Multimeter - occasional home use is cheap ok?

Discussion in 'Electronics & Electrics' started by Bold Eagle, Jul 9, 2019.

  1. Bold Eagle

    Bold Eagle Member

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    Over the last 6months I have found at least 2 scenarios where I could use a multimeter so assess the power bricks of a NUC, AIO and a speaker/amp combo (Microlabs Solo9C).

    Jaycar has products starting from $9.95 but I would be willing to spend more than that for something 1/2 decent;
    https://www.jaycar.com.au/tools-test-equipment/multimeters/digital-multimeters/c/7AA?sort=price-asc&q=:popularity-desc#

    Are the cheapies to nasty and not reliable?
    Would a ~$25 unit be OK for the small jobs?
    Can you advise on a 'bang for buck' unit?
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2019
  2. Symon

    Symon Castigat ridendo mores

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    Three things really drive the price of mulitmeters - safety, accuracy, and brand. If you buy a fluke, you will pay double for no real reason other than it is a fluke.

    For what you are doing you don't really need any of that, so a $30 cheapy will be fine.
     
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  3. disco frank

    disco frank Member

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    get one with a clamp on amp reading

    as most of the cheapies will barely do 10a in current AND you have to run it in series , at least with a clamp you dont need too
     
  4. disco frank

    disco frank Member

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  5. mtma

    mtma Member

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    Yeah the Jaycar $9.95 meter is kind of more appropriate as a single use meter, keep half a dozen in the site bag to use for diagnosing low voltage and signals and don't care if they're lost or obliterated. But check them before using because the DOA rate is real.
     
  6. pantner

    pantner Member

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    Depends on your use, if it's literally just "does the power brick output the correct voltage" and similar, I wouldn't say you need anything too special.

    I use the older version of this for my hobby work

    https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/True-RM...173564&hash=item364912b54d:g:wwQAAOSws3dcfKQ2
    Mainly just look at DC Voltages, low voltage AC (~16VAC) and test conductivity (has a buzzer setting which is really easy to use).

    If want to use them for your job and/or need to read current draw, etc, etc, then investing in something like what Disco linked to above is a better way to go.
     
  7. sTeeLzor

    sTeeLzor Member

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    Basically, yes. Its perfectly fine to have a cheapie to test some basics. The things you lose out on, accuracy, repeatability, high voltage/current capability, generally arent important to what you are looking for in a home test scenario.
     
  8. Sunder

    Sunder Member

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    I have that one. At lower currents, the margin of error is HUGE. I tested it against an inline shunt based coloumb counter (also of unknown accuracy), and while the inline meter only moved the last digit (It was between like 10.0Amps and 10.1 for something I was trying to limit to 10A), the hall based (clamp) ammeter was varying between 7.X amps and 10.X amps.

    So it's good for telling you that current is flowing, and maybe roughly the range, but I would not be using it to make claims like "My NUC is only using 15W under stress testing!"
     
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  9. elcarter1

    elcarter1 Member

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    The $45 - $55 jacar option has served me well but I do use it often in environments where you'd want to go big $ for a nice unit with some enviro protection or low $ to buy multiple units. I went the the multi unit option it's banged up and covered in oil but still works fine.

    I did score some free Fluke leads and paired them with the cheapie. Was alarming to see the accuracy increase ditching the basic leads but if you had to buy them.... probably just roll on in ignorance.
     
  10. merlin13

    merlin13 Member

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    a $10 Cheapy is fine for a home knock-around, providing ideally you can get access to a serious one to compare a few readings against so you can sorta "calibrate" it. Once you know the degree of inaccuracy you're pretty well golden from there.

    Think of it just like referencing your speedo against a few GPS units or even a couple of GPS apps on your phone (if nothing else to explain why so many numpties bumble along at just over 90 km/hr in 100 zones...)

    Else keep a beady eye out for good secondhand Name Brand ones if you want to go for a... Name Brand one...

    Mmmm, unfortunately that's a Piece of String Question based on how anal you want to be on accuracy etc straight out of the box. I've got a coupla $10 Specials here as well as a couple of Name Bands (Yokogawa) that were referenced against a few NATA-level calibrated units (Fluke and HP digitals, and even an old AVO analog one) and they're all within decent accuracy.
     
  11. v81

    v81 Member

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    If you ever want to test high current this unit would do a fine job.
    It's bottom middle of the range.
    Beware, it is not standard for clamp meters to measure DC current.
    https://www.gearbest.com/electric-kettle/pp_009401004861.html?wid=1451296
    Otherwise if you shop online the Aneng 8008 is a good find.
    With fair criticisims Dave Jones @ EEVBlog rates it pretty decent for the money, for light work.

    It has issues, but so do all cheap meters.
    One little thing, prefer AA (or even AAA) powered meters over 9v, one day it will go flat and most people don't have a great stock of 9v batteries.
     
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  12. OP
    OP
    Bold Eagle

    Bold Eagle Member

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    On that Youtube page is where the same people compare the Aneng 8008 vs Aneng Q1;

    Their blog discussing the unit;
    https://www.eevblog.com/forum/blog/eevblog-1095-1096-aneng-q1-multimeter/

    That makes the Aneng 8008 shine even further........
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2019
  13. pelmen

    pelmen Member

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    When I bought mine I found it difficult to find VAC and Amps measurements on the cheaper end. I ended up with something for about $90 from Dick Smith in the late 1980's. It also has a thermal probe and serial RS232 connection which has come in handy over the years to track intermittent power issues around the clock. Its still rock solid reliable and no idea its actual brand and I think I've changed its 9V battery twice in 30ish years out of fear it might go flat rather than it actually going flat or leaking. So I suggest finding one that does VDC, VAC (to 250V), Resistance, Amp, Continuity at least. Capacitance and some form of computer connection and/or data logging, external probe options, reading display hold function are all great to have for when you need them. A typical LCD display is all you ever need, no need to colour garbage, and never something with built in lithium battery. Something that uses regular batteries is fine and its worth buying good brand batteries to avoid them leaking when unit is not in use (realistically we never take the batteries out after use do we? :) I don't know what gimmick features they have these days but I don't see a need for smart phone connectivity or touch screens etc. a built in solar cell for hybrid power though would be handy to avoid being stuck outdoors somewhere desparately needing to find a fault and not able to go battery shopping. Also good to have sockets so you can use standard prob style leads or get some clamping style for some tasks.

    Its a long established technology and nothing realy much to improve upon. But cheapest electronics usually means chinese with poor quality soldering that will crack and fail in time. Its a tool and since you asked the question I think you'll appreciate a tool that lasts and is dependable, so I would suggest avoid the bottom end meters and the top end are for critical applications for pros you'll never encounter and would hire someone to do the work anyway. Something around $100 should be all you ever need for the rest of your life. If you know you will be rough on it and be using it in harsh environments then factor in for a more ruggedised and water resistant version but not vital to have if you look after your stuff. Mine came in a case and its still nice and tidy and the case provides extra space for other probes and the manual. Which I have needed at times and being all together has helped. I have ended up getting some cheap arduino multimeter kits for some specific uses I wanted to modify them to.
     
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  14. cvidler

    cvidler Member

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    I've a few multimeters (and the like) different tools for different jobs.

    - PowerProbe, great for working on cars, hooks up to the cars bettery, gives you continuity (signals visually and audibly for both ground and 12v circuits), has a basic voltmeter for any intermediate voltages (sensors etc.), also has the ability to connect the probe tip to either ground or 12V allowing you to activate relays etc. or if you're stupid blow lots of fuses.
    - cheapie multimeter, as for others, it's handy to have something cheap for rough about jobs, loans etc.
    - multimeter with heaps of functions (all the usuals, plus lux, temp, RH%, diode tester, transistor tester etc. etc.).
    - high end multimeter (a Keysight, formerly Agilent, formerly HP - well know for top end test equipment). high accuracy, temperature compensating. I grab it when I'm troubleshooting something on the bench, and the difference between 1.25 and 1.26v is important - it's a 6 digit class meter, so will show x.xxxxx to less than 1/2% )
     
  15. power

    power Member

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    i bought the cheapest one thinking eh, it'll do the job - it died quite quickly so i bought basically the next one up. so much nicer to use and lasting longer too.
     
  16. Mathuisella

    Mathuisella Member

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    Can i ask what model/brand ect: you got there that's lasted so long as i might grab one for myself :)
     
  17. Matthew kane

    Matthew kane Member

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  18. cvidler

    cvidler Member

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    Why specifically?

    99% of people won't need more than 2 decimals of resolution. nor care about a 1% tolerance, nor use the bulk of additional features on more expensive meters (how many people are going to be testing diodes and transistors).

    And if it's cheap, they'll also not care if it gets damaged in use/stolen etc.

    Yes, more expensive meters come with more features and better accuracy, but also a higher price, that for most people fail the value test.
     
  19. Matthew kane

    Matthew kane Member

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    It's not about more features and better accuracy, if you want accuracy buy a bench meter up to 9 digits. It's about reliability. I've used my share of cheap chingwa Jaycar and ebay meters and I used to go through them like cheese. 95% of them aren't able to withstand the voltages and ratings they say they can without it shitting the bed. You don't need to go out and buy a crazy expensive meter but save yourself the time and convenience of buying something bit better in terms of quality. You most likely will end up measuring something more than just the occasional resistance because your meter allows you to.
     
  20. v81

    v81 Member

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    I disagree.
    Most people looking for a casual meter are measuring DC voltages under 24v.
    I won't argue that many of these meters fail to meet their high voltage specs, but outside a commercial environment that is not really an issue.
    I do think highly of the meter you linked, but Joe Blow could buy 10 meters for the cost of that one unit.
    It's way overkill for the common folk.
    When it comes to verifying the output of a plugpack, voltage of a car battery or AA batteries a cheap meter really is fine.
     

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