multimeter recommendation

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My 1980's era Fluke 77 digital multimeter has given up the ghost. Their current model 77 is too expensive (ca. $350) for what I do/need. I suppose I have a budget of $100 or less. Also it would be nice to have some additional functionality. I saw this Innova 3340 "automotive" multimeter with functions like temperature (K-type TC input), RPM, dwell/pulse width, as well as standard Volts, Amps, continuity/resistance, etc.

I will be using this for automotive and residential homeowner purposes. What are the recommendations?
 

1911

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Second-hand Fluke? I bought mine that way, from someone here on Mud I think. Don't remember what I paid for it (12+ years ago) but it was way worth it to me for such a solid, quality tool.
 

e9999

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I would look at models that can do clamp DC amps measurements. Very useful for automotive work.
 

rkymtnflyfisher

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I use nothing but Fluke meters. Understanding the limitations and capabilities of your meter are very important, for nothing more than a 120/240v panel at your house most QUALITY meters should suffice. I can't stress the importance of a quality meter, don't skimp on a chintzy do it all meter, the leads are usually junk, the internal fuse is sometimes nonexistent.

There are some fairly priced, quality meters out there, but keep in mind the big brand meters are going to be worth it in the long run.



Also, send that old 77 back to Fluke, generally they will service them or repair them for you, that's one of the reasons they are so pricey.

Fluke/Amprobe/Greenlee. I'd stick with one of those. Again I only use Fluke, IMO they are the standard.
 

e9999

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my unexpert take on this is that if you want to measure voltage at 120 and below, AC and DC, most meters even inexpensive will be quite accurate, do fine and should be reasonably safe. If you go higher voltage then that, then checking out carefully the cat ratings become important and even essential as you go higher, your life may be on the line. For 12V DC in particular, there is little or no safety issue I think, and I will not hesitate to use my freebie HF meter if handy (see another thread here for accuracy tests of that one). For truck applications, with the possible exception of parasitic drain measurements, accuracy is usually not critical and is often mostly voltage anyway.
For current, the inaccuracies can be much larger. For very small currents, in the way sub 1A range, as in 10 to 100 mA, the errors may be large with inexpensive meters. Naturally, resistance errors will also be commensurately large. Current errors with cheap clampmeters can also be very large in that range.

Basically, I think that for the average DIY or homeowner, accuracy is not important and an inexpensive unit will do fine. You want to know if there is voltage or not, basically, that's it usually. So accuracy does not matter much at all for that objective. Now, if you start to dabble into more specialized stuff, like working with batteries, solar, checking motors and all, it's a different story, and then you may need to spend more $$ for accuracy or specialized features.

As to the Flukes -I have several, old and new- I suspect that the quality has taken a nose dive in recent years and that the company may be coasting on their earlier reputation. Check where they are made now. I will say, though, that the old ones were good. I have one that must be well over 20 years old, maybe 30, and it looks and functions like new. No plastic falling apart, nothing breaking from age. Fully functional. Perfect. So, an older used one may well be much better than a new one in fact (if treated right).
 

rkymtnflyfisher

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I suspect that the quality has taken a nose dive in recent years and that the company may be coasting on their earlier reputation

I'll disagree 100% with that. I have old stuff and new top shelf meters, all of them are exceptional peices of equipment.
 

e9999

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OP, coupla more things if that helps:
- yes, the thermocouple probe is nice to have if you think you may have to look at your A/C, cooling system, AT temps and the like. Even used mine to calibrate my kitchen oven.... (Nerd!)
- And another big difference separating the good meters from the so-so ones is True RMS or not. Again, for your average DIY it would likely not matter, but if you will dabble in inverters, rectifiers, motor controllers and the like, you'd want a True RMS meter. The short story is that they don't give you large errors when reading voltages or currents that are not of "perfect" shape, which is often the case with cheap hardware. That does also add some $$, though.
 

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Thanks for all the suggestions! I'm still dragging my feet about what to do. I might look into seeing if I can get my old fluke repaired, or try and fix it.

I had what looked like a blown or broken 650mA fuse, so I replaced it. The other larger fuse seems to be OK. When I turn on the meter, the display is very very dim. Also it seems like the display stays in self test/start up mode. Anyway, that's another thread I guess.
 

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I like fluke and have several. I also have some cheap stuff, one of the cheap items is a craftsman item that I'm sure is just something out of China with the craftsman name on it. Anyway the craftsman device is easy to use and has been rather sturdy. To be honest on a lot on car work you are simply looking at battery references..and precise measurement is not really that important. Having said that you might shop around some of the craftsman stuff...knowing your price point would be low. I don't recall when I got the craftsman part...its been some time I suspect. I would also say if they are available you have to purchase them at a price point where if they fail to work, they become a throw-a-way item. As noted, one model of the craftsman device has served me well, another hit the dumpster not long after buying it. The cheap things were bought to setup a tool kit for travel...if I loose it or damage I might get pissed off, but I will not shed too many tears.

how can you go wrong with something like this. I don't recall the specific model I have but I would bet its this thing that I just jumped over to amazon and searched for. Mine has worked well and been solid....I just use it for general car stuff and most of the time its sitting around. I have taken the onus to change the batteries on everything around every year or two. Here is a link.

Amazon product
 
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Elbert

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or surf around amazon for the chinese knock-offs with the high reviews and roll the dice.
 

e9999

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I have had good luck with a Uni-T inexpensive meter and it seems suitably accurate for the low cost.
 
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I got a Southwire from Lowes that I like quite a bit. Its waterproof (I left my old meter out on the hood of the car in the rain a few times, it didnt seem to like it), has a built in flashlight, good quality case, backlight, seems to be accurate, does stuff, intuituve. Good middle ground between the cheap stuff and the Flukes.
 
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Thanks for all the suggestions! I'm still dragging my feet about what to do. I might look into seeing if I can get my old fluke repaired, or try and fix it.

I had what looked like a blown or broken 650mA fuse, so I replaced it. The other larger fuse seems to be OK. When I turn on the meter, the display is very very dim. Also it seems like the display stays in self test/start up mode. Anyway, that's another thread I guess.
Might be worth doing a little digging around in your meter. I know I've had to pull the rotary selector dial out of Flukes before to clean up the contacts. Might be something as simple as that, especially if it's older.
 

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Thanks...I have some updates

I looked into getting the meter repaired by Fluke, but they said (ok, their webpage told me) that my meter is too old for servicing and would need replacing. I haven't called them yet to find out what that means.

In the mean time, I was rummaging through workbench drawers can came across a very slightly used Fluke 87-V which I had picked up someplace and put aside for future use (aka. forgot about it). So now I have a functioning multimeter again!

I did find a repair manual for the Fluke 77-II online, so when I have some quite time around the end of the year, I will see if I can figure out what might be wrong with the broken one. The one I have is the first generation 77, but I'm hoping the 77-II manual will be helpful in identifying where the problem might be.
 

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I looked into getting the meter repaired by Fluke, but they said (ok, their webpage told me) that my meter is too old for servicing and would need replacing.
Good to know, since apparently my Fluke 8024B is a collectable antique, according to the interwebs. Still works great; I wouldn't give it up for anything. But then again, I'm the guy that's still using my original HP11C RPN calculator every day, that I bought new in 1982.

selloldone.jpg
 

e9999

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me, it's a 15C. Unlike shop tools, the best part with the RPN is that nobody young will ever want to borrow it. Great fun to see a Gen X even try to use it and see utter confusion in their eyes...
 
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