(Topic ID: 202004)

Choosing a Pin-Specific Multi-Meter: Please Advise

By Jason_Jehosaphat

1 year ago

Topic Stats

  • 17 posts
  • 16 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 1 year ago by xsvtoys
  • Topic is favorited by 2 Pinsiders


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#1 1 year ago


Please help me by pointing out what functions are essential for a pin-specific multi-meter. I apologize in advance as I'm electronics illiterate. I intend to buy this tool from my local Home Depot-equivalent (Menard's), and they list one meter on their website as follows:

Functions Tested: AC Current; AC Voltage; Amperage; Capacitance; Continuity; Current; DC Current; DC Voltage; Frequency; Resistance; Temperature; Voltage

This particular model is $100. That's five-times more than I expected to spend, so hopefully the above meter is much more featured-out than I need.

Anyway, if you have a certain model that has served you well, I'd love to know what it is specifically.

Thanks in advance.


#2 1 year ago

Fluke is a great meter.

#3 1 year ago

I am a firm believer in Fluke as well. Fluke 115 is a great choice. I have also bought several 73III from pawn shops.

#4 1 year ago

If your not stuck on buying local and want something cheap check Amazon. Here's one I picked up a while back that seems to do everything I need it to.

amazon.com link »

#5 1 year ago

Fluke are basically the best. I've used them at work for decades. They have pretty much cornered the market at put some rivals out of the business. I used to buy Protek because they had all of the same features as Fluke for half the price, but they have since gone out of business. Fortunately my Protek is still working great.

Not familiar with the brands that Menards sells, but I would imagine the $100 one you are looking at is fine and will serve you well for years in limited use. I will suggest that you stay away from anything that costs less than $60 or so. They are typically junk.

#6 1 year ago

I've been using this one for years.

amazon.com link »

Not as fancy as a fluke, but it gets the job done.

#7 1 year ago

Sears has some very nice meters way under $100. I recently got a very nice auto ranging meter for about $30.

amazon.com link »

#8 1 year ago

It's hard to tell what features one needs as someone just getting into this hobby... Thanks for the links.

#9 1 year ago

Flukes are great meters that last forever. I bought a nice looking used set on eBay for a great price. Fluke 87 and amp clamp set for $120. Definitely worth a look.

#10 1 year ago

I use Fluke at work all the time, but at home I have a Mastech and it works great. Only complaint I would have is it auto ranges a tad slow. Other than that its been just fine.

amazon.com link »

#11 1 year ago

If you have a harbor freight nearby, keep an eye out for a coupon for a free multimeter with purchase. They are cheap, not very good, but you can see if you have voltages and continuity. Very basic, and if you mess up and read voltage while resistance is selected and you burn it up, you're not out anything.

If you really want accuracy, nothing can beat a Fluke. However, for EM machines, I don't worry much about accuracy - I just need to know if a switch is open or closed, and if I have coil and lamp voltages. Since this is brand new to you, get the cheap meter to start with and work your way to a more expensive model as you get a better understanding of what you're trying to read.

Just my two cents

#12 1 year ago
Quoted from Billc479:

Since this is brand new to you, get the cheap meter to start with and work your way to a more expensive model as you get a better understanding of what you're trying to read.

^^^^^ this. A basic meter should be capable of making the measurements you'll need to make. Start with a cheap one, and when you figure out if it's limitations are preventing your troubleshooting, then maybe consider a Fluke (which as many have noted, is the best you can get)... I've always been able to get by using a basic meter for my pinball repairs. At very least, make sure the meter you get has an audible beep for continuity checking (for checking fuses, wiring etc). Auto-ranging is convenient, but not necessary as well.

#13 1 year ago

I read this post 3 days ago and haven't replied as I'm a solid Fluke guy. The thing is that not everyone needs a Fluke meter, it all depends on what you are using the meter for; for basic checks, do you really need the accuracy of a $300 Fluke meter? the simple answer is no, you really don't. Since you are just starting out, you are just fine with a meter that provides close measurements, later on down the road if you need more accuracy you can always readdress the meter you have.

With that in mind I got an e-mail today from Harbor Freight ... probably because I bought a lift table from them. Personally I dont know how I ever got by without this piece of equipment...Anyway, in the email they sent the are offering a FREE 7 function multimeter with any purchase; so if you need anything from harbor freight, you can get a free meter and if its a POS toss it away and you are out nothing.

Final thoughts...if the meter works for you, spend your meter monies on a logic probe, as it can help you fix things that a meter cannot.


#14 1 year ago

I disagree. I’ve thrown out several of those free meters because they are useless. They are void of features, sketchy readings and fail early. Having a questionable meter can be dangerous. One shakey lead and you get a 0v reading on 120v or worse. It’s really easy to touch the wrong thing when your meters lying to you. I take none of the freebies anymore. It’s all junk. If your not into spending $300 on a meter buy a good clean used fluke or at least a new Klein or Greenfield. Don’t screw around with junk and don’t buy a meter twice.

#15 1 year ago

This. I don’t like buying a tool more than once. Buy the best tool you can afford the first time and you probably won’t need to buy another one. Buying cheap only to have to replace it later is a false economy. In my book this applies to all tools regardless of it’s purpose.

#16 1 year ago

Flukes are nice yeah, but probably way overkill for what you want to do. If you have lots of disposable income or plan on using it every day, sure get a fluke.

For hobbyist level stuff... not mains.. i like the Mastech meters. Highly functional, reliable, and a lot of bang for the buck.

amazon.com link »

cons are mostly annoyance

doesn't always zero out. When at a precise range it will bounce around 0 at times.
15 min power off. Beeps at you 1 min before power off.
auto ranges slowly (i rarely auto range). Responds fast when put in voltage ranges.
AC does not auto range when voltage is low.
continuity beeper sometimes has a stutter beep. Beeps immediately, then stops for a 10-100ms and then beep is continuous.

#17 1 year ago

I went for the Extech EX330 after some research and in particular reviewing this video. EEVBlog is awesome for this sort of stuff. This is about $55 on Amazon. I do have one of the "cheapo" ones which I got at Home Depot, this thing is far better.

I also got an old school Fluke 8050A off Ebay for $30, that one is pretty nice. The only drawback with those old Flukes is the fading liquid crystal display. They can be changed out with LEDs but it is a somewhat involved process.

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