap ones are not bad as a first meter. It really depends on what your needs are though. Doing simple volt and ohms readings doesn't require an expensive meter, especially if you don't need some precise numbers out of it. For that you would need known references anyhow to check against and even 'good' meters don't come with them for the most part that I know of.
 

motobrewer

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http://www.elexp.com/tst_x310.htm I have the EX330, cheap, does everything I need for micro-controllers and around the house, including finding circuits in the wall. Not as legendary as a fluke, but a third of the price.
this is a garbage multi. I bought one for work, crapped out in a few months.

buy a fluke, it will last longer than you will.
 

BrewBeemer

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I own a Fluke 87 and a cheapie Protek. I like the Protek better. The Fluke no longer measures current (fuse?). I had to return it (warranty) after 2 years because of a defect in the screen. Fluke makes good equipment, but their meters are overpriced.
Yeah and those big fuses are not cheap either. I machined brass sleeves that are slotted, they press fit onto standard automotive fuses this took care of stupid measuring off the wrong scale blowing fuses replacement costs. I would loan it out at work came back with a blown fuse about 80% of the time. Idiots.
I bet your meter is also having bars missing on the screen which is common over time, I have the older Fluke 87 also that had this problem a couple of times over the years. Take the meter apart then wipe the metallic terminals on the liquid crystal connection to the board with rubbing alcohol with a "Q" tip you'll be good to go again with all number bars lighting up again. I paid $50 for the 87 as it needed to be recalibrated to be used on FAA radar facility equipment, instead they purchased new ones. I offered $15 for the 77 at an estate sale and they took my offer.
 

Fingers

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I've used meters at work for over 30 years. The cheap ones are not bad as a first meter. It really depends on what your needs are though. Doing simple volt and ohms readings doesn't require an expensive meter, especially if you don't need some precise numbers out of it. For that you would need known references anyhow to check against and even 'good' meters don't come with them for the most part that I know of.

I use a good precise Fluke at work, but I have a cheap plastic meter for home use because of the reasons Hermit mentions. Most of the time I need continuity testing or voltage. I don't care if my line voltage is out by a volt or two; I just want to know if it's live. Buy a cheap meter and if you use it lightly it will probably last for decades anyway. If it doesn't, buy another.
 

Hermit

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I use a good precise Fluke at work, but I have a cheap plastic meter for home use because of the reasons Hermit mentions. Most of the time I need continuity testing or voltage. I don't care if my line voltage is out by a volt or two; I just want to know if it's live. Buy a cheap meter and if you use it lightly it will probably last for decades anyway. If it doesn't, buy another.
I bought my son a cheap one when he went to college and taught him the basics. I recently offered to upgrade it for him and he declined because the one he has is sufficient. And since it is analog, it will always do voltage checks even if the battery is dead.
 

captianoats

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I love my Fluke, it's never let me down.... That being said, ask yourself some questions.

What are you doing with it? If it's something you'll be using often and want it to last, can't go wrong w/ Fluke. However, you may be paying for a lot of features you'll never use. If all you need is to check voltage on 1 thing, get $30 cheapo from Sears or something like that. Don't drop the extra 200 bucks for things like a tach and an amp clamp if you'll never need them.
 

BrewBeemer

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I still have a pair of mirrored Simpson 260 meters, hell old i'm going way back here plus a VTVOM from the 60's, still works. Plus a Top Cap tube tester for 4 pin tubes of 10" tall that can heat a house.
The Fluke 87 is the minimum in meter that fits my automotive needs with measuring injector pulse width, % duty cycle, Hz plus the electronic projects i've built. This alone helped me build my own fuel injector cleaning unit for flushing and balance checking, spray pattern checking my own injectors. This savings alone will paid for a brand new Fluke 88 meter vs paying an injector cleaning service plus I now have a machine for my future fuel injector cleanings. Just did my son's BMW injector upgrade swap as well my Rover, boy what a difference in performance and fun to drive plus rock solid idles. The DMC is next.
Granted the Fluke 88 will read lower resistance which comes in handy on relay coils, heavy starter and alternator windings of low resistance. This is a must have meter for my use. As a wireman my ass is worth more than any "El Cheapo" brand of meter. You think Forumla 1 pit crews use Home Depot made in China tools?. I don't think so.
Tools of the trade used daily you use the best.
 

Baldy_Beer_Brewery

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Oh man, you can't beat those Simpsons. We had one in the tool crib at work many years ago. I dropped it a good 10' one time and barely cracked the roll top case. It came up missing one day and I know the douche bag that stole it had no idea how to use it. Likely wound up in a pawn shop for five or ten bucks.
 
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It kind of depends on your budget and intent. You can't go too wrong with a Fluke, but the price is steep. At the other extreme, an el-cheapo Radio Shack model will do fine for occasional household/hobby use.
 

GreenMonti

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I have 2 Fluke meters and 1 Craftsman. I always reach for the fluke meters. The Craftsman is around for the temperature reading and I needed a meter in my tool box at work at one point.
 

BrewBeemer

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Sad part my 87 doesn't have a lifetime warranty like the new Flukes, bummer this is why I take it apart and do what I can to keep it going. To send it to Fluke is not cheap. I had it recalibrated off a freshly recalibrated 88 a couple years ago for the FAA, it still held to spec.
 

Quaffer

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I have two Flukes at home, a hand held and a bench top model. They are good meters, no doubt, but I find I reach for the el-cheapo Harbor Freight Tool meter when I need to do a quick test. Do not underestimate that meter based on its ridiculously low price. I have seen it for sale for between $2.99 and $7.99 depending on specials. It is good for all-around testing for voltage, low current, and resistance. If you need other types of measurements or high precision then you will need to spend more. My son and I each have one and they have not failed us yet. If it breaks, buy a new one, buy more to give away. You still will never spend as much as on a single Fluke-ometer.
 

DeafSmith

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I have a Wavetek "Meterman" 27XT. I've had it for years and have no problems with it. In addition to the normal volt-amp-ohm measurements, it also measures inductance and capacitance. It came with a rubber half-case which protects the back, sides, top, and bottom. Has a flip out panel in the back to prop it up for easy reading. I used to have a Radio Shack el-cheapo which I don't recommend at all - after plugging the leads in and out of the meter a few times, the lead sockets became loose and would not hold the leads tightly enough to make a good contact.
 
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evandy

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I ordered a Fluke-117. It's one of their lower end models, but came in for under $200 which was a bonus. For projects, and work around the house it should do what I need for years to come.
 

BrewBeemer

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I ordered a Fluke-117. It's one of their lower end models, but came in for under $200 which was a bonus. For projects, and work around the house it should do what I need for years to come.
The 117 is still a great meter with 0.1 to 40 M ohm reading range.
Ebay has many starting at $91 plus Amazon at $162. This is what
some contractors provided us even when a meters required on our
tool list. The great thing about Fulkes is they use a 9 volt battery not
some special high dollar disc battery plus they have 400 hour battery life.
 

BrewBeemer

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A good alternative to Fluke is Ideal and they cost less.

http://www.idealindustries.com/products/test_measurement/clamp_meters/760_series_clamp_meter.jsp

I am an electrician and I use the 61-766 everyday.
What's the work look like down in TX? Very slow in the S.F. bay area, halls packed 255 book 1 no job calls and if any just short calls.
That 40-100Hz measuring ability thats a great feature especially when setting un backup diesel generators. I was using my Fluke 87 that no one touched but the shop owner / contractor, he worked in the field with us.
It saved my butt on my 6KW Multi Quip generator given to me off a state job almost new but the governor
came loose hence no rpm or Hz control. A simple fix being a free $2,000 home use backup generator now. Me happy. With the 11 HP Honda powering it we brewed on the ranch 7 miles in with only a windmill for our water supply and the cattle pond to fish and swim. With the small cube dorm frig we were set. The Ideal reminds me of my AmpProbe meters, old school but still works vs digital but again i'm out of th trade now.
The Fluke 87 with it's wider Hz plus PW and % sure comes in handy for automotive testing as well measuring for the brewing projects.
 

RDWHAHB

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Nice tools are fun to have, but the Fluke is overkill for the homeowner. I have a Wavetek that I use most days at work and around the house from time to time.
Jeff
 

Padronis

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What's the work look like down in TX? Very slow in the S.F. bay area, halls packed 255 book 1 no job calls and if any just short calls.
That 40-100Hz measuring ability thats a great feature especially when setting un backup diesel generators. I was using my Fluke 87 that no one touched but the shop owner / contractor, he worked in the field with us.
It saved my butt on my 6KW Multi Quip generator given to me off a state job almost new but the governor
came loose hence no rpm or Hz control. A simple fix being a free $2,000 home use backup generator now. Me happy. With the 11 HP Honda powering it we brewed on the ranch 7 miles in with only a windmill for our water supply and the cattle pond to fish and swim. With the small cube dorm frig we were set. The Ideal reminds me of my AmpProbe meters, old school but still works vs digital but again i'm out of th trade now.
The Fluke 87 with it's wider Hz plus PW and % sure comes in handy for automotive testing as well measuring for the brewing projects.
It's not like it was in 08. I'm not union but work has been slowwwww.

The Ideal tester is prolly half the price of a comparable Fluke of the same ability. I used to be a Fluke fanatic until I realized how good Ideal is for less.
 

The Pol

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Man, mine was $2.99. Then again, I only use it when I build a rig, so maybe once a year? Hardly "used"
 

BrewBeemer

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I've got a Fluke 87 and have been very happy with it....
Same hear happy as a clam as it's next to the computer, just looked at it. Calibrated by Fluke in 3/93, 3/94, 3/95 for the FAA. Last one back in 2006 for me.
Yes it's a 87 not the 87 mark IV but again the price was right.
As mentioned making a sleeve to use standard automoive fuses saved me a lot of money in blown fuse replacements. I haven't blown a fuse the past 4 years by stupidity on my part.
 

Hermit

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Man, mine was $2.99. Then again, I only use it when I build a rig, so maybe once a year? Hardly "used"
Good point really. At that price it really isn't a bad idea for folks to buy one and then Google up a multimeter tutorial. It will pay for itself easily in testing batteries, light bulbs, checking for wall voltage, etc. The company I used to work for charged $80 for me to come out and tell you your fuse/circuit breaker was at fault, your appliance was just fine.
 

The Pol

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Good point really. At that price it really isn't a bad idea for folks to buy one and then Google up a multimeter tutorial. It will pay for itself easily in testing batteries, light bulbs, checking for wall voltage, etc. The company I used to work for charged $80 for me to come out and tell you your fuse/circuit breaker was at fault, your appliance was just fine.
Yah, works good to make sure I have voltage where I want it, and not where I dont want it. Also works nicely to test your SSR signal wiring if your SSRs dont have the little LEDs. Meh, it is cheap, proabably inaccurate, but it has backlighting too! :D
 
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