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  • DMM Meter recommendations

    So this is my crappy Tenma meter measuring the house AC on its 200VAC scale

    troublingly high, so I switched to 600VAC scale



    Its readings appear to be a fluke, so maybe I should get an actual Fluke... whats a good (cheap) DMM?

  • #2
    B&K are decent for the price, which is cheaper than a Fluke. I'm looking also, haven't decided yet what i am going to get.

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    • #3
      Checked that the battery is good?
      My band:- http://www.youtube.com/user/RedwingBand

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      • #4
        I have one of these

        http://www.amazon.com/Klein-Tools-MM...s=klein+meters

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        • #5
          I had a B&K that I abused for decades. Other than a cheap Rat Shack backup that I keep in the work truck it was the only meter I owned. Bought it new. When it finally started getting hinky after over twenty years I replaced it with a used, but excellent condition Fluke 87. No complaints about either meter. If you're the type that wants new, but doesn't want to spent too much, go with a mid line B&K. If you don't mind used, and are good with those sorts of purchases (it's a skill of it's own ) then get a Fluke. Either way you're going to spend about $120 - $180. But it should ultimately be useful for many years.

          JM2C
          "Take two placebos, works twice as well." Enzo

          "Now get off my lawn with your silicooties and boom-chucka speakers and computers masquerading as amplifiers" Justin Thomas

          "Being born on third base and thinking that you must have hit a triple is pure delusion!" Steve A

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          • #6
            Originally posted by pdf64 View Post
            Checked that the battery is good?
            I have had high readings like this with a weak battery. The meters own low battery indicator did not show a low batt. condition.
            "Everything is better with a tube. I have a customer with an all-tube pacemaker. His heartbeat is steady, reassuring and dependable, not like a modern heartbeat. And if it goes wrong he can fix it himself. You can't do that with SMD." - Mick Bailey

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            • #7
              Amen to the dead battery. Even my really cheap Harbor Freight meters don't come back that far off. And by cheap I mean I got them free for their coupon. I often ignore the low battery warning on my Fluke, because I am too lazy to pull out the FOUR screws it takes to open it. Hey, I don't have all day, y'know? But when the battery gets REAL low, I start getting rally screwy resistance readings, and voltages come out odd as well.

              So open it up and try a new battery, just to find out. I bet the meter is OK.
              Education is what you're left with after you have forgotten what you have learned.

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              • #8
                Well I put in a fresh 9v battery and STILL house voltage reads out at 170VAC on the 200VAC scale and 640VAC on the 600VAC scale

                I put house electricity through my Variac set at 120V and it reads same: 170VAC on the 200VAC scale.

                WTF!?? This is a DMM failure mode I was unaware of... gotta get another one!

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                • #9
                  Open her up and look inside for any burnt resistors or something. It may be time for a new meter.
                  Education is what you're left with after you have forgotten what you have learned.

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                  • #10
                    I may end up getting a Chinese UniT UT-61E which is a true RMS, autoranging 22k count meter that's quite precise and cheap at $50.

                    It also does data logging and frequency to 200MHz but I'll probably not use those much.

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                    • #11
                      I have an old Fluke 87 that started giving wierd readings, but it was also running down the battery. I also found that the meter would light the backlight, and some segments when squeezed with the meter off. I found the contacts had wiped some carbon between the traces, on the back of the circuit board, I cleaned it off, and it thinks it's new again!

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by tedmich View Post
                        I may end up getting a Chinese UniT UT-61E which is a true RMS, autoranging 22k count meter that's quite precise and cheap at $50.

                        It also does data logging and frequency to 200MHz but I'll probably not use those much.
                        Don't do it! Maybe it has features and some bling functioning, but it probably won't be very durable or long lived. Not because it's from China, per se, but because the stuff coming out of China is commissioned to be cheap by the company that's having them made there. Honestly, when it comes to meters the money in is an investment. A $150 meter will likely last five times longer (I wouldn't be surprised at times longer) than the $50 meter. Now, I can't say any of this with authority since I haven't owned the meter you propose. But this is generally the case. Get into a new Fluke (serious coin) and ten years from now when someone asks "When are you gonna get a new meter?" your answer will be "I already have a meter!" because it could well be the last one you ever need since the warranty, service, parts and product support are very good at that level.

                        EDIT: Understand that "Made in China" isn't a bad thing. Some respectable Fluke models are even made in China. Because China makes all that sort of stuff anymore. But the price point is what you need to watch for. A company with a fairly small demographic like Fluke (top end) or even B&K Precision (lower end but still respectable) are less about marketing and more about professional tools. That's why they aren't the ones you see when you run a search on Goonle. Products like theirs rely on reputation. Products like the Tenma are ok too. about 50% marketing with a little rep goal thrown in. Decent value products. Still not as good a value as what you get when you near the $200 mark. The best values start around $185 and the price just goes up from there on into silly expensive Fluke products made to produce .005% accuracy during a nuclear blast!
                        Last edited by Chuck H; 11-25-2015, 02:38 AM.
                        "Take two placebos, works twice as well." Enzo

                        "Now get off my lawn with your silicooties and boom-chucka speakers and computers masquerading as amplifiers" Justin Thomas

                        "Being born on third base and thinking that you must have hit a triple is pure delusion!" Steve A

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Chuck H View Post
                          Don't do it!
                          I agree with Chuck. Other than the meter possibly only lasting a few years a cheapie meter is not a good investment for your safety. If you ever meter high voltage or mains voltage you want something reasonably good, becasue it will have good input protection should you probe something incorrectly, or the probe slips, or whatever. If you're never going to probe over 30V get whatever cheapie you want.

                          I always tell people Fluke 27/FM. It is a military grade Fluke meter that's true RMS and indestructible. They used to be all over ebay for cheap, cheap cheap. I have 3 that I bought all for between $30 and $70 each. Unfortunately they are now getting a little more expensive because there are not that many more availalbe to be dumped as military surplus -- the Fluke 27/FM was a US military standard for years but was replaced by a new version, Fluke 28 II a few years back. They get calibrated annually so even if you get one manufactured in the 80s or 90s it is likely it has still been calibrated yearly up until a few years ago.

                          I would offer this person $70 and you'll probably be set for life. Waterproof and and also drop proof from I believe 10 ft in the air -- Fluke 27FM with High Voltage Probe 80K 6 in Hard Carrying Case 4894 | eBay

                          Fluke 27 II is the consumer grade version of this meter. If you look at Fluke 27 II and Fluke 28 II prices new they are around $450. So even if you have to pay $150 for the Fluke 27/FM it is still a total bargain, but hopefully you can grab one for $50-100.

                          I had a BK Precision 2709B that cost $95 new. Good meter but I sold it because it beeps too much which annoyed me.
                          Last edited by nsubulysses; 11-25-2015, 03:58 AM.

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                          • #14
                            I have a Fluke meter I bought what 30 years ago. It has flown around the country in a toolbox in the belly of an airliner for thousands of miles, when I was in field service. it has been dropped to a cement floor more times than I can remember. I have plugged the resistance scale into a few hundreds of volts more times than I care to admit. it has frozen at 20 degrees below zero in my trunk, and baked there under the summer sun.

                            So far it still works fine.
                            Education is what you're left with after you have forgotten what you have learned.

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                            • #15
                              See this clip for the UT61E input protection;

                              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hhBbvIf3E0s

                              I like the look of some of the Brymen meters - take a look at the construction (starts at 1:50) for the BM257 which looks a nice little meter.

                              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tXu0lsOjvDs

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